You Getting Better or Bitter?

Posted on May 28, 2020

Ryan Stewman



I want to share a story with you from one warrior to another about the road to Mental Toughness. I want to illustrate the fine line between making excuses and breaking roadblocks for your long term success.


Learning how to make a small choice, living with its consequences, and growing faith in myself in the process.


Most of my life, I’ve been gifted.


Gifted with the willingness to tell a story, gifted with the opportunity to be the “deciding factor” in a stressful sports game, gifted with confidence, gifted with a willingness to try things outside my comfort zone.


For a lot of those years, I lived inside of those gifts by having a high opinion of myself. Comparing myself to others around me gave me the sense that I was among the elite in my circle.


Hell, all I had to do was look at the results I achieved compared to them to know.  If someone was better than me at something, I’d justify it by telling myself, “I’m better than them at this.”


All of that changed in the Spring of 1992. I was the 4th leg of a 1600 meter track meet at college. I was called the “anchor” because it was my job to finish the race and make up any ground once the baton was passed to me and bring home the victory for our team.


I remember as the baton was given to me, second out of 4 teams, that I was in prime position to drift with the lead runner until the final 50 meters.


Then, it was just a 50-meter sprint to 1st place and glory for our team and, more importantly, for me.

You Getting Better or Bitter?

As we rounded the 3rd bend with 100 meters left, I was still in second.


As we approached 75 meters, it became a 4-way tie for first.


As we approached 50 meters, and the time to turn on the gas, I was dead last by at least 3 meters.


Somewhere around the 25-meter mark…I checked out, and I pulled up gimp and PRETENDED to have sprained my ankle.


I already “knew” I wasn’t going to win…and my ego wasn’t about to let me show defeat without cause, so I created one.

Boy has that shown up in my life in various ways since…pulling up gimp.

Over and over again, when the going got too tough, I bailed. With family, my friends, even my wife. Yet there was one area I didn’t bail. One place that I have always paid the full price and that was my business.


It was this one place that has allowed me to see the difference between really winning and forever struggling.


Simply stated…it’s the only area I have never made an excuse. The single place where the results, the “buck,” the responsibility is all mine. Even when it wasn’t my fault, I have always known the client doesn’t care.


I own the business, I made the agreement, I signed MY NAME on the dotted line, and it’s up to me to make things right.


As I started looking at the other areas of my life, my family, my fitness, even my mindset…I saw where I made small excuses for myself. Places where I made it okay to bail because of someone else’s words or actions.


“Well, if she just understood MY side…”


“I’ll focus on my health and physique again…once I clear this hurdle.”


“How come I always have to be the voice of reason here, why am I not heard?”


I could go on and on with the conversations inside my own mind. Still, I was justifying my actions, or better, lack thereof, by leaning on resentment and bitterness.


The very thing that created success in business for me was the single habit I didn’t use in the other areas of my life.


I wonder if you can relate?


If so, I have a takeaway that I’ve learned to utilize every day that is giving me the same results in my personal life and business life.

It’s ALL my fault.

See, that cookie, that drink, that argument only controls my choices when I give power it. The slippery road to giving power to something is the moment we begin to justify our emotions toward it.


Things like, “I can have a drink (or 7). If she hadn’t started yelling when I got home, I wouldn’t…but she did…so I will.” Or, “What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”


The bottom line is we often justify our actions, and ultimately our habits, by giving someone else or some other circumstance, our power. We have the best of intentions, but horrible follow through.


If you find yourself falling into the trap of bitterness…hell, if you just don’t have the success you really want and truly deserve in all areas of your life…there’s hope, and here’s how you can begin today:


CHOOSE the right behavior over something small before you have to make a decision later. It’s that simple. If you eat snacks and you’re overweight…choose tonight to NOT have one…no matter what.


If you drink a lot, especially when you get into an argument or feel stress…choose tonight as the night you’ll do anything BUT have that drink.


If you’re in a relationship and you know tonight that the fight is coming…choose tonight NOT to respond except to listen and let your partner know they’re heard.


The simple reason is that it begins to give your power back to YOU. You will learn that amidst the pain, you not only survived, you also maintained your word to yourself. You resisted the cookie, the drink, the fight.


It allows you to begin to rebuild integrity with yourself. It will enable you to be able to trust yourself and your word…that you CAN.


To take that small action, you will naturally begin to let go of bitterness…and you’ll start to feel better.


In feeling better…you’ll begin to respond better, and as you respond better…you’ll start to get better results.


Simple, effective, and life-changing. Quit trying to change the world…have enough guts to be counter-intuitive and make a small choice today to change yourself. Let today be the first day you finally take back your birthright…let your choices be yours.


See ya’ in the trenches…

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