Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Four Types of Strength

I love those funny e-cards. They keep things real. I came across one the other day that made me consider what it means to be strong, and how many different types of strength there are.

So I'll touch on four that I completely categorized, and made up, tonight.

1. Physical Strength. You push through an obstacle because you can tangibly see your immediate goal. There's no blind hope, no leap of faith. You can see, smell, taste the finish line.
  • You see an opening in the closing subway doors. You jam your hands inside and rip those doors apart to make it to your 7:30 a.m. meeting on time. (I take the NYC subway for 40 minutes, twice a day, so I tend to reference it a lot.)
  • You carry the last of your nine, plastic (just kidding, go green, don't use plastic) grocery bags on your pinky finger because you'd rather cut off your circulation than go back to the car for a second trip. 
  • You find a way to make it another 30 minutes in the bedroom when you could be getting sleep before your five back-to-back meetings tomorrow morning because, well, because.
  • And because sometimes you just need a darn King Cone:

2. Mental Strength.  This is when cognitive attributes help you prepare for, get through, or recover from tough situations.

  • We rehearse our speeches and wear lucky underwear so we don't blow it in front of a room of suits.
  • We tell ourselves we WILL survive the ice bath at Tough Mudder.
  • We work out, especially when we don't want to, so we can help put off osteoporosis and heart disease for as long as possible.  
  • We soldier through moments when we just want to collapse, and cry our eyes out, because we remember that tomorrow's sun will rise, and we can start over.
3. Character Strength. We all know what this is. We're lucky to have the opportunity to either witness or exhibit these beautiful, life moments each day. They can be as frequent or as spaced as you like. It's those moments when you have a choice, to do the right thing, the humble thing, the necessary thing, whether quiet or loud, to make a situation right.

  • You give your morning train seat up for an elderly, overweight, handicapped, pregnant, bag-laden or child-scuttling person on the subway. (Yes, those are pretty much the six people for which you MUST give up your seat. No excuses. Just do it.)
  • You take the high road. Swallowing what you really want to say and, instead, confidently displaying tact and grace to amend an otherwise hostile situation.
4. The "You" Strength. There's no one else in the world like you. And there are moments when you'll do something incredibly strong, and probably even surprise yourself, not because it was the pre-meditated "right thing" to do, or because you'd seen someone do it before, or because you knew you had it inside of you. You didn't do it for power or attention. It's an instinct, that, if asked to explain afterwards, you'd fumble over phrases like, "I don't know, man" or "Just did what I had to do".

I leave examples of the "You" strength to your imagination; to the little, heroic moments that you've had in your own life. The personal and public battles that you've won. Or even the ones that you've lost, but guess what? You learned. You know what they are. Those are the most satisfying moments.

Life's not meant to be wasted. Go surprise yourself. "You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice."