Running Against the Wind: Strength Through Trials

By Rick Forbus, PhD

Most people I am coaching are making it just fine in this trying economy. Of course, there are some who are looking for jobs and others are anticipating some change. But, the strong are getting stronger and the never-tested-before seem to be growing and strengthening their skills. Coaching is a refuge for those who need to vent, question and examine their skills.

Resistance brings strength. A struggle can appear unfair and overwhelming, but on the other side of it waits new strength and new self-awareness. Even as a coach and an executive advisor, the learning is a two-way street during these discussions of resistance and change. The other day while coaching a manager of a small business, Bob Seger’s song Against the Wind came into my head. This individual was growing strong and wise beyond his years, and for some reason the lyrics to Seger’s song were steadily playing in my head. Here are some of those lyrics that apply to this topic:

CHORUS
Against the wind
We were running against the wind
We were young and strong, we were running
Against the wind

And the years rolled slowly past
And I found myself alone
Surrounded bv strangers I
thought were my friends
I found myself further and further from my home
And I guess I lost my way
There were oh so many roads
I was living to run and running to live
Never worried about paying or
even how much I owed
Well those drifters’ days are past me now
I’ve got so much more to think about
Deadlines and commitments
What to leave in
What to leave out

Against the wind
I’m still runnin’ against the wind
I’m older now but still running
Against the wind
Well I’m older now and I’m still running
Against the wind…
Bob Seger

There are athletes who do strange things to build up their strength through resistance. I remember in football I tied a rope around my waist and then tied an old tire to the rope. I then ran around the field pulling the old tire behind me. The pain in my legs was unbelievable but I really believe the endurance and strength found later in a game was because of such exercise. Muscle strength is really a result of resistance.

All previous generations of workers and executives had pressures and challenges. There have always been wars, cultural and financial unrest, and unpredictable political climates. We have a real test before us, but you know what? This is going to make us all better; a great deal better! Of course, I am an optimist, but reality is not far behind my usual logic.

The resistance found today in everyday work is going to strengthen businesses and individuals if they let it be so. Someone said recently that all companies and organizations that survive during this economic crisis will thrive on the other side of it. I believe that! I also believe that strategy, skill development and a great attitude will bring your life strength. Maybe now is the time for training, coaching, self-improvement, a new look at your future, or a bridge to a new vocation.

Attitude and Strength
A person’s mental attitude has an almost unbelievable effect on his powers, both physical and psychological. The British psychiatrist, J.A. Hadfield, gives a striking illustration of this fact in his booklet, The Psychology of Power. “I asked three people,” he wrote, “to submit themselves to test the effect of mental suggestion on their strength, which was measured by gripping a dynamometer.” They were to grip the dynamometer with all their strength under three different sets of conditions.
First he tested them under normal conditions. The average grip was 101 pounds. Then he tested them after he had hypnotized them and told them that they were very weak. Their average grip this time was only 29 pounds! In the third test Dr. Hadfield told them under hypnosis that they were very strong. The average grip jumped to 142 pounds.

I think that all of us have strength and courage that we do not utilize to overcome life’s situations. From my experience, most of us can endure more than we assume we can. Attitude is the gateway, changed behavior is the key. As you keep going with strong and resisting behaviors through the head winds of your life, you will endure and you will overcome. You will be better and stronger.

In a meeting recently I shared some exciting possibilities and optimistic ideas with a group. Another person shared the darkness of reality and asked, “What will that cost?” I countered with another idea and some hopeful strategies and I was countered again. The group began changing their body language and the hopefulness that had been in their eyes faded. You talk about a culture shift! Attitude is the gateway to resisting the difficult and the challenging. Running against the wind makes us stronger, more strategic and ultimately better. Before, we just ran. Now we have to run stronger, better and with more wisdom.

Life is what happens to you while you are making other plans. If I had my whole life to live over again, I don’t think I’d have the strength. – Flip Wilson

Resistance and running against adversity and impediments bring about a higher resilience to the next crisis. Some of the greatest leaders I know have been through a lot of things in their lives. What some of us may call a crisis they now call a “blip on the screen” of their lives because of running against the wind time after time and winning the challenge. How will you run this week? This month? This year?

Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart. – Erma Bombeck


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