If you wanna know what I’ve been doing the last couple of months, it can be reduced to finishing my studies, learning italian and getting into trading*. For me, any activity that I do teaches me something about life, which can then be applied into training – or viceversa. Well, while reading a book by the spanish autor Borja Muñoz, I found some true gems that resonated with my own training (and hopefully yours):
*Trading is the speculation with prices of different goods & services, such as currencies (forex), commodities (ie. soy), cryptocurrencies (ie. bitcoin), financial products (futures) and so on. More on this soon!
- Consistency refers to yourself: While trading tends to yield inconsistent results (its called variable return for a reason), there is a way towards consistency: that YOU are yourself constant. Think of training: does it gives consistent results? No. We can struggle for months and barely make progress only to progress leaps in one session. Thus, consistency in training is not measured by the results but by your training. Focus on putting in the work, executing your training as perfect as possible, and let that be your success. Results will come by themselves.
- All methods work. Choose one and stick with it: This is so huge in training. How many of us run from ballistic stretching to pnf stretching, from supersets to grease the groove, from hiit to who-knows-what-the-new-trend-is? In trading this is clear (with good teachers) from the start: all methods (or 99% of them) work, but only if you apply them. Can you mix methods? Sure, but that is a new method and should be applied exclusively. Can’t you see how information is destroying all of our training potential? We are loosing our sight choosing roads, not realizing all lead to the same path. Can we not be like horses who can only look forward? Before you say “in physical training we need variety, that is why we are constantly changing methods”, let me tell you: a good training system already includes the sufficient variety for it to work. The time for information, comparison and analysis is at the start. You find a method that makes sense to you, that is rational and has a positive probability of working, and then you commit to that as if it were your religion. Haven’t you realize how anything works as long as it is done consistently and with believe? Yoga folks are not stretching in the most scientifically optimal way, and yet they have great flexibility. Also gymnast with strength. And most runners with speed. Ergo=find something and make it your own, trust in your choices and be committed.
- We need to redefine the meaning of failure: There is a beautiful (and hard) truth in trading: it is all statistics. It doesn’t matter if you apply the method perfectly, there will always be “black swangs”, meaning things that cannot be foreseen and that led to bad results. Thus, whenever you fail in trading, it is known to just be part of the job. And so should be in training. Doesn’t a good handstand take 100 bad repetitions? Doesn’t solid strength require many failed attempts? I can tell you feeling mobile requires a great number of times feeling stiff as a board. Can we have the mental strength to be stubborn enough to stay with something (a method, a sport, really anything in life) for long enough for the initial period of bad results to pass and we can enjoy the benefits? The question is not how much can you gain, but how much are you willing to loose. Because if you stay at it, you will see results. You should believe in yourself so much that you can have no results at all, no training gains for months, and stay.at.it. Motivation needs to be detached from results, and this is the base for WORK ETHIC.
- Training success is value centered: The more I grow the more I realize life is like this: success comes from those old values our grandpas talked about: discipline, integrity, responsibility, confidence, respect, honesty, humility, and so on. Success is an ethical matter, specifically a work ethic quest.
- Look for teachers: The real side of work ethic, is overcoming all those should’s and shouldn’ts that have being laid upon us (some call it ego). One of those pressures, which comes in the form of fear, is that of asking for help. Whenever things are not working, why don’t we ask for help? Training needs to be a social activity. It is very hard to do it in isolation. Have the gut to ask for help, I didn’t do it for years and now I regret it. There is no problem with stopping for a moment, recognizing things are not working, and look for help. It will probably save you years, specially at the beginning! Think of the effect a deviation has on a straight line at it’s birth compared to after it is matured. The decisions at the start – which are taken just when we are the less prepared – are those that shape us the most: make the right decision and ask for help when needed!
- Discipline can only be developed in the face of adversity: Discipline, as the key quality for success, is only measured when things are not going well. When you are sleeping 10 hours a day, can train twice a day and are having amazing gains it is easy. But what about when everything seems stuck? You don’t have energy, don’t seem to progress and are feeling unmotivated. This is the ONLY moment when discipline can be developed. Just as courage is the victory over fear (thus only when we feel fear can we be courageous), discipline is the victory over resistance.
- Failure comes mostly from bad measures: While a focus on the process is key, is results measurement totally irrelevant? I don’t think so. But what I believe is that we gotta that a wide perspective for us to not to feel despair and end up changing our approach. For example, trying to get flexible from one week to the other is wrong desiring, but whenever you look at it from a 3 month or 1 year perspective I’m sure most people will be happy with their progress. Focus on the big picture!
- You have to have rules, and follow them: This is how we recognize a rational decision from one that is not. There is a first moment of planning: you sit down, write a program and your training goals. Everything in that moment seems so clear: you are going to do three strength sessions a week and stretch in the days in between. What happens? That in the execution of that plan we loose ourselves. We disrespect the plan and take decisions solely based on emotions – not focusing on the big picture, again, but on momentarily sensations. If you don’t like what you are doing, do not disrespect your rules, see if they need to be changed and then continue executing whatever you decided when your head was cold.
- Don’t innovate unless you are a genius. Learn to follow before you lead: I am 100% guilty of this. I have read books, studied training and now I want to invent new methods and approaches. Why? I’m sure most methods that have survived the test of time yield results. The problem is YOU, not the method. Fix yourself, not the method. Let innovation come whenever you have followed a method for years, but until then, know your place and recognize that the problem here is not a lack of innovation.
- Training is a psychological quest: This is known by all the high performers in any activity. Ask a olympic coach: he knows his method works, and that his or her athletes need only to trust him and do whatever he says. They need to exercise when he says so, and rest when he says so. They need to do repetitive movements – over and over – refining little details each time. The problem is not the method: training is only intellectual the first 3 months (if ever). The problem is the psyche. This is partly why I have stopped writing posts, cause I do not longer believe the problem is an information one. We are beyond that. Do you have the mental strength to commit to something that has worked for others, until it does it for you? Will you shape yourself for the method to work and not the other way around? Will you just put in the work, day in and day out, no matter the results? Will you push, step back, analyze, change, maintain, each at the right moment? Let me repeat it: the game is in the mind. Not in the intelectual part of it, nor in your physical qualities, but in your values, attitude, ego management and emotional control.
That’s it people. Hope this was as insightful for you as it has being for me. Let me know in the comments your reactions and, most importantly, start to APPLY.
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