The Most Impressive Display of Grit

TAGS: youth, grit, tire flips, determination, Marshall Johnson

On Monday, November 26, 2012, myself and ten local youth set out on an adventure... The ultimate adventure of strength. Screw golden rings, glittery vampires, and temples of doom. This is the only adventure! The next two months will be spent taking these high school kids to hell and back—breaking down their form and humbling them, only to leave them stronger and more confident once it is all over. Follow us on our Journey.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Grit—firmness of mind or spirit : unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger


Tonight, I had my mind blown away. Thursday nights are deadlift night's at Maple Lake High, and at the end of every session the kids flip tires. (It's a 400-pound tire for four sets of 10). What you may not know is that we recently had a snow storm here in Minnesota, and there was about a foot and a half to two feet of snow on the ground. Still, I told the guys that we were flipping tires no matter what was on the ground. Unfortunately, I really don't think they took me seriously because they did not show up prepared—no boots or warm coats or gloves. They asked if we were still flipping tires, and I said absolutely we are.

I didn't realize how bad the snow was until we got outside. They rolled the tires out into the drifts and flopped them down. Not one of them wanted or believed they could do it. However, one of the two leaders of the group stepped up and tried... and he failed, and failed, and failed. Then another kid stepped up, but it was the same result. Many of the kids were already beaten—they saw the two best tire flippers fail. Still, I said, "Guys, we're flipping tires for four sets of 10 no matter how long it takes." There was a lot of complaining: "my hands are cold," "my feet are numb," etc. But then the leader of the pack, who is definitely driven and a separate breed, stepped up determined. So I got in his ear and started quoting Eric Thomas and Kai Greene, and the tire went halfway up before it fell. Then it got three quarters of the way up before it fell. This kid did not have one ounce of quit in him, and after about four misses, he finally got the first flip. You could see the impossible wall start to crack. After four more failures a second flip came. Soon it was two failures before a flip... then no failures until 10 flips. Everyone was convinced that this was impossible when they began.

After watching the first kid fight through the cold and numbness, another stepped up. He had about three fails for every successful flip until 10! The other two tires soon started getting participants. Failure was definitely the dominant pace, but for every seven misses, one was flipped. The kids who were weaker in the gym even started stepping up and flipping in front of those who were stronger than them. Suddenly, the complaining started to taper off, and the hand shaking and moaning slowed. Although negativity can be contagious, confidence is 10 times more contagious in the right atmosphere. Before the end of the night, everyone had flipped the tire at least three times. I then told them that I hadn't expected them to do the full four sets of 10, I just wanted to see who was willing to take on an impossible task and fail. I told them that I didn't care if they failed, just as along as they gave everything they had. Then something absolutely amazing happened: the leader of the group started his second set of 10 flips. Again, failing about three times for every successful flip. Then the next kid stepped up, and then the next, and then all of a sudden, everyone in the pack wanted to go. They wanted to flip these tires with numb hands, completely miserable, hungry, and tired. It was just an explosion of confidence. The second set turned into the third... and then the fourth. The leader of the pack was the only one to hit four sets of 10, but then he said he wanted a fifth. I was blown away. This time, he failed more then five times for every successful flip, but he was determined and drunk with perseverance. He was getting to 50 no matter how long we stayed out there.

Let me express how shitty the conditions were again: At least two feet of snow covered the ground. It was less than 10 degrees outside. All he had on were sweat pants and a hoodie. On one of his last flips, he even fell hard in the snow (face first), and the tire fell on his head. But did he quit? Not a chance! Inch by inch he lifted his body off the ground— crawled to his hands, to his knees, to one knee, then back on his feet. He gave me every ounce of effort he had in his body and ended with 54 flips. I have never witnessed something more inspiring and motivating in my life. This was completely what effort stands for. When it was all said and done, everyone had done four sets. They might not have been sets of 10, but they tried until absolute failure. We got back inside and had a little chat. I told them, "No one can ever take away what you all just did out there. You just proved to yourselves the fallacy of limits. You have so much untapped potential; you don't even comprehend how much. You just proved that no task is impossible." I told them how proud I was and to remember this night whenever they were presented with an impossible task.

I truly could not have been more proud!



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