I had an amazing workout with my fitness coach this morning. Actually, Kimberly is more of a “transformation coach” than a fitness coach. (That’s her on the left, of course.) She has a very interactive mind/body/spirit approach so our time together is a fabulous combination of hard physical activity (she’s teaching me to HIT things so watch out!) honing my form to shape the “little muscles,” and working on my nutrition plan and my mindset.
One of the things that I love about working with Kimberly is that I am NEVER bored with my workout. I have a typical entrepreneurial mind - always in high gear. If it isn’t engaged with what I’m physically doing, my body just has to go on without it because it is racing away thinking about all the other things I’m going to do, want to do, dreaming of doing, and so on. That can lead to boredom, impatience, aborted workouts, and, if I continue with my workout after my mind has moved on to something more interesting it can spoil my form and keep me from getting the most out of my efforts. (It can even lead to injury if my form slips that much.)
So Kimberly, who tells me I’m in good company and a LOT of her clients are like that, keeps every exercise a little more mentally challenging by designing combinations of movements that make me have to think about what I’m doing. We don’t do squats then rows – we do them in combination. That means I have to think about holding the squat position, pay attention to keeping my shoulders back, abs tight, knees not over toes, AND keep the rhythm of the row going. That’s a lot to think about the first few times I do it.
This morning I observed that the more I had to think about, the less weight I could manage. When she adds another element I have to drop the weight until I master the form. For Kimberly, I think this might have been a “Well, DUH” moment but she was kind and didn’t say so.
It got me thinking though about how we go through our tasks on autopilot and how difficult it is to make changes in how we do something or to do something new. By the time I got home I had three pretty good principles that I believe apply equally to everything we do.
1.) It takes repetition before we can do anything on autopilot.
I can take a walk, listen to music and compose a poem I will never write all at the same time. But that’s because I’ve been walking and listening to music and making up poems for a very long time. When I first started walking I had to pay attention just to put one foot in front of the other. When I first discovered music I was so fascinated I couldn’t NOT give it my full attention. When I first started stringing words together as poems I could get so lost in my dreamworld I’d forget that I was even standing on solid ground, let alone walking on it. After years and years of repetition, however, these are three things I can do with very little mental focus.
2.) The more precise we need to be the less desirable it is to do it on autopilot.
Walking or running as part of a training regimen is a little more precise than just going for a pleasant stroll in the park. Switching to autopilot on a training run could lead to turning an ankle on an errant twig or tripping over a crack in the sidewalk. Swinging a kettle bell is more precise still, and going to autopilot and getting out of form can cause injuries in the lower back. Doing curls while balancing on one of those squishy half circle things requires complete focus or I’ll fall.
3.) The more desire you have to do a thing the more willing you are to put the focus and repetition into mastering it.
Brian Tracy, in his 7 Rules of Success says, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.” For many of us, this is a real “brick wall” because we don’t LIKE to do anything poorly. We’re conditioned to enjoy doing only those things we do well. We’re also conditioned to avoid doing anything we don’t enjoy.
So to reach a level of mastery that allows you to even enjoy doing a thing, let alone do it on autopilot, do it consistently well, or do it for maximum results we must first DO it repeatedly. Never mind “practice makes perfect.” What about “practice makes possible?” Or, better yet, “practice makes FUN!”
Think about something you’d like to do consistently, effortlessly, effectively, enjoyably. How OFTEN are you willing to do it clumsily, with difficulty and with less than desirable results? That’s the equation, the more often you do it the sooner you’ll do it the way you WANT to do it.
If it’s something you really, really want, but you keep hitting that brick wall of “doing it poorly isn’t fun” get help. That’s what I did and it makes practice FUN!