You don’t know who you really are until you’ve been tested. Not just a hard check, but a true test by an adversary that is stronger, more talented, and more ferocious than you. To fight against something or someone that won’t back down or be intimidated. They will put relentless pressure on you because they believe that you can be defeated. What kind of person will you be when you have no wind left? What kinds of decisions will you make? Who will you become? What will be seen as the truth and the real version of you?
These are the challenges that ask us to reach deep within to choose a path—to run and hide, or to become the fighter. The samurai. The viking. The warrior.
The truth is, there is no physical difference between the warrior and everyone else. They feel the same fear and the same pain. They have the same 24 hours in a day that everyone else does. The difference lies within the choices that each individual makes.
The warrior chooses to keep pushing forward, when the odds are dire, through exhaustion, and when the body is beginning to shut down. This is a mentality that cannot be bought, inherited, or taught. To keep pushing forward takes heart, and that in itself is a choice.
This is not to be mistaken with survival instinct. Survival instinct gives us the initial adrenaline for fight or flight, but it’s an autonomous reaction that we get for free. And just because someone is good at survival, it doesn’t make them a warrior.
What separates people is their choices. What choices need to be made in order to defeat an adversary that has unfair advantages? Yes, one will need a strategy, a plan, a team… but at the end of the day, it takes heart. It may be hard to believe, but you can choose to have more heart than your adversary, long after the adrenaline is gone.
And, the real test is when we inevitably have to lose. This is life—it is impossible (and futile) to win every fight and have a flawless record. Life is about learning how to handle the Kobayashi Maru (the no-win scenario). Eventually one day, we will have to lose… it may be losing a job, it may be losing a loved one, it might be losing to cancer… but in the end, will our spirit and heart be defeated?
One day, our legacy will be defined by how we inspire others to understand that they have choices as well—to stand up to the tyrants, to shield the ones that can’t defend themselves, to make sacrifices for others. Our choices will be truly measured in the darkest moments, where we are most vulnerable, and our integrity and true intentions will be revealed when others are not looking. In time, the sum of all your choices will become the truth of who you are.