4 Business Lessons for Fitness

Apply These When Times Feel Tough

I’ve been on a reading kick lately, though this isn’t my usual mode. To be honest, I always thought of myself as a bad reader growing up – but fortunately, it’s never too late to get better.

One of my recent reads is The Diary of a CEO, by Steven Bartlett. He’s a 30-year-old entrepreneur, and the host of the worlds fastest growing podcast. Through hundreds of interviews with many of the worlds experts in their respective fields, along with his decade of experience running on of the biggest marketing firms in the world, he lays out 33 incredible lessons. 

Four of them in particular spoke deeply to me, and I saw how powerful they are when applied to health and fitness. Mental framing like this can make all the difference when your training feels uninspired, or you can’t see the next clear step forward. Give them a try if they speak to you – I’d love to hear your feedback.

1. You Must Out-Fail the Competition

In order to evolve, you have to constantly try new things. In business, it is guaranteed that you will fail more times than you succeed. Then why is it that our culture tends to look down upon failure? If failure is the requirement for success, then we should applaud failures. We need to get out of the mindset of failure being a bad thing and embrace it.

Some of the best companies on the planet cite their ability to fail fast as their best quality. Amazon is one of those companies. They have failed more times than they can count. But the culture at Amazon supports innovation, new ideas, and the subsequent failures that come with them.

Each failure is a chance to learn and get better. For every 10 ideas that you try, 9 will be be failures of different magnitudes, but the 10th idea that is a success will more than make up for the other 9 failures in the magnitude of its positive impact.

Health and Fitness Carryover – a couple of months back I wrote an article about all the diets I’ve failed. When I looked back over the course of my nutrition and dieting life, I recognize that I’ve tried over 20 different approaches to eating with real commitment. All of them had moments of success followed by a phase of failure. Those periods of failure were when I realized that this wasn’t going to be a long-term diet approach I could adhere to.

But each one of those failures taught me valuable lessons that have informed my current approach to nutrition. One that isn’t rooted in a particular set of diet rules, but a collection of themes that when put together give me structure and freedom to eat in a way that feels great, allows me to perform, and shapes a body I love.

Health and fitness is an ongoing pursuit throughout your life that will have its fair share of failures along the way. Embrace failures and continue to learn from them. Take risks, and on the 10th try you’ll get something right that will have a profound impact on your life.

2. Don’t be an Ostrich

Have you heard the saying “Head in the Sand?” It comes from the phenomenon that when an ostrich senses danger they will bury their heads in the sand. If they cannot see the pain, danger, or discomfort, then it doesn’t exist and they can go on being clueless about the world around them.

I’m sure that all of you reading this are probably thinking to yourself that those ostriches are pretty silly and dumb. Burying your head in the sand doesn’t fix the problem, nor does it change the reality of the danger, pain, or discomfort.

Yet this is what so many of us are conditioned to do in the modern landscape of society. There are so many ways to numb our pain and discomfort. Food, alcohol, and media are just a few ways people numb themselves. Anytime you find yourself feeling uncomfortable you reach for your phone and start to scroll. When the stress and pain of your job gets high you reach for food to numb the feelings and ignore the discomfort. The end of a long day that was stressful and unfulfilling gets met with a few glass of wine to “unwind.”Perhaps all of these are just tools to disconnect and not feel the pain or discomfort.

Health and Fitness Carryover – Avoiding pain and discomfort by ignoring it is just like being an ostrich. What can we learn from our pain and discomfort by burying our heads in the sand? I’m not suggesting that you never give yourself a break and allow yourself to indulge in foods and alcohol that help you escape, but it can’t be your only tool.

Start to be mindful of how you are using destructive behaviors to avoid pain and discomfort. Late-night scrolling or mindless watching is cutting into your sleep or connection time with loved ones. Mindless eating to numb or avoid the discomfort of your life is the real reason you are having a hard time losing weight, not that your metabolism has slowed down.

3. Become a Plan A Thinker

You’ve surely heard of the concept of having a Plan B. In case something goes wrong with your current plan you have the alternative of pivoting to something else. In the book, Bartlett discusses the drawbacks of having a Plan B.

Research studies looked at the phenomenon of giving people a plan B vs leading them to believe they only had one option going forward. The groups that knew they had a fall back performed worse in decision-making and problem-solving.

There was a story that was shared in this chapter about a plane that crashed in the Andes mountains in South America. A team of rugby players and some of their family members were on board. About half died on impact, while the other half endured weeks of starvation and ultimately cannibalism of their deceased teammates and family members to survive. 

One team member decided that he would rather die than eat his deceased mother and sister. So he set out to find help. After days of climbing without energy, food, water, and utterly exhausted, he was able to find help and ultimately saved himself and the rest of the surviving plane crash members.

Because he refused to go back and be tempted to eat his family members, because he had NO PLAN B, he found the strength to find help. You find a way to “Go forward when you can’t go back.”

how to stay fit on vacationHealth and Fitness Carryover – From the lesson above we know that failure is inevitable on any path. You are going to make mistakes and have hardships. In the modern day world of Social Media Fitness, you are never one click or thumb swipe away from having a new option presented to you. If you get stalled in your fitness progress you can open up Instagram and have 10 new ideas for a training program at your fingertips. This is the power and trap of fitness on social media. Information is more available than ever but we are constantly presented with hundreds of Plan B options.

This makes any slight struggle far too easy to try and escape with a Plan B. If we all commit more deeply to our Plan A then we would discover that with a little more effort, we are just moments away from a breakthrough. We could be just moments away from a dramatic success.

4. Pressure is a Privilege

“Comfortable and easy are short-term friends, but long-term enemies. If you’re looking for growth choose the challenge.”

  • In order to succeed you need to fail
  • Burying your head in the sand when things feel hard doesn’t allow us to learn and grow
  • Having too many alternative options, or a Plan B, doesn’t give us the sense that we MUST push through these failures and discomfort

Now we arrive at the powerful statement that Pressure is a Privilege. Billy Jean King, one of the most influential figures in the history of tennis, said this when asked about how she dealt with the pressure of being the best. She said “Pressure is a privilege. It only comes to those who earn it.”

I like this reframe. When faced with the pressures of life we often retreat. Those pressures can be scary, they can look like failures, and they can have us racing for our Plan B.

However, simply reframing that this pressure is in fact a privilege that we have earned can help us overcome some of the pitfalls we have discussed so far. We only feel pressure when we are in a position to lose something. When we have things we want on the other side of challenges then we are in a privileged position and have a choice to push through.

Health and Fitness Carryover – We can take this a step further by recognizing that avoiding pain and discomfort doesn’t help us grow and change. If that is the case then seeking discomfort periodically, and purposefully putting pressure on ourselves, can have the power to help us learn and grow. This is where some of the healthy habits we promote come into play.

Pushing yourself in the gym towards discomfort, getting into a cold shower, putting on a heavy backpack on your next hike, or actively skipping a meal and fasting for a longer period occasionally, are all ways of inducing discomfort and applying some pressure.

Take these thoughts into your fitness and health practice – or the rest of your life – when things feel tough. It is inspiring to me how much the way we look at things has the power to completely reframe the hard situations we find ourselves in.

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