In the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” the main character, George Bailey, holds his daughter at the climatic ending and as a bell rings, she proclaims “Look Daddy, teacher says every time a bell rings an angel gets it wings!”
While this is a great sentiment, I must beg to differ from Zuzu Bailey’s teacher. When a Navy Seal trainee has had enough, he can quit. All there is to quitting is to walk up to a bell that hangs in the center of the compound and ring it. No angels rejoicing, no celebrations. Just a defeated dream and a lonely walk. Inside there awaits a blanket, coffee and a doughnut. A small consultation prize compared to the honor of wearing the Navy Seal insignia on one’s uniform.
The idea of the ringing the bell is so simplistic, yet it captures what the Navy is looking for in a Seal team member so brilliantly. Will this person quit when they are under pressure? When their team needs them, will they be there and ready to defend at all cost? By putting out a quick reward, they see who has what it takes. Much like the Stanford marshmallow experiment, will they take one marshmallow now or two later?
Nearly all the trainees are capable of completing the training on a physical level, but its the mental strength that is pulling men through all the near torturous trials. When that physical strength is gone, when they think they have reached the absolute limit, that’s when the test begins.
In every race we face a similar choice. Do you quit now and avoid any further pain, or continue, hoping for the prize that is at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Putting aside any thoughts other than the end result. We ask ourselves if it’s worth it. Is it worth all the suffering for that moment when you cross the finish line and someone puts a medal around your neck? Or that moment when someone asks you in wonderment, “you ran how far?” Is it worth the pain?
These questions can only be answered by you. There is no one to whisper in your ear “yes, it is worth the pain.” You must do this for yourself. Do you want the coffee and doughnut that will only last a few minutes or do you want the glory of the finish?
If you choose to ring the bell and take the coffee, can you live with that choice, knowing that the ringing of the bell will forever echo in your ears? Is it worth it?
When you ring that bell in the race, your dream, your goal dies. All your training, all your early mornings and late nights are suddenly wasted. Is it worth it? Is it worth it?
Eddie Pinero once said in one of his motivational videos for Your World Within “anyone can run downhill, but not everyone will run uphill. The funny thing is that the prize is at the top of the hill.”
When things get tough, are you willing to keep going up that hill, scratching and clawing? At times hanging on by your fingernails asking yourself if it’s worth the struggle to the top? At the bottom of that hill is a bell with it’s coffee and doughnuts, it’s ease and comfort are . At the top is the prize, the glory of the accomplishment, is it worth it? Or would you rather have the easy way out and a doughnut?