He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. Friedrich Nietzsche
I love quotes, and have written down, for years, every quote that has appealed to me. Today that collection numbers in the high hundreds of quotes and I gladly add to that list every chance I get.
Some of those quotes stir up memories, others pick me up when I feel down and still others serve to inspire me to do more than I believe myself to be capable of.
Of all these well-crafted quotes that have found their way into my growing collection there is one that stands out more for its unfailing ability to remind me that no matter how rough the terrain, how bleak the outlook, how steep the hill, how challenging the task and how painful the journey and that is the quote from Friedrich Nietzsche above.
I first saw this quote while reading Victor Frankel’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” when I was barely a teenager. Victor Frankel was a psychiatrist imprisoned in a concentration camp. Every day he lived the grueling hardship of forced labor fueled only by a few ounces of tasteless soup and stale, dry bread while witnessing brutality, cruelty, violence, murder, inhumanity and indifference on a scale the English language lacks terminology to accurately describe.
He also witnessed and experienced love, humanity, compassion, courage, dreams and hope from people who seemingly had no reason to display or feel any of these.
I try hard (and fail often) to live my life by the Five Truths that we have discussed over the past few weeks and Nietzsche’s quote strongly reinforces in me the inarguable veracity contained in the truth, “When it’s important we will always find a way, and when it’s not, we will always find a excuse.”
Nietzsche’s words strengthen the truth that when we really want something badly enough, strongly enough, desperately enough, there is no force on this planet strong enough to keep us away from what we want.
We don’t give up on our dreams, hopes, goals and aspirations because we’re tired, or because it’s hard, because it’s taking too long, or because it hurts. No! We give up on our dreams, hopes goals and aspirations because we simply don’t want them badly enough, strongly enough or desperate enough.
Oh, we work extremely hard at convincing ourselves otherwise, but the truth is the truth, and as Baruch Spinoza reminds us, “No matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides.”
On the one side is the story we tell ourselves to explain and rationalize and even to justify to ourselves why we can’t, why we don’t and why we won’t. But on the other side, the truth remains. Our why is not strong enough, we just don’t want it badly enough, it is just not important enough.
What gets measured, gets done. This means that when we measure pain, and hardship, and difficulty, and challenge, it doesn’t take long before we’re done. But when we focus on our why and measure our progress – incremental little successes – we stay on course until we reach your goals.
It’s all a matter of the size and strength of our why. If it’s important enough, if we want it badly enough, strongly enough, desperately enough, we will have it soon enough.
Till we read again.