Success Lesson #6:
Strength is Knowing When to Take a Knee

Mon, Aug 24, 2009

take_a_kneeIn last week’s SSM, we talked about how to move into and beyond the pain—and why it’s so absolutely essential for growth.

This entry prompted many people to question: “Should you always move through the pain?” “Isn’t there a time when we really listen to the pain?”

That’s what makes this week’s SSM so ideally timed. (No, it wasn’t an accident. You’re right.)

This week’s Challenge Wisdom is about trusting yourself and having the Strength to stop and take a knee or perhaps a seat of some sort.

While at a glance it may seem to contradict last week’s message about moving through pain, it’s actually very much in concert with it. For this is about having the awareness, the ruthless sense to know the difference between wanting to stop and needing to stop.

When you’re pushing the limits your mind will be the first to send a limiting message, to exaggerate the hurt, to entice you to slow it down or take a break. If you’ve been training hard or pushing it, you might start justifying taking it easy. The first clue here is the inner message, “because I deserve it.”

“Because I deserve it,” is common trap in Transformation Challenges too. You’ve been making some strides, eating right and training strong. Just as you’re feeling good about your progress out pops the “because I deserve it” excuse. Maybe you’re out with friends or in a social environment of some sort, let this one loose and you’ll regret it.

When I Took a Knee
In my first post in this series, 10 Lessons in Success I Learned from the Triple Bypass, I gave the vivid details of the first place I “took a knee” during this bike ride.

I was nearing the half-way point towards the end of a long, tortuous stretch of road where the pain in my ass, my left little toe, my right big toe, my left shoulder and my lower back all reached threshold at the same time. I’ve been told by many bikers that you can ride through just about anything; cramping, fatigue, dehydration but pain is the beginning to the end. It will stop the strongest riders.

And when I say “pain,” this isn’t the pain one has from pushing themselves. It’s not the burn of a biceps on the 20th rep but more the sort of pain of having something broken. It starts as an ache and grows. I could feel it reaching a threshold where I was certain that it would no longer be a decision if I went forward. Where the pain would literally stop me in my tracks.

Wisely, I stopped, glancing left as a rider in his 60’s moved swiftly by—probably in a dance with his own pain.

I’d already pushed myself physically and was on edge, I had repeatedly tested my mental resolve so I was pretty confident that this wasn’t some wimpy move. Like holding my hand under hot running water there’s a point where it pulls itself out, even if you try to stay.

That’s the threshold and I’d reached it.

I’d been tolerating the increasing pains long enough and had the smarts to realize that allowing them to build was not courageous but bullheaded ego. Just stopping for 30-60 seconds completely changed my outlook and energy; eased my pain and revived my spirit.

Transformation Translation
During any prolonged challenge hold the ever present thought that, “Discretion is the better part of valor.” Know it is not a victory to perish in noble attempt but rather to reach your destination intact. And know when to take a knee…

During a Transformation challenge there will be opportunities to take a knee, when the wise move is to do something different, to take a breath and collect yourself.

This may mean a day off when you’re plan says “on,” or whenever rest is needed over more activity. It could be having a free meal or even a free moment. This is where YOU have to be in charge and attune to your needs.

It’s different for each of us but the most important thing to remember is while you have a plan and are pursuing your goals, you are in charge. It’s your body and life and only you can make the right call for you in the moment.

Here’s to your Strength to Take a Knee Next Time You’re beyond the edge…

Until Next Week,

Stay Strong,
"Shawn" :-)
Follow Me: /Twitter/shawn_phillips

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- who has written 190 posts on Shawn Phillips | Start Strong Monday.

Author, speaker, sprinter, trainer, fitness guru and Integral philosopher...Shawn Phillips

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51 Responses to “Success Lesson #6:
Strength is Knowing When to Take a Knee”

  1. oscar Says:

    Not sure if this is where you are suppoose to submit your answer, but it is … Because I “deserve it”


  2. Chris Baker Says:

    Deserve It


  3. Joe Kummerer Says:

    “Because I deserve it”…

    is this where we answer for the free shirt…?
    I’m probably not in the first five, but what the heck – worth a try…




  4. Shawn Wright Says:

    “Because I deserve it!”. Thanks for making “Full Strength”.

    I was initially part of the “inner circle”, but I reacquired some poor nutritional habits. I stockpiled a bit of a surplus when I quit consuming the shakes regularly (figuratively and literally).

    I have since worked my way back into a groove and will soon be ordering again. I follow your work and appreciate your efforts. I am enjoying your gained insights from the Triple Bypass and can relate from some of my more challenging endeavors. Shawn.


  5. Lawrence Carroll Says:

    because I “deserve it”


  6. Thees Hoft Says:

    “Because I deserve it.” That’s the answer to the question.


  7. Robert E Couture Says:

    deserve it


  8. Polina Reynolds Says:

    “Because I deserve it”


  9. Graylee Santi Says:

    Win One for Yourself Now

    QUESTION: One of the most common “traps” for people in Transformation Challenges is “Because I deserve it”


  10. Rachael Says:

    because i deserve it!


  11. Ace Grulli Says:

    Because I deserve it………….


  12. chris sutton Says:

    good day,
    link to page for eeplying to the t shirt quiz doesn’t work.

    best regards


  13. kelly kaferle Says:

    deserve it


  14. LTC Brian Cook Says:


    Dont know where it should really go..but here is where the hyperlink took me. Anyway not just b/c I deserve it…..but ’cause you would get your word out to the US Army…

    Shawn — your word is inspirational to keep us going in the Courage Battalion as we conduct operations…
    And full strength is what is in many of our tanks as we “execute” in the New Mexican desert near White Sands Missle Range.
    Brian Cook
    Lieutenant Colonel, US Army


    • Shawn Phillips Says:

      @LTC Brian Cook:

      Good Day Sir,

      Great to hear from you. Thanks for playing… you already have a T-shirt coming so no worries. Should be there any moment.

      That’s great! Thank you for inspiring me!

      Can you send me a photo of a Full Strength on / in tank? That’d be COOL!

      PS Let me know if you need more shakers… also, we’ve got have you on the “Full Service Special Pricing!”

      In Strength,


  15. Michael Sikora Jr Says:

    Deserve it.


  16. Brian Desjardins Says:

    the answer to the t-shirt question is CAUSE I ____ DESERVE IT!


  17. Misha Luzov Says:

    …Because I DESERVE IT. ;^)


  18. Roland Says:

    Answer: Because I _deserve_ _it_!

    Cool article Shawn!


  19. david noyes Says:

    Because I deserve it


  20. Mark Says:

    Because I DESERVE IT…


  21. Jerry Says:

    Too often we push for reps and fail to pay attention to form.

    Perfect practice makes perfect. Pavel says to enjoy the pain. He also says leave a couple of reps in the bank. Don’t sacrifice form, stay tight and be safe. If you feel a ding in your shoulder, that’s your body telling you to stop. Check your form. Pay attention to the signals your body tells you. Also, remember to take charge of your training.

    If your Trainer or class is pushing too hard, Shawn’s right, take a breather and jump back in when you’re ready.


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