Do you know what defeat is?
I’m not talking about failure, missteps, setbacks, or even loss.
Because failures are momentary. You can recover from failure, set your team back on the mission, and execute the next priority.
Missteps only need a sidestep to retake the path.
Setbacks are little more than slowdowns, pauses.
And loss, well what is lost only needs ferocity to be retaken.
I’m talking about defeat.
Defeat is an earthquake rumbling always beneath our feet. Some feel it and sit down, afraid of the unsteady ground. Others lose their footing over time. Others keep walking but find a shaking, cracking area so impassable, they give up.
Defeat always rumbles, and so we need strong fucking legs.
We need patience, sure. We need courage to withstand the uncertainty of our mission. We need focus and persistence to navigate the mundane, the administrative, the dull.
But above all else, we need strength.
We need to know what it means to be strong.
Patience, courage, focus, and persistence are grounded, absolute. They are decisions made—time and time again, each moment of our lives—to keep our goals at the helm, steering our actions. They’re mental expenditures of energy with direction.
You can choose these things in the moment and develop them as choices you are accustomed to make.
“Persistence always wins.”
And then there’s strength.
It’s abstract, complex, and not easily held. It’s a vast plane of characteristics—attributes—that we have a hard time describing.
What exactly does it mean to be strong?
Is it a barbell on your back, knees shaking and heart pounding?
Is it staying positive under emotional duress?
Is it accepting responsibility and duty?
It’s all of these, and more.
It’s mental, emotional, physical, and for some, spiritual. It’s a well-rounded demeanor, knowing one’s place and responsibilities in relation to one’s goals, and the goals of the collective. It’s being physically unbreakable, mentally engaged, and emotionally intelligent.
It is the complete antidote to defeat.
The physically unbreakable, those with strong backs and legs and shoulders, who stand tall when they get punched in the face (and oftentimes are ready to swing back), who wade into deep water with confidence and swagger, cannot know physical defeat. Not because they’re immune to disease and disorder, but because their bodies are manifestations of relentless willpower, enduring optimism, and a desire to know themselves better. They’re fucking unshakeable. Let defeat rumble, their sure steps deafen its voice.
To be mentally engaged and emotionally intelligent is to master every struggle, confrontation, or obstacle one encounters. It’s not good enough to be calm and collected, I’m talking about mastery. It’s navigating hostile terrain with no compass, walking into darkness with no light. That’s strength. That’s supreme confidence, total knowledge of one’s capabilities—even in completely new situations.
Strength is broad, complex. It’s woven with endless, colorful threads. If you could pull one out, you’d never find its end. But you should yank on a few and see what story they tell, what lessons they teach, what other threads they’ve gotten tangled with.
It might take a lifetime to unravel strength, and what it means to be strong.
But you’ve got your lifetime to give.
And that sacrifice is better than falling into some bitter, regretful, mediocre precipice of defeat.
Develop yourself. Be patient, courageous, focused, and persistent.
But above all else, be strong.
Strength stands tall while the ground fucking shakes.
And the ground is going to shake.
Strong legs, strong back, strong shoulders. Mentally engaged. Emotionally intelligent. Master of any obstacle, struggle.
A different fucking breed.