Have you ever heard of a Maximite torpedo? It is designed to annihilate a warship. But in order to ignite and release its mighty power, it requires an extraordinary concussion AND an extraordinary resistance.
In his book “He Can Who Thinks He Can,” Orison Marden describes in detail that, “Children could play with it for years, pound it, roll it about, and do all sorts of things with it; the shell might be shot through the walls of an ordinary building, without arousing its terrible dynamic energy. It must be fired from a cannon, with terrific force, through a foot or so of steel plate armor, before it meets with resistance great enough to evoke its mighty explosive power.” (emphasis mine). He goes on to say, “Every man is a stranger to his greatest strength, his mightiest power, until the test of a great responsibility, a critical emergency, or a supreme crisis in his life, calls it out.”
Great power requires great resistance in order to be fully expressed. Resistance is another way to say challenge or adversity. For some of us, resistance starts young in life. For others, life is almost “charmed”…until it’s not and then delivers the unexpected sucker punch that knocks us to the ground. It really can be anything: betrayal, abuse, divorce, illness, loss, injury, failure, disability, rejection, layoff, violence, oppression, war, natural disaster, financial collapse; anything that has left a mark on us. I know, it’s a pretty grim list. But how we view these events makes all the difference.
We actually have a choice in the matter. Life leaves its mark, but it also leaves us to decide how to frame that mark. We can choose to see either limitation or leverage. We can use it as an excuse to play small or as traction to play big. What if, when this life leaves its mark, it is actually a call to leave a mark on this life? I invite you to consider that the adversity you face is really the gift of resistance required to draw out your greatest self.
What in your life have you been calling a limitation? It is only a limitation as long as you call it so. And only always. Now try on the possibility that this very same thing is the resistance you need to grow into the extraordinary person you were born to be. Instead of it being unfair and unfortunate, what if it is actually your secret advantage, strengthening you like nothing else will?
Great challenge literally calls to the latent greatness in each one of us, exploding our great potential into great action. We don’t step into greatness in spite of the challenge, we step into greatness BECAUSE of the challenge. Greatness is ALREADY in there, but our access to it is through one particular door: adversity. Our greatest challenge is the pathway to our greatest life.