The Real Shit Test is People Who Love You

When you want to achieve something or be true to who you are at your best, the universe has a way of seeing if you mean it.

We tend to think of these shit tests as critics, negative experiences, people being rude to you, threats to your reputation, and haters. That’s part of it. But that’s the easy part.

The real shit test is genuine love, care, need, and concern from those close to you.

Tim Grover, trainer to Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and many others, said once he was packing his bag for another work trip. His young daughter came in and asked why he had to travel so much. He said he traveled for work to earn money to pay for food, housing, and everything else for the family. His daughter said, “If I eat less can you be home more?”

Grover said at that point in the story you expect to hear that he stopped packing, cancelled his trip, and found a less demanding job. But he kept packing.

The easy thing is to say he’s an asshole, bad father, selfish jerk, unbalanced, bad prioritization, etc. etc. Too easy. Everyone would call him great if he changed his goals for his daughter’s desire to see him more.

I don’t know if Grover is a good father in other ways, but I know that he was being true to himself by going. He knows who he is. He knows he’s wired to work his ass off with top athletes to get them winning. He knows if he’s not doing that, he’s living a weaker version of his best life.

That’s the hardest test. When good people you love want you to alleviate some of their suffering by abandoning a little bit of who you’re called to be. Of course you’ve gotta fight to discover and rediscover who that is, and you’ve gotta be honest with yourself about what you find. But once you do, giving it up for the temporary comfort of those you love is not doing you or them any real favors. It will win you the easier stuff – love, praise, fuzzy feelings – but it won’t win you the harder stuff, which is your deeper purpose for living.

Taking shit from haters is one thing. Disappointing those who love you is another. If you want it, you’ve gotta really mean it. Sacrifice doesn’t always feel heroic in the moment.