Saturday, October 20, 2007

Mantras: The Good, The Weird, and The WTF?

People have asked me what motivates me when times prove difficult. I am perennially supported by an amazing family and friend network, and I have a few key people I seek out to advise me when I am indecisive or need to talk an argument out. But sometimes... sometimes talking won't help things. Sometimes I have to rely on myself to get through it. In those moments, I hear certain phrases that build me up for the fight.

"Never give up!" seems simple enough, right? I thought it sounded hokey until I attended a leadership camp. Whether it was my stubborn nature to accept this as a mantra or my devotion to whatever I believe in that caused me to own this, I don't know. This is usually the first thing that pops into my head.

Another mantra comes from JAG. In the episode, "Full Engagement," poachers chase Mac and Harm through the forest, wounding Mac in the leg. In one of her weakest moments, Mac feels as if she can't continue running and collapses. Harm turns to her, inspects the wound and tries to clean it again, and builds Mac's drive up instantly with, "suck it up, Marine!" Now I've never been a Marine, but I've been around a ton of gung-ho 'oorah' grunts and jarheads. I know the attitude. I have that attitude. And if David James Elliot was shounting "suck it up, Marine!" at me, I don't think I'd be sitting around to ask questions.

Rarely, those two mantras together fail. I'm left to rely on incident-specific advice I've received from my most trusted family and friends. My 4th grade teacher and my least-favorite person on Earth both told me the same thing: when the going gets tough, Jaggy will do the right thing. I'm always going to fight for myself and the people around me. I've done some stupid things, but overwhelmingly, I'll push through the grey waters and come out the other end looking great. Knowing that others rely on me and look up to me for continuously following my own North Star makes me feel good. Facing the possibility of letting those people down is something I refuse to think about. That keeps me going in the worst situations.

What keeps you going?

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