Life is difficult and full of disappointment. If you embrace it, you win.
Take on your life, work hard to improve, show others what you’ve learned, then repeat forever. This makes you heroic. What’s not to like about that? The problem? Even if you have a heroic world vision and a heroic self-image, even if you see the world as full of challenges and opportunity for you to master, your own life can grind you down and crush your heroic vision of the world. It happened to me yesterday.
Last week we looked at heroism, posed three questions and glanced at the Heroic Journey. We asked, “Are you happy where you are?”, “Are your problems bigger than you are?” and “Is your dream calibrated to its struggle?” If you’re happy where you are, look harder. Sometimes we mistake complacency for happiness. If your problems are bigger than you are, that’s good; you have reason to grow. If your dream is calibrated to its struggle, you’re rare, indeed. Most men don’t realize our dreams, struggles and victories have to be the same size. You can’t have a big dream and a small struggle.
Finally, the Heroic Journey consists of The Departure (accepting the call to improve by doing something difficult), The Struggle (rising to challenges) and The Return (returning home better, stronger, more capable).
I was trying to write this. I was tired and couldn’t get my thoughts straight. The thing is, I believe in you, wherever you are, and I know you can rescue the world if you decide to. That’s what I want to say and that’s what I always want to say because I believe tough, heroic gentlemen can rescue the world.
Authentic men struggle. We struggle to stay motivated. We struggle to be our best. We struggle to continue toward our dreams. That struggle grinds us down. But here’s what I have learned, even being ground down can be heroic— if you decide to make it heroic by turning it to your advantage. Take being ground down and give yourself credit for doing that one thing— grinding it out to move forward. That’s heroic. It’s part of your journey. These words may also be part of your journey if they help you. That would be my privilege.
The Meeting with The Goddess.
Back to the Heroic Journey. In The Heroic Journey, the hero struggles until he almost gives up. But something strange happens. He meets a goddess. A beautiful woman gives him a gift that helps him. If you think that has no connection to you, you’re wrong. You are surrounded by resources that can help you. You are also surrounded by beautiful women, but that’s another discussion. With regard to those resources: you won’t see them until you are ready to use them. I was fascinated when I realized that historically, Wisdom (note the upper case W which denotes it’s a name, as we all know) is portrayed as a woman. Wisdom is feminine.
We men tend toward action; action is our sphere. Action informed by Wisdom is better. Wisdom is also represented by the feminine in The Bible in Proverbs. As men, we should not be troubled by that, we should be invigorated. It’s a fascinating example of the complementarity of the sexes. Wisdom’s presentation as the feminine is proof of the rough, resilient, rugged, durability of masculinity.
What if you are surrounded by tools and weapons that can help you, but you can’t see them because you’re not ready to use them? Look harder and follow your instincts. Grope around, a little, intellectually and professionally. Try new things on the edges of your comfort zone, that’s where growth and courage reside. I hope this post moves you in that direction. It would be great if this post can encourage you so you feel bold enough to use something you can’t see yet. Be bold. Exercise courage. Look around you. Seize opportunity.