The tough keep going through tough times
In my years as an athlete and as a Medical Exercise Specialist, I’ve known people who you would refer to as “tough.” They are the ones you can rely on, no matter the circumstances. They never waver and they stay on task at all times. For the athletes, they continue to compete regardless of setbacks or pain. For the medical exercise clients, they are the ones who do their homework ... always. Not “feeling like it” is irrelevant to them. They just do what needs to be done.
Of the athletes and clients I’ve known, there is one who stands out as being exceptional for his ability to persevere and stay on task. Gord Waddell is the owner of United Family Martial Arts on Dundurn Street in Hamilton. In the 12 years that I’ve known him, he’s been a training partner, a one-time client and a friend. He is a big man with a shaved head, a goatee and a booming voice. He is also tough. Very tough.
Earlier in life, Gord was a chef, but for the past 23 years he has been involved in martial arts and has won two world karate championships and competed in tournaments around North America. Like all athletes in contact sports, he has suffered through a long list of injuries and has had eight surgeries to correct them. These days, Gord is “Sensei” to his students and he continues to inspire with his work ethic as well as his commitment to helping people become better versions of themselves both in martial arts and in life.
As part of today’s column, I asked Gord for an insight into his mindset and how he has managed to stay positive despite all the physical trauma that he’s suffered to win world titles, build a successful business and live a happy life as a husband and father. Here are five essential points he outlined to help anyone keep going when all they feel like doing is stopping.
1. Always listen to your doctor and follow the plan laid out for your recovery. At the same time, make it clear that you are determined to return to health as quickly as possible.
2. Set goals for yourself beyond just “getting better.” Visualize yourself doing whatever it is that you want to do after your rehabilitation. Think more of the outcomes, not the processes.
3. Focus on what you CAN do. When he was recovering from foot surgery, Gord spent extra time performing upper body workouts; when his shoulder was repaired, he did more leg work and cardiovascular training.
4. Lead by example. After each surgery, Gord would remind himself that there were others watching him. He told himself that if he gave up, it would give his students the permission to give up on themselves. Think of yourself as a leader with others looking to you for inspiration.
5. Keep things in perspective. As much as you might be hurting, there is always someone who has it much worse than you do.
Mental toughness is an innate quality to some, but it is also a skill that can be mastered by anyone. Use the strategies mentioned to make yourself better at staying on task despite the physical pain and challenge you might be experiencing. There is a saying that is worth repeating: Tough times don’t last but tough people do.