Yes, I skipped number 5 much like talking about the Rocky films and went straight to six, this is my Rocky Balboa. The final film in a glorious series about an old man who still has fight in him and something left to do (I really sound like I’m talking about myself now). I want to touch on a bit of the psychological game, how I mentally approach what I do. A few quotes on how to approach your training:
“Hope is not a strategy. Luck is not a factor. Fear is not an option.” ― James Cameron
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” ― Archilochos
Motivation is a daily thing, you can be up or down. You can be excited after watching a Rocky training montage or another team’s achievement. This is something that waxes and wanes. Something that the winds of change can easily modify. Don’t worry so much about motivation, focus on dedication.
Dedication is stepping up every time to the plate. Doesn’t matter how you feel, how beat up you are, how bad your day is going. You come in the gym and step on the mat and you throw down. Each day you are dedicated to getting better and pushing yourself forward.
What type of culture do you want to create? A culture where you accept failure? Where people come in poopy and sit down on the mat when they are having a bad day?
You want to be on a team that celebrates injury? That crowds around everyone’s little booboo and scratch? You want to be on a team that always refers to other teams as better than you? You want a team that thinks just showing up to practice is enough? That you don’t need to do any other training outside of your sport?
You want the people who will tape themselves up and get back out there. You want the teammate that will sacrifice themselves for the team regardless of what else is going on in their life.
When I train hard I’m lucky to be surrounded by like-minded people. Are we doing the same weights? No. Are we doing the same exercises? No. Are we working towards the same goals? No. Are we driving towards our own goals? Yes. Are we pushing each other to achieve their own goals? Yes. Are we dedicated to our causes? Yes. Each time I am lucky enough to train at the EKU athlete’s weight room I’m surrounded by football players, softball players, baseball players, and other athletes that are driving hard towards their common goals. Each athlete motivating one another. (This doesn’t even start with the actual strength coaches who are also striving). How are you not supposed to push yourself to higher levels?
Just earlier today I was deadlifting and not the most excited for it, but on the platform next to me was Jacked Mogli, and across from him was the Pale Samurai from the baseball team. They are both ripping their cleans like a man trying to rip the head off of a lion. When you are in this environment of dedication it is impossible to not find that motivation and drive forward. That momentum from their dedication pushed me forward effectively and I hit my weights. Being in that type of environment of collective dedication is motivating. This is what gets you to invest the blood, sweat, and tears.
Let’s be honest here, learning new skills can be fun, but it can also be brutal (I remember a time with Prozac working pyramids where he had inspiring words for us). This is where you need to build your resolve, enhance your BS tolerance, to steel yourself to the hard winds of change. Really it all comes down to developing grit. A new pyramid or stunt might take over ten attempts to finally get just to hit once, and not even cleanly at that. This is where you need to develop your grit. I can wax and wane the poetic on this part, but it really comes down to developing the ability to delay gratification and to keep yourself from complaining. No one likes whiners, and everyone wants to be a winner. Our best athletes at EKU that are improving (notice the improving statement) are often the ones that complain the least.
Last week I was speaking with some students about what we do with our life. I made the joke that when I die I want people at my funeral to be gathered around (all two of them) and say something to the extent of: “he had such great potential, but he never did anything with it.” “He could have been great but he never sat down and worked hard.” “He always did the bare minimum and not one ounce more.” Sounds like a great way to be remembered right? This was my thinly veiled attempt to try and get one of those students to try and work harder (and I was obviously in a sarcastic mood). I’m more a fan of Rollin’s thoughts on this at the end of this interview at 11:11. Sitting down and working hard is what allows you to achieve your potential, so show some grit.
Another mental game that I believe in is adopting the growth mindset. This is where you come from the point of view that there is always room to improve and that you are still developing. How many people do you know that have been stuck at the same skills for years and without even a flicker of getting any better? That is an example of a fixed mindset, where they can only go so far and no farther. Keep yourself in the place of the student, constantly learning and improving. Adopting a growth mindset is what allows you to go from being mediocre to truly great with time, effort, and dedication.
When working I constantly try to remind myself that I have room to improve. This can be with work, teaching, writing, researching, and even training. In this mindset I can keep looking for ways to improve and move forward. Stay with the growth mindset and keep finding ways to be even better.
The greatest limitation put upon your body currently rests behind your eyes and between your ears. Your mind can either be what holds you back, or what allows you to actualize (and weaponize) your own body. Cultivate the power of your mind through improving your grit and mindset, but at the end of the day make sure that you are dedicated. Dedication means doing everything right, not just showing up for practice, but taking care of your body and your life outside of practice so it doesn’t negatively affect everyone else there. Thanks for taking the time to read this long series, I hope you got something out of it. If there is something cheer related or otherwise you would like me to write a bit on just let me know.