Thursday AM this past week was a conditioning day and instead of my typical fun with the Prowler, I thought I would change things up and do some 50 yard sprints at the football field of my town’s high school.
On the drive over to the field, my mind gently wandered about a little bit and I began to think about this blog and the overall message of it. I think this was motivated by a book I am reading on blogging that advises bloggers to develop their “elevator pitch” to easily explain what their blog is all about.
Then I got to thinking about others I’ve seen who have motivational style posts… except… well… there was something about their message I couldn’t quite shake.
Make a video about it. Put it on the YouTubes. Boom. Go time.
Motivation can come from a lot of different places, some internal and some external. I hear people debate over which is really the most powerful, but I tend to find the debate odd in that I think it’s impossible to separate the two. I think they effect each other in many ways.
My motivation right now is pretty powerful and it’s really not one that is a typical driving force for me to do good things… but it is at the moment. What, pray tell, could this mysterious catalyst be?
Fear. Pure and straight-up. Not on the rocks. No chaser. Straight out the bottle and into my gut fear.
This isn’t some kind of fear borne of what I would call real world worry – losing a job, a loved one, serious medical issues, etc. Nonetheless, it is a fear for me as sure as can be.
The fear in question? The logo above will say it all. I’m signed up to compete in the May 6, 2012 Tough Mudder race at Mt. Snow in Vermont. Why? Because despite my many years of education and belief that I am a productive, semi-respectable and contributing member of society, I am also a complete idiot. Obviously. Why else would anyone opt to do a race of a shade over 10 miles with 30 increasingly bizarre obstacles… especially when the farthest I’ve ever run was 5 miles for the last obstacle course race I did.
Now, the obstacles themselves actually don’t really worry me in the slightest. Hell, they actually look kind of fun. The thing that concerns is… well… IT’S 10 MILES FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!
Anyone who follows my adventures on this blog can see I’m a weightlifter. We Kuzia’s are built a bit more for strength or explosive moments of fury over short distances… not quite so much for slogging along over reaaaaalllllly loooonnnnnng stretches. I’m 5’7” and 192 lbs of twisted steel and sex appeal. That’s not really Boston Marathon winning proportions, ya know?
But I’m signed up, on a team and committed. And I know how hard it was for me to do the 5 mile race (which I can see I was WOEFULLY prepared for from an endurance standpoint). That knowledge has begotten fear… a fear of what I will feel like at mile 5 when I am only halfway done and with 15 obstacles and 5 more miles to go. A fear of feeling like I just want to drop to my knees, roll to the side of the course and just lay there, staring at the sky for… ohh… several hours.
And all of that, my friends, drives me and drives me hard. My conditioning sessions are not skipped these days. They are never shortened. While I am not perfect with my eating (I believe in the rule of 90% on that kind of thing), I am eating better than I have in a while. The countdown clock on my desktop which is ticking away the time I have left until this event (112 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 22 seconds as of this moment) is my reminder that the amount of time I have to work with is very finite. Not being prepared is just not an option.
The fear is a simple one: I don’t want to let my teammates down and I don’t want to let myself down… especially when I have the time and ability to be completely prepared.
I wouldn’t ever recommend fear as a primary motivator for much of anything. It can easily cloud your otherwise clear vision cause you to make some utterly horrible decisions. But on something like this? With a clear path and a clear end goal? Fear can cut away all clutter… all extraneous nonsense… and be a completely beautiful thing.
Quick side note: The Tough Mudder races do some excellent work raising money for a great cause – The Wounded Warrior Project. If you are interested in helping me with my fundraising, please click HERE to donate. I can think of few things better than giving back to the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for us to enjoy our freedoms.
Mojo. An absolute fantastic word that is truly difficult to define. You could go with what our good friends at Merriam-Webster and say it is:
a magic spell, hex, or charm; broadly: magical power <works his mojo on the tennis court>
That’s pretty good… not great, but a fairly solid B on the grading scale of life.
I tend to think of mojo more from the Dr. Evil definition from Austin Powers:
Austin Powers always defeats me because he has mojo… The libido . The life force. The essence. The right stuff . What the French call a certain I-don’t-know-what.
Granted that seems rather vague, but the vagueness is the beauty of it all in the end. Mojo is the juice that gets you going and excited about life. It’s passion, but with a bit of a funky twist.
Mojo has been on my mind of late, mostly because I have had a loss of it for a variety of reasons. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not exactly all-world when it comes to dealing with change, but despite that fact, life has given me a bit of it over the last year or so. Funny how life works like that – you would think it would just listen to my wise counsel on how things would go, but apparently not. Slowly but surely, I woke up to find myself just not quite feeling it… and that’s really the problem with losing your mojo. It’s not as if you are struck by a blinding white light like Saul on the road to Damascus, but it’s more of a slow creep that nibbles away bit by bit when you lose your vigilance.
Heck, a prime example of my mojo loss was this very blog that means quite a bit to me. I had to go back and look at it today to see when my last update occurred… February 28th. Yeesh. But I was just not feeling the inspiration or the muse to make this blog happen… so today, I decided “Aww screw this” and sat down to write the words you read this very moment.
But let me be crystal clear in my view of the loss of mojo… it doesn’t happen because of what life does to you. Not at all. It happens because of how you respond to what life throws at you.
For instance, let’s say life went all circa 1985 Doc Gooden on you by throwing you a major curveball – the kind that no one alive is going to be able to deal with well. Break-up. Job loss. Illness of a loved one. Those things are certainly going to drop you in your tracks for sure and any of those scenarios takes a lot of time, effort, patience and faith to pull through. In that sense, no one on earth should expect someone dealing with anything like that to immediately bounce up and say, “Well dagnabbit all! Life is all about how I respond and not allowing anything to be done to me! I think I’ll go watch Mary Poppins and whistle a happy tune!”
But at some point in that coping process, it becomes a lot less about whatever happened and all about how you respond to it. For bigger life changes, that period is longer and you shouldn’t beat yourself up for not bouncing back like a damn superball. You cannot be low forever. You cannot mourn for an eternity. You cannot go all Brian Wilson and lock yourself away in your house for years while wearing a bathrobe as your fashion statement on a daily basis.
Which is why I love this Nike commercial so much:
Because it’s about at least pushing yourself to see how quick you’re gonna get up.
As always, the words I write in this blog do not come from a place where I am sitting idly back and pronouncing forth how I think everyone else should live because I have it all figured out. I write this because it is equally a challenge to myself to do more, to be better and… in this case… to reclaim my mojo. I just hope detailing some elements of my own personal fight gives hope or insight or even just a sliver of amusement to those who read this.
So to end it all, I give you the example of Sylvester Stallone. No, seriously. While Sly makes for a very easy target these days, it helps to think back to his earliest days before he was a big star. Why? Because in spite of everything he faced and all the hurdles in his way, he kept his mojo working against a Fat Bastard world that was seeking to sap it all from him. Listen as Tony Robbins tells the story of Rocky:
Mojo – use it or lose it, people. It’s far easier to keep than to reclaim. I let it slip and now I’m working hard to get it back.
The month of January is the carnival of newbie-dom at gyms and health clubs across this nation of amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesty… you know, above the fruited plain and such? Anyhoo, while I am fully one to applaud the efforts of anyone looking to get into better health and such, there are clearly some hazards.
MSNBC had an article this week on the variety of injuries incurred by those looking to get back into shape or just into shape for the first time ever. The article itself was not terribly remarkable to me… until I got to the following passage:
In a fit of New Year’s resolution frenzy, Taryn Wright marched herself to the gym and onto a treadmill on a January afternoon two years ago. “I had never — literally, never — worked out before, ever, in my life,” says Wright, who’s 31 and lives in Chicago. But, she reasoned, “How hard could it be? All these muscle heads are doing this high on steroids. I can do this!”
At first, she walked. Then, spurred on by the imaginary scorn of her surrounding exercisers, she kicked it up a couple notches — and couldn’t keep up. She flew to the end of the treadmill, caught herself at the edge and did a weird little hop back to the front of the machine. “It lifted the end of the treadmill and sent it crashing down to the floor,” says Wright.
It’s not the fact of her tumbling onto the floor that caught me. Believe me, I have had enough near-disasters in gyms to last me a lifetime. I’m just thankful I’ve come out fine in all of those cases.
But it’s that one damn line…. “How hard could it be? All these muscle heads are doing this high on steroids. I can do this!”
My problem with this line and this mentality is that if people are out there looking to get in shape and immediately start off assuming that anyone who looks slightly muscular is on steroids… well… then they’re simply working from a place of failure from the get-go. Too harsh? Honestly, I’m not so sure.
The problem I see with this mentality (and I have heard it from several different people before) is that it is a case of seeing those who are successful and immediately jumping to they must be cheating or taking shortcuts to get where they are. It’s the act of tearing down others who are in a place we wish we were in, so instead of using them as an inspiration or a goal or even a point of competition, it’s easier to say, “She must have had work done” or “Pfft. He’s obviously on steroids.”
Are there people in gyms on steroids? Sure. Are there people out there who have had “work” done on themselves? Of course.
But here is the crux of the matter: if you start in a place that anyone who is leaner or stronger or has a better build or whatever it may be cut corners to get there, all you are doing is building your cushion for failure… because hey, if you cannot get into the shape they got into, it’s because you have ethics or morals or standards unlike them. It couldn’t possibly be that you just didn’t want to put in the time or dedication to accomplish those goals. Oh gosh no! That requires accountability.
And who has time for accountability anyway? That takes up too much time from carefully crafting that comfy velvet wrapped failure cushion. It really does pull a room (or an enormous set of excuses) together exquisitely, don’t you think?