“Habits and Character”
Have you ever looked at those people who achieve incredible feats of human strength or endurance and thought to yourself, ‘Wow, they are out of this world? A freak of nature. Blessed with good genetics. Lucky.’
Have you ever been mid-workout and thought to yourself, ‘I can’t do this, I’m not fit enough, this is too hard?’
Have you ever compared yourself to someone and simply thought, ‘i’ll never be like them?’
What if I told you, that one of the main reasons that you would be unlikely to achieve similar feats of strength or endurance, improve in the gym, get faster in a workout, or participate on the same level as someone you aspire to be like, was because of your inability to endure suffering and your lack of a systematic approach to a given circumstance when things get tough? Not because you are any different or any less talented than another person.
Some of the most successful people on earth have built their entire being around personal suffering. The top business owners and entrepreneurs in the world have all endured incredible setbacks. The top athletes in the world have all had to put in extra work outside of their regular training hours to be able to do the incredible things they do. The best relationships and marriages are the way they are not because they are perfect, but because they have endured the toughest of times. And in all of these circumstances, there has been a strategy.
Developing character is a topic that I am extremely passionate about because I am inspired by stories of courage and mental fortitude. One of the main reasons it was selected as a blog topic among the team at Mind Body Athletic is because it is something that we aim to foster on a weekly basis at our gym. We ask our members to expect more of themselves, even when things go pear-shaped each week nutritionally, or they don’t make the gym a certain number of times per week, or mid-workout their lungs are screaming and they are unsure if they will finish, we ask them to stay focussed, stay strong and push on.
Developing character isn’t something that occurs during the good times. It is cultivated in the hardest times. The tougher things get, the better you will become and it is something I particularly like working on as I know how good things are when you come out the other side of a challenging experience. And it doesn’t just have to happen during workouts or training. You can apply the same mindset to any aspect of your own life.
Personally, for me, I have recently been aiming to set a more regular morning routine. I find keeping routine extremely challenging as my personality likes variance and I am always thinking about the next thing to do. Staying disciplined and keeping to a regular routine, however, is such a challenge that I know if I do it, my day gets started on the right foot, and the feeling of accomplishment I get from sticking to my morning routine sets me up for success throughout the rest of the day. I am developing my strength of character and cultivating good habits by following through on a commitment.
My morning routine looks like this:
3:45 am: Wake up
4:00-4:15 am: Drive to work to shower and get changed
4:15-4:45 am: Breakfast and journal in my office
4:45 am: Open the gym
5:00-7:00 am: Morning classes
If I wake up later or miss journaling in the morning, I feel like I am behind the 8 ball for the day. When my morning does follow those steps, I know that I am building character by having the discipline to follow through, and know that the discipline I apply in the morning will bleed into other aspects of my life.
The word character as defined in the dictionary is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. More or less your thoughts, actions, and beliefs define you as an individual.
Generally speaking, those who face challenges head-on, will have a stronger character than those who run from problems or seek outside assistance to get through them.
Those with a strong personal character will usually be the ones who appear to be able to run faster, or longer, or lift heavier. They will be the ones who go bankrupt but then build a new business again and be the best in their field. They’re the captain of the team and inspire those around them to reach higher. They think “how can I”, instead of “I can’t.”
My challenge to you is, to be honest with yourself. Think to the most recent time where you faced a challenging life situation and be truthful with how you handled it. Was there an opportunity for you to step up and face the situation head-on? What will you do day to day to start cultivating good habits that will forge a strong character in the future?
You are a product of your decisions, not your circumstances.
Seek out challenges. Embrace adversity. Anticipate your own personal growth!