If you’re like me (and I’m willing to bet a few of you are), The Princess Bride has been a movie that’s captured your imagination over and over again throughout the years.
There are so many reasons that the film is awesome—but as I watched it again the other day (just ‘cuz), I realized the thing that has grabbed me most in the story is the ability to stay focused and fully committed to a purpose…even against overwhelming odds.
I watched, point-for-point, how Westley, the main character, won back his true love and I became intensely inspired to share just what principles he followed to arrive at his ultimate victory—overcoming all evil to win true love.
So, come with me to sail the high seas, brave the fire-swamp, come back from the (mostly) dead and ultimately overcome all obstacles to win your destiny!
1. As you wish…
The first lesson the young farm boy imparts on us is this: believe in something bigger than yourself.
The young Westley believes in true love. How do we know he does not simply lust after Buttercup as many a young man would?
Because he is content to simply serve her and make her life sweeter through his service—whether she knows it or not.
When we believe in something bigger than just our immediate personal needs and desires, our whole life takes on a unified purpose. As you wish was Westley’s way of saying yes—again and again—to that in which he believed. For him, it was true love.
The first step for you is exploring what it is you could truly commit your whole self to; something that inspires and compels you to grow beyond your current size…and serve with your whole heart.
Truly, all great lives through history were motivated by their own great why; their great purpose.
So, what’s yours?
2. This is true love. You think this happens every day?
The second lesson we receive from Westley is a natural development from the first: find a simple focus for your big purpose.
It’s all well and good to believe in true love but as humans occupying physical bodies we work best when we have a simple and tangible focus anchoring our lofty purpose. For Westley, the embodiment of his big purpose was the sweet Buttercup.
Here is another example: I believe in empowerment; that we are powerful beyond belief and truly capable of consciously creating a life and world that is deeply fulfilling and abundant.
This belief inspires and compels me—but I get out of bed each morning because I have a clear sense of practical actions that I am going to take—today—to actualize that belief. Maintaining the League of Awesomeness is a big part of that practical focus.
I have seen many people get stuck after finding their big purpose, because they don’t know how to channel it into a clear and manageable goal. It is worth it to find simple, immediate and doable tasks to feel that—even today—you are making good on your life purpose.
So, epic adventurer, this is your next exploration: what is the simple focus that will anchor and guide your destiny?
3. No one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley.
After a seemingly cruel twist of fate at the start of the movie, Westley returns to regain his true love Buttercup.
But, he is not the same Westley as when he left. He has taken on a new identity: the Dread Pirate Roberts.
Not only that but during his time away, he leveled up every attribute of himself: sailing, sword fighting, charisma and leadership, poison immunity…even his lip-stache!
In this way, Westley demonstrates the third lesson in attaining our destiny: let your purpose transform you.
There is an old saying: as we build the road, so the road builds us. As we commit ourselves to a purpose, inevitably we are changed in the process. This is another way of appreciating the observer effect in physics, which says that ‘the act of observation will affect the phenomenon being observed’.
It’s just the other way around: by observing some phenomenon, we are changed. Simply put, don’t be attached to the current version of yourself.
Be ready to change as your walk your path. Each challenge, each victory, each defeat will transform and refine you. Often this means letting go of your old stories to make room for new ones. And when you are coming from a place of higher purpose and clear goals, this transformation is a very good thing.
Ultimately, you will become the sharpened sword necessary to pierce through to your destiny, just as Westley had to become the Dread Pirate Roberts to overcome the obstacles between himself and his true love.
Given your destiny and focused purpose, how are you transforming to become what you must be?
4. No man in a century will suffer as greatly as you will.
We can’t get around it. The more we step into our destiny, the more life will challenge us—this can be seen as the symbolic whet stone for the sharpening our knife.
It is a very necessary process but that doesn’t mean it’s not challenging as hell sometimes—not to mention overwhelming.
The cliffs and the pit are symbols of the ultimate challenge and suffering, respectively, in the movie. They teach us a great lesson about commitment to high purpose: you must be willing to endure great hardship to achieve your destiny.
It doesn’t mean that the universe is sadistic, as is Count Rugen. Rather, our commitment to something bigger than ourselves necessitates that we also become bigger than ourselves along the way—and one of the most powerful ways to do that is to have our perceived limitations tested, again and again (and again).
We must prove our skill, our strength and our wit—even when it involves Sicilians. We must face our personally tailored flame spurts, lightening sands, and R.O.U.S’s (although personally, I don’t think they exist.)
Such challenges will shake us to our very core; they will strip us down…and build us back up. This is why believing in something bigger than yourself is so important—it creates the inner strength necessary to face overwhelming challenges.
How will you face the hardships that stand between you and your destiny?
One of the best answers to the question above is to league up with other awesome adventurers.
Why? Because he respected their sense of morality and justice.
Success studies, as well as the biographies of the truly fulfilled, reveal a trend: successful people do not lock themselves away in ivory towers—but rather intentionally surround themselves with noble companions that hold complementary values and purposes. Collaborators, masterminds, work-out buddies. These relationships help you to see more clearly, act more boldly and stay on course when the shrieking eels show up.
Who are the people in your life that you can begin to create more empowering relationships with?
And if you don’t currently have any, how and where can you begin to find such worthy companions?
This one left them all behind.
Remember, when you decide to do something, to really see it through fully, you embark on an adventure that will fundamentally change you. You will be tested in many ways, in preparation to receive the fruits of your efforts. And, your story will feel like the greatest ever told, as you are its protagonist.
Let’s review once more the life lessons the courageous Westley displayed on his quest to win true love:
1. Believe in something bigger than yourself.
2. Find a simple focus for your big purpose.
3. Let your purpose transform you.
4. Be willing to endure great hardship.
5. League up with other awesome adventurers.
Though we can glean much wisdom from this movie, it is also important to remember that your quest is not a once-and-done Hollywood affair; it happens again and again, in large and small ways, ever evolving as you do.
Get ready to begin, once again, your neverending story (ha!).
In unmasked awesomeness,
Eka aka SuperSpark
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
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