My dad is a hammer...he's always been like that. As a kid, he was sometimes a claw hammer and sometimes a sledgehammer, but a hammer nonetheless. Dad is an example of working hard; of never quitting. More importantly than work ethic, dad instilled a love (bordering on idolatry) of the truth. Love truth...despise lies. That's what makes him one of the hammers in my life. Doing something stupid? Don't worry, he'll let you know. Being lazy? He'll let you know when to get off you butt. Hammers are those wise people in your life that will not only speak the truth to you, but will also tell it to you in the way you need to hear.
In high school I had a lot of awesome teachers...Lord...that was 20 years ago now. I remember every single one of them, but Mr. Gene Smith likely left the strongest impact from the very first time he said, "Bobby...you're being a moron." I still remember one time that I got in trouble. Mr. Smith put me in my place with firm truth. He told me what I needed to hear at a time when I didn't want to hear it, but in a way that I listened.
The year prior to my blackbelt test was memorable for a lot of reasons, but the one interaction that sticks out the most was when I was worked through some kata with my teacher, Shihan Cathy Melanson. After working hard through a few kata, Shihan walked up, said "That was really disappointing" and then we went on and continued training with the rest of the class. I was crushed. I even cried on the drive home. That word..."disappointing" was so heavy. Shihan dropped that word like a hammer driving a loose nail into the floor.
We need hammers in our lives. Hammers serve two main purposes: they either drive nails or pull them out. We need those people (actually just one close person) who know us well; who know our potential and will challenge our shortcomings (nails) with honesty. The problem is...we get comfortable and don't like to be challenged or pushed. That's why it's all the more important to find one person, just one, who can serve as that hammer. Invite the criticism. Invite the honesty. Welcome the wisdom.
Who's your hammer?