Last week I challenged a young guy at the gym to a pullup contest.
I was his antagonist, his adversary.
I knew I didn’t have a chance in hell of winning.
Success wasn’t in the cards.
So why did I do it?
To move me.
I was stuck in a stale routine.
I needed a bit of drama to come alive.
Drama comes from the Greek “dran.”
It means to do, act or perform.
Especially some great deed.
And any meaningful drama requires an antagonist.
Antagonist is from the Greek word “agon,” a contest or game.
In a movie or novel the antagonist is typically a villain.
But in life, an antagonist can be anyone or anything that challenges us.
A moral injustice, a stifling social convention, a dysfunctional organization.
Antagonists cause conflict, discord.
But that’s only at one level.
At a higher level, they create drama.
And drama is what moves us to be passionately alive.
Every single positive move I’ve ever made in my career has been provoked.
Someone or something in my environment was my antagonist.
Yet, I’ve noticed I now try to avoid antagonists.
And so do many other comfortable people.
We rationalize that there’s nothing we can really do to change things.
Or we imagine that there’s nothing substantial to gain.
And so our lives become stale, bland, routine.
Or an anxiety-filled existence of measurement and comparison.
Howard Thurman had it right.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Stop avoiding drama.
And stop waiting for drama to come to you.
Go out and initiate it with daring and passion.
Find an antagonist, or create one.
For life’s sake, come alive!
Note: I’m not suggesting you create small, mean or meaningless drama. There’s plenty of that genre to go around. If you’re uncertain about the difference, consider Eleanor Roosevelt’s admonition: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”