But, did you win?


I’m giving you a little sneak peek into my upbringing today. It’s certainly an insight into how I operate. But, it’s also a GREAT opportunity to differentiate grit & perseverance from resilience. 

On Super Bowl Sunday, we hosted a small gathering at our home. Just a few families gathered to watch the Chiefs & 49ers, or Taylor’s boyfriend’s team and the other team, whichever way you look at it. At some point, we decided to start a leg wrestling tournament. 

Friends, I AM COMPETITIVE. I grew up playing sports and competing in various events from softball to cheer to speech & debate. So, I don’t leg wrestle to lose. And, if I’m honest, I’m pretty good at it. I have strong legs and I’m proud of being athletic. So, I leg wrested, and beat all the women who wanted to compete against me. Win-win-win. Then, I thought I’d be uber confident and leg wrestle my husband. My very large, strong husband. Well, it didn’t turn out so well, and long-story-short – I tore my hamstring. The pain was excruciating. I couldn’t walk up stairs or move my leg for days. I have not been able to walk faster than a 2.0 or lift weights with my legs for weeks now. It’s been humbling to say the least. 

Anyway…I called my dad to tell him about the torn hamstring. As he chuckled, he had one question: “But, did you win?” I proudly told him that I did beat all the women, but that my husband definitely won against me. My dad – same guy who, after I broke my nose pitching at softball, had me hold a tee-shirt on it to soak up blood, but finish the inning. Same guy who, after I tore a ligament in knee at state track encouraged me to “walk it off” before I gave up. And when I took a line drive to my thigh during a high-stakes softball game, bruising my entire quad muscle and femur – “If you would have put your glove there, you wouldn’t have gotten hurt.” I know, but before you judge my dad, hang on…

The mentality that I described above was combined with hours of practice. My dad was often my coach and always my number one fan. He would sit with me for any amount of time I wanted to work on something, to get better or to understand a concept. Friends, that’s teaching perseverance. “Walking off” a torn ligament is grit. He actually knew I couldn’t walk, but he didn’t want me to ever question that I had not tried my absolute hardest to compete. He knew I’d be toughest on myself. But I don’t want you to confuse grit or perseverance with resilience.

Resilience is taught in relationships. The ability to be strengthened by a challenge vs. weakened or the ability to reframe a loss as a lesson. That’s only learned by trusted, nurturing adults. Resilience can be taught and modeled. So, here’s the flip side of my dad. When he spends countless hours with me learning to hit a softball, there’s never cruelty or shame. He figured out, with me, the best way I could warm up, learn to hit, and feel powerful. He would say things like, “Well, that’s not working, so let’s try another way.” Or, “I don’t think this will work for you, so let’s try another approach.” And when I lost a game, lost points, placed 3rd or 5th, or last…he showed up. He was always proud of my efforts. Often saying, “Well, now you know what to work on.” Or, “You looked good out there, kid, don’t be so hard on yourself.” He knew I was innately competitive. So, he would often pair his messages of “Don’t quit” or “Walk it off” (grit!!) with “You’re going to be ok, your team will be ok without you,” as he carried me off the track in his arms, and I sobbed thinking letting my team down (resilience!!). 

Fast forward: When I called about my torn hamstring, yes, he chided me with “But did you win?” (grit!) and then said, “It’s ok to let your leg wrestling days be over. Everyone knows how strong you are.” (resilience – I believe in you)

So, I’m hanging up my days of leg wrestling. Onto other ventures that don’t risk my mobility! Don’t worry, I’ll still be competitive. I’ll just be doing it playing card games or something!!

Take it easy on yourselves, friends. We can always be gritty & persevere. But we’re only meant to be resilient over time and in relationships.

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