What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
I have heard this question repeated over and over again in self-help books, personal development books, and even finance, business and health books.
Here are some more questions for you:
- If you knew you couldn't fail, would you do what you need to do to reach your goal?
- What if there was zero chance you could ever reach your goal? Would you stop doing what you are doing?
We live in world that is so consumed by fear, driven by instant gratification and fast-temporary relief from pain and suffering we have forgotten the fine art of mastering a craft.
We are so consumed by reaching goals, we will do anything to get there as fast as possible and with as little pain as we can.
I see it far too often in my business as a personal trainer, and mindset coach.
Here is how it goes:
- You make a decision to make a change. You decide that you want to start exercising, eat healthier, cut out social media, cut down drinking, stop smoking and you set a day (usually on a Monday) to start doing so.
- You come out of the gates hard, full steam ahead, motivated and energized to reach your goal.
- You feel great, see change is coming, feel pride of your accomplishments. You might even reach your goal in a short time. YOU ARE AND FEEL AMAZING.
Then something like this happens:
4a) You hit a roadblock or a plateau and change comes harder or not at all. You “fall off the wagon”, doubt sets in and you feel like a failure. You loose your motivation.
4b) You reach your goal and stop doing what was making you successful. You have raced the race, lost the weight and now its time to celebrate! You are so amazing! Slowly you go back to your old ways, your solution was a quick fix and you “fall off the wagon”, doubt sets in and you feel like a failure. You loose your motivation.
The truth is, in this scenario, whether you reach your goal or not, you end up in the same place.
I have done both more than I can even count, and every time I wonder….
- Why do I keep on losing motivation?
- I have a goal, and I know my purpose for wanting it, but why do I fall short?
THE CERTAINTY OF ACHIEVEMENT
Ask yourself this question:
If you knew with 100% certainty you would reach your goal would you continue to do what you need to do to get there?
If I knew that I would be 100% going to the CrossFit games in 2017 then I know I would 100% be working my ass off and doing the things I know I need to do to get there. My training, my nutrition, mobility, recovery and sleep would all be on task because I knew 100% that I was going to make it.
But that isn’t the way the world works.
No matter how much you desire, or believe in your goal, you are never 100% certain you will achieve it. You can do everything to reach your goal and still fall short.
I have learned that the hard way, more than once, and it has lead me to a path of disappointment and destruction.
- I did everything and I failed so who cares what I do?
- I put in 100% effort and time in my goal and I still fell short.
- I worked on my body, my mind and my spirit and I still didn’t make it. What is the point of all this?
THE ART OF MASTERY
It all became really clear to me when I answered this question:
Would you still being doing what you do if you knew with 100% certainty that you would NOT REACH YOUR GOAL?
What if you did it because you LOVE IT, because it makes you feel better about yourself, because you are learning to master a sport, a skill or an occupation?
What if you started practicing for the sake of practice itself?
FOR THE LOVE OF IT
And then it hit me. I do it because I love it. The goal would be great but I don’t need it to do what I do.
Taking the expectation off yourself releases the pressure and leads you on the path to mastery. The path of STEADY GOALLESS PRACTICE; learning to love your work, and your practice and being willing to stay with it even in the absence of extrinsic reward.
Learning to love the plateau, even when you do see change. Knowing that you are still learning and growing despite any outward change or reward or PR.
This my friends, it the road to mastery and this is what keeps me motivated day in and day out. The love for my sport, and the love for my work and knowing that it doesn’t matter if I ever reach my goal.
From the book Mastery by George Leonard (which inspired this blog post).
" The truth is, after you catch the winning touch down at the Super Bowl, there is always tomorrow, and tomorrow and the day after that.
Mastery isn’t a goal or a destination but rather a process or a journey. And it isn’t only for the exceptional people, super talented athletes, smarty pants or high-achievers. It is available to anyone regardless of age, sex or previous experience, who is willing to get on a path and stay on it, through the ups and downs, the plateaus, and all successes and disappointments."
It all begins with a desire for learning a new skill and letting go of the need for immediate gratification or instant success. Get off the path of endless climax and learn to embrace the plateau.
Commit, engage and persevere, with no expectation of reward or achievement.
“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying. ” - FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE