You may have noticed that Isaac Wyant and I have been going back and forth on the weekly posts to the blog. This series of posts entitled “Hard Body. Hard Mind.” were developed in order to share a message with the world that we find worth spreading. If you listened to Episode 3 of the podcast you know that Isaac and I were both fortunate enough to attend the Infantry Officer Course and go on to become Platoon Commanders. We were made into stronger individuals in body and mind from those experiences. This is due to the fact that strong groups in fact create strong individuals.
Isaac and I have both mentioned in almost every post, “The Man in the Arena.” An ode to the man who steps into competition willingly allowing his face to be “marred by dust, and sweat, and blood.” What we both consider but have failed to mention, is all the preparation the man engages in prior to stepping into said arena. We fail to pay homage to the countless coaches, sparring partners, and supporters who lift “the man” up to the point where he is ready to step into the arena. We must pay tribute to those people.
I cannot identify a high achiever in history who did not have a great mentor and a great support system somewhere in their lives. Many of them faced adversity, but before they were challenged, something helped them to build a foundation to be relied upon. We must all endeavor to surround ourselves with those coaches and supporters who will challenge us. Who break us down in the hopes of making us stronger. More importantly, we must choose a sparring partner who scares us.
Now remove the fighting analogy and apply this to your own life experiences. Do you welcome the associate, friend, or life partner who challenges you? The person who may possibly outperform your capabilities in certain areas. If not then you have already failed yourself. As Iron Sharpens Iron so should one man sharpen another man. If we choose to sharpen ourselves against a dull opponent we only dull ourselves.
Take for instance the writing of this series of posts. I consider Isaac to be a stronger writer than me in certain ways. Many of us would choose to avoid comparing and contrasting our own writing capabilities in the same light as a superior performer. However had I chosen to do so I never would have elevated my game. These past posts have been more successful having had to live up to the ability of my counterpart.
He is toughest who is trained in the hardest of schools. If your goal is to become the best then you are charged with finding the best teacher to train you in the hardest school. This school need not be one with four walls and a white board either. There is a reason high performers surround themselves with high performers. They understand that fire is attracted to fire and the only way to catch fire is to find the catalyst to your flame.
Some people have outlived their opportunities to step into the arena. Others will never overcome their fear of stepping in but are more than willing to help you do so. Perhaps they are waiting for you to show them the way. When you finally step into the arena to face your opponent, do so knowing that you have sharpened yourself against the hardest of blades. know that you stand there alone, but some of those timid souls watching you compete are not timid at all. They have just devoted their lives to helping you to find the great devotions and triumphs afforded to the man who is actually in the arena.
I find myself over and over facing opportunities that scare me. People invited me to come to events with them, to come work out with them, to step into that proverbial arena with them. Conflict and competition scares us all understandably so. The fear of embarrassment is one that is deeply rooted in our mind as something that can harm our ability to make friends, find lovers, and gain social acceptance. Unfortunately the path to improvement and ultimately greatness, is not a road paved with fluffy pillows and ice cream sandwiches. It is filled with bruises, scrapes, broken bones, repetitive failures and the constant challenge and measurement of competition.
Step into the Arena with as many people as you can. Ensure you are weighed and measured repeatedly. Remove the fear of being found wanting. To fail is human. There is no great achievement without error and short coming. I urge you to remember that. Most of all steel yourself against that fear of losing in the arena by reminding yourself of one little fact. Your willingness to step into the fray is what will guarantee that your place will never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.
John McCarthy is the founder of the Post Modern Patriot blog and the host of our podcast. He is a former Marine Infantry Officer, Husband, Soon to be father, and son. He is obsessed with individual performance in the realms of health, wealth, relationships, and the intersection of all three. He strives to share that with the world so that he can empower others to live boldly. Let’s leave a legacy!!!