My friend and mentor Dale Brown gave me many gifts during my time on his staff -- and in fact still passes on "gifts" to me to this day. Often times those gifts are in the form of advice, motivation and love. He has always been there for me from the first day I served on his staff. Many of his gifts to me have been in the form of books. Coach Brown was a voracious reader. You never saw him without a book in his hand or on his desk. He would underline passages of importance and have our secretary Wanda Carrier type up those notes. He would pass them on to us and use parts of them to motivate our team.
Anytime Coach Brown would gift me a book, I knew it would be for a reason. He would pick a book for our team to read each year as well. Except each player would receive a different book. It would be a book that Coach Brown thought might be significant to that individual.
One of the first books I received from Coach Brown when I first joined his staff was "Man's Search for Meaning" by Victor Frankl. It had an immediate impact on how I viewed things. I wasn't the only one. The Library of Congress named it one of the ten most influential books through a survey of "lifetime readers."
The book chronicles Frankl's experiences as a World War II concentration camp inmate and is based on his method of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most horrific ones, and thus a reason to continue living. It is an amazing study on how with the right reference points, we can always control one thing -- our attitude and how we view things.
Here are few passages from his amazing book:
Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.
...everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any give set of circumstances, to choose one's own view.
Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him -- mentally and spiritually.
Dostoevski said once, "There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings."
If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.
The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity -- even under the most difficult circumstances -- to add a deeper meaning in his life.
Nietzsche's words: "He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how."
It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.
Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.