I had the good fortune of interviewing Nick Shaw the CEO and Founder of Renaissance Periodization last week about his new book, “Fit For Success.” Nick was gracious enough to send over a signed copy, I’m really a huge fan of the book. Specifically, because Nick has a talent for putting complicated concepts into easy to understand systems. If you don’t know Nick or RP, then you probably don’t understand why he has the right to write a book on success. RP has been the nutrition coach of choice for multiple Crossfit Games Athletes, not to mention Rich Froning Jr. (COUGH). Nick’s skills are not reserved for nutrition coaching though.
He has taken his skill-set for achievement and developed the number 2 Nutrition Podcast in the world. His diet application is number 7 in the world. I can hear some people saying yes, everything this guy touches turns to gold just like Midas. I would point you toward his book and specifically what is at the base of his “Pyramid of Success.”
Have you ever met a person who has a bad work ethic? Rarely if ever do you meet a person who self-admittedly has an awful work ethic. Why? Because it is highly frowned upon within the American Mystique to be a person who can’t find their bootstraps. I argue that work ethic is much like cleanliness. Everyone thinks they’re a very clean person until they meet an individual who has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and sees their kitchen is as clean as an operating room. Work ethic is very similar to this. I myself never realized how hard I could work until the Marine Corps Infantry forced me to push past previous self-imposed and self-limiting beliefs. I would argue that when you think you are working hard you can most likely work even harder.
Why should you work so hard though, and why is it required for whatever your New Year’s Resolution may be? Well, I’ll let Nick Shaw tell you why in this awesome excerpt from his book.
In a direct sense, work causes success. And in some cases, the minimum amount of work that is required for success can be quite high. Creating a vaccine requires scientists to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of hours working diligently in their laboratories. Computer programmers must write hundreds of thousands of lines of code if they want to create an effective computer program. And Olympic weightlifters must train for thousands of hours if they want any chance to represent their countries and to compete on the world’s grandest stage.
Failing to meet these minimum thresholds of effort doesn’t lead to less success, but no success at all. Programmers who don’t finish writing the necessary lines of code will develop not a less functional program but one that does nothing useful whatsoever. Chemists who don’t log all of the necessary hours of research in the bio lab won’t create a less-effective vaccine. They simply won’t create a vaccine. The hard truth of the matter is this: if you want to be successful in the modern world, you have to work long, and hard just to have a chance at it.Nick Shaw, Fit For Success
So whatever your goal is for 2021 it’s time to quantify and qualify what kind of work it will take to reach that goal. How many hours do you need to put in? How will you put in said hours? What are the potential things that can get in your way? If you are not asking yourself these things to make this goal tangible, and attainable, then I think you’re already setting yourself up for failure. Remember, right now you’re extremely motivated to take on this new goal in 2021. That motivation is good, you should use it to feed the work ethic you will need to attain this goal. That being said, the question of motivation running out is not a question of if, it is a question of when.
David Goggins puts it the best when he talks about the mindset we are in when we are setting these goals. Everyone says they want to be a (insert warrior class here) Seal, Ranger, Marine (EERRAHH), when they’re warm and on their couch. Life is comfortable. It’s extremely easy to say you’re gonna go do that thing. Next thing you know you’re sitting in a fighting hole in the hills of Quantico in 15-degree temperatures watching your buddy babble from hypothermia. In that moment, your goal to be a big bad Marine Infantry Officer or anything else does not seem so appealing.
When we actually are working toward our goals is when it really sucks. Many great athletes admit that they hate every day of training. They just have convinced themselves that suffering now is worth the payoff in the long-run. Motivation will run out. Things will get extremely difficult and your desire to push forward will waiver. When that happens you have a single thing left to keep you going. Discipline.
Merriam Webster defines discipline as, “Control gained by enforcing obedience or order, orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior, SELF-CONTROL.” The military is extremely familiar with discipline because very frequently troops are put in the most testing situations. The American Military does not place its bid for success in the belief that men will rise to the occasion, instead we assume that they will sink to their level of training.
As a Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor I was shown a clip of a man being heldup by a robber with a gun. The man being held up had some combative training because without hesitation he disarmed the robber. Seconds later though, you can see on the clip, the man handing the weapon back to his would-be robber. Why the hell did he do that? He did that because he was trained over and over to practice this technique with a friendly training partner and hand it back to his partner. He had someone point a gun to his head and his body over-ran his mind. When things were absolutely awful for him he did not rise to the occasion, he did what he was trained to do through disciplined and repetitive action.
So how do we impose a tenacious work-ethic and rigorous discipline on ourselves? The WHY. Right now while motivation is high I recommend you write down a very detailed explanation to yourself on why you want to undertake your 2021 resolution. Why do you want a six-pack? Why do you want to become a Marine? Why do you want to read 20 books this year? Why do you want to quit smoking? In most cases, it’s for someone else. That woman you want to attract, that thing you want to prove to your parents, the knowledge you want to gain, or the children you want to live for.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter why you want to do something. It just matters that you know why you want to do something. Now, wherever you write that down, you better go back and read that in a week when you’re ready to give up on your resolution. Want to be more extreme like David Goggins? Put it on a sticky note on your mirror so you can see it every day first thing when you wake up. However you do it make sure you have something powerful to see every single day to remind yourself why you need to keep going.
John McCarthy is a Father, Son, Husband and former Marine Infantry Officer. He serves his local community and just wants to push people to be better humans. Check out the Tough Talk Podcast and other writings on this website to learn more.