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Embrace The Suck

It’s inevitable at this time of the year to feel exhausted. You are tired, have too much to do and other people do the most frustrating things. You are pushing through to try to survive and get through to the end of the school year. According to Dr Jo Lukins, the key gap that separates the elite from the ordinary is the ability to push through discomfort when all you want to do is stop.

In her great book, “The Elite – Think like an Athlete, Succeed like a Champion”, Dr Lukins describes her work with elite athletes and members of the Australian Defence Forces. Last week I had the pleasure of presenting with Jo at a conference for School Business Managers. She described an activity where, on a hot afternoon in North Queensland, four soldiers were lying face down on the grass. Within arm’s reach was a 40kg log. The four soldiers were expected to work together, keep low in a leopard crawl and push the log 50 metres across the oval. Once they reached the other side they were then expected to jump over the log and leopard crawl / push it all the way back again. It soundly like a tough activity, both physically and mentally.

During the activity, the soldiers were asked to vocalise their self-talk. Not surprisingly their minds drifted to the negative.
“This is hard!”
“I hate this”
“This is ridiculous!”

Apparently, in the military, they use the term ‘the suck’ when referring to the discomfort of an activity that is difficult or seemingly pointless. It is used to remind soldiers that behind every action there is a job to do and sometimes it simply needs to be done, no matter how distasteful.

Dr Lukins challenges elite athletes to use the approach of the military and “Embrace the Suck!” Perhaps embracing the suck can help us to get through to the end of the year. I’d highly recommend the read.

To embrace the suck is to accept the task at hand. Acceptance is a key requirement in moving forward. You can’t move forward until you accept the circumstances that you are in. Denial, disbelief and rejection, whilst normal reactions to unpleasant circumstances, will not allow you to move forward. They will mentally paralyse you and stop you from growing and improving. When we accept our circumstances, we can stop fighting it and make a plan to move forward. (2019, page 74)