Dear Average Joe/Jane,
I hope you find this letter well and that you are excited to finally embrace your true potential. You are about to discover your powers. It’s quite a rare discovery if I may be so bold to say and the potential magnitude of what you are about to reveal is unimaginable. With a little practice and some “pigheaded” stubbornness, you’ll learn to grow and control your gifts. I applaud you on finally getting out of your own way as I’m sure it was a tough (if not THE toughest) decision. We can sometimes be our own worst enemies and we justify disabling ourselves after responding emotionally almost everyday. Needless to say (and very sad to say), it’s become the norm.
It’s not your fault (actually, it kind of is) as you were just doing what you thought appropriate at the time. Perhaps the timing wasn’t right (but really, when IS the right time?) or you just had a lot going on. I’m sure you had impeccable reasons for inhibiting yourself from working on your potential, otherwise why in the hell would you in the first place? Not a big deal, you’re here now and ready to move forward. You finally shushed that annoying voice inside your head (or the voices outside your head in which case I’d grab a beer and toast to their farewell) that constantly reminded you of all the bullshit reasons why you couldn’t or shouldn’t do what you are about to do. You are about to become a f**king badass, a rarity it would seem these days.
Now, I’m sure you have questions (no doubt you do). You may be asking “what the hell are you talking about? What powers do you speak of? What potential am I unleashing? I don’t drink beer; can I toast with wine?”. I will certainly elaborate on all of your questions. To start, ensure the wine substitute is a vintage bottle. You just broke free of your own imprisonment so I would hope it would be worth the occasion.
You are probably a very hard-working individual. You wake up, start to get your things in order as you head out for a long day at work. Perhaps you have a family to take care of or bills to pay. You have responsibilities that if left unattended could lead to disaster. You need to ensure all your ducks are in line in order to make your life “work”. So you do. You punch in, grind, punch out. You head home, maybe hug your spouse and kids, spend time with those you care about (or perhaps some quality alone time), make dinner, unwind and turn the lights out. Sound familiar? Let me be clear as there is absolutely nothing wrong with this scenario. Many in fact would embrace it (and why shouldn’t you?). The issue here is not what you did during the span of this replicate situation, it’s what you didn’t do. You worked hard for your job, for your family, for your spouse, for your lifestyle and for your responsibilities. What did you do to work on you?
I can sense already that there may be some friction with what I am saying but hear me out. You spend hours everyday for others, helping them grow or progress in some way, shape or form. Whether it’s your boss, your children, your family, your friends or whomever, you are (hopefully) making their lives a bit better everyday. But what about you? When do you make the time to do the things you need to do to be your best self? What stops you from growing your own strengths and abilities? What are YOU working towards? It doesn’t have to be fitness related by any means (although this is a fitness blog) but it’s crucial you put in some hard time developing yourself as your own individual. I’m assuming that’s why you already made it this far through the letter. You are finally ready to take the next step in your own personal development, kudos to you!
I want to let you know it’ll be a lifelong journey, full of bumps, bruises and venting sessions. Through it all, you’ll come to learn things about yourself you would’ve never even guessed possible. You’ll discover your powers. I’m talking about grit, guts and gains. Not what you were expecting right? Trust me, I’d much rather be able to fly, turn invisible or move things with my mind but the three “G”s have their place. They are traits of some the most successful and fulfilled people on earth and unlike actual “super” powers, you can unlock them with some practice. The three “G”s feed off each other and can constantly evolve to be your greatest assets. You just gotta be prepared to put in some quality time.
Grit is the foundation of toughness. It is the heart of mental fortitude, a skill lost by many. Grit IS a skill, meaning it is a learned ability. Unlike genetics, you don’t need to play the lottery to get some. You learn and develop grit through adversity, setbacks and hard times. You get out of your own way. Grit means being able to find a way to succeed when there are a thousand reasons why you shouldn’t. It’s trusting yourself to accomplish what you set out to do no matter what may stand in your way. It means mentally overcoming obstacles such as naysayers, physical pain, emotional agony or defeat.
So how do you develop grit? Believe it or not, you’ve already figured it out. You conquer adversity, just like you did to that little voice in your head (big first step I tell ya). Grit isn’t honed through “smooth sailing”. You must constantly enter deep dark waters and trust yourself to stay afloat. You must constantly challenge yourself with new tasks, setting new goals along the way. You must attempt to develop new skills while stepping outside your comfort zone. You must be able to keep an open mind to opportunities while becoming comfortable with risk. You must be able to accept failure as a possibility and defeat as a consequence. You must be willing to sacrifice for the long term. Think you can do it? I have no doubt you can but understand this: you must face adversity EVERY DAY. That’s right, you must step outside your comfort zone everyday until it becomes second nature. Do this, and adversity simply becomes another item on your checklist. It won’t even discern you anymore. You’ll have the ability to mentally defeat fear of failure for the opportunity of success. You will develop an edge. That makes you extremely powerful. See? Way better than flying.
Guts are a hard to find alloy forged through constant practice. It is the essence of work ethic, the ability to keep doing what you have to do to move one step closer to success. Guts means sacrificing what you want to do for what you NEED to do. It means waking up early and going to bed late. It requires prioritizing your responsibilities to ensure you get just a little bit closer to your goal. Like grit, it requires sacrifice. It means saying no to certain luxuries so your goals don’t become wishes. Guts require working diligently with no guaranteed payoff.
Guts are much like grit, they both require daily practice. You probably have experience with guts already. Have you woken up early to go to work even though you wanted to sleep in? That’s guts. Doesn’t seem like much right? Let me ask you this: why wake up early at all? Why not just stay in bed? I’m guessing you wanted to stay bundled up like a warm cinnamon roll but something internally urged you to get up and get going. You sacrificed what you wanted to do in order to do what you had to do. You are probably working towards a paycheck to stay afloat or furthering your career to give yourself or your family a better life. You sacrificed the luxury of sleep in order to work.
To develop guts, you must work like an animal everyday. Doesn’t have to be on your career per say (all work and no play), but it should be something you are passionate about. If you want to get in better shape (about time I mentioned fitness), you’ll be undergoing tasks that you will not likely want to do. You’ll be pushing yourself physically to conquer that last rep while enduring extreme discomfort. You’ll be saying no to foods or treats that you regularly enjoy to get one step closer to your goals. Perhaps it’s not a fitness goal you aspire towards but instead a career goal or personal interest. The same concepts apply. You must hustle with passion and forget about payoff. Why? Passionate work is quality art that leads to rare and unimaginable possibilities. Payoff is the result.
Let’s be clear, WORK doesn’t mean just showing up (although it’s a great start). There must be a method to the madness in order to progress. You must have benchmarks and checkpoints to ensure your diligence isn’t wasted. If not, you are simply another drone keeping “busy” without being productive. Don’t confuse the two. Being productive takes guts, staying busy takes up time.
Almost done, the end is near. I did, however, save the best for last. That’s right, let’s talk about gains. Gains are a byproduct of grit and guts. It’s the subtle rewards that let you know your diligence and hard work are starting to pay off. It’s getting the head nod from your boss on your project submission or fitting into your sexy black dress again. It’s putting up a new personal best or winning the national championships. It’s walking by the mirror and taking the extra second to comprehend your newfound physique. Whatever your subtle reward is, it’s a reminder of your why.
Since gains are a result of grit and guts, you can’t directly “work” on them. That being said, you should still PLAN for gains. Take the time to brainstorm and review what you truly want. Is it a promotion? Is it a national championship? Is it feeling sexy for your spouse or getting strong? Is it finally getting that police interview or getting your degree? It’s important to keep what you want to achieve right in front of your nose at all times. Break down your goals into small checkpoints or daily tasks. Failure to do so can shake your grit and cave your guts.
Without focus, how can you justify overcoming obstacles? Without focus, how can you be productive (hence a busy drone)? If you want to become your best self, you should surely have an idea of what your best self would look like. Write down what you want to do, what you want to accomplish and how you want to feel throughout the process. Put it all down on paper and leave them in your common areas. You could even write down potential challenges and how you plan on dealing with them. Whatever you can do to better prepare for gains is time well spent. It will help hone your grit and empower your guts.
Sorry for the long letter, but I just had to say it out loud. You have WAY more power than you can imagine and I would hate to see it go to waste. You don’t have to be a superstar athlete or big time corporate boss to be powerful. You just have to remember the three “G”s and dedicate yourself to working on them everyday. You have so many untapped abilities at your disposal, you just need to start! You can lift weights, you can learn new things, you can develop new skills and refine them as you grow! It doesn’t matter your age, gender, family history, financial background or genetic lottery. You can do your best to be your best no matter what bullshit excuse happens to climb inside your head. Grow your grit, build your guts, appreciate your gains and be relentless. That, my friend, is how you become unstoppable.
I wish you well on your journey for that’s exactly what this is. It’s a journey, one that you should embrace and appreciate every step of the way. You are about to work towards something with endless possibilities, you just need to use your powers. I believe in you, do you believe in yourself?
Keep Being Awesome,
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Matrixx specializes in adolescent athletic development. He coaches some of the top athlete prospects coming out of high school in the Niagara region. He also works with dedicated members of the community who are passionate about improving personal fitness. Matrixx is also the author of The Iron Guide to Building Muscle.