Struggle

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-by Matt Leedham

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass

Do you know anyone that is passionate? Someone that is doing something they were meant to do and loving every minute of it? I know a few passionate people and wrote about it here. Do you think any of those people reached that state of passionate happiness through a path of least resistance? Do you think they got there by making compromises?

What I can tell you with certainty is that people that are passionately happy with what they are doing with their lives, at one point, went through great struggle. At one point, they were miserable. At some point in their journey they were either unhappy, broke, confused, unsure, insecure, or frightened that they would never find happiness (or all of the above).

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” – Tony Robbins

Moments of decision. Yes. Tony is talking about the crossroads. There are many crossroads in our lives – some big and some small. But it’s these moments of decision that our destiny is shaped. These times of decision (or indecision, depending on your perspective) is what shapes us. And frankly, it can be scary and stressful to be confronted with these decisions. But I say embrace it! Be grateful for the opportunity to make a decision and then realize that you do, indeed, have a choice! You are in control. The struggle – the uncomfortable times in your life – that’s the place from which life-altering decisions are made.

I recently watched “I’m Still Here,” the Casey Affleck mockumentary about Joaquin Phoenix’s retirement from acting to pursue a rap career (his new passion). To refresh your memory, you may remember seeing Joaquin on The Late Show with David Lettermen two years ago. I’m embarrassed to say that I wasn’t quite sure what was real and what wasn’t in the film, but Edward James Olmos drops a quote when Joaquin is at a low point in his journey, uncertain and insecure. Pointing at a drop of water on the table, he says:

“That’s you, a drop of water, and you’re on the mountain of success. But one day you start sliding down the mountain and you think, wait a minute. I’m a mountain top water drop. I don’t belong in this valley, this river, this low dark ocean with all these other drops of water. Then one day it gets hot and you slowly evaporate into the air, way up, higher than any mountain top, all the way to the heavens. Then you understand that it was at your lowest you were closest to God. Life’s a journey that goes round and round and the end is closest to the beginning. So, if it’s change you need, relish the journey.”

In hindsight, knowing this was this was a mockumentary, I can laugh at how dramatic this was in the film (you can actually hear the quote by Olmos if you click on the official movie site link above – the video will automatically play).

Regardless, I love the message.

If you’re at a low point, if you are struggling, watch out! Times of change are nearby. Embrace the journey and take advantage of the crossroads that lay before you.

You have a decision to make, and it’s in these moments your destiny is shaped.

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