A growing body of research, from the groundbreaking work of Robert Sapolsky to the use of mental training in sports, suggests that our perceptions impact our physical performance. Athletes and coaches know this - balancing emotional arousal, adrenaline, expectations, fears, hopes, and dreams can make or break athletic performance on the stage.
We see this in our lives, too - anger, aversion, greed, desire tend to cloud our judgement, causing us to behave in destructive and irrational ways. Likewise, compassion, patience, understanding, and kindness tend to open our minds and allow us to act in ways that promote harmony and peace towards others.
Today I'd like to talk about four mental factors that (I believe) guarantee success in and out of the gym. Sure, one-arm pullups are awesome - but it's developing factors like these that make the whole process worthwhile.
It's a marathon, not a sprint. Consistency is being able to show up and dedicate time towards the goal you've set your mind to, and to do so repeatedly over a long(er) time frame.
The hard truth is that if you want to master a skill, you must dedicate time towards it. And if you've decided to learn a new skill, you have to show up for practice. Only then can you say you've really tried.
It's not about a value judgement. If you set your mind to learn something, do it fully and show up. If you're not interested, don't bother. Whatever your choice, do not make it lightly: do it fully and completely with the entirety of your being.
It doesn't have to be fun to be fun. Perseverance is about taking the small mind out of the big picture - seeing both the forest and the trees.
I'm glad that you enjoy learning a new skill. That's the point! It should really be something you want to do. Of course, that's only part of the picture. How can we expect growth without struggle and striving? Blades are only forged in the fires and sharpened against the stone, great works only built through labour, effort, and exertion.
Perseverance is being willing to stick with your goal beyond the dichotomy of "pleasant" vs. "unpleasant". It's about recognizing how the challenging learning process of a new skill does more than grant you a fun set of tricks - it forges you as a person in the process.
Stick with it. I know you can do it. You'll become more powerful than you could ever imagine. And you'll let go of that silly division, too.
3. Problem Solving
A thoughtful journey isn't one that shys away from challenges, but rather, learns to expect, prepare for, and confront them fearlessly.
After all, can you guarantee that you'll never experience a challenge? A problem you just can't wrap your head around? Of course not. That's the irony of black swans.
The challenges we encounter on our journeys (in life, in skill development) are the hammers, anvils, and fires that forge us as beings. The plateaus and difficulties we experience in the gym are the most potent tools for us to become better, more resilient athletes.
What if we didn't try and search for a perfect path, but rather, the resourcefulness to confront and overcome the challenges we face?
Become the best problem solve, the one who never shys from challenge, who takes the lead, who fearlessly inquires and examines, and who never rests in the quest to broaden their perspective.
Absolutely none of this matters if you demean and denigrate others along your journey. You can achieve your goals and still be cruel, although that misses the point of the journey entirely.
Seriously, it's all irrelevant if you're not able to practice compassion, treat others with kindness, and strive for equity and equality.
It's a quality that will improve your everyday interactions, guide your actions and views towards yourself and others, and generally elevate the quality of your life.
NOW STOP READING AND GO PRACTICE! :)