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Chris Shugart: Motivation

Hey Chris,

I am just starting to recover from a bad leg injury. Any tips to stay motivated? Good books to read?

[quote]Atreides wrote:
Hey Chris,

I am just starting to recover from a bad leg injury. Any tips to stay motivated? Good books to read?[/quote]

I recently attended a fitness conference and there were a couple of “motivational” speakers there. I ended up getting into a great discussion with a few people afterwards about the value of pre-packaged motivation.

A few thought that motivational material (books, speeches, movies, etc) were worthless because those people truly self-motivated - the real movers and shakers - don’t have to be inspired to go after what they want, live the life they want, and generally achieve their goals.

I can see where that can be true and I largely agree. However, I’ve noticed that many capable people with the ability to succeed often need “permission” to do it. What I mean is, they need examples to follow or people that have achieved their goals to assure them that it’s okay to take the leap.

So basically, the idea that came out of the conversation was that the only people who can be motivated are those already on the edge of taking whatever jump they need to take. All they need is a little nudge. And this is where motivational material is valuable - not to instill that internal drive for success (define “success” however you want) but to channel it or let it out of its cage.

Personal observation: The push one often needs to take this leap, to go after whatever it is he wants, often comes not from overly positive, sugary sweet affirmations and pep talks, but from negative life experiences. Even anger can be helpful. Strike that, I think anger is essential in most cases.

Now, with all that psycho-crap out of the way…

I suggest you dip into some deeply disturbing books. Deeply disturbing is a way that might make you angry or uncomfortable. Not really a “pep talk” motivational book, but maybe some books that lead to a deeper introspection.

If you haven’t already, I’d first suggest the standard text for powerfully minded individuals: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.

And no, you don’t have to go all Objectivist to appreciate and be motivated by the story of one man’s battle against conformity. After Fountainhead, go for Atlas Shrugged, sort of an extension of the philosophy behind Fountainhead.

If you’ve read those, try Travels by Michael Crichton. Not meant to be a motivation book at all, but when I first read it I was ashamed for not exploring more of the world, expanding my life and taking risks/adventures. I’m still not there, but I’ve taken some major steps since reading the book. My Thailand trip and subsequent articles were inspired by a chapter from Travels.

In short, I’d take this healing time to build your mind, get uncomfortable, get pissed at yourself, and build the foundations for future change.

Hope that helps!

Chris, that’s a pretty interesting take. I agree on the anger thing, in that one of my real advantages in life has been that when I got pissed off I put that energy into a goal.

It wasn’t always directly related to what I was doing or what was pissing me off, but it has the effect of turning the energy released by anger into something good.

Heh, so in short, great advice!

Atreides, I have one caution, don’t turn into one of those people that is angry all the time. You don’t want to turn yourself into someone that can only be motivated by anger and negativity.

Yeah yeah, so nobody actually asked me for my opinion… has that ever stopped me before? :wink:

Not Fade Away: A Short Life Well Lived by Laurence Shames

Best book I’ve ever read, hands down.
Inspirational to boot.

[quote]vroom wrote:
Atreides, I have one caution, don’t turn into one of those people that is angry all the time. You don’t want to turn yourself into someone that can only be motivated by anger and negativity.
[/quote]

Excellent point. I find that those who are constantly angry are truly miserable people. There’s just something very wrong in their lives. Some people get depressed, some cry all day, and some get pissed at the world.

The key to using anger correctly is to get pissed at yourself (not others), channel it, then get over it! Interesting thing is, a person doesn’t have to solve the problem, only be on the way to solving it or in the process of solving it to feel better, be happier, be less of a prick, whatever.

I’ve seen a lot of people who hate themselves because they’re fat, but they immediate feel better when they start doing something about it.

Kinda off topic, but vroom inspired the thought. Blame him!

The problem with using anger as motivation is that it is usually short lived. Once the anger subsides, so does the drive. Lasting drive comes from dissatisfaction, from reaching a point where you will not allow yourself to be fat, weak, skinny, depressed, etc. for another moment. Set and visualize your goals as if they have already happened - the mind doesn’t know the difference between a dream and reality.

Don’t allow yourself to sabotage yourself. (What?) That has been my biggest problem. As soon as I start to lose weight my mind realizes that it is going away from where it believes I should be, where I subconciously believe I deserve to be. Convince yourself that you deserve better and expect more from yourself than anyone could ever imagine.

[quote]boonville410 wrote:
The problem with using anger as motivation is that it is usually short lived. [/quote]

Sometimes. The usual path is to use anger to kickstart the change, then hopefully the good things that result from this (money, job, fat loss, muscle gain, etc.) will keep you going the rest of the way. But anger can last awhile - even anger at what used to be. It’s an individual thing.

This is getting too nicey nicey. Someone attack Atreides for no apparent reason.

[quote]Chris Shugart wrote:
This is getting too nicey nicey.

[/quote]

Yes, it is. May I comment that the book angle is a little overhyped? Many people use anger as a base for motivation. Anytime someone told me I could not do something, it was motivation to prove that person wrong. I have managed to get pretty far just by holding that mentality…to the point that I deeply appreciate anyone who ever underestimated me or went out their way to bring me down.

Some people become complacent in a situation until they get pissed enough to change. I personally have never had a problem tapping into that, and while it may not be a motivation in direct line with what originally made me mad, that same emotion can translate over into many pursuits. I don’t agree that it is short lived unless that “life changing” emotion wasn’t that strong in the first place.

[quote]Atreides wrote:
Hey Chris,

I am just starting to recover from a bad leg injury. Any tips to stay motivated? Good books to read?[/quote]

You out of shape fuck! Get off the couch! Who cares if you’ve got a leg injury!! Train your upper body and abs. Get in the pool. Eat clean- you have a jelly roll where your six pack should be! You have SPAGHETTI ARMS! Take your supplements on time! You pathetic, piece of trash!

[quote]deanosumo wrote:

You out of shape fuck! Get off the couch! Who cares if you’ve got a leg injury!! Train your upper body and abs. Get in the pool. Eat clean- you have a jelly roll where your six pack should be! You have SPAGHETTI ARMS! Take your supplements on time! You pathetic, piece of trash!

[/quote]

Good advice.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by.

In all honesty, I think I will write. I will write…something. It’s kinda funny really, since I haven’t written anything since highschool and my college background is primarily mathematics. It scares the hell out of me, which is why I should probably do it.

Read The Beach by Alex Garland. It’s a fast read, I read it in about 2 days. It’s entertaining and insightful, and about 10 times better than the movie with Leo Dicraprio.

One problem with being angry with yourself a lot is being critical to yourself frequently.

One of the most common things in our society is how hard we are on ourselves. Ever listen to some of the things you say to yourself? In many cases, if someone else told you some of that stuff, you’d punch them.

It’s very important, I think for a healthy pscyhe, to be your own biggest supporter. I don’t mean in a lovey-dovey foo-foo way. But to honestly like yourself.

I think it’s important to keep the self-anger in this context. Sure, get angry at yourself, drive yourself, but don’t hate yourself. And be careful of self-criticism.

And re: Prof X’s thing about others’ criticisms driving him to do better. Sorry, but that never worked well with me when I was younger. I was either too cycnical or too smart for my own good. I would often recognize these sorts of things quickly and assume I was being manipulated. I was very big on doing everything my own way in my own time. Yes, it wasn’t a particularly great approach for “success”, but then again, I wasn’t really interested in filling any stereotypical success roles.

Fortunately I have changed a lot since then.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
Yes, it is. May I comment that the book angle is a little overhyped? Many people use anger as a base for motivation. Anytime someone told me I could not do something, it was motivation to prove that person wrong. I have managed to get pretty far just by holding that mentality…to the point that I deeply appreciate anyone who ever underestimated me or went out their way to bring me down. [/quote]

I couldn’t agree more! When I first started lifting, friends and family literally laughed in my face when I mentioned that I was heading to the gym. It pissed me off so much that I still use that memory to spark a fire before I hit the gym.

That was 9 years and 50lbs ago…

Nick

Atreides, you listed an 1824 total as your goal. Have you reached it? Are you elite?

[quote]michaelv wrote:
One problem with being angry with yourself a lot is being critical to yourself frequently.[/quote]

I didn’t mention anything about being angry with yourself. This has nothing to do with self hatred. I think you missed the point.

[quote]
One of the most common things in our society is how hard we are on ourselves. Ever listen to some of the things you say to yourself? In many cases, if someone else told you some of that stuff, you’d punch them.[/quote]

Actually, one of the largest problems in our current society is giving praise for mediocre actions. A kid brings home a “B” and you still praise him like he aced the test. There may be more people taking drugs for depression than ever before, but some of that stems back to past tragedies or issues that were never resolved. My goal is to resolve any past issues, confront them face to face, and succeed.

[quote]
It’s very important, I think for a healthy pscyhe, to be your own biggest supporter. I don’t mean in a lovey-dovey foo-foo way. But to honestly like yourself.[/quote]

And that truly comes from self development. If you have not become what you have as a goal or set yourself on the path to reaching it, your “self love” would seem to be a facade…some vain effort to make yourself feel better for accomplishing nothing.

[quote]
I think it’s important to keep the self-anger in this context. Sure, get angry at yourself, drive yourself, but don’t hate yourself. And be careful of self-criticism.[/quote]

Again, no one mentioned self hate.

[quote]
And re: Prof X’s thing about others’ criticisms driving him to do better. Sorry, but that never worked well with me when I was younger. I was either too cycnical or too smart for my own good. I would often recognize these sorts of things quickly and assume I was being manipulated. I was very big on doing everything my own way in my own time. Yes, it wasn’t a particularly great approach for “success”, but then again, I wasn’t really interested in filling any stereotypical success roles.

Fortunately I have changed a lot since then.[/quote]

This statement confuses me. First, you say that it didn’t work because you did things in your own time…and then you say that you are glad you changed. Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t that mean that the only reason it didn’t work was because you lacked any real substantial goals in the first place?

Motivation is great for temporary movement foreword, but there is too much of the peak performance, psych yourself up crap. If you are constantly psyching yourself up, and trying to keep yourself at peak performance, you will burn out. (Didn’t Dr. Jack say something similar?)

It is best to develop those habits, and make it a part of normal life. And too often people try to take too big a bite out of success/motivation/whatever. Small things do make a big difference. Those subtle little changes over time really can add up.

Say you need to change your diet for the better. If you just cannot go full into a great diet, start by making little changes here and there. Add some high quality protein into just one meal a day. Dump a desert once a week. Get a salad as a side dish instead of those fries.

You could literally make one little life change each week, and after a few months your whole diet has changed for the better.

This works for everything. Take any big task and break it down into smaller goals. And even those goals can be broken down further.

I read a book (cannot remember the author) that specifically said the author cannot write a book, impossible. But he knows that he can write 10 pages a day, so that is all he does, write 10 pages a day. At the end of 50 days, he was written 500 pages, and after a little break, he edits it down to about 250 pages. Suddenly he has a book, but he never thought about writing the book, just the 10 pages each day.

Often if a person is not motivated, they are looking at the big picture, not those little goals, and the big picture can be overwhelming.

Part of my motivation is rewarding myself for documentable successes. If I do this by that date, I can go here, or buy one of these, or do something that I would not ordinarily allow myself to do. What is a cheat meal but a reward for sticking to a meal plan for the rest of the week?

Part of my motivation is allowing myself to feel smug. I’m healthier, thinner, stronger than that lady in the car next to me who is sipping on a soda and smoking.

Part of my motivation is endorphins. Woo hoo! Nature’s pain meds.

I’m also a motivator for other people. I’m surrounded by a group of women in the Curves Cult who don’t believe that they can handle a ‘real’ gym. The more I have successes that I can talk about, the more they believe me when I tell them that they can succeed, too. I can’t fail or quit, they are watching me and will use me as an excuse to quit themselves.

A healthy personal standard of behavior also helps. If I leave the gym and can say, “I couldn’t do much today but I was trying really hard,” I’m OK with it. As long as I know that I did not quit, kept trying and still failed, I haven’t really had a crummy workout.

[quote]vandalay15 wrote:
Atreides, you listed an 1824 total as your goal. Have you reached it? Are you elite? [/quote]

Not yet, my goal was to make Elite by December, 2005.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
michaelv wrote:
One problem with being angry with yourself a lot is being critical to yourself frequently.

I didn’t mention anything about being angry with yourself. This has nothing to do with self hatred. I think you missed the point.[/quote]

No, I was merely warning against it.

[quote]One of the most common things in our society is how hard we are on ourselves. Ever listen to some of the things you say to yourself? In many cases, if someone else told you some of that stuff, you’d punch them.

Actually, one of the largest problems in our current society is giving praise for mediocre actions. A kid brings home a “B” and you still praise him like he aced the test. There may be more people taking drugs for depression than ever before, but some of that stems back to past tragedies or issues that were never resolved. My goal is to resolve any past issues, confront them face to face, and succeed.[/quote]

I agree this is a bad thing. But, this is a theme you champion very hard, because I believe it’s personal to you.

And ironically, the two aren’t necessarily separated. When ones achievements are false, and this person has a hard time actually accomplishing things for real, those hollow praises can spawn self-resentment at the inability to actually make substantial progress.

[quote]And re: Prof X’s thing about others’ criticisms driving him to do better. Sorry, but that never worked well with me when I was younger. I was either too cycnical or too smart for my own good. I would often recognize these sorts of things quickly and assume I was being manipulated. I was very big on doing everything my own way in my own time. Yes, it wasn’t a particularly great approach for “success”, but then again, I wasn’t really interested in filling any stereotypical success roles.

Fortunately I have changed a lot since then.

This statement confuses me. First, you say that it didn’t work because you did things in your own time…and then you say that you are glad you changed. Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t that mean that the only reason it didn’t work was because you lacked any real substantial goals in the first place?
[/quote]

No, the reason it didn’t work was because a whole bunch of life’s events didn’t coalesce until into my mid 30’s to cause me to seek professional help. And I didn’t discover until I was 37 years old that I had ADD, and a slight case of clinical depression.

Yes, I lacked real substantial goals. No, as I found out, it wasn’t simply because I was lazy and unmotivated.

I know your raison d’etre is everyone needs Tough Love and a kick in the ass to prevent them from becoming unmotivated urchins. But it’s not always that simple. It’s not always based on someone lacking a clue or being lazy.

Anyway, MY issues and progress are not the point. I agree that self-appreciation (love might be the wrong word) needs to be based on real things, and if you don’t appreciate yourself, you need to do something with yourself so that you do, not that you need to make stuff up.

Well Atreides, how do you plan to be elite? What would Simmons, Tate, Holdsworth, Vogelpohl, Ruggiera, etc. do? Start rehabbing, and do what you can. You say you want to be elite, now show us how bad you want it.