When is the last time someone made you uncomfortable (in a good way)?
I recently sat down and talked with my friend, Hank Fortener. Hank is an entrepreneur, a speaker, a pastor, a husband and a father, along with a few other things. Our conversation was so good, I split it in two. (Here’s part one). I love how Hank felt the freedom to disagree with me directly, push back and really challenge conventional thinking. Hank is a provocative guy, which is why I’ve enjoyed his teaching for so long. I don’t always agree with him but I always finished listening to him with something to chew on.
This post is a little longer than my normal ones, but it’s full of some great perspective! Oh and keep reading until the end. I have a very cool announcement at the end for the readers in Phoenix involving something Hank and I are working on together.
(**This conversation originally happened over the phone and I transcribed the answers as true to the original as possible. In places, I edited the conversation for focus and length, with the goal to preserve Hank’s intent.)
Hank’s Unique View on Courage
Scott: Hank, I’ve written on the blog about how certain things in life are a muscle. Like gratitude for instance. I also feel like courage is a muscle, which gets stronger with use. What has helped you develop your “courage muscle” over the years?
Hank: I actually don’t believe courage is something you develop. I have a unique view here. At the root of all courage is “rage”. If you take away the “c-o-u”, all you have left is “rage”. You have to have something which pisses you off about the world in order to do something you’re afraid of. For me, courage is driven by anger. Courage is not something which wells up within you which makes you stronger – I haven’t seen it happen and I’m not going to live long enough to see it happen for me.
My courage comes from rage. I rage when a child dies in a orphanage in Burma right in front of my face. I rage when I think about my brothers and sisters who were stuck in the foster care system and couldn’t get out because trans-racial adoption wasn’t a thing. I rage when I think about the families that could adopt every day but can’t because of resources, sometimes as small as a couple thousand dollars. They can afford the child, but can’t afford that lump sum. I rage when I think about us spending 19 billion dollars on Mother’s Day every year (almost as much as we spend on Christmas time in some states) and we don’t spend any of that money to actually support motherhood. I rage when I think about people in the world who think that God hates them or that He doesn’t exist or they haven’t seen love. Everything that drives me actually comes from something which pisses me off.
So, I think, “what is worst than my fears?” It is this rage I feel. I’m not going to sit and watch kids die globally, while I could do something. When I think, “Oh, I’m afraid I could come off as underwhelming,” well yeah, that’s just stupid. That sounds stupid in the context of the anger I feel. I’m not angry at anyone – you just have to have that burning anger.
If you Google courage, you get a lot of war movies. Those people weren’t thinking about courage welling up inside of them; they were pissed at people attacking their land or killing their friends. So they were wiling to risk harm, to risk their bodies. In the face of great danger, they’re willing to even go against direct orders because of what was happening. Ultimately, courage pushes you past your fears by the force of rage.
[Tweet “Ultimately, courage pushes you past your fears by the force of rage. @hankfortener”]
Behind the Name of Hank’s Podcast
Scott: The title of your podcast is Typically Hazardous. The description you gave in the premiere episode, really parallels what you just shared about courage. Why did you pick the name Typically Hazardous?
Hank: I’m going to give a talk on what I just shared about courage really soon on the podcast, so that’s a good connection.
The reason I think Typically Hazardous is important is because nothing I have done that has led me to the life I want has been easy or safe.
[Tweet “Nothing I have done that has led me to the life I want has been easy or safe.”]
It’s the danger of that wisdom voice saying “keep saving money, don’t spend it on that, don’t move, don’t quit that job, don’t do that thing”. If I can equip people through the podcast and have conversations with people that inspire them to move toward the hazardous for the sake of the good, then I will have unleashed people in a way that I have been unleashed my whole life.
It’s both/and – I hope it’s helpful for people. I also hope I find people (to interview) who inspire me and to be inspired, to keep walking through that door marked “hazardous”. Not for the sake of recklessness, but for the sense of that courage voice. That voice pushes us to do more and risk more for the sake of what I want, which is not happening right now. We’re working against our brain, which is inherently lazy, preserves the status quo and resists the danger to keep us safe. We have to be dissatisfied with what is, to the point that we’re willing to push past fear and do what is dangerous.
Why Hank is Still A Pastor
Scott: Hank, you moved to Los Angeles over ten years ago to intern at MOSAIC, this unique church in LA. After all that has come in your life (founding a non-profit, speaking internationally, consulting, writing, starting a podcast), why are you still involved at MOSAIC? Why are you committed there?
Hank: I am committed to church. There’s this passage in the Scriptures where Jesus says “where two or three or gathered, there I am is in your midst.” So, this is terribly awful when people say “you’re not alone, God is with you.” When Jesus says “I will be with you, even to the end of the age, that you is plural. That is church.
In the same way I hate that kids could live without mothers and fathers, I can’t imagine people being with out the most powerful spiritual community in the world – a community of people who are chasing after God, loving and supporting one another. I’m not a fan of church in the brand, foundation, or institutional form. Most churches have become big brands with big bands and are providing content to the world. I’m for church that meets in people’s backyards and in community and cares for one another’s needs and knows each other’s names. I’m for church like MOSAIC or Hillsong or church for these groups because I don’t know where else to bring my friends to find out about God in a really compelling way besides church.
I’ve honestly tried to help my friends find God apart from church, but it’s so easy to invite them to church with me. And there are different churches for different people. I love knowing different people at different churches around LA, so I can call someone and have them invite my friend to their church because it fits them better.
[Tweet “”I can’t imagine people being with out the most powerful spiritual community in the world””]
Hank on Overcoming Paralyzing Fear
Scott: Hank, I end each of my Overcoming Fear Interviews the same way. There’s somebody reading this interview and they’re really struggling with fear, they don’t feel courageous. They have a dream or an idea but they’re paralyzed. What would you say to them?
Hank: You have to feed your rage…The reality is being courageous for courageous sake is a waste of everyone’s time. You’re probably going to get hurt and convince yourself you were right all along (“you shouldn’t have done that risky thing”). Courage for courage’s sake because you want to be a brave person is recklessness. Courage for the sake of others or for some noble thing or for where you want to be or go or accomplish in your life is the only thing that serves you.
Courage is not a characteristic. I resist courage as a characteristic. You can’t say a person is courageous or fearless. You’re pointing at 3 moments in their life and calling them fearless. They still deal with the voice of fear. They still try to make wise choices because there are things you’re supposed to be afraid of. Courage is a tool to push you through those things.
You have to feed your rage and rage produces courage. You have to figure out what in your life you’re mad enough to change for. And it doesn’t even have to be something bad. It could be something you don’t have which you want. If a person is really worried, you have to decide if your worry is going to make your life smaller. Are you okay with that? If so, then you don’t have to be courageous. Some people are risk-averse and live very happy lives.
But if people are reading this, I think they want to keep moving forward. They have to figure out what they’re angry enough about to risk everything for. Courage is, in and of itself, disappointing. Courage got me hurt, scars, lost me huge sums of money, embarrassed me, and led me to give terrible talks I had to pull off YouTube because they were so bad. Courage embarrasses you, shames you and it’s costly, but it is the gateway – the typically hazardous door to what you want to get to.
In summary, you have to figure out what you’re mad enough to change for. And if you’re can’t find anything you’re mad enough about to change, then don’t worry about it and be happy where you are. Don’t ruin your life. Courage will ruin your life. Courage will pull you through seasons of life that are very difficult and costly. If you don’t know what that courage is for, you’ll just be reckless.
Scott: How can people stay connected with you and what you’re doing?
Big Announcement about Hank Fortener and Phoenix!
My special announcement is that Hank and I are putting together a live Typically Hazardous podcast event in Phoenix later this spring! The details are still in the works, but if you want to know more about this event, then sign up for his email list and he’ll send out all the details once we have it set.
Also, if you want to continue to hear interview with fascinating people like Hank and get all of my updates as well, sign up below.