I am always amazed when I hear successful people talk about where they had come from. It doesn’t break their halo, not even a little. The fact that they take courage to be vulnerable in front of me makes them so much more human in my eyes, and it makes their story real.
I cannot help but wonder why some of those who start out with so little chance in life or the ones that encounter devastating experiences create extraordinary futures, while the ones who never lack anything chase success in vain.
Just to be clear, I don’t mean money or fame by success. Neither a title or a long-awaited award. All of these are just side effects of following a greater purpose. A stubborn faith in a vision that appears minuscule for others, but which has the power to pull you with it through doubts of all kind to a million small achievements. It makes all the difference.
The people who got through highs and lows are used to living on the edge. After all, they often feel they have nothing to lose because the worst is behind them. They are so familiar with falling and being ridiculed that they feel at home among the waves that throw them hard.
After struggling to find their place in the world, they stop trying to fit in: instead, they choose the road less travelled and they end up somewhere unconquered before. Their daily commute is up against the stream and they take nothing for granted because they know what loss feels like or not having anything in the first place. They take risks and bless change because they know it’s the only way that leads to growth.
Yet, if anyone could do this, even the ones who succeed against the odds, then why is that so few choose this path?
I believe it’s because it’s too easy to convince ourselves about the impossible. We can build up an entire castle from excuses and stay in a safe, predictable, ready-made life that’s laid out in front of us. You never have to look in the eerie eyes of the unknown over here or speak up against the crowd. A comfortable, lukewarm bubble with plenty of company who refuse to question the rules. A deal we signed so long ago we might fail to remember.
So before the walls close around you and you start wondering how you got there, before you believe that this is how the world works and convince yourself not to wish for more, I’ll tell you a secret.
There is only one thing that sets truly extraordinary people apart from the crowd. They didn’t win the genetic lottery and fate didn’t go easy on them either. The one thing that makes them who they are is their courage.
The courage that has nothing to do with fearlessness, but the very conquering of fear. As Nadia Comăneci beautifully said:
„I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.”
She was the first gymnast in Olympic history to be awarded a perfect score of 10.0 at the age of 14. She was born in a small town of Romania which was under communist rule at the time. She trained 24 hours a week at an early age while she had to deal with her parents’ divorce, yet, she never complained about it.
The real heroes in my eyes are the people who broke their own record and trespassed their imaginary limitations. The single mother whose only friend was alcohol but now she counts the days, months and years living sober and happier. The abused child who refused to take revenge, but decided to see something positive in everyone and to remind them of that very thing. The „foolish” dreamer and the failed entrepreneur who once again tries to create something that changes lives.
If there’s one thing I learnt from them is to bless all shortcomings, obstacles, and the people who turned against us because they made us who we are. To be proud of our scars, but never let them form a victim of us. To welcome challenges in our lives and trample them beneath our feet.
Don’t throw yourself into distractions and listen to your inner voice, especially, when others make a bigger noise. But most importantly, take courage to share your story, as much the deep as the high, because that’s what makes you extraordinary. If they can do it you can do it too. And if you can do it others will follow too.
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