Mind Munchies
Published in

Mind Munchies

Challenge Yourself — A Master Class From Ancient Greek Warriors

“Upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.” Alexander the Great

Here’s a truth you can go all in on…

There will never be a day, workout or an event which does not provide you with a life changing and character defining choice…

To give everything you’ve got, to push, test and challenge your limits…or to mail it in, to lower the bar and sandbag your efforts.

The former is the sign of a champion…the latter is the mark of a fool.

The word AGON in Greek is the root of our word “agony”.

It signifies the exertion of great effort while pursuing a goal or worthy challenge.

The Greeks tended to see pretty much everything in life as a challenge…as an opportunity to grow, mature, toughen up and evolve.

Agons (contests and challenges) were part of everyday Greek life…an important tool in the shaping and forging of character.

Each agon was designed to test one’s bodily or mental toughness and prowess in athletics, art, music, debate…all areas of life.

To personalize this concept…

Getting up in the morning to workout even when you’re tired is an agon…a daily battle between your nomos and your physis (or an agon between your desire to be in great shape and your desire to sleep in).

Doing your homework for an upcoming exam is an agon…as is a fight between your desire for good grades and your desire to play on social media or watch television.

The struggle not to eat that blueberry muffin or partake in that glass of wine is an agon.

Learning a new language or musical instrument is an agon.

A game of chess…as well as courtship is an agon where one person tries to win the other one’s heart.

The Greeks learned that life is one long string of agons…daily challenges that they were required to rise to and therefore incorporated them into their daily lives.

By doing so, they learned from an early age that all it takes to be successful is everything they had in their head, heart and hands.


When will your finest hour come, and more importantly…how will it arrive?

Do you really think it will materialize without an agon or challenge?

Do you think it’s even remotely possible to grow without your character and commitment being tested…without being pushed to your limits…and without being permanently evicted from your comfort zone?

Show me a goal with no challenge or risk, and I’ll show you a goal with no value or reward.

Nothing of pride, significance or of any lasting value has ever been created by means of laziness, uncertainty, procrastination, excuse making…nor without an agon.

In short, an agon or challenge is a mandatory requirement for success because it’s the only vehicle by which you find out your true capabilities and limitations.


My life and work has been greatly influenced by the words of Theodore Roosevelt, who in his 1899 speech “The Strenuous Life”…said,

“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.”

The future 26th President of the United States of America was speaking both figuratively and literally here.

“The Strenuous Life” was a strident argument in favor of self-reliance, nationalism, and building character, among other things.

But in my opinion, Roosevelt was a modern day Greek philosopher who understood the value of an agon.

He was strongly in favor of challenging oneself…in actively facing fears and pursuing hard work that tested and strengthened the body as well as the mind, the soul, and the nation.

For most of my adult life, I’ve pursued what I consider to be the organizing principles of growth and lasting change…and can state the following with absolute certainty.

For an individual, team, company, community or country to truly become great…they must seek out and rise to the great challenges that are thrust upon them..and more importantly, the great challenges (agon’s) they thrust upon themselves.

So, I’ll ask it again…What’s Your Agon?

What’s that big, scary, challenging goal that calls out to you…the one that says…come and get me?

The world needs you…all of you, the courageous you, the bold, ambitious, fearless and unstoppable you.

Your time here is scarce…so stand up, put the phone down, step into the arena and make your dreams come true.

What To Do Now?

1. Pick your agon.

2. Participate in the 100 Day Challenge.

3. Implement the strategies and crush your goals.

It’s time to change the way you achieve your goals. It would be my honor to show you how.

If you enjoyed this post…it would mean a lot to me if you could click on the “claps” icon on the left side of page…up to 50 claps allowed — Thank You!

Gary Ryan Blair is creator of the 100 Day Challenge…a radical approach to goal achievement that shows people how to achieve 10X size goals by applying the methods and best practices of growth hacking. Get all the details here.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store