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So remember how I said character formats were going to change a bit in the new era of the blog? Part of that is going to include tacking on some extra posts for older characters, occasionally. Link is going to be the first of those!
So Link is probably one of my favorite protagonists of all time. If you asked me to point at the character I spent most of my younger years emulating, it would be either him, or Will, from Illusion of Gaia. I’ve played almost all of the Legend of Zelda games, with A Link to the Past definitely being my favorite. We’ve discussed Link’s courage before, and as the bearer of the triforce of courage, it’s not surprising that this is a big part of his character. However, I think there’s another facet of his character that we should take some time to explore and appreciate.
Link’s workout featured a lot of running in it, because in the Zelda games you spend a lot of time running all over Hyrule, the Dark World, the Twilight Realm, various islands, Koholint….you get the idea. The thing is, Link just doesn’t stop. This kind of dogged pursuit and determination definitely stems from his inner courage, to be sure, but tenacity and determination don’t just require courage. Tenacity is its own virtue, and we should examine it as such.
the quality of being tenacious
, or of holding fast; persistence:
the quality of retaining something:
the quality or property of holding together firmly
Tenacity, as you can see, has as much to do with holding on to something as it does with persistence. Holding onto a goal, or a dream, or a person. Think about the Zelda games…in quite a few of them, Link barely gets a glimpse of his goal before he sets out on a life or death adventure in pursuit of it. It may be a voice in a dream, or an island in the distance, or a kidnapped friend. The thing is, Link sees this one goal, often just one time, and strides off to face the world in pursuit of it.
To do this, Link has to hold on to this image, this motivator, through some very dark situations (sometimes quite literally.) He battles monsters, demons, and foul creatures based on a single message that came to him in a dream. Now, you could definitely call that a little crazy, but it’s crazy in an admirable way.
Think for a minute about a goal that you’ve set for yourself. You want to lose weight, and every time you look at the scale or look in the mirror you think “yeesh, I really need to shed some fat.” However, when the time comes for an extra helping of pizza, or the choice between a small or a large ice cream cone, how strongly are you holding onto that image in your head? How powerful is your mental grip?
You wake up in the morning, groggy, and slightly cranky because some cats fighting outside woke you up at three in the morning. You roll out of bed after hitting the snooze button for the third time. You hop in the shower, stuff your face with some food as you run out the door, and head off to work. You’ve been looking for a promotion for quite a while, but to be honest, you really don’t feel like you can put in your “A” game today. You shrug off some extra tasks, and don’t go above and beyond as you normally try to. How well are you holding the image of that promotion in your mind?
Listen. We’ve all had similar moments to these, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s part of being human. But think to yourself, if Link forgot about the image of the dying Great Deku tree when he encountered the first giant Skulltula, and headed back out to live blissfully among the Kokiri, would he ever have saved Hyrule from destruction? Would he have just been eventually subjugated under Gannondorf’s rule?
Luckily, mental tenacity is a muscle that we can train. Well, not in the literal sense, but just like your forearm muscles can be trained to increase your grip strength, you can also train your mental grip. It all comes down to visualization, and periodic recall.
Take a minute, and think of the most important goal you’re working towards right now. Don’t just think of it in an abstract sense, try to actually see it in your mind’s eye. Picture yourself with that six pack, or that six figure bank account, or that awesome car. Envision yourself lifting five hundred pounds, running a four minute mile, or settling down into that quaint lakeside cottage you’ve always wanted.
Got it? Good, focus on it for a minute. Fill in all the visual details. Now, write it down, in the present tense. Seriously, grab a notebook, open to the first page, and write down, “I have cut six pack abs. I have a six figure bank account. I’m lifting more weight than I ever dreamed possible. I am living in the house of my dreams.” The important thing is to write it in present tense, not “I will…” but “I have…” or “I am…” Mouth the words as you do it, or even better, say it out loud.
This is now your daily exercise. Every day, at the beginning and end of the day, visualize your goal, write it down in present tense, and say it out loud. This sounds a little silly, but believe it or not, it makes a huge difference. You are constantly reinforcing the neural pathways in your brain to fit this goal, and your brain is working to make sure your life complies.
This is the second step. Throughout your day, take a few seconds, and visualize that goal again. You don’t need to write it down, or say it, just take a spare ten seconds and envision it. Try to do this at least two or three times throughout the day. It may help to set up reminders on your phone, or on your computer.
Think back to Link. Whenever he completes a dungeon, he gets a heart container. This heart container is health in-game, but you can think about it more as a more solid grip on his goal. It’s an increase in his spirit, and constitution. It fortifies him, and provides him with a stronger incentive to continue towards his final vision.
Every time you have a moment of recall, you’re giving yourself a piece of a heart container. You’re slowly filling up your life bar with stronger and stronger feelings of reaching your goal. You’re mentally reinforcing your vision, and flexing those tenacity muscles. By the time that extra scoop of ice cream is presented to you, you’ve already seen your six pack three times that day. It’s so close you can almost touch it. That ice cream is nothing, compared to the abs you’ve got practically living in your head.
Link may be a strong silent type, but his actions speak volumes. Your actions, too, will begin to speak volumes in your life. By holding your vision in your head, and building your tenacity, you will also begin building the life you dreamed around you. Be like Link, and relentlessly pursue that goal.
I’ll see you again on Monday, with a new character! Live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome.
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace