Your Guide to Personal Freedom: Spartan Style

Are you living a life worth remembering?

Put another way, which do you remember more – what you had for lunch 2 years ago, or the inspiring speech you heard 10 years ago? The lunch was so mundane that it could have happened last week and you would remember just as much (aka nothing). But the speech, oh the speech! It moved you. It challenged you to think about things in a different way. It forced you out of your comfort zone and into action. But, most importantly, it changed you, and from that moment on you would never be the same again.

Well, that moment came to me during the film 300.

As much of a fan as I am for an unabashed man movie, this one connected to me on such an emotional level that is difficult to put into words. Thankfully I managed to power through that difficulty and distill a few lessons that will help take you from where you are to where you want to be.

1. Find Your Why

In 480 BC, the Persian king Xerxes sent a messenger to Sparta asking the king for earth and water as a token of their submission. If the Spartans accepted, they would become part of the empire, receiving the spoils that came along with such a distinction. If they denied, they would incur the wrath of the Persian army; their men would be killed and the women and children forced into slavery.

So, what did the good Spartan king do? He kicked that sucka down a well. Request denied!

And with that act, the gauntlet had been thrown down – the eve of war was now upon them.

But why fight, especially when the numbers are far more in favor of the enemy? They fought because they had a reason to. They weren’t fighting to protect some abstract notion such as honor, but something more tangible – the lives of their loved ones and their very way of life.

Why am I here?

This examination leads to a lot more questions than actual answers. And not just any questions, but black hole, time stealing ones the lead you down an infinite rabbit hole and serve only as a distraction from the life you’re living.

Why am I doing this?

Why do I want to do this?

These are the questions that you need to ask yourself; these are the questions that need to be answered because they lead to action, not just more reflection. If you don’t have a strong enough why, then nothing else matters. Without a rock solid reason why you’re doing something, the how you’re going to do it will either never manifest itself, or, even worse, when it does it will be so shaky and vague that you buckle and your resolve falls apart at the first sign of external pressure.

2. Cross The Point Of No Return

By sending the Persian messenger for an eternal swim, the Spartans sent a message so bold that they had no choice but to move forward. They couldn’t just go “oops, my bad” and hope that all would be forgiven. Nope. They had crossed the much dreaded point of no return, the point in which turning back is either impossible or much more difficult than continuing along the chosen path.

But this isn’t Sparta, this is your life.

By crossing that boundary, you’ve essentially gone all in and put some serious skin in the game. Are you so deep in debt that it is gobbling up all your money, time and preventing you from achieving your dreams? Then find your why, create a strategy to pay it off, and start plugging away – and keep plugging away. Eventually you will have gone so far that the pain of continuing forward will pale in comparison to that of returning to your former state of life and the state of mind that got you there. As frightening as it may be at times, this is where you want to place yourself. This is where true growth and progress begins, yet this is also the resting place of dreams; where those who choose not to continue forward abandon their aspirations and turn the other way. But this won’t be you. This can’t be you. The stakes are too high for you not to continue forward.

If not now, then when?

If not you, then who?

3. Defy Convention

With just 300 men against an army of thousands, it would have been suicidal for the Spartans to attack head on. This is exactly what the Persians were expecting, because at least that way they could easily crush this small annoyance and continue along the warpath. But the Spartans chose to ignore standard war tactics and used the landscape to their advantage by forcing the Persians into a narrow pass where their large numbers meant nothing. By defying convention, the Spartans forced the enemy to play into the game that they created.

What about us, though?

Take a look around and you’ll quickly realize that everyone more or less is doing the same thing. Because it is safe.

Because that is how it has always been done.

Because it is what others expect.

Because of rules.

These rules, whether they are written or implied, are dangerous. They confine your thoughts and they limit your actions to whatever fits within the constraints of these rules, even if the situation demands that they be tossed aside for fresh ideas.

But what if there was another way? What if, instead of simply following the crowd, following what is practical and logical, you listened to that inner voice of yours? You know, the one that still wants to test the boundaries of life and explore what is possible. You might fail, but you also might discover that the only limits imposed in life are the ones you set for yourself, and through that realization begin to shatter those preconceived notions.

And Failure? It pales in comparison to the infinite possibilities that await those who are brave enough to treat reality as their plaything and create their own blueprint.

His helmet was stifling – it narrowed his vision, and he must see far. His shield was heavy – it threw him off balance, and his target is far away. With the hurling of his spear, king Leonidas proved that even a God king could bleed and solidified his place in the books of history as a testament to when free men rebelled against tyranny. What are you doing to ensure that your legacy lives on?

Photo Credit: Pasukaru76

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