Why do we do the things that we do?
As humans, what is our purpose for making the decisions that we make?
Are our decisions a function of our current environment?
Are our decisions a reflection of our lives’ direction?
Do we determine our decisions, or are our decisions pre-determined?
Why is there such a massive discrepancy between people who seem to come from the same walk of life?
Some walk around entitled, envious, and jealous of the success of others. They drink from the vat of “Hater-ade”, and with each sip, they become more disenfranchised with their own unwillingness to change their own lives.
Some make poor financial decisions, spending money they don’t have, buying watches, jeans, and jewelry to distract them from the unhappiness deep inside.
The least fortunate situations in America would be a welcome respite from the extreme poverty of many foreign countries.
Why are we not more content with what we have?
I am not excusing myself from this, either.
I have an obsessive personality. I’m always wanting more.
If I get 5 online clients, I want 10.
If I make $500, I want $5,000.
If I bench press 300 pounds, I want 325.
If I can write and edit an article in an hour, I want to be able to do it in 45 minutes.
I want more and more and more – it’s a constant stream for self-improvement.
So, why does this matter to me? Why do I care? I have enough. I don’t want for anything. I drive my shitty car, I have my $7 gym membership, I have my single pair of jeans (seriously – I only own one pair), my plain t-shirts, and my hooded sweatshirt.
It isn’t because I want to build a huge business.
If I simply maintained my business at its current rate, and my wife and I work until 50 (only 15 more years) without spending like idiots, we could easily retire multi-millionaires and never have to work another day in our lives.
Our daughters’ college would be paid for in cash, we would be flush with funds, and we could live life on our own terms.
So, why is this not “good enough” for me?
I find “stillness” and “contentment” to be the antithesis of progress.
I find it difficult to “relax”.
On the weekends, when I find myself with a few hours of down time, I often end up getting restless and pop open my laptop to work.
When I go out in a social situation, I often leave my phone at home so I don’t get distracted. Running an online business means social media notifications often run wild, creating a near nuisance at times.
I find comfort in working – in challenging myself. In constantly striving for growth.
I’ve often wondered what drives me – and others like me.
Perhaps you’re the same way. Maybe something inside of you creates a desire for progressive overload. If you’re not doing things “better” than you were yesterday, then you don’t feel any satisfaction.
I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about this.
I occasionally have thoughts that I’m not “normal” and I wonder about my own mental stability.
Is it “okay” to be this obsessive?
Is it “natural” to be this driven?
In a way, I’ve always been like this. When I see something I am interested in, there’s no holding back, I go “all in”.
My friends in high school would call me the “man of extremes”.
I was always “extremely” something.
Extremely large appetite.
This has always been true. I’m an outlier, both genetically (6’8″), and in other ways as well.
I’ve told lies – to myself, and to others – about why I am so obsessed with fitness.
The lies I’ve told include:
- I want to be healthy.
- I want to have longevity/live longer.
- I want to be there for my children.
- I want my wife to find me more desirable.
- I want to make others jealous/envious.
- I want attention from others.
- I want to prove all the “haters” wrong.
While each of these statements may have a shred of truth to them, these are all simple, basic, surface-level observations.
We all want to be healthy. Of course we want others to desire us.
Attention is a natural thing to desire. Even those who write articles about how they “give no fucks” often do so in order to gain attention for their writing. How ironic……….
Obviously I don’t wish to die prematurely, but there isn’t much difference between 8% body fat and 16% body fat, from a health perspective. The additional 8% is for looks, mostly.
At 16%, you likely won’t be an online fitness coach, though, as perception is often reality in this strange corner of the internet.
If all of those reasons are lies, then what is the truth?
Why do I stay driven? What is my purpose? What is my goal?
I don’t need more money, I don’t do it for my kids, I don’t do it for my wife, and the haters will hate anyways.
Why do I do it?
One word: Insecurity.
Always On My Mind
I have always felt “not good enough”.
I don’t know why that’s the case.
Even when I get showered with adulation or win prestigious teaching awards (it’s happened), I feel like I’m someone else playing a role in a movie.
This has happened for as long as I can remember, and I’m not totally sure why.
I’ve messed up a lot in the past.
I’ve always been seen as a “class clown”, with my teachers frequently calling home due to my obnoxious behavior.
Because of that “class clown persona”, others sometimes assumed I was unintelligent.
I always enjoyed being the center of attention and making people laugh. I’ve always tried to gain acceptance of others.
I’ve always been a person who made friends easily, but yearned for companionship and friendship over everything else.
That fact pisses me off.
I’ve let some golden opportunities pass by due to my wanting to do the “popular” thing.
I graduated high school with athletic hopes and dreams.
I was 6’8″, about 210 pounds of string bean, and could throw a baseball in the mid-to-upper 80’s.
I earned a scholarship to Eastern Michigan University for full tuition to play baseball.
Off to school I went. I thought there was an outside chance I would develop as a pitcher, add 5-10 miles per hour to my fastball, and end up in the major leagues.
I had an unlimited ceiling – and all of the potential in the world.
After arriving on campus, what did I do with all of that talent?
I squandered it.
Wasted it. Pissed it down my leg, to put it bluntly.
I acted like a private school kid who was finally let off the leash. Which is exactly what I was.
I stayed up until 3, 4, and sometimes 5 in the morning.
I drank way too frequently.
I skipped classes.
I smoked cigarettes.
I attended parties and chased girls.
Practice? Weight sessions? Film sessions? Conditioning?
Who the hell wants to do that when you’re hung over from the night before?
So, I didn’t.
I gained a bunch of weight.
I was 224 when I arrived on campus, and 250 by the time my freshman year was over. For most, this is normal – it’s the “freshman 15”, right?
For an athlete, this spelled disaster.
It wasn’t “good weight”.
The fast food and Budweiser had made me fat.
I don’t have one, single picture from my freshman or sophomore years. I was so disgusted with myself that I even threw away the team baseball pictures which were given to us.
It was embarrassing to show my face around my high school at Christmas break and during the summer after my freshman year. It was obvious – to everyone – that I wasn’t in the same shape as I was during my senior year.
So, how did I correct this mistake?
By partying harder.
Fuck it. You only live once, right?
My sophomore year, I went back to school in the fall………..to more of the same. I’m not sure why I thought it would be different for Year Two. I didn’t change my training, I didn’t change my diet, I didn’t take it any more seriously. I guess I just thought by the virtue of age, I would move up in the rotation.
I was wrong.
I had redshirted my freshman year. My sophomore year, I had about 5 in-game appearances.
My Coach actually gave me one opportunity to prove myself.
He started me in a game against Oakland University.
I was so excited – and nervous. I called my Dad, elated with the news.
This was it! I was getting a chance to prove myself! The chips were lining up!
My Dad made the four hour trip up I-75 from Cincinnati to watch my debut.
It lasted less than 10 minutes.
I hit the first batter.
He stole second base.
The Coach came out and gave me an earful for not holding the runner on first properly.
With the runner on second, I flinched and had a balk called on me, advancing the runner to third.
The next batter hit a double down the left field line, scoring the runner.
Runner on second, zero outs, one hit batter, one balk, and one double given up.
I was yanked.
It was the last time I would ever set foot on a baseball field in my life.
That vivid memory of failing miserably still haunts me to this day.
Turning Disgust Into Positivity
I had failed.
Two weeks later, the Coach pulled me into the office and said I would never play for him again.
He said he couldn’t trust me on the mound if he wanted the team to win.
I don’t blame him for that, either.
He was right.
I had failed – everyone.
I had failed my teammates.
I had failed my parents, especially my Dad, who had driven four hours to watch me pitch for 10 minutes.
I had failed my friends back home who were counting on me to “make it big”.
I had failed my Coach, who had given me a scholarship.
And I had failed myself.
I fucked up.
I wasn’t good enough. And the reason I wasn’t good enough…………..was me.
I was to blame – and no one else.
Of course, I made excuses and fabricated lies. That’s what 20 year old kids do when they fail.
- I told others the Coach didn’t like me.
- I told others I had an injury.
- I told others that “baseball became a job” and “wasn’t fun” anymore.
- I made up excuses.
The fact was, I had failed. Nothing is “fun” when you fail.
I had failed because I had decided that staying up late, drinking, smoking, and chasing tail was more important than going to bed early, training hard, and working on my craft.
I had failed because I couldn’t tell other people “no”, and when they invited me to a bar or a party, I said “yes” every single time.
I had failed because I was so damn worried about what other people thought about me that it caused me to lose sight of my goals and my vision.
I wanted their acceptance and love more than I wanted my own accomplishments.
I failed because of my own insecurity and lack of confidence.
I have vowed that this will not happen again in my lifetime.
One of the things I find so rewarding about starting my own fitness business is the fact that it’s all me.
I’m doing this – and nobody else.
I’m able to build and create.
I can work as hard as I want to.
I’m the one playing the game, and I’m playing for keeps.
Instead of worrying about what others think, I can focus, grow, improve, become obsessed to the point of fanaticism, and nobody can get in my way.
I can right the wrongs of my past.
This doesn’t mean I won’t fail.
But this does mean that when I fail, it will be because I missed my mark, not because I didn’t give it my all.
I Have Dreams
Ever since that moment of failure, I’ve had dreams about baseball.
They are always the same.
I’m on the mound, trying to find the strike zone.
The ball is travelling out of my hands at 30 miles per hour, floating towards home plate.
It lands nowhere near the catcher’s mitt, and I get screamed at by the Coach.
It’s more of a nightmare, really, and my chest wells up with regret and failure while I sleep.
I wake up in a cold sweat, breathing heavy and staring at the ceiling.
When I have this recurring dream, the feelings of inadequacy and insecurity stay with me throughout the day.
You might ask yourself why I care about this so much.
What’s the big deal?
This is a “first world problem” that most of us don’t have.
Perhaps you’re right.
But the fact remains – I will never know what may have happened if I had left it all on the table.
I will never know what may have happened if I had taken baseball seriously.
If I had attended every single session, done extra work, gotten to bed early, eaten right, abstained from booze/tobacco, and put my attention on my craft instead of on girls……….what would have happened?
There are too many “what ifs” in my life.
What if I would have done this, or that, or the other thing?
What if……………….what if I would have just…………..tried harder?
I often feel like I’m not good enough.
I feel like others are better than me.
I always feel like I don’t belong.
It keeps me moving forward, awake with hope, and alive with possibility.
It’s taken me a long time to come to grips with these feelings.
I hid them, deep down inside of me.
I didn’t want to admit to others that I’ve felt like a failure before, and I often still do, despite my accomplishments.
I’m driven by insecurity.
I feel that if I slow down, everything might be taken away from me.
It keeps me pushing, driving, training, dieting, coaching, learning, and improving.
So, what’s your “why”?
Why do you do what you do?
Not the surface reason.
The real reason.
Dig down deep and find it. Ask yourself the tough questions. What are the painful moments inside of you, the moments that make you cringe, the periods of time in your life that you wish you could get back.
Maybe you didn’t get kicked off the baseball team.
Maybe you got fired from a job you loved.
Maybe you didn’t have the guts to ask out the girl – and she ended up having a family with someone else.
Maybe you passed on a good business opportunity, only to see others profit from it.
Maybe you, too, are saying “what if……….”.
Maybe it’s time for you, too, to start living.
And stop saying “what if”.
If you’re like me, and you have dreams – visions of your past failures – it can be helpful to admit to them. To own up to your shortcomings and accept them as a part of your life.
Because the funniest thing happened.
Once I admitted this huge failure, and accepted it as fact, the nightmares stopped.
And different dreams have taken their place.
I dream of how big I can build my business.
I dream of how many people I can help and reach.
I dream of the future and what it holds, and I accept the fact that I am unsure of the answer.
These dreams can be frightening as well.
But in a much different way.
With these dreams, the fear may still be there, but the swelling inside of my chest is no longer the pain of opportunity missed.
It’s a different feeling altogether.
It’s the feeling of pride.
Yours in finding your why,