Years ago I met a man named Fred Kimball. Born in 1904, Fred was a big tough guy. He grew up on a farm somewhere in the Midwest running away from home at twelve. He came from poverty, was a self-made man. He had enormous confidence but also humility. He talked tough but he was always kind.
He’d been a logger, said he could hear the young trees scream when he cut them down. “Though, older trees didn’t seem to care.” Fred had cauliflower ears and a broken nose, as he’d been a prize fighter and a wrestler. He spent years as a Merchant Marine and competed for strongest man at the World’s Fair in the early 1930’s. I like to think he won, though I don’t really know.
Strength is an interesting thing. Fred competed with muscle, but also had immense strength of character. Living into his mid-90’s, he credited both his physical and mental strength to eating his greens every day. Hmmm?
Fred was also a firm believer in the internal idiot within all of us. That little voice that derails us, defeats us and degrades us. We all have one. I like the thought of naming it the internal idiot, it fits. So this man in his 90’s exemplified strength…not sure if it was from the “greens” or just the life he had lived, but today as I started thinking about strength, he came to mind. I haven’t thought about him in years.
So, the question comes, where does strength show up in your life? When I think of strength, I primarily hone in on emotional strength that involves having the will to accomplish goals in the face of obstacles and opposition, both external and internal.
Bravery [valor]: Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; acting on convictions even if unpopular.
Persistence [perseverance]: Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles.
Integrity [not just honesty, authenticity]: Presenting oneself in a genuine way; taking responsibility for one’s feelings and actions, transparency.
Vitality [zest, enthusiasm]: Approaching life with excitement and energy; feeling alive and activated.
This is the type of strength that is forged through courage. One can have none of the above without courage. As I’ve watched people push to new levels of excellence, new levels of leadership, new levels of life…I have seen the manifestation of courage.
Courage to push even when everything within one says stop, take the easy route.
Courage to look oneself in the mirror and acknowledge that the mirror is fine, it’s you that needs the work.
Courage to embrace the uncomfortable, to run towards the problem and to face down the giants.
Courage to recognize and grasp one’s own potential.
Courage to be all in. To give it your all regardless of the outcome.
That, my friends, is strength. It takes courage to be strong, and eating your greens probably also helps.