The time has come.
You’ve trained to the best of your ability, improved each skill to near perfection, upgraded your armor and weapons, forded every river, explored every cave, and climbed every mountain.
There is nothing left do but one final goal:
Every moment in your life has lead up to this point. It’s time to put your skills to the test, and your life on line.
You courageously approach the beast’s lair, every hair standing on end. Sweat drips down your forehead and clouds your vision as you enter the cave; fear sinks its claws in trying to pull you back to safety with each passing step.
You press on.
Although it’s nearly pitch black, you can see it. Despite the lack of rain, the air is thick and damp with it. Although silent, your ears are filled with it.
The only question is, for whom?
Suddenly, he appears. Standing ten stories tall and full of nothing but hate, this beast exists for one reason and one reason only – to kill.
As his fire-filled wrath and rage rain down upon you, your shield keeps you keeps you safe…barely. You survive the initial onslaught, and regroup thankfully behind a nearby boulder. Using every skill, resource, and trick learned during your training, you slowly start to wear down the monster. Hacking, slashing, tucking, rolling, jumping, hiding, parrying, and climbing, you’ve brought the dragon within an inch of his life.
Good thing, because you are too.
A misstep by the dragon leaves himself exposed for a finishing blow from your sword, which is now almost too heavy to wield.
You strike, and it is done.
The beast has been defeated, and you have succeeded.
With tears in your eyes and the beast’s head in your hands, you return to the village a conquering hero.
Congratulations, dragon slayer, you’ve re-written history.
Now the true test begins…
Happily ever after…
The dragon is dead.
The creature that fueled every decision you’ve made over the past few years, is now a trophy mounted above your fireplace.
The hours and days and weeks and months of blood, sweat, and tears resulted in an ultimate epic victory…truly something you never thought you’d accomplish. But you did.
Life is now different.
You have a sense of accomplishment that you didn’t know existed. The local townsfolk look at you differently now too – tavern-dwellers are always eager to buy you a beer and hear the tale retold; your old friends have a greater level of respect for you too. Heck, even the children of the town look up to you, pretending to slay their own dragons while running around the school yard.
For a few weeks, life is grand. Everybody wants to hear how great you are. You start saying things like “I’ve earned this” more and more frequently.
Something is missing.
The dragon has been slain, the day has been saved, but something in the back of your mind tells you that your work isn’t done. Sure, you can sit around for the rest of your life, getting fat and happy, reliving the glory days of that one time you killed the dragon. However, as the days go on, you start to realize just how much the training you went through to fight that dragon meant – each day was filled with purpose, each step taken was one step closer towards a final battle.
With no dragon to fight, no mountain to climb, there’s no real need to train with conviction anymore.
Waking up early to work on sword skills or staying up late to practice archery no longer serve a purpose. Because nothing feels like a life-or-death situation, missed workouts or skill sessions are no longer a causer for concern, for there is nothing to fight towards.
Pretty good is enough. Mostly right is plenty. Tomorrow is a much better day than today.
So you’ve come to a crossroads, and you have a decision to make.
..but before we get there…I’d like to share with you one of MY favorite tales.
Saint, the Slayer of Dragons
Do you remember the story of Saint the Brave?
Many months ago, in a land dozens and dozens of miles away, a young man by the name of Saint lived in a town where everybody sat around talking about how one day they were going to slay the evil dragon, Sixab. And for a while, Saint was content to be one of those people. As long as the Dragon stayed on his mountain in the distance, it was easy to talk about how he would kill him eventually, without ever actually having to do anything.
Time passed…and nothing changed…
And then one morning, destiny took hold of Saint.
On a day just like today, Saint decided that he would stop talking and start dedicating every waking moment of his life to conquering Sixab.
You see, Saint was up against an hourglass on the brink of running out – in just a few months’ time, he was to wed his lady Sarah, but couldn’t do so until Sixab was vanquished.
Thus, he began to train.
Day in, day out, Saint trained as if his very life depended on it. Fat gave way to muscle as Saint began to transform from a pudgy squire into uber-strong barbarian.
As the hour glass raced through its final grains of sand, Saint doubled his efforts, and pushed himself harder than he had ever pushed before. With not a moment to spare, brave Saint strolled up to Sixab’s lair, battled heroically, and smote the horrible beast on the mountainside.
Just a few days later, he wed his lady Sarah and sailed off into the mystical land of Hawaii for a grand celebration.
Now, most would assume the story ends here – Saint conquered Sixab, got the girl, and saved the day…and they lived happily ever after, right? Well, while Saint was training for his battle with Sixab, he began to realize just how much he enjoyed waking up and pushing his body to the limit each and every day. He enjoyed having an arch-nemesis that fueled his desire to succeed. Although he trained to complete a quest, the training became a part of him.
So, after Saint returned from his celebratory globetrotting adventure, did he sat around telling tall tales where the dragon grew bigger with each retelling? Most folks would – after all, looking back at how great things used to be requires almost no effort at all.
Fortunately, Saint isn’t like most folk.
He’s a true Dragon Slayer.
Which is why he set his sights on another dragon even more dangerous than the last.
And then he got back to work.
What kind of dragon slayer are you?
We all have dragons in our lives.
Some are big, some are small, some are pushovers, while others are truly worthy opponents. Some require a few days of training to conquer, while others require an entire lifetime of dedication. Yes, our dragons may be tough, but they are not invincible, and one day…they will fall.
That’s when the real work starts.
I ask you, my friend, what kind of dragon slayer will you be?
Has-beens look back at what they’ve accomplished, pat themselves on the back, and give up doing everything that made them successful in the first place – after all, the task is done, the item has been crossed off the list, and a “well-deserved break” quickly becomes a permanent retirement.
Nobody writes fairy tales about has-beens.
True dragon slayers? They stay hungry. They remain unsatisfied. After slaying a dragon and saving a town, they set their sights on a bigger dragon, on a bigger mountain, in a land even farther away. They understand that there’s as much purpose in training for a quest as there is in completing it. They know that stronger adversaries will elevate themselves to a even higher level.
They never say: “I can’t wait til this is over.”
They say: “I can’t wait to find out what’s next.”
These are the slayers that live on in legends.
These are the slayers that change history.
While has-beens sit around talking about the dragon they slayed, real heroes find another f***ing dragon.
And so that brings me back to my question:
What kind of dragon slayer will you be?