To become successful and live the life of your dreams…all it takes is all you’ve got.
It’s a motto, a mantra, a massive call to action.
It means challenging yourself to dig deep, suffer, pay the price…and to fight for and work hard for what you want.
The word agon in Greek is the root of our word “agony”, and it signifies the exertion of great effort while pursuing a goal or worthy challenge.
The Greeks tended to see pretty much everything in life as a challenge…as an opportunity to grow, mature, toughen up and evolve.
Agons (contests and challenges) were part of everyday Greek life…an important tool in the shaping and forging of character. Each agon was designed to test one’s bodily or mental toughness and prowess in athletics, art, music, debate…all areas of life.
To personalize this concept…
Getting up in the morning to work out even when you’re tired is an agon…a daily battle between your nomos and your physis (or an agon between your desire to be in great shape and your desire to sleep in).
Doing your homework for an upcoming exam is an agon…a fight, between your desire for good grades, and your desire to play on social media or watch television.
The struggle not to eat that blueberry muffin or partake in that glass of wine is an agon. Learning a new language or musical instrument is an agon. A game of chess, as well a courtship is an agon where one person tries to win the other one’s heart.
The Greeks learned that life is one long string of agons…daily challenges that they were required to rise to and therefore incorporated them into their daily lives.
By doing so, they learned from an early age that all it takes to be successful in anything they wanted to be, do and have is everything they had in their head, heart and hands.
WHAT’S YOUR AGON?
When will your finest hour come, and more importantly…how will it arrive?
Do you really think it will materialize without an agon or challenge…without your character and commitment being tested…without you being pushed to your limits…and without you being permanently evicted from your comfort zone?
Nothing of pride, significance or of any lasting value has ever been created by means of laziness, uncertainty, procrastination, excuse making…nor without an agon.
In short, an agon or challenge is a mandatory requirement for success because it’s the only vehicle by which you find out your true capabilities and limitations.
THE STRENUOUS LIFE
My life and work has been greatly influenced by the words of Theodore Roosevelt, who in his 1899 speech “The Strenuous Life”…said,
“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.”
The future 26th President of the United States of America was speaking both figuratively and literally here.
“The Strenuous Life” was a strident argument in favor of self-reliance, nationalism, and building character, among other things. But in my opinion, Roosevelt was a modern day Greek philosopher who understood the value of an agon…he was strongly in favor of challenging oneself, and in hard work that tested and strengthened the body as well as the mind, the soul, and the nation.
For most of my adult life, I’ve pursued what I consider to be the organizing principles of lasting change and can state with the certainty of a man holding four aces that…for an individual, team, company, community or country to truly become great…they must seek out and rise to the great challenges that are thrust upon them..and more importantly, the great challenges and agons they thrust upon themselves.
So, I’ll ask it again…what’s your agon?
What’s that big, scary, challenging goal that calls out to you…the one that says, come and get me?
The world needs you…all of you, the courageous you, the bold, ambitious, fearless and unstoppable you.
Posted on May 21st, 2018 by Gary Ryan Blair