I always get a little knot in my stomach when I hear or see the words ‘be strong’. It’s splashed around the media left, right and centre. Of course it makes sense to motivate people with the word strong, right? When you’re in the gym training, working on your strength, then it’s presumed you’re being strong or getting stronger.
I have a problem with this idea. I don’t think there is such a thing as being strong. I also don’t think there is such a thing as being weak, either.
I know from first-hand experience that in your mind if you try to be strong it just doesn’t work. I was given this advice when I was told that my life was going to get very shit: “Now, Lauren, you must be strong.” And, of course, when I was trying to find reason in an impossible situation, I clung onto that idea in my head every day from then on: I must be strong.
What happened to me is irrelevant; things happen all the time that we don’t want to deal with. What is relevant is the perspective I gained from trying to “be strong” that made me open my eyes.
Strength vs. Power
Let me put it to you like this: take a person who is very strong on paper. She lifts incredible amounts at a high intensity. Your first thought would be: “Wow, she is strong. She must have acted strong to do that.”
What people don’t realise is that person has focused her power on her performance. Her performance at times may have had weak or strong qualities, but to be very strong and reach her full potential, she has focused her power on her weaknesses, acknowledged them and worked with them.
I call this “being powerful”. Being powerful is to take action: identifying one’s weaknesses and addressing them. Being strong isn’t an action– it doesn’t provide a basis for anything but physical strength. You can only activate strength through the mind’s power.
So when you’re in the gym next time, focus on being powerful. Work on the stuff you suck at and see what happens. Let me know!