Suck it up … please?

Let me start this post by admitting something: My wife is my better half and she is clearly the better parent. She is more thoughtful, caring and warm. There I said it.

Now, let me continue. In our houses, I am famous (maybe infamous) for using the phrase “suck it up.” (See, I told you she is a better parent or at least better with words.) And, oh boy, does my wife hate that phrase!

Tough talk comes from a place of love
The kids come in from the trampoline and one kid’s arm hurt … “suck it up.” (I later learned that said arm was fractured—and that was embarrassing). They didn’t make the A-team in their sport … “suck it up.” They didn’t get invited to a party … “suck it up.” My reply is so predictable that before one of my kids says something, they look at me, roll their eyes and say, “I know … suck it up!”

OK, so maybe I need a new phrase. But let’s save that one for a future blog post. But my heart is in the right place. I’m not mean. I do this because I love them.

I have a huge heart when it comes to my children. I love them more than anything in the world. I want the best for them. But I believe the best is achieved only by those who persevere. Being the best at anything is hard, and it takes time and a fair amount of failure. Being the best is not granted just for showing up. It’s earned by those who persevere.

I believe it’s my job as their father to love them and teach them. Sometimes teaching and the associated learning can hurt or sting. But love can’t be an excuse for not helping our kids see the reality of the world. Success is not just given to you; you earn it. Being healthy and successful, no matter how you define it, is hard work. As we all know, it also takes time, patience and courage.

It’s the power of perseverance
I think my ability to persevere has helped me achieve and perform. It has made me a better husband, father, sibling, coach, teammate, leader and teacher. I believe this 100%. I thank my dad every day for pushing me to try harder, work smarter, eliminate excuses, practice more often, and get back up no matter how many times I was knocked down. He helped me realize there is no shame in failure; there is only shame in not trying.

Sure, I cried when I got cut from a team. I was nervous when I failed a test. I felt rejected if I didn’t get a job offer or a promotion. I’m human—and it sucks to fail and lose. Like any child, I used to scream at my dad. I used to tell him you don’t understand, you don’t know what it feels like, you don’t have to go to school and face your friends tomorrow. But what I realize now is that I was the one who didn’t understand.

You can’t make the team, get an A on a test or a promotion at work unless you get better, or unless you continue to go after the goal. You don’t know what you can achieve until you get knocked down and prove to yourself you can get back up. While the joy is in the achievement of the goal, the lesson and your character is built through the experience of trying and pushing yourself beyond what you think is possible. That’s how all of us achieve our full potential—whatever it may be.

Teach your team to persevere
It doesn’t matter if you’re a parent or a leader; your obligation is still the same. As a leader, you should feel an obligation to protect and help your team. Saying “suck it up” seems to fly in the face of caring and helping. It sounds harsh. But the truth is that achieving something great is hard and the process of getting there can be harsh.

Like my kids, I want the best for my team. These are people I spend countless hours working beside, traveling with and building a business. In many cases, I know their families, their strengths and their goals. I love my team and I will never stop holding myself and them to a higher standard. I will never stop challenging them to push themselves harder.

You don’t know how great you can be until you fail at something you want or love, and then you pick yourself back up and try again. You don’t quit on yourself and your dream, but you do work harder and learn from the setbacks. You persevere. The lesson is in the journey more than the result. When you see a gold medalist on the podium at the Olympics crying while they play their country’s anthem, yes, it’s a moment they will cherish forever. But you better believe it’s the bumpy, sometimes painful, road of practice, failure and perseverance that led them to the podium that makes that moment so very sweet.

What does the art of perseverance look like to you as leader?

How do you help your teams, customers and companies persevere?

How do we make them feel the love and protection while teaching them to fight for what they want?

I say “suck it up” because I care about them and want to see them succeed. I also say it because I understand perseverance and its importance to personal and professional achievement.

To my better half and the better parent in the Chiaradonna house: See, honey, I do mean well. I just struggle sometimes with my words. Maybe I should come up with a new phrase. How about “suck it up, please?”