There were two older gentlemen sitting next to each other on the train as I went home from coaching at Training For Warriors Boston.
They began by simply catching up, it had, from the sound of it, been years since the last time that they saw each other; they both had stopped drinking with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, which undoubtedly saved their lives… One man had thinning hair; it was obvious that he was going through chemotherapy.
As they caught up, they began a heated debate about politics, only to move to religion, increasing intensity as the man’s friend was getting fired up about contradictions in politics and religion, teetering on the edge of conspiracy theory… When all of a sudden, the man who had been undergoing chemotherapy stopped his friend mid-sentence.
He exclaimed: “I’m 10 years older than you… Did you know that?! I’m 10 years older and wiser, and you REALLY think that you can try and tell me anything I haven’t figured out yet? I have the secret… And you’ve got it all wrong!”
His friend responded, unsurprisingly with “Ha. I’m sure… Let’s hear it”
The man said, “You must accept and live with the contradictions of life”
I stopped for a second and looked up. It hit me… He was completely correct.
It’s so easy to get frustrated by the things that we may not understand, by the things that don’t make sense, that contradict themselves and may not be “fair”. We get frustrated and try to fight back, and we seek justice… All the while, we end up falling behind; life passes us by.
So here’s the other part of this secret: These contradictions…They aren’t changing. There will always be struggles and contradictions in life, yet it is our reaction to them that determines success or failure, success or stress. Everyone has 24 hours in a day, they have the same struggles, they get their hearts broken, they miss their alarm clock. Wherever you are in life is exactly where you should be, it is your actions and reactions have gotten you there.
We like to call the people that still make the time to practice what they’re great at “freaks of nature,” “beasts,” “monsters,” or, most likely… “the best.”
These people, they have the same 24 hours. They have the same struggles day in and day out.
But you know what the difference is? When these “freaks of nature” come across contradictions and struggles, they don’t necessarily like them, but they still accept them.
So here’s my addition:
You must accept, and live with the contradictions of life… Because of this, there are no excuses not to be great.