Damn, that dude pisses me off! If he says one more thing to me, I'm gonna . . .
Every day—numerous times each day, in fact—we're faced with moments that test us. When someone cuts you off on the road or leaves sweat on the machines at the gym. These moments hit us in an instant, without warning, and often expose our uglier side.
We're so tested by people we know. People at work. Neighbors. Even family. (Lord knows, family will test you.)
A friend of mine has a boss he can't stand. He knows the feeling is mutual. On most days, he's professional and does what needs to be done, even when he knows it'll come back to him, often in an e-mail that begins: "This is not acceptable." But it always is. At times, the situation has made him feel his boss was building a case for his dismissal or trying to provoke him into verbal return fire, something that would certainly be grounds for firing.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, as we neared the end of a round of golf, he told me that he and his boss were having a meeting the next day with an HR rep. He didn't think he was going to be fired. (And if he were, he had every e-mail the boss had sent him, along with his work, to make his own case.) But just knowing that it had come to this incensed him. "I ought to say straight out what an asshole he is," he told me.
He clearly dreaded the next day and was on the verge of doing just that. I mostly listened, then offered only this: "Don't let him steal your spirit," I said.
We walked a few steps in silence before he smiled and said, "Thanks."
If you're a devout MFer, you work hard to achieve your physical peak. A strong body fights off attacks to weaken it, illnesses and viruses and pressures that drop most guys like a "Rampage" Jackson right hand.
But none of us is immune to those moments that threaten to transform us, or from people who provoke us to say and do things we would not typically do or say, things that compromise our spirit. Things that steal it.
There are ways to strengthen your spirit, very personal ways. But when it's under attack the best way to protect it—to protect yourself—is to do so as you would your family, your home: own it.
And let no one—not even an asshole boss!—pry it from you. All things in life fall into two categories: things you can control and things you can't.
You can't control the things that try you, but you can control whether you'll be tried—whether you'll be pushed to be someone you don't want to be. To avoid that fate, and no doubt end up regretting it, own your spirit, and never let it go. No matter the test.
My friend survived the next day's meeting. He didn't allow himself to "go there" at all. In fact, the boss chickened out, saying nothing unusually harsh, and both men vowed to do better at trying to work together. His spirit won. The best ones (the right ones) always do.
Roy S. Johnson
Editor In Chief