I am going to be a storm-a flame;
I need to fight whole armies alone;
I have ten hearts; I have a hundred arms;
I feel too strong to war with mortals-
BRING ME GIANTS!
– Edmond Rostand
Years ago I wrote about the impact that Phil Stutz and Barry Michel’s book –The Tools had on me. The simple message in this book is- Nothing will get you unstuck like acknowledging your pain, the shadows you are avoiding. More options come your way when you openly state the desire to experience pain. It is easy to stay stuck in the comfort zone through avoidance but to live a fulfilling life, one must open themselves to pain and ask for more of it.
All my life I have observed leaders and curiously wondered what makes them different. Throughout my childhood, leadership fascinated me, made me go to great lengths because what child doesn’t love recognition? However, when as an adult life knocks you down, shames you and reminds you how insignificant you are because the world is full of adults just like you and often better than you, that dominant feeling melts like cotton candy out of its plastic wrap. Between the fantastical highs and painful suicidal lows of my narcissism, the only thing I found protection in has been unconditional love. Surprisingly, the unconditional love within and outside me showed me another path to leadership- the path of the warrior.
The classic warrior archetype is masculine/brute/fearless/crusader. Few of those things, I’m not. May be that is why our world gets uncomfortable with strong women or sweet men, instantly calling such women ‘masculine/aggressive’ and these men ‘feminine/soft’. Power is neither masculine nor feminine, because power cannot be defined by brute force alone. In Viktor Frankl’s- Man’s Search for Meaning, brute force does not help him survive, it is his warrior spirit that gives him the power to face the horrendous conditions in the concentration camp day-after-day. From folklore to Game of Thrones, the warrior is on a painful journey, trying to overcome the terrible hand dealt by life. Being dealt a bad hand is the human condition, I genuinely don’t believe that anyone has the perfect life. The thing you want the most might be in abundance in their life but what you are not appreciating is the one thing that the person you envy would sell their soul to experience. However, I do believe that warriors accept the bad hand dealt by life and continue to walk toward what hurts the most. Meanwhile, the mediocre spectator also accepts the bad hand and tells oneself that they got what they deserve. I think the greatest difference between a warrior and a mediocre spectator is that the warrior takes the negative self talk and is determined to change it. The mediocre spectator takes that negative self talk and believes it to be true. The gap is a result of the lack of faith in one-self that life could truly offer more, if you just face what hurts.
The comparison between the warrior and the mediocre spectator got me wondering about the many decisions the warrior make the warrior a leader and the mediocre spectator, a mere follower.
- The warrior accepts weakness, amplifies strengths and looks fear in its eyes.
- The warrior does not let pain (self talk or others talks) shrink their existence.
- The warrior chooses difficulty over ease because what hurts is the only thing that provides lasting fulfilment and enlightenment.
- The warrior is mindful because attending to the present moment helps in locking down focus.
- The warrior knows when to detach from thoughts/people/circumstances that distract or cannot comprehend the warrior’s path.
- The warrior is compassionate because the warrior understands pain in a manner others do not.
- The warrior works from a place of unconditional love for self and others, because there is no fight that cannot be won by a soul that truly understands the greatest power humans possess.
Writing this post reminded me of this brilliant Will Smith quote that resonates with my inner warrior-
“if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple”
Of-course nothing says warrior like Mortal Kombat 🙂 Test your might!