We too often think that those who achieve great things possess a larger brain or some innate talent, giving them the raw materials that we weren’t blessed with to transform themselves into geniuses and Masters. But through my research I’ve come to know that many of the greatest figures in history were mediocre students; they often came from poverty or broken homes; their parents or siblings did not display any kind of exceptional ability. Their powers did not appear in their early years, but were instead the fruits of intense labor and consistent routine.
This week has been an experiment in pushing my mental toughness & conditioning. Two weeks ago I hopped back on my training & diet regimen. I took most of the summer off from being disciplined. Looking back, it was the right strategy just executed poorly. Taking a “break” from my normal training has numerous benefits (mainly mental). But instead of replacing that time and discipline with something new, like a martial art (which is my mission for next summer) I stalled. I felt guilty from time to time for not doing what I “should” be doing.
There’s a fine balance between putting your nose to the grindstone and slothfulness. This particular lesson for the summer is something I am glad I learned this early in my life. Feeling guilty is not productive.
But on to the quote from Robert Greene.
Their powers did not appear in their early years, but were instead the fruits of intense labor and consistent routine.
This resonates with me and the athletes I coach and teach on a daily basis. Maybe I had more talent but I like to think I sucked out nearly every ounce of talent I had through sheer effort and determination. Being a chubby kid growing up made my early years a sort of hell. I knew how to be great at sports but my body wouldn’t allow it. I had good skills but if someone is faster than you it’s hard to showcase them. So I developed an intense work ethic coupled with a mental toughness that has built me to where I am today. And this is coming from someone who was as mentally weak as they come, I just hid it very well. My mom would echo that.
But through the early years and continuing today, “intense labor and consistent routine” leads me to places I imagined and some I couldn’t have.
My challenge to you (and to myself) is to stay the course. Envision the goal, write it down, keep it in your mind’s eye—and then work tirelessly day in and day out to reach this goal. Keeping your “mission” as Steven Pressfield recently wrote about at the forefront, you WILL reach the goal. And then you set another one. And another one.
Don’t allow people to dictate your future by judging your past. All we have is now. If I was my past, I would be the scared little boy that was afraid of getting outside his comfort zone. But I’m no that little boy. I have nurtured that little boy through lessons, failures, hardships, successes, accomplishments, routines, rituals, and seeking out mentors. And I’m eternally grateful for everything people have given me in regards to knowledge, experience, wisdom, and free information.
So go out, nurture your soul, and work ridiculously hard towards your goals. Or die with regret. It’s up to you!
I encourage you to check out Steven Pressfield’s book “The War of Art” on Audible. Get your first month free and get it. You can cancel anytime.