I first stepped into the blue basement of the legendary Renzo Gracie Academy in early 2005 when I lived in…
Embrace Your True Greatness
If you are going through a tough time in life right now, always remember that the greatest stories in human history involve immense suffering and the triumphant overcoming of it. Nelson Mandela endured 27 years in prison for his belief that all races were created equal. He eventually became the 1st black President of South Africa. Muhammad Ali lost everything he had built in life for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. He ended up coming back to win the heavyweight world title again, making him one of the greatest boxers in history. Nick Vujicic was born with no arms and legs. Today, he is a world famous evangelist, author, and entrepreneur. Steve Jobs got fired from Apple, the beloved company that he founded. He went to become one of the greatest entrepreneurs in history. Tony Robbins came from a poverty-stricken, abusive home. Today, he is arguably the world’s best motivational speaker and life coach. Rafael Dos Anjos lived in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. He is now the UFC Lightweight World Champion. One of the clear commonalities of greatness is the ability to harness the power of the human spirit in life’s bleakest moments. These extraordinary human beings all suffered tremendous adversity, failures, setbacks, tragedy, hopelessness, and/or impossible odds in order to unleash their true greatness in life.
As the great poet and author C.S. Lewis so eloquently put it, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”
At the lowest point in my life, I survived on one meal a day. I went to bed hungry. I watched my mother cry uncontrollably from hopelessness. I saw my loved ones suffer. I was so ashamed of my family’s poverty that I did my best to keep it a secret. I didn’t grow up in poverty as a child. In fact, I grew up quite comfortably in a loving home. Life only changed when my parents went bankrupt, lost everything, and became homeless. Poverty tore my family apart. My father eventually abandoned the family, leaving my mother, my younger brother, and myself to figure things out. Through a combination of luck, perseverance, and determination over many years, I pulled my family out of poverty. Along the way, I earned an MBA from Harvard University, helped to put my younger brother through school, provided for my mother financially, and became a self-made, serial entrepreneur. Today, I am living the life of my dreams.
I don’t share this story with you to garner sympathy or to brag. I share it with you to highlight a simple truth about life so that you may be inspired to unleash your true greatness in life. The truth is that how we react to our lowest points in life determines what we become in life. Most people allow circumstances to shape their destinies. Why? Because it is simply easier to blame the world for our woes than it is to look within for an answer. It is easier to quit than it is to fight. It is easier to run than it is to conquer. Simply put, most of us would rather accept the reality that is in front of us than believe in the dream ahead of us.
I believe that greatness lives in all of us, but it does not show itself when we quit, run, or hide. Greatness is a choice. We choose our greatness when we choose courage over fear. We choose our greatness when we choose love over hate. We choose our greatness when we choose perseverance over surrender. To embrace our worst moments in life is to embrace our true greatness. Embrace adversity. Embrace pain. Embrace failure. They are all wonderful opportunities from which to learn, grow, and evolve as human beings. Think of them as tests that you must overcome in order to achieve the life of your dreams. Treat them as your teachers. Search for the lessons. Inherit the wisdom. Above all, learn to be unbreakable. Fight with everything you have. For your dreams. For your loved ones. For your beliefs. For your future. For those who believe in you. For your greatness.
Kintsukuroi is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer and gold so that it is even more beautiful than the original. The philosophy of this treasured art is to celebrate the history of a ceramic piece by honoring every crack and every flaw. Imperfections are displayed beautifully rather than hidden, making each unique piece a magnificent work of art.
The most beautiful people in the world are not those with a perfect life.
No, the most beautiful people in the world are those who have shed tears for their dreams, who have tasted the bitterness of failure, who have known the solitude of suffering. And yet, they march forward undeterred, unwavering, and unchanged in their quest to rise above circumstances, odds, and despair. The most beautiful people in the world are those who have scars indelibly etched on their souls because they choose to live their dreams.