Embrace The Suck

Last spring, my favorite football team, The Michigan Wolverines, swapped sweat pants for camo as they endured a grueling training day in California with the U.S. Navy SEALs. Rob Stella, the SEAL’s chief special warfare operator, told the team straight out, “Today we will take you places you’ve never been before. Be prepared for that. You’re going to get a snapshot of yourself and your teammates will get a snapshot of you too.” Stella then said three powerful words before the team hit the beach for a brutal, three-hour workout — words we all need to hear and learn: “embrace the suck.”

“We are all either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or headed for a crisis.”
~ Andy Andrews

We don’t often discuss it, but we all have crisis in common. Maybe yours is behind you. Maybe you’re in one now. One thing you can count on, there’s one coming.

Losing my job and beginning again was my crisis. It was hard on my family. I never felt so alone. Most days I was extremely upbeat and hopeful. I magnified everything good and tossed aside the setbacks. One day, it all came crashing down; my think-positive tank was on “E.” Money — or rather lack of it — had become such a problem that I freaked out. I put on my running shoes and bolted from my house like Forrest Gump. Every step I took, I physically felt fear taking over my body. I went numb. It was 90-degrees, but I was freezing. Tears gathered in my eyes and I had to stop in the middle of the road. The weight of regret and the bitterness of blame overwhelmed me. At that moment, I was a failure. While my friends were planning their next car purchase or fabulous vacation cruise, I couldn’t get my daughter cleats for her softball game.

“Embrace the suck!” Stella shouted into a megaphone. “It’s the fourth quarter and your motivation is being sucked out. Your opponents are going to sense it. I don’t hear any communication! Your motivation has dropped. Your teamwork has dropped. Your opponent is going to crush you!”

I am lucky. My so-called crisis was being short of a few bucks. For some, “crisis” begins with a capital “C.” I have witnessed incredible courage, unshakable faith and a touch of humor as cancer threatens my friends. One guy I know is undergoing radiation treatment for prostate cancer. He calls treatment days his “Fry-day.” He wears a shirt that reads “Been There. Fried That.” He’s not about to let his opponent crush him. Another friend holds his wife ten times closer than he had before she began her cancer fight. “So blessed she’s mine,” he says. And that says it all. Watching how others deal with crisis — embracing the suck — is inspiring. Use it to fuel you.

There’s this kind of songbird that thinks it dies every time the sun goes down. In the morning when it wakes up, it’s totally shocked to still be alive, so it sings this really beautiful song. ~ Restless

Think about your crisis. Trust that you will get out of it. Understand that you will be better for it. Sing a beautiful song when you emerge from it.

Life is precious and fleeting and fragile. Don’t miss its beauty and its promise. Pray a lot. Embrace all that it is…even the suck.