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“The more you
know about what motivates you, the easier it is to motivate yourself.”
Steve Chandler, 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself (Revised Ed., 2001)
Steve Chandler is very good at motivating me to read his books on motivation.
He persuaded me to read Reinventing Yourself by appealing to my vanity; see article 107, Owners and Victims. Now, he’s done it again with a reference (in his Monthly Motivator) to a section in 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself about a day he spent with Arnold in 1976.
A journalist, noting Chandler’s day with Arnold, asked his thoughts on learning of Arnold’s run for governor of California. “He will win,” Chandler answered, “not because he is famous, or because he has money, but because he has a success formula that works so well.”
Having been a fascinated observer of Arnold’s unstoppable will to succeed since overhearing his struggling two-word order in a Chicago deli on the occasion of the 1970 Mr. America contest--“chicken, chicken,” he said, pointing to what he wanted--I bought the revised edition of Chandler’s 100 Ways to learn about Arnold’s formula, and ended up enjoying the whole book.
Chandler asked Arnold what he was going to do after he retired from bodybuilding. “I’m going to be the number-one box-office star in all of Hollywood,” he calmly responded. Remember, this was when few people outside bodybuilding knew he existed.
Chandler had to fight to keep a straight face as he asking how he planned to do that. Arnold’s explanation seemed “ridiculously simple,” but Chandler never forgot it: “What you do is create a vision of who you want to be, and then live into that picture as if it were already true.”
It worked for Arnold--and it’s still working. Chandler says it will work for others as well. He emphasizes that Arnold said you create a vision. You don’t wait to receive one. In other words, you make up a vision, something that excites you.
It’s easier said than done, of course. But it makes sense if you boil it down to always “having something to wake up for in the morning,” as Chandler explains it. It’s up to you to decide what that is and work hard to make it happen. You can fine-tune the vision as you go along, but “don’t live a moment longer without one,” says Chandler. “Watch what being hungry to live that vision does to your ability to motivate yourself.”
“Act like you already feel like you want to feel,” says Chandler. “Don’t wait until the feeling motivates you. It could be a long wait.”
You may have heard the phase fake it until you make it, probably in another context. Well, it works with many emotions, according to Chandler. Citing American philosopher William James, he says, “Most of us believe an emotion, such as happiness, comes first. Then we do whatever we do, in reaction to that emotion.” Not so, according to James, and Chandler.
The emotion and the action arise together. Acting enthusiastic makes you feel enthusiastic. Singing makes you feel like singing. Laughter makes you feel like laughing.
I’ve found that to be true for exercise as well. I often don’t feel like exercising until I start. I do a brief general warm-up without added resistance at the beginning of every workout, weights or aerobics. Nothing fancy, just enough to get the blood flowing and warm up my joints. I do curls, shrugs, arm swings, leg lifts, toe touches, and squats. This prepares the body to exercise. As I wrote in Ripped 3, “It also helps you get in the mood” to exercise. (I demonstrate this general warm-up in The First RIPPED Video/DVD.)
When I trained early in the morning before going to the office, this little routine helped me wake up and get in the mood to train. I no longer train at the break of dawn, but I still do this little warm-up every morning after I shave. It always makes me feel better about whatever I have to do. I actually look forward to my morning warm-up. It gets my blood circulating and puts me in the mood to start my day.
Steve Chandler has it right. To get in the mood to do something start doing it.
Chandler believes Dr. Andrew Weil’s idea of going for a period of time without listening to or reading the news is a good one. Weil, an integrative medicine specialist, believes a news fast can have a healing effect. Chandler sees it as a way to make you feel more optimistic about life. “You’ll feel a lift in energy,” says Chandler.
The problem is that the news isn’t the news; it’s the bad news. “Every night we…see human suffering,” Chandler writes. “If there’s a report on politics it features the most venomous attacks between the two parties.”
The goal of today’s news is less to inform, and more to rouse our emotions. “It’s a ‘good’ program if we have been enraged by one story, saddened by another, and amused by a third,” writes Chandler.
He’s right, isn’t he? The above the fold, front-page story on the capture of Saddam Hussein in our local paper included this riveting tidbit: “Eight people were killed and 80 wounded by shots fired in the air during celebrations….” What’s up with that? The reporter must have scraped the bottom of the barrel to come up with that downer. Probably got a bonus for watering down the good news. Who needs it?
“Is it any wonder,” writes Chandler, “that by programming our minds with this gross and frightening information all day and into the night, we end up a little less motivated?”
Frankly, I’m a news-junky, especially political news. My wife can’t understand how I can stand to listen to the spinners talk (shout) past--and over--each other and never really engage on issues. She’s right, of course. I should change the channel or hit the “off” button more. I’m trying. Honest.
As number of friends I respect refuse to read the papers and only occasionally watch the news on TV. They’ve got a point. Most of the so-called news is a bummer. I wouldn’t go that far, but Chandler’s suggestion of an occasional news fast makes sense, especially when you’re feeling depressed or unmotivated.
You’re not likely to miss anything important—“Really big news, like a war...will get to you,” says Chandler--and you’ll probably feel more upbeat about life. When you return to the news, Chandler says, “be totally conscious of what the show is trying to do to you.” And when it starts to get you down, remember that you control the remote.
“Competition has become a bad word,” Chandler writes. “But competition, if confronted enthusiastically, can be the greatest self-motivating experience in the world.”
The trend in schools to downplay grades and awards to protect students from stress and competition is wrong-headed, according to Steve Chandler. Competition, says Chandler, “teaches you the valuable lesson that no matter how good you are, there is always somebody better than you are…[which is] the lesson in humility…these teachers are misguidedly trying to teach by removing grades.”
“[Competition] teaches you that by trying to beat somebody else, you reach for more inside of yourself,” Chandler writes. “It gives you a bench-mark for measuring your own growth.” It shows what’s possible and gives you confidence to raise your sights.
Our Australian friend Wayne Gallasch is a recent example. Although an athlete in his youth and always active (weights and aerobics), when we introduced him to indoor rowing early in 2003, he hadn’t competed in any sport for 22 years.
We told Wayne about the Concept 2 ranking system, which allows him to compete with people his age and weight from around the world, and he was off like a shot. He recorded a 500-meter benchmark before leaving Albuquerque. What happened next was almost magical.
Wayne discovered that he liked indoor rowing. What’s more, he found that he was pretty good at it. His long-dormant competitive juices began stirring--and how. His first goal was to be competitive in Australia, but he soon expanded his horizon to the world.
After several months of hard training, weights and rowing, Wayne improved his 500-meter time by more than 20 seconds, recording an excellent time of 1:41.9, which put him first in the world for lightweight men age 60 to 69. The 2004 season was just beginning and the top competitors had yet to post times, so Wayne’s ranking seemed destined to be a flash in the pan. But that was just the beginning. He was just warming up.
On June 4, 2003, Wayne served notice that he would not give up his first place ranking without a fight. Making another quantum leap forward in his short rowing career, he posted a blistering time of 1:38.3. Now, he was more than eight seconds ahead of the next best time and only a few seconds short of the best time posted the previous season. And he wasn’t done yet--far from it.
A few months later he upped the ante again, posting a 500-meter time of 1:36.8, converting his flash-in-pan status to odds-on favorite for his age and weight. But he still wasn’t done.
Encouraged by his early success, Wayne decided to try his luck at 2000 meters, the Olympic-standard distance. He evaluated his chances at the British Indoor Rowing Championship (BIRC), the biggest indoor rowing event in the world, and decided to compete. As a complete unknown, he surprised everyone by placing sixth in the 60-64 lightweight category, with a time of 7:30, only 23.9 seconds behind the winner, reigning age-group world champion Phil Stubley. But Wayne still wasn’t showing all his cards.
Two weeks ago, on December 14, 2003, the weekend of the Concept 2 European Indoor Championship in Paris, Wayne did 2000 meters in 7:21.6, an improvement of 8.4 seconds and a time that would have put him third in Paris.
Phil Stubley won again with a time of 7:07.0. Incredibly, Wayne has closed the gap on the best in the world to less than 15 seconds—with less than one year of rowing.
“To be honest I couldn’t believe it,” Wayne told me in an email.
In the Concept 2 World ranking for lightweight men 60-69, Wayne now ranks first at 500 meters, third at 1000, only 5 seconds behind the leader, and third at 2000 meters.
Competition, hard work and a determined spirit have made 2003 truly a year to remember for Wayne Gallasch. I can’t wait to see what the new year holds. GO WAYNE!
(For more info on Wayne’s experience at the BIRC, see article 121. To learn about 96 more ways to motivate yourself, read 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself. All of Steve Chandler’s wonderful books are available on Amazon.com or at your local bookstore.)
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