Skip to content


Smiling young female student raising hand by others in a row at[Tweet this blog.]

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Preparing today for the opportunity to speak to 1,000 high school leaders in Yakima, Washington on Tuesday. I’ll be encouraging this group of amazing young men and women to live authentically, strive boldly and to not let obstacles, mistake, peer-pressure or fear destroy the unlimited possibility of their stories. [Tweet this.] I’ll also remind them that, for better or for worse, one person can profoundly impact someone else’s life.

An example I look forward to sharing comes from when I was in high school.

My junior year, weighing-in at a whopping 96 pounds, riddled with acne, mouth filled with braces, and generally awkward one, of the biggest guys in school decided to start making fun of me. Every time we’d pass in the halls, classrooms or lunchroom he’d mock my hands and ridicule my scars. He played football, was popular, and everyone thought he was hilarious.

I ignored him and waited for it to stop. It didn’t.

Each night I’d leave school totally bummed out. In my heart, as a kid, I knew he was right. I was burned. My hands were different. Sure I’ve learned to celebrate that truth today, but back then it was still too painful to fully embrace.

After several weeks of his malice I sat in history class waiting for the teacher to arrive. From behind me I heard the dude (think “The Situation” from Jersey Shore for visual) making fun of me again.

And then it happened.

The smallest kid in our class stood up. He walked past me then pointed down at the big, tough, athletic popular dude. Then he yelled in a high-pitched, squeaky voice: “Dude, leave him alone!” You have no idea what this kids been through. Shut up!”

And the dude shut up. Never again ridiculed me or anyone else in the entire school. That day, Mike, a classmate I’d never even really spoken with changed my life by accepting his calling to be courage for me when I was unable to be courage for myself.

My friends, the invitation for young leaders in high school and for each one of us in our lives is to live with this kind of boldness, this kind of love, this kind of fearlessness. Today I challenge you to be resolute, to step up to the great bully, the world, the thing that is telling you that you’re not worthy or good enough. I encourage you to take it by the beard and tug on it. Just don’t be surprised when you find it truly was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.

You are called to make a difference. [Tweet this.] You are called to be like Mike.

I want to hear from you! Share an example of one person who stood up for you or a time when you stood for someone else in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear about your adventure!

Friends, this is our final blog this month on ENOUGH: Lessons to thrive where you are. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed sharing them. We’re going to spend the month of May discussing the choice we are given when we are faced with fear. One choice leaves us with negativity, brokenness and death; the other shows us possibility, fullness and life. Can’t wait to discuss more over the weeks to come!

If you want to receive this blog in your inbox each week – sign up at here.

0 replies on “ENOUGH: Being Afraid”

John, thanks for sharing the story, wish the name of the person who stuck up for you in HS was mine. We all should (and thanks to you I am) really make a conscious effort to teach our kids to be like Mike as they go through school. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Live Inspired Together is a community of friends changing the world together, starting with their own. In a world that often focuses on negativity, John O’Leary - Live Inspired shares the other side of the story through his member-supported channels (essays, Live Inspired Podcast, video, webcasts, social platforms) to connect our community and share inspiration and actions to live it. Support now.