The warriors in the elite U.S. Special Forces are as close to superheroes as you are likely to find. Only the finest and toughest are invited to compete for a few hundred positions, and they undergo the most rigorous physical and psychological training imaginable. As an integral part of this training, they will march for miles through swamp, forest, mountains, and deserts using only a topographical map and compass to navigate. Food rations are limited, and every conceivable adversity is thrown at them to assess their ability to handle stress, ambiguity, and change.
The U.S. Marine Corps concludes its basic training with a three-day cross-country march in which participants are deprived of sleep and food and are subjected to all manner of stressful situations. The final phase of Marine Corps training is a test called The Crucible. Why do they do it?
A crucible is an instrument that can withstand great heat and is used for melting or fusing metals and ores. It is a metaphor for an extreme test in the most adverse circumstances. For the Marine Corps, it is a test to see how they will respond under the ultimate stress and pressure. For the rest of us, the crucible is life itself, a journey to which we all aspire to travel.
The crucible of life represents the circumstances of rapid change, adversity, and unfairness. These circumstances often leave us feeling confused, insecure, overwhelmed, and out of control. It seems at times the greater the change, the more resistant we become. It is easy to abandon the journey out of frustration, and many do.
The secret to surviving and thriving.
The secret to surviving and thriving is in the recognition of and living the following principle: life is not about the circumstances we face. Our circumstances, for the most part, are beyond our control. Rather, life is about how we choose to respond to the circumstances we face. And our response is always within our control. We call this principle 100% Responsibility. It means I am 100% Responsible for how I choose to respond to everything and everyone in my life.
We can either be defined by our circumstances or defined by our response to those circumstances. One path leads to getting stuck, the other leads to freedom and action. The choice is ours to make.
If we had the opportunity to be trained in any of the Special Forces, we would learn that eighty percent of survival is determined by mental attitude, the will to live and not die. Ten percent of survival is based upon having the right resources, and another ten percent is based on how we use those resources.
None of us escapes the crucible of life. So, the only real question is, how will I respond? What attitude will I choose for myself to carry me through adversity and change? Armed with a clear purpose and the right attitude, adverse circumstances seem smaller. Rather than crippling us, they make us stronger and become fuel for the next leg of our journey. This is how we survive and thrive.
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