In today’s post I will post portions from the essay “Of Providence” from Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Why? I believe that it describes very well what the peak performance mind looks like. Because I want everyone to get the true idea of what he’s saying, some of the portions I use will be a translated version mixed in with the original. I hope you enjoy it!
“And yet I do not mean to say that the brave man is insensible to bad external conditions, but that he overcomes them, and being in all else unmoved and calm rises to meet whatever assails him. All his adversities he counts mere training. We see athletes, who study only their bodily strength, engage in contests with the strongest of men, and insist that those who train them for the arena should put out their whole strength when practicing with them: they endure blows and maltreatment, and, if they cannot find any single person who is their match, they engage with several at once: their strength and courage droop without an antagonist: they can only prove how great and how mighty it is by proving how much they can endure. You should know that good men ought to act in like manner, so as not to fear troubles and difficulties, nor to lament their hard fate, to take in good part whatever befalls them, and force it to become a blessing to them. It does not matter what you bear, but how you bear it.”
Do we look at our tough situations that way? That is a picture of a mind on the journey of excellence! Let’s continue…
Among many grand sayings of our Demetrius is this, which I have but just heard, and which still rings and thrills in my ears: “No one,” said he, “seems to me more unhappy than the man whom no misfortune has ever befallen.” He never has had an opportunity of testing himself; though everything has happened to him according to his wish, nay, even before he has formed a wish, yet the gods have judged him unfavorably; he has never been deemed worthy to conquer bad circumstances, which avoids the greatest cowards, as though it said, “Why should I take that man for my adversary? He will straightway lay down his arms: I shall not need all my strength against him: he will be put to flight by a mere menace: he dares not even face me; let me look around for some other with whom I may fight hand to hand: I blush to join battle with one who is prepared to be beaten.” A gladiator deems it a disgrace to be matched with an inferior, and knows that to win without danger is to win without glory. Just so doth Fortune; she seeks out the bravest to match herself with, passes over some with disdain, and makes for the most unyielding and upright of men, to exert her strength against them.
Sometimes I wonder how many times have athletes, when matched against a greater opponent, give up or prepare to be beaten before the match even begins. I wonder how many athletes just want an easy road?
I wish I could post the entire thing but I will stop with this last one below. If you want to read the entire essay click right here.
You are a great man; but how am I to know it, if fortune gives you no opportunity of showing your virtue?…. I may say the same of a good man, if troublesome circumstances have never given him a single opportunity of displaying the strength of his mind. I think you unhappy because you never have been unhappy: you have passed through your life without meeting an antagonist: no one will know your powers, not even you yourself.” For a man cannot know himself without a trial; no one ever learnt what he could do without putting himself to the test; for which reason many have of their own free will exposed themselves to misfortunes which no longer came in their way, and have sought for an opportunity of making their virtue, which otherwise would have been lost in darkness, shine before the world….Do not, I beg you, dread those things which the immortal gods apply to our minds like spurs: misfortune is virtue’s opportunity.
The strongest trees are those that have met the strongest winds. Remember that. And a peak performance mind seek out those winds. #mentalUPgrade #PushForward #ImOnMyJOC