Jason Mueller and I first became acquainted in 2009 by our mutual interest in coaching folks in career transition. What I appreciate most about Jason is his ability to completely surrender to the process, have faith in the outcome, and rise above dismal circumstances. He is a quirky optimist and a good friend. I am happy to introduce you to his work.
“Well, just keep swinging.”
My dad used to always say that to me if something was challenging or there was a rough patch I was going through. I could bet on him telling me to “just keep swinging.” I have to admit it wasn’t until after 10 years of hearing him say that that I really started thinking about it. And it wasn’t much before 15 years of hearing that when I really felt prompted to analyze it.
Let me give you some background.
I had a great uncle who had some semi-pro boxing experience and competed in golden gloves. I believe he was in the Chicago area at the time. Earlier generations of my family were always following the fights, and that carried through to my younger years. My dad and I used to get together and watch the heavy weight fights on pay-per-view back in the 90’s. (And yes I remember seeing the infamous Tyson vs. Holyfield fight!)
Boxing was a family interest. We all learned at least some basics from it. Like the basic stance and how to work a heavy bag. But what my family also learned was the importance of having endurance. Both in training and in life. If you can’t last more than 180 seconds, then you’re not going to do very well in your training. If you aren’t resilient or persistent in training, then you may struggle in life as well.
Everyone goes through challenges and lessons they need to learn. Sometimes it’s not easy. This is where persistence pays off.
Let me share a few lessons I learned from this.
Change your method and you may get the result.
As a kid, I struggled with asthma and that carried into teen years. Running units in gym class were dreadful and the soccer units were only marginally better. When I was younger, I thought that if I couldn’t breathe then why should I even try?
By 19, I decided I had enough of that state of mind so I sought out different treatments for asthma as well as various forms of cardio. After a few tries, I did find an inhaler that worked and discovered some forms of exercise that allowed me to have a cardio workout that helped build up my endurance.
I was amazed I found something that worked when I thought I’d never be able to do endurance training. As I built my endurance more, I tried running cross country. The combination of increased endurance and the right medical treatment led to better results and new possibilities. I’m glad I didn’t settle for what I thought I was stuck with at the time and that I strived for something better. I kept trying.
Just keep swinging!
Between the stream and the rock, the stream will always win by its perseverance.
My first management job out of college I worked at for a long time. After 7 years there, I was not enjoying what I did anymore. I loved aspects of it, but dreaded others. So I knew it was time for me to move on and I left.
For me, coming to terms with that was challenging. Especially when I had the comfort of knowing an organization so well, and the systems and people that made it run. The people part of it was the most difficult reason to walk away from my role. But sometimes you just know when it’s time to leave.
I transitioned out of the job by looking for other positions while I was still working 60 hours a week. It was pretty grueling to stay on track with finding new opportunities in the area as well as maintaining the responsibilities of my role at that time.
And of course my dad was there to remind me that even though it was challenging in that moment, it was only temporary and wouldn’t last forever. He was right. It was only temporary and I did find another position within 4 months that paid 33% more with 25% fewer hours. I just had to hang in there.
Just keep swinging!
You aren’t always destined to win in the first round.
A few years after that, my dad and I were talking about some of the Muhammad Ali fights that were memorable (okay, I know that’s a long list) and one stood out to me.
Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) vs. Henry Cooper in 1963 surprises me more than most. In the end of the 4th round, Cooper gives Clay a devastating left hook and Ali crumbles onto the ropes but is saved by the bell. It would look like Cooper should win the fight in the early 5th after the effects of what just happened. Instead, Ali boxes his way through the 5th. As hard as Cooper tried to land a finishing hit, Ali just kept dodging, throwing his punches and persevering. Finally the ref ended the fight as Cooper sustained an injury that didn’t allow him to continue. But had Ali given in, he never would have made it to that point. He just kept trying and eventually the victory was his.
Just keep swinging!
I leave with you these three great lessons.
These lessons have given me a lot more perspective in overcoming obstacles and dealing with challenges. I’m glad I had my dad’s mantra repeated to me countless years (even when I wasn’t really paying attention) because it finally sunk in when I really needed it most.
Change your method and you may get the result. In high school I never thought I’d be a runner but after approaching cardio from different angles, I did find ways to build up endurance and eventually become a runner.
Between the stream and the rock, the stream will always win by its perseverance. As H. Jackson Brown said, “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock the stream always wins, not by strength but by perseverance.” Sometimes it’s great strength that wins, but sometimes lesser strength endured over a longer time can be just as successful.
You aren’t always destined to win in the first round. Sometimes you need to hang on until the 5th round or later to overcome the obstacle.
You don’t always know when you’re supposed to win but you certainly can choose to keep trying. And sometimes that’s all it takes.
Jason Mueller is a business and career coach in southeast Wisconsin. He brings educational programming to local entrepreneurs as a Program Manager in the Milwaukee Small Business Development Center. You can connect with Jason on blog.or at his
Photo credit: cliff1066â„¢