I heard that phrase the other day on a new show that we are binge watching…. Friday Night Lights. It evidently entered the urban slang lexicon as a military term used when an individual or a group must complete a task that is pointless, tiring, and/or lame. The character on the show was pretty tongue-in-cheek in delivering that line in the context of football practice. I hadn’t heard it before and it actually made me laugh out loud. Lately I’ve been randomly using it as often as applicably possible. I might be accused of overuse, but it also got me pondering away… as I am prone to do these days.
There is probably a more user friendly way of saying it without the word suck (not a pretty word) but the fact remains that our days are filled with choices on how to respond to what life hands us. We can’t surgically dissect out the pieces that we would rather not respond. No doubt about it, this embracing is much easier said than done. It is a strong verb that must include more than a smidgen of willingness and enthusiasm. It is counter intuitive, as things that we should do often are. When events are difficult, I’d much rather complain, whine, blame or find excuses rather than face it head on and shout… Bring it!
However, I think athletics is the perfect metaphor to demonstrate the power available for those who embrace the… you know, rather than whine. Bodies that are consistently pushed to new limits of endurance and respond by pressing forward show results in such glaringly measurable ways. The elite athleticism displayed in the Olympic games definitely separates the chaff from the grain for those who give more than 100% . If they only did the easy stretches and the slow pace, without the back and forth drills and repetitions (the pointless) without the hills and hurtles and heavy lifting (the tiring) and without the commitment of their time when they could be having fun (the lame) …. they would not get stronger…or better. We see the fruits of their efforts. No pain…No gain appears to be a real phenomenon in sports. In Malcom Gladwell’s book Outliers, he put forth a hypothesis called the 10,000 Hour Rule. His premise was that the elite performers in any discipline average more than 10,000 hours of deliberate practice each. He contends that natural ability requires a huge investment of time in order to be made manifest. That would involve a lot of embracing because obviously 10,000 hours is not all fun and games. That is probably true for us muggles in our ordinary lives too.
Embracing the suck is also about not allowing the situation to control your attitude, but rather welcoming the challenge and investing your time as a means to an end. The choice to persevere, mentally or physically, with willingness and enthusiasm in times of difficulty can reap some pretty huge dividends. If we only do the things that are easy (the pointless) and shy away from what is challenging (the tiring) and find excuses and don’t put in the time for what we don’t like (the lame), then we’ll never know how strong we can be…. in sports…but more importantly in….LIFE. I must resolve to practice my Barbaric YAWP in my embracing techniques and in my encouragement for others to do the same. Perhaps a gentler way to state this same idea is:
We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. ~ Romans 5: 3-5