I’ve always been a big believer in understanding your own strengths and weaknesses. And whilst I have many faults, I know that one of my greatest strengths is my determination and resilience. I often daydream that I’m making my UFC debut, walking out to Chumbawambas’ classic Tubthumping…. “I get knocked down and I get up again. And you’re never gonna keep me down!”
When I was younger, I was much more impatient to have, be and do things. I didn’t want to wait. And I wanted things to be easy. I wanted to be confident and fit and healthy and popular and highly-skilled and rich and successful. But I wanted all of these things right now, without having to work at any of them! In everything I did, I looked to the easiest way to get there.
I can’t really pinpoint when, where or why, but my mindset changed. Perhaps it was when at 22, I finally got myself on Weight Watchers and began to see the benefits of sustained, daily effort and grind to bring about weight-loss, as opposed to desperation-induced crash diets that would only leave me fatter and sadder.
For whatever the reason, I learned that anything worth having (and keeping) was worth working hard for. And that actually, the end result tasted much sweeter when it had painstakingly been earned. Whenever my patience falters; when I fall back into bad habits; when exhaustion sets in and I momentarily long for an easy way out, I remember these words:
‘The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph.’
Luckily, I’m apparently drawn to things that I’m bloody awful at. To give you one example, it took me over 5 years (and a broken leg) to get my Jiu Jitsu Blue Belt. I watched those around me, including people who had starting training long after me, gain their blue belts. I was happy for them, especially for my friends, but I couldn’t help but wonder if there was any point in carrying on… Surely it was insanity, to pursue a hobby that was not only physically and mentally exhausting, but also completely out of whack with my natural talents and skill-set?
As it is, this May, I got my Blue Belt. And I still feel like I’m soaking in a swimming pool of endorphins; that’s how sweet the reward is. If I’d have received this after a year, without all the pain, disappointment and seemingly endless frustration, I somehow don’t think that this feeling would feel as good as it does. Moreover, by the time that I received my belt, I wasn’t expecting it at all. Basically, I just wasn’t thinking about my ‘reward’; I was just enjoying the struggle. So I’ll leave you with this slight adaption:
‘The greater the struggle, the more glorious the enjoyment.’
Doing something that’s incredibly hard or perhaps doesn’t fit with your natural talents may make you feel like quitting time and time again. But pursing difficult challenges also offers countless opportunities for you to reach heights that previously seemed untouchable. There’s a very special kind of feeling that comes from achieving impossible things; a feeling that floats around in your soul; a feeling that becomes part of who you are.