“Hammer and Forge” Your Greatness

You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.”
Henry David Thoreau

It takes a lot of work to become something different, much more than drifting along with nary a thought as to purpose or intent. The effort is grueling at times, drawing sweat from every pore and occasionally resulting in bleeding, burns or flowing tears.

Changing is more challenging than staying the same by a factor of ten.

Asking deep questions–let alone discovering answers–unsettles even the most certain of minds. All at once, the known world is blurred as painful past shifts to produce phenomenal future.

The rest of your life is malleable.

This is why Thoreau commands you to “hammer and forge yourself” into something new. The process is arduous, requiring extensive heating and pounding, then re-heating and chiseling. The labor is nearly continuous, as the stubborn blank is molded painstakingly to the desired form.

Each hammer stroke adds strength, every cutting blow gives shape.

Only the craftsman’s heavy-handed swings can make his vision reality. At all times, he focuses his energy on the end product. With experience he is able to turn mistakes into beautiful ornaments, to make missteps trademarks.

Bring yourself to the fire.

Willingly take the hunk of iron you once were and lay it over the searing coals until it glows white hot. Pummel out the impurities and craft your strongest spirit. Grind the cutting edge and sharpen yourself for years to come.

This is what I am becoming,” you think, as you strike metal against metal, “from that lifeless, cold material.” You persist, even though the finished article demands still more toil. You transform the mass with thundering blows as though leveling mountains with Mjollnir.

Give all the fibers of your being to the task.

This is no easy business. It asks for consistent peak effort and intense attention to detail, even though you ache under the strain of growth.You must continue day and night until the job is finished.

Keep on in spite of your desire to stop, quiet your doubts over the rewards for such hefty determination and discipline. Go forward with courage, confident in your technique and firm in your will.

Construct your greatness.

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