Always Deserve the Leather Pants

Always Deserve the Leather Pants

Tell me what you want, what you really really want…

Franklin Roosevelt ran the country while paralyzed from the waist down.  Muggsy Bogues ran the basketball court while 5’3”.  JK Rowling ran the bestseller table after writing Harry Potter while on welfare.  These stories are well-trodden, and maybe more than a little massaged by history and a top-notch public relationship department.  But, if you spend a little time on social media, you’ll also see stories about everyday heroes who accomplish extraordinary things: veterans with battlefield spinal cord injuries who walk their daughters down the aisle, once-impoverished immigrants who defy the odds to build multi-million dollar companies, and 80-year-olds who cross finish lines of marathons.

The stories we know allow us space for excuses — “well, King George VI had a stammer, but he was still the King of England, so it didn’t matter” — but what of these other stories we don’t know and come across while scrolling through Facebook on our commute?  Why are you still struggling to lose those ten pounds, master that new skill, or get the promotion when that 93-year-old grandmother of twelve just finished the Iditarod?

The answer is two-fold.  First, they wanted it.  I mean, they really, really wanted it.  They wanted it more than they wanted anything else.  They wanted it more than anyone has ever wanted anything in the history of wanting stuff.  They wanted it more than you.

Second, they could both envision success and feel certainty that they deserved success if they worked hard enough to achieve it.  They may have been humbled by their goal — think of most any legendary athletic success story, and try to remember one that doesn’t start with a healthy fear of an audacious goal and a series of ass-handing defeats — but they respected their goal enough to take it seriously.  And because they did, they were willing to do the hard yards, day in and day out, in the dark, and when no one was giving them credit.  They respected the goal and they respected themselves enough to know that success lay not in the final moments of achievement, but in the inches and days of the months and years of preparation.

But what if you aren’t a serious athlete in pursuit of gold?  

Recently, a friend was bemoaning her difficulty in losing those last few nagging pregnancy pounds.   “It’s too hard to lose the weight,” she said, “because I just can’t seem to stop eating the leftovers off of my kids plates.  A little bite here, a little bite there.  Sometimes, after a hard day, it’s just too hard to resist.”

I simply shrugged and told her that she will lose the weight when and only when she envisions it and feels like she deserves success for putting in the work.   “Which do you deserve more,” I asked, “A cold, half-eaten chicken nugget, or leather pants.”

Yeah, it sucks.  Yeah, it’s not fun.  Yeah, it takes sacrifice.  But the hard yards, the dark yards, the lonely yards fade away to memory when you are standing on the victory podium, accepting that promotion, and, fuck yeah, shimmying your way into those hot leather pants.  And, I’d argue, that success is all the sweeter for knowing that you made it happen.

When in doubt, always deserve the leather pants.

Laura Gassner Otting
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