“Draw strength from others.”

“Draw strength from others.”

—Cheryl Strayed, Author of Tiny Beautiful Things

Image from Unsplash by Neil Thomas

To what degree do you consider yourself the rock in your family or community?

How often are you the one to come to the rescue or lend that helping hand in your personal and professional worlds?

About 20 years ago, I overextended myself through a rigorous workout, resulting in a significant case of sciatica. It caused severe back and leg pain, and I missed many days of work.

Beyond the physical pain, I took a very unfamiliar emotional ride, which included frustration, anger, and even a sense of worthlessness. My normal optimistic view on life was flipped, and I did a fair job of playing the “Why Me” victim card.

Surprisingly, letting others serve and support me through it was very difficult. Frequent thoughts of “That’s my job,” or “I’m supposed to do that,” ran through my head.

Eventually, someone must have turned on my gratitude switch, allowing me to more fully accept and embrace many acts of kindness and generosity from family and friends.

EXERCISE:

When in the past, or recently, have you been reluctant to seek the support of others?

How and in what ways may you more fully seek and draw on the strengths of others in your personal and professional communities?

“Nothing has more strength than dire necessity.”

“Nothing has more strength than dire necessity.”

—Euripides, classic Greek tragedian

Image from Unsplash by Vicky Sim

It is so sad that in order to see man at his best we often need a crisis to occur.

When lives are on the line, new levels of extraordinary courage and strength are found and mobilized.

Almost every newscast ends on positive notes of heroism, acknowledging this capacity in select individuals, hopefully to engender this quality within us all. In this way, our own strength and inner heroes are aroused to come to the rescue of those in our personal and professional communities who are in need.

What will happen when the dust settles on the pandemic and we get back to whatever “normal” may look like mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and economically?

How might we maintain our individual and collective strength when things are a bit less dire?

EXERCISE:

What new or greater capacities have you discovered in yourself and within your communities?

How can and will you expand and build on these to proactively better your individual and our collective world in the good and not so good times ahead?

“Sometimes it’s not strength but gentleness that cracks the hardest shells.”

“Sometimes it’s not strength but gentleness that cracks the hardest shells.”

—Richard Paul Evans, contemporary American author

Barry and Wendy with Weston

As a relatively new grandpa, I find it fascinating to watch my daughter, son-in-law, and wife interact with little Weston.

Although he is a very good-natured, happy little boy, he does get cranky, fussy, and a bit difficult to manage from time to time.

On most occasions, the trick that works is gently singing one or more of his favorite songs. Within seconds he calms down and begins to smile.

EXERCISE:

Where and with whom in your personal or professional life would a bit more gentleness crack some hard shells? What specific steps can and will you take to open others up to your influence?

“Professional is not a label you give yourself. It’s a description you hope others will apply to you.”

“Professional is not a label you give yourself. It’s a description you hope others will apply to you.”

—David Maister, former Harvard Business School professor

If you say something positive about yourself, it is referred to as bragging. If others say similar things about you, it is considered the truth.

What do the people at work and in your career efforts have to say about you? How are you perceived and how do these perceptions compare and contrast from your own?

What would you like others to say and how do your words and deeds warrant such acknowledgment and praise?

EXERCISE:

Seek feedback from a small group of trusted colleagues. Let them reveal the unique abilities, superpowers, and best qualities they see in you. Ask them also about your weaknesses, and the limiting blind spots that may be holding you back from the professional levels you desire.

Thank them for their candid and generous perspective, and promise to act on their wise council.

For extra credit, consider a similar exercise with family and friends.

Feel free to reply to this post to let me know what you discover and how it impacts your life.

A Strong Foe

“A strong foe is better than a weak friend.”

—Edward Dahlberg, 20th Century American Novelist

Image of The Joker from Batman

Image from tomztoyz.blogspot.com

Most of us have heard the idea that we are a product of the five people with which we associate the most.

If these individuals happen to be weak friends, we may wish to make a few adjustments.

Unfortunately, weakness in those around us often causes us to become complacent and even a bit lazy, given that the bar of success is relatively low.

Strong foes and even adversaries challenge us to rise to compete with ourselves, if not them, to become a far better version of ourselves.

EXERCISE:

How can you use the example of your most challenging foe to thrive and grow, professionally and personally? How can and will you surround yourself with a much stronger set of friends to support your efforts?

Our antagonist is our helper

“He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skills. Our antagonist is our helper.”

Edmund Burke, 18th Century Irish Statesman

Image of wrestling competition

Image from Flickr by Christopher Paquette

My dad was a physical education teacher and coach for multiple sports, one of which was wrestling. Young men of equal weight would compete in one of the most challenging and physically exhausting sports I’ve ever experienced.

In a matter of minutes, while engaged with your adversary, you would likely find yourself gasping for air and having already worked up quite a sweat.

Not surprisingly, wrestlers are some of the most fit athletes because of the struggles they face in competing at a high level.

EXERCISE:

Who are the antagonists/adversaries that strengthen your nerve and build your personal or professional skills? How can you appreciate and perhaps seek even greater challenges to further your personal excellence journey?

Friday Review Strength

FRIDAY REVIEW:  STRENGTH

Leadership requires inner strength. Here are a few strength-related posts you may have missed. Click on the Quote to read the full message:

QC #1045a

“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.”

 

 

 

QC #1045b

 

“People are like tea bags. You find out how strong they are when you put them in hot water.”

 

 

 

QC #1045c

 

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

 

 

 

A Strong Person

“A strong person looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink.”

-Adapted from Gina Carey, musical artist

Image from shopwood.com

Image from shopwood.com

If you are a fan of old John Wayne movies, you may have seen the 1969 film, True Grit. The word “grit” is used a good deal these days, to point out the value and need for greater courage, bravery, determination, and personal fortitude in a world many believe is getting soft.

Far too many people want to take an elevator to the top rather than climbing the stairs to reach their most cherished and valued goals.

EXERCISE:

Where  is it appropriate—or better yet, necessary—to demonstrate your personal strength and grit, by winking at the challenges you face?

Choices Reflect Your Hopes

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

-Nelson Mandela

image from www.cbc.ca

image from www.cbc.ca

There are two primary schools of thought regarding what spurs people into action. The first is what I call the “avoiding pain” strategy, in which people examine the bad things that may occur if they don’t take action. Some sales methods take advantage of this approach by turning up the level of pain in order to compel people to buy a product or service.

The alternative strategy, suggested in Nelson Mandela’s statement, could be called the “pleasure strategy.” Here, a compelling and hopeful objective mobilizes us to choose certain actions and behaviors that will help us realize our desirable future.

EXERCISE:

What will you do to make the majority of your life choices—personally and professionally—from a more hopeful perspective?

“Sometimes, you just have to…”

“Sometimes, you just have to bow your head, say a prayer, and weather the storm.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Flickr by Melinda Swinford

Image from Flickr by Melinda Swinford

In recent weeks, I’ve met a number of people experiencing significant challenges in their professional and personal worlds. They were knocked down and kept down by death, illness, accidents, and other major life events. For some, many of these things were happening at the same time.

Those who weather the storms the best all mentioned that it was their faith, family, and friends that made these disturbing and often tragic life events bearable.

EXERCISE:

Where can you seek for yourself—or offer to others—a level of support to more successfully weather the storms of life?