“Thoughts create our behavior and our behavior create our habits.” — Sgt. Ken Weichert, Smart Fitness
The power of our own thought world is amazing. It’s through the state of our own internal landscape that we shape the terrain of our external world. We never see things as they are, we see things as we are. We imbue meaning to the world that surrounds us. Figuratively speaking, it is the lens that we wear that gives color to our environment. Whether we want to quit our current jobs or start our fitness journey, we all set ourselves up for success or failure by setting the landscape of our thought world. I myself know this to be true because my personal journey in beating my social anxiety disorder entailed a restructuring or reprogramming of my mind. I had to painfully face myself with utmost honesty and root out my internal stumbling blocks. Seeing the world with new eyes meant that I had to do away with my old patterns of thinking. Old self gone, new self under construction! If we want to revitalize our lives, we need to be ready to let go of our old lives. Something’s gotta give.
At the start of this year, I set a goal for myself to continue learning and expanding my world. Expanding one’s world may sound like a New Year’s resolution cliche but it was a very tough proposition for me. The introvert that I am had always been used to keeping to myself and my established routines and patterns of living. The mere thought of expanding my world meant that I had to let go of the comforts of my routinary life. I loved my set ways: my time of silence and recovery, my hours of sleep, my predictable work flow, my nearly non-existent social life. Expanding my world was quite a challenge for me as I really had to set my mind into it or else I wouldn’t get anything done. I wore a different lens, one that perceives adversity as a possible springboard to true success. So on January 1st, I created a mental vision board and started making a list. I set my eyes on the CrossFit Level 1 certification, putting up this blog, and launching my online coaching program. One goal among many in that list was attending the recently concluded Asia Fitness Conference in Bangkok, Thailand.
The Asia Fitness Conference or also known as AFC, is an annual event held in Bangkok where fitness professionals, trainers, coaches, business people and enthusiasts meet and share their ideas and passion in the industry. Each year, hundreds of delegates from all over Asia and the world over come to this event to meet, connect, and discover the latest trends in the fitness industry. In addition to that, various brands showcase their latest products or services each year. If you’re one who is interested not just in exercising but the business side of the industry as well, the AFC is the place to be!
“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” —Malcolm X
For me, it took months of preparation in terms of research, writing, training, continuing education, and people immersion. Last January, when I set out to accomplish the goal of participating in the 2018 AFC, I knew I needed to drastically develop my work ethic andgrow into the man who not only has the aptitude to understand the technicalities and nuances of fitness, but also the capability to build bridges among leaders and movers in the fitness industry. I needed to read every single night, trudge though every word in my writing, constantly test out the workouts I design for my clients, and constantly immerse myself with people outside my small circle of friends.
My preparation from January up until October undeniably stretched me into new dimensions. My days were filled with training clients in the morning, designing and testing workout programs, meeting and training online clients, traveling and joining fitness competitions, writing my blog posts, and working with my best friend, photographer, and number one critic and supporter,Patrick, in content creation for my social media and my blog. I discovered along the way that working with my best friend ain’t easy. Whew. When I asked Patrick to help me with photos, I didn’t anticipate that his choleric temperament, unreal intelligence (he’s a Magna cum Laude from UP Diliman for crying out loud!), razor sharp seriousness, passion for excellence, and matchless work ethic would altogether force me to level up my game. I was thinking that my blog couldn’t have great photos yet writing that sucks. It was one thing to write and another thing to write with substantive content. Little by little, I saw myself grow out of my comfortable habits and routine, and develop a work ethic that is flexible and full of grit. It was a very painful process. I started out as someone who suffered from social anxiety disorder and now I’m pushing myself every single day to pursue depth, excellence, and my truth. We are who we choose to spend our time with. The trustworthy saying “as iron sharpens iron so does one man sharpen another” couldn’t be more true. Just glad my best friend didn’t mince words and just gave me the talk whenever I had to be shaken out of my passive state.
I practiced, failed, and succeeded in delaying gratification and learned what hard work truly means— doing exactly what I need, regardless of how I feel. And most of the time, what I need is exactly what I don’t want to do. There were times I didn’t want to study nutrition, but I had to in order to stay updated and answer the questions of my clients. I ended up becoming so passionate about all things nutrition! There were times I procrastinated in writing because there was simply nothing. But I had to sit it down, brainstorm, and put words on paper. A simple fact in life: inspiration won’t come all the time. I needed grit—the perseverance to keep on keeping on. Ultimately, I was scared of putting up an online business with the fear that it may fail and not live up to the expectations of people. But I nevertheless decided to give it a go!
Fast forward to the Asia Fitness Conference in Bangkok, Thailand. All I can say is that the experience has been a huge success! I can say that proudly not because I’ve attended every single session and jotted down a truckload of notes but because of a sense of focus—eagle eyes— I brought with me. I zeroed in not just on fitness related topics such as different coaching styles, exercise science and programming but, more importantly, also focused on going beyond my comfort zone. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to connect and share ideas with fitness industry leaders, delegates, and even the locals. I felt my world expanding even just a little bit and for me that’s the best feeling of all. The introverted Richard is now coming out of his shell! No matter how slow your pace is, just keep moving forward!
“You can build your will power muscles the same way you strengthen any muscle in your body: by doing the things you don’t want to do.” — Dave Asprey
I pushed myself to unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and scary dimensions of conversing and sharing ideas with other delegates and especially the presenters whom I really admired. I remember living my teenage years uncomfortable and scared to talk to people. I honestly believe that I couldn’t have possibly done this without the work ethic I had been consciously, painfully developing for the past months. Indeed, it is through our work ethic that we achieve sustainability in whatever we pursue: in business, our health or our relationships.
“Lost time is never found again.” — Benjamin Franklin
When we have already built a habit around doing the right things—not the easy things— it becomes easy to stay on track. Grit, delaying gratification, and prioritizing the important things become our second nature.
“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first.” — Harry S. Truman
Work ethic is building Kaizen, the Japanese philosophy of continuous development. In line with this, the key to develop Kaizen is to know the reason WHY you wake up everyday. They call this your Ikigai. What is the reason—person, thing or mission—that gets you jumping out your bed in the morning? Traveling? Career advancement? Passion? Your loved ones?
Regardless of the reason, getting in touch with your Ikigai suddenly makes life simpler and more meaningful. Saying NO to unimportant and unnecessary things becomes a breeze and the vision of a meaningful and fulfilling life becomes clearer. “What can make the boat go faster?” we ask. All of a sudden, we know! We know exactly what we need to do and how to do it! We are able to come to terms with ourselves and muster up the courage to do whatever it takes. Surrounding ourselves with positive people who bring us up becomes our natural flow and silencing the voices that pull us down, an uncomplicated and easy thing to do.
Let me share with you the steps that I have found useful in developing a productive work ethic!
Delaying gratification becomes easy when you have a clear vision of the big picture. Hold that treat and earn those sweets! When we work hard, we get double the reward. As Joe de Sena said, “When you are a master of your choices, you are not a slave to impulses.”
Knowing what we need is important but time is our most precious resource. Learn to say “no” to stuff that competes for your time. Prioritize what will get you closer to your dreams and you will see that you will get there faster.
This is sheer perseverance to stand back up whenever we stumble and get back on track. It’s okay to make mistakes, but it’s what we do with our mistakes that determine whether we will move forward, stagnate, or regress.
Think of the core — basically the torso—as the foundation from where our arms and legs derive power. In lifting, punching or pulling, we generate power from the core to the extremities.
Here are some of my main takeaways on how to activate the core better from Rick Richey‘s workshop.
Everything begins with our thoughts. Knowing our WHY enables us to create a positive mindset that is key in taking the first step forward. Suddenly, developing positive habits and creating a productive work ethic becomes easy. So choose your thoughts wisely! Never look back AND just keep moving forward!
“I don’t fix problems. I fix my thinking. Then problems fix themselves.” — Louise Hay