What a discouraging headline for a blog post, right? Stick with me though, I promise you’ll have something interesting to think about.
When I was transforming my fitness and my body, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. I cringe remembering all the things I did wrong and all the ways I could have hurt myself.
But I also remember how determined I was. I was willing to do anything and everything necessary to accomplish my goals. I never hesitated, I never held back, and I never succumbed to paralysis by analysis. I had complete faith that I would achieve my goals, mainly because I didn’t know any better.
Sure, doubts occasionally surfaced. I wondered if I just wasn’t built to be fit, that I simply could never do the things I wanted to, that they were too dangerous, or too hard, or too whatever. But I ignored those thoughts because, even if they were true, I would never know until I tried, and I would get a lot further without them anyway.
The result was that, despite making a lot of mistakes, I actually did accomplish my goals. Eventually, I got to the point where I needed to have better strategies — I actually needed to know what I was doing — but I got a surprisingly long way running on pure passion. I made a fool of myself, I offended others (not intentionally), I injured myself, I inspired others, and I transformed myself.
Often, we refuse to believe that we can do something until we are absolutely sure that we know the right way to do it.
The result is endless research and ultimately, hesitation.
Classic example: never starting an exercise program because you can’t settle on the perfect one.
Believing you can do something, or at least that you can learn as you go, is the essential ingredient. And if you do 90% wrong with enough determination and a willingness to change course as you grow, you will make a lot more progress than the other guy who refuses to take the first step until he’s figured out the perfect way to do it.
This technique applies in the large scale, not the small scale. The best way to win at chess is to think carefully about your moves. The best way to get good at thinking about your moves is to play a lot of games, make mistakes, and decide you’re going to do the work to get good, whether or not you “have a head for chess.” Study all the books you want, but you’ll still get farther with mediocre strategies and a lot of practice than you will with excellent strategies and zero game time.
Remember, when I started training, I was a scrawny, asthmatic, pasty, 145 lb kid. I learned from fitness magazines. Fitness magazines! I hate fitness magazines! I wrote an entire book on why fitness magazines are a terrible place to get fitness advice. But that’s how I started. I would have been stuck if I settled for what I was getting, but I had my eye on a bigger goal. But I know I got better because I cared, not because I found awesome advice.
And yes, I know the saying, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” But to learn what perfect practice looks like, you have to get through the imperfect.
Being able to work through the imperfect requires an obsession with your goal, a willingness to try, to test, to adjust, and to constantly pursue excellence. It is constant pursuit of an ever-moving target.
Which is why it is hard. Until it becomes your normal.
This is starting to sound like a Nike commercial, so I’m done. Leave a comment.