Most men are not brave. They will call a woman they are certain will go out with them, and stall for months before finally phoning a woman they are less sure of. Or. more likely, they never call her at all.

The Ironman knows that taking chances are part of his life. Not stupid, wild, swing for-the-fences, hope-to-get-lucky chances, but intelligent, calculated chances where, with a little bit of luck, things might go his way.

No, he doesn't call up the beautiful executive assistant who has just started working for the president of his company, the one he met for two seconds while waiting on line in the office cafeteria for his baked sole and cauliflower special. But he does call the woman who lives in his condominium complex with whom he frequently chats pleasantly in the laundry room of his building. Even if he's not all that sure she wants to go out with him.

The Ironman enjoys the challenge. Believe it or not he enjoys the suspense, the tension, the nervousness of not knowing whether a particular woman will go out with him; for he's experienced how much greater a pleasure it is to be going out with her than a sure thing.

I have a friend who was riding back from the beach, where he'd spent the day hanging out with a group of friends and friends of friends. Seated between him and the driver was a beautiful brunette whom he had spent some time tossing a frisbee with, her long legs and abundant bosom tantalizing him as she dove for the spinning platter. She was an acquaintance, not the girlfriend, of the driver, who seemed as interested in the girl as my friend. Sensing she was up for grabs, he decided that before very long he must make a play for her.

He sat there for a few seconds, listening to the soft jazz on the radio, taking in the scent of the girl's perfume, and experienced a strong impulse to throw his arm around her. 'My God,' he thought to himself, 'she'll think I'm mad. I hardly know her. I'll be overstepping my bounds.'

But then he considered the other side of the coin. It could just be interpreted as a sign of friendship. Or the shifting of a limb during a long ride. And if he didn't make a move soon, his friend would. So, throwing caution to the wind, he put his arm around the girl, cupping her shoulder with his hand. Instantly she melted into him like soft ice cream. And they wound up spending the weekend in bed.

Of course, aside from the rewards of being brave, the Ironman has also discovered that if he does get turned down, it's no big thing. Besides a mildly bruised ego, he has survived to try again. He's also learned that life is a mixture of defeats and successes; and that it is those who have come to accept the fact that you can't always win who develop the strength to keep on taking risks, being brave. For they have confidence that even when things aren't momentarily going their way, their luck will turn simply by forging ahead.

An Ironman is brave because it is his role and because he enjoys it. He has found that bravery is one of the traits that helps him most get what he wants out of life. He knows that his bravery becomes him.


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