Most often when we think of strength we think of physical aptitude. How much muscle mass someone has stored to exert physical energy. Common images that come to mind might be flexed arms, a six pack, or strong legs. Or you might think of someone lifting weights or some other heavy object. The dictionary defines strength first and foremost as the quality or state of being physically strong. Secondly it defines it as the ability to resist being moved or broken by a force. Finally its third definition states it is the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way.
This third state is the dynamic of strength that I want to discuss today. Forget about the ability to measure force by way of weight or size. I want to dig into the energy that lies deep within your core and motivates you to do things and move forward in life.
Have you ever had the pleasure of meeting someone with a strong presence or sense of energy that captivates you the moment you step into their space? Whether it draws you in or pushes you back, there is just something undeniable about it. Or, that person who regardless of circumstance always seems to push through life and persevere, as if they know of some secret way of doing things that makes it more manageable while you are seemingly left in the dark?
I mean think about it, we are all faced with a variety of challenges throughout life. Sometimes they are unique to us and other times we share them with others. Regardless, they are an inevitable encounter because, as they say “life happens” and we don’t have control over everything. But as discussed in an earlier post, my hope is that you are finding success with and putting into practice how to better manage the things we can control.
Therefore, I’d like to think that it’s the way we deal with these challenges that directly relates to, and taps into our strength as individuals. The will power to resist the urge to give in or let something affect you in a negative way just because you are feeling defeated.
This week I had the honor of spectating the highly coveted 120th Boston Marathon, and as I was sitting at the finish line watching a multitude of athletes cross the tape I was inspired like never before. Sure having run several marathons of my own I could somewhat relate to the struggle of being physically exhausted and mentally depleted. Feeling as if someone literally sucked the life our of you and not knowing how you could possibly manage to take the next step. But something about this time, watching from the other side, was different. The grit and determination I could see on every runners face battling through their final steps of 26.2 miles in the most unfavorable of weather conditions was a day I don’t think I will ever forget. I knew that what I was witnessing was the greatest strength any individual at that time could muster. The indomitable will to keep going and fight even though every thought they had might have been telling them to quit.
I draw the parallel to sport in this example because for me it beautifully showcases just how powerful strength of mind really is. Sure these runners' bodies were trained and prepared to go the distance. But what happens to all of that training when outside forces start to take over, such as heat, dehydration, cramping, etc... ? Slowly your body starts to break down and it's sheer will power that begins to take over and gets you through.
What I’m describing here is the same resiliency required of the single parent raising their children day in and day out, never missing a beat, to provide the best life they can for their little ones. Comforting loved ones during a time of tragic loss. Continuously showing up with a stellar work ethic to a job that highly undervalues you. Staring your bully in the face and letting them know that their hate and shame won’t be tolerated. ETC… The opportunities to put our strength to work in life are boundless and immeasurable. The key here is recognizing how vividly and consistently it shows up.
If I asked you to measure on a scale between one and ten how internally strong you thought you were what would your honest answer be? Does this number surprise you and if so, in what way? Conversely, next I ask on a scale of one to ten what you think someone else who knows you, let’s say a family member or friend, would say. And finally, how do the two numbers compare?
I would like to think that most of us subconsciously live within a constant state of strength allowing us to forge forward when the going gets tough, as it so frequently does, but unfortunately it’s just that subconscious. You know, doing all of those things that just have to be done.
But what do you think would happen if we turned that subconscious into conscious reality? How much better could our lives become if we played up our strengths?
So, this week my challenge is geared toward reflection. Reflection on the moments where you might have felt you were at your worst, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Take some time to recall your own internal strength that helped you get through those most difficult times. Write them down and take note of how often they show up in your life. Next, recognize current areas of your life that might be lacking strength for whatever reason and focus your energy in those places.
The one thing here you can always control is being there for yourself so honor your resilience and give credit where credit is due by living in that strength.
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi