The English language has some crazy idioms. To “kick ass” or “kick butt” is one of the more puzzling phrases. The usual explanation regards disciplinary action by naval petty officers or shore patrol. The SP would isolate the ringleaders of a brawl and confiscate their identification cards so an official note could be made; hence, the phrase, “kicking ass and taking names”.
Other sources claim that a “kick in the butt” is derived from the late 1800s phrase “a kick in the pants”. These legends are merely hearsay. Whatever the origin might be, a kick in the ass or butt is certainly rooted in vulgar slang. It’s a phrase I’ve been reluctant to use in mixed company.
Now people are kicking butt or ass in commercials, news commentaries, sports broadcasts, magazine articles, books, and the Web. It’s no longer the exclusive domain of the shore patrol to kick butt.
While it implies a threat of physical violence, in contemporary usage, it now might mean something excellent, for instance, “That new Corvette really kicks butt.” The overuse of the term is taking a lot of the “kick” out of butt kicking.
Since today is National Kick Butt Day, another meaning of butt kicking comes to mind. That is to actively and seriously motivate people to do something. Maybe you endured a sadistic high school phys. ed. teacher or coach who always spouted, “Do I need to kick some butt to get you all to play like winners?” That usually ended with everybody having to run laps around the gym.
Used in the motivational way, kicking butt or ass is a threat by an authority figure. When the coach yells it or your boss threatens employees with it, we know that nobody messes around anymore. Today, Kick Butt Day, means that you can be your own coach or boss.
No, you certainly don’t want to literally commit mayhem or place a foot on anyone’s butt. Today is all about taking action towards an important goal we have made for ourselves, but have been procrastinating over. This is the day we get ourselves to play like winners. It’s the day to move forward with life.
To take the coach metaphor a step further, you can kick butt by saying, “I’m here to play my best.” An effective coach has a powerful, simple philosophy. The coach genuinely would rather have the team play exceedingly well and lose instead of playing wimpy opponents for easy wins. An easy win doesn’t really feel fulfilling. Playing the game the best we know how, against a true adversary, earns us true dignity.
Your inner coach knows that it’s impossible to please everybody. The coach also knows that some “plays” or actions will be understood by everyone. This is when we remember the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I can’t think of a better way to express butt kicking. When you’re facing a situation that you fear the most, that is the situation you most need to resolve as soon as possible.
I wrote out a short list of major chores I’ve been putting off for awhile. I’ve made up my mind not to get distracted by trivial, time wasters. These few things really need to be finished so I can finally feel relief from pressure. When you totally finish a difficult job, don’t you feel wonderful?
Today is the day to start the habit of doing the important stuff first. How can you personally make National Kick Butt Day really kick butt?