“What are you doing here?” the Freebooter demanded abruptly. “I found it necessary to leave the rendezvous at Tortage before moonrise last night,” answered Conan. “I departed in a leaky boat, and rowed and bailed all night. Just at dawn I saw your topsails, and left the miserable tub to sink, while I made better speed in the water.” “There are sharks in these waters,” growled Zaporavo, and was vaguely irritated by the answering shrug of the mighty shoulders.
The above is a passage from “The Pool of the Black One” by Robert E. Howard, one of the many stories that follow the exploits of the fabled Conan of Cimmeria. Howard is credited with spearheading the Sword and Sorcery genre of fiction, but that’s not what I want to talk about today.
I want to talk about mindset. Now, I like to be cautious when discussing mindset because it tends to be attributed to motivation, which I do not believe in. You could say I view motivation as a false god, but then again, some higher gods in the histories have been tricksters.
In the above passage, Conan climbs aboard a ship bound to who-knows-where and is abruptly questioned by one of the crew regarding the barbarian’s audacity. Conan explains that he had an issue, a leaky boat, and saw a solution, the ship. This, however, is not what is important, at least not yet.
What is important is the fact that the waters in which Conan swam to get to the ship were infested with sharks, as pointed out by the Freebooter who questioned him. How did the barbarian respond? With a shrug of his mighty shoulders. To this, I draw your attention.
In life, we will be tested. We will go through trials, face obstacles, feel pain and have to push forward through anything and everything that stands in our way. At times, life will try its best to kill us and we can either shrug our shoulders and keep moving forward, or we can let it destroy us. We can wait for motivation to give us that desire to fight, to move, to swim through the sharks or we can cultivate the discipline necessary to stay on the path.
There will always be sharks in the water, but when you make a conscious decision to stay on the path, your path, you no longer care what stands in your way, because there will always be something in your way, I promise you. You just have to decide to put your head down and swim through the waters, no matter your fear, no matter your doubts, no matter your lack of motivation.
This is the mindset of the barbarian, a mindset which must be embraced if you are to succeed. You are more times than many going to find yourself in a miserable, leaky boat, but there is a large ship bound for greatness in the distance. Will you swim through the shark infested waters to reach it?