Chapter Samples

When You Can’t Do Anymore You Still Have More to Give

Before you quit,


Ernest Hemingway

Do you remember doing leg lifts in practice?

I do.

“We’re going to do ten one-minute leg raises, with 30 seconds rest in between sets,” my high school coach would yell out at the end of practice.

The first eight sets would hurt, but I was able to do them without having to reach down.

But by the ninth set, my core would ache, my body would tremble, and time would stand still.

But somehow, I got through it.

After the ninth torturous set, my coach finally yelled, “Down.”

The final 30 seconds of rest seemed non-existent.

“Up,” my coach demanded for the last time.

“Hold ‘em.”

“Hold ‘em,” my coach would encourage us as he knew most of us were at our breaking points still with time remaining.

“30 seconds to go.”

Half the room started to cheat by putting their hands under their hips for leverage.

The other half shimmied from side to side to transfer the pain,

“Hold ‘em,” my coach went on.

24 of the 30 wrestlers in the room dropped their legs down with a thump and a groan precisely at the one-minute mark. They didn’t wait for coaches call of “Down,” they were counting down every second remaining themselves.

“Hold ‘em,” my coach yelled out, ignoring the wrestlers who dropped their legs on their own at the 1-minute mark and concentrated on the remaining wrestlers willing to go past their mental boundaries.

“Hold ‘em,” he continued.

Another minute past.

“You got this,” he encouraged.

Two more wrestlers had enough and dropped their legs.

Sweat exuded from my forehead as I clenched down with such intensity.

“Hold ‘em; you can’t drop now you’ve come this far.”

Another two wrestlers ignored his advice and dropped their legs two minutes past the originally forecasted time.

They rolled over in pain and regret.

Now there are only two wrestlers left.

And I am one of them.

We are both well past our expectations to the pain of the torture of going past the promised time.

It is now 1 on 1.

“There is no way I am going to work this hard and then let someone beat me.”

“There was no way I am going to suffer just to come in second,” I say to myself in my mind.

I knew I’d never remember the suffering after I won, and I would always be acutely aware of it if I didn’t.

There is no way I’m going to drop my legs now.

I’ve already suffered.

Now I want the prize.

At the 5-minute mark, I catch my 2nd wind.

I focus my mind and concentrate on a happy place.

Suddenly, I am lying on the beach, soaking in the sun.

I feel like I can go on forever.

That feeling lasts only a minute.

At the 6-minute mark, intense fatigue takes over.

I feel like I can’t hold up my legs for another second.

I no longer can feel my lower extremities.

I am beyond pain.

I am numb to suffering.

I hear a thud.

Someone’s legs have hit the ground, hard with a massive release.

I pray they weren’t mine.

I unclench my eyes.

It wasn’t me.

My legs are still a micro inch off the mat.

The other wrestler finally conceded, he elected to suffer and take 2nd place.

I refused to.

“You can drop your legs now,” my coach yells out.

I catch my 3rd wind.

“If I’ve gone this far, I might as well go further,” I answer.

“I’ve done all this work. There will never be another time that I will have this much work put in so I might as well see how far I can go.”

Just a few seconds ago I didn’t know if I could go on for another second, now suddenly, I have more to give.

So, I do.

Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

They say when someone is stranded at sea wandering in the middle of nowhere, with no hope of rescue or energy left to survive even one more second, that they get revitalized when land off the horizon suddenly becomes visible to their eye.

It doesn’t matter that the land viewed off the horizon is at the very least, eight miles away.

Eight miles is a significant distance.

It requires significant energy to swim eight miles.

It doesn’t matter.

Now the mind is locked in on its targets.

Land is visible.

It’s doable.

And with the resurgence of energy, of will, of determination, rescue is believed to be within reach.

When you get to the point of feeling you can’t do anymore, keep your eye open for land on the horizon.

You will have more to give.

This is a chapter excerpt from
Wrestling Rules for Life

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