“I’m going to do today what others won’t, so I can do tomorrow what others cannot.”
Why do some people get up at 5 am? Why are they in the gym by 6 am? Why do they prioritize their food, their sleep, their mobility, and their training? Why are they succeeding in work? How do they make it all seem so easy? How do they find balance? What differentiates those who never give up, and those that do? What makes a champion? These are all valid questions, and there are numerous answers. However, there is one common building block that all successful people have.
Motivation is an internal energy force that determines how we behave; it also impacts how we think, feel and interact with others. In sport, motivation is an essential prerequisite to reach your potential. However, given its inherently abstract nature, it is a force that is often difficult to exploit fully. Initial motivation is easy, maintaining it through the $h!tty days is another story.
What do I mean by that? Well, we have all seen the YouTube video Bodybuilding.com released of Mat Fraser grinding away in his basement. The series was called “The Making of a Champion and episode one was subtitled “When no-one is looking”. In it, Fraser talks about how he puts in the hours when there is nobody around to cheer. Nobody to tell him good job. Just himself, the bar, and the clock. Knowing that, although it sucks now, it will pay off. Might not pay off today, tomorrow, or next month, but it will pay off eventually.
Motivation, in my mind, is an interesting thing. I believe true motivation comes from a goal that is truly yours. What I mean by that is a goal you would die for. A goal that is entirely yours. Something you do for you, not for the crowd, not for someone else, but purely for you. Intrinsic motivation is the most powerful form. It is the people who want to prove to themselves that they are capable of X, Y, or Z that are 100% all in. When you have a goal based around beating someone else… well chances are it will be much harder to stick to. Do you think Fraser trains hard to beat his competition? No. He trains to prove to himself that he is number one. That he is the fittest on earth.
I don’t believe you can be motivated by someone else, but you can be inspired. It may seem like a subtle distinction, but the worlds of motivation and inspiration are millions of miles apart. However, when motivation and inspiration meet, that is when the magic happens. Think of it this way; you need to be inspired to start, and motivated to continue. Some say motivation is not a positive thing, that it only refers to external factors but I disagree. In my experience, you need to be motivated to keep pushing, to keep going, to remember the goal when you are feeling like crap.
Let me tell you about a member who epitomizes motivation and inspiration. We all know Thea Lund. We all look at her and think “hot dayumn, that gal is a beast”. It is so easy to fall into the idea that she was born that way, that it comes easily to her. This is not the case. I recently started training with Thea at 6 am and have gotten an inside look into what it truly means to have goals and give them everything. To be internally motivated to the point where not even injury can derail you. Thea knows there is always a way to improve, there are always things to work on, and you can never stop believing in yourself.
Currently, Thea is having some back issues but unlike so many others, she refuses to use this as an excuse to give up. Thea still wakes up at 4:30 am and is in the gym by 6 am. Currently, she is focusing on some mental game, aerobic capacity, fixing movement patterns, and improving her gymnastics and body awareness. That is motivation.
Motivation is a funny thing. It comes easily in the beginning but it can leave you just as fast. Whether you have athletic goals, career goals, or life goals, you need to be motivated to tackle the hard stuff and just keep on moving towards those goals. Even when there is nobody around to pick you up or tell you how great you are.
So, what motivates you? Are you doing everything it takes? If not, assess if you are truly inspired and motivated by the goal. The only one who can push you is staring back in the mirror.