Many of the skills we need and want to develop will require some form of sacrifice. The Monk Skills of Discipline, Grit, and Focus are enablers that can help us manage these sacrifices so we can be successful in our efforts to learn and grow.
Discipline helps us let go of things that are holding us back so that we can stick to a Healthy diet, training routines, and our time management. Grit helps us endure the experiences of physical hardships like exercise, cold/heat exposure, and fasting. Focus can help us realize the benefits of Delayed Gratification so we can say no to things we want now, in order to have things we want more later.
One of my favorite stories about Odin revolves around making a sacrifice. Odin traveled to Mirmir’s Well, the spring of all wisdom. He wanted to drink from the Well but Mirmir demanded Odin’s right eye as a sacrifice before he was allowed to drink.
With no hesitation Odin reached up and plucked out his eye, then drank from the Well and as a result gained immeasurable wisdom. Odin then used this wisdom to rule Asgard and Midgard in justice and fairness. Odin new the damage to his worldly site was as small (albeit painful) price to pay for the gift of wisdom.
Another Norse legend about sacrifice is the binding of Fenrir. This massive dire wolf was prophesied to fight against the gods at the end of the world in the battle of Ragnorok. Fenrir was so strong that no chain could hold him. The gods conspired to bind Fenrir with a magic ribbon by taunting the wolf saying “you are so strong no chain can bind you. How could this ribbon hold you.”
Finr sensed a trap and agreed to challenge the strength of the ribbon only if one of the gods placed their hand in his powerful jaws. Tyr, the god of war and justice, had befriended the wolf and stepped forward knowing his fate. He placed his hand in Fenrir’s moth knowing the wolf would be bound forever by the magic ribbon and that he would lose his hand. Fenrir was bound with the ribbon, and when he found he could not break free he tore Tyr’s hand from his arm.
These stories represent the two forms of sacrifice; for yourself and for others. Odin sacrificed his eye so he could gain wisdom. Tyr sacrificed his hand to protect the world from Fenrir. While we may not be called upon to make extreme sacrifices both forms of sacrifice have important roles in our lives. (For additional reading I highly recommend Getting a copy of Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman)
A Sacrifice for yourself is a condition were you give up something you have now, for a condition you want in the future. These are “I give, therefore I get relationships.” I give up time with video games to lift weights, so I get stronger. I give up eating junk food, so I get thinner. I give up smoking, so I live longer.
A sacrifice for others is a condition were you give up something so that someone else can have something they want in they future. These are “I give, therefore you get relationships.” I give up my free time to teach, so you learn. I donate money, so the USO can take care of our troops. I give my time to youth programs, so kids have a chance to learn and grow.
Like Odin and Tyr we can sacrifice ourselves for ourselves or for others. Both sacrifices are important to own development and will benefit us and those we care about.
Have some insights? Come on over to our closed facebook discussion group to share your thoughts and join in the discussion. Or you can email me directly at Jon@masteryofskill.com. IF you are interested in further reading check out other Food for Thought articles and learn all about the Archetypes of Skill. You can also sign up to receive The Friday Huddle, a short weekly email from me that gives you the tips, insights, and musings that have gotten me through the week.