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Suicide, Training & the Understanding that Life is a Fight to the Finish

By Chad Leonard | In Athletic Training | on July 2, 2017

Article By: Chase Jackson

“Progress comes To those who Train and train; Reliance on secret techniques Will get you nowhere.” Morihei Ueshiba Founder of Aikido

I had a good friend commit suicide early this week and it has been really painful. This is someone I grew up, someone I lived with, someone who took a ton of time out of his life to provide guidance to me.

It is painful, and I am going to miss him.

As I move through the grieving process the #1 thing that I keep going back to in my mind is that life does not get easier, there is no end point where we can say “I made it” and then all problems and challenges go away. It is a fight to the finish.

This is why I dedicate every moment of every day to training. Training the body, training the mind, training the spirit. It’s the best way I know how to compete against everything that life throws my way. Life’s not getting any easier so I need to spend my time getting better.

I volunteer as the director of athlete performance for a high school football team in Oakland, California. We are a small school in a rough area with almost nothing for resources. The way we Win is through dedication, commitment, unity and the fact that we work insanely hard in the summer. It’s the only way we can compete with much bigger schools with more resources.

Because we work so hard in the summer many of the players leave practice early, skip out on weight room reps, or not run through all of the sprints.

They think life will be easier if they don’t have to deal with the physical discomfort. They think their life will be easier if they were at home messing around on the phone or playing video games.

This thought process is not unique. We live in a society that tells us that our pain will suddenly go away if we go buy this product, or go on vacation to this place, or if we reaching some personal goal or milestone. It’s absolute bullsh*t.

What my friend’s suicide has brought to the forefront of my attention is that life does not get easier, and if we do not train every day to build skills to attack what life throws at us then it is going to get more and more difficult. Death, pain, anxiety, bills, traffic, fear these are all part of day to day life no matter our color, size, or how much money we make.

Life does not get easier no matter how hard we try. This is a unique part of the human condition, if you try to avoid challenge, pain, and discomfort, it will come anyhow, bringing with it severe and painful lessons. The more you try to dodge these challenges and problems the harder the challenges become.

This is why training is so important. Training provides us the opportunity to create conquerable challenges that give us the strength to conquer the challenges that life brings. Because even though things don’t get easier, we can get better, and by getting strong physically and mentally and building skills consistently we will be able to defend, maneuver and attack everything that life throws our way.

Highly trained people are less likely to break down than untrained people in both the extraordinarily bad circumstances and in dealing with the day to day challenges that life brings.

When I was in college (M.Ed) I studied Mihaly Csikszentmihali and his concept of Flow. Most of us are familiar with this term by now, flow is a peak performance state where people feel and act at their best, think Steph Curry shooting a 3 pointer with a game on the line or Donald Trump negotiating a 500 million dollar real estate deal.

In his book Flow Csikszentmihalyi tells a story about the Shushwap Indians, “The Shushwap region was and is considered by the Indian people to be a rich place: rich in salmon and game, rich in below-ground food resources such as tubers and roots—a plentiful land. In this region, the people would live in permanent village sites and exploit the environs for needed resources. They had elaborate technologies for very effectively using the resources of the environment and perceived their lives as being good and rich. Yet, the elders said, at times the world became too predictable and the challenge began to go out of life. Without challenge, life had no meaning. So the elders, in their wisdom, would decide that the entire village should move, those moves occurring every 25 to 30 years. The entire population would move to a different part of the Shushwap land and there, they found challenge. There were new streams to figure out, new game trails to learn, new areas where the balsamroot would be plentiful. Now life would regain its meaning and be worth living. Everyone would feel rejuvenated and healthy. Incidentally, it also allowed exploited resources in one area to recover after years of harvesting.”

How does that compare to the culture we live in now?

What culture do you think has/had more suicide? More suffering?

We live in a culture that looks down on discipline, practice, training, self-improvement, and mastery. Our culture wants us to imagine that a pain-free comfortable existence is how to achieve happiness and fulfillment.

It’s bullshit and it’s not true.

Our power and fulfillment only comes through training, discipline and our ability to commit to something bigger than ourselves. Whether that’s our team, our family and/or our community.

I was having Thai last night with a friend who was also close to the honorable gentleman who took his life. He brought up the question of why he did it? He didn’t have an answer and I definitely did not have an answer, for a couple of minutes we just sat in the table in silence.

We then strategized about how we would attack life the next time we felt angry, depressed, and lost. It’s going to happen, it’s another part of the human experience it happens to everybody and it will happen again to both of us.

Our solution?

To attack every challenge that life brings our way. Always asking the question “Now what needs to happen?” What’s next? What do I need to do now to respond most powerfully to this situation? What can I do right now to show up better than I have ever shown up before? F*ck my feelings what can I do right now to better my family, my team, my community.

We shook hands right there and made a pact, that in the future the more we feel like sh*t the more committed we will be to the above protocol.

Life is no walk in the park, it is littered with setbacks, losses, disappointment and broken hearts. It is only through the pain of sweat, tears, training, and self-examination that we can hope to right ourselves to be strong enough to battle back against everything that life deals us.

I have no reason why my friend committed suicide and that is not the question that I will be going to bed asking myself tonight.

The question I will be asking is, “Was I better today than yesterday?”

Thanks for taking the time to let me share my feelings and thoughts,

Time to Get Back to Training,


Peak Performance Entrepreneur

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