....and not your words.
There’s something stupidly simple about fitness & exercise. For all the variety and variation, it really comes down to one simple idea: taking action.
You can plan and program and prepare until you’re blue in the face. You can set goals, make resolutions and have a vision in your mind of where you'd like to be. But until you take that first step, then the second, then the third, it’s all just words....
I’m a coach. I like to help other guys get into great shape. I can talk about fitness until I’m hoarse and ‘tell’ people what to do. But until I actually write their programs, plan their nutrition guidance and wrap all that into some sort of cohesive plan or actionable strategy and guide them every step of the way, I can hardly call myself a coach.
Action is what separates the doers from the posers. Success stories from failed ventures. Anyone who’s gotten anywhere in life has done so by doing. That’s not to say planning and preparation are pointless. Of course, they have their place. But they pale in comparison to actually doing what it is you’re looking to accomplish.
Action may not always lead us to our desired outcome, but it leads to an outcome. From there we learn. From there we grow. From there we discover who we are and what we’re made of.
And we become more enlightened individuals in the process.
Action inspires growth
Action is the key to motivation and growth during challenging times of personal struggle.
Many of us internalize our problems. We don’t need any help, we tell ourselves. We’ll get through it on our own and be stronger for it. But eventually, something comes along that completely knocks us on our ass. Something that delivers a sucker punch straight to the gut. Something that tears us up, something we can’t just “figure out”.
In times of crisis, take action.
When we go through any tough times, one of the first things to wane is our motivation. Motivation to exercise, motivation to eat well, motivation to seek help, motivation to do anything. We might sit back and wait for the motivation to come, or go seeking it from external sources.
But it rarely appears when we go looking for it, or wait for it to and in our laps.
As uncomfortable as it is in those times, it’s taking action that will bring back the willpower, the motivation that we crave.
Growth emerges from that discomfort. Only when we’re uncomfortable are we forced to look in the mirror and objectively assess what looks back. We’re forced to ask the tough questions. What brought me here? What can I learn? What can I change in order to avoid this in the future?
Taking action accelerates this growth process. Unfortunately, that often includes accelerating our discomfort.
But it also includes accelerating the results that await us on the other side of taking that action…. And it’s the results that motivate us to keep going.
Action = results
Results = motivation
Action affirms character
Action confirm the values we hold dear.
Our lives are a series of decisions and indecisions that lead to actions or inactions, large and small. Daily steps that add up over months, years and decades. It is by these actions others judge us and by which we judge ourselves. It is by these actions we formulate our views of the world.
Actions are what define our character. How we respond to the face of adversity. Or how we react? What we do when we know we’re wrong? Or what do we DO NOT do. What do we do when there is no spotlight, when no one else is looking. Or what we don’t do.
A man’s character is more than just his words.
Words take us only so far. Words are cheap — there’s too many of them. I’m guilty of using words as a smokescreen, weaving my way in and out of complex situations to avoid conflict or criticism or truth. It’s something I’m working on.
Only when words are supported by appropriate action can you be truly taken seriously.
We are what we choose to do, not just what we choose to say. We are what we choose to believe, not just what we choose to espouse. It is our actions, not our words that ultimately shape our future.
“A man of personality can formulate ideas, but only a man of character can achieve them.” — Herbert Read
To take action is to take control
I pride myself on my growing ability to be in control… it’s still a work in progress. I take very measured steps personally and professionally to ensure my life is stable and balanced. It’s the plane of existence I prefer. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate spontaneity, it’s just not my default. I am not a fan of chaos.
But with recent events, I’ve found myself feeling out of control. And it terrifies me.
I understand certain things in life can’t be controlled. It’s not up to me if I get rained on cycling to the gym tomorrow morning. What terrifies me are the things inside myself I seemingly can’t control. Thoughts, feelings, and emotions I’ve traditionally avoided, but currently, beat within me like a drum.
The mind is a fascinating (if not infuriating) enigma. I clearly have plenty more work ahead of me, and I’m OK with that and looking forward to seeing where it takes me and what I can then pass on to my clients.
In the interim, I’m finding relief in doing. In consistency and routine. In taking time to learn new things. In exploring areas of myself I’ve otherwise kept locked away. The control is becoming mine again.
But, without upheaval, without chaos, without hammering or chiselling, a sculpture remains a stone block. It’s the actions and the responses to that sculpting that reveal the masterpiece underneath.
“The best way to sculpt an elephant is to take a large block of stone or marble and chip away at anything that doesn't look like an elephant” - Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I am my life’s artist, chiseling stone, beat after beat.
I am taking action.