Come on! You’ve played enough RPGs to know there’s always the guy that teaches you everything you need to know in the game. He’s often old and wise and he knows everything about the world in and he’s ready to explain everything to you, from the basic WASD keyboard combination to the mechanics of unleashing those scary powers that any RPG character hide under a coat of adorable naïvete. And if you’ve never played a RPG you know by heart the rules of the Hero’s Journey, as Joseph Campbell perfectly laid out. You know, when Gandalf arrives to a quiet and peaceful Hobbitville and suddenly nothing will be the same again for the young Frodo.
Like Gandalf in LOTR saga, there’s always the master Yoda that forges a skilled Jedi warrior out of a young and inexpert Tatooin’s car racer, or that old coach that brings a team of underdogs to final victory, after enduring defeat after defeat from the rivals.
In real life those characters are called “mentors”, and they’re essential figures in everyone’s career. Some of these very experienced people can often unleash the undiscovered talent hidden in many of us and guide to the right path to success. They know the rules of the game because they’ve done the same road many years before and they have learnt all the tricks and traps of the way and if you’re there to listen, they’re willing to show that same road to you. Cherish your mentors, because they can take you far and they’re exceptionally rare to find.
Right now in Italy there’s the annual music festival of Sanremo on TV and, beside all the talents and good music, there has been a moment that touched everyone, when Elodie, one of the most acclaimed Italian contemporary singers, almost broke down into tears when she pubblically tributed her mentor, jazz pianist Mauro Tre, for having believed in her many years ago and made her success possible.
Really a beautiful moment! Seeing those seemingly monolithic and incredible talents showing so much vulnerability really open the eyes on the truly nature of success, which is not always related to natural predisposition and good luck, but also to very concrete steps of grit, consistency and the right people to guide your path. Maybe there’s an unexpected Jedi in everyone of us only waiting for an Obi-Wan to be discovered.
But there’s another figure, often overlooked by everyone, but equally essential in shaping the Hero’s future path. The guy, the thing that made all the journey through the steps of growth, death and rebirth possible. The enemy.
I mean, think about it: without a Sauron menacing to destroy the Middle-Earth, there wouldn’t even be a Fellowship of the ring. Without the strong team alwasy winning every match there wouldn’t be the struggle to rise to the top and become even better.
Finding a mentor is important, but sometimes you also have to find the right enemy to really push a step further.
“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made” — Franklin D. Roosevelt
Now, I don’t mean you have to piss off everyone around and leave a trail of people that want you dead. That would be counter-productive. And no, you don’t really have to save the Middle-Earth again.
But yeah, finding a good adversary can be a good propellant for your ride. Is the buoyant force that keeps you striving for the better and not only float into complacent waves.
“The weight of the displaced portion of the fluid is equivalent to the magnitude of the buoyant force” — Archimede
Think in sport-competing terms and identify those people that you want to dub in the long marathon of your life. Those are the people that, more than anybody, teach you to push over your limits and not just stop to the finishing line. Those are the people you have to thoroughly study in all details if you wanna beat them. They’re smarter, they’re way faster than you. But so what? You will have the last laugh.
Otherwise call “GG” and go back to study again. Better this time.
Your enemies are the metric to truly evaluate your progress. The more you feel them closer, the more you know you’re advancing in your quest. Choose them wisely. Your enemy must be a final-level-boss kind of enemy. Only then your journey will make sense.
There’s no reason to only follow secondary missions. Yes, they’re rewarding in the short term, but you’re not gonna complete the game unless you focus to the end victory. You’ll face difficulties, too. But don’t worry! This is all part of the journey and those will make you stronger and ready to the final level. Also that’s life, too. Life is made of little difficulties and choices every day. The big, strong enemy you have identified will help you discern between the useful and futile and move quickly ahead.
Last thing, be always sportive. An enemy shouldn’t make you resentful, but is only functional to your progress and personal well-being: it must be someone you subtly admire and that can challenge your tendency for complacency by pushing always further your limits.
Is not guarantee that you will win against “him” till the end. But hey that’s okay! That’s what the journey is all about, after all. Is a fight.
Embrace the process of growth, discovery, failure and rebirth. Is a slow long-game and you must play it to the end. Is a propedeutic voyage that will forge a better character out of it. The moment you decide to take the challenge against the final-level-big-boss enemy the journey become yours. And you, you’re going to be the Hero of it.
Are you ready?
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