Recently, a cab driver hit on me. It wasn’t a shy, can-we-be-friends-first-and-then-you-know-maybe-something-can-happen-from-there kind of hitting on. It was a full-blown, I-really-like you-and-would-like-to-date-you-and possibly-marry-you kind of hitting on. It was cute. A tad annoying, but cute. He had been sent to pick me up for an appointment of sorts, and I had every right to be upset by his utterances. He was being unprofessional and if I had reported him to his employers, he may have been heavily reprimanded or even lost his job. But aside the slight the irritation I initially felt, I admired his courage. I was impressed with his guts and it got me thinking…
President Emmanuel Macron was in Nigeria only about a week ago. It was a much-publicised visit with plenty of media coverage as one would imagine. Aside from the fact that the young Commander-in-Chief was returning to a country where he had once worked in as an intern, many were intrigued to see the young man who married his high school teacher.
His unusual marriage, owing to the vast age difference between him and his sexagenarian wife is something many in this part of the world still cannot wrap their minds around. Someone even jokingly asked if he came along with his mum when they learnt he was in Nigeria, and it took the twinkle of mischief in their eyes for me to decode the playful pun. They had referred to his wife as his mother to underscore the “incredulity” of their marriage partnership.
But I saw things in a slightly different light. After reading Emmanuel Macron’s love story with his wife and how he braved the odds to be with her despite the opposition to their relationship, I concluded he must be a really determined man. I mean, who would have thought it was possible for a boy who was not even 17 at the time to break all the barriers in his path to marry his own teacher. She was 41 when she taught him drama. She was married, had kids, had an established career…literally led a life that was on cruise control. And then comes this starry-eyed teenager (or maybe not) who’s hung on her every word. He develops more than a passing interest in her. An interest friends and family frowned on, but which did little to deter the lovestruck teenager.
Macron had guts. Big, insane, out-of-the-ordinary guts. You have to be gutsy to pursue someone who’s old enough to be your mother the way he did. I also mentioned that his being the number one citizen in France can in no way be unconnected to how bold he must be as an individual.
I like people who are able to look beyond their current situation to aspire to seemingly impossible heights. People who punch above their weight. People who don’t even see the obvious limitation the average person sees in them. These are the category of people we should be emulating. They don’t care what you think about them, they just “shoot their shot” like we say colloquially without caring whose Ox is gored.
I have seen good looking men who have good jobs and who probably do not need to woo their crush for too long before she considers dating them miss out on possible love because they were too timid to express their feelings. People have missed out on opportunities that would have catapulted them to the zenith of their career because they failed to take a chance.
Sometimes, guts is a product of naivety. And while that may not necessarily be a good thing all of the time, on a good number of occasions, it provides the right sort of insulation that makes one take a leap that ends up helping them achieve what they set out to achieve.
When I was learning how to drive, there was an old model Mazda everyone at home had abandoned at the mechanics, but which was just perfect for a learner driver. While the car was mostly in good condition, there were times when it was missing some of the parts that could have gotten me in the bad books of the road safety officers, but I didn’t really care.
One time I went as far as 50km, with a significant part of my journey on a major highway without an extra tyre and a side mirror. Luckily, I didn’t run into any law enforcement agents on my way, neither did I experience any car trouble that would have had me kicking myself for my reckless behaviour. I knew I was taking a risk, but you see, I was so thrilled that I could now drive on my own transversing all types of roads that I didn’t think too much of what could be the consequences of my naivety.
In retrospect, I know would never attempt that sort of senseless bravado again, especially on a highway, but I cannot deny that the risks I took at the time helped build my courage to drive on Lagos roads. It’s much the same way little children never rationalise anything or worry before doing whatever they feel like doing. We lose our guts as we grow older because we are now all too aware that a number of things can go wrong.
And so we almost never push ourselves out of our comfort zones to do something different. And yes, things can go wrong, but what if they go right? Men have married women whom everyone thought was way out of their league because they were gutsy enough to ask her out. People have secured jobs they weren’t the most qualified for because they were gutsy enough to apply for the position and stake their claim for the role.
Political neophyte, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made history by defeating incumbent Congressman, Joe Crowley in the race for Newyork’s 14th Congressional District recently. She never underrated herself because of her inexperience or lack of political clout and was gutsy enough to throw her hat in the ring. And it paid off!
What about you? What are you going to do differently? When are you going to do something that scares you but would fulfil you if it goes according to plan?
The braver you are, the more likely you are to achieve your goals.
Get gutsy. If you fail, you’ll learn and re-strategise. If you succeed, well, congratulations! You now have the impetus to get even gutsier.