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You Gotta be Prepared or Tough.

Either Way, Take Yourself Seriously!

· personal growth,personal change,mindfulness,motivation,forgiveness

You gotta be prepared or tough. There are no other options in life.

I noticed early on in my coaching career that forgiveness is always appreciated but it never gets results. There is a categorical difference between what we all want, and what we need. Rarely are they the same thing.
When your role is mediate people's path's to change, you can't help but see the internal battles manifest in a variety of predictable, unproductive ways. We often resist change (and the pains of transformation) and yet yearn for results at the very same time.
If you've ever put your heart and soul into a growth or learning process, one that lasts more than a few weeks and one you could accurately describe as uncomfortable, then you know that your mind will try to sabotage your progress at some point. It does this in subtle ways and for good reason.

Neural plasticity is on every mindfulness coach's concept cue cards these days. You are what you do. Thinking and doing things forms concrete neural pathways that, with either a lot of repetition or an emotionally impactful event, formalize and condition responses for the future. Change is about resisting those conditioned impulses and choosing, at least for today, that I will be my better self. I won't fall back on the same negative patterns.

So yes, your neurology is built for meaning-making, and it's at ease when it understands. But growth is, by definition, beyond comprehension. If you already got it, you'd already be it. And while we often think we know the things we need to do, it's more likely the things we think we know are not actually the key insights or facts that make the difference for me, here, now.

Change is uncomfortable. Growth often hurts. This is the starting point. And while it's easy to face that for a few weeks, a few months of it will test anyone's spirits. And what happens when we begin to feel inadequate? When we begin to slip up and fail to accomplish the actions or results we know are good for us? We make excuses...but in smart ways.
  • I'm busy.
  • There was a lot of traffic.
  • A good friend dropped by and I couldn't just say no. That's what good friends do.
  • I was too tired.
  • It was just one session missed. Just one drink. Just one chocolate bar.
  • I realized it just wasn't that important to me after all, and I've moved on.
  • I made some progress in the right direction, and I'm happy with that.
And so the critic intervenes and encourages you to celebrate small wins while taking big losses. Or to forgive yourself for small indiscretions, despite the fact they derail the whole process after a couple weeks.
And so I implemented a very simple penalty system for clients back in Shanghai. Occasionally clients would rebel and say they wouldn't do them after they'd earned them and learned about them for the first time. But this system could only work if they knew that there were only two choices - do the penalties and own your choices fully, or leave and don't come back. I was there for them. Their inability to show up compromised my ability to do my job, and it sabotaged their own desired results. This isn't good for anybody.
So while asking for grace feels good, is it really what you need?

My penalty system was simple:

  • Late (even 30 seconds) for any reason but sent courtesy messagein advancetelling me they'd be late = 100 squats before the session begins.
  • Late without a courtesy message = 150 squats
  • If the latter happened more than once, add a hundred to that number each time.
  • Missing a session but gave advanced courtesy call - zero penalty. Shit happens.
  • Missing a session altogether without a courtesy note, next session starts with 400 squats.
It's not a penalty if it doesn't hurt.
It was a uniform system that everyone learned very quickly after the first incident. And if not the first, certainly the second. There was no judgment. No argumentation. If you want the session, you honor the system. Now the coach sees that you respect the process...he can now respect you and look after your growth effectively. And you know that your health is not a fucking joke. Your excuses are not excuses that keep you from a session, they're excuses that hold you back in life. Own up to that real compromise, because if you don't you're doomed to repeat it, to stand still, indefinitely.

A client friend once asked me about this, as it seemed a rather ball-busting approach to business, if not coaching. I answered - In life you gotta be prepared or tough. There are no other options. You prioritize and schedule, make space for what matters, show up early, and execute. roll up whenever you wake up and take your hits, fighting through the pain like a stubborn ass. Both can work. One creates a lot fewer scars.

He then asked me how I'd feel if someone could take the penalty, and kept showing up late or overlooking courtesy messages. I replied - the courtesy messages are eventually a deal breaker, but if courtesy is present and if he survives the penalties, then I know he'll both get the results he came for, and he's strong enough to make being stubborn a tactic in life. He'll be fine. But...I've never seen anyone make it that way.

Take yourself seriously. If you want to feel better, look better, be healthier, be wealthier, hell, do anything at all that you find meaningful, you gotta focus. And focusing isn't just about creating the grand vision and manifesting goodness. That's easy. The hard part is putting skin in the game and creating systems that reward you for being your best self and sting when you fail yourself. No one is gonna make it happen for you. If you don't take yourself seriously enough to plan, to focus, to sacrifice, and to accept correction and realign when drifting off course, what game are you playing?
The squats were reminders that this game has edge. It takes work. It doesn't get easier over time. You cannot get complacent regarding your goals and casually choose something that conflicts. No, for that you get stung.
If you're not on the ball today, executing YOUR goals, this email is a reminder. It's a sting. Stop whatever you're doing and schedule space for you to do you, superhero style.

Be weightless!

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