I recently read MAO’S LAST DANCER, a memoir written by Li Cunxin and published in 2003. Talk about a perfect example of a Tenacity to Triumph Bad Ass!

Cunxin lived in a Chinese commune during Mao’s Cultural Revolution where his family of nine practically starved to death. At age eleven, he was sent away from home to Beijing to train as one of Madam Mao’s dancers. He worked his butt off to become the best dancer in the academy – through injuries, injustices, and crushing homesickness. A choreographer from the U.S. selected Cunxin to dance for the Houston Ballet in Texas – and Cunxin went on to become a world renowned ballet dancer, living a life he never dreamed possible.

Li Cunxin’s story is riveting from beginning to end, in my opinion, a recommended read for any aspiring bad ass.

But do we have to come from poverty or oppression to meet lofty goals? Luckily, it turns out gratefulness for each person, for each event no matter how annoying along the road to success can be as potent as adversity in exercising those tenacity muscles. In fact, gratitude has such power that the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley—in collaboration with the University of California, Davis—is launching a $5.6 million, three-year project, to expand the science and practice of gratitude to document and define its effect on society.

Whether you come from poverty, privilege, or grew up somewhere in the middle, remember Aesop’s lesson in The Tortoise and the Hare: Slow and steady wins the race.

The potholes and detours along the road to success test our meddle. Sometimes they steer our path in a slightly, or even wildly, different direction. Will you appreciate those unsuspected jaunts, or will you quit? Thinking about quitting doesn’t count. It’s a rare bad ass who never smacks so hard into a wall that continuing seems impossible for a bit. Then plodding toward the finish line commences once again. Go tortoises!

What is your dream? Has is morphed along the way? What has motivated you to power through the tough times?

Leave a Reply