There’s a word I recently learned and it’s called, “Animus.” Animus is Latin for spirit, mind, courage.
When I think of Animus, I think of the ancient Romans, Spartans and Greeks. I think of these civilizations not just because the word is Latin, but because it was a time in human history when people extolled the virtues of courage, valor and pride for one’s nation (which is not the case anymore, but that’s best saved for another discussion).
When I think of these times, I think of Socrates. His philosophy and ideals are as valid today as they were 2000+ years ago… and the thought of that fires me up.
“He is a man of courage who does not run away, but remains at his post and fights against the enemy.”-Socrates
For most of us, our most dangerous enemy is the one looking back at us in the mirror every morning. It is us. The enemy inside us has many names and takes many forms, but it’s most prevalent manifestation is called “Ego.”
Your Ego exerts control over your life in many ways, most of which aren’t helping you. What’s particularly insidious about the Ego is, when the Ego is pulling your strings, your brain disguises things as “practical” when they are not practical at all.
It warps your view of the world in a way that what’s easy seems what’s best. But this is false. This is just your Ego keeping you in your bubble of comfort. This is Ego keeping you from taking risks or putting yourself out there.
It is human nature to avoid pain and seek pleasure. We are all good liars when it comes to ourselves: We’ll tell ourselves anything to take the easy path.
Some of us know we do this, most of us have not the slightest clue, and we all have the Ego to thank.
If we spend time becoming self-aware, and actually thinking about the things we do, think, say and feel, we can break free from Ego’s grip. We can see that what’s hard or painful is usually the very route we should take to get the outcome we want.
For anything worth having in life, what’s hard is the way.
This might seem obvious in a competition setting: Of course it’s going to be hard when others are competing against you for the prize. But what about the times in life when there isn’t a clearly defined opponent?
- Asking for a raiseSharing your feelings with someoneSaying “NO”Saying, “Yes”Reaching out to someoneAsking for a favorBeing vulnerableEtc.
In these instances, the opponent is You. The enemy lives deep down inside you. It is Resistance manifested by your Ego, which is trying to keep you safe and comfortable. It is your brain conspiring to maintain the status quo of safety. And this is the root of every lie you tell yourself.
If you want greatness, you have to break free from the Ego’s grasp. You have to come to terms with your fears. Then you have to act. Mark Twain said it best, “Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it.”
This is why, for most of us, our enemy is Us. We have to fight our brain’s inclination to take the path of least resistance to get anything great done in life. If we don’t, safety and comfort rule our world.
When I think of animus, I think of doing what’s hard, of what you know needs to be done. I think about how the only way to greatness is through the enemy that exists inside us all; through us.
Whether it is on the court, in the gym, at work, or in our relationships, animus is recognizing the fear and doing what needs to be done still.
If you constantly seek out what’s hard because you know that's where the results are, you have a platform for achieving anything in life.
Conquer the enemy inside you and you can conquer all outside you. Fail to conquer the enemy inside you and the enemies outside will crush you with ease.
You must first conquer yourself before you can conquer anything.