If you ever spend enough time around me, you’ll likely hear me bring up the concept of weakness and strength. It comes up, almost daily, in my conversation and frequently in my inner monologue. What drives my decision making process is the concept of being stronger today than yesterday which usually means siding with making a decision of strength over weakness. When people often think of strength, they think of physicality. There is certainly nothing wrong with that but the idea of strength extends far beyond the muscle you can stack onto your pile of bones. Strength exists in our words, it exists in the gear we carry, and it can live in the decisions we make. When in doubt, choose strength.
From the moment you wake up, you have a choice to make. You can either go back to sleep or you can get up and get after each day. How many times have you started off your day with failure by letting out a sigh and hitting your snooze button? I told this to a friend’s daughter last fall and he told me she embraced the concept and never slept past her alarm clock’s buzzer. How we start our day sets us on a particular trajectory. By the way, the quality of your sleep the night before contributes to this. Going to bed early is not “weak sauce” as some would say. Rather, you are preparing your body to perform better the next morning. Don’t let your mind be weak and stay up just because someone is trying to exert their influence over your actions. You decide when you retire, not someone else.
Not too long ago, my friend Bill Rapier wrote of the “hot brass dance” and feeling the burn. On a firing line, it is easy to react to the pain from hot brass running down your collar and against your back. Some folks would actually let go of their muzzle discipline and potentially flag the line. When brass runs down your back, embrace strength, and take that pain. Identify the sensation and work safely to finish up your course of fire. Don’t break concentration and accept weakness. The consequences of weakness in this particular scenario can be very grave and the guilt you would live with for the rest of your life would tear you up inside.
The gear you carry can also reflect strength. As a responsible adult, you should carry what makes you an asset to your community of loved ones. Each day, you have a choice of what rides in your pockets and what rides on your belt. When you watch the news and see folks applying makeshift med to trauma victims, you should have bittersweet feelings. On one hand, they are willing to step up. On the other hand, they are stepping up without the right kit. No one knows the reason why they don’t have what they need but if they had a choice and left home without it, shame on them. The same is true of defensive measures like handguns, fixed blades, and chemical agents. From a survival standpoint, if you walk out the door without a lighter or a Swiss Army Knife, you might as well admit you’re willing to survive the night without those critical tools. If so, I’m happy to accompany you but with the right gear just to provide a lesson you won’t forget.
Strength and weakness also tie into our daily diet. When I worked in a school setting, there were regular sweet treats left in the breakroom. It was easy to cave in and take a bite here and there and it was significantly harder to walk past them. What we fuel our system with is important and we can easily succumb to weakness by eating what is pure junk, eating too much, or eating when we shouldn’t be eating (snacking). Strength is harder and if you ask any pro in the fitness industry, diet is everything. The one exception I’ll make to eating something sweet is if you use it as a reward for hard work. Everyone likes a “cheat day” but do they work for it? If you set a goal for yourself and reward yourself with a sweet in moderation, you let that otherwise “weak” food choice empower you. Don’t lie to yourself and say you’ll do abs at home if you leave the gym early. That is also pretty damn weak. Another crutch people lean on is the use of illegal drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. Consuming something that alters your reality implies you can’t handle it without something destructive. A drink to remember someone or celebrate something is a celebration. Drinking to forget is pure weakness.
One of the most difficult ways to choose strength is honesty. I’ve read that the average person is untruthful multiple times a day. Think about it, how many times have you said a white lie to someone? Think of all the times that you’ve said “I’m fine” when some aspect of your being is not. You are lying to cover up your true self. If you have ever heard a person say, “if you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying hard enough”, you might want to ask if this saying is valid for all aspects of your life. It might make sense if you are in a streetfight where there are no rules and therefore no such thing as cheating but does it apply to the relationship with your husband or wife? I think you already know the answer to that one. Doing what is honest is not always easy but it is the stronger way to live. We often put stock into what others tell us to do but we don’t look at the way that person lives their life. If honest talk doesn’t come from an honest person, should we trust them? Look for the person who lives the way you want to live in all aspects of life. Listen to their guidance and embrace it.
From this point forward, look at all you do in life through the lens of strength. Ask yourself, “is this strong?” if it isn’t, look for what is. It is easy in life to do what is weak and it is often hard to do what is strong. What do you want your legacy to be? Consider everything you do as part of the sum total of your life. One day, people will look back on your actions and call you one or the other, weak or strong. There is no middle ground and you don’t get a second chance to make up for your past transgressions. You are human and you’ll have moments when you choose weakness. We simply can’t be strong all the time. You can still learn from these moments and make a stronger decision next time. Live with purpose, live with consistency, live with strength each time you choose it.