Are You a Good Soldier in the Gym?
Written by TJ O’Brien

What does it mean to be a ‘good soldier’ in the fitness world? To me, above all, it means that you are compliant through thick and thin. Taking orders, following directions, following THROUGH. 

It also means being a driven athlete who is eager to learn and who is curious about the process. But beyond being driven, framing your participation in workouts as a process allows you to frame speed-bumps as part of developing whatever goal or skill it is that you’re working on.

My guess is that when it comes to fitness, many see it as “something to get through”. But look, that approach is for amateurs. Inversely, a process-driven approach takes incredible confidence and self-awareness to set yourself up to think this way. 

And where does that confidence come from?! Practice. Reps. Experience. Doing. Taking on missions that you might fail because you value the experience itself. And that’s because you can’t rise in rank without experience.

“But DUHH, TJ. Everyone knows they have to ‘just do it.’”

Here’s the thing…

Doing means engaging with the unknown, which could upset our ego, our sometimes-delicate conception of ourselves.

As soon as you conceive of yourself as a good soldier, you can set yourself up for success by:

  • following the steps your coaches laid out 
  • giving your best effort
  • accepting plateaus and not giving up

Instead of: 

  • guessing what might work best
  • justifying/rationalizing anything less than your best effort
  • assuming you progress would be linear

Could you start applying this framework now? Yes, YOU.

Do you ever get afraid to “go for it” wholeheartedly because there is an inkling of doubt that you might not do it perfectly and therefore consider yourself a failure? 

Yeah, me too. I want to dig into that stuff with you this year because I think it makes 10x more impact than your squat PR. Don’t get me wrong, I want that for you, too.

But if we can agree that most of our success comes from accepting plateaus and giving our best effort throughout, then we should be obsessed with drawing pleasure from that process instead of focusing solely on the end result. 

This could mean adopting a particular framework that prioritizes “doing” above all else.

What might it mean to you? Do you have a mental framework for training? What is it? Can you put it into words and send it to me? I’m sincerely curious. 

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