It's through the hard things in life that we get the most benefit. This is not always a welcome truth. It's natural for us to seek the path of least resistance to get what we want. It's part of our survival mechanism, so it takes a little work to adjust our mindset and then follow through with our actions.
About 10 years ago, I found this meme.
It had such an impact on me that I never forgot it. In fact, it's so old, that I had to search through the photos on RFC's FaceBook page to find it, and yet, that simple phrase and image has stuck with me all this time.
Deep down, I think I was always afraid that I was still untested, that in the face of extreme hardship I would break down and quit. There has been a lot of quitting in my past, being overwhelmed by the magnitude of effort it would take to get what I wanted, and so, I simply chose the path of least resistance - most of the time finding some seemingly noble or understandable reason for why I couldn't or wouldn't move forward in that direction - an excuse.
I'm happy to say that I've come a long way from that guy. I have dealt with a lot of adversity over the past few years - in training, in business, and in life, and it has showed me both strengths and weaknesses in myself. One of my biggest weaknesses is letting anger and frustration dictate my thoughts, attitude, and actions. One of my greatest strengths has become finding a way and pushing through, regardless of the circumstances.
The other day I was training - Bench and Pullups, and the stupidest thing happened. My Bluetooth speaker quit working on me suddenly, and I couldn't get it back up. Tech problems can really get to me - I'm not great with that stuff. Anyway, I started letting it all out as I was training. I channeled it into my training, but still couldn't bring the anger under control. I unracked the bar for my next set, and that phrase from above - "Adversity introduces us to ourselves", came clearly to my mind. Still angry, I realized that I allowed the smallest thing to effect me in such a large way, and that I still have a problem with controlling my temper when things don't go my way.
My next thought was that this circumstance had allowed me to see how I really am, and I now had an opportunity to change that. That's exactly what I did. I can't control the circumstance, but I can control my response, and therefore change my mind - changing my outcome.
It's through adversity that we find who we truly are. Do we lose control of our minds and bodies, allowing emotion to dictate our thoughts, actions, and speech? Do we allow circumstances to dictate our outcome? Do we succumb to the magnitude of a challenge and give up, or do we find a way and press forward?
To me, training has to be about more than changing your body and how it performs. That's great stuff, and, of course, the primary goal, but it's going to get hard - if you're doing it right. There are going to be times where you don't feel like doing it, the results aren't coming as quickly or easily as they once did, or you're dealing with pain, discomfort, or maybe even an injury. Your life might start to get busy, or you just get tired of the effort.
This is where the mindset comes into play. You look at what you want, dig in, and find a way through. This done over and over develops a strong mindset - a winning mindset, and few people really have it. Mental toughness is easy when you're into what's happening. It's a completely different thing when you don't even want to be here today, though.
Learning how to do what's necessary, regardless of the circumstances or how you feel about them is an enormous reward. Your belief in yourself will change. How you view your circumstances will change. How you perform, and your progress toward your goals will change.
Embrace the hard work. Open yourself up to adversity. It's your opportunity to change - but you have to accept and embrace it.
If you need help, feel free to reach out. That's why I'm here.
Eric Chasko is the head of Redemption Fight Club. He is a Performance Enhancement Specialist and Progressive Fighting Systems Full Instructor. From young athletes to busy professionals, he helps people develop the physical, mental, and emotional strength to win on the field, on the street, and in life.