That Precious Human Quality
To find and fight a way from being miserable, tired, stressed, being the butt of cruel ridicule, to the point of being called a 'useless fat lump', to one's face, takes courage, determination, and a big portion of the Heart, the Human Spirit, that so many of us have, but not all of us use.
I had a revealing talk recently with a successful and accomplished client with whom I’ve been working for over 20 years. Those who know him now, would be surprised at the events from his past
Presently in his early 50s, he’s admired as a leading figure in his area of business. But just over 20 years ago, it wasn’t thought by anyone, himself included, that he might ever get to do anything more than he was doing at that time.
He wasn’t a happy man then. Far from it.
His life was one of apathy, disinterest, boredom.
He wondered why he lived.
At 30, he saw himself as a washed-up human being, a has-been, a lump of flotsam on a broad and lonely windswept beach.
Such was his view of the world, and his life.
His job had possibilities, good prospects, for anyone that is, who might apply himself. But he didn’t have the ambition to stir himself. And that was a big source of misery and disappointment to him. At one time he would have been keen to drive himself and his abilities forward.
He knew he had plenty of them.
But at 30, he was thinking and feeling, like a tired old man. Because of his potential, he knew he was selling himself short. And that saddened and irritated him. Because of what he saw as his losses, misery, and simmering self pity, he sought comfort in the numbing and easily-got refuge of food, drink and fantasies of what might-have-been.
If circumstances had been different.
Things hadn’t worked out as he had hoped. He had always thought that his life would have been one of endeavor, accomplishment and reasonable success, in whatever field of activity he played.
But, he thought, circumstances had conspired against him. He had been flattened and ground into an existence of self perpetuating, wretchedness and unhappiness that he had never planned.
His mind, body, and indeed, the spirit that exists in all humans, had been swamped and suppressed by the growing and worsening situation that was then his life. He was getting to the stage of deeper and more dangerous conditioning. He was adapting to, nearly accepting, his life and himself, as it then was.
Close to the stage of capitulation, he stood at the edge of despair. He was seeing his future, what there might be of it, holding all the excitement of a burst, torn and ragged balloon. This was not only apparent to him, but to others too.
In his workplace, he had been called a “fat, useless lump“.
None of this was what he had planned, he thought. And as he thought some more about it, he realised that that could be the real problem. He had let circumstances blow him about like a leaf in the wind. He had twisted and tossed and fluttered on the currents in the wind, and let them dictate his life and decisions .
“Decisions?“, he heard himself ask, “what decisions?“.
He hadn’t made any.
He had let himself be shifted and shunted by outside decisions that others had made, and not for him either, but about him.
He had let himself settle into a meaningless, aimless apathetic direction that had all the misery and pain in it, equal in weight and power to the happiness, self-respect, and sense of purpose that a life of effort and will and determination might bring.
And, he realised, there was only one person who could do anything about that.
And that was a good thing; that he had the wit to see it.
So, in spite of his low opinion of where he was at that time, he took heart. If his negligence had got him into that position, he reasoned, his decisive attention, some application of courage, and a bit of seasoned determination, just might do something for him in the opposite direction.
With this realisation gaining hold in his mind, he began to imagine what he might do about his life. Whether it was possible to change, to become who he needed to be, to do what he still vaguely believed, might be possible.
He wondered if it might just be possible to transform his existence from what he saw as abject failure, into one of even moderate quality.
And the more he thought about it, the more the idea began to appeal to him. He wondered where to start, how he could go about bringing what he thought was a remote possibility into reality. That was when he called in to the little gym that my wife and myself had in Dublin‘s city centre.
I recall the day we met. I was struck by the determination and force that he exuded. I was pleasantly surprised. In my experience, people who carried a lot of weight could be diffident and hesitant about their prospects. Not this boy though.
His decision and will were pouring into his words. And when he started his program, with an open mind and a spirit ablaze with enthusiasm, I remember being fired up about his prospects. To me, this fella had the attitude and mindset of someone who was on a personal mission.
With an open mind and a willingness to apply himself with extraordinary vigour, he moved into his course of action with a quietly relentless and ferocious consistency.
He was voracious in his learning, and committed to the doing of it.
In those days, no other gyms taught breathing techniques as a specific exercise, posture points as a foundation, nor the importance of belief and attitude in any undertaking.
But with his open, mind, his ability to listen, and his willingness to practice, this man achieved spectacular results, naturally. And quickly.
Because of his total involvement, and especially how he saw the psychological effects of what beliefs he held, and how he could shape his attitude, his success washed over into other areas of his life. He soon equaled anything that was being done in work by colleagues, those who had mocked and ridiculed him previously.
In another short while he outgrew them and forged ahead of them, and what levels they had set themselves as standards.
At that point, a senior manager approached him with the offer of a partnership in a new company. The manager had the capital and administrative experience to run the business. My friend had the drive, the know-how, the newfound energy and belief, and the marketing and sales expertise to promote it.
That’s exactly what he did, to become the man he could be, to do what was needed, to get where he wanted to go, and to have the attitude and drive to sustain what they had created.
There are many stories like this in which I’ve been privileged to have played some part.
It’s an exhilarating experience to be acquainted, however remotely, in that kind of accomplishment.
It’s one of those events that reinforces the belief in the spirit of the human being, and what becomes possible, when this great quality is invoked.
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