Go On, You’re Strong Enough
“I can’t do this, I’m not strong enough…”: At some time in your life, you’ve thought this.
You’re human. You’ve succumbed to temptation, abandoned something, not spoken up when you should have done, or broken down when things have become tough.
But such instances of ‘weakness’ are not necessarily signs of a lack of strength. I believe that to understand what it is to be strong, you have to know what it means to be weak.
“You never know how strong you are… until being strong is the only choice you have.” – Cayla Mills
This brilliant quote conveys what we are capable of when it is the only option we have. Hollywood has captured countless inspiring stories of personal strength, the most notable for me being:
- Aron Ralston’s 127 hours trapped by a boulder in a Utah canyon until he amputated his own arm (127 Hours)
- Stephen Hawking’s lifelong battle with motor neurone disease not stopping him going on to be the world’s most famous scientist (The Theory of Everything)
- Nelson Mandela unifying a country through the power of sport during the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa (Invictus)
But, movies to one side, we only have to consider our own lives to see it brimming with people who have confronted all manner of harrowing situations with dignity, courage and great strength.
In business too, strong leaders will do whatever is needed to ensure their company’s survival and growth, regardless of the onerous decisions the journey poses.
Moreover, big decisions, tough situations and hard scenarios can pique even the strongest person’s vulnerabilities. Nobody is infallible and I would wager even some toughest leaders in the world have, at times, surrendered to their vulnerabilities.
And it is here, when we are at our lowest and most vulnerable, that it is easy to take the path of least resistance and give up the fight. Or indeed, stop striving for personal goals such as healthy eating, exercise, drinking less and stopping smoking.
Through a process known as ego depletion, we can resign from our plans because we have been worn down so far that the fight, willpower or determination required to continue has gone and we revert to the easiest route.
Mistakes can also stop us in our tracks. Albert Einstein rightly said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” And we’ve all been making mistakes since the moment we were born. Yet it isn’t the mistakes that hold us back, it is our own sense of failure that can stop us in our tracks. The lesson for us all: it is when confronted with failure that strong people prevail, where their past can shape their future successes.
Some famous examples of people who’ve bounced back from failure include:
- Steve Jobs – sacked by his own company, only to return 10 years later to save Apple from bankruptcy and send it on its way to becoming the most valuable company on the planet
- Walt Disney – fired by a newspaper editor because he ‘lacked imagination’ and had ‘no good ideas’
- Winston Churchill – wasn’t elected Prime Minister until he was 65
- Oprah Winfrey – very difficult childhood and was later told she was unfit for TV
Their ‘boucebackability’ is something to be admired, but it is not the preserve of the famous and the notable. It is something we all have in us. We’ve all bounced back from a setback in our life. We’ve all been weak, been vulnerable, made mistakes and given up. And that is okay, because, I hate to say it, it won’t be the last time such things happen, but you will be stronger next next time.
So go on, don’t give up. Believe in yourself. You can do this: you are strong enough.