What if the fight is all we are? This year has been so much of this question and even more. From depression to racism to the fight against bad governance to a global pandemic to university strike, I’ll say I’ve been fighting just about everything this year. And it’s taking me just a little bit to keep going.
But I’m reminded…
Every important battle is fought and re-fought. No victory is the final victory. We need to develop a resilient and flexible morale that enables us to face these realities and still strive with every ounce of energy to prevail. You must understand cycles. During prosperous times, you must realize that tough times are going to come. Why? Because that’s life. Life, like the seasons, is cyclical. Every year, you can make a sure fire bet there will be a winter. You don’t know how severe it will be, but you do know that it will come. You may wonder if such a struggle — endless and of uncertain outcome — isn’t more than humans can bear. But all of history suggests that the human will is well fitted to cope with just that kind of world. If you choose to do so that is.
Believe in yourself but don’t expect an easy path. Life is painful, and rain falls on the just, and Mr. Churchill was not being a pessimist when he said “I have nothing to offer, but blood, toil, tears and sweat. Similar to when Raven Reyes said we’re selfish, we’re violent and we destroyed too much but we survived in the finale of the 100.
The Fear of Failure
Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure.” – Benjamin Disraeli
Failure scares us. It pushes us; it has such a wide range and a varied nuance that it covers everything. It is inherent in the deepest of human’s desires and I understand why. Fear and failure work hand in hand. Failure is specifically tailored to our personal circumstances; it is a fear of a specific thing. In the case of The 100, it was fear of the death of the last of the human race. That is a strong motivator; yes fear can be a motivator.
Failure or the fear of it is the catalyst, the first domino that leads to persevering to success. High hopes that are dashed by the first failure are precisely what we don’t need. It isn’t going to be easy but that failure is simply a reason to strengthen resolve.
Persevering Through Defeats
They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats. Get ready for defeats; this resonates with me now more than ever. If the fight is all we are, we have to be ready to accept a defeat and get back up after one. Defeat sounds like such a dirty word and maybe it is but it is also necessary. It’s necessary for introspection, learning and growth.
Defeats are more than obstacles. Imagine going through the process of setting a goal, going after it, overcoming obstacle after obstacle and still losing. Bouncing back defeat after defeat to fight the next day.
Odysseys ten year voyage of trials and tribulation. Is it when he came close to the shores of his homeland, his queen and young son only to be blown back? Or that he’ll be held captive for seven years and suffer the wrath of Poseidon. Or that back in Ithaca his enemies were circling ad try to take his kingdom and wife. Iron hearted and ready to endure whatever punishment and to do it with courage and tenacity in order to make it back to Ithaca. That’s perseverance.
We can do one thing, we can decide momentum and defeat are not mutually exclusive- we keep going forward and adjusting even if one direction has failed. Nothing should ever stop us from trying. You have it within you to be the kind of person that tries to get things done with everything, and when the result comes you are ready to accept it and move on to the next.
The Long Game
Fighting looks like acting with hindsight. It is holding the same top-level goal, a compass that gives direction and meaning to all the goals below it, for a very long time. Most mid-level and low-level goals are, in some way or another, related to that ultimate goal. Have a life philosophy. The difference between persistence and perseverance is a life philosophy. Persistence is an action. Perseverance is a matter of will. One is energy. The other is endurance. Will is our internal power that cannot be affected by external circumstances; it’s dependable, flexible and unbreakable. Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.
Will is the internal power that comes from our life philosophy. “Life philosophy,” as Pete Carroll might put it, is so interesting and important that it organizes a great deal of your waking activity. Abraham Lincoln had such unimaginable willpower. It was almost unbelievable. He had great persistence and a never-say-die spirit. He experienced personal tragedy and career failure on a scale that few men ever experience. From rural poverty, to losing his mother and the love of his life and to battling depression. Defeat was obviously not a word that was not in his dictionary. He always persisted and throughout conducted himself with dignity and high moral standards.’ I don’t know what Abraham’s life philosophy was but it had to be extensively deep rooted for him to be willing to overcame every bad hand he was dealt.
The long game is the long game for a reason. It takes time. You have to be a master of delayed gratification. As you play the long game, your life philosophy begins to form. Perseverance grows as you figure out your life philosophy. You’ll learn to dust yourself off after rejection and disappointment, and learn to tell the difference between low-level goals that should be abandoned quickly and higher-level goals that demand more tenacity. Play the long game, all returns in life whether, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.
With the long game comes unavoidable growth. There comes a day when we will hardly remember our immature former selves. Growth comes with the fight. Often, the critical gritty-or-not decisions we make are a matter of identity more than anything else.
Gritty people are able to maintain their determination and motivation over long periods despite experiences with failure and adversity. The long days and evenings of toil, the setbacks and disappointments, and struggle, the sacrifice—all this is worth it because, ultimately, their efforts pay dividends. John Quincy Adams said, ‘Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.’
The true threat to determination, then, is not what happened to us, but us ourselves. Why would you be your own worst enemy? – The Obstacle Is The Way.