WHAM! Have you ever run into a wall? Not a literal wall, we know those hurt you get a bloody nose. Your eyes water, but I mean the equivalent of something tough to surmount. A challenge you look at and you say I can’t do that. That is impossible. How is anybody suppose to beat that!
So many times you hear that phrase especially when you are fighting someone on Final Fantasy. Think of that big turtle that you have to fight in FF15 That is 2 full hours of slashing and hacking button mashing marathon.
No matter what you like to call it Adversity, challenge, hickup, mountain, roadblock, or SNAFU. These are times that you have to dig a little deeper and try harder to accomplish. Getting over a difficult challenge always results in you being a better person. This is actually how growth happens
You may become a leader
One of the biggest challenge obstacles people faced in recent history is the 4-minute mile. For the longest time, people thought it was impossible for a human to run a 4 minute mile they would get close but could never quite get past that particular hurdle.
That is until 1954 when Roger Bannister was able to run it in 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds. He didn’t adhere to the commonly held belief of nobody can run faster than the 4-minute mile. Roger became a trailblazer. He showed the world that it is possible to run faster than so many thought possible.
Once he beat that record then other people were able to accomplish the same feat. John Landy was able to beat shave a whole second off of that record just 2 months down the road. Since then people have been seeing how much faster they can go. At the time of this post, we have Hicham El Guerrouj and he cleared the 4-minute mile a little over16 seconds faster than Roger.
Did we all of a sudden start birthing faster people? No, they were shown that a belief system was able to be broken. They mental hang-ups can actually hold you back. The key is to not be afraid of adversity.
Adversity is good
Pain and suffering are often seen as elements of a challenge. Look at anybody who runs a spartan race or One Tough Mudder. There are factors that are there that hold people back. They keep those who are not worthy of the title of winner back. Many people shy away from adversity. If Roger Banister had done so then it could be a long time before someone else had the mindset to beat that barrier.
So yes Adversity is good and needed for people to overcome. Here are a few examples of what happens when somebody or something comes up against adversity and difficulty.
In science class, you remember growing chicks? Did you have an incubator and place some fertilized eggs in there and watch then hatch? The hatching process is tough. the chick has to fight and peck its way out of the egg to be born.
Have you ever thought you should help that chick because it is struggling too hard? It could die. You are right that chick could die if it doesn’t get free from its confines. So why shouldn’t we help that poor defenseless chick?
When you help a chick hatch from an egg you will see that the chick itself become sickly, weak and often dies early. The “Trauma” of the birth is in a way the trial by fire that helps that kick to decide if it wants to live. IF that baby chicken cant hatch then that is natures way of making sure there are more healthy chickens in the world.
For a chick, the eggshell is a challenge. They have to fight their way to exhaustion to get out their prison. No one can intervene with that particular challenge.
People have the same experience
There are times that people have to face a particular challenge on their own. Learning to walk is a good example. You can help a baby learn to walk they have to land on their butt and on their face several times before they get the hang of it.
Many important life lessons are like that. Especially when it comes to addiction. If a person is addicted to a drug they have to decide that they want to get better. No outside help is going to do any good. You can beg and plead with an addict and they will promise to get better but until they hit their own rock bottom. Once there they have the opportunity for retribution and are able to do the hard work of climbing out of that hole. When a person does choose retribution that is when like a chicken they are born through that difficult period and they can have assistance.
Humans have their own birth challenge. They have to fight to squeeze through the birth canal. Which is tight enough that is actually changing the shape of their head? Their skulls have plates instead of a solid bone. This is to help them when being born. There are discussions going on about if Cancerian births and if they are having a negative impact on children or there is even scientific study on the cognitive abilities of a C-section Birth
So have you ever exercised? You ever push your self to the point that your arms and legs felt like they were jelly? What did you experience the next day? PAIN! you are right. Why do your muscles get so sore after working out like that?
Well from what I understand when you work out you are tearing down your muscle fibers. The more you exert the more fibers are torn down. That is why your arms feel weak after lifting so much. The effects of that tissue being torn down and rebuilt are why you lift because your body says we can’t allow that to happen again and so it builds the muscles back to their original point and then overcompensates and adds more muscle tissue so that next time you are actually stronger.
Lifting is a form of adversity. Can you get stronger if you have someone else do the lifting for you? No, you have to suffer the pain and exhaustion to be stronger in the long run. You can have helped by getting advice, but you have to do the actual work. Where the rubber meets the road that is where men become men. The adversity and trials that a man experiences are what shapes him into who he views himself.
Remember: Calm seas don’t make a skilled sailor.
Rites of Passage
Though out history there are provings what men put their sons through. In today’s environment, some of these are seen as cruel and unfair. The big reason is these are often for boys to become men. They are often by those outside that culture as being barbaric and dangerous. That is where the proving comes from.
There is a certain level of danger and risk that is involved. Boys will dare each other to jump from a rock into the lake below or ride a bike down a tricky path. but there have been rights of passage for boys to become men since man walked the face of the earth.
Here are a few examples.
Now you may have seen 300. The movie talks about the Agogie which is where the boys learn to be fighters. So they are naturally taught how to be tough. They are gain strength and knowledge of what they are able to stand when it comes to pain. Then after all of that, they have the big Rite of Passage called the krypteia which they go out and kill slaves while not being detected.
The island of Vanuatu is where the manlier you are the hight up on a rickety tow you climb then attack 2 vines to your ankles and then jump headfirst. You are to touch the earth with your shoulders. Some of these towers can be a 100 feet up in the air. Boys as young as 5 jumps from the tower.
Now I can’t vouch for the authenticity of the movie of A Man Called Horse, but it is one of my favorite movies. In this movie, there is a ceremony called the Vow of the Sun that warriors have to endure. This ceremony is commonly called Hook hanging and the Tribe called Mandan had a ceremony like this but instead of eagle claws holding you up. They used sticks and would pierce not only the skin but the muscle too.
Then once the insertion of sticks into your flesh was done then they would take a rope and lift the, soon to be, man into the air. Wait! That’s not all. They would have more sticks and splints shoved under their skin and have the heads of their ancestors hung off of them. That’s hardcore right there.
There are other ceremonies that are commonly heard of in the American Indian tribes from how they receive their names to their first hunt each has as much reverence as it does danger. The ceremony is important.
What do you take from this?
There are challenges that you have to face yourself. This doesn’t mean you have to go at it alone. Like the Chick hatching, you have to do the work. Yet like weightlifting you need direction, coaching and mentoring. There are times in your life that you take a challenge and face it head-on. You apply what you have learned and to tackle the adversity you are plagued with.
You will always have some type of adversity getting in your way. Especially when you are trying to improve who you are. Ask anybody who has been through basic training in any branch of the military. Going through boot camp sucks till you look back on it. Then you have stories to share of the fun times. There will be stories of how the officer in charge ground you into dust because someone left their soap out. You will be able to cite how many times your bunk was tossed, and all of it will be with a significant level of affection. That is because you did the hard work. You had shipmates who were there to go through the experience with you. It was an ordeal that you fought your way through. You conquered your obstacles with ease.
The key is to not turn away from the challenge. you will not grow. Nor will you be better by avoiding the obstacle. Yes, it will be hard. It will more than likely suck, and there will be nothing about it that is pleasant. That is until you are finished. When you are finished you will be able to stand tall and look at other men in the eye and say, you came, you saw, and you kicked its ass. It is impossible to complete any challenge if you don’t try. So don’t quit especially when you feel like it.
Like Roger, your mind is actually the biggest obstacle. If you don’t think you can make it you won’t. It will tell you when to quit even if you have more to give. Your brain wants you to be comfortable. Change is painful and unpleasant. It will tell you that the obstacle isn’t worth the trouble. Your mind will say give up give up you have no more to give when in reality you have twice as much as you believe.
Maybe we have protected out boys way too much. Yeah, We don’t need to shove grass up their noses and make them bleed. As the elders, we don’t have to require our sons to dive head first into the ground. There are health concerns we are more aware of. Yet, there is a reason sports are good for a student to participate in, even though I can’t stand watching sporting events. There is an element of danger. Maybe we need to have that hunting trip where they smear the prey’s blood on their face. Maybe we can look to the American Indian, as they take a bite out of that bucks heart for the first time. Something to tell them they are a part of a sacred club. They are special, tough, born leaders.
That is why men have tests of strength. We dare each other to do dangerous feats of daring. It isn’t a toxic masculinity problem it is that we need to have our own rites of passage. Maybe putting your hand in a glove full of Bullet ants is needed to prove your worth. Then again you may only have to be the one who was able to break that one barrier that nobody thought was possible. A rite of passage is an adversity test. That test that proves to a kid that he is well on his way to being a man. It maybe a special event that you start taking your son or daughter on.
So as a leader. Get out there, face that fear. Yeah, you will be uncertain if you can do it but as long as you don’t listen to the lizard part of your brain you will surprise everybody even yourself.
What type of rites of passage did you go through? share your thoughts and insights in the comments below.
I like being able to help people find their “why” and achieve the personal freedom they desire. Besides writing for Relaxed Male I also am a life coach. By helping men find the leader that is found in each and every one of us. I do this by encouraging men to get outdoors and find the balance they are missing. Realize that they need to be in contact with the outside as often as they can. It is not only good for them but for their families and relationships.