Lose the ego: Do you want to look good, or actually be good? ?>

Lose the ego: Do you want to look good, or actually be good?

I read K. Black’s book on strength training, Tactical Barbell, and it was the kind of book that I wish I had come across years ago. He recently came out with Tactical Barbell II, focused on conditioning, and it has a lot of wisdom that goes beyond physical training.

Here’s a long quote from his book, but I had to point it out:

Focus on what’s important, not on products, gear, and marketing. Forget about needing a souped-up watch built by NASA designed to measure the pace of your stride. Forget about getting the perfect pair of multicolored five toed shoes to go with your Paleo diet. Focus on what’s important – doing the work. Focus on the cake, not the icing.

Years ago I came across a group of runners in a large city. I had just been released by the military, so I was a bit of a primitive morlock. These runners were wearing expensive reflective jackets, top-of-the-line brand new running shoes, and utility belts with pouches containing colorful gels, liquids, and who knows what else. I was in awe. I thought I had run into a group of elite Olympians. Nope. After about two blocks of cheering and tepid running, 90% of the group quit. Don’t do this. They were more in love with the idea of getting fit, versus actually getting fit.

They were more into getting a hobby vs. improving performance. It can creep into all of us. Fast forward several years, I remember looking down on this raggedy looking guy wearing plain sweats, a stained ball-cap, and cheap looking runners. Well, he blew by me and almost lapped me on a difficult looped-trail run. This guy was focused on doing the work. When I got home I shamefully took off my expensive reflective running jacket and hid it in the bottom of my closet.

There is nothing inherently wrong with Gucci kit and new tech, but that’s not the point. But sometimes you need to remind yourself of why you’re doing things. Do you want to look like you can perform? Or do you actually want to be able to perform? The elite focus on being the best at the basics. Amateurs are all about tech, gear, “hacks”, and shortcuts. Some people will decide to skip a training session because they left their $200 heart rate monitors at home or forgot their music. Others feel like they need to learn all about POSE running before ever setting foot on a track. Don’t do this. Focus on continuously hammering away at the basics.

Cake first, then icing.

A number of my mentors have pointed out that often, people are more interested in the idea of looking good than actually being good at something. This is easy of course if you’re not living a life where you go for what you want (see my article on this) and where you’re more focused on living in reaction to other people’s views than living in alignment with your own values.

Most things in success just come down to fundamentals. Success isn’t about spending all day debating theoretical minutiae. Sales, raising capital, networking, or trying to get a new job often isn’t flashy. Pick up the phone. Dial. Repeat. If it doesn’t hit, dial more. If that still doesn’t hit, dial even more.

Focusing on the flashy things and neglecting the fundamentals is what another strength coach, Jim Wendler, calls “majoring in the minors.” Don’t do that.

Check out K. Black’s new book here: http://www.amazon.com/Tactical-Barbell-II-Conditioning-Black-ebook/dp/B0143HDCWS

Keep hustling,

Alex Cook

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