To show complete equanimity in the face of adversity combined with a steadfast and determined mindset which remains ready to attack.
Stoic Aggression. They seem like two entirely conflicting approaches to life or any given situation. Yet, when applied correctly they can both compliment and perfectly balance one another. Beyond the foundation required to determine the correct mindset to attack any given problem or scenario comes the approaches of stoicism or aggression; or at least a form of them. We’ll be looking at two required mental capacities;
The ability to attack.
The ability to endure.
Consider these two as the fundamental basis of our approach to harnessing stoicism and aggression. Adversity and fear come in vastly differing forms – offering challenges of mental and physical nature; when left unchallenged, unfaced – will cripple,decay and destroy.
We remain frozen facing our demons; building fortresses of solitude and shackles of grief. We do not react in the moments that demand action – seeing potential and earned victories slip away.
In times of turmoil and seemingly endless strife; we break. We give in. We convince ourselves that we do not have what it takes to survive the storm, to see out the night, to outlast the darkness and be greeted by the light.
We learn when to pull the trigger.
We know that the storm will pass, leaving us better for knowing what we are truly capable of.
These skills, this mindset can be found and honed in so many ways – our focus in this is through physical training.
The ability to, when the time comes – engage and execute. Here the biggest stumbling block comes in the form of self doubt as taking the first step in a leap of faith is often that which is the reaper of dreams. The voices of uncertainty leave us questioning our abilities – focusing solely on worst case scenario outcomes. We talk ourselves down from the edge of victory. Play it safe. There is no defeat for those who never engage. This mindset comes into play in multiple physical exercises. Ever stood looking up at boxes when you’re aiming for a high box jump and found yourself frozen? It’s like your legs don’t want to work anymore, your brain can’t even figure out how to engage them. You stand. Frozen.
Now, when you break those shackles of fear and engage – in success or failure we find victory in the act of engaging our challenge. The same goes for multiple explosive movements and Olympic lifts. Approaching the bar loaded with a contextually heavy weight can prove a daunting, isolating and fearful moment. What if I fail? The worst failures are those which see you walk away from the bar knowing you didn’t give it your all. Now, take that mindset and use it for all of life’s daunting challenges. Are you doing the right thing or the easy thing? The more you put yourself in situations where you have to engage, you have to pull the trigger; the better you are at it. In the same way that we live an ethos of hunting adversity – hunt these moments. Get better at facing your fears head on, fuelled by the knowledge that there is victory in the act of engaging. As cliche as it sounds, one must always ask;
What would you do if you weren’t scared?
“”Only great pain is the ultimate liberator of the spirit….I doubt that such pain makes us ‘better’; but I know that it makes us more profound.”
– FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE
Not all problems are tackled head on with a single act of valourous defiance. Whilst these moments of glory are those most linked to iconic moments of triumph, let us not forget the slow burning wars; often fought internally which test our resolve, our definition of who we are and what we are capable of. Unlike moments that require a brief act of fire and aggression – these grinding trials can be pivotal in a journey defining the person we will be. They can be the fires that consume us.
They will forge us. When the storm seems endless – there is a deeper victory of philosophical importance found when we realise that the only way out; is through. Suddenly we earn the right to question ourselves for the better. What if I am not good enough is replaced by I am capable of so much more than I realised. I am more than I tell myself.
I must endure. I will endure.
Again – the unbreakable mindset that greets the storm with a defiant resolve is honed in physical adversity. There’s a reason we have so many grinding workouts that on paper seem like they will consume and break your spirit. To balance the aggression, the fire – comes the ice, the stoic resilience. Trials that don’t require a powerful undaunted attack – but a mindset that will endure physical adversity of perpetual motion. So, as Dylan Thomas once wrote, “Do not go gentle into that good night.” Walk into the darkness. Undaunted. On a physical and mental level – this mindset is absolutely crucial not only to your success – but your survival. Depression can manifest itself in ways that feel like an endless night. A feeling that this darkness has no end, no way out. A feeling that you are not good enough, smart enough, worthy to make it out. It’s in these times we truly feel defeated; truly broken.
So what do we do? We hunt adversity. We steer into the storm. We learn to navigate the dark. We learn to accept that our most fundamental truth is simply:
We must endure.
If you take anything away from this, let it be this; Hone both fire and ice. Attack adversity with the weapon required to kill it. Give adversity nothing, but taken from it everything. Be ready to get fired up and pull the trigger. Be a figure of ice, resilient and undaunted.
Be stoic. Be aggressive.
When you are lost in perpetual darkness you will carry within you a fire, forged in self belief. Knowing that you will remain;
Unbroken. You will find your way home.
For The Pack,