Playing in the Snow
[ Click here to listen to this podcast episode ] If you’re watching the playoff football games, you’ve seen the Buccaneers face off against the Packers at Lambeau field. When I recorded this episode, Tom had not yet overcome, but I had a hunch (and a ton of data), and of course, Tom delivered.
But nonetheless, those guys had to face the Packers at their home stadium in the bitter cold -- forced to overcome the uncomfortable realities of facing both the elements and their opponent.
What about facing the uncomfortable elements of life?
What can playing in the snow teach us about how to overcome the cold and harsh seasons of life, whether it be hardship in our careers/incomes, relationships, or pursuits of purpose?
I remember what my dad used to say when a cold, snowy, or icy game of peewee football was approaching; “What a great opportunity for the tougher kids to dominate.”
He was teaching me to see the positives in the negative — the hidden advantages of surface-level disadvantages.
This philosophy holds true in life.
There is a law of nature that must be understood if we are to overcome the cold seasons:
Every surface-level positive has below-the-surface negatives.
Example 1: Every athlete hoisting a trophy earned it with before-sunrise workouts, painful relational sacrifices, and uncomfortably-adjusted lifestyles. There was a cost to their success.
Example 2: The super-rich are insulated from truly understanding certain societal issues like racism and poverty. This restricts their empathy and relatability.
Example 3 (my favorite): Handsome men are able to cut corners that ugly men simply cannot, thus producing weaker character, discipline, and experience. Their handsomeness may be cool on the surface, but actually handicaps their true growth.
If this law holds true, it’s converse does as well;
Every surface-level negative has below-the-surface positives.
Could your current money struggles be forcing you to finally assess the costs of things you "need?"
Could the seemingly insurmountable issues in your relationship be showing you that your scars from childhood are legit, and need to be handled?
Could your aggravation around "purposelessness" be making it easier for you to engage in short-term-gratification activities that once stole your focus?
If you said "yes" to any of these, this winter is actually doing you a solid, man!
Net-net: We must establish the habit of asking ourselves what positives lie beneath the surface of the negatives were facing.
What are the positives of your current winter?
"That’s great and all, Chad, but I’m facing harsh realities in this season; I need something more tangible to help me overcome."
I get it, I get it.
Here are three things you can do to stop getting your ass kicked by this brutal winter:
1. Create layers to separate yourself from the elements.
If you’re struggling financially, ask for a loan from someone.
If you’re struggling relationally, take some space from the argument, or from the relationship, and seek relational advice and counseling.
For free counseling, go to church. People often care, admit they have issues, and don't (literally can't) charge you for their time.
If you’re struggling to see your reason for existing, perhaps just focus on existing the best you can. Shake out your shoulders, give this very complex question some simple space, and take a break from needing an answer right now. Maybe this season is not geared towards giving it to you, wrapped in a bow.
2. Change your game.
Tyreek Hill (his highlight reel is more like "unreel") is one of the fastest and most agile players in the NFL, but has to adjust his game in the winter when he doesn’t have the same footing he has in the fall. Playing like it's spring will render him ineffective and likely get him hurt.
Same thing in your life -- even if you're Tyreek "in life." Approaching your issue the same way you did when it began showing face won't work -- change it up.
Repeating the same thing in perpetuity and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Don’t be insane. Treat winter like winter.
If you’re striking out over and over again in job interviews, maybe think about tweaking your canned responses or applying to different jobs.
If the same approach is not working in your strained relationships, maybe seek council from someone you haven’t sought counsel from to this point. Maybe someone who doesn’t immediately jump to mind when you think of relationship advice.
Maybe someone outside your immediate family -- I mean, they could be a little biased, don't you think?
Change your footing.
Run different routes.
Knock on different doors.
Apply to different jobs.
Call new people.
Adjust your morning routine.
Test and try new things.
Take a risk. You’re not really taking one if what you’re doing isn’t working anyway.
3. Have fun with it.
What if you looked at this winter like an adventure rather than a "break from life?"
Are you enjoying the break from a 9-5? Most yearn for that.
Zoom out. Aren't you glad that you're even in a relationship worth fighting for? Most yearn for one.
Shouldn't it be kind of fun to think about your longer-term, life purpose? Most don't have that luxury. Enjoy dreaming -- it shouldn't grow into a burden.
So as long as you keep a positive attitude and your efforts high, you can confidently look in the mirror and say “this too shall pass.”
Let me tell you something: I am as confident in the spring following winter as I am in telling you that this difficult season you’re going through will end.
Again, a law of nature: seasons end. Winter teaches us that some things must die for new growth to be feasible.
What are you hanging onto that needs to die for you to enter the next season?
You’re playing in the snow right now. This will end. You are becoming a stronger man.
Keep going! Walk in purposeful manhood.