I was chasing (or trying to chase) my riding partner up a dusty trail yesterday when it occurred to me, in the middle of mashing my pedals and sucking the warm morning wind, that I wasn’t going to catch her. She had 25 yards on me, and I had 25 years on her. And then I realized that I didn’t need to catch her anymore.
A month ago, a year ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, I would have broken both legs if it meant I could catch my opponent. But grinding up that trail yesterday, I realized this woman riding in front of me wasn’t my opponent, she wasn’t my rival. She was just my friend. And that she was on her journey … and I was on mine.
We live in a competitive society. We choose to exercise in a competitive format. But it’s all kind of crazy, right? It doesn’t really matter if I beat you or you beat me. Well, that is, unless you’re Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and I’m Annie Thorisdottir and we’re fighting for money. (Surprise—we’re not. Wakey wakey.) We listen to this old saying, “Men will die for points.” Well, good for them. I’m not dying for points. That’s ridiculous when you think about it. You died for points. Gee, your kids will be happy about that. Maybe you’ll get a statue in the town square. “Look students, long ago, on this hill, a woman died for points.” (And how do you even fill that out on the death certificate? Will life insurance still pay out?)
I’m taking that saying to the literal extreme, but you get my point.
These events in our lives are only as important as we make them.
So I got beat by a young buck on the way to the top of a hill yesterday. Okay. Life went on. I was still a good and kind person when I crested the hill, after another good and kind person got there first. On another day, we might have a different finishing order. Or we won’t. And I’ll be okay with that too.
You have your fitness journey, and I have mine. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. One isn’t more beneficial to the world. Both just are. Can we still race? Yes. Is it okay to want to win (and to win)? Yes. And you get to smack talk too. Bonus! Just keep in mind that it’s only a temporary physical achievement, and then get back to working on the stuff that will change your life and this world into something better than what it currently is.
The answers to these two questions will do more than guide you;they will reveal you. Because your desire to achieve and your willingness to sacrifice for that achievement will most likely determine whether you are a 100-percenter, a 95-perecenter, or a 90-percenter. Whether you are a person who got the job done, or a person who almost got the job done.
Someone who makes things happen … or someone who lets things happen.
The difference in top achievers is often small gradations. Extra effort here, or there, or then.
Many people in this life are 90-percenters. They do a good job … but not a great job. They do 90% of the work, but not 100%.
It’s easier to be a 90-percenter. But I’m not sure it’s better.
You wouldn’t enter a 100-yard race and stop at the 90-yard mark, would you? So ask yourself why are you doing that in your work or your love or your life.
The last 10% is where it gets really hard. The pain enters a multiplicative level. You will hurt.
But that’s where they hide the great.
“Difficulty is what wakes up the genius (ingenium mala saepe movent), which translates in Brooklyn English into, ‘When life gives you a lemon …’” — Nassim Nicholas Taleb, “Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder”
I know there are tons of positive-thought books and websites and social media pages. People will tell you that if you thinkgreat thoughts, then great things will happen. It’s this idea that by thinking positive thoughts, you put energy into the world that will be returned to you.
That’s only partly true.
See, there’s this other part called action — and that’s where the shit goes down. You can think good thoughts all the time, but if you don’t get off your ass and put some mojo behind your flow, then you’re not going to be any better tomorrow than you are today.
You really can’t think yourself richer or stronger or thinner or happier or more successful.And you absolutely can’t use mental power to make the Swedish Bikini Team appear in your living room. (Not that I’ve tried that. I mean, more than twice.)
Thoughts are important, definitely. Hugely important. Overwhelmingly influential in your day and your life. You must get your mind right.
But then you absolutely must put your butt in gear too.
No one is going to knock on your front door and bring you the job you want, the partner you want, the body you want, or sunshine in a box. The only thing that will be delivered to your front door is what you have bought and paid for—whether by money or effort or love. Give Amazon your money and they’ll ship you anything you desire. Give your focus and effort to running or your back squat and guess what happens? Your running or back squat improves. Give people your energy and love and they will show up for you when you need the same back from them. (Well, most of them. Some folks are losers, but they’re lessons too. Be grateful for the clouds so that you can appreciate the light.)
Remember that you absolutely must get your ass in gear too. Nothing happens by magic.