Embrace the Suck

“Let thee embrace me, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course” ~ William Shakespeare

My pal, Bill Pusey, and I convene the Ascending Leaders’ Network, a monthly gathering of leaders in southern Maine seeking to have a more strategic impact on their organizations. Last fall, our discussion topic was “Embrace the Suck.” What it means as a leader to embrace the suck and what strategies can leaders use to get their teams to embrace the suck.

A good part of our discussion focused on just what was meant by “embrace the suck.”

Embrace the Suck

Apparently, while it’s a common expression among the military, there are some differences in how it’s used. For some, the phrase is intended to encourage folks to just get through whatever adversity they’re experiencing. As in, “this too shall pass,” and if you don’t embrace the suck, you stagnate, quit or die.

For others, the focus is on coming out of the suck better than when you went in. As in, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It’s not just a question of managing to tough out a particularly challenging situation. Embracing the suck is about getting to a point where you relish the adversity and understand that coming through it results in a stronger person. You don’t necessarily like the experience; you just know that you’ll learn from it and you’ll apply that new knowledge to other tough challenges.

5 Ways to Embrace the Suck

Ron Alvesteffer, a leadership development expert, has identified five ways to embrace the suck.

  1. Surround yourself with people who cause you to grow. Aligning with people who quit, hate, or deflate under pressure will bring you down with them.
  2. Change your mindset. Silence the voice of doubt. Excuses are unacceptable. Resolve not to take the easy way out.
  3. Own your physical, mental, and emotional powers. Own your attitude, your drive, your performance and your results. Don’t blame others.
  4. Get incremental. Obstacles are manageable in small bites. Celebrate the small victories.
  5. Make definitive decisions. Accept that failure and success are the results of decisions made along the way. Decide to persevere.

And You?

How do you deal with adversity? Do you embrace the suck? If so, how?

Do you grit your teeth and struggle through, knowing that someday soon you’ll get through it?

Or do you embrace that adversity, relishing the tough times, knowing that valuable lessons await?


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