“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
For those familiar with the quote, I’m sure you understood to what degree of challenge & controversy he meant when he spoke those words. It wasn’t ordinary challenge & controversy, one which we might face on a daily basis or quite frequently. No, I believe he was referring to those rare moments in which the need for change becomes inevitable. In these moments of extreme circumstances, there seems to be two choices that overshadows the rest… to continue to endure… or to alter our course of reality & to travel down a new road. The decision for the latter of the choices comes from a multitude of things, one of those being the psychological breakthrough known as the breaking point.
The breaking point is defined & stated as the following:
the point at which a person gives way under stress
the point at which a situation becomes critical
the point at which something loses force or validity
At some point in our lives, we will all come close to our own breaking point. Whether it is in school, our career, a relationship gone south, a bad habit that keeps occurring, events that test our faith & spirituality, etc. What we do at this point can propel us into new beginnings, halt us in our current situation, or strengthen the downward spiral which we’re currently in. A select group of us, when at this pinnacle point in life, will decide to act upon it, choosing to no longer accept our current conditions. For those who aren’t as brave, fear of the unexpected, the unknowing consequences of what their actions might lead to will prevent them from taking action.
Comfort & Convenience
As humans, we are genetically wired to seek comfortable situations, for in these settings we feel a sense of control and predictability. With those two things comes convenience. Most things we do, outside of those we have to do, are for our own leisure. Something once told to me by a previous manager was, “stay hungry, never get too full”. It was an analogy used to depict how people become sluggish after a good meal & as an effect, lose their hunger. To stay hungry meant keeping that desire & tenacious attitude that it took to acquire that “meal”, opposed to becoming so engulfed & full, that you become stagnant. Succumbing to stagnant behavior can lead to a lot of things in life, such as weight gain, a crappy job, a bad relationship, that feeling of just going through the motions, etc. I think it’s important to note that, being stagnant doesn’t mean you’re not hungry either, but we all know growth doesn’t come from it, at least not the kind we’re hoping for. For those looking to continue to grow, we have to remember to tap into the mindset that got us where we wanted to be & elevate ourselves at times in order to reach new plateaus depending on where & what it is we want to accomplish in life. This means leaving our comfort zones.
Challenge & Controversy
As we wonder about the what ifs & how things could be different, we’re often faced with adversity & conflict. While some can see the other side, they may not know how to get there or what obstacles they will face, while others have no view of the other side at all. Depending on the significance of what it is you seek, you may choose not to pursue that which you want or hope to accomplish. You will recede back to your comfort zone & that will be it. That select group of people I spoke about earlier though, will view this as a chance for growth & embrace this opportunity. How do you know you’re growing or have the opportunity to grow? I was asked this question once & my response was, “You know you’re growing when you find yourself faced with a situation, which you haven’t encountered before, yet you find a way to resolve it, even if that means realizing it can’t be solved. At times, you feel yourself being stretched into areas, which you didn’t know existed or hadn’t explored & you gain new insight & a deeper perspective.” Susan Elizabeth Phillips said, “Anything worth having is worth fighting for.” That doesn’t mean physical confrontation, though in some instances… but I think she means effort & sacrifice, something people lack at times. When people actions don’t match their words, that is a contradiction. You can never expect to have something of great value, without putting in the necessary amount of work it takes to acquire it, nor can you expect to retain it without sustaining that effort at a minimum.*Message*
Who will come to my rescue? What do I have to do? Will things always be this way? Where did things go wrong? Why do I put up with this? How do I turn things around? Is this the best I can do? Someone on the verge of the breaking point may find themselves asking these & similar questions. Given our differences, it’s hard to compare one person’s tolerance to that of another, but each will know their limit. Also metaphorically, as if suddenly learning of a new sector inside of us, a mental switch will flip a light on, opening our eyes/mind to what is apparent………… Somebody may come to our rescue, but it would be foolish to leave our fate in the hands of someone else, so we must save ourself. You have to do more than you’re currently doing & if you physically can’t, you have to find a way to become more efficient. Things will stay how they are as long as the conditions enabling them are in place. Things went wrong before you started contemplating about it, so all there is to do now is to learn from it & make the proper adjustments. You put up with this because you don’t know how to remove yourself from a toxic situation or lack the courage/ patience/ knowledge to fix it. You turn things around one day at a time & despite the setbacks you may have, you keep working at it until you erase any doubt you ever had in yourself. If you’re not perfect at it, then no that isn’t your best. The ultimate measure is where thought meets action & change begins to take place, hence we break through.