Welcome to Volume 5 of The Great Ones Online.

What do you immediately know about someone who bench presses over 500 pounds?

Correct—they are VERY strong. And if they happened to have built a number of successful companies, you might surmise that this strength translated into business.

What if, in addition to the brute strength, you layered in a mind keen enough to cash out two weeks before the “dot.com” crash, pull the chips off the table and walk away to play another day?

That’s but a fraction of the story of Steve Amos, founder of www.jewelry.com, the first of several monstrously successful internet companies.

Pay attention. Find out what a fleet of German cars won’t do for you—or maybe what it will.
Here is a free preview of the interview. Paid members, scroll down this page to access the full hour-long interview, video commentary by Ridgely, PDF materials, exercises and the full explanation of Edict V – Thou Shall Act with Courage.

Free preview of Volume 5 – Facing Your Fears:

http://www.thegreatonesonline.com/blog/previews/amos.flv

Free sneak peek at this volume’s associated edict (from The Great Ones book):

EDICT V – THOU SHALL ACT WITH COURAGE

Courage is the most important of all virtues,
because without it we can’t practice
any other virtue with consistency.

Maya Angelou

members only content

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Welcome The Great Ones Online Members – This is YOUR SPECIAL SECTION!

Here is the full version of Volume 5 – Facing Your Fears

The Volume 5 video, “Facing Your Fears” is with Mr. Steve Amos (yes, there are a lot of “Steves” in this course, aren’t there?). Steve is a tremendously successful person, so watch the entire video.

http://www.thegreatonesonline.com/video/ridgely_m2m_vol5.flv

In this next video, I share what I learned from Steve.

http://www.thegreatonesonline.com/video/M2U00535.flv

Be sure to read these insights for Facing Your Fears:

Volume 5 – Facing Your Fears

Also, do these exercises to reflect on what you’ve learned and how it applies in your life:

Volume 5 Exercises

EDICT V – THOU SHALL ACT WITH COURAGE

Courage is the most important of all virtues,
because without it we can’t practice
any other virtue with consistency.

Maya Angelou

Explanation of Edict V

At age 17, I broke my leg in the final game of the varsity soccer season—a complex fracture that required a full length leg cast from hip to toe, elevated by ropes and pulleys for the first full month following the break.

As I lay in bed one night in my room at the far end of my father’s rambling ranch-style house, I heard some noise outside. In an instant I realized that burglars were attempting to break in through the kitchen below me. Because of my leg, I could not run for help. I attempted to scream only to find that my vocal chords froze in fear. I couldn’t escape, couldn’t yell and couldn’t move as I listened to the would-be criminals work on jimmying the window in the downstairs breakfast alcove.
In utter terror, I was completely paralyzed.

On a recent family ski trip, my 9-year old son Linus began boasting after 5 days on the snow that he could ski an expert, double diamond slope—a claim that, much to the rest of our crew’s chagrin, magnified as time went on. Despite my paternal reservations, I felt confident that I could get him down the mountain safely. As a father, I sensed that a valuable lesson might be in the making; and in the early afternoon on day 6, off we went to the top of the mountain. After some fairly aggressive terrain near the peak, we crested over the ridge and onto the very steep down grade called Geronimo.

“C’mon,” I urged, and took a couple of turns.

When I turned to glance up, the only thing moving on Linus were his quivering lips and the tears that dripped down his cheeks. I stepped back up the slope, gave him a hug and stooped down to the level of his eyes.

“I’m really scared, Dad,” he mumbled.

“I know, son,” I answered. “It’s okay. You can do this. I’ll help you.”

It became quickly apparent that all he had learned in the previous five days had flown out the window of his memory. He stood frozen as a statue, and could only be coaxed to move forward with tiny baby steps. In a slow and deliberate fashion we slinked our way down the mountain. The braggart nature died a rapid demise somewhere on the hill.

In both of these situations—one that took place over 30 years ago, and another just this past year—Linus and I became utterly helpless in the face of fear. All logic and reason disappeared. Our ability to cope vanished. The world, in essence, shut down and caved in around us.

In business, fear lurks as enemy number one; a foe that often sneaks through the cracks in our armor in insidious and parasitic ways. Take the big-thinking visionary who bursts with big ideas, innovations, and new products. Beneath the blustery surface sits a boy that didn’t do so well in math, hates numbers and details, and has difficulty staying on task. As a consequence, the company flounders in a sea of red ink, with lots of activity and a concept-of-the-week to fix the “problem” of poor cash management.

Take the number-crunching accountant entrepreneur who closely tabulates every dollar, carefully watches the pennies yet loathes change, and—with no lack of work ethic—sharpens his pencil with every decrease in the margins, only to realize that what used to work no longer does. It’s the same way that 8-tracks gave way to cassettes, which in turn yielded to compact discs that now are downloaded from the internet directly onto a hand-held PDA or iPod that didn’t even exist a few years back.

In both cases, the fear of confronting the unknown and not seeking an alternative outside of one’s personal comfort zone will lead to a resounding failure. The challenge lies in the mind. We must recognize our own shortcomings and make up for them in some way. What if the big-thinker hooked up with the number-cruncher and found a way to collaborate despite their differences—and instead celebrated their strengths? Together, they might build a great enterprise.

Does this seem like a BGO (Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious)? Sure—from the outside, much like the Monday morning quarterback, anyone can give advice. Why didn’t the big-thinker hire a number cruncher in the first place? The answer will soon become clear.

Many people equate courage with the absence of fear. Not so at all. Even highly courageous individuals will, from time to time, face various types of fear. The obvious fears of death and bodily harm top a long list of other incarnations—that especially in business—can greatly damage an enterprise. What about the subordinate who never speaks for fear of repercussion? What about the boss who can’t delegate for fear that he’ll lose control? What about the accountant that simply crunches numbers and fails to point out negative trends for fear of being labeled unpopular or made into a scapegoat? What about the small business owner or sales executive that won’t follow up on old and prospective accounts for fear of rejection?

Courage stands for the ability to confront and handle that fear—whatever it may be, and wherever it may come from. In the dictionary, “courage” is defined as “the attitude or response of facing and dealing with anything recognized as dangerous, difficult or painful.”

Notice that there’s no mention of avoidance, escape, circumvention or denial in the definition.

The way of a Great One involves a continuous internal battle against a variety of factors—the blindness that keeps our perception cloudy; the immense creativity within each of us that can drive us off task; the desire to act before thinking instead of thinking first and then acting; the charge forward, damn-the-torpedoes nature that keeps us mired in a whirlwind of activity from which we awaken (or not) surrounded by the ashes of what we sought to build.

This is an active, ongoing struggle that requires courage. And in this process, our best friend is repetition.

Repetition leads to competence. Competence breeds confidence. Confidence overcomes fear and leads to courage—the courage to face whatever comes next.

Let me share a secret. Ever since that helpless night with my leg in traction (which fortunately ended without incident), I have lived with the fear that I might be attacked or assaulted and would once again, freeze—with all the repercussions that one can conjure—harm to loved ones, rape, injury, you name it. It is not something that I have been able to will away—despite therapy, hypnosis, spiritual practices or other treatment. It is very real to me, regardless of the fact that we no longer live in the sink-or-swim, draw-your-revolver and kill-or-be-killed world that forged strong men and women out of sheer survival. Today, we must find other methods.

To overcome this fear, I drive the better part of an hour to jujutsu, where I know before each class starts that I will have to mentally confront my fear of bodily harm. It’s a running joke among my fellow practitioners that we pay good money to show up, sweat and get beat upon relentlessly, class after class. Why? Because I know that if I keep showing up, one day, the relentless repetition will turn into competence which will in turn lead to confidence and continue to build the courage to square off against ever greater adversaries. I yearn for that result, and I demand it of myself. Therefore, I show up, confront the fear and do the exercises over and over until I master them.

Consider the salesman on his first call. He fumbles through a mostly forgotten script, survives the experience, and goes back to his car for another cup of coffee and a chance to re-group. On the second call, he at least has the experience of having survived the first one. He lucks out on number five and makes a sale. More than confidence, he feels a sense of relief—at least it’s possible…
In the first month, he hits one out of ten. While some might be discouraged, others keep knocking. Pay attention, as this is a key point—anyone can knock. Only a few do—those who muster up the courage.

By month three, he’s up to two out of ten. By month six, he closes three out of ten. Now he is making a living.

Repetition, repetition, repetition. By the end of the first year, he averages a 40% close rate. By the end of the second year, he plateaus at 50% and suddenly realizes that his family will never starve. Who knows how far he will go if he keeps working on his craft.

Fear—a natural state once needed for survival and protection from danger—also paralyzes and demoralizes. And while it does not erase fear, courage enables us to confront it and move forward. Once in action, repetition turns the difficult into easy and the “fear-full” into “fear-less”; never wiping out all fear, but making it less important and less likely to immobilize us.

Courage—much like patience, temperance, responsibility and decision-making—a+ll originate in the mind and work in unison. The Code paints the image of a Great One who embraces these mental traits and, through years of repeated application, works with them effortlessly.

One by one, the Old Man exposes these to the Boy with the invitation to try each of them.

On a side note, in French, the word “coeur” stands for “heart.” Quite appropriately, “cour-age” might also be deemed, the “age of the heart.”
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3 comments

  1. Alfred Bellezza

    Wonderful man. Wonderful interview. Thanks Ridgely. Sad to hear he passed on. What was cause of death?

    • Dear Alfred,

      Unfortunately it was a massive heart attack. He was a wonderful man and has left a magnificent legacy. I am so pleased you are enjoying the series!

  2. danny pavia, Jr.

    Great advice from a great guy who will be missed. He knows how to hit the nail on the head the first time. A winner all the way . Danny

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