Recently I completed 90 days of the most intense exercise regimen I‘ve ever endured. While the program was worthwhile for the physical benefits, the real value came from the lesson I learned in self-discipline. The principle the program is based in: deciding, committing and succeeding, have reshaped the way I do business and approach life...
The program I participated in is called P90X (http://www.beachbody.com/) and many of you may have seen the infomercials, partaken in the program or had friends who have participated. The program's marketing message of "muscle confusion" and "getting ripped in 90 days" succeeds in motivating but fall far short of preparing one for the intensity of the workouts. However challenging, it was worth it and I did achieve some tangible results which I'll share with you in a moment.
Understand, when I say intense, I am not just referring to the difficulty of completing the exercise but the amount of time dedicated to each workout and the frequency of workouts. Each workout lasts between 60 and 90 minutes and the program calls for working out 6 times a week. Given a busy lifestyle including two businesses and three kids (ages 3, 5, 13), the commitment aspect was more intimidating to me than the physical aspect. I am sure many of you can relate - making a commitment like this is a life changing decision.
By the end of three months, I had exercised 72 times in just 84 days! There were a few times I worked out twice in one day or did not work out until after midnight but one way or the other, I survived each one. In addition to time constraints and stretching my physical limitations, there were many other barriers that arose during the course preventing me from reaching my goal.
For example, I suffered from severe allergies and endured three sinus infections during the first six weeks of the program. Many of my workouts occurred inconveniently on the road in hotel rooms, at odd hours and in between business meetings. Additionally, my three year old daughter decided to create a new challenge of her own by refusing to go to sleep until she was absolutely sure I had completed the night's workout. She would find evidence of this by observing me lying in the floor out of breath and in a heap. OK, bedtime!
The workouts seemed physically impossible (at first) and there were obviously not enough hours in the day to complete them. Furthermore, the interruptions, distractions and "reasons" not to do it were nearly immeasurable. Interestingly though, it turns out the real value gained from this experience came about as a result of these and many other challenges encountered. It seemed with every additional obstacle, I began to realize how compelling it can be to procrastinate or give up. How simple it is to find a "reason" not to follow through and then rationalize your decision.
How often does this same principle play out in our work and personal lives? We know what we want to do and make a commitment but ultimately identify a reason not to keep going. Think about your job - what frustration have you repeatedly committed to change but are still living with? What about your personal life? Do you have a relationship that needs repair, a habit that needs to change or a problem that needs to be fixed but you never seem to get to doing it?
Too frequently we stop one prayer, a single step or just shy of the required effort to reach our goal. It has been said, the tragedy of life is not "failure" but "lost potential" in all the times we gave up too early. This experience has affirmed my belief that perseverance is the number one predicator of success. Sure, we may get lucky now and then but think back to your biggest successes and I'll bet you will find a common theme. You kept getting back up when knocked down, you stuck with it when others gave up and you refused to yield to challenges. In short, you persevered.
I wish I could report that I had a total body transformation as some of the participants on the infomercial and website appear to have had; my physical results were not quite that impressive. However, I did see some significant improvements in weight, strength and flexibility. I lost five pounds of fat, gained six pounds of muscle, increased strength by nearly 100% and saw flexibility improvements beyond measure. I feel better, eat better, sleep better, have more energy and accomplish more daily which I attribute to the empowerment of an increased positive attitude!
In conclusion, I challenge you to ask yourself "Where do I need to step up my game?" Do you have physical, professional, financial or personal goals you want to pursue but keep finding a reason to give up on? If so, we invite you to share your goals and your success stories here by commenting on this article.
"You do not have to be great to start but you have to start to be great." -Joe Sabah