Insights | 13.06.2021
Why is it that when we look back on our lives it’s never the easy or the simple days, it’s not the calm that changes our reality or makes us who we are? Don’t get me wrong, calm and simplicity are wonderful but they’re not transformative, and why would they be? Why would we change or seek to obtain more without a reason or incentive. It’s in times of struggle and turbulence, it’s when life was hard that we had to rethink who we are and reshape the way we look at the world. Because without chaos you can’t find calm. Without the storm you don’t get those crazy neon colours and golden rays it leaves as it passes by. The adversity is the fire that forges the iron.
In order to triumph in any capacity or any area of life there is always a sacrifice that must be made.
There’s a saying: hard times create strong people, strong people create good times, good times create weak people, and weak people create hard times.
It’s a cycle and this is generally used in a socio-political sense and I think in a lot of ways it applies today. But where I’ve really found it useful, where I found value in it, is at the personal level. What I’ve noticed is that growth also appears to have a cyclical nature and when we’re in a rough situation or overcoming an obstacle we have to push, we fight, and we grow sometimes without even realising it. We achieve a result that in one way or another makes us something new. But then it becomes easy to level out and that’s the challenge, it creates a period of stagnation. We made the jump and it becomes really easy to stay there and that’s why I have found value when life is not providing resistance to manufacture some because that’s the only way to grow.
Viktor Frankl said “Progress is the happiness in people’s search for meaning.” He says purpose is defined from struggle. If things are too calm or simple or quiet, life begins to lack meaning and that’s never a spot we want to be. Life is about the pursuit of something. You just have to figure out what that thing will be. The best part is you get to decide which mountain to climb.
There’s a great story about a butterfly making its way out of a cocoon. It makes a little hole and starts attempting to push its way out. Someone walks by and they see it struggling and opens the cocoon up to help the butterfly out, thinking that they just did this great deed. But in doing so that butterfly has now lost its ability to use its wings to fly. Why? Because the strength that was necessary to fly would have been forged when she fought her way out. The butterfly was deprived of the very thing it needed to become something more and that’s the point.
It’s easy to get lost in the now and seek to eliminate everything that doesn’t make the moment more comfortable. To remove that which doesn’t make things easier. But whether we’re talking about collectively or the complacency in our individual lives we have to remember that avoiding discomfort isn’t the answer. When your biggest problem is amazon taking five days to deliver or that your feelings are hurt by someone’s comments or opinions, you’ve lost track of yourself. You may be living in a world lacking the resistance necessary for growth. Maybe it’s time to ask what matters.
I’ll never forget Ryan Holiday differentiating between passion and purpose. He called passion temporary, a dopamine hit. It’s the excitement before the project begins, the beginning of a journey, the honeymoon phase. But passion alone falls short and it falls short because anything worthwhile is hard, it tests us, it repeatedly presents us with those metaphorical cocoons we have to fight. We have to earn our stripes, grow our wings and if we stop at passion there’s no reason to battle on to take the punches knowing that they will create for us a tomorrow full of infinite possibility and that’s where we need purpose.
We need something bigger to march towards, a destination that’s meaningful to remind us that those challenging times they’re not a burden. There is no poor me when those times come. Instead those challenges are the fire that sharpens us, that whispers to us not only the importance of carrying on but the power contained within ourselves to do so. This world is not stacked against you, it’s never the problem or the obstacle. Instead it’s the opportunity laid out at your feet and it’s in those very times when we’re uncomfortable, when we’re unsure, when we don’t know where to draw our strength that we need to remember it comes within.
It’s an idea that is brought to life through courage, through understanding, through the trials and tribulations of life that didn’t intimidate or hold you back knowing that life has given you everything you need to blaze your trail. So don’t be afraid to let it take you somewhere new.