Know your why

Time for what I imagine will be the last blog of 2014, thanks to everyone who has read my thoughts so far and I hope you keep reading into the New Year.

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I both play and am passionate about American Football, or Gridiron. In the NFL, the big leagues in America, my team is called the Washington Redskins (for the moment, but that’s a whole other can of worms. In Gridiron, the most challenging and demanding position both in terms of physical precision and mental aptitude is Quarterback. This guy makes his team run. He tells everyone else where to be, takes responsibility for the ball and makes sure it gets put in the right spot. If he fails at this the results can be catastrophic, normally for him. See below:

So, these guys have a certain amount of pressure on them in a game sense, and couple that with a multimillion dollar contract and the expectations of those who paid you and the millions of fans of your team desiring you to make wins happen, it’s not an easy path to success. One such guy, Robert Griffin III, was charged with being the QB of my team, so naturally I’ve taken a fair bit of interest in his career path. He came into the league and had one of the most dominant seasons in recorded history. He has since had injuries and other issues plague him and not reached such great heights, but in the midst of his success, one of the quotes he often referred to was to “Know your why.” I don’t think he pioneered this quote, but he seemed to be getting the most out of it, and the fans seemed to like his work:

To get back to more relevant pastures, I think all of us need to take some time to really figure out if we “Know our why. It’s perfectly natural to answer no to this question. I’ve had to answer no to it a few times, and quite recently too. I know from experience, at a certain point in your training, it’s easy to lose sight of what you’re working towards and simply go through the motions which is a 100% guaranteed path to a plateau. I want everyone to examine their why deeper than that though. Weight loss is not a why, it’s a consequence of correct training and nutrition, so is toning, so is being fitter, so is being stronger, so is running 10km and even competing in a fun run is not a why.

We need to be able to sit down and identify why you want something. Weight loss, as an example, is a result, not a why. Why do you want to lose weight? What is going to happen when you do? What position will you be in, how will you feel, what will be different when you lose weight? You, deep down, have made the answers to these questions already. Whether you can access them on a whim is a different kettle of fish. I’ll run you through the different levels, using myself as an example. I train at the gym regularly. I want to get results: Strength, agility, speed, flexibility, power and any other training benefit I can. I want to have aesthetically pleasing muscles. I want a six pack.

Why do I want this? Well, I want to be stronger and faster so I can do better when I play gridiron. I want to look better so people find me impressive to look at (please have no shame in admitting that this is a primary motivator for almost everyone even you).

Why do I want to be better at gridiron? I am competitive and I hate losing, I hate the idea that someone else can have the same chances as me and I don’t beat them. Why do I want people to be impressed when they look at me? If they are impressed by me they will think I’m cool and I will feel good about myself.

Why don’t I want to be overlooked? Because it fuels my insecurity and makes it harder to be comfortable in my own skin. Why don’t I have enough security in my own skin? I compare myself to others too much. I let their accomplishments outweigh my own and overthink everything and find it impossible to give myself credit for my own achievements.

So why do I train?

I train to gain a comfort level with who I am, to focus on what I can achieve and be proud of what I have done and am still doing. Being able to strive towards my own goals is building me to the point where I am completely comfortable with who I am and do not perceive my own value through someone else’s eyes. That’s my why. I opened up a fair bit there and took you down the path that I took to figure out, at the heart of it all, why I do what I do. You can see how getting stronger is a consequence of a much deeper desire to clear some pretty big mental hurdles. I am suggesting that if you have a really good think and examine why you are training, you’ll have a why that stems from just as deep a level.

Have you ever wondered why you feel happier when you’re exercising and getting results? Does the 2kg weight loss you achieved, or adding 15kg to your squat, really make such a huge physical difference in your day to day life? I’d suggest not, but the progress towards your why makes a massive difference. I can’t tell you what it is, only you can really put it into words, but that almost subconscious desire for something more is what you need to keep forefront in your mind to maintain the fire and stick at your training.

You have to find and hold onto that deep level of motivation. Surface level stuff will come and go and it will not keep you here. When the chips are down, when you’ve got 80,000 people out for your blood, you’ve been pummelled to within an inch of your life, if you’re just in it for the money, you’ll quit. You’ve got to know your why to get up and make the next play.

It’s crunch time in 2014. Are you going to take the money and run? Or are you going to make the next play? It’s on you now.

Yours in training

Dan