Strength, Courage, and the Unknown

Posted By on Jan 9, 2017 | 17 comments

John Glenn died on December 8, 2016.

I don’t post blogs very often because I don’t like to waste people’s time with trivial thoughts or things I don’t think will have much meaning for anyone.

The death of John Glenn, however, caused me to reflect on a great many things.

I’m a Wimp

I’ve never fought in combat. I’ve never stared death in the face, clenched my teeth, and charged forward.

Sure, I know how to fight. I’ve had a little training in self-defense, but the real truth is I’ve never had to use it (something for which I’m grateful.)

The men and women who have marched boldly ahead into battle are at a level I could never reach.

John Glenn and many of the other astronauts throughout the years embody that kind of courage. And then some.

Those guys volunteered for missions that they knew had a high likelihood of ending in death. They stepped into the role like rockstars, ready to take the stage no matter what the consequences.

I mean, going into space? There were so many unknowns, so many variables. I can’t imagine facing something like that, climbing into the capsule atop tons of highly combustible fuel and staring up into the sky.

Were they just brazen, cocky airplane jockeys looking for a little more fame and fortune?

Or did Glenn and the others have another reason behind what they did?

The Right Stuff

One of the phrases that was used with the early astronauts was kind of interesting. They were said to have “the right stuff.” It was a makeup that no normal human possessed.

Astronauts must be highly intelligent, in good physical condition, and most importantly, must have their minds in the right place.

Out in space, anything can go wrong in a moment’s notice. If one isn’t fully dialed in to their tasks, it can mean disaster.

That means staving off pushing away fear to get the job done.

John Glenn’s generation was (and still is) part of that group we call The Greatest Generation. They won a world war on two fronts, built interstate highways across a massive nation, and built machines that could send people into space.

What is it about that generation? What makes them so great, so unrelenting?

I’ve spoken to several members of that generation and asked them those same questions.

Their answers were remarkably simple.

Surfer Mentality

Surfer’s have an interesting mindset. I was speaking to a few a long time ago, and I asked them how they dealt with the challenges the ocean presents. Waves can be erratic, inconsistent, and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, you get knocked off the board.

Their answer was simple. They said the secret to being good at it is to acknowledge and move on. You acknowledge what happened and keep pushing forward.

That’s exactly what people told me when I asked them what made The Greatest Generation so great.

They said that they had a job to do, so they just put their nose down and got to it.

One of their greatest strengths was acceptance. They accepted their challenges as part of life. They didn’t sit down and complain about troubles. They couldn’t!

If they did, the world would look much different.

Find Your Courage

You don’t have to be an astronaut to have incredible courage. You don’t have to be a soldier.

People in all walks of life must face challenges and trials. It’s part of the deal.

Your challenges may be physical or medical. They may be financial. They may be familial or social. They could be romantic.

What determines your greatness is your ability to put your nose down and get to work at overcoming the challenge. Bravery or courage isn’t always charging headlong into gunfire. For some, it is just rolling out of bed in the morning because that act takes so much out of them.

I once heard someone say that to achieve greatness, it takes time, pressure, and persistence.

That’s it.

Heck, that’s how I’ve published so many books. When you look at a blank page in a blank book and know you have to fill all those pages with words, it can be daunting.


What challenge are you facing? What must you do to overcome it and achieve your own greatness?

Whatever it may be, you can handle it.

Whether you’re a Christian or not, this verse from the Bible rings true. I’ve seen it over and over again in life.

Corinthians 10:13 says you will not be tested above what you are able.

That means whatever life throws at you, you can handle.

All it takes is the courage to put one foot in front of the other and keep marching.

That’s how all battles are won.


  1. Ernest,
    You are so right, it was our parents and grandparents which built this awesome country we live in.

    We all need to share their strength and commitment with our children and grandchildren, to help america stay strong and free.

    As we know none of it was free, but a worthy cause, thank you. DGR

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    • You are right, I really like your blogs for giving us or reminding us of things that we should not take for granted. I can’t think of how many time I have asked myself how to get through the day but remember one of my favorite sayings, “sometimes you just take a deep breath and pray”.

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    • Thank you for your blog Ernest. All so true. Everything in life is a challenge. Everything we all do are given gifts from God. Everyday is a new day and God will not put anything in your path that He knows you cannot handle. Although I am not American, throughout the world our forefathers and parents had to persivere and nothing came easy. Everything you achieve is with hard work, never saying “I cannot do that”, and in the end they survived. One of the things I taught my own two girls and all the kids at my school, was never to say “I cannot do that”, . I believe you can do ANYTHING if you WANT to do it! Nothing is impossible! Commit, courage, self disipline and faith.

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  2. Would love to read more of your books.

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  3. Great blog, Mr. Dempsey. The words read Just like your books. To the point, and with great meaning. I worked for NASA and met some great people, including those who gave their all. They were, for the most part, the same as you and I. Visiting with them, they thought a lot of family, living and the need to be where they were.
    Thank you again for addressing the fact we all need to think where we would be today if not for military and our veterans. We owe so much to them.
    I thoroughly enjoy the Sean Wyatt books. Keep them coming! And have a great and prosperous New Year.

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  4. Just finished Excaliber Key. Well done again. Lots of fun to read.

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  5. Thanks Earnest, for your books , your musings , general advice ,history of and current happenings around Atlanta. Also, a big thank you goes out to all your family and friends who have given you the kind of support I think we all need .

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  6. Thank you, Ernest, for being such a fine prolific writer. Love the plots & characters – Sean, of course makes them work…. & me to read more.

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  7. Let’s see, you, Ernest, and I have the same college degrees. Took me 26 years to get both of mine–I had to work and go to school at night, I graduated both times with no debt.

    I have a genetic disease that has killed many in my family before their 2nd birthday. Only because I was born after antibiotics were discovered, am I here at 66 years of age. The more I look into my family’s history the more I find who died too early. We should be very thankful for penicillin.

    I was diagnosed with gastric cancer in 2012. So far, I’ve beaten it twice (reoccured in 2016). The worst part is no smoked foods–and I love BBQ. It’s now a once or twice a year treat.

    I read A LOT . Amazon tells me I read 481 books in 2015 and 2016 combined. Hey–Ernest, that doesn’t include the freebies from you, and some that were real books, so I’d say it really is over 500. Some were quite long at over 1200 pages, some quite short at under 100 pages. Still, that’s a LOT of pages!! I like to read until very early in the AM.

    I read mostly history–hated it in school. Couldn’t understand why I needed to learn about it. Now, that I’ve traveled so much and to so many places, I love to read about the history of places I’ve been or plan to go. I’d love to go to my family’s historical home in France.

    I’m a genealogy nut. Some refer to me as a historian and genealogist. Not sure it those titles have been earned yet.

    Daddy was the last of 15 children (the older I get, the more amazed I am at my grandmother). He fought in WWII, as did his nephew, who was the same age as he was (nephew was only son of oldest son—#2 of 15). Nephew was in the Army Air Corps and was shot down over France. I remember when his remains were repatriated.

    I’ve met a lot of really famous people in my lifetime–up close and personal. I can tell you that LBJ snored. Daddy was into politics, and as a single parent had to drag me to his political meetings. Single male parents were very unusual when I was growing up. I got to meet on a very personal basis many politicians. I actually discharged a can of Redi-Wip in the face of one (accidentally–it had just been introduced to the market), did I EVER get a lecture, and my nanny was told to NEVER let me touch the stuff again. Looking back, it WAS kind of funny. You should have seen his face.

    Having a boy’s name has made my life VERY interesting at times. I think Daddy may have regretted letting my aunt give me his middle name at times, especially when it was trouble–and he had to take care of it.

    Life is good. No matter what satan throws at me, God will get me through it. I know it’s a good day when I wake up on top of the dirt!!

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  8. Wow…now “that” was a good read!!!!!…I’m in…..and I’m hooked 🙂 grin…Julie

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  9. I agree, your books are great!

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  10. Loved this!!! I think I am going to revisit Chasing comets!!!!

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  11. Ernest,
    I am part of that Generation (Yes,I really am that old).
    And I can tell you that is exactly how I was taught to live my life.

    You did what needed to be done, because it needed to be done.

    Looking forward to reading more of your books.

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  12. Everything you said is soo true, I believe that life only throws things at you to awaken the toughness that is inside all of us. Love your books and always look forward to the next one, all the very best.

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