I’ve PR’d over 20 times since the beginning of the year. From WODs to lifts, I’ve been making crazy strides.
Although really cool, it’s not that I care about this. I share that because I want to illustrate a point.
And no, it’s not that gym owners should obsess over their snatch 1RM.
It’s that this story is an example of how radically your life can change when your mindset shifts.
I believe in the power of mindset. It makes or breaks your long-term success. It makes or breaks your ability to enjoy life.
We all know this, but we don’t really get it. We don’t know how powerful our minds are. We ignore cultivating our mindset, because internal work is too “soft” and “not real,” so we keep “working hard” because “that’s how success really happens.” #getitdone #hustle #sleepisforthedead
If we can’t quantify our work, it’s not real, so we keep helping Tom with his pull ups because that’s a transformation we can see.
Read this article and you can decide for yourself how transformative a mindset shift can be.
Today, I discuss emotional energy, with assistance from The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. I will:
- Provide a background in what emotional strength is and how to optimize your energy
- Share with you the one question to ask yourself to determine how strong your emotional resilience is, and then finally,
- I’m going to spell out the one mindset shift you can make to dramatically improve your emotional resilience
Why am I discussing this?
Because I want to systematize my experience and provide tangible takeaways for you. PRs are cool and all that, but it wasn’t until I read this book that I understood what happened and WHY.
Emotional Strength & Energy
The premise of The Power of Full Engagement is that the key to having the most energy in life is by striking a balance in these four arenas: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Not “overtraining” is equally as important as not “undertraining.”
Stress and recovery are both crucial. Without stress, our muscles atrophy, and without recovery, we burn out. We all need to push our limits physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually; however, we also need to learn how to adequately recover, without feeling guilty about it.
If you find yourself imbalanced, you are either burned out and in a negative space or you haven’t pushed yourself enough to grow.
What does it mean to be emotionally healthy?
As stated in the book, “emotional intelligence is simply the capacity to manage emotions skillfully in the service of high positive energy and full engagement.” The “muscles” that contribute to positive emotion are: self-confidence, self-control, social skills, empathy, patience, openness, trust, and enjoyment.
“What gives?” you might ask. “Sure, everyone talks about how important it is to have a positive mindset, but if I’ve reached a degree of success without being positive, who cares? Anger fuels me to do it better anyway.”
It all comes down to endurance.
For people who operate on negativity, the impact on their performance isn’t immediately noticeable.
You can continue to put in “hard work,” with underlying fear, frustration, anger and sadness, but you can only do it for so long.
Negative emotions cap your long-term potential.
So although you may not see the effect of a negative emotional state today, upon reflection years down the road, you might. And by then, it’s too late to go back and change your mindset from years ago.
“Negative emotions are costly and inefficient. Much like a gas-guzzling car, they draw down our energy stores at a rapid rate.”The Power of Full Engagement
Transform Threats Into Challenges
What’s the best way to determine how your emotional state is?
Here’s how. Think about all the challenges in your life–running the gym, raising kids, working out, clipping your toenails, whatever.
Now, ask yourself:
Do I view this as a challenge or a threat?
Do I welcome this challenge and see this as an opportunity to learn and grow?
Or do I harbor a lot of fear, angst, or apathy around my performance in this arena, even getting angry when things don’t go as I expect?
Back to the story.
For years, I struggled to be positive. Whether it was my upbringing or the pressure I was under to perform and excel, I didn’t learn the value of positive thinking until later on in life.
The pressure I would put on myself would either pay off or force me to crack, and working out was the same way. I was hot and cold with working out for a long time. Of course, I was never going to compete professionally, but I still had expectations of myself to perform. If I was going to do something, I was going to do it well.
Whenever I wouldn’t do as well as I wanted to, I’d get angry. It would ruin my mood. On a couple occasions I quit halfway through a WOD, and I even kicked a chalk bucket once.
Kinda embarrassing to admit getting that riled up over a work out, but I want to show how it used to be for me.
To make matters worse, the only way I would get over it was by rationalizing my performance by saying things like, “I was never an athlete anyway” or “I have a small frame, of course I can’t lift that much.”
It grates at me to even reflect on those moments.
Eventually, I made a small change that made all the difference. Keep reading to learn what it was.
Where to Start: A Simple Mindset Shift
I love The Power of Full Engagement (I’ve read it twice), and it has made me audit my life in the four arenas.
That being said, it wasn’t anything the book recommended that I did first to change my mindset in the gym.
What did I do instead?
I let go of all expectations. All of them.
The expectations to do well or to perform terribly. I just let go of them, and I said to myself every day, “No matter what happens, I worked out today.”
I said that to myself repeatedly, and I meant it. Because I wasn’t being paid to compete professionally, and I also wasn’t as genetically limited as I sometimes claimed. What mattered at the end of the day was putting in the work.
Gym ownership is, in many ways, the same.
If you’re reading this article, I’m going to bet you have no questions about putting food on the table this week. If you did, you couldn’t care less about emotional strength.
Most of us don’t become gym owners to make money. More often than not, we’ve figured out the basics. We have food, water, a place to sleep, and climate control.
We live in the first-world and life is comfortable. We live in a society where we get to run a microgym and even find people to pay to join it. It’s unreal!
So if gym ownership is truly not life or death, why do we treat it that way?
I’m going to venture to say it’s because we don’t have anything better to worry about. So we create worries to give ourselves the illusion that we’re really struggling out here.
I’m not buying it.
We are all in different phases of growing (or saving) our gym, but we are nowhere near dying because of it.
So, if we removed the debilitating pressure and high expectations we placed on ourselves to grow our gym, would we get complacent and fail?
I don’t believe so.
If we stopped placing limits on our abilities and stopped rationalizing why other gym owners will always do better than us, would the truth be too painful to bear?
It’s not easy to accept that the only thing limiting our growth is not genetics, time, age, location, affiliation v. deaffiliation, but is… us.
If we let go of our expectations, this is what would happen:
We would show up for the journey, not the end goal.
We would say to ourselves everyday, “No matter what happens, I am putting in the work today.” With no frills, no angst, no expectation.
And eventually, something sneaky would start to happen.
We would revel in our successes and victories, but we wouldn’t identify with them.
We would take our losses in stride, reminding ourselves “I put in the work today.”
Over time, by navigating the thick and thin of gym ownership, we would wake up one day and realize we made over 20 PRs in our business metrics in the last quarter.
And we’d be pleasantly surprised.
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