What did we do?
We put on our socks with John Wooden as we reminded ourselves that the best never get bored with dominating their fundamentals.
And that, my Heroic friend, is WHY they are the best.
Greatness—however you want to define it—is ALWAYS (!) ALL (!!) about CONSISTENCY on the FUNDAMENTALS.
Today I want to go back to more of Ryan’s wisdom from Discipline Is Destiny. We’re going to focus on a passage from a chapter called: “Can You Get Back Up?”
Ryan tells us: “Even the most cheerful, even the strongest, even the most self-disciplined of us will stagger under the weight of our circumstances or the consequences of our behavior. We remember Viktor Frankl today as an unflagging optimist, the unwavering believer in human meaning despite the horrors he endured in the Holocaust. And yet, there is a note he sent to some friends in 1945, just after the war ended, that read:
I am unspeakably tired, unspeakably sad, unspeakably lonely . . . In the camp, you really believed you had reached the low point of life—and then, when you come back, you were forced to see that things had not lasted, everything that had sustained you had been destroyed, that at the time when you have become human again, you could sink into an even more bottomless suffering.”
Ryan continues by saying: “It’s hard to blame him. It is also unfathomable to think of what humanity would have been deprived of if he had wallowed here, or worse, given up. Instead, in spite of everything, he got back up. He said yes to life, to a second try, to getting back in the ring, to clawing his way back to happiness with purpose.”
And: “If he can do it, after all that, we all can. Our self-discipline compels us to. Our destiny depends on it.”
After typing that out, I turned around and looked at my wall of Heroic portraits again.
This time I soaked in the Soul Force of another one of my heroes: Viktor Frankl.
Of course, we have our Notes on Man’s Search for Meaning.
And, more recently, we’ve shared his wisdom and his story in our Notes on William Damon’s great book on creating a meaningful, coherent narrative in our lives called A Round of Golf with My Father.
We also chatted about him in our Notes on Hero on a Mission in which we discussed the fact that Frankl lost not only his mother and father and beloved wife, Nelly, but their unborn child when he endured the horrors of the Holocaust.
Whenever I am feeling the pain of the challenges I face on our Heroic quest, I look at my wall of heroes and remember the pain THEY felt. And the self-discipline they cultivated to move THROUGH the pain.
As I typed that, I thought of Mister Rogers—another hero of mine who we consider to be an infallibly positive human being.
As we discuss in this +1 on Mister Rogers’ Creative Neighborhood, he struggled, too.
So much so that he once typed this note to himself:
“Am I kidding myself that I’m able to write a script again? Am I really just whistling Dixie? I wonder. If I don’t get down to it I’ll never really know. Why can’t I trust myself? Really that’s what it’s all about... that and not wanting to go through the agony of creation. AFTER ALL THESE YEARS IT’S JUST AS BAD AS EVER. I wonder if every creative artist goes through the tortures of the damned trying to create.?. Oh, well, the hour cometh and now IS when I’ve got to do it. GET TO IT, FRED. GET TO IT... But don’t let anybody ever tell anybody else that it was easy. It wasn’t.”
As I was looking for that quote (which I framed, btw), I found THIS Note from Eleanor Roosevelt (yet another hero on my wall) who said this in You Learn by Living:
“The encouraging thing is that every time you meet a situation, though you may think at the time it is an impossibility and you go through the tortures of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it you find that forever after you are freer than you were before. If you can live through that you can live through anything. You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it. If you fail anywhere along the line it will take away your confidence. You must make yourself succeed every time. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
That’s Today’s +1.
We’ll wrap it up with a question…
How can we get ourselves to do the thing we think we cannot do?
It is, I repeat, our destiny.