19th January 2023
Discipline and improvement
In the words of the great Mike Tyson, ‘discipline is doing what you hate to do but do it like you love it’.
Having been in the fitness industry for over 28 years now, I inevitably take a step back and look at the bigger picture of things and from the bigger picture, I try to boil things down to the first principles of what makes things what they are. This is just how my brain works. So, for example, if we are looking at a car, we see the whole car but then we reverse engineer things so we see what makes the car up and how it works (the anatomy and physiology of a car). We can then take all of these small parts and work on making each part better so the whole car can work faster/better and more efficient.
The Japanese even have a word for this very principle, Kaizen.
This is the first principle of CrossFit and how it works to make people better in every possible way. We ask the learner to perform a certain movement, if they complete the movement with great technique, then great! Often however, we find that people might struggle in different ways with strength, technique, mobility or stability for example. We then offer fixes (redesign the car part) so that it makes it work better and more efficiently. What often happens is that the fix we offer tends to highlight another issue that doesn’t quite work well with the first fix, so we fix that and so on and so on, around the body we go! This is the nature of the principles of constant improvement.
The great thing is, this is a journey that never ends. There are always ways to improve the car and improve the athlete. It’s just hard work, takes dedication and you might not see the result for months. That is when people can be disenchanted and ‘tap out’. You might also get frustrated because you feel it is one thing after another and you don’t seem to be getting anywhere, always chasing ‘niggles’. It is at this point where you must look deeper to find what it takes to break through these moments and keep going.
Rare is the man or woman who enjoys these moments. If they do then they are the type of people that see all these problems as opportunities to get better. Whilst developing this kind of mindset it is vitally important to adopt a principle of discipline.
I speak to the 6am class individually about why they get up at 5am to come and suffer at 6am. Not one of them particularly enjoys it at that time of the morning and for some of them they even look like they regret getting out of bed, yet they turn up and get it done. I hear answers like, ‘it’s good to get it out of the way’ or ‘it’s my only opportunity to train’. What is consistent amongst all of them is that they feel achievement when it’s done, and so it is with all the classes. What gets them out of a nice warm bed is discipline. They get up because they turn their ‘should do’ into ‘must do’. I am using the 6am class as an example but we all have our sacrifice and our need for discipline.
I get up and run 4-6k every day, not because I particularly enjoy it, but because I am disciplined and because I am disciplined on that one task, it helps me become disciplined in all tasks because like the body, discipline is like a muscle that can be trained. And once you have discipline, you are then free to achieve whatever you want to achieve. In the wise words of Jocko, ‘discipline equals freedom’.
At the end of it all, there will be one of two pains, the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.