It’s a phrase that creates suspense in a movie, but in reality we never want it announced by the pilot. They are perhaps the last words heard on the black box that records the dialogue taking place in the cockpit before a crash. Whether caused by engine failure, a bird strike, bad weather, or human error, ‘brace for impact’ is a call to enter a protective posture to increase the rate of survival.
According to Wikipedia the brace for impact procedure is as follows:
- Place your head on or as close as possible to the closest surface it will most likely strike first.
- Lean or bend over as close as possible to your thighs to avoid jackknifing.
- Place your feet flat on the floor.
Some athletes have ended up in financial ruin as they were not prepared for the impact that came as a result of ‘making it’. They reached the top of their respective sport but a lack of readiness for the avalanche of fortune, fame, attention, and criticism, left them bankrupt. One such athlete is Antoine Walker of the Boston Celtics who in his NBA career made over $108 million in contract money. Two years after leaving professional basketball, he had lost it all. He turned his story around after paying back his debts and is now using his experience as an instructional tool to teach young athletes how to brace for impact.
To brace for impact in life; strengthen the core, be pliable in the grind, and stay grounded in gratitude.
According to the Mayo Clinic, core exercises are crucial to improving balance, stability, as well as creating harmony in the muscles in your pelvis, hips, abdomen, and lower back. Your values are your core strengths. They are the non-negotiables that you carry with you wherever you go. Do you have any? When I was younger, a phrase was embedded in me by my parents each time I left the house, “Remember who you are.” It became a rhythm for living that I carry with me to this day. Incidentally, this is also one of my favorite lines in the movie The Lion King. It’s possible to drown in the demands of perfection, living up to standards of comparison, and other people’s expectations of us that it blurs the image of who we really are. But by strengthening the core, we can steady the controls and stay in flight.
The word grind is used to describe the hard work being put in to achieve a goal. It’s not unusual for someone to respond with “on my grind” when you ask them how they are doing. We should aim to never be driven by our goals and what we want to achieve to the extent that we lose compassion and concern for others. To be pliable means our hearts are soft enough to see and meet other people’s needs. (Note to self: I expand my capacity to do as I show concern and compassion for others). The story of the Good Samaritan told in the Bible by Jesus teaches us how to remain pliable in the grind.
“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was a neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:30-36)
We can conclude from the story that these four men were on their grind, but one of them fell and was in need. It could have happened to any of them. It can happen to any of us. Two men saw the situation but kept on moving, but one man had the compassion to pause from his grind, get down from his animal and reach out to help the man in need. It’s interesting to note that priest and were in closer proximity to the man because they were walking but the Samaritan was riding on an animal placing him on a higher place. Rigidity is one of the biggest limitations to lengthening our reach. How pliable are you?
Our thoughts often get consumed with what we have not achieved and how much further along we should be in life while blinded to the progress we have made. We place undue pressure on ourselves that could potentially push us to a breaking point. Being grounded in gratitude is a prophylactic against getting overwhelmed and quitting. The more grateful you are for how far you’ve come, the more clearer you see your way, and the more hopeful you get to be. Gratitude acts as a shock absorber for the delays, denials, disappointments, and discouragements on your path. Don’t wait to celebrate; be thankful on the path and you will find as much joy and pleasure in the journey as the destination. Can you find something to celebrate now? Let me start by saying you are doing better than you think you are. Take a step back, pause and celebrate!
Build the necessary posture that will keep you from becoming a casualty in life. Brace for impact!
Keep on keeping on!
Waiyaki M. Waiyaki
“Live by Design not by Default”
Library of References