On August 5th, 1620, the Pilgrims set out for America on two ships, the Speedwell and the Mayflower. You’ve likely never heard of the Speedwell, and for good reason. She never made it.
Once the 60 ton ship got out into open water, she started taking on water. Discouraged, both ships returned to Dartmouth to be refitted, but they could find nothing wrong. They then embarked on their second attempt, and sailed almost 100 leagues before she started to leak again.
This time, they returned to Plymouth, crowded onto the Mayflower, and left the Speedwell behind.
As it turns out, the mast and sail were too large for the ship’s structure to handle. Once it hit the open water and the strong winds, the torque from the sail and mast was so great that it created separation between the planks, allowing water to pour through.
The ship missed its opportunity to live in history as the companion to the Mayflower on this momentous voyage.
There are times in our lives when we will be called into action, when we will be required to move, when the opportunity to do something great will lie before us.
The question is whether or not we’ll be strong enough and prepared enough to act. Will the structural integrity of our core be sufficient to handle the demands of the moment?
The point is not to avoid life’s challenges, but rather prepare ourselves for them in every way possible, so when they arise, we’re ready for the challenge.
This kind of preparedness happens incrementally, over time. The key is that you have to start. Decide today to be just a little stronger, to work just a little harder, to improve just a little bit in some meaningful way. If you can do that every day of your life, or even just most days, then you’re sure to be ready to meet the challenges of life when they come.
Challenges are inevitable, and you have no control over them. What you do have control over is your strength and ability to rise to the challenge.
As Longfellow quipped in his poem “A Psalm of Life”
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,Is our destined end or way;But to act, that each to-morrowFind us farther than to-day.
The poem Invictus teaches us that we can’t control the cards life deals us, but we can control what we do with those cards. We are the masters of our fate, we are the captains of our soul.