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You Aren’t Strong Enough

February 26, 2016

I want you to hold this book. 


Now, hold it higher, above your head.


Now, keep it there.

The exercise made no sense. I was watching a discussion about people attempting to make a change in their life. The subject of this exercise was a teenage boy who claimed he wanted to change, but was discouraged that he was unsuccessful. And, in listening to his story, he had tried. But, each time it didn’t work.

It was obvious his arms were getting tired as he held the heavy book above his head. They started to dip slightly. The moderator was waiting for this moment and pounced.

I thought you were going to hold that book up? 

I’m trying.

Maybe, you’re just not motivated enough. Do you really even want to hold the book up?

The boy once again pushed his arms straight and raised the book, but it was obvious that gravity was quickly winning out over his arms. Finally, he couldn’t hold it anymore and he dropped his arms in defeat.

Did you want to hold up that book? Did you really try?

Yes, I tried. It was too hard to keep going. 

So, you failed.

The boy poured all of the months of setbacks dejectedly into his answer. It was barely a whisper,

Yeah. . .I failed.

I hated the presenter. What a jerk. Couldn’t he see that the boy had honestly tried his best? It was a pretty heavy book. And what did this have to do with life changes anyway? The boy didn’t need to learn how to fail. He needed to learn how to succeed. A few minutes later the presenter proved me wrong. 

I’ve occasionally had jobs where I really wanted to succeed. I spent extra hours to try to succeed. I did everything in my power to succeed. I wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t good enough. I failed. Maybe that’s why I identified with the boy and the book. I knew just how tough it was to want to do something and simply not be good enough. Like I said, I hated the presenter and his insistence on pointing out my failures.

Climb up on this chair. Now just hold the book in front of you. Notice how high the book is above the floor.

On the chair, the book was the same height above the floor as it was when he was holding it over his head. 

How long do you think you can hold the book at that level?

Probably all day.

And the light started to dawn in the boy’s eyes. Just to make it clear the instructor stated the point that we were all thinking.

The chair, is the difference. The chair is those people who want to help you. The chair is tools, training and techniques for your success that you don’t even know yet. Rather than a crutch, or a sign of weakness, the chair represents the support structure that every one of us needs if we want to truly succeed. 

I thought about those jobs that I had failed at. Not only had I avoided asking for help, I had tried to hide my struggles. I assumed that admitting that my arms were getting tired from holding up the book would be a sign of weakness. I, along with the boy started to understand that the real weakness was stubbornly refusing to reach out; with thinking that I had to do it all myself. 

Instead, I just needed a chair. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

One Comment
  1. Great illustration, so true! Thanks for sharing and all the best!

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