In the film “Big Game” the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson) while running for his life explains about looking tough to a 13-year-old boy he met in the woods. It’s a very interesting conversation. Jackson tells the little boy, “Sometimes you don’t have to be tough. You just have to look tough.” Later in that film, the boy convinces the President to push a refrigerator over a cliff with the two of them inside it. He tells, “Mr. President, instead of looking tough, we have to be tough!” He saves the President’s life ultimately.
We are like that president sometimes. We are happy looking tough instead of being tough. The problem is when tough times come you will fail to maintain that appearance. Your cover will collapse and people will know you are not as tough as you look. There are many things you can do to look tough today. Shaving your head, growing a beard, gaining muscles, or getting a tattoo. I am not saying they are wrong, but they don’t make you tough inwardly as much as they do outwardly. So today let me show you the four inward qualities of a tough guy.
Note: I am responsible for coordinating volunteers for carrying out temperature checks every Sunday at a large church in Colombo, Sri Lanka. This post is based on the experience I gained while on the job.
A Tough Guy Shows Empathy
While carrying out temperature checks I encounter bad-tempered irritable people sometimes. I used to feel an irresistible urge to tell them to “Go to Hell!” or “Get Lost!” when that happens. If I speak freely, I have said that thousand times in my heart although not with my mouth! Then I understood. These people have been under so much pressure at work and home for six days of the week. They don’t leave their frustrations of life back home when coming to church. It’s natural for them to take their frustration out on me.
That’s called empathy. Like Miley Cyrus sang, “Everybody makes mistakes – Everybody has those days – because nobody’s perfect” After all the church is not a hotel for the perfect. It’s a hospital for the imperfect. I would look tough if I cursed the grumpy and the annoying, but will they ever want to come to church again? When offended we like to talk back or do tit for tat because we want to show who’s the boss. On the other hand, if we are tough as much as we like to think we’re, we must show empathy because only tough guys can do so.
A Tough Guy swallows his Ego
P. V. Narasimha Rao, once said, “Politicians should learn to swallow insults!” Likewise, if you want to be a tough guy you must swallow your ego. Another lesson I learned while carrying out temperature checks. In psychology, the ego is “The part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.” When someone offends me it’s that sense of personal identity that gets hurt not feelings. Then to swallow my ego means to stop letting people from hurting my identity!
How do you do that? Is it by taking revenge? Not at all. By blessing them of course! People can call you a “filthy idiot” or “stupid dog”, but you aren’t. Then why get worked out and react like one? Piyal Perera, the brother of the late Sunil Perera once said his brother responded to newspaper editors who hurled insults by sending them a packet of Jujubes and a letter that read, “Thank you for the free publicity! Here’s a small token of appreciation!” That was one hell of a tough guy I’m telling you. The bottom line is a tough guy swallows his ego.
A Tough Guy sets an Example
The movie “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” is a film inspired by true events and tells the story of six soldiers, that faithfully defended a building with civilians inside it, to the last drop of blood until the reinforcements arrive. Compared to the enemy armed to the teeth, these soldiers were outnumbered, equipped only with light weapons, and running out of ammo, trapped inside a building without medical attention. Still, instead of blaming the situation, they took control of the situation.
There are countless Sunday mornings that I carry out temperature checks alone due to the shortage of manpower. People have missed church for months and they are keen to walk into the meeting than volunteer for carrying out temperature checks. When that happens, the urge to wrap it up and walk away is irresistible. Still, I hold the fort because that’s what tough guys do. Shortly afterward people take notice and come to my aid. You see, “Actions Speak Louder than Words.” It’s what tough guys do. They set an example for others to follow.
A Tough Guy Guards his Eyes
This is not my own experience but the experience of a friend who carries out temperature checking at a different church. He said, “Many women in our church drive their small cars to the church. When you stand next to those cars you are in a position that affords a downward view of everyone and everything in that vehicle. Even a woman’s cleavage and exposed thighs sometimes. It’s only a glimpse but a lot can happen in my heart in the blinking of an eye if I allow it. Therefore, I guard my eyes every time I see a lady in a small car.”
I like what he said. He guards his eyes, every time he sees a lady in a small car because a glimpse can go long way. My point is how can I call myself a tough guy if I am having a tough time keeping my eyes from wondering? How can I call myself a tough guy if I can’t even keep my sex drive under control? Many men today blame women on the grounds of immodesty, but I am telling you we need a change of heart more than a change of dress. When we have a change of heart, we can guard our eyes. That’s what tough guys do.
Today Hollywood, Bollywood, Kollywood, and all the woods paint a “tough guy” as a strong man who is not easily injured and can deal with difficult or violent situations. If it was so I am not a tough guy (I am not a 6’ 5” muscular person). It is my understanding you cannot use outward appearance as the measuring rod of toughness because being tough is an inward quality stemming from the heart. I trust these characteristics will help you develop those inner qualities that take to be a tough guy within.
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