Updated: Mar 5
It seems like every twenty or thirty years I embark on some kind of self-reflective exercise to check in on what the trail looks like that I’m leaving behind. When we face life’s challenges – some seemingly impossible to overcome – it’s how we handle those and proceed through life that’s telling to others. That’s when the values we live by – or don’t have at all - are revealed. It’s our values or our fundamental belief system that shapes our behavior in life. I thought it might be fun to look at a couple of those, especially those that are often confused.
So, if anyone asked you “what are you made of” – what would you say? Would you describe yourself as tough or strong, realizing those traits are not the same, at all? This will help in that assessment: when faced with insurmountable challenges in life, do you try to shake them off and press on with a determination that’s hard to describe? Or, do you dig deep within yourself to discover some inner strength? One sounds a bit more noble, doesn’t it? People don’t dig deep to discover inner toughness – it is strength they yearn for. I believe when times are truly at their worst, it isn’t the tough who survive; it’s the strong.
When a person is tough, it can be easy for them to push their way through life, bully to the front of the line, be stubborn enough to never give in and resist backing down from a challenge or fight. Toughness is recognizable and can also be described as having thick skin, being able to handle anything and being physically capable. Tough as a characteristic seems pretty superficial. A person doesn’t have to have a lot of depth to be tough.
Being strong, however, means at the core you’re a survivor. What comes to mind is a woman in the movie Saving Private Ryan. If you remember, there was a frail, sweet older woman, who sent her four sons off to war, found that eventually just one remained alive. Each time she received the news of another son’s death in battle, she had the strength to wake up