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Everything I Needed to Know About Courage, I Learned From The Karate Kid

09/01/2010 12:18 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt

My fiancee and I recently went to see the new "Karate Kid" movie starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan.

She really really wanted to see it, but I was pretty sure it was going to be cheeseball. I never saw the original, and was fine with missing this version.

But then something happened while we were at the movie. I started to become emotionally involved with the characters: Dre (played by Jaden), the small kid who gets beaten and bullied by bigger, older kids; and Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), the kung fu master disguised as maintenance man who teaches him the secrets of the ages.

As the movie played out, I realized the story was not about punching and kicking. It was a story about courage and love.

Dre got beat up by bullies until he finds the courage to ask Mr. Han to teach him how to fight back.

Mr. Han was mourning his lost family until young Dre shows him that "no matter how often life knocks us down, we can always get back up."

Now, I realize that this may indeed be a cheesy movie. But I found myself moved to tears - even when we saw it a second time.

The more I thought about the movie, I thought about the real-life Jaden Smith, son of rapper-turned-TV-star-turned-A-List-movie-star Will Smith.

I have been a Will Smith fan since the '90s. If you look in my car, you'll find Will Smith CDs dating back nearly 20 years.

As a student of success and its causes, I have studied Will Smith carefully, because he has a claim to fame that no one else has.

He is the only person who has hit the top of the charts in all three major entertainment categories: music, TV and movies.

Elvis didn't do it. Sinatra didn't. Madonna didn't. Mariah Carey didn't.

Only Will Smith, the Fresh Price from Philly, has done it.

Now when I watch Jaden on the screen, it's easy to see his father in him. His facial expressions, mannerisms, even how he moves his mouth - you can see his Dad's influence.

And that got me thinking about where courage really comes from.

Imagine how confident young Jaden must be to have someone like Will Smith believing in him.

Of course, if you ask Will, I bet he'd tell you that Jaden has more confidence and courage than he himself had at that age.

And that's the way it should be. Will Smith built on the example of his parents, who built on his parents, and so on.

The word courage comes from the Latin cor, meaning "heart".

When you act from courage, you are literally acting from your heart. Isn't it amazing how many times we refer to the heart when talking about people who act with both kindness and courage:

"He spoke from his heart."

"She's all heart."

"Follow your heart."

It sounds so simple. And maybe it is simple, but it isn't always easy.

Sometimes following our heart is the last thing we want to do - because our HEAD tells us we're crazy!

For example, when I launched SuccessClinic.com in 1997, I had no business skills, no money, no contacts, and no idea how to run a profitable business.

Every day, I'd wake up and ask God, "Okay God, what do you want me to do today?"

Twelve years and tens of thousands of Students later, we're still here. And I'm still asking the same question. (Only I have a little more experience and a lot more help these days.)

So here are 7 ways to follow your heart and find more courage:

1. Listen to your still, small voice.

You know, the one that doesn't make any sense? The one telling you to take that leap and do the thing that doesn't make any sense? That one.

2. Write all your crazy ideas.

I'm not saying you should do all of them. But what the heck, they're rattling around in your head anyway. Writing them on paper gives you the chance to examine them and stop the rattling.

3. Share your crazy ideas with a Loving Mirror.

A Loving Mirror believes in you more than you believe in yourself. Like Mr. Han did with Dre. Like Will did with Jaden.

Your mentors believe you into being. This is the true secret of the Naturals of Success.

4. DO SOMETHING.

Here's a great example: Most of the people who audition for American Idol can't sing. But they have a dream, and at least they showed up for it. They took action. They did something.

Sure, maybe they'll embarrass themselves. But it's better than sitting around thinking, "If only I'da..."

And who knows? Someone's gotta win the thing.

5. Learn from people who've already been where you want to go.

Mr. Han was a kung fu master, but if Dre hadn't had the courage to ask for his help, he would have still been beaten up by bullies.

Find 5 people who've done what you want to do.

Contact them and show them how, why and that THEY will benefit from helping you.

Remember The Power of WIIFT: What's In It for THEM! Things get very easy when you're always talking about how the OTHER person benefits.

6. Ignore everyone else.

"The only people who can tell me I can't do something are people who've tried it and failed."

People love to criticize, because it makes them feel important and justifies their not-taking-action.

Ignore them, feel sorry for them, let their non-belief spur you to more action. The only thing not to do is let them stop you.

7. Do the thing you're afraid of.

Will Smith has said over and over: "When I'm afraid of something, that's the thing I do next."

I loved it in the movie when Jaden's character said the same thing, nearly word for word.

I know you've had the experience of being deathly afraid of something...

Then you did it...

And went, "Hey, that wasn't so bad after all. What was I so afraid of?"

Follow your heart and you'll discover that you have more courage than you think.

What are you waiting for?

* * *
Noah St. John is the inventor of Afformations and author of the bestselling book The Secret Code of Success: 7 Hidden Steps to More Wealth and Happiness (HarperCollins).

Stephen Covey says, "Noah's Secret Code of Success is about discovering within ourselves what we should have known all along - we are truly powerful beings with unlimited potential."

Noah coaches conscious entrepreneurs to DO LESS and HAVE MORE. He's been featured on CNN, ABC, NBC, in The Washington Post, Bottom Line/Personal and Parade Magazine.

Get the first 3 chapters of Noah's Secret Code of Success FREE at NoahStJohn.com