Lately I've been thinking about dedication. What causes someone to become dedicated to something? By dedication I mean not merely believing in something, but belief tied with urgency to take action. Many ideas flow through our minds on a daily basis, few stick around, and fewer still ignite our minds with the need to act. What is special about these thoughts that stick around and how do they get there?
This year three ideas have been bouncing around in my head, somehow I was compelled to act on them all.
Starting last December I started thinking about getting in better shape. I've had such thoughts before and have taken action towards them such as exercising on a regular basis or riding my bicycle to work. But this time the drive was different. I read an article about how it is currently in fashion to focus on aerobics with light weights and ignore brute strength. It talked about how despite lots training the author was not strong. He went to a gym that focused on strength and had an epiphany, he was weak. Old ladies were lifting much more than him. In a short time, the author gained considerable strength with basic exercises. Picking up heavy things and putting them down. Cave man work, so to speak, the kind of work made extinct by our cubicle based lives. The article inspired me to try it out, and it lead me to Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. It was the opening paragraph of that book that made the idea imperative.
Physical strength is the most important thing in life. ... Our strength, more than any other thing we possess, still determines the quality and quantity of our time here in these bodies. ... A weak man is not as happy as that same man would be if he were strong.
More than anything, it was this opening passage. I had to become stronger and not just in the distant future but immediately. There was no longer a choice, it was something that had to be done. My mind changed; reprogrammed by this short passage.
I took advantage of the gym at work. I went three days a week for two hours a session. When I started this April I could deadlift 80 pounds and could bench only 60 pounds. Currently I can deadlift 230 and bench 125.
I feel stronger both in body and mind. My muscles feel larger and more present. I feel more able to take on a task and commit to it, even if the interim is tedious or difficult. Perhaps this is because the mind is literally training with the body. Large strength gains come from the increased ability of the nervous system to recruit the muscle that is already there.
Recently my wife Cassie asked what my goal was, what amount of strength would be enough? The amount was beside the point. The goal is just to be strong because physical strength is the most important thing in life.