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