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Embrace the Suck

Glass eaters of the world just know how to get it done

You’ve seen it on t-shirts, hats and memes. You may know it as suck it up buttercup, quit your whining, get your crap together, git’er done, etc. Better known as embrace the suck. If you're into weight training, running, hunting, fishing or any other activity that requires physical fortitude you know it to be true. Also, if it has tires, wires or connected to anything political you know the embrace the suck mantra is alive and well there too.

On a serious note, ETS (Embrace The Suck) has gotten us out of trouble in more ways than one. What is ETS, why is it important, how do we use it and how do we excel at it? According to the all knowing & ever so inciteful website called the Urban Dictionary, Embrace the Suck means: Verb, Military Slang: To consciously accept or appreciate something that is extremely unpleasant but unavoidable for forward progress.

Stuck in traffic with your AC on and your complaining. Think of our U.S. Military next time.

For the casual person who hunts and fishes now and then it’s prolly not a big deal. For those who choose otherwise, you know the ETS test. More than likely you have been put to the ETS test. If you're reading this, you may even have passed the ETS test. However, you're smart enough to know that there are many more ETS tests to come.

From my own personal archive, ETS has bitten me a few times. A few years back I was running some backroads in the heart of Upper Michigan in search of some hidden trout streams with my beloved wife. On a 4th of July with the air temp at 97 degrees on a dusty one lane logging road we blew a tire on our Jeep Liberty. I look over at my wife and I’m like no big deal. Change the tire and we will be on our way. Come to find out, the spare tire is also flat. Nice... really really nice... happier than a skunk eating bumblebees on a Sunday afternoon. *Sarcasm*

Cell phones in this part of Upper Michigan had no service and the closest paved road was five miles away according to the map & the closest residence was 15 miles away. To make matters a little more sticky, we had a half a bottle of water left to share between my wife and myself on this scorching hot day. Under prepared was an understatement.

The calculations of getting out of this situation took about 2 seconds to compute. The choice was to ride the flat spare tire, which was essentially a rubber coated rim all the way back to the home cabin which was 40 miles away. At an average speed of 10 mph, it took a bit.

My initial worry was dying of dehydration and my final worry was how much damage did I do to the rim. With a worry somewhere in the middle in regards to whether the hazard lights were going to burn up all the blinker fluid for the long drive back. You know as well as I do that if your blinkers don’t work, there is cause for concern of a vehicular accident. My wife did not find my humor for blinker fluid funny nor serious.

What was interesting in all this panic and self demise is that things turned out fairly well. After getting back to the cabin I was able to use an air compressor to top the spare tire off. I humped the Jeep 20 miles to the closest garage and the next day later I had 4 brand new tires. I also looked at every bottle of water that I consumed the rest of that summer with a little more appreciation.

Sure we all have our bad days and some would say Monday mornings and ripping our favorite hunting pants on barbed wire is a form of ETS. However, the truest form of ETS has one thing in common. There is no outlet.

A predatory animal is the most dangerous when it is cornered. It has no other option but to fight, bite, scratch and do whatever it needs to do to survive. Humans are no different. When your back is against the wall, you will be at your best. Your mind will be sharp & your flight and fight response will be in full gear. Can we place ourselves in that mindset without being in that situation?

We have to practice the suck to embrace it, starting with our mind. There are people who complain about everything, even when they are in a great situation. These are the people who will complain about the mosquitos on a fishing trip, or that the weather is too warm in the middle of bowhunting the rut. Most would love to be in that position even though it’s not ideal. When things really go haywire these individuals crack under pressure.

The opposite is the individual who actually enjoys and laughs at the nuances of life. When things go bad they welcome it. They embrace the suck because to them it doesn’t suck. They have already accepted that bad things are going to happen and they actually get a thrill of overcoming those obstacles and getting through those bad times.

The interesting part is the more time you spend deliberately practicing, the more comfortable you’ll become with being uncomfortable. Learn to be uncomfortable, even look for being uncomfortable. Seek it out.

A few years back I started to set floors. Meaning if I told myself I was going to sit in a tree stand till 11 a.m. I never would allow myself to leave even a second early. It had to be 11 a.m. If I was fishing I told myself that I had to have my limit before I came off the water. Where this mindset really shines is in the gym. If I say that I need to hit a certain amount of reps with a certain amount of weight I make sure I get it done.

You create discipline and confidence with these mini wins. Sometimes a hunt or fishing trip isn’t about the actual kill but practicing the ETS mindset. On one opening day gun hunt it was -10 degrees at first light. This was before I had the cold weather clothing that I do now. I told myself that if I could just sit till 10 a.m. I will be satisfied with my opening morning. At 9 a.m. my feet and fingers were numb and I would shiver uncontrollably at times. I wanted to get down so bad but I told myself I had to sit till 10 a.m. no matter what. Around 9:30 a.m. another hunter came through this public land cutover I was hunting and kicked up a big 8 pointer that I ended up harvesting. The cold got the other guy moving and my mindset of ETS till at least 10 a.m. got me the buck.

Yours truly embracing the cold on early November sit.

As humans, we’re wired to want to do the easiest thing at all times in order to conserve energy. Put more simply, it’s in our nature to be lazy. We have to overcome laziness and never let it seep into our mindset.

Enough of what ETS is. How do we strategically “Embrace the Suck”? Here are 9 points that you can perform yourself.

  1. Set floors. You say you're going to workout for 1 hour? Then you do just that and not a second short of an hour.

  2. Set short term, reachable goals. These create mini wins which creates confidence which in turn creates mental toughness.

  3. Surround yourself with other ETS individuals. People are attracted to the glass eaters of the world.

  4. Be grateful for what you have and where you are. Grateful people are just happy to be alive so they can embrace the suck.

  5. Think about your lowest moments that you overcame when your mind is in the gutter. Realize that if you overcame an obstacle in the past that you overcome it again.

  6. Do not allow yourself an outlet. Whatever needs to be done or fixed, get it done now. A lot of procrastinators struggle with ETS because they allow themselves an outlet. Don’t allow outlets.

  7. Eat right and work out. There is something about working out on a regular basis that makes everything in life so much easier.

  8. Keep your negative words & thoughts to yourself. The biggest whiners do just that, they whine out loud and want everyone to know about their misery. Zip the lip and keep your head up and micro focus on what needs to be done.

  9. Realize you're not alone. I guarantee whatever B.S. problem you think you ever had, thousands of more individuals have also experienced it. The “woe is me” person views himself as the only person that is having his current issue of bad luck and because of this mindset will falter. Think about some of the tribulations that Lewis & Clark had to deal with crossing this great country or any other great feat by a respected individual and your situation will not seem so bleak.

If you hunt, fish or workout you understand the “Embrace the Suck” mantra. It’s almost inevitable. The key is to identify if you’re one of these negative individuals and if you need to start making that change. Practice on the little problems in life. Accept them. Welcome them. Ask for them. Demand them. They are there for a reason and that is to make you stronger. Who doesn’t want to be stronger? Embrace the Suck. You will be better off because of it.

-Clint Ward

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