Tolstoy and Heroic Deeds
Leo Tolstoy, one of the greatest writers of all time, tried his best to live each day with purpose. As a teenager in the 1840s, he created what he called his ‘Journal of Daily Occupations’. It was in this journal that he clearly outlined how he intended to spend the following day. It was this type of daily goal-setting that would give him the purpose needed to go on and change the world through his writing and actions.
Being a strong advocate of nonviolence, Tolstoy’s work would directly influence Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr and the impact that they had in the world. Tolstoy took risks, sacrificed, persevered and remained deeply committed to his craft until the day he died in September of 1910.
Over the years, he remained strongly connected to his purpose and it was through this purpose that he built the resilience needed to stay the course. He believed that 'each of us should live our whole life as a heroic deed’ and that we are all capable of so much more than we realize. Wise words from a man born nearly 200 years ago. But, he is not the only one throughout history that emphasized the importance of knowing one's purpose.
Churchill once said:
"To each there comes, in their lifetime, a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents.”
The author Ryan Holiday states that it is more accurate to say that life has many of these moments, many such taps on the shoulder. However, the figurative tap on the shoulder, knock at the door or ring of the telephone is oftentimes ignored or completely disregarded due to fear.
Fear of failure.
Fear of ridicule.
Fear of judgement.
Fear of what other people might think.
If we are to look at our lives and our talents through a different lens, it is essential to stare down fear. The amazing singer/songwriter Jewel believes that if left unchecked fear crushes our soul and suffocates our dreams. She has been quoted as saying:
“Fear is a thief. It takes the past and it projects it into the future. And it robs you of the only opportunity you have to create change.”
What might happen if we respond to the tap on the shoulder? What might we learn about ourselves and our ability to look fear in the eyes and not let it get in the way of our dreams, aspirations or what it is we know we must do? To live our life heroically, we must invest the time necessary to identify our purpose, so that we can build the resilience needed to stay on track with that purpose.
Like Tolstoy, we need to look ahead, set goals, check in with those goals and serve a cause that is much greater than ourselves.
What is your cause or purpose?
How will you serve the world?
And how will you hold yourself accountable for staying on track with what matters most to you in your life?
Thanks for reading.
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KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.