Plain and Simple

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We just finished our fall series of training and one of the consistent questions I am asked from students is: “what can I do to get better?” My answer has three parts, each of which are very simple: stop trying, put in the work, and take up your space.

Stop trying. The word try is defined as “to attempt to accomplish something.” Trying is one of the worst words in any language. Trying sets you up for failure. Trying is defeatist. I dislike the word try so much that in my own life I have replaced it with “work”. Think of your biggest goal right now, or a situation or circumstance you have been struggling with within your own life, replace the word try with work, and then speak it out loud. Here are a couple of mine: I am going to work to be a better father. I am going to work to be a better writer. Trying begets failure. Stop trying, start working, because work is what it takes.

Put in the work. American writer Elbert Hubbard said “The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.” Unfortunately work sucks. Plain and simple. That’s why it’s called work, which is “effort to produce or accomplish; productive activity”. Work is about doing. You can see in the definition the words effort and activity. In order to be good at something you must put in the work – you must put in the effort, the activity – every day. Putting the work in every day is the difference between style and lifestyle. If you want to be good at something make your work your lifestyle. In the end, it all comes down to you and the work. In strength training it is just you and the weight, in writing just you and the page, and in all things, it is just you and your spirit.

Take up your space. This has been one of the hardest to implement for me, and it is the one with, at times, I struggle the most. I run my own successful business, I teach at one of the most revered organizations on the planet, and I am an adjunct instructor at one of the finest schools in the world – some would think that it be easy for me to think of myself as the best guy in the room. But I don’t. I find it difficult at times to take up my space – to step into the light, to stand at the front of the pack, to be at center stage, and to get my voice heard. And then I remember that it isn’t about me, it’s about the student. It isn’t about me. It isn’t about you. It’s about the weight, it’s about the blank page. So step into that space – fully take it up. To the edges of that space fill it with your spirit. Confidently.

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