By my own admission, I am a huge consumer of books, both in audio and physical format. Like many of my fellow coaches, we are trying our best to keep up with accurate nutrition information, exercise programming, psychology and more, just so we can do our best work for our clients.
I often hear that many of my peers take the time to go back and re-read certain books to try and absorb information they may not have caught the first time around. I believe that sometimes with valuable information, it’s not about “what” you’re learning but “when” you’re learning it.
Certain books tend to keep popping up, not just for coaches but for business executives and fellow business owners, such as “How To Win Friends And Influence People”, “Think And Grow Rich”, “Influence”, and many more.
So, I started taking some of that advice to revisit some of these books since it had been many years since I had first read them and I wasn’t sure how my own evolution as a person and a coach would change how I interpreted what I read.
In Napoleon Hill’s classic, “Think and Grow Rich”, there is a segment where he discusses three problems that affect nearly every individual. And, because I am always looking for ways to draw parallels to the health conscious person, I wanted to expand on Hill’s concepts with my own spin on them here.
Hill explains that of the many things that can keep someone from reaching their full potential, at least three factors stand out: indecision, doubt and fear. I’ll be taking my liberties with each as well as some thoughts for minimizing their influence on your life.
It’s not uncommon for the health conscious person to wonder: “Which is the best diet?”, “What’s the most effective method of exercise?”, “Which personal trainer should I hire?”, or simply, “Where should I begin if I want to improve my health and my body?”
These are great questions to ask and some combination of Google searches and social media outlets will give you more options than you ever dreamt were possible. Of course, you can always utilize the age-old option of asking a friend or co-worker what they do for themselves since a good referral may trump what you might find on your own.
However, what we, as humans, understand about options is that some options are good and too many options can lead to “analysis paralysis”. Put in one way, analysis paralysis can happen when we have too many options and we overthink what we have in front of us only to end up making no decision at all because we don’t know the best course of action.
It’s important to note that this happens in nearly ever facet of our lives: to the foods we buy at an overstocked grocery store, to the stocks that we invest in, to the coaches we hire for our bodies or the accountants we hire to oversee our taxes. With abundance of choice, comes the potential for inaction.
It’s also not uncommon for the same health-seeking individual to spend an inordinate amount of time researching, studying and pondering the best options for themselves, all the while doing nothing that equates to actual execution of a task.
There’s a marketing concept that I’ve been a fan of for years because it’s honestly been the best thing for my business and how I advertise our services. That concept is: Ready, Fire, Aim.
If you’re not sure what I mean, many people struggling with indecision are trying to perfect the “aim” and they never actually “fire”. One way to circumvent indecision is to take one step forward and just try something: join the gym, start the exercise app, attempt the diet.
I offer one bit of encouragement as well, fully commit.
If the diet plan is set up for 30 days of effort, go through the 30 days as planned (or to the very best of your ability). There can be a honeymoon period with any new endeavor where the novelty of something you’re starting still has an air of excitement. This generally only lasts a couple of weeks, so you need to be “all in” for longer than the honeymoon period. That’s where you’ll learn if something is truly working beyond that initial high of beginning.
If something really isn’t working for you (such as a diet that is making you feel unwell or an exercise plan that is begging for an injury), abandon ship and pivot towards something that makes better sense for your life.
Oftentimes, indecision comes from waiting for the perfect time to get started. This time doesn’t actually exist. You might have a window of opportunity to get started with a new diet or exercise program but life will undoubtedly throw some curveballs your way to throw you off your plan. #thisisnormal
When you have a “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach to your fitness plan or your diet, you can modify the details as you go along and not worry as much about having the details “just right” before you begin. That’s getting the cart before the horse.
Granted, some approaches to diet and some training plans are truly inflexible. For instance, if all you have is 30 minutes to train 3 times per week, this is not ideal for scheduling time to train for a full marathon. You’ll want to work within the constraints of how your life currently operates.
Nike famously uses the tagline “Just Do It” and aside from it being iconic and very catchy, it rings true here. Make a choice, act on it, and modify to fit your life as you move forward.
In managing self-doubt, I’d ask you to consider a few places in your life that may require attention:
-Comparison to others
-Lack of self-worth/self esteem
Anything you can do to better yourself will require you focusing on your efforts alone. There will always be someone stronger, younger, faster, or with enough genetic gifts to excel at something. This is not where your attention should be.
While it is immensely inspiring to see someone lose 50 pounds in 6 months or lift 3x their bodyweight, you may not have the same body, the same ability to train, or the same access to foods that someone else has available to them. Be mindful of your comparison to others and put your time, effort and energy into how YOU can be better, more consistent or more committed to a plan of action.
If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s easy to get lost in the belief that if you’re not 100% “on the plan” then any deviation throws you completely to the opposite end of the spectrum. In other words, you find ways to sabotage yourself repeatedly. If your diet doesn’t go according to plan, you’re always one meal/one choice away from being right back where you need to be. If you hadn’t planned on pizza on Friday but it was all that was available, try not to beat yourself up for what you had access to. Many people struggling with self-doubt and its partner in crime, self-sabotage, will turn pizza on Friday into a complete weekend free-for-all. The best analogy I’ve heard about this behavior is to consider the flat tire. If your car gets a flat, you don’t slash the other three out of frustration. You fix the one that needs it and you get back on the road.
Lack of self-worth or the feeling that you don’t deserve a better outcome is probably worthy of an article all on its own. In short, look at the areas of your life where you know you have strengths and find ways to make those strengths outshine the areas you’re not as pleased with. Dr. Lisa Lewis and I spoke about this and the “negativity bias” on our recent podcast together. Believe that you deserve better than what you currently have and work towards that goal. It could be a leaner body, a stronger body or a more positive mindset. This may also require the help of a qualified therapist.
Also bear in mind that doubt can be either positive or negative. A certain degree of doubt might be what keeps you from making careless decisions or allowing emotions to rule when a more logical path would benefit you more.
The last point of mention is fear. This could be a fear of failure or the fear of ridicule or shame. When I think about fear of failure within the context of my work at RevFit, it could be a client who’s weighing in and is afraid the weight will be up as opposed to down or a client who’s trying for a new personal best that they’ve missed before. This type of fear can be paralyzing just as much as what I referenced above regarding indecision.
Wayne Gretzky famously said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” When it comes to fear of failure, these words could never be more accurate. You have to be willing to miss, you have to be patient when the numbers on the scale and the training plan don’t go perfectly. The silver lining to this is that you can learn a great deal about what’s “off” when you’re not rewarded with another drop on the scale or another great lift. This feedback is vital for future success.
With fear of ridicule or shame, many people never join a gym because they fear what they’ll look like in front of others. Maybe they aren’t happy with their current physique or they’re afraid to try a machine or exercise for fear of not doing it properly and potentially embarrassing themselves.
I can tell you, wholeheartedly, that most people in a gym are only paying attention to what they’re doing and not what others have going on. I won’t say that embarrassing things don’t happen in gyms. I’ve personally been pinned under a barbell twice for letting my ego get the best of me on a bench press. The first time happened at a big box gym nearly 20 years ago and there was not a soul around who saw it even though it felt like the whole world watched it happen.
Most importantly, a “good” gym will be culture focused where the potential for embarrassment is non-existent. Our members at RevFit know that size, height, weight, and shape are irrelevant. We embrace everyone who comes in to improve themselves.
-Take action to reduce indecision
-Develop self-confidence in tasks that demonstrate your strengths to reduce doubt
-Fear is frequently overcome by exposure. Do the difficult things, be willing to make mistakes and learn where you can improve.
Coach Jackson (below) is showing off his number three to remind you that indecision, doubt and fear affect everyone in nearly all facets of life. Be cognizant of how prevalent they are in yours and remember that all three of those factors are likely holding you back from better outcomes.