Ulysses S. Grant recounts in his Memoirs one of his first impending Civil War battles as a commander of a regiment of troops in the Civil War. He remembers,
“As we approached the brow of the hill from which it was expected we could see [Confederate Colonel] Harris’ camp, and possibly find his men ready formed to meet us, my heart kept getting higher and higher until it felt to me as though it was in my throat. I would have given anything then to have been back in Illinois.”
Fortunately, the enemy camp was abandoned, and no battle occurred that day. But Grant took away a far more valuable lesson.
“It occurred to me at once that Colonel Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him. This was a view of the question I had never taken before; but it was one I never forgot afterwards. From that event to the close of the war, I never experienced trepidation upon confronting an enemy, though I always felt more or less anxiety. I never forgot that he had as much reason to fear my forces as I had his. The lesson was valuable.”
How often do we do this? We look at an impending encounter or challenge and breathe superhuman abilities into our foe. Yet we never consider what we bring to the situation: our years of experience and skill that make us formidable opponents. Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius puts it succinctly in his Meditations,
“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”
We are all powerful forces. Keep getting stronger every day.