Welcome to installment #1 of what will be an ongoing blog series: the Keys of Success! It should be noted that whenever anyone asks me what the key is to success, I always tell them that there isn’t one. This is a much easier answer, since the person asking usually isn’t looking for the honest answer. But there are several things when, put together, will give an average person a significantly higher statistical chance of hitting their goal.
The first of these keys that I’ll talk about today is patience. Totally not sexy, I know. I don’t promise they will all be riveting, just important. Future keys will take us into the kitchen, into the gym, and deeper into our heads – so keep watching!
When I say patience, what do I really mean? The most obvious interpretation is to wait for your results. And that’s true – this takes time. You didn’t go from 10% body fat to 20% in a week, it’s going to take more than a week to get back down there. Just because you decided 2 weeks ago to be a bodybuilder does not mean your body will respond at a speed commensurate to your desires. You’ve got to put in the work. It takes time. The counterpoint to this I get asked about are those 19 and 20 year old guys and gals with great bodies – “they didn’t have to wait!” – I refer you to this post and remind you that you know nothing about their story, their experience, where they’ve been or where they’re coming from.
The other side of patience is possibly even more important: patience with yourself. Give yourself the opportunity to fail. Give yourself time to learn. Give yourself the chance to enjoy the process you’ve initiated rather than simply being irritated that you’re still closer to point A than B.
When people hire me they often do it with the expectation or hope that having me on their side will mitigate the need to patience. To a small degree, this is true. I can help remove uncertainty, and if you would have spend years following an unproductive plan and going through the motions with low intensity in the gym, then yes – I can accelerate the process by years! But even with the right plan in place, it takes time. The more ambitious your goals, the more time it takes. Want to gain 3 pounds of muscle or lose 10 pounds on the scale? Great, you will need a lot less patience than the guy who wants to gain 20 pounds or lose 60. This is where short-term goal setting becomes important. For those of us who struggle with patience, being able to hit a new, legitimate milestone more frequently is important. Also important to note, those short-term goals do not exist simply to placate the impatient – they are real, valuable, and an indication that the long-term goal is attainable.
Me telling people to “just be patient” works oh so well, as I’m sure you can imagine. Patience is valuable, but infinite patience is setting yourself up for failure just the same as no patience. You’ve got to have a time frame by which you can measure progress to be sure that it’s happening, and it’s got to be a time frame that is reasonable. Let’s take the following goals, for example:
“I want to lose 30 pounds”
Awesome, any coach in the world can do that for you. It may take 10 years though, so hopefully you’ve been working on that whole patience thing.
“Ok, ok, ok, I want to lose 30 pounds in 4 weeks”
Perfect, there’s a 4 week waiting line in the OR to have a leg amputated, so that’s about right. Outside of losing a limb, that ain’t happening.
“Fine, how long should it take for me to lose 30 pounds?”
Now we’re talking. You tell me your goal, I’ll give you an idea of the time frame.
The actual length of time in this hypothetical situation isn’t important – that number would be different for everyone anyway. What is important is your ability to mentally buy in to the time it will take to reach your goal. That is patience, and that is one of the most valuable and universal keys to success.