When someone starts at Woodshed, we try to find one or two things that they are already doing well. There are a few reasons for this. The first is pretty axiomatic–we believe in positive motivation. Most of us aren’t short on things we think we should be better at, so we want the gym to be one place where we’ll be praised and supported for honest effort and accomplishment from day one.
The second reason is related. When you start a new workout routine, you’re generally confronted with things that feel harder than you’d like at first. You’re sore in different (or totally new) places. These are natural growing pains, but since most of us are only in the gym two or three hours a week, we want to be able to remind ourselves of the things that are already going great, the things that aren’t going to be as hard for us. The work is done in the gym, of course, but the foundation for success is laid in how we think about that work outside of the gym.
The third reason is a little bit different, however. Notice that I wrote ‘already doing well’ in the first sentence. We want our people to focus on what’s working in the present or at least the very, very recent past because quite often the things that worked once upon a time are the very last things that will work today.
People change. Times change.
But sometimes our perception doesn’t change, and that’s a problem. We think the things that we did once upon a time are the things we should always be doing, circumstances and context be damned.
As a new business owner, I did most everything myself. This isn’t unusual and it was how it should have been; I was younger, motivated, and had a lot of time and energy to pour into this small new venture. No one could do all of the things like I could do all of the things, primarily because I was the one who was deciding what all of the things were!
There is a romance to those days, but it is a tender trap. You get high on the hustle, on doing things yourself. It lights up the lizard parts of your brain that my kids learned about during their mindfulness camp at school today, and you start to seek out opportunities to dive into that solo cave even after you’ve got some great people around you. It’s an adrenaline rush of a sort, and you do it because it feels good. Anyone who tells you different is lying.
This isn’t dissimilar to the athlete who remembers training 10 hours a week to run a marathon twenty years ago, or the athlete who had no compunction weighing and measuring every bite of food in their twenties. That sort of doggedness feels like the point, because it was such a big part of the picture and because there is a sort of thrill to privation, but most of us don’t have 10 hours a week to train anymore, and most of our families and jobs need us to fuel our bodies and brains adequately.
What worked then may not be appropriate now. Hell, it may not be doable now.
In my case, sticking my head into a cave and saying ‘fine, fine, it’s fine, I’ll do it’ is absolutely the worst thing I can do for my business and my people. When I look around and ask “what’s working well right now,” I see these wonderful people and faces who have stuck around for years and years at Woodshed. I see coaches who believe as strongly as I do that good workouts and a supportive environment are awesome for the body and mind. I see athletes who have bought into our approach to strength, conditioning, and building each other up. I see people I love, value, and need.
Maybe I needed to go it alone way back when. Maybe you needed to break yourself to change your life way back when. Maybe we did what we thought we had to do.
But today, we can do it together.