“Your attitude in any circumstance, to choose your way—that’s something not only to wish for, but aspire to.”
Neale Daniher’s speech to players of the Melbourne Football Club is one of those movie-worthy moments that stick with you for the rest of your life.
Very rarely, we come across someone so inspiring, that they make us feel a heady contradiction of feelings:
Inspiration to do better for the chances we are given, shame for our ungratefulness, and motivation to be a better person.
“If you had one wish, for someone you cared for, what would it be?”
Daniher then proceeds to tell a story about his grandson, Cooper, and the things he would want the child to learn.
What proceeds is a moving speech about our inner power to overcome any obstacle life gives us, and take the opportunity to give it meaning.
It’s especially moving as Daniher is a former champion sportsman who has been struck down by the incurable motor neuron disease. Check it out:
“Life is good but it doesn’t promise to be fair“
“There will be good times. But there will be hard times. There will be mundane times.”
Daniher believes that “life is tough.”
And it’s true. How many times have we complained about life being unfair? And yet we do nothing about it but mope.
For Daniher, there is one thing you can do to have control over your life.
“You can conduct yourself in the right manner when things get tough.”
And he swears by that because…
“In life, it’s not if it gets tough—it’s when it gets tough.”
You don’t have to live in constant anticipation that life will go wrong every day.
But life will happen. It will be good to you and it will be bad to you.
So what do you do? How do you “conduct yourself in difficult?”
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“The right way is somehow to summon the courage—the moral courage—to take responsibility.
“And sometimes you’ll say, ‘well it wasn’t my fault, I was the victim. It’s not my responsibility, it’s someone else’s.’
“No. No matter what happens, it’s up to you to do something about it.”
We all have difficulty accepting responsibility for the things happening to us.
But what will that do? Complaining and moping is not an active emotion. It just stops you from doing something.
Daniher points out:
“Have the courage to accept responsibility.
“Don’t shy away from it. Don’t balk. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t handball it to someone else.
And while doing that, what will emerge inside of you, is the better side of your character that will allow you to prevail, allow you to move through it.
It may even allow you to transcend.”
In difficulties, look for opportunities to find meaning
At one point in his life, the Australian champion footballer may have had everything – success, fame, a healthy body, by all accounts, a bright future.
Until he began showing symptoms of motor neuron disease, which is currently incurable.
Yet, instead of succumbing to his illness, Daniher took it as an opportunity to find meaning in life.
“When life gets difficult, you think it’s a train wreck, there’s no opportunity.
“There’s always opportunity.
“If you’re in the blame game, if you’re in ‘woe is for me, poor bugger me,’ you’ll never find it.
“My opportunity was to fight MND. It’s allowed me to prevail. It’s allowed me to find purpose. To transcend what’s happening to me.”
And so Neale ends his moving speech with the only advice you need to find purpose in life: