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Praying for Courage with Bill Cosby

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There are a number of compelling issues facing us today; -- debt ceiling, oil prices, unemployment, homelessness, a failing educational system and more. These stress factors leave us needing a little encouragement and insight into how "courage" can help us better manage our day. As we go about the 86,400 Seconds we are blessed with each day, remember to draw on "courage" to help propel you forward against forces that would otherwise hold you back. As discovered by the Lion in the Wizard of Oz, "courage" will push you to maximize your time to do something -- anything -- but sit still and watch events unfold.

I interviewed the legendary Bill Cosby earlier this year. Excerpts from my interview with Bill on courage will hopefully motivate, inspire and help move you from thought to action. Bill and I talked about how courage can help shape your day, the need for encouragement, the 86,400 Movement and his book, "Come On, People". He is a passionate innovative thinker that believes in putting forth solutions to the problems facing our communities.

Bill's Thoughts on Courage

Q. In "Come On, People", you and Dr. Poussaint tell us that it is time for people to have courage, to believe that we can do better, ask for help and don't be afraid to move forward. What's your definition of Courage?

A. I don't want to define courage; what I would like to do is clear it up for people. Having courage requires you to see things differently. If you have the empathy, the depression and all of the cousins that go along with it, the inertia and the entropy of all of these negative things, you can't believe that you can move forward to take a step. You are afraid because of whatever is in you. Courage for people that are in that depression, in that apathy need stimulation. They need stimulation of the positive, simulation of realization.

Bill: Did you ever play a sport?

Lavaille: Only as an adult not as a child. I played in the very first baseball league at Lakewood Church in Houston.

Bill: Ok, we will leave that alone. Have you heard of a thing called a pep talk?

Lavaille: Yes, I was a cheerleader in high school.

Bill: Ok, the reason you were out there cheering was not just because you were cute. The idea was that you guys were suppose to keep the crowd going, right? Now sometimes you were out there cheering and the people in the crowd were talking about going shopping, some just focused on their child.

Lavaille: Not paying us any attention, right?

Bill: HELLO, but you were out there to encourage. No matter what all was going on, you were out there to encourage. Stimulation of the positive. Stimulation, encouragement to bring the team to victory. So, people need encouragement also to bring forth or stimulate them to believe and have the courage to take that step towards that goal, that dream. Courage wears many, many different; let's say to be biblically, (since you are with the church) cloaks, jackets. Sometimes when applied to a battered woman you have to have the courage to leave that man who is beating you up. Having "courage" takes you a step away from that which is the wrong comfort zone in your life. Now to discourage you, your mind can say if I go away he will find me, so you will stay, you are discouraged. If I can get you to community college, you still need to be encouraged, because your old feelings of discouragement still reside, your old habits. Courage for me means to throw away discourage; to invite courage; to stay stimulated; to continue to walk forward. Feeling good about what one is doing and knowing that one must continue, one must believe that this is the comfort zone on the way to success.

Q. Why do you think it's important to be conscious of our 86,400?

A. Being conscious of your 86,400 is a way for you to check your self. It is important for you to check and lift yourself up according to thy field. You know churches do it every Sunday. They do it through Jesus. They keep telling you that Jesus is strong. Your seconds in a day require through the Bible, through philosophy, that you encounter and stay with people and around people who can give you sound philosophy, encouraging you to go up and up, to challenge yourself without being afraid.

Q. What piece of encouragement or advice would you give people who are lost or struggling?

A. The problem I'm having is not the question you are asking. The problem I'm having is with an awful lot of organizations or people who are not organized, or people who are living around failure. I think that people that are lost or struggling ignore the successful stories. The paradigms, the examples of success. And when you tell them about these things, these successful stories, (these are educated people, people who can clearly see the examples that will lead to success). Now, for some reason they choose not to use the success stories. I don't know if it is because they don't want to give credit to someone else. I just don't know why. Let me give you an example. I was in Detroit not too long ago and I was talking about paradigms and examples that exist with a principal of this school. This principal said to me that it is not successful to follow paradigms for success because you have to create your own. I asked him, "Well sir, what did you do?" He said I did this and I did that. And I said but sir, that's already been done and you have already lived it. You were already told this so why are you trying to sound like you have invented something that no one else has already done? You have done it, it is not that you have been a copycat; you have taken that which is true, important and made it successful. Yet, if given another example of success, it is if I brought someone to your school sir, who is having trouble with their school and you would look at that person and say, well even though I'm successful, you can't copy what I'm doing. There are examples of why people succeed and fail, and if you don't pay attention to them, then you will not be able to place the successful part. So my thing or advice to people is to look at examples of success, follow it and don't worry about copying. Make your adjustments while you are headed towards success.

Q. It takes courage to get people from thought to action. How can this be done?

A. Education, Education, Education . Lavaille you are blank, blank years old. How many times were you told, "Child, in spite of your raggedly self; in spite of where you wanted to go; in spite of what you wanted to do, how many people said' "NO, no you won't?" How many people said, "I'm disappointed in you" when you messed up? How many people tried to guide you? Yea, I know you got angry and came out of yourself and you tried to tell these people off. That's ok, because that's apart of the fight. Education, formal and informal helps you put the pieces together so that you can frame it and move from thought to action. Not just the teachers, teaching you, but elders teaching you. But if you don't have elders teaching, if you have TV people, rap people, radio people, talking about don't listen to old people because there is a disconnect, who disconnected the thing? If you tell young people don't listen to your elders, you have erased all of the history, all of the knowledge. Even a wino, a junkie you see shooting up, in my day they would tell you they are doing wrong and for you not to do it. They would at least tell you this. So all of this, moving from thought to action requires education of self, formal education, education about your history, communication with elders, and the wise. Knowledge, education and the courage to take steps, all of these things help you to be able to move from thought to action.

Q. What is a typical day like for you? How do you start each day?

A. I wake up. I start each day with how I went to sleep last night. With a prayer. Start with a prayer, finish with a prayer. My suggestion to people on starting each day, each 86,400 is, give yourself a prayer of encouragement. Not one where you hope, but give yourself a realization prayer. Get on your knees or lay in the bed and look up into the darkness or hug your wife or something. And say to yourself "this is who I am, this is who I'm going to be, not a better person. I'm going to do this, I have things that I have to do because I want to be better. "

I am looking forward to more talks with Mr. Cosby. Remember that every day is rich with 86,400 opportunities to fulfill your God-given purpose. Together let's move forward confidently, from thought to action, living our lives on purpose, and making the most of each and every blessed gift of our 86,400 seconds.

Lavaille Lavette is an author, educator, inspirational speaker with time management expertise, a former special advisor to the U. S. Secretary of Education, (2001 -2005) and an advocate for various charitable causes. Lavaille has combined two of her passions with the creation of the 86400 Seconds Movement and Tour, "Making a Difference, Being The Difference." (86400movement.com) The movement is the instigator for a renewed life of intention and relevance. Her new book, "86400, Manage Your Purpose to Make Every Second of Each Day Count," offers guidance and examples on how to live every second of each day purposefully and with renewed life.