What is the difference between those who persevere on the path toward their goals, no matter their circumstances or situations, and others who get blown off course by the most gentle breeze? I like to call it suckituptitude.
Suckituptitude is kind of like Sisu – a Finish word that doesn’t directly translate to English, but can be described as determination, spirit, resolve, courage, persistence, guts, tenacity, steadfastness, perseverance, mettle, and stubbornness.
These “find a way to get done what must be done” people think differently.
They see the world through a different lens than the average person.
Through their lens, they hold a high standard of
- speech, which avoids placing blame, complaining, or criticizing others
- action, which always aims to move forward
- thought, which dismisses fear and comfort, the two feelings that cause complacency
Suckituptitude helps to create that lens. Five beliefs build a foundation for suckituptitude.
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Suckituptitude Belief 1: You Are Responsible for Much, and Entitled to Little
Isn’t it amazing how many people have this backwards today?
The Declaration of Independence outlines the “rights” of U.S. citizens: Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. We’re given the right to pursue happiness, but we are not entitled to happiness itself.
Many self-help books get this wrong, as do the memes that tell you to just “do what you love.”
Your responsibilities don’t necessarily lead us into the stuff you love. But when you embrace your responsibilities, you can learn to love what you do, or at least you can appreciate the impact it can have in the future.
The truth is, you’re not really entitled to much of anything. Neither am I.
When you believe you are responsible for much and entitled to little, you change your expectations.
You don’t expect the people around you to meet your every need and “the universe” to do your bidding. You don’t look for others to cheer you on as you take on basic adult responsibilities, and you shudder at the idea of using the hashtag #adultingishard.
Those with suckituptitude crave more responsibility because responsibility leads to opportunity.
Entitled people blame, criticize, and point fingers at others. They see themselves as victims. Responsible people take ownership, build others up, and point their fingers first at themselves.
Those with suckituptitude don’t have the time or patience to whine and complain, because they’re too busy taking action on solutions.
- Do you complain about your boss? What if you took 100% responsibility for your success and satisfaction at work? What would you do differently?
- Do you complain about your spouse? What if you took 100% responsibility for your part in the relationship? What would you do differently? What kind of guidance, expertise, or education might you seek out?
- Do you complain that your employees or distributors don’t do a great job? What if you took 100% responsibility and could not utter one word of blame? What would you do differently?
Suckituptitude Belief 2: You Can’t Always Control the Situation, But You Can Control Yourself
Life frequently throws each of us unexpected, unplanned, it-couldn’t-be-worse-timing curveballs. Uncertainty is certain.
To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.
— Oscar Wilde
Sometimes, other people cause the problem. Other times, stuff just happens. Most of the time, you cause your problem yourself.
It really doesn’t matter where the problem comes from. Once you’re aware of it, you have the choice to moan, groan, complain, cry, call your friends, post about it online…or do something.
Whining and complaining doesn’t change the situation. In fact, it often makes you feel worse than you did when you first realized the situation you were in.
The longer you wallow in self-pity, the more you complain about your situation with others, and the angrier you get at others for your situation, the more helpless you become.
I have a friend named Jason Thunstrom. He is a master of handling the unexpected.
Jason is in charge of public relations for a billion-dollar company.
He and his team get to set up news interviews, send out press releases, and highlight all the cool stuff his company is doing. That’s the easy part.
They also have to handle emergencies, employee and customer injuries, and the chaos one disgruntled and “entitled” employee creates.
Jason is great at making the good stuff sound even more amazing. But his gift, really, is to remain calm and collected and lead his team, and even the whole company, through what could be a disaster.
He faces situations he cannot control all the time. In each situation, he first controls himself so that he can come up with a plan of action for his team, as well as his company.
Jason has the skills to handle the unexpected for his company because he can handle the unexpected for himself. He knows that in the midst of chaos, he is the only thing he can control.
Fortunately, that’s often all you need to control, to turn a problem into an opportunity.
Jason knew the secret to handling the unexpected. He expected it. He didn’t get overly emotional because he knows emotions sabotage one’s thinking.
It’s not that he wanted bad stuff to happen. But, because he understood what could happen, he wasn’t caught off guard when it did.
There is a difference between expecting things to happen and preparing for them to happen.
It’s Murphy’s law that anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
- How will you respond when Murphy’s law plays out?
- What can you do to prepare for it?
- What is your backup plan for a job layoff? How would you handle it if one of your kids moved to the other end of the world? What if your best friend betrayed your trust? What if your company went out of business?
Control what you can control, which begins with you. The faster you get a handle on your emotions, the faster you can see what you can do.
Suckituptitude Belief 3: Obstacles Create Detours, Not Roadblocks
Mr. Mischke was my high school football coach. I was a ski jumper and didn’t want to risk an injury from football to mess with my ski season, so I only played football my senior year. I don’t have a great touchdown story to share, but I do have an important life lesson to pass along.
I doubt that Mr. Mischke was even aware of how much more valuable this lesson was for real life, than it was for the football field. He taught me this lesson in one of our drills.
The goal of the drill was to run the ball downfield, toward the goal line, between two rows of linemen.
Each lineman held onto a pad the size of a large suitcase, making it look like you had to run through a tunnel. As I took the ball and ran into the tunnel, their objective was to knock me on my butt.
As I entered the tunnel of pads and linemen, the blows came from any direction. Some hit me head on, while others came from the right or left. Sometimes I got jolted from behind.
This went on for 5-10 yards.
Outside the line, Mr. Mischke yelled again and again, “Keep your feet moving!”
The linemen out weighted me by 50-125 pounds. As long as I kept my feet moving, I regained my momentum and moved the ball forward.
However, if my feet stopped, I’d landed flat on my butt before I had time to blink.
That is the perfect analogy for life!
Sometimes obstacles come with a warning. Other times, you get blindsided.
Some obstacles slow you down, and others force you onto a new path toward your goals. Still other times, you’re driven several steps back before you can regain your momentum, and move forward again.
If you see your obstacles as roadblocks, you stop moving your feet. You stop taking action. And when you do, it’s often hard to get going again.
If you have suckituptitude, you keep your feet moving. You might take a detour, but you find a way to move, even if it’s slower than you’d like. You know that no matter what happens, you have to keep your feet moving.
Turning pro is a mindset. If we are struggling with fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, self-doubt, etc., the problem is, we’re thinking like amateurs. Amateurs don’t show up. Amateurs crap out. Amateurs let adversity defeat them. The pro thinks differently. He shows up, he does his work, he keeps on truckin’, no matter what.
— Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
I watched Vanessa embrace this belief in the fall of 2015. Her mom passed away that November, after a long fight against Lewy Body dementia. We made time to be with her family, to take care of the funeral arrangements, and all that was necessary to say goodbye to her mom.
However, we also own a business and have a responsibility to grow and support our team. Vanessa started the business, so she feels an even greater sense of responsibility than I do.
She knew no one would fault her if she checked out of the business for a while. But she also knew that if she stopped, even for a short period of time, she’d lose touch with the team and lose momentum in the business.
She kept her hand in the business while assisting her family and being there for her father. In the end, I don’t believe they got any less of her attention, and she didn’t have to deal with the stress of rebuilding momentum and making up for lost time.
Her ability to navigate through and around setbacks, obstacles and unexpected situations is a big reason why she built such a thriving business. She doesn’t stop moving her feet.
I’ve known many people who were on pace toward their fitness goals, and then they faced a family vacation, a change in work schedule, their kids’ summer break, the holidays, or some other minor inconvenience, and they let it totally derail their program.
In our network marketing business, a single disappointment or unsupportive friend knocks some people right out of their business.
Whether it’s weight loss, career advancement, success in a home-based business, recovery from an addiction, or building an awesome marriage, the only way you can fail is if you stop moving your feet. You’ll have seasons where you trot in place, and seasons where you sprint forward, but you cannot stop, no matter the roadblocks or obstacles.
Keep your feet moving!
- What can you do today to move your feet toward your goal?
- If you’re facing an obstacle, how can you get through it or around it so that you get back on the path toward your goals
- If you’re held up because of your skills, what skills do you need to develop? Who can help you? How can you start working on them today?
Suckituptitude Belief 4: You are a Special Person With Common Problems, Not a Common Person with Special Problems
About 107 billion people have ever lived on the earth. Seven billion are alive right now.
While you are a unique person, and there will never be another just like you, the problems you face are not as unique as you are. In fact, they’re quite common.
I don’t say that to dismiss whatever trouble you face. I say this because if we look hard enough, we can usually find someone who’s been in the same spot as us and has come out on top.
Out of 107 billion people, there are likely dozens, if not hundreds, or even thousands of examples of people who’ve succeeded after facing the same problems you do.
If you like to feel sorry for yourself, or enjoy the attention you get when others feel sorry for you, you might get pissed at this belief. After all, if your problems are common, then you don’t deserve special treatment for them.
I’m certain that someone who’s reading this has a one-in-a-million situation. I’m sorry for that. And I’m not really writing this for you. I’m writing it for all the people who define themselves by their common problems.
If Kyle Maynard can summit Mount Kilimanjaro as a quadruple amputee, Oprah can overcome her haunting childhood to build her empire and serve so many people, and Howard Schultz can develop himself from a kid in the projects of Brooklyn to the CEO of Starbucks, it’s quite likely that your problems don’t have as much power over you as you allow them to.
If you see yourself as a common person with special problems, you’ll tell yourself there’s nothing you can do. You’re so special that nobody can understand you and your situation.
You might use phrases like “this is just who I am, this is how it’s always been, this always happens to me, nobody understands me, I’ll never…, I always…, I can’t…”
Someone who believes they’re the only one who has such a problem often believes they deserve certain privileges or special treatment. They believe they’re entitled.
When you believe your problems are common, you also realize that you can learn from others who have gone through the same situation. You might find a faster way to get through the problem you face.
You might also find emotional relief from simply knowing others have faced what you face. That realization can provide confidence to attack the situation head-on.
Be forewarned, though: Believing you are a special person with common problems comes at a cost. You can no longer use your problems as excuses.
- What “problems” do you use as excuses from time to time?
- Is there something about your skills, personality, looks, or genetics that you point at as the “reason” you are different than others?
- Is it possible to either dismiss the “reason,” or use your uniqueness as an advantage? (Remember, if you say no to this question, you’re saying it’s impossible.)
Suckituptitude Belief 5: The Discomfort You Can Handle Is Relative to the Discomfort You’ve Handled
“This burn on my finger hurts so much!” It was the third time I had heard our son complain about it (I won’t use his name, to protect his innocence. We only have two sons, so you’d have a 50/50 chance of being right if you really wanted to gets though.).
So, I thought to myself, this was a teaching moment!
I said, “(Son), if your burned finger really hurts that bad, the best thing you can do is hit yourself in the hand with a hammer.”
Before you judge me as a father, let me explain what I then explained to my son.
Your tolerance for pain, work, setbacks, criticism, and any other discomfort is relative to the discomfort you’ve handled in the past.
He was a young adult when I had this conversation, but he hadn’t experienced much pain beyond the burned finger before. He somehow escaped injuries throughout his younger years.
So, for him, the pain of an oven burn was near the top of his pain threshold. On the other hand, if he’d slammed his hand with a hammer after missing a nail in the past, the burn wouldn’t cause the same relative pain as it did at that moment.
I had leukemia when I was five. After I was treated, I had regular checkups for the next fourteen years at the Mayo Clinic. During that time, I had more spinal taps and bone marrow tests than I can count.
A spinal tap feels like you might expect…a long, thin needle piercing your spine. It’s hurts, but not like the bone marrow test.
A bone marrow test felt more like the doctor was pushing his thumb through my spine – the fat side first, not the end of his thumb. I can still picture myself squeezing my dad’s hand with all my might while the doctors performed the procedure.
Most of the other physical pain I’ve experienced since then – ski jumping crashes, dropping hot solder on my hands, mountain bike crashes, and tendon reattachment surgeries – didn’t seem as painful as they might have, if I hadn’t experienced the spinal taps and bone marrow tests as a kid.
This belief doesn’t apply only to physical discomfort, either. It also applies to emotional or mental discomfort.
It’s part of the reason “participation ribbons” are so ridiculous. When someone grows up being rewarded for stuff that’s not really reward-worthy, they expect that same treatment as adults.
But as adults, there are winners and losers. If you don’t learn to graciously lose as a kid, what will happen as an adult? Will you be crushed the first time you get turned down for a job or when you’re passed by for a promotion even though you “showed up” just as many times as the guy or girl who got the promotion?
The more we learn to handle rejection, disappointment, failure, or ridicule from others, the more of it we can tolerate as we grow.
For example, if someone sends me a message after reading this article, and says, “You’re a “f*cking idiot!” I won’t let it bother me that much. I’ve already been called that by the CEO of a company I worked for in the past. I also know that he appreciates what I did while I was there, other than what we covered in that particular meeting.
If you want big success, you’ve got to endure big failures. To handle big failures, though, you’ve got to face and handle small ones.
Raise your tolerance for discomfort so that when you’re faced with the choice between discomfort and success or comfort and life as is, you make the right choice. You suck it up and go for it.
- What discomforts are you afraid to face?
- What discomforts do you still dwell on, even though they are from days, weeks, or even years in the past?
- What discomforts must you embrace if you’re going to reach your goals or live the life you desire?
Suck it Up!
Suckituptitude helps you realize there is little to hold yourself back other than you. That is one of the greatest freedoms you can experience!
- take responsibility
- control yourself
- keep your feet moving toward your goals every day
- understand that your problems are not special or unique, and
- keep expanding your tolerance for discomfort, you put yourself in the perfect mental state to succeed in fitness, business, relationships, finances or your career.
In most cases, it isn’t the world that holds people back from their goals and dreams; it’s themselves. But that doesn’t have to be the case for you. You know how to live with suckituptitude.
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Stephenson, Wesley (Feb. 4, 2012). “Do the dead outnumber the living?” BBC News. Retrieved Jul 27 2017. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-16870579
Gugliotta, Guy (April 2, 2012). “New Estimate Raises Civil War Death Toll.” New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2015.