I was listening to a podcast while working out the other morning and a single line from it resonated with me and echoed something in my soul, making me stop mid pushup and rush over to the computer to capture the concept. Restated in a slightly more poetical way, the idea is:
The path of most resistance
is the way to excellence.
In the prelude to Courage is Calling, Stoic author Ryan Holiday retells one of my favorite Greek myths about Hercules. Even though his father was Zeus and he exhibited great strength and fighting ability, Hercules was just another demigod early in his life until he literally came to a crossroads. On each fork stood a goddess, offering him something and trying to woo him to her ways. One presented an easy life, great fame and earthly power and riches. A life of luxury, but he would grow old as a mortal (even the greatest succumb to age and death) amid his comforts and pleasures, and eventually pass to Elysium but in a few generations be essentially forgotten other than some statues. The other goddess offered pain. She offered sacrifice and suffering. She offered loneliness and grief and doubt. But she also held potential: immortality if he could grasp it. His name remembered for as long as heroes are discussed, and a place among the undying on Olympus if he would accept the risks and conquer the challenges. Hercules chose the latter path, the rough road filled with danger and he sits among the gods for it.
Robert Frost told a similar tale:
Two roads diverged in the wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.
The lane that others have not trod is harder and yields greater rewards, better views, and stories others wish they could tell because that dangerous path leads to adventures.
Take the rocky road. Accept the challenges. The scars you receive on your journey of the hero will be momentos of lessons and victories.
Easy routes lead to a difficult and forgettable life. The unblazed trail leads to glory and a story that will be remembered.
Chose the harder way, because in the end you and the world will be better for it.