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This week we lost two men that could be considered all of the above and then some.

Activist Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth is credited as being the soul of the civil rights movement and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who created technology the world never knew it needed but now can’t live without.

While they were two very different men, they had a similar goal – to improve upon a system that was both outdated and oppressive.

Stay with me while I connect the dots.

Reverend Shuttlesworth was one of the co-founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Created in 1957, the organization led non-violent protests to end segregation in America. Although the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. served as president of the SCLC and was considered “the face” of the movement, Shuttlesworth laid the foundation. President Barack Obama said in a statement that Reverend Shuttlesworth was a “testament to the strength of the human spirit” and that “today we stand on his shoulders, and the shoulders of all those who marched and sat and lifted their voices to help perfect our union.”

Steve Jobs lived his life having made the conscious choice to step out into the unknown and challenge the status quo on his terms – not someone else’s. By example, he taught us that trusting yourself is the genius thing to do and that genius is something within us all, not something that only the special few have.

If you break it down to its most basic level, each of these men made a decision to make a difference in the way people were able to live their lives and then did whatever was necessary to ensure that it happened.

Both men were risk takers.

We are no different than they are. There comes a time in every person’s life where we can choose to either venture out into the wild unknown of our dreams or retreat back into the gentle comfort of the world we are familiar with.

Now granted, some people are born risk takers, and others may need some help but whatever makes you take the risk, whether the outcome is good or bad, you are always a better person after said risk has been taken.

Obviously, no one wants to be rejected and no one wants to fail but the important thing to remember is don’t shy away from the challenge – use it. Learn from it and get back out there.

In fact, the real risk is not in putting yourself out there, but in hiding what could ultimately be your gift and contribution to society.

Reverend Shuttlesworth and Steve Jobs probably had no idea the long lasting impact they would have on the world but they saw a need and took the necessary risks to fulfill it.

Now will you?

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