Defining Tough

What is tough? Is being tough about physical strength? Or endurance? Or how skilled at fighting you are? Or is tough just another mindset? A way to deal with the world as is?
The Tough Guy sez is as much about how we should toughen ourselves to the world around us, as it is a declaration of being around long enough to be considered tough. It’s a way of looking at the world, and sometimes bitching about it, which by the way, is not being tough unless you actually get in a fight and win.
Being tough is more about how much shit you take compared to the amount you give. If you take a lot of shit and do nothing about it, then that is Not Tough. You end up being frustrated and pissed off at whatever is giving you shit. And doing nothing about it makes you more of a flaccid weenie than tough. And word gets around and soon a lot more in life gets tougher than you expect. If you give everybody shit, and they ignore you, then you are more like an asshole than a Tough Guy. If they are listening, however, then you clearly are feared or respected. Sometimes, but not always, fear and respect go hand in hand. Like in the UFC, for example.
Toughness, just like respect, is earned. But toughness is earned by doing the hard things. Like a 10 mile run at 12,000 feet altitude, or grounding your child after the third time disobeying you on something stupid. One just doesn’t become tough overnight either. We are conditioned to find the easy way. The path of least resistance. Not the long arduous way. But it’s the arduous way that builds character and toughness. It’s the journey that makes the man (or woman). And I have met some amazingly tough women in my life. And admire them all for their own unique brand of tough. (Bam, Jenna, Di, Sue, et al).
For The Tough Guy, being tough means killing them with kindness no matter how much of an ass they are. And keeping fit. And expanding my knowledge. And holding on to beliefs even when the world thinks differently. Best example is the stock market. When you see something in a company, but others don’t, or disagree for unqualified reasons, and you still hold your position. That is being tough. Or stupid, depending on who you talk to. As Jim Cramer once said,” how much pain can you take when your stock is down?” For The Tough Guy, the answer is a lot. But for all the pain, The feeling of being right 75% of the time makes it worth it.
To be tough, means to make a plan that works for you, and follow it. That in itself is very tough. It takes dicipline and courage to follow your own plan for life and success. And it is tougher when that plan falls apart. A Tough Guy will either modify the plan, or start from scratch. Either way, the going always starts out tougher than anticipated. And toughness does have to do with the body as much as the mind.
My personal belief is that if you cannot go to a physical maximum effort for 10 minutes without stopping then you are not tough. Not even close. And by physical maximum effort, that is when you are doing something that requires your strength and stamina and both are being pushed to the limit of failure. Like running at top speed for 10 minutes. Or breaking down 10 pallets of 50 lb. boxes as fast as you can. Or keeping the heart rate in the red zone for 10 minutes. That is all tough. And you judge it for yourselves. No two people are alike. And it is your own belief that makes you tough. Not others opinions. They have not got clue one about your own personal toughness.
And a quick note on mental toughness. The three most important words to being tough. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! Never doubt. Just believe. Contemplating suicide? Chickens way out. Dropping out of a tough class? Think about it. The money lost, the time wasted. If you just can’t pass it, then learn from it. What you can and cannot do is being defined. Rework the life plan if you need to. Wanna beat the crap out of someone who gives you a hard time? Violence only solves problems for the stupid. Being tough is as much about smarts as it is physical. But the brain is the most powerful weapon of choice. Use it wisely and toughly. And with care. And take care of it. Think clearly, not with a buzz, when you need to be tough. Give everything you do your best effort. Be it making tacos or designing a new jet engine. When you give you best effort, you EARN the right to be called tough, temporarily. When you do that every day, you ARE tough. Nobody can take that from you.
So chins up, campers! Let’s all start trying to be a little bit better and tougher. Every day. Starting now!


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