Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.
In order to understand the nature and character of the warrior, all one needs to do is observe their scars and discern the nature of the furnace in which they were forged or within the crucible where they were hardened. Only then will you know all that is required to contend with them.
Mahatma Gandhi’s life is a template for the crucible, a prototype for the value of the “ordeal” and the “near-breaking” that precedes greatness. Gandhi grew up a timid, shy child and went on to non-violently oppose the British empire. His indelible mark on India will remain within the annals of India’s story and his chief role in turning back England’s encroachment on India. One quote of Gandhi’s provides all the answers we need to know. He once stated, “I Love Storms.” Perhaps he really did love the storms. What we do know is that he certainly became “the storm.” How else does a shy, reticent boy defy an empire like Great Britain?
If you want to understand the psychological DNA behind the greats, you need to look no further than their story, their wounds, and grasp the origin of their scars. Suffering, strain, and testing are achievement’s compulsory application. You cannot have one without the other. Soldiers will not unconditionally follow an untested commander into battle until they know he has been through the fire. Why is this? The fact of the matter is that we were actually built for suffering, misery, and setbacks. The mind and body were designed to harden as a result of trauma – the body responds with resiliency and strength as a direct outcome. Muscles are built through micro-tears and broken bones are stronger than their unbroken counterparts. Nature is no different, trees grow stronger in wind. J. Willard Marriott, founder of Marriott Hotels once uttered, “Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.”
Little wonder that one of Gandhi’s pupils, Dr. Martin Luther King wrote, ” Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” The context of King’s statement was justice, but the process is the same – it is ubiquitous in humans and in nature.
A further example, take Earl Nightingale and his experience at the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef stretches nearly 1800 miles from New Guinea to Australia. Noticing that the coral polyps on the inside of the reef, where the sea was tranquil and quiet in the lagoon, appeared pale and lifeless… while the coral on the outside of the reef, subject to the surge of the tide and power of the waves, were bright and vibrant with splendid colors and flowing growth… Earl Nightingale asked why this was so. ‘It’s very simple,’ came the reply, ‘the coral on the lagoon-side dies rapidly with no challenge for growth and survival… while the coral facing the surge and power of the open sea, thrives and multiplies because it is challenged and tested every day. And so it is with every living organism on earth.’”
Want to live a life that matters? Run into the storm…the rewards will be abundant.