My Next Personal Development Experiment Revealed – Random Acts of Courage

Random acts of courage

by Vlad Dolezal on March 30, 2011

You may have noticed that I haven’t done any personal development experiments in a couple of months. That’s because with one thing and another, I simply did not have the spare energy and mind space.

But everything has blown over, and I’m ready to start a new experiment! And thanks to @simplystephen50, who introduced me to the idea, this experiment may be my craziest and most fun one yet! (That’s not to say that my other experiments, like directing your dreams were not fun, but this one is… well, something different!)

It’s based on a challenge that a guy called Niall Doherty did earlier this year. In fact, I’ll be following his format very closely, because he’s done a really good job of it. So do feel free to check out his random acts of courage.

Anyway, the basic idea of Random Acts of Courage is to go out for five weekdays in a row, and do approximately 8 things each day that are outside my comfort zone.

I’m planning to start my random acts of courage with things that are fairly simple, like stopping random strangers on the street and wishing them a nice day, and move to progressively scarier and scarier stuff. Like convincing a stranger to give me a piggyback ride.

I have adapted Niall’s original acts of courage, because some of them don’t fit me (for example, one of his challenges was “Go to a bar on your own and strike up a conversation with another patron.” Personally, after giving them a solid couple of tries in my first year at university, I’ve determined that I don’t really like bars.)

Instead, I’ve introduced some of my own challenges that make more sense in my environment. For example “Get a stranger to toss a frisbee with you for a few minutes.”

But in general, I’ve kept most of Niall’s original challenges, because I didn’t remove something unless it really didn’t fit my situation. Funnily enough, I did feel the urge to remove a few items where, after giving it a good amount of thought, I only wanted to remove them because they were far outside my comfort zone. But upon closer inspection, I didn’t see anything wrong with them as such. (One example would be to “Lie down in a busy store and stay there until someone asks if you’re okay.”)

I’m planning to post a progress report for each day of the experiment. I will reveal each day’s challenges the day before (so, for example, I will reveal Wednesday’s challenges in the Tuesday progress report). The only exception being – I reveal Monday’s challenges below.

I’m about 80% sure that I will start this experiment on the coming Monday, 4th April. But because a lot of the challenges will be easier and work better when the weather is nice (in fact, for some of them it’s pretty much a requirement), I might postpone the experiment for a week if the weather is really bad. So, if you don’t see a progress report on Monday, chances are I’ve postponed the experiment. Just wait another week, because I’m definitely doing this either the coming week or the week after.

I might shuffle the challenges around a bit if something especially convenient comes up. For example, I’m planning to strike up a conversation with a beggar, and if I come across one before the day for when I’m planning that specific challenge, I’ll just complete it then and there. But in general, I’m planning to accomplish the specific challenges I’ve listed for each day.

And with all of that out of the way, without further ado, here’s what I will do on Monday:

  1. Stop five strangers on the street, and wish them a great day.
  2. Make eye contact with a stranger and don’t look away until they do first.
  3. Learn a simple magic trick and perform it for a stranger on the street.
  4. Go to a clothing store for the opposite sex, hold up an outfit and ask a sales rep if it would look good on you.
  5. Ask a stranger in a restaurant or coffee shop if you can sit with them.
  6. Have a 2-minute conversation with an imaginary friend in public.
  7. Do ten push ups in the middle of a busy pedestrian area.
  8. Walk around for 10 minutes with your shirt/jacket on backwards.

See you on Monday!

Update – Here are my reports from the various days:

Monday report

Tuesday report

Wednesday report

Thursday report

What I learned from the challenges

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

danman March 30, 2011 at 13:35

I can’t wait to see how this will end.


Simeon Jackson March 30, 2011 at 18:14

I second that danman! Looking forward to hearing the reports! And I wish I was still in Leeds to catch one or two of them in the making! Alas, I am not… actually, wait a minute, yes I will be in Leeds this monday. Possibly Tuesday too. Wahoo! 🙂


Vlad Dolezal March 30, 2011 at 22:37

That’s awesome! I’ll message you my number over facebook, maybe we’ll have a chance to meet up… and you could witness some of those random acts in the making 😀


simply stephen March 31, 2011 at 20:33

Thanks for the mention Vlad. Glad my tweets and articles inspire and invoke change sometimes. ;). Good for you.

Living in the middle of the Canadian wilderness makes many of those things difficult for me. Not sure I want to stare down a moose or a bear! Perhaps it’s a little safer though.

Will try a mini experiment this summer. Enjoy.
simply stephen´s last post ..what is a freegan


Vlad Dolezal April 1, 2011 at 00:29

Yeah. You might also find it tricky to “go in public and sing out loud for 2 minutes (in a place where nobody else is singing)”, which is one of the challenges I’m planning to do. What with all the singing birds around you 😉

Then again, you probably have some kickass trees for climbing!


danman April 1, 2011 at 18:15

No april 1st joke? Vlad, I am dissapoint.


Vlad Dolezal April 1, 2011 at 18:39

Not this year, since I thought there’s no way I could trump last year, when I transformed my blog into this:


yaga April 4, 2011 at 19:37

Isn’t it funny how all these challenges seem to have something to do with performing in public? Is that the nature of the challenge, or is that just coincidence?
Looking forward on reading how you do!
yaga´s last post ..Pinterest invites


Vlad Dolezal April 4, 2011 at 20:07

Most of them involve interacting with other people (yes, sometimes in public). It’s not a coincidence, as that’s the stuff I find the most scary!


André Müller April 8, 2011 at 05:44

Hey, I’ve already been reading the first some days so far, so sorry for not commenting under the most recent posting. But a question: is it usually guys/men or girls/women you ask strange things?
I expect that for many guys it might be easier and less embarassing to speak to male strangers, whereas for me it would be much easier to speak to a girl than a guy I don’t know.

What about you? What’s easier for you?
Maybe you could in passing answer that question in your next update. 🙂

Greetings from China,
– André
André Müller´s last post ..Tag 219- Meines LiveJournals 9 Geburtstag


Vlad Dolezal April 8, 2011 at 10:44

Hey Andre!

I think I actually ask them about equally. But the funny thing I noticed is, I feel more comfortable approaching older people (30+) rather than people around my own age. Hmmm…


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