There’s an interesting title for this blog entry, but it has been on my mind a lot these last couple weeks. “Embrace the suck” is a commonly used term in the military. Basically, it means to do what needs be done, no matter how pointless, lame or tiring the task seems. For the elite in the military, tier one operators in the Special Operations Command — like Delta Force, Navy Seals, MARSOC Marines, etc. — are amazing specimens of “never quit” attitude that take the mantra of “embrace the suck” to the limits of human potential. They are the stuff of legends.
My grandfather taught me the principal of “embrace the suck.” He taught me by how he lived. He was a member of the greatest generation, and I’m truly sorry that my children and my children’s children will not have had the intimate time with someone like Captain Nathan Smith Plummer (whom my son Smith is named after) like I was privileged to have had. Supporting his mother and siblings financially after the death of his father at the early age of 13 during the Great Depression, joining the Marines, being a four-year prisoner of war during WWII, fighting in three different theaters of war during his 26-year military career … even more remarkable is how he lived after military service.
He got his four-year university education and went on to be a teacher. He took one day at a time, lived within his means and by the end of his life, he had a sizeable estate with which he was able to bless the lives of his posterity. As much credit as I give him, an equal amount is due to his lifelong partner in life, my amazing grandmother Clenna June Hansen Plummer. What amazing examples I desperately want to emulate and teach to my posterity.
Living a principled and disciplined life is so important. It is only by rooting yourself in something that is bigger than yourself that you can stay afloat in the turbulent waters of life. My amazing wife, Jane, is an example of “embrace the suck.” When our second child, Sam, was born, unfortunately a series of events and malpractice devastated his tiny body. Sam is now 14 years old, a miracle from what we were told in the early weeks of his life.
I can’t tell you how hard it was for us in those early years. We look at photos during that time and can’t remember much. It was hard, a real refiner’s fire. My wife is a rock. No matter what, she is just going to trudge forward. Her faith in God and finding joy even in very hard circumstances is a great example to me. It reminds me of Paul’s writing in Romans 5:3-4 — “…we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.”
I have learned that it is only when you go through the suck that can you really appreciate the good times. The law of opposition is a must-learn for all of us, for without it, we cannot have perspective.
A great teacher in my life was Thomas S. Monson, and he said, “We learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass.” I’d rather run a marathon through a life hardship with someone with a limp acquired through tribulation than I would with an Olympian.
My mother was another stalwart example of perseverance in my life. Having lost not one, but two children and endured many health, business and life problems, she, as the matriarch of her family, says, “We can do hard things.” Come what may, keep moving forward. This life is but a moment in eternity. Having an eternal perspective will keep your compass pointed “true north.”
Self-pity? I have this on a sticky note by my desk:
BREAKING NEWS: The Pity Train has just derailed at the intersection of Suck It Up & Move On, and crashed into We All Have Problems, before coming to a complete stop at Get the Heck Over It. Any complaints about how we operate can be forwarded to 1-800-waa-aaah. Dr. Sniffle Reporting LIVE from Quitchur Whinin’.
With the new year here, it is a time of reflection and renewal. What did you learn this past year and how can you improve in the new? It is important for all of us to do some accounting and projections. I have never been much for reflection, but the older I am getting and the more experience I gain in life, I am seeing the value of reflection, goals and accountability.
General of the Army and President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” That is a good counsel, and I’m going to try and follow his wisdom. I am going to set goals personally and professionally. I’ve enjoyed listening to a trending podcast which is topping the podcast charts called, “Heavy Checklist.”
My cousin, who is also my business partner in a number of real estate interests, is involved with “Heavy Checklist,” so it is fun to have a personal connection to some sound life advice. These are successful people putting me in some personally uncomfortable concepts, like dream boards, positive affirmations and even something as silly as taking cold showers. All have a real positive effect! You’re not going to grow in life unless you put yourself in uncomfortable situations. You have to embrace the suck.
So, I write this blog entry more for myself, holding myself accountable at the beginning of the year to try to leave this year better than my last. It’s also for my family, friends, the professional team members I surround myself with. I’m giving all of you free rein to hold me accountable. As an Eagle Scout, I was trained to leave my campsite better than how I found it. Sound life advice right there. Can you leave this year better than your last? This month, week or day even better than the last? Making goals to be well-rounded is very important, and that involves your personal life, relationships, physical self, family, spiritual feelings, finances, professional endeavors, etc. Our mutual love and passion for horses is what connects us; may your horse goals be taken into account, too.
No matter where you are today, you can choose to make your tomorrow better. My late sister, Stephanie, had a life quote that impacted me greatly after seeing her overcome immense personal struggle, including addiction and many self-inflicted life wounds. Stephanie is one of my great heroes. At the bottom of her email signature, she had: “Happiness is not a destination, it is a way of travel.”
God bless you in the new year. Embrace the suck. Get uncomfortable. Grow. Love every minute!