I train for a lot of the normal reasons; fitness, injury proofing, aesthetics, and performance. Performance, this is the most important reason. This is not the performance you would typically think, see, I am not a professional athlete or a high level sports competitor. I am a Dad, husband, family man, business executive – the performance I train for is optimal life performance. 
I believe in order to highly perform in life you have to be resilient, be willing to test yourself and fail, then pick yourself back up and gain wisdom from not quitting.

Do you know how you will react when life situations are pressing down on you? Will you fold or will draw on the deep well of willpower that is somewhere inside you? You are more likely to draw upon that willpower if you know it exists, but you will only know it exists if you go looking for it, and cultivate it, so it is more readily available when you need to draw upon it.

The good news is that you don’t need to put yourself in a dire circumstance to find your willpower, there are lots of ways to put yourself in an uncomfortable situations to test yourself and see what you got in order to develop the wisdom that comes from experiencing something you didn’t think you could do.

What does any of this have to do with training?

Take for example a 60 second truly all-out cardiovascular effort with your favorite erg or activity. If you are truly going all-out somewhere around 15-20 seconds in this little voice inside your head says you can’t do this, it’s too hard, slow down, you can’t breathe, you are going to die. But what if you gave it 5 more seconds? The voice gets louder…but you didn’t die. Over time, by continually questioning this voice and giving just a little bit more you gain the wisdom to understand that this voice in your head is most likely lying to you, hiding your true potential preventing you from accessing that something inside of you that is beyond what you thought was possible.

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That voice that just told you that you were going to die during your 60 second all-out training effort is the same voice that tells you that you are dumb, ugly, fat, not capable, can’t succeed, will fail, can’t be loved, and on and on. Don’t feel alone, we have all listened to this voice at some point during our lives and heeded it’s ill advice. And you will continue to heed it’s advice unless you question what it is that you have been telling yourself.

The sixty-four-thousand dollar question is how do you first hear, then question that inner voice?

Eckhart Tolle refers to this voice as an Ego. This is Ego gets built up over a lifetime by believing in what you have been telling yourself and what you hear from others as truth. Eckhart Tolle has some great writings on the subject of Ego and how practicing Presence can be a great method for you to hear your inner voice and access your deep well of potential. I can’t do his writing justice by summarizing it here, so I would recommend diving into Eckhart Tolle’s work by visiting here. The Power of Now is a great place to start.

Along with Presence, training is another example of a safe practice ground to put yourself in these little uncomfortable situations and listen to what your inner voice is telling you. Start small and don’t quit. Build on those uncomfortable experiences. Over time you will gain more and more confidence to question that inner voice and further explore what you are truly capable of, not only in the gym, but in life.

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I like to believe that the well inside of us is deep, so deep that we can continually explore it’s depths to learn new insights and new wisdom about ourselves and what we are capable of doing. 

In the end, am I going to win any medals or be viewed as a great athlete because I pushed my physical limits and rowed a sub-7 minute 2000 meters? No. 

But through intense physical training I have an opportunity to tackle my Ego head on and never quit. I gain a glimpse of the strength and willpower I have inside me. I train to widen that glimpse and bring that strength of never quitting to all aspects of my life. This is my definition of optimal life performance.

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“The Mind is Primary” -Mark Twight