“Our humanity is not an attribute that we have received once and forever with our conception.
It is a potentiality that we have to discover within us and progressively develop or destroy through our confrontation with the different experiences of suffering that will meet us through our life.”
Xavier Le Pichon
“You’ll have to help yourself.”
This is about us.
Let’s call it “the power of I.”
And the fact we either grow or diminish what we have in terms of “I”.
That begs the question … what is the power each of us have?
I would suggest that your power is actually a reflection of your character <and its resilience>. Character actually begets all the shit we truly care about … resiliency, personal responsibility, integrity, morality, In addition … it is character that dictates whether, and how, you either progressively develop or diminish.
And therein lies the true power of I.
Yet, we face an inherent ongoing challenge to this power.
Character is not solid … it can get chipped.
What I mean by that is once you start taking shortcuts, the ones that appear to make the Life travel a little easier, a little cheat here … a little lie there… maybe a little taking advantage of the system … all of which chips a little of your integrity & character away.
That may not seem so bad … but character is a non-renewable resource.
Each time you take a shortcut, no matter how small, and get away with it … it becomes even easier to decide to do it another time – that’s the slippery slope of character erosion.
Just think about what I just wrote for a minute.
You can be crappy at reading, writing and arithmetic … or pretty much anything that people bitch about all the time … but you can’t get along being crappy at Life itself.
And you certainly cannot get along with a crappy character.
You have to fight the good fight in Life, try and avoid the short cuts, and maintain your character and have faith, and courage, to keep character from eroding in the face of Life. Surprisingly … this is an ongoing fight day in and day out week after week.
Now. That said.
Character is a tricky thing to self assess. Interestingly … we all think we know ourselves well, but, psychological studies show otherwise.
In fact, <unfortunately> most of us are somewhat deluded about ourselves.
And in that delusion we tend to be slightly misguided with regard to what we should do and how to do it <because the basic premise of who we are is flawed>.
This is really really important for us to think about because research has clearly linked social mobility to social and emotional skills. Emotional skills ranging from empathy and the ability to make and maintain relationships, mental toughness, delayed gratification and self-control all contribute to social mobility <and Life success>.
These research findings all point to the same conclusion — that character counts.
Now. Research also points out that character is developed not necessarily instilled <experienced versus taught>.
Research shows that people who overcome adversity and realize their full potential tend to exhibit many of the same traits.
Traits that can be thought of as a belief in one’s ability to achieve, an understanding of the relationship between effort and reward, the patience to pursue long-term goals, the perseverance to stick with the task at hand, and the ability to bounce back from life’s inevitable setbacks.
These various traits all fall under the broad heading of “character and resilience.”
If character is about experience then I get to bitch a little about personal accountability or personal responsibility.
Or … in other words … responsibility for your own actions.
Today it seems like a shitload of people suggest their actions, faults, any excessive unacceptable behavior, or any … well … generally heinous or unacceptable behavior … are a reflection of outside influences, society driven/motivated, challenging home growing up, poverty, ethnicity, or any experience that we can identify as ‘generated pain’ which inevitably impacted us in childhood. Let’s title all of that under one big fat heading of “excuse.”
It is almost like no one, okay, far too many, wants to accept responsibility for their problems.
All I can think is that some people … this is what they learned. Which makes me ask … :who the hell taught them this?”
On the other hand … I know for sure that some of us learn that when you screw up it is on ‘you’ and no one else. This ‘learning’ teaches us that basically you can be frequently wrong, frequently stupid, frequently imperfect … but if you have been taught to be accountable … to admit it … you may get some shit from people but you will also be known as someone who is accountable for their own actions.
You assume responsibility for all the good and bad that you do.
This can be harrowing at times and incredibly rewarding at other times.
“If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.”
And this leads me to destiny, fate … and resilience.
I believe we make our own destinies.
A destiny may await us but we need to go & do things, to make choices, in order to actually get to our destiny.
Every day we are presented with choices.
Some we don’t even recognize. Some we don’t even see <until they are past>.
Some we see and make a choice. Our destiny is a reflection of these choices … made and not made.
Making your destiny is hard. Because we see, and don’t see, choices and make, and don’t make, choices.
“Of course it’s hard! If it was easy, everyone would do it.
Hard is what makes it great.”
<For the Love of the Game>
This is a Life truth. Shit. It is true about everything we do <even making the perfect cup of coffee in the morning>.
And that is where resilience comes into play.
Because you will always have disappointments. You will always have dreams that don’t come true. You will always have bad shit happening. And you will always make some bad choices.
And in all of what I just wrote we have a habit of getting stuck.
You get stuck knowing what you already know.
You get stuck on what happened in the past.
You get stuck thinking about shit that you cannot do anything about.
You get stuck on disappointments, dreams that don’t come true and bad choices.
We just get … well … stuck.
Resilience is all about being able to overcome all the simple tragedies you face in life. Not the big dramatic shit just the everyday shit.
George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.”
As far as I’m concerned, Shaw was a punk.
‘Cause you know what? Tragedies happen.
What are you gonna do? Give up? Quit?
No. I realize now that when your heart breaks, you gotta fight like hell to make sure you’re still alive. ‘Cause you are, and that pain you feel, that’s life.
The confusion and fear, that’s there to remind you that somewhere out there is something better. And that ‘something’ is worth fighting for.
Resilience really isn’t about hope or dreams or vision for what you want & desire and doing what you need to do to stay on that path.
Resilience is more about recognizing Life is hard and the practicality that if you want to make some progress and develop … you gotta fight like hell to not get stuck.
Simplistically you take personal responsibility for not getting stuck.
And you now what? You have to.
Because Life makes it really really easy to get stuck. You can get stuck on so many things it is scary if you think about it.
But you can really only get stuck if you let it happen.
Progress is, more often than not, in your hands. Which means your destiny is in your hands. That, my friends, is the power of I … the power driven by the engine of Character. Character is your destiny.