Work the Weakness by John M. Pawlowski (BA '05), Omaha, Nebraska
As studly as I thought I was as a high school football player in Texas, I quickly learned that I lacked the skills, muscles, and intelligence to play at BYU. I grew content to cheer from the bleachers.It hit me right in the face. And my gut.
However, I did not want to atrophy into an all-out wimp, so I enrolled in a weight-training class in the Smith Fieldhouse. The final would consist of five exercises, one of which was pull-ups. I could do only a few. In an attempt to show my maturity and forethought, I approached the coach mid-semester:
Me: "Coach, what exercises can I do to get better at doing pull-ups?"
Coach: "Well, you could start with pull-ups."
Me: "No, I want to strengthen supporting muscles to get better at pull-ups. what would you recommend?"
Coach: "First, do as many pull-ups as you can. Then rest a minute or two. Then grab the bar and do as many pull-ups as you can. Repeat this 1,000 times."
Me: "I don't think you understand."
Coach: "Son, you can't fix a weakness by focusing on strengths related to the weakness. Work the weakness."
My palms still have calluses from his class, but he was right. The impromptu lesson can be applied to all sorts of weaknesses --from weight training to public speaking to study habits --and it has stuck with me ever since.
Work the weakness.
How this applies to me and my life right now:
*I need to lose 60 pounds. Talking about needing to lose it and finding the perfect weight loss program and wondering which exercises would be best for me won't lose the weight for me. If I want to lose the weight, I need to lose the weight. If I need to eat less, I need to eat less. No desperate plea for some amazing diet will stop the food from entering my mouth, no knowledge about calories or fiber will put less food on my plate. If I need to exercise, I need to exercise. Talking about yoga won't do the stretching for me. Imagining doing 200 crunches in a row won't teach me how to do a crunch. I need to just do it. Work the weakness.
*Being a more involved/deliberate mother won't happen while I sit in front of this computer screen all day. I can read all the parenting essays and books I want, but until I practice what I'm writing, it does nothing for me. If I want to be the kind of mother I've always wanted to be, I need to try.
*Work the weakness doesn't mean you succeed right away. Working the weakness means you are working. On the weakness. Yes, it's obvious, but not really, eh? We assume that if we can't do something perfectly the first time, then it's not worth it or we're doing it wrong. Perhaps, instead, we should realize that it's just a weakness, eh? Weakness doesn't mean sin, weakness doesn't mean it's not possible. Weakness just means we need to try. Keep working at it. Pray for support. Work.
*Anything worth having takes work --that's something I've been telling my kids for years. Being able to play an instrument, do well at athletics, get good grades, learn a new skill, gain a testimony of the gospel, overcome and cope with mental illness --it all takes work. What's wrong with work?
*Gratefully, all of our work pays off when we ask Christ to be a part of it. He will help us. I know this.
So, there you go. Thank you to John Pawlowski and his awesome simple story. Work the Weakness is going to be my new mantra, right along Kind and Calm. In fact, I could make my mantra be: Work my Kind and Calm Weakness!