I was thinking (and a little bit inspired by some of Apha's ranting), so I thought I would bash out some thoughts:
What I know about Life
No person living a responsible life â?? job, relationships, mortgages, bills, etc. â?? ever has a shortage of distractions to take them away from their own personal goals. Sometimes, it is easiest to dream and read about people meeting your own goals on the internet. You can fool yourself into believing that you are currently happy with who you are â?? that you are all you can be. I have a simple test for you to tell whether you are hoodwinking yourself into a life of mediocrity.
The test is simple â?? pretend you are old, and life is slowly ebbing out of you as you lie on your death bed. Now, look back over the story of your life and assess it as you would a movie. Is it exciting? Does it hold you attention? Do you wish you were there? Do you think â?? this would have been better if I had run that marathon, or started my own business?
Or do you just want to die now?
Chet Atkins once said that everything he had ever done was out of fear of being mediocre. Many other great men have more or less echoed this sentiment. The drive to greatness appears to be at least partly motivated by a wish to avoid â??averageâ??. A man has control over one thing in this world â?? the story of his life.
What story do you want to tell?
I get to work at 6:30 every morning, so I can leave by mid-afternoon and train hard for a couple of hours. I avoid â??amateur hourâ?? (approximately 5:30 â?? 6:30 pm) and I can largely do what I want, how I want. If I am forced to work a 9-to-5 day (either because of meetings or travel) I train early in the morning. I train every day. I do not take days off â?? I have not taken a day off training for five years. In that time, I have completed university, travelled consistently (platinum frequent flyer!), busted my back twice, been deployed to the Middle East, and worked 14-hour days for weeks on end.
Why do I do this? Because I love training, and I want it to be part of my story. If nothing else goes right in my day, I always have my training session where I can point to something and say â?? I achieved today. When I review my life story, I want to be able to say I was dedicated to personal goals and I achieved. I donâ??t get paid to train â?? training is for me.
So how do I do this? I guess I have a good job. I am really lucky. I was actually really lucky to get the job, because there were only a few people taken from all over Australia by my organisation. All the others had PhDs. But I was lucky in university, I got good marks. Consistently. And I was lucky to get to one of the best Universities in Australia in the first place. And get a scholarship. I suppose I was lucky to get high grades in high school.
No doubt you can detect a tinge of sarcasm in what I say above, but I will share with you a few pieces of luck that I did have, which I am truly grateful for. Firstly, I was born in one of the best places on earth, at a prosperous and peaceful time in history. Dumb luck there (or possibly a pay-off for some kind service in a previous life?). I was gifted with parents who always told me I could do anything I wanted to do with my life, with a proviso added by my Dad: â??as long as you are the best at it.â?? The third piece of luck was that I was naturally a pretty smart kid; there was no effort required for me to learn what most kids have to work really hard at.
The combination of all these lucky occurrences led to one fundamental truth for me. I was obliged to transcend mediocre. Chances are that if you are reading this â?? you are too.
So back to training. Make training a priority in your day. Get up early, train late â?? do what you have to do to get it done. Bring intensity, work hard, and never allow yourself a mediocre session. I had a guy say to me the other day - â??You train like an animalâ??. My reply was â?? â??No, I train how one is supposed toâ??. Hard, with the constant goal of improving myself. I have goals, I intend to reach them.
For example, take my deadlift goal for this year. I am 6 foot tall at about 165-170lbs. My goal was to dead 200kg (440lbs); not much, I know â?? but not too bad considering I have two bulging discs in my back. So I lifted 200kg two weeks ago. It is a great feeling, reaching your goals and setting new ones. It makes you feel like you can do anything. All it takes is effort, application, and the rejection of the voice in your head that says â?? take it easy today, or it is too early, go back to sleep, or you deserve this great life of yours, why not just sit back and enjoy it?
My track coach (back when I used to be a sprinter) is of Polish descent. Think stereotypical Eastern European. He knows how to push people hard. He could make you hate life and never want to train ever again. Or he could make you go through adversity to get the best out of yourself, and love every minute of it. The difference between the two is you.
Have you ever been completely gassed after just 10 minutes of work, knowing you have 50 minutes left to go this session? Ever had a lactic headache? Ever finished a training session with absolutely nothing left? Ever lifted something you should not be able to? Are people intimidated by your intensity or focus?
Why am I writing this? What do I want?
There are people who inspire me. I have met high ranking generals, sports stars, world-leading professors, guys who have climbed Everest, even an astronaut. I have met men who later went on to give their lives for their nation. I know what it feels like to be dwarfed by the company of greatness. I know what it feels like to be inspired. It feels good.
Imagine then, if I could be inspired in some way by every person I met? That would be overkill â?? I would be buzzing like a disaffected teenager at a rave. But if I could be inspired by someone who I know, or see in the street, or in the gym, or meet randomly, every day â?? then life is going to be great. It might even make a good story one day.