Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fitness Is...

Potential.

Everybody has it. Few reach it.

It’s easy to assume that people despise mediocrity because the world is littered with evidence of humanity’s desire to excel—our obsession with talent, our reverence for heroes, even our love of money. It’s easy to assume that everyone wants to be his or her physical best because everywhere there are those wishing for a better body type or a better lifestyle. They fill our virgin ears with a symphony of sincerity and aspiration, but listen closer. They clamor with empty voices.

The truth is that 90% of people just want to get by. We pretend our ultimate goal is to be the best version of ourselves, reading the right literature, quoting the right sources, joining the right gyms; but the reality is far less compelling. If we are truly honest we will admit that the level to which we might possibly rise is rarely our chief concern. More important is reaching the level where we can merely survive or, at the very least, mock survival. Getting there is much easier. Getting there requires less time, less pain, and less effort. Getting there is too often there enough.

I was speaking with my father the other day about a friend of ours whose son wanted to be a college football player. He had good size and natural talent, but he was a little slow and lacked the explosive quality most big programs look for in an athlete. One evening while having dinner with this family my dad suggested that the kid hang a bell at the top of the hill abutting their property and ring it every morning before going to school. Not only would sprinting up the hill begin to build the explosive power needed for speed and acceleration but the sound of the bell would become a symbol of his dedication to the goal. I wish I could say the kid went out and rang that bell every day, or committed himself to some other program in its place, but this isn’t that kind of story. He, like many others like him, chose instead to remain a card-carrying member of that mediocre 90%.

Why? Because greatness is HARD. Our bodies don’t care about potential. They were built to survive, not to excel, and survival has gotten pretty easy as of late. Our bodies don’t know that by being stronger and faster and leaner the likelihood of illness, disease, and injury drop dramatically. Our bodies only know that it hurts like hell getting there. It takes supreme physical and mental fortitude and an unflinching, genuine ambition to overcome these hurdles. Most of us lack this and it shows.

Now, maybe this kid would never have been great like Peyton Manning or Jerry Rice or Ray Lewis, just like some of us will always be at a higher risk for diabetes or arthritis than others, but that really isn’t the point. In this story his ability wasn’t being measured against theirs or any others, only against his own potential as an individual. He claimed that he wanted to be the best that he could be, to give himself the best chance to be a college football player. But when faced with the reality of what it would take to reach that goal he balked, exposing his ambitions as half-hearted and insincere, and his athletic future to be one ridden along the tired road to the middle. This is an all too common tragedy.

After hearing this story, I sat for a minute and observed my father. He was visibly disappointed by the kid’s inability to commit himself to his goal. Yet I knew for a fact that my dad had wanted to lose weight for years and failed to commit himself to doing so in much the same way. This struck me as a prevailing irony, not just in this conversation but in our culture in general, so I decided to ask him when was the last time he “rang the bell.” He was lost for a second, then smiled wryly as he got my meaning. “Too long,” he replied.

Sadly, it seems that our praise of greatness and our distaste for mediocrity is an appreciation and expectation reserved for others. We expect Jordan or Tiger or Ronaldo to reach their potential every time they compete and we shake our heads when they fall short. But we shrug off our love handles and that occasional chocolate cake as acceptable losses. We cry for the children growing up without physical opportunities, yet lie on the couch and amicably waste ours away. We claim we’re too old, too fat, too injured, or too tired. The truth is we’re too obsessed with getting by.

The good news is that physical potential does not expire. It has no shelf life. Whatever state you’re in at whatever moment, you can always be better. SO BE BETTER. Too often people try to do this by setting a number to hit, a person to beat, or a mirror to impress, implicitly attaching a finite quality to the process. This focus is flawed. As you change and improve, so too should your potential grow and your ambition swell. Remember that fitness is a goal inadvertently attained through the systematic overestimation of yourself in all fields. It’s a byproduct of setting the bar too high, of striving for perfection and falling just short. It’s knowing that you’ll never get there but trying your damndest nonetheless. It’s constantly pushing your limits in every direction regardless of your skill. It’s finding a way to keep ringing the bell.

Do this and we inevitably yield the best version of ourselves.

29 comments:

  1. Wow, deep... but hit the nail on the head with this one. Definitely a good lesson there, thanks for that.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great article mate - your right perfection is not attainable but, if we chase perfection we will catch excellence.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Inspiring Blair! Thank you. Back in my days at the box, I rang the bell at 0515 every day, but after moving overseas, I've settled for the 90% solution. Time to start ringing that bell again!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well said. Just recently started to follow this blog with my introduction to CrossFit and I have to say you have hit the bulls eye with this one. I plan on copying this and sending this to my friend who has just started this new workout program with me. Inspiring and truthful. Thanks for a great morning read.

    ReplyDelete
  5. As usual, great thoughts. Keep it up.

    ReplyDelete
  6. When is the "Fitness Is..." book coming out?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Amazing post Blair! It is sad but true a lot of us strive to better but fail when we realize we how much work it is.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post. Blair, I'm looking into using the 5/3/1 method to increase my numbers in the core movements. How do you work it into your normal training? How do you decide what you are going to supplement with? Have you noticed big improvements? I would like to get your insight and ask you a few more questions. Keep the post coming.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Fantastic writing, completely hit home with me. Though I gotta say, my brain hurts reading the white text on that crazy background. Who's with me??? Seriously, good stuff right here - glad I stumbled upon it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks. Well said and I have shared it with many clients.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The best thing i`ve read for years. Thank you, and another thank you for a great shirt !

    Regards / David , Sweden

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Photoshop Clipping Path, Masking, Image Manipulation service provider. Free Trial, Quality guaranteed, Express Delivery, Cheap cost, 24 hrs support.
      Generation Weddings

      Delete
  13. Awesome words--now, it is time for me to ask MY Dad when he "rang the bell" last...

    ReplyDelete
  14. That was inspiring and a wake up call for me.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for writing this! Very timely as I needed that kick to push my limits in just over a week.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is a great post ! it was very informative. I look forward in reading more of your work. Also, I made sure to bookmark your website so I can come back later. I enjoyed every moment of reading it.how does raspberry ketone work |raspberry ketone reviews does it work |how raspberry ketones work

    ReplyDelete
  17. I’ve been writing essays for how many years and today I’m more on academic essay writing and I’m happy to be like my dad, a professional writer. | |

    ReplyDelete
  18. instant hot water heater, a familiar vision in Europe as other places, acquire a reputation suitable for energy efficiency, which translates into much more money in your pocket and less strain on the environment.

    ReplyDelete
  19. The demand for tankless water heating tank is increasing with spare time. Many people prefer to make use tank over conventional ones, as preserving the earth . user friendly is definitely some unique and innovative features. Apart from that, tankless water heater heats water quickly than any a lot of water heaters. Tankles water heating units can be easily installed.br>
    If you need to save money, save less all over your energy costs, help go green, only use the tightest amount of hot water possible you should consider purchasing a tankless water heater. This water warming up cannot only protect you from a bundle inside costs but helps save in space and also help you head to the better for the environment market. Consider purchasing rheem water heater New Orleans in today's market from Avalon Water line.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Any you choose, end result will be considerably energy savings and much less pollution. Additionally a continuous view of instant hot water. A tankless water heater tank means you can enjoy plentiful hot water and save.br>
    This kind program provides incentives on high-efficiency property gas storage together with water heaters, clothes washers, natural gas laundry dryers, programmable thermostats, and low-flow showerheads.

    Together with those lines, there's no wasting of water or other tactics with tankless hot water heaters. Cutting down on the energy statement helps the home wallet as nicely as the ecological. And the environment is also with the small size of a tankless hot water heater. Not only are far lesser materials used to construct it, but shedding it when it must be replaced is a lot less difficult and will use up much less spaciousness in a land fill.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Your knowledge of this subject comes through clearly in this article. I love to read this kind of articles, I hope you will update it. Thank you for sharing it with me obesity research paper

    ReplyDelete
  22. Great post!,Thanks for sharing this useful information.We will wait for your next article soonly.Very nice and valuable post! Thanks for sharing this. how to take raspberry ketones

    ReplyDelete
  23. I really love your article. It is good and useful. share we keep in touch more about your post on AOL? I require an expert on this house to unravel my problem. May be that’s you! Taking a look ahead to look you.Franchises UK

    ReplyDelete
  24. I look forward in reading more of your work. Also, I made sure to bookmark your website so I can come back later. I enjoyed every moment of reading it.essay help by writerslounge

    ReplyDelete