“For manliness gains much strength by being challenged.” – Seneca
Seneca wrote these words almost two thousand years ago, the technological and sociological advances that have allowed us to live convenient lives free from the fear of being eaten by wild animals or attacked by marauding gangs of cut throat bandits have also largely removed the need for men to be violent and expendable.
But in his day, Seneca was likely using manliness and fortitude interchangeably. At least we are going to go with that today.
Fortitude or resilience can not be claimed, we can not will it into existence and know for sure that we have it. We have to face adversity in order to test and evaluate our levels of fortitude. We have to be challenged in order to know just how much we can take.
And if we are truly going to find out where our limits lie, we also have to be broken every once in awhile. We have to fail. And by failing we are able to recognize our weaknesses and the areas in our own strength and character that we need to focus on developing.
And then we need to put the work into developing those weaknesses into strengths. Sometimes that will be something as simple as finding a few tasks we can work on to improve in a particular area and sometimes it will mean having the humility to ask for someone’s help to cover for our own weakness.
But we won’t know where to start until we fail a few times.
virtus fortis vocat