We should not dedicate our lives to training. Weather if we’re just gym muscle heads, runners, martial artists, or professional athletes. You should dedicate training to your life. The key is to integrate your mind, body and emotions in your training. Training shouldn’t be the only source of exercise. Vitality is a matter of activity. This can mean parking your car at the furthest parking space, using the stairs instead of the elevator or walking to your grocery store instead of driving. Adding more activity in your daily practice will add years to your life.
Fear of failure creates what you mostly fear. In order to break this cycle we need to look at it more lightly. Practically all great men in history have had failures, from inventors, athletes, and business people. The difference with the every day man is they look at failure as a friend, or as a joke. Some even look at it as just taking another step. As Michael Jordan put it “I’ve missed more than nine thousand shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Or the old saying goes, that the only people who really fail are the ones who don’t try. Have you been trying to succeed lately?
In order to achieve anything worth while we need to take baby steps, and not criticize ourselves. If babies were as self critical as adults, they would never learn to walk. Good thing they don’t criticize themselves and keep practicing until they’re able to stand up on two feet and take those steps. When we pick up a new skill, we need to take these baby steps. Most people usually try something, fail, and look for something else to try, fail, and walk away again, or worse, they stop trying. Those who are able to master something, keep practicing, failing, and learn from every failure until they master the craft.
When your learning a new craft or in every day life, you need to be your own best friend, or you need to be your own coach, never your worse critic. Another way to look at it is to be kind and patient, like how you would be when you’re helping a child learn how to walk. Most people give up because they criticize themselves. This is an unnecessary cycle. It’s not ok for us to call a child, a loved one, or best friend stupid, or say they should give up, or point out and criticize them for their mistakes even though they’re putting effort to become better. So why do we do this to ourselves? Let’s treat ourselves like our own best friend, or our own child and be patient and kind while trying to learn new skills. As Richard Bach put it “What a caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly”.
When we free ourselves from mental distraction, we have power. High performing athletes, writers, and inventors free themselves from outside distractions as well as mental distractions, or emotions that destroy your mind. Make a living practice of Arete, a greek word that can translate to virtue in English, but it doesn’t come close to the true meaning. Arete means “to strive to do your best moment to moment to moment”. Are you striving to do your best at every moment? Do you give it all you got every day all day or only in your training or cultivating your skills?
In athletics, as well as in business, you’ll find yourself in a slump or a learning curve as some people will call it. You might feel like you’re not progressing or even going backwards. Most of the time we go backwards in order to get a running start, same as the phrase “take one step back and two steps forward”. As in the case of a number of millionaires, they usually go bankrupt right before they make their first million.
This may go against the teachings of some who say move forward only if you feel good. Yet the most successful people in sports or in life keep going forward even if they have sorrow, feel fearful, or angry about something. They just stay relaxed and breathe evenly. It’s quite a paradox, but our behavior can overcome our thoughts and emotions as long as we stay relaxed and focus on doing what needs to be done to achieve our purpose and our goals. You can just accept what is at that moment as you do what needs to be done.
Have you ever felt not motivated? All of us have. You might have had some goals you wanted to achieve, you were so motivated the first few days, and then you lost motivation, then you got motivated again a few days later. Our motivation rises and falls like the tides of the ocean. Athletes aren’t motivated all of the time, but they might train up to six days a week and keep their eyes on the prize by using will power to make sure they don’t miss a second of training. Most can’t master their emotions at any given moment, but we always have control over what we do physically or our behaviors. So even if your not motivated or you have some emotional baggage, keep doing what needs to be done in order for you to achieve your goals. As Aristotle put it “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”.
As in exercise or any craft we plan to master. It’s not the intensity that matters so much. You can workout for 3 hours straight intensely. But if you only do it for one day every month, or once a week, it won’t really matter. But if you consistently work out, every day for only 30 minutes. It makes a huge difference. As they say it’s “Consistency over Intensity”. The Law of Accommodation says that within time, your daily habits of exercise will accommodate the changes slowly, but your body will definitely change for the better. The same as if you just drink beer and eat meat consistently, then watch tv, your body will accommodate changes for these habits also.
Any old habits that you wish to change? Habits that hinder you from having the health and vitality you need to be successful? Habits that take you away from improving yourself mentally or emotionally? It takes three to six months to make old habits obsolete. As I’ve explained, you need to work on your new habits especially when you don’t feel like it. Just know that it gets easier each day and your will power gets stronger as well. Try to list only three new habits, weather it’s working out, or writing on your journal, meditating, maybe you want to spend more time making extra income? Make it an activity habit. Not so much like “I’m going to quit smoking, or quit dinking soda”. When you’re in tune with your productive habits, you’ll most likely get rid of your destructive habits without needing to use your will power. Be so focused on your productive habits, and it will be much easier to get rid of your destructive habits. Become a master of your will power first by mastering something productive, before you master getting rid of your destructive habits.
When someone masters habits, be it an athletics, painting, inventing, or business. They realize they can master anything they want because in order to master something, you must master yourself, including your will power and behavior. All masters continue to stay as masters by continuing to practice, teaching others or mastering a new craft, or all of the above. Once you’ve mastered your ability to use your will power when your motivation isn’t working, you can take that mastery and apply it to anything.