The juxtaposition of youth and maturity (growing old) had my full and undivided attention this past week. In a brief 24-hour period, I found myself standing in a hospital room and a college classroom.
At first glance, I didn’t consider for a moment there could be similarities. How could it be possible that the intersection of youthful anticipation and the pursuit of graceful aging could share something so powerful in common?
A View from the Hospital Room
I didn’t plan on being in a hospital. There was nothing to suggest that my healthy, on the go, 10,000 step-a-day, 79 year-old mom would be in the hospital.
But a broken hip changes everything—do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars, go directly to the hospital. Dr. Drum completed a successful surgery on Friday morning. On Saturday morning, mom started her race to recovery.
The reality of the race hit home quickly. The daily pursuit of 10,000 steps is no longer a goal but a future dream. Yes, you will miss your first home W.S.U. Cougar football game in nine years. Yes, you will walk with a cane in the future as a precaution to prevent a future fall. No, you can’t be given patience you will need to develop it.
A View from the College Classroom
I did plan on being in a college classroom. I had been scheduled to speak to the students of the Honors College at Washington State University for a number of months. Leaving the hospital on Sunday night I began shifting my attention to the college classroom.
On Monday morning, my mind toggled back and forth between the dreams of youth and the reality of aging as I drove to the W.S.U. campus.
Over the course of the day, I engaged with 100 bright, ambitious, driven students. They may have experienced a few setbacks and disappointment in their young lives but not enough to overshadow their dreams.
I titled my remarks, “Four Lessons for Running Hard and Finishing Strong.” My goal was to prepare them for the inevitable resistance that would inconveniently present itself.
Life in many ways is a series of temporary inconveniences—stuff happens. Stuff that rises in our path as adversity and resistance rarely (never) announces its pending arrival.
“Stuff” happens—dreams get crushed and you can break your hip. It isn’t a question of whether adversity, challenges or disappointment will strike over the course of our lives. When “stuff” happens the question is how will we respond?
Adversity is woven into the fabric of life. When we are young and our dreams get crushed or we are old and a broken hip interrupts our graceful aging plan we are standing in the same place staring at the same question
Now what? It’s a question that is indiscriminate and doesn’t care how old you are, the nature of your circumstances or your condition.
“Now what,” begs our response? “Now what,” pushes us to choose? The choice comes down to victim or victor. Victims get stuck in defeat because they believe that circumstances are permanent and there are not options. But we always have the option to choose our next step.
Victors accept their current reality only as a means of assessing their next positive step. They understand the changing nature of circumstances. Whether we find ourselves in a college classroom or in a hospital room, we get to choose our next step.
Choices of Victors
Victors spark internal inspiration and motivation by declaring, “I am the problem.” A declaration that seizes control and establishes traction.
When we declare, “I am the problem,” we take ownership over our next step. Victors make three critical choices in the face of adversity that allow us to begin our ascent.
- I choose my attitude.
- I determine my effort.
- I choose my response.
Three choices we have control over every moment of every day.
Six-Week Victors Challenge
My mom’s rehabilitation journey will take six weeks. She’ll need the outlook of a victor to run a strong race. If we take on the outlook of a victor, we will rise in both the small and big moments of life.
The challenge is easy. Simply grade yourself daily over the next six weeks, on a scale of one to five (five being awesome), for these three questions.
- I did my best today to embrace and share an attitude of courage and hope.
- I did my best today to give every assignment and project my best effort.
- I did my best today to choose a positive response when a challenge or obstacle presented itself.
Who can you share this with and use as an accountability partner to help each other raise your personal and professional impact?