“Weakness is a choice.”
I have a shirt that says this on the front. While I’m not sure it’s 100% true (think about debilitating diseases, elderly people in decline, etc.), the sentiment is enough motivation to get me to the gym on some days when I might otherwise stay home.
Because, when you think about it, everything we do is a choice. As you mount the protests in your mind (“I have bills to pay, kids to raise, etc.”), remember that you could choose not to do these things. There would be consequences, but you could choose that path. And, in that vein, you could also choose to be weaker than you are. You could choose not to lift, not to work out, not to push yourself when you would really rather just rest.
But you don’t. You choose to be strong.
The difference between choosing to be strong or weak often comes down to this: strong people do. DO. They might also sit and talk (and post a lot on Instagram), but ultimately they do. That’s the difference.
And here’s 10 things strong women (and men!) do:
Nobody gets muscles by accident. Strong men and women make conscious and deliberate decisions to do the work to build strength. In doing so, we know that we might also take the barbs of a society that doesn’t always value physical strength, but that’s okay. We like it and we’re good with it. What anyone else thinks is secondary.
And that’s why …
2.) We Don’t Suffer Fools Gladly
What you tolerate sticks around the gate. If you feed scraps to the stray dog, he’ll hang around your backyard all day. We don’t do that.
If you want to do the work and get strong with us? Welcome!
But if you want to tell us what to do, how to do it, and when to stop and start? If you’re not the coach, then ain’t nobody got time for that. Or at least we don’t. We know what we’re doing and how we’re going to do it. Want to put your shoulder to the wheel with us? Yes! Join in! Want to criticize us or try to drag us down? Talk to the hand. Or the barbell.
3.) We Fail
Oh, do we fail. Part of trying is failing. If you’re successful at everything you try? Then you’re not trying hard enough. The pool is too small. The bar is too low. The field is too short. Your competition is not worthy enough.
So much of what we learn is on the Plain of Failure, where we lie, battered, bruised, and often bloody. Our skin is torn up, our shoulders bruised, our mind battered. Sometimes we hurt so much we would rather stay down. It would be smarter to stay down. It might be wiser to give up, to walk away, to say “No Mas.”
But we don’t. We get up. We rise. Wiser than before. Stronger than before. A little healing and we try again. Because badasses aren’t made on the Field of Easy. Badasses are made in the dirt and the muck and the darkness. And badasses rise. They always rise.
4.) We Look Life in the Eye
We look life in the eye. We look people in the eye. We look fear in the eye. And then we step forward. Always forward.
What we learn in the gym and on the trail and in the pool and on the playing field translates into all of our life. It bleeds over. It can’t help doing so. It would be easier to stop the tides of the North Atlantic than to stop the flow of sports lessons into our brains, into our being, into our outlook on everything.
And one of those major lessons is to face your opponent, face yourself, face this world with a clear and present eye. To look outward, assess the challenge, and take it.
Winners enter the arena. Nobody’s handing out trophies in your living room.
Those lessons we learned by looking life in the eye? We teach them to our kids. Then we let them fail or succeed on their own, because we know that failure will teach them as much as success will. And just like we wouldn’t want anyone else to hand success to us (we wish to earn it), we know we do our children no favors by handing success to them.
We teach, and we step back. Watch our kids play. Watch them succeed. Watch them fail. And love them through it all.
Raising strong kids is even more of an art than learning to be strong ourselves, but we learn this art because it’s so vitally important. Like Jackie Onassis once said, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”
6.) We Cheer for Others (And We Have Their Backs)
That support we have for our kids? We know it’s not singular. Life is not a zero sum game. The more love we give, the more love we have. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. So we know that cheering for the success of others in no way diminishes our success; nay, cheering for others makes us grow.
So, that last place finisher in the workout? We cheer for them. That last runner on the course? We raise our voices. If someone needs a helping hand, we offer ours first.
Nobody gets to the top all by themselves. We know this, and we pass it on.
We clean up our messes—in the gym, in life, in love.
Rack the weights. Put up the barbells. Apologize if we’ve erred. (But not if we haven’t!)
A strong person isn’t one who never admits a mistake. That’s a fallacy. Strong people raise their hands and say, “Yup. That’s on me.” We’re good with taking responsibility.
We have big shoulders for many reasons.
Strong people get up and do.
We also know when to not go, but that’s another story. Injury? Crisis? Kids? All valid reasons to skip a workout. “I don’t feel like it” is not a valid reason. We bite down and do the work.
9.) We Don’t Wait for Applause
A PR is a PR is a PR, even if it’s not on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter. We know that. Sure, sometimes we celebrate, but celebration is not the driving force of our work. We’re not waiting for someone else to tell us “good job.”
A job well done is its own reward, even if no one else sees it or knows it.
And if the barbell falls in an empty gym? We pick it up and try again. That sound it makes will ring in our ears until we get it right. (“Get it right and get it tight” is a famous phrase of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s. She might have been talking about writing legal opinions, but we like her words for lifting too.)
Nothing says accomplishment like accomplishment. One success speaks louder than a thousand words.
We can yammer and yell all we want, but we know that the strongest example we can give is ourselves.
Us. This here. Look at what we can do.
Now, go do that.
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