In WWII, the British took the phrase “Keep calm and carry on” to a whole new level. It wasn’t just something written on a poster or a biscuit tin — it was a vow they made and valiantly, they did indeed carry on.
First used on a British propaganda poster during World War II, the rallying cry unified the British and despite being worn down by the endless assault of Hitler’s Germany, they stoically soldiered on — it became a way of life and not just a mantra. Today, that slogan lives on and enjoys being the defining expression of persistence and resilience.
These days however, feeling motivated and inspired can seem elusive and sometimes, its seems easier to give up than to persevere. However, it usually only seems that way and staying the course is worth the effort.
Are the “can do” attitudes of yesteryear gone? Do people still have the fortitude to marshal on? This “moral of the story” tale is a good example of someone…an underdog, who, against the odds, surprised everyone, including himself and achieved what others could not:
Once upon a time, a wealthy king sought a suitable man to marry his daughter. So, he decided to create a challenge to test whether an individual had the appropriate attitude and would not quit at the first indication of adversity. To pass the test, each candidate had to put on royal metal armour and ascend 1000 stairs to the top of the mountain, where the king’s palace was.
Many men gathered from all across the world to take on the task. However, as soon as they put on the armour, they determined that the endeavour would be impossible. The majority of men took the first step, then glanced up at the remaining 999 and gave up. Several men made it to the second step before abandoning their quest. And so it continued for the next couple of hundred men, with some reaching as high as the third step.
The king appeared to be very concerned. He pondered if someone was deserving of his daughter. Everyone who came to try their luck with the challenge stayed away after they saw all those who had attempted to compete in the challenge only to fail miserably. Nobody thought it was possible. So far, everyone had failed, and they were discussing how the task was designed to be impossible to finish. The most powerful military men attempted and failed. The top athletes tried but failed. Even the most muscular men couldn’t go past the third stairwell and nobody could make it any further. They all pointed their finger at the armour and the steps, saying they could do it, if only the armour were lighter and the stairs weren’t so steep.
Then, to everyone’s astonishment, a young man who appeared to be very ordinary and not very impressive, declared he wanted to try. He, like everyone else before him, had his chance. He donned the heavy gear and proceeded to the steps. Everyone said he wouldn’t make it past the first step. But surprisingly, he was quick to go to the second and then the third, but he could hardly move his shivering feet to the fourth step.
But determined, he took a big breath and moved forward. He felt like he was about to collapse, but he was determined to keep going and he kept telling himself, “One step at a time. I only have to finish this one.” As he approached the fifth step, he felt a strong pull from the top. His armour became noticeably lighter. So he took another step, telling himself, “I’m not ready to quit yet.”
Surprisingly, the armour started to feel a bit lighter as he progressed and though exhausted, he was determined to take one more step. So the “not-so-special young man” went on and each stride made his armour feel lighter and his goal closer.
When the young man finished the challenge, the king praised him and then revealed a secret about the test: “You know, the challenge aimed to make sure that the man who would marry my daughter is not the type of man who gives up after the first couple of difficult moments.”
The King continued, “The armour represents the difficult times. The magnet at the top, which made each step easier after the first few you had to make on your own, represents the willpower and experience that will make your future endeavors easier to bear. With the right person at your side and the right mindset and focus, you can do anything, no matter how big the problem is. So you know, the most challenging part of any problem you and your partner will encounter in the future is the first few steps, and it will become easier from there. You have proven yourself worthy, and now you have my blessings to marry my daughter.”
Moral: Be brave and try to always take your first steps and keep going. A challenge can become easier with each step and the right mindset.
“With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.” — Thomas Fowell Buxton
“The secret of a better and more successful life is to cast out those old, dead, unhealthy thoughts. Substitute for them new vital, dynamic faith thoughts. You can depend upon it—an inflow of new thought will remake you and your life.” — Norman Vincent Peale
Sometimes it seems like giving up is easier than carrying on, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if that tunnel seems longer than usual. We have to look for the brighter side, even if its just a glimmer to start — be tough, hang in there, have hope and call upon your support network to help keep you going. If you’re a Christian, always remember that God loves us all and we should never lose faith or hope, because we are always in His care.
“No matter how hopeless you feel, strive to find the one thing that makes you feel alive and pull yourself to the light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope. Trust me.” — Tammy-Louise Wilkins
“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” — Jeremiah 29:11