We often admire people for their strength. But if you dig into it a little bit, we have a lot of varied views on what it means to be “strong.” This begs the question, “What kind of strong are you?” And is it the kind of strong you want to be? Or do you feel you must be that kind of strong?
Atlas vs. Hercules
My boys were both really into Greek mythology when they were younger. I don’t know that this example works much beyond the superficial inferences, so I’ll keep it there for this post. Atlas was forced to hold up the sky. It was punishment by the gods for being on the losing side of the Titan war. Hercules, by contrast, used his strength when he needed it or wanted it.
There are times when I feel like Atlas. I don’t feel like I have a choice about being strong. I just have to Do The Thing because it’s required, expected, or a matter of survival. These moments usually involve grim determination, moving through grief or pain, or being at the end of my rope.
Other times, I feel more in control of when I exercise my strength. In those moments, I feel more like Hercules. These situations usually involve triumph or success.
Vulnerability = Weakness
I disagree. But I see that belief held by leaders far more often than I’d like. Their definition of strength seems to be more closely related to Atlas. There’s no choice in the matter. We don’t (or can’t) ask for help. Our ability to hold up the proverbial sky is viewed as our duty.
This shows up with the managers who believe they must have all the answers, all the time. If they don’t have the answer, they do not admit that because they fear it will be perceived as weakness or ineptitude.
This shows up in our society when we tell our young boys and young men that they can’t cry or show fear. We train them that showing emotions of vulnerability means they are weak.
Things to ponder…
What do you consider to be examples of strength in someone?
Where are you holding up the sky?
What kind of strong do you want to be?