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.


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.


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?

sources of strength

“Migrating birds return to where they hatched. Familiar places are sources of strength to which you can return home.”

-Laurent Carrel, author of Messages from Melanie

Image from www.hotel-r.net

Image from www.hotel-r.net

My family and I will be heading to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania soon, for our annual vacation. I’ve gone there almost every summer of my life. My dad was the Director of two summer camps, I got to spend all summer long there from my infancy until I was twelve.
The camps eventually closed, but my wife and I bought a time share in the Poconos when I was 24 years old. The familiar sight of the tree-covered mountains, the music of the crickets at night, and even the smell of the rain-washed air always makes me feel at home.


Feel free to reply to this post regarding those special places in your world that give you strength and make you feel at home.

When are you planning to return?

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.


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

“Be strong enough to stand alone…”

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

—Author Unknown

Photo from Flickr by stollerdos

Photo from Flickr by stollerdos

Most people would acknowledge that strength, intelligence and bravery are all admirable qualities. The beauty of today’s quote is in the delicate balance between the three, based on the situations and circumstances we face.

Knowing the right amount of each is critical to optimal success. Too much of one or the other can sometimes backfire.


Examine some of your highest priority commitments and projects to see whether success is dependent on your strength to stand your ground or the wisdom and bravery to invite others along to achieve a collective victory. Perhaps some blending of all three in various amounts would be even more optimal.

“To strengthen the muscle of your heart the best exercise is lifting someone else’s spirit when you can.”

“To strengthen the muscle of your heart the best exercise is lifting someone else’s spirit when you can.”

– Author unknown

Photo from Flickr by tiff_ku1

Photo from Flickr by tiff_ku1

Did you know that your heart beats over 100,000 times in one day, and over 35 million times in a year? If you live an average lifetime, your heart will beat more than 2.5 billion times.

Each beat of your heart has about the same force as giving a tennis ball a hard squeeze. This force circulates approximately 5.9 quarts of blood through your body, three times every minute.

Through this constant effort the heart pumps the equivalent of about one million barrels of blood during an average lifetime, which is enough to fill more than three super tankers.


How can you exercise your heart today by being a coach, mentor, or friend to others, and lift their spirits higher?

“Habits are first cobwebs, then cables.”

“Habits are first cobwebs, then cables.”

– Spanish Proverb

Photo from Flickr by Koen

Photo from Flickr by Koen

As a new year approaches, many people make resolutions to achieve various personal and professional goals. Research points out that well over 90 percent of their objectives never come to pass.

Most experts tell us it takes three to six weeks to create a habit. A new attempt at exercise, diet, and getting into better shape is like the first filament in a cobweb – delicate, unsupported, easily torn.

If, however, we continue the positive behaviors over longer periods of time, the filaments become cables that hold our lives together, strong enough to endure the challenges that might pull the weaker filaments apart.


Do a personal assessment of both your most positive and negative habits.

What will you need to do to support and strengthen those that serve you best?

What is necessary to break the strong cables of your undesirable habits, and replace them with the cobwebs – and eventually cables – of the behaviors you most desire?

“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”

“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”

-Sigmund Freud, Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis

Brené Brown, from her TED talk (see link below).

Brené Brown, from her TED talk (see link below).

In recent years, the subject of “vulnerability” has received a great deal of media coverage due to the work of authors such as Brené Brown.

In two of her recent books, The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly, which are based on considerable research, she clearly debunks the idea that vulnerability is weakness and indicates that it is far more correlated with courage and strength, as Freud suggests.


Where would being vulnerable in either your professional or personal life demonstrate the strength of your commitment to something of great importance to you?

Consider watching Brené Brown’s TED talk, The Power of Vulnerability

grow with ease

“Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.”

– J. Willard Marriott, entrepreneur and businessman

Image fro Flickr by Breezy Luik

Image fro Flickr by Breezy Luik

I go to the gym in the morning to help stay fit. It cleans out my mental and physical cobwebs and gets my day off to an energized start.

A key component of my fitness journey is to push myself in areas of strength, cardiovascular fitness, and flexibility. When we push the limits a bit beyond our comfort, we come back the next day stronger and more capable.

The personal growth and development efforts that make the biggest difference are the ones which test and challenge our “timber.”


Where in your personal and professional life can you lean into the wind and find yourself better off through the process?