Dear Why Team member,
I hope this week’s message finds you well. Thank you for being on the team.
I once read that humans are the only animal that will choose pain and suffering to achieve what they perceive to be the greater good. The extent of that price can be, as such, to move one literally into Sainthood. Dietrich Bonhoeffer took on Hitler and paid the ultimate price.
Consider those who have earned the Congressional Medal of Honor - an inspiration to us all.
A number of years ago, I sat next to a man on a flight who served in the Armed Forces. He shared with me that he and his fellow soldiers, before they would go out on a long run, would read from a book, the stories behind those who had won the highest medal of valor- to inspire them to greater effort in their run and in their lives. I acquired a copy of my own, the book is simply titled:
Medal of Honor - Portraits of Valor beyond the call of duty. Published by Artisan https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/medal-of-honor-revised-updated-third-edition-peter-collier/1123658982?ean=9781579657468&st=PLA&sid=BNB_DRS_New+Core+Shopping+Books_00000000&2sid=Google_&sourceId=PLGoP164974&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIjJT4xqbR2gIVDBiBCh3QkwvaEAYYASABEgIsnfD_BwE
Why choose hardship, why choose the grind? To become sharper, to become more capable, to grind off that which is not useful for self and for others. While choosing difficulty is unique to humans, it is also unique to a smaller percentage of us. The majority naturally prefer the path of least resistance - like water flowing down a mountain.
Clearly faith and a will to succeed is a large component for those who move toward challenge and hardship rather than away from it; pushing through resistance, when, and especially when, all seems lost; popular opinion- prefers the road most traveled. But what about the road less traveled, or better yet, being the first to blaze a new trail?
Those who regularly lean into difficulty have found reward in the effort alone. The man in the arena, daring greatly, victorious or defeated, is better for not staying just a spectator in the stands of life. President Teddy Roosevelt conveyed this message in his famous Citizens of the Republic speech given at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910. Better known as his “Man in the Arena” speech.
I very much enjoy reading about those who defy the odds - who persevere despite tremendous resistance and often intense criticism - because they enhance my faith in all I can do to be better for myself and others. Orville & Wilbur Wright endured great physical and mental hardship working on a task that the most educated at the time believed impossible. And yet 60 years after that first fateful flight at Kitty Hawk, a small swatch of the muslin from a wing of that original 1903 Flyer was in Neil Armstrong’s pocket when he stepped onto the moon.
Why read fiction when you can read a story like that?
Encourage your own spirit to take flight - read “The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough. In his book, two years prior to The Wright Brothers success, ‘a distinguished professor at John Hopkins University, dismissed the dream of flight as no more than a myth. And were such a machine devised, he asked, what purpose could it possibly serve?’ “The first successful flyer will be the handiwork of a watchmaker, and will carry nothing heavier than an insect.”
Returning to the simple, yet powerful metaphor; an Axe functions best because of the grind. It serves best because of the grind. And we were born with the capacity to choose the grind - to lean into what the stone has to teach us and to serve more capably from the teaching. However, if you’re looking to change where you are now, sharpen that axe before you start your new task. Why? You’ll be more successful. How? Do extensive research on the field you’re looking to endeavor into and lean on us, your fellow Why Team Members.
As Dr. Kevin Elko often says:
“Live in Vision, not circumstance.”
While the majority are focused on the price, the pain of the grind - those who prevail are focused on the payoff, willing to pay the price of pain, choosing the grind - and thus growing all the more strong for daring greatly.
The Will finds a Way. Set your mind and spirit on the work at hand moving toward the grind, not away from it. We will all be better for it. Sharper and flying, not dull and defying.
Make it a great week!