‘the path to success is to take massive, determined actions’ – Tony Robbins
It is interesting that we often look outside of ourselves for direction and advice. We ask others what they would do. We actually value that advice more than we consider our very own. Most people are just built that way. And with today’s social media world, it’s all on display. We’re constantly evaluating our choices, actions, posts…by the amount of likes or type of comments we get. It’s harder to go truly insular these days, and stay discipline with your own feelings and opinions. But for the select few that can go there…and that can keep returning there…the payoff will be insane!
Take this fictional story as an example of that: Gary is a 41 year old good guy. He works for an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) company. He has a 5 year old daughter named Madison. Gary is divorced and has his own place.
He’s recently noticed that he’s about 30 pounds overweight. He feels strong from the work he does, but he hasn’t seen his own muscle definition since two years out of high school. He has that trendy new shape that’s now a popular hashtag on instagram…#dadbod. And even though that trend has made it seem more acceptable to wear the extra layer of blubber, he knows how much more attractive he’d be…how healthier he’d feel…if he lost the weight, or better yet…turned most if that weight into muscle!
Another thought that Gary has been having lately, is that he recognizes that he is modeling behavior for his daughter Madison. She soaks up everything at this young age, and is watching his every move. As she’s growing up, he’s having more and more conversations with her about healthy eating and exercise…but when Madison is at Mom’s house, Gary is eating chips on the couch. He isn’t practicing what he’s preaching. And deep down, he knows that he’s influencing his daughter. In some way, she’s going to inherently take on some of his practices. We are all ‘products of our environment’. Sure, there is the nature vs. nurture debate. But either way, we are shaped by what we come from. The apple still falls from the tree, regardless of how far it rolls away.
Gary hasn’t done much research on exercise. Like most of us, he hasn’t majored in exercise science…but he understands that some cardio, some strength training, and a lot of eating healthy is what will transform his body. And he wants to get to the gym…he just doesn’t know which one to go to. There’s Planet Fitness over here, Bikram Yoga over there, a power-lifting gym, a place that coaches olympic lifting…not to mention the 3 new crossfit gyms in town! bHe told himself (and his daughter) that one of his New Year’s resolutions was to get into better shape. But it’s mid March now, and he figures it’s too late to have a beach body ready for the summer. He might as well wait until Fall to start really making a push for the next summer.
As Gary starts thinking about it too much, you can see how he starts getting into trouble.
He’s also feeling a little insecure…not that he would come out and say that to anyone! When he was a kid, his dad taught him that men don’t show emotions or feelings like that. Most of Gary’s buddies though, belong to one of these local gyms, or at least play men’s league basketball once a week. Gary runs out of breath just going up a flight of stairs. He doesn’t want to have to start at square one at the gym, when everyone else is killing it. He’d be ‘that guy’…the one that can’t bench-press the big 45 pound weight plates…the one that’s sweating all over the elliptical machine after 5 minutes of use. He doesn’t want to be that guy. Actually, he doesn’t want others to see him as that guy. This is again, an example of how some of us let others control how we live (or don’t live) our lives.
And even though this isn’t something Gary would discuss with Madison, it’s somehow passed down to her anyway. Gary thinks he puts off an ‘I live on my terms’ vibe to his daughter…but the subconscious nuance to that is out of his control. The subtleties of his actions, of his reactions, of his initial responses to everyday occurrences…are unfortunately telling Madison, ‘our family doesn’t crush it. We worry some…about how we come across to others. We think and talk, more than we actually do.’ Gary could tell Madison how important it is to not worry about what others think, but his actions are creating 10x the results in the opposite direction. It isn’t even a contest.
/nuᐧance/ – a subtle difference in; shade of meaning, expression, or sound.
Another thought Gary has been having is about his gear. His running shoes are so old and dirty. He only has 2 or 3 pair of athletic shorts. His ipod is big and clunky and old and doesn’t hold a charge. He sees that everyone else has cool stuff! New compression shorts and pants, bright sneakers and socks, and that cool armband thing that conveniently holds a new ipod out of the way. And everyone pretty much only wears dryfit materials now, which Gary has none of. He thinks he’s going to look stupid…no matter what he does. He thinks he should probably stock up on some of this gear over time…then he’ll be ready for the gym.
On top of that, he knows the potato chips and chillaxing on the couch needs to change. He actually has some good ideas about eating healthy, but he thinks that he should finish up eating all of the junk in the house, as not to waste, then start getting healthier with his diet. Once he gets his diet right, then he’ll feel more ready to approach the gym.
Boy…some of us can see that Gary is soft…physically and mentally. He should just go! Who cares about all that stuff he’s worrying about?
On the other hand, some of us can truly identify with Gary. Sometimes it feels that we need to first take care of A, in order to feel comfortable trying B. And sometimes it seems that other people have all the right stuff. And we don’t. But that’s just a losing mentality.
By thinking too much…by wondering what ‘most others’ are doing…by giving energy to what other people might feel…Gary has already lost.
If he focused on doing, and just starting somehow…he’d be well on his way to ‘healthy Gary’, who would be (by the way), the absolute best role model for Madison.
At the first hint of a feeling that Gary had about being out of shape (that very day!), he should have laced up the old running shoes and gone out for a 5k run…no ipod necessary. Leaving from his house, taking it nice and slow, he could easily complete the 3.1 miles. Imagine the pride and sense of accomplishment after that! Then, he could have made stir fry vegetables and rice for dinner…with some yogurt (instead of ice-cream) for dessert.
Now picture Gary’s mindset the following morning…as opposed to all of that negative thinking he was doing in the other model. Imagine the effect and influence on Madison that next morning as they approach the day together. I wonder what different experiences they’d have. I wonder how much more she’d be exposed to in her childhood, going this route. And I wonder how much further Madison would reach into her own potential, living with a dad who creates action, instead of one who sits and worries.
I don’t think we understand this effect as well as we should. I know that I don’t myself. And I’m trying to be more aware of it every single day. It is very obvious that the far majority of us have wonderful intentions. We all, of course, want the best for our children. Gary wants Madison to be healthy…and wants her to know how to achieve and maintain that lifestyle. And deep down, we all believe that we’re teaching our children all about what is right and wrong. It’s worth considering though, that within that teaching, it’s much more effective to focus on doing…not on lecturing or thinking.
Thank you for reading!