In The Odyssey, Odysseus runs into the sirens.
The sirens are beautiful creatures who sing on the rocks in the ocean, seducing ship workers.
Odysseus knew that he would pass the sirens while traveling. He couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hear their siren song–it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. But he also didn’t want to die, or become shipwrecked while being swayed by their powerful song. What did he do?He forced his sailors to tie him onto the ship’s mast, and ordered his sailors to insert beeswax into their ears so that they couldn’t hear the song. As they passed the sirens, Odysseus ordered everyone to not to remove their own beeswax, no matter what, and not to untie him from the mast, no matter how much he thrashes and screams. As they pass the sirens, Odysseus thrashes and screams for his crew to untie him. The song was so beautiful, just as everyone had said it would be. Eventually, they safely pass.
Odysseus stayed in control while being overwhelmed with emotions. He did several things right:
- He understood that he is no different than other men. He heard stories of their temptation-induced doom and did not assume he is stronger than they were. He wasn’t arrogant.
- He understood the worst-case dangers and found ways to deal with them preemptively.
That’s it. Know that you are man, and that you have weaknesses that are the same as all of man’s weaknesses. Find ways to either get stronger, or when you cannot, to go around circumstances that exploit these weaknesses. Prepare for when the weaknesses will cause the most harm.