Publisher - October 2018
We are here to laugh at the odds,
and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.
— Charles Bukowski —
The pages that follow this publisher’s note are awe-inspiring. Many of them feature stories of women and men who have overcome insurmountable odds and prevailed dreadful situations when all they had left was grit. As I read each one, I marveled at the moxie of the mind and the strength of the human spirit.
In this day and age of Facebook frenzies, political piranha pools and shallow first-world problems, these stories are a wake-up call to stop dwelling in drama and put problems into perspective.
Just as a physician attempts to assess a patient’s pain based on a scale of 1 to 10, we should similarly rank our problems. Anytime I think I am experiencing level 10 pain, I always think, “surely having my arm severed by a chainsaw would hurt worse,” and back the number down to a more realistic answer.
Wouldn’t it be cool if situations had scannable bar codes that told us the severity of our problems? It’s called putting things into perspective, and our minds are fully capable if we allow them to engage. The old saying advises “Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill.” And, most problems truly are mole hills—easily solvable when approached without escalation, drama, sensationalism, over reaction, or jumping to conclusions.
We need to get out of our own heads, which means get over yourself. If you are having a bad day because your doctor ran late and you had to wait. Get over it. If you are annoyed because the grocery store was out of something and you had to go to a second store. Get over it. If you are screaming at the top of your lungs because a driver pulled in front of you and everyone is OK. Get over it. If you are an endless blowhard on social media because you can’t get enough of your own opinion. Get over it. If you are mad because you asked someone to bring cookies to a meeting and they brought cake instead. Get over it. You are doing a disservice to yourself by over-reacting, being put out, getting upset, rolling your eyes, and/or bashing others for the sake of these minor problems. And, they are minor. Basically, the size of the Band-aid needs to match the wound—stop Ace bandaging a finger prick.
Have you ever stopped to wonder why you’re so prickly and easily set off? It’s a good question—one worth giving attention. Is it working for you? Does it make you feel at peace? Coach Dean Smith said, “If you treat every situation as a life and death matter, you’ll die a lot of times.” How many times do you want to bury yourself in your own hype?
In reading the stories of the courageous women and men who grace our pages this month, I couldn’t help but think how each one of them picked up the pieces and carried on. I began to see a common thread of what it may take to not just survive, but also to thrive when one succeeds against all odds. Here are a few virtues I want to pay homage to:
Courage: Have you ever noticed the greatest courage comes in the midst of the scariest times? A good example is how a small, collegiate football team can show up for a game against a powerhouse and win. Obviously, the less powerful team arrived at the arena scared to death. As such, it took great courage to even walk out on the field. Courage knows when we need it the most, and its presence is a game changer. Without courage, we would all stay in the locker room. Winston Churchill said, “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.” Make the decision to play in spite of fear, and you just might win.
Determination: Determination, when awakened, rarely goes off duty; it is the boulder at the base of your being that demands you keep trying. Determination never gives up; never plays small.
Determination will get you there when talent, knowledge, and practicum can’t. Tommy Lasorda said, “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.” Determination gets you to the destination.
Grit: Grit is dirty. It doesn’t care what you think, or anyone else. It knows it’s the lowest form of preserving primal purpose—the last ditch effort when everything else is worn down and worn out. Grit locks the doors when hope tries to leave the building. Grit keeps its head down, treads forward; it doesn’t have to look for glory.
Faith: Faith is a team player. Faith knows we can’t do it alone and reassures us we don’t have to. Faith pulls in the Big Guy, the pinch hitter, the one we need on our team to win the game. When all else fails, and we sit alone and abandoned, Faith sits with us, connecting us to something bigger than ourselves, and carries us when we can no longer walk this journey alone. In the darkest of darks and the lowest of lows, Faith provides comfort in the midst of despair. When you get to the edge, faith will teach you to fly.
Courage, determination, grit and faith are not genetic traits given only to a few; our “life first-aid kits” come equipped with all of these. However, some of us misplace our kits along the way. If you encounter someone who has misplaced theirs, loan them yours. #AgainstAllOdds…statistics don’t stand a chance when the human spirit is at bat. Call in that pinch hitter and swing batter, batter…swing.