Strength means letting go.

Posted by Luke McMeeken-Ruscoe on


It is troubling how much coverage we give the US election. It is more troubling the current narrative that Biden is being weak by trying to reconcile and compromise. The idea that strength is about power and domination is an insidious idea, but power manifests itself in more ways than physical strength.

A little peek behind the curtain, I left my job to launch Straightface. I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to set up the business correctly and then I was going to go back and get a job to pay the bills while I kept working on Straightface.

The joke was on me, after picking up some consulting work before Christmas last year, all the hiring stops. Then, when it was getting back up and running I didn't get many interviews and the few I did get I scared people.

This is where the illusion of strength works against me. I am the size that scares people in elevators. I have had many people gasp and grab at their heart when the doors open and they get an eyeful of chest and have to crane their neck upwards to look at me. I mean I am not that big but I guess I am big enough.

And here again, trying to find a job it hurts me. I have a friend who is also building a business. He said I would be perfect for an exec in his team once the business grows in 12 to 18 months because I can do the job, but as important to him, I look the part. 

This is what scares the managers I get in front of. I will take their power because I am an archetypal looking tall straight white male in a tailored suit. This is where the notion of strength and power gets confused. Strong people help others. The idea of a leader is to elevate people. Pick people up with their strength. The people that I scare don't have any strength and so they cling on to power.

I was working at Weta Digital and one of the animators there was over a foot shorter than me. He mentioned it one day in passing and how intimating I was because of my height. I reframed the whole experience. I told him that he is better at his job than I am at mine and that he could get me fired but I couldn't get him fired. His whole body transformed unconsciously, he stood up taller, his chest puffed out, he took up more space, he felt better about himself, and that was my job, to get the best out of people. It's something I think I am quite good at, and why I find it frustrating not being able to get a job.

Recently Stuff started to look at their biases and racial profiling of Maori in their publications, and they found some very uncomfortable things. I was profoundly impressed that they even went there. It takes a lot of strength to admit your failings and to bring them up for everyone to see. We are all fallible, but it's the acknowledgement of our failings that allow us to work on them and grow as people, teams, and communities.

We all have areas of our lives where we have strength or expertise. Use your strength in whatever area you have to raise people up, support them, carry the burden that they can't. A leaders job is not to be the best at everything, it is to be the best helper. Let go of the need to control and focus on making people great.


I love fresh fruit. The recent Strawberries have been amazing and I splashed out on some raspberries over the weekend. Damn, do I love fresh fruit. I could live on it. Amazing.

I am also thankful for my body this morning. I have been sleeping very badly in this humidity in Auckland. I am built for the cold, not the tropics, and so this morning when getting up for the gym I did not feel motivated or strong.

Lifting heavy is a mental challenge just as much as it is physical. I didn't think I would go that heavy but, even though my deadlifts weren't feeling good, the weight kept moving so I kept adding to it. I worked up to a new personal best of 247.5kgs without a belt. Those 6 plates on either side or 260kgs are in my sights. I think if I wore a belt I could get there but will see how much more my body can handle beltless first.

Shave well, be awesome, use your strength to lift someone else up.


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