Challenge Yourself By Taking A Risk To Develop GRIT.
I had the privilege of attending and saying a few words to begin my Dad’s 75th birthday party recently. I recalled a few incidents from his life that he rarely shares, but I thought it was important to provide the proper perspective for the guests.
While I shared a host of harrowing stories that illustrated his character and grit, one in particular stayed with me after the celebration was over. I began to think about how that story is instructive for today’s perspective.
The story begins after my Dad has left college and come home to work to help pay his mother’s mounting medical bills. His job, secured through his father, who was the superintendant on a construction crew, was on a bridge being built across the Mississippi River. Specifically, my Dad’s job was to work under the bridge, standing on a wire, knocking the wood forms loose after the concrete above had hardened. Keep in mind, they didn’t bother with safety harnesses, they just held on with one hand and worked with the other.
My grandfather would always tell the men working under the bridge NOT to reach for a tool if it fell – for obvious reasons. One particular day, the man working with my Dad to break the wood forms loose dropped a tool and reached for it out of instinct. He fell. He would have fallen to his death, had my Dad not grabbed him as the man grabbed for his tool.
So, there they were, my Dad hanging onto the wire he had previously been standing on with one hand and one leg while he held onto the other man with his other hand. The crew scrabbled under the bridge as quickly as they could. But, the man who had fallen was rightfully scared out of his mind, and he screamed and thrashed – begging my Dad not to drop him. My Dad (who was over 200 pounds and had stopped playing college football to work on the bridge) was, understandably, having trouble holding onto the man. So, my Dad yelled that he was going to drop him if he didn’t stop yelling and thrashing.
That’s about the time my Dad heard my grandfather’s voice – calm as the day is long. He told my Dad he wasn’t going to drop “that boy” and now was a “good time” to prove to everyone he was “the man” he’d been telling everyone he was. In the next 60 seconds, the crew had secured the man who had fallen, but my father had grown so weak holding tight to the wire, that the crew had to form a makeshift human chain to pull him from the wire.
My Dad had saved the man’s life. But, that’s not the story. After my Dad was pulled from the wire, my grandfather took him aside, got him some water, and let him rest. My grandfather offered words of encouragement and reassurance – and after a short while, he told my Dad he’d finish the day with him under the bridge. That’s what they did. The reality was, the job still needed to be done. And, the truth was, my Dad needed to face the thing that had just about taken his life to move past the experience.
This realization landed on me like a ton of bricks. Why do people run adventure races? Why do people risk harm and life or limb? Why do people train in Krav Maga? Why does my advanced class submit to defending a live blade over and over again in training? Why?
We’ve surgically removed so much risk from society that people must seek gritty, dangerous, character-building experiences to move past their fears, insecurities, and plateaus they encounter in life.
Think about that…Krav Maga training is more than just self-defense, more than just fitness; it’s about moving forward in life.
That’s amazing. So, train hard, and move forward!