Unlocking the Spartan Inside You.
A flustered sigh escapes your lips as you nod your head ever so slowly from side to side. As you lean forward, your hands grab the back of the counter.
Eyes squinting against the shimmer of light that floods the bathroom in the morning hours, you stand staring into the mirror.
Another morning. You have arisen to meet the day.
Tired. Torn. And yet, alive.
And perhaps that is enough.
Perhaps today is all you need.
In the summer of 480 B.C., Xerxes and his Persian army descended on the plains of Greece with a force that shook the world. Ancient sources claim the army to number in the millions. And their ferocity was undeniable. They would not be denied.
And yet a single man dared question that greatness.
As Greece and their allies struggled to assemble several thousand men to meet the defense of their lives, Leonidas I, King of Sparta, gathered his group of bodyguards and made his way through the night to a pass in the mountains called Thermopylae where the Persians had to pass to reach their city.
In the morning, as hundreds of thousands of Persians charged their position, the Spartans stood their ground unmoved, unshaken... They stood with purpose, shoulder to shoulder, brother to brother. Willing to die. Fighting to live. Leonidas leading.
According to an account by Herodotus, "He required them to stand firm - to conquer or die."
Their fury drove back the Persians. That day and the next and five more days.
Seven days into the battle, a Greek traitor named Ephialtes informed the Persians about a little-known path through the mountains. A way around the pass that Leonidas held with his men. Hearing this, Xerxes ordered Hydarnes and his 10,000 elite bodyguards called the "Immortals" to ascend the mountain and outflank the Spartans. And so through the night, they made their journey.
In the morning, the Greek scouts discovered the "Immortals" and reported to Leonidas the treachery. Knowing that death was likely, he gathered his army around them. Anyone who wished to leave was permitted to go with honor. His Spartans would remain and face the Persians.
As the dawn broke first daylight across the top of the hills, the small army of Spartans formed a circle on the hill and waited for the enemy. They would stand and fight. Leonidas would lead them. His 300 soldiers around him.
As the Persians surrounded them, the Spartans fought so ferociously that their opponents "fell in heaps". The Persian commanders used whips to drive their soldiers at the Spartans who fought with violent desperation. Their swords breaking against the force of the heavy shields of the "Immortals".
And yet they fought on. As endless wave after wave of Persians descended upon the valiant troop, Leonidas was separated from his men and died -- his hand still grasping the sword his lifeless spirit could no longer command.
His troop, so moved by his passing, were enraged and fought the Persians back up the hill to surround their king's fallen body. They stood in a circle, facing outwards, fighting to the last with their swords. And when their swords broke, they used their hands and teeth. Nothing left but will and a determination to stand.
And when that will was finally crushed by the Persian archers raining down arrows on the soldiers until none were left standing, their bodies lay fallen around Leonidas.
A man who stood up against the mighty Xerxes.
A man against millions.
A man who inspired a nation to rise against conquest and staggering odds and find the fight to be free men. A man who changed the course of history. A man who pushed aside comfort, fear, and a kingdom to pursue his destiny.
So today as you look in the mirror grimacing through the fatigue of fighting for what you hold most dear, remember the Spartan inside you.
And as doubts and fear surround you, fight.
And if you fall, rise. Slowly -- as you dust off the wounds of failure and loss. But rise.
And meet the day with the noble nod of a warrior. The steady look of a unconquerable champion.
And unlock the Spartan inside you.
One man might be enough to change history.
That man might be you.
Will you stand?