Ultimately, first and foremost, the important thing is: you know deep down what you have to do. You don’t actually need a role model, a hero, a guru, any peers, and you are the only audience that matters to you. The reason I included not having a guru in the title is that people often use waiting to be told what to do as an excuse not to do anything.
You are your coach, you are your drill instructor, you are your inspiration.
With that said you’re also a beginner and beginners makes mistakes that waste time. Doing it for yourself doesn’t mean doing it all by yourself.
So have a hero.
When I started getting fit my hero was Frank Turner. I have a What Would Frank Turner Do tattoo because Frank represents not needing rules or guidelines or even much of a plan to go out and do exactly what you want to do and say yes to everything. I listened to Frank everyday when I started running. Frank’s music was with me through the tough times and the great times.
Not a lot about discipline in Frank’s oeuvre though.
I heard Jocko Willink on Sam Harris’ podcast (Sam also being a hero of mine) and was instantly taken by him. Have you seen or read Generation Kill? In all my life of loving war stories I always fell into the trap of the tragedy of the soldier that sells so well. Generation Kill was the first thing that showed me what guys like that (Army Rangers spear heading the Irag invasion) were really like and it was eye opening. These guys weren’t tragedies, they weren’t psychos, they were just boys doing boy stuff at the highest level and they loved it.
When I heard Jocko, a Navy SEAL who also fought in Irag it was much the same but he took that warrior’s spirit to everything in life.
Listening to the podcast made me tougher, more ethical, more driven everyday.
Heros are above your level, they are who you want to be, peers are other people who are becoming who they want to be along side you.
It used to be that if you wanted work out friends, especially work out friends who were better than you so you could learn from them, you either had them or you didn’t. We’re all the average of our five closest friends and sometimes your five friends are losers.
But that’s fine. That means you get to be the spearhead. A lot of people want to improve themselves or take on big dreams but they’re waiting for permission. If they see you doing your thing they will do theirs.
And for your direct inspiration: thanks internet because we can now fill the social parts of our brain with any kind of friend we want. Jordan Shalhoub, Jeff Nippard, Stephanie Buttermore, Jeff Caveliere, the para-social relationships I check in with throughout the week. They’re always amped, they’re always informative, they’re the friends you need.
I do have real life friends that I talk about nutrition and training with, and that I’ve learned from, but I don’t get to see them multiple times a week.
You’re going to get better if you imagine yourself as part of better group. Work like the peers you want not the peers you got.
Then have an audience.
These are the people around you who are supportive. When you’re learning a lot, you want to talk about it, when you’re excited about something it comes out, we’re all social creatures we want to be known by others the way we know ourselves.
Make your goals part of your small talk, make it part of your social identity. Social media doesn’t actually work for this, you seem like a douche. But when someone casually asks what’s up I can casually talk about marathon training. It’s what’s up.
I can tell the exact length of a person’s social generosity – because I have almost none and I merely look for my own behaviour in them – and don’t go beyond it while also being sure to listen for a while too. People do like hearing someone talk about something they’re excited about even if it’s gibberish. At work we all talk about sports even though there’s almost no crossover in the sports we’re into.
Pride is not arrogance, accomplishment not vanity. However it all has it’s social graces. I’m also good at knowing when a person needs to be heard and when they just need to be talking.
I get fed up in conversation where I could be anybody, I could be a lamp-post, and this person would still be blathering.
So ask yourself if you’re sharing your excitement or merely indulging in it.
And like I said before, Don’t Have A Guru.
Don’t have one person you look to for all the answers unless it’s yourself. Don’t hide behind trends and fads, don’t think there’s one secret, don’t put ownership of your goals onto something else because you’re scared to own them yourself, because you’re scared of yourself.
Everyone I’ve mentioned and everyone you find are there to give you knowledge, not instruction. No plan is going to work for everyone you’re going to have to graze and pick from the advice of a lot of people. If something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t.
But there is always a path.