Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a top contender for the middleweight title at the height of his boxing career in the mid-1960’s was wrongly accused of a horrific crime he did not commit: triple homicide. He went on trial, and a biased, bogus verdict followed: three life sentences.
It was a dizzying fall from the heights of success and fame. Carter reported to prison in an expensive, tailored suit, wearing a $5,000 diamond ring and a gold watch. And so, waiting in line to be entered into the general inmate population, he asked to speak to someone in charge.
Looking the warden in the eye, Carter proceeded to inform him and the guards that he was not giving up the last thing he controlled: himself.
In his remarkable declaration, he told them in so many words, “I know you had nothing to do with the injustice that brought me to this jail, so I’m willing to stay here until I get out. But I will not, under any circumstances, be treated like a prisoner—because I am not and never will be POWERLESS.”
It took nineteen years and two trials to overturn the verdict, but when Carter walked out of prison, he simply resumed his life. No civil suit to recover damages, Carter did not even request an apology from the court. Because to him, that would imply that they had taken something of his that Carter felt he was owed. That had never been his view, even in the dark depths of solitary confinement. He had made his choice: This can’t harm me—I did not want it to happen, but I can decide how it will affect me. No one else has the right.**
If you live long enough, life will get hard and you will find yourself face-to-face with less than ideal circumstances, whether it is your fault or not. Life is difficult. But in my experience, I have discovered that many of our problems are more internal than external in origin. We perceive obstacles and problems as much larger than they really are, or we feel they are not within our locus of control to influence, change or overcome.
This pattern of thinking is frankly wrong. Like Hurricane Carter you are never “POWERLESS”. Look at the problem or obstacle through a different lens. Change your perception. Immediately create a new story/narrative for yourself that changes your attitude. Then take action and infuse some GRIT and RESILIENCE until you are able to move forward.
Sound too easy? How would you know—you haven’t tried it yet! A 1% change to your problem today can make all the difference. Let me know how it goes.
**Excerpt of the Rubin “Hurricane” Story from the book Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
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