Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Are You Worthy of Your Sufferings?

The way you deal with life's difficulties speaks
volumes about you as a self-action leader.

How well do you deal with...



                               Or Disaster

What about failure, rejection, or being ignored, belittled, or mocked?  

Actions always speak louder than words, and the way your ACTIONS answer these questions is very important if you desire to be an authentic self-action leader.  

In his famous book, Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl—an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor—powerfully taught this principle by tapping into his own horrendous experiences as a captive in several Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz. By war's end, Frankl's mother, father, wife, and all of his siblings had died as a result of similar imprisonments. Miraculously, Frankl beat the odds and survived, making him the only member of his immediate family to do so.

Despite enduring such unspeakable familial tragedies and personal trials, Frankl emerged from his crucibles surprisingly victorious over his captors. Such victories evinced the extraordinary growth and insights he obtained in captivity and then proceeded to share with millions around the globe for the next half-century prior to his passing in 1997.    

In Frankl's own words:

"The experiences of [prison] life show that [human beings] do have a choice of action [regardless of one's external circumstances]. There were enough examples, often of a heroic nature, which proved that apathy could be overcome, irritability suppressed [even in the face of the most abject and brutal circumstances]. [Humans] can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember [those] who walked though the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a [person] but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's own attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

"And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate."*

Frankl then goes on to note that:

"Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the [concentration camp] inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally, therefore, any [person] can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him—mentally and spiritually. He may retain his dignity even in a concentration camp. Dostoevski said once, 'There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.' These words frequently came to my mind after I became acquainted with those martyrs whose behavior in camp, whose suffering in death, bore witness to the fact that the last inner freedom cannot be lost. It can be said that they were worthy of their sufferings; the way they bore their suffering was a genuine inner achievement. It is this spiritual freedom—which cannot be taken away—that makes life meaningful and purposeful."**

The opportunity and charge to become "worthy of one's sufferings" is something self-action leaders take very seriously. Is it any surprise then that they find inspiration in Edmund Vance Cook's famous poem from yesteryear, entitled: How Did You Die?...

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way

With a resolute heart and cheerful?

Or hide your face from the light of day

With a craven soul and fearful?

Oh, a trouble's a ton, or a trouble's an ounce,

Or a trouble is what you make it,

And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,

But only how did you take it?

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what's that?

Come up with a smiling face.

It's nothing against you to fall down flat,

But to lie there — that's disgrace.

The harder you're thrown, why the higher you bounce;

Be proud of your blackened eye!

It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts,

But how did you fight — and why?

And though you be done to death, what then?

If you battled the best that you could,

If you played your part in the world of men,

Why, the Critic will call it good.

Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,

And whether he's slow or spry,

It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,

But only how did you die? 

Are your life's troubles sharpening
you up, or grinding you down to dust?
In the end, it's YOUR choice.
"Life is a grindstone; whether it grinds you down or polishes 

you up is for you and you alone to decide."

— Cavett Robert


Are you worthy of your sufferings? 

If not, what can you do TODAY to get on the road to being so in the near future... to say nothing of before you die?  


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* Frankl, V. (1984) Man's Search for Meaning. New York, NY: Washington Square Press. Pages 86-87.

** Ibid. Page 87. 

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