A favorite topic of discussion at my previous job was the topic of “all things awesome.” It always made for spirited debate in that neverending discussion throughout human history of what is awesome and what is just simply completely NOT awesome. It could almost stand to be its own branch of philosophical study: awesomeology. What always make the debate such fun is that there really is no way to create a precise, objective and well-defined explanation of what is truly is. There is no perfect formula for awesomeness… but if there were, that would clearly be awesome in its own right. Awesomeness is something you just see and know, in your heart of hearts, that it is something awesome.
One of my favorite thinkers in the realm of awesomeology is Jim Wendler over at EliteFTS. While you could peruse through an endless number of posts Jim has up at EliteFTS in the Q&A section or his own training log, I think I saw his philosophy on awesome was best put in a recent interview he did. In describing why he did certain exercises or trained a certain way, he explained he picked those things because they were awesome. In fact, it was basically his North star when it came to making decision on his training because he would ask himself a simple question: Is doing this awesome? If so, he’ll do it. If not, he’ll take a pass. And for those people who would ask, “Gee, Jim… but how would I know if something is awesome or not?” he had a simple, response (which I will paraphrase): Umm… if you have to ask if something is awesome, then it is decidedly not awesome.
Now how can you argue with that? Oh, I can see some naysaying about how you sometimes just need to do things to do them and there is truth to that. Cleaning the bathroom and other sundry household chores are not exactly reeking with awesomeness… but for a lot of other things in life? Those things that fall into far more discretionary activities? The awesome standard is really a pretty damn good one.
So for me, Jim’s view on weightlifting and training has shaped a decent chunk of what I do now. I follow his 5/3/1 training system, I use very fundamental lifts when I exercise (bench, squat, deadlift, military press, cleans, dips, pull-ups, rows, etc.) and I love my Prowler. To me, there are few things as painful as going to the local gym I have a membership for (a just in-case kind of thing… I have been there maybe 5 times this year) and lifting on machines or sitting on a piece of cardio equipment for 30 to 60 minutes. Yikes. It makes my skin crawl to think about it and when I’ve actually gone and tried it a few months back, I felt completely annoyed the entire time I was there. Not good times and certainly not awesome.
But in a larger view, I began to ponder a bit how much of what I do would fit within the awesome scale, whether my job, my social life, the activities I engage in and so on. It’s a pretty sobering piece of thinking to undertake because it’s ridiculously easy to fall into patterns of doing things just to do them. As incredibly brilliant and intelligent as we can be as human beings, we also seem to have a completely uncanny ability to fall into mindless patterns which we may not notice until much later, if at all. We might eat complete crap because we don’t think much about our diet. We might plunk down in front of the TV without even knowing if anything is worth watching and surf channels like a lobotomized monkey for 3 hours because… well… we’re not all that sure.
It’s in the sense that mindfulness seems to become more and more important in how I live my own life. For instance, I have written numerous times about how I will do something, enjoy it and then not get around to doing it again for months to only think “Huh… why did I stop doing that anyway?” Mindfulness, pure and simple. I think the awesomeness equation can fall into this same sort of vein: if you are not stopping on occasion to think about whether what you are doing with yourself is actually worthwhile or something you would be proud to tell your grandkids about some day… then why in the hell are you doing it???
So besides this jazzy shirt (which says “Proud To Be Awesome” and you cannot quite read because my pure jacked-ness caused some wrinkling in the fabric), I need to begin my own development of mindfulness reminders. Perhaps in the way that Notre Dame’s football teams has its sign as you head out of their locker room that says “Play Like A Champion Today” I need the equivalent on my front door at home that says “Be Awesome Today”… except the sign would need fire and dragons and explosions and muscle cars… because that would be AWESOME.