I was talking about hardships with James Brown, the studio host of The NFL on CBS. He said that he has been called an “overnight success,” and then he shook his head and laughed. “Yeah. After the first twenty years of toiling, sure . . . then it was overnight.”
To me, this shows toughness and mental strength. NFL players so often talk about being “tough,” but I’m not sure they grasp what that truly means. In my opinion, this is what defines whether you are tough or not.
How You Respond To Adversity
Toughness is shown in how you respond to adversity. Can you respond without losing your footing and your direction? If so, that shows me that you’re tough. Life is messy. We don’t always get a happy ending, and sometimes the middle isn’t so happy either. You never really know how tough people are until they encounter the rough spots. We’re all tough when things are going our way. We’re all tough when we’re getting the breaks. That’s easy.
But the truly tough man is the one who stays grounded in his values and focused on his goals when things are challenging. When things in life don’t go according to plan, the tough man will exhibit a determination to reach his goal no matter the obstacles.
Having Mental Endurance
As a coach, I tried to give our players some latitude and allow them to fail so they could learn to respond to problems and then grow. Toughness, even on the field, is more appropriately thought of as mental, not physical endurance.
Being Made Uncommon
People often ask the question, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” Obviously, there are no easy answers to that question. But I do know this: God is constantly working in us through it all, molding and shaping us into what He created us to be; and it’s in the valleys of our failures where He is working the hardest, making us into something uncommon.