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Hanging Tough   Leave a comment

There used to be a show on I loved to watch called American Gladiators.  The show had many events all of which were designed to pit weekend warriors against the professional gladiators.  The idea was simple, compete in an event against the gladiator doing the best you can and if you did well enough you’d get points. Collect enough points and out score your fellow weekend warrior and you won.

Each individual event had its own challenges.  Powerball required you to be fast, but also agile.  You had to meet the dual goals of getting soccer balls into the baskets and avoid being train wrecked by a gladiator.  Or Assault, where you had to advance toward the gladiator who was shooting tennis balls at high speed your way.  Get hit you were done.  To take it up a notch you’d have to stop at certain stations to attempt to shoot and hit a target located right behind and above the gladiator.  Assault required you to stick your neck out to make the shot.  The event I’d like to focus on today is Hang Tough.

Hang Tough was simple in concept.  You start on one platform holding onto a gymnastics ring.  And then you’d swing from ring to ring, attempting to land safely on the platform on the opposite side of the field.  There were a couple of minor hiccups, though.  First, you were working against the clock as you were holding up your entire weight by the hands as you went from side to side.  Anyone who’s been on a jungle gym knows that the longer you go the more tired your arms get.  If the warrior’s grip gave way before he or she reached the other side they’d fall and lose the event.  Oh, and there’s the small issue of a gladiator coming your way on the rings from the opposite side, intent on taking you out.  And I don’t mean dancing.

The rings were spaced such that you could reach the next ring while still holding on to your current one.  You didn’t have to let go until you were assured you had a good grip on the next ring.  But the presence of the gladiator could rock that boat.  Sometimes you’d have to quickly move from the one ring to the next and couldn’t test your grip first.  And on some occasions the warrior, in an effort to dodge the gladiator, would have to let go of one ring before even grabbing the next.

Life can be like Hang Tough.  It’s nice when you have the time and energy to go safely from one life choice to the other.  Being in a position where you can test your “grip” on the new life event before releasing the past one is awesome.  But sometimes life throws you a curve and you’re left with a decision.  Go before you know, or stay the steady course and risk the gladiator.

Maybe you get lucky and dodge the gladiator safely.  Maybe you get lucky and the gladiator’s grip gives way before yours.  If you’re not so lucky and the gladiator catches you, now you have a lot of extra weight on your shoulders to deal with.  The gladiator, and life, try to drag you down.

Then again maybe you’re that person who decides to be bold and go for it.  You understand the risk.  If your grip isn’t true you fall.  But if you grab that next ring securely you’re past the danger and on your way to victory.  You just have to be willing to assume the risk and live with the consequences.

The consequence, of course, being you fail, and fall.  Cool thing about Hang Tough was that many a warrior fell, but all would go on to compete again.  Failure was embarrassing.  A bit regrettable.  But never fatal.  So they’d pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and get right back to competing.

What set the risk takers apart from the guys who played it safe wasn’t so much that they’d take the risk, it was the understanding that even if you risked it and failed, you still could come back and succeed.

So remember this week to Hang Tough.  And if you’re the risk taker, do so boldly, knowing that as long as you’re willing to accept the risk, even if you lose you can still win in the end.  Have a great week.  Peace.

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