Expect The Best: Another “Sam’s Story”

A Critical Doer works as hard to develop strength of character as strength of talent 


One of the most gratifying things that happens as a parent is when your children have developed wisdom and perspective that allows them to teach you a couple of things.

I posted before about my oldest son, Sam, and his experiences as a distance swimmer.  Those experiences are paying off now as he is a member of the US Air Force and in training to become a pilot.

It’s early in the course of training and he was ready for his first solo flight.  A series of events that I’ll classify as rotten luck…bad weather and a maintenance concern that grounded the fleet of training aircraft…have delayed his solo well over a week.  As I chatted with him a few days ago, he ended the conversation with a remarkable comment as I was trying to encourage him.  What he said was, “it will be okay, I’m expecting the best.”

Wow!  I’m trying to be uplifting for him, but he picked me up with the strength and wisdom it takes to say “I expect the best” when a significant emotional event like your first solo hangs in the balance.  How does a person get to that place where times of challenge reveal strength of character of this magnitude?

A Critical Doer knows that great achievement, the kind that leads to fulfillment, has a lot to do with the mental game.  Many of the people we admire as success stories are not the most skilled nor were they blessed with advantage.  What you find is they were the mentally toughest because they had built a reservoir of inner strength to call upon during times of struggle.  In layman’s terms, they succeeded because they wouldn’t quit even though logic and everyone around them screamed otherwise.

Being a distance swimmer conditioned Sam for endurance.  Over the course of a mile, he had to make a decision every time his body hurt and screamed “stop doing this to me!!!”  Through the struggle of distance and making the decisions to continue, despite the pain, conditioned him now to maintain focus on his individual preparation knowing that circumstances would change.  He didn’t lament over the circumstances he could not control…he focused on his individual preparation, something he could 100 percent control.

The concept of struggle to produce mental resilience is hardly new.  The Apostle Paul wrote in the Book of Romans nearly 2000 years ago…while imprisoned…that “from struggle comes perseverance; from perseverance, character; from character, hope.”  It’s universally accepted that hope is not a course of action, but it is a cause of action.  The payoff for years of struggle, making the choice to persevere and drive on lap after lap, is paying off now as strength of character reveals the power to hope…and most importantly act decisively when the moment of opportunity finally arrives.

To become a Critical Doer, you must be willing to go outside of your comfort zone from time to time.  In mentoring, I’ve told people for years that we constantly rehearse patterns of behavior on a daily basis that we act out in times of stress.  If you’re not willing to push yourself when nothing is on the line, you will also fail to push yourself when everything is one the line.

I challenge you to find areas where you can sufficiently challenge yourself to build strength of character that will sustain you in times of challenge so you will “expect the best.”  Whether you choose physical fitness, academic study, a new hobby/skill, etc., find something that takes you out of your comfort zone, be humble enough to learn, and experience the exhilaration that comes from achieving the unachievable.  You’ll be amazed at how much more you begin to accomplish and the contagious effect it has on those around you when you “expect the best.”  Learn from Sam and get started…it’s what a Critical Doer would…do!


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Updated: April 18, 2015 — 2:12 pm