Welcome to the YouTopian Journey. Each week I will be sharing unique wisdom as well as a more in-depth overview of the artwork that is featured on the Instagram @youtopianjourney. This week we discuss the importance of fortitude!
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WHERE IS OUR FORTITUDE?
“Should one point out that from ancient times declining courage has been considered the beginning of the end?”-Aleksandr Solzhenitysn, A World Split Apart
I see it everywhere.
The missing courage.
The inability to act.
The drama of the masses.
The ineffectual role that so many cling to.
The refusal to heed the inner call.
The giving into difficulties.
The retreat from obstacles into the safe space of the screen.
What happened to us? Why has society robbed us of our greatest strengths? Why do we skulk in the shadows when we were born to fly?
We lack fortitude. We lack the ability to endure the struggles that are required for greatness. Somewhere along the way, whether through our education or mechanization, something happened to us. We are no longer able to strive forward to some grand goal because it appears “too hard” to us. We can no longer endure the suffering that is required for our dreams because “it hurts.” Or in the worst case, “it isn’t safe.” This is foolish and eventually, will become hazardous.
Unable to act, opportunities will diminish.
Unable to determine the correct course, the path will disappear.
Unable to endure the pain, the goal will never be reached.
Unable to dare, nothing of merit will ever be gained.
And this is getting worse by the day.
The masses are slumping into comfortable conformity. Once famous role models have been exposed as frauds. Our ideals have been replaced with idols. Safety over risk has been championed, where even the thought of dangerous and risky behavior is enough to induce anxiety.
This cannot stand.
This is no time for safety and security. This is a time for experimentation and boldness. This is no time for comfort and ease. This is a time for engaging in personal growth, which may seem frightening, but is ultimately required for the life that you desire.
“The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.”-Tacitus
We cannot remain glued to the screen of a smartphone, dreaming of better times.
We are made for so much more than that.
We cannot remain chained to a career that we never wanted.
We are made for greater things.
We cannot remain in a state of stillness, with nothing but empty wishes and false hopes to cling to.
We are made to act.
We are made for so much more.
You are made for so much more!
There is still time to change. Still time to reverse course. Still time to draw upon the vast reservoirs of strength that are within each and every one of us. Still time to act boldly. Still time to break free and run toward your dreams!
How? How do we achieve a state of fortitude?
By understanding that fortitude is not a state of mind, but the result of what has happened to us. The scars of our battles and our failures. The many mistakes of our personal and professional lies. The wounds of our experiences. The ability to be a seasoned veteran who has faced failure after failure, loss after loss, and still come back for more.
“An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.”-Niels Bohr
Yet so many have refused to take part in these experiences. By protecting themselves from the worst that “could happen”, they are unable to cope with what will happen.
Many fear finding themselves alone so they never find themselves at all.
Many fear being ignored so they never make their voices heard.
Many fear pain and suffering so they never make any uncomfortable moves.
Many fear failure so they never risk success.
This must stop.
It begins with a desire to brave the elements.
It begins with the acceptance that you are capable of taking the inevitable blows that await you.
It begins with the understanding that while there may be fear and loss, there is the possibility of growth and victory.
It begins with you!
“Beyond a given point man is not helped by more “knowing,” but only by living and doing in a partly self-forgetful way. As Goethe put it, we must plunge into experience and then reflect on the meaning of it. All reflection and no plunging drives us mad; all plunging and no reflection, and we are brutes.”-Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death
FORTITUDE IS A NEEDED ALLY
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there is something stronger-something better, pushing right back.”-Albert Camus
The world will not get any easier. Doors will be opened and unseen paths made visible only through your own actions. But going from point A to point B is a journey within itself. While your dreams may finally be within your reach, you must still endure the process. This process can be annoying. This process can be difficult. This process can be painful. And this process can be lonely.
You will inevitably find yourself alone and surrounded by those who deem your idea too crazy and you too inexperienced to achieve anything of merit. This pressure is enough to deter even the most daring dreamer, pulling them back into the mud from the stars.
Thus, fortitude is required! Fortitude in the face of the questions that will plague you.
Will I be able to maintain the present course?
Will I be able to push through the countless distractions that attempt to detour me?
Will I be sucked into the thoughts and drama of other people?
Will I be able to ignore the opinions of the masses?
And the most important question.
What the hell am I doing with my life?
Those who are lacking in fortitude will give into such questions. They will listen to the doubts. They will give up on themselves, never knowing how close they came to making their goals a reality.
You cannot allow this to happen.
You must prepare for the world of tomorrow. You must take a vow of now and decide to be a person of fortitude or a person of fragility.
Because life won’t get any easier. The pandemic proved the fragility of not only modern man, but the modern world. A mass exodus of millennials from cities that were forced to move home because they couldn’t afford rent without a steady job. Industries around the globe that were forced to scale back or completely shut down. The innate weakness and inability of people to sacrifice for the short term in order to have long term gains.
The end of the pandemic won’t be a return to normal, it will only be the beginning of another historical cycle. This won’t be the last crisis we face. Obstacles and challenges will not simply retreat once the pandemic is nothing more than a bad memory. We will not be able to ride into the sunset. We must be ready for what comes next. Whether it be another global pandemic, a new international crisis, a financial meltdown, or a scientific breakthrough that changes the world and makes our livelihoods obsolete, we must not be caught off guard.
This is why fortitude is an essential ally!
People will let you down.
Your friends will not be there when you need them.
Your career is not ironclad.
You only have yourself.
You only have fortitude.
“You must endure and not be broken-hearted.”-Homer, The Iliad
KEEP MOVING FORWARD DESPITE THE PAIN
"Life is growth. If we stop growing, technically and spiritually, we are as good as dead."-Morihei Ueshiba
Fortitude is not something that one is born with nor is it a divine boon that is provided by prophecy. It is a human trait, a human ideal, and a human achievement. Each and every individual possesses this power.
But few act on it.
Because it hurts. It cuts deep. It makes one question their current path. It makes people nostalgic for a bygone era of a sweet and easy existence. This is a pipe dream but this fantasy seems preferable to the pain that fortitude requires.
“It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.”-Julius Caesar
The process is painful. It is long. It is full of suffering. It is facing the slings and arrows of misfortune day in and day out. It is waking up and knowing that there is a beast under the bed and that it is your job to face this beast and ultimately defeat it. One cannot hide from this responsibility, one can only flee. This flight leads into conformity and safety, where dreams go to die.
But for the daring dreamers? The pilgrims of purpose? The seekers of significance? They all know the truth.
Fleeing is not an option!
Understand that there is a difference between suffering for the sake of suffering and suffering with a goal in mind. This meaningful suffering is required for success. This pain is required for fortitude. Fortitude is the result of facing pain. It is the process of growing through the pain and staying on course, no matter how difficult it may be. It is sticking to our guns, holding our nerve, staying on target, and proudly declaring you shall not pass!
This is who I am. This is what I do. This is what I intend to do. The world be damned.
That isn’t swag or bravado.
That is fortitude.
“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”-Victor Frankl
Fortitude is not fleeing from a storm, but facing it. As a storm can change its course without warning, fortitude is the ability to brave the storm without the preparations that a weaker individual would require.
Fortitude is the declaration that you are in charge of your life. You must set sail on the adventure that is life. You must cross rivers of doubts. You must use your limited time to go after your goals, no matter how difficult it may be.
This is not a new concept nor some new age philosophy. It is as old as the ancient Greeks. Homer wrote of the importance of fortitude in The Odyssey:
“And what if one of the gods does wreck me out on the wine-dark sea? I have a heart that is inured to suffering and I shall steel it to endure that too. For in my day I have had many bitter and painful experiences in war and on the stormy seas. So let this new disaster come. It only makes one more.”
The journey is not easy. The journey is not fast. In fact, the majority of people you encounter will not even be on a journey.
Because fortitude is painful and obtaining it certainly isn’t fun. But it is required. It is a needed trait to survive in a world that is growing more difficult by the day. In the past decade, entire industries were disrupted. In the coming decade, entire industries will be made extinct. The world is changing faster than any of us realize.
And no one is coming to save you.
Not the government.
Not the big tech companies.
Not your heroes.
There is only you. There are only your actions and goals. There is only the fortitude that you possess. This fortitude will allow you to weather the storms of life and emerge stronger. This fortitude will allow to proudly embrace the pain and suffering of life, giving you the ability to transcend what would stop the masses.
“There are ships sailing to many ports, but not a single one goes where life is not painful.”-Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
Fortitude allows you to arrive at the port of your own choosing. It allows you to set a course, knowing full well what awaits you. Ultimately, it makes you a stronger individual, a source of strength for your peers, a beacon of hope and inspiration. And that is precisely what is needed most in society today.
“Finding the center of strength within ourselves is in the long run the best contribution we can make to our fellow men…One person with indigenous inner strength exercises a great calming effect on panic among people around him. This is what our society needs-not new ideas and inventions; important as these are, and not geniuses and supermen, but persons who can "be", that is, persons who have a center of strength within themselves.”-Rollo May
“Luctor et Emergo”-I struggle and overcome.
I like to practice what I preach. I refuse to be thought of as an armchair general or a keyboard preacher. With that being said, I am pleased to announce the launch of Founder Fortitude!
In partnership with the Baltic Sandbox Accelerator, Founder Fortitude is a virtual forum of shared experiences and insights to make the entrepreneurial journey bearable. Drawing from an ecosystem of philosophy, psychology, history, and business innovation (which is what YouTopian Journey is based on), Founder Fortitude is an educational and entertaining support system. It aims to educate, enlighten, and entertain founders while at the same time, prepare them for the rough road ahead.
It is free and I encourage everyone to attend and participate, regardless if you are an entrepreneur or not. I will be taking questions throughout the talk and look forward to interacting with all of you. Space is limited so please RSVP here.
CRAMP YOUR CRANIUM
I truly believe that the best advantage one can have in this world is to be armed with knowledge. I recently came across 10+1 Things, a curated newsletter by Rishikesh. It features 11 interesting stories finely handpicked from the vast universe of information. 10+1 Things delivers content that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise in a digital world filled with bots, algorithms and junk information. You can check it out here.
CAN I ASK A FAVOR?
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I’m Shaun Gold and if you are reading this, you are already on your journey. Catch you next week.