When it comes to sports, competitive drive is what one needs in order to succeed. It's that thing that keeps you in the gym hours after everyone else goes home. It helps you get that last rep when your body is screaming nooooo! It's what gets you up for the big game. It's what put you back in the gym to get better at your craft after a dominating performance by you...or the other team. Life has it's moments when it doesn't go the way we plan. Sometimes things happen to us that go beyond our control, but have a deep seeded effect on who we are. We can do all the right things and yet still bad things happen to us. Someone once said that "life is 10% the things that happen to us and 90% how we respond to the first 10%" That competitive drive that pushed us to succeed in our chosen craft is the same drive that can help us overcome life's problems.
In my work with student athletes, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most incredible young people who have inspired me along the way with their resolve to overcome life's obstacles. I just recently worked with a local gymnast on a fundraiser to help victims sexual abuse. When her mother approached me about the fundraiser and shared with me the reason why they were doing it, I was immediately on board. Hannah herself was a victim.
Her story was a part of a case that made international headlines. When I watched her impact statement that she gave at the sentencing hearing she made a statement that moved me and has become the foundation of her campaign. She said " Life handed me lemons and you best believe that I am well prepared to make some lemonade" Her resolve is one that is very inspiring to me and to countless others. As we were preparing for the fundraiser, I asked her about how long did it take her to get to the point of not feeling sorry for herself and empowered to overcome. Her response was " about a week" Wow..the same fire that she was used to showing in competion showed itself in the courtroom when she came face to face with her attacker and it was the same fire that came through when she shared that response with me. It's that type of competitive drive that can provide the fuel for successfully overcoming any personal tragedy. It doesn't have to be something similar to what Hannah had to experience, but whatever it is, the end of the story is not what happened, it's the start of something special that you have... the power to help write the ending. Allow me to share with you another story of a student athlete that has inspired me.
Simeon is a high school basketball player who I have had the honor of training and mentoring for the last few years. When I met him at the gym, I was impressed with his work ethic so as I usually do, I asked him if he wanted to work out sometime. After the workout we had a chance to talk and I asked him about why would he have such a drive to succeed that seems to be unusual for someone of his age. What he shared with me was impressive. His reason went back to his 8th grade basketball experience where he was put on the "B" team and told he was the worst player on the team by his coaches and teammates. He said that motivated him to put in the work to get better. That motivation had him in the gym at 5am when most teenagers are still sleeping. He would put in the work needed to succeed at the game he was told that he wasn’t good at. As we began working together, he began to share with me that things at home weren’t going well. Along the way, life handed him some lemons with his family which included having to be separated from them while pursuing this dream. It was painful for him to be away as his family was facing a difficult time, but he credits their love and support for him and the dreams he’s pursuing for helping him get through it. Here’s what he said:
“I took a lot of L’s in my life but I kept getting back up. I couldn’t do it without God, my friends and family. If you surround yourself with the right people, they will pick you up when you are down.”
Simeon gets what this whole better together thing is all about. You can’t do it alone. It’s one thing to be driven, but it goes to a whole other level when that drive leads you to seeking out others who will help you get there. The phrase “by any means necessary” is what comes to mind. In his case, it was being open enough to allow those of us who love him and care for him to help him write the story. For Hannah, she was open enough to speak out about her own tragedy in the hopes that others will be encouraged to do the same and seek out the same healing that she’s pursuing. Hannah grasped hold of something that I’ve learned over the last two decades of helping others, you can’t change what happened, but you can get past it and move forward to a better life by inspiring others to follow your example.
It happened...I’m healing...I’m helping is the best way of summarizing the three steps it takes in turning life’s lemons into lemonade:
Step 1: “It happened” - You have to recognize that it happened. Whether it happened to you or because of you, admitting to yourself and recognizing that it did occur helps you to see that it wasn’t normal. Many times we just accept that it occurred and we get caught up in grieving for ourselves longer that we should. It’s okay to grieve and you actually need to but you can’t stay there. I’m reminded of the story of King David in the bible when his son got sick and died. He grieved for him for in the seven days that the child was sick. When the child died his staff was afraid to tell him, but he noticed their whispering and figured out that his son died. Then in what others saw as unusual, he got up, cleaned up and ate a meal. They asked him why this was his response:
“But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me “ 2 Samuel 12:23
Step 2: “I’m healing”. Now that you know it happened you can do something about it. In the case of King David he simply got up, cleaned up and fueled up:
“Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshipped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate” 2 Samuel 12:20
For you, once you get up and decide to do something about it, you need to turn to someone or somewhere for help. For Hannah and Simeon, they both turned to their faith to find the strength to seek the help they needed. When it comes to getting “better together” you can’t do it alone. You need the help of others who have been where you were and found the way forward. Whether it’s a coach, a professional counselor, a mentor or a spiritual leader. There are people who stand ready and willing to walk the path towards healing with you. Step 3: “I’m helping” I had a friend that always used to say whenever he was feeling down, he would go find someone else in need and seek to help them however he can. He was practicing what King David did next:
“Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba.....She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon.” 2 Samuel 12:24.
She was grieving too for their son that they lost. Once he began to walk out his healing, he turned his attention to those around him in a similar situation. Who better to help someone get through than someone who has been there themselves! The experiences we encounter in life are not only meant to teach us but God wants us to use them to teach others. By being there and helping someone else turn their lemons into lemonade, you can find that greater purpose for your life that will help you move on to the next chapter in your story. For King David, Hannah, Simeon and for us, there lies within us the drive to succeed. Sometimes it takes something unfortunate to force us to see it. If you live life long enough, you will get lemons thrown your way, but the question these lemons are asking is do you have what it takes to turn them into lemonade? The good news here is that God knows you do. 1 Corinthians 10:13;
“No temptation has seized you except that which is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
He knows what you can handle! His way of providing help for us is two-fold. He gives us the strength to stand up and he gives us people who can help us to stand.
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” Ecclesiastes 4:12
Two driven individuals plus the one who put the drive in the both of you equals a three strand cord that can handle anything thrown their way! So are you ready to make some lemonade? Stay Forever Strong!