What if this could easier?
I like to read journals – especially medical journals. I look for stuff on sports psychology, anatomy of movement, and things relevant to my work. One of the things I’ve been researching is this idea of “go hard or go home” – which basically defined the first half of my life. Many of us are obsessed with the idea that hard work rules the day, or that hard things accomplish big stuff in your life. And I get it. As I said, I operated that way for half of my life. I was a rugby player, I loved wrestling, boxing….it was go hard or go home. That was the model. I lived by it, and thought that was how things ought to be, even with my school and work. But with age comes wisdom, and I really don’t think that’s the way it ought to be anymore. Let me put you into my head space, because this is going to be hard to explain. I’ll give you my perspective. There was this famous philosopher – he wrote in Latin, but I don’t understand the Latin version – that basically translates into “you should learn how to invert. And invert quickly.” This translation is a little confusing but here’s how I read it: when you are faced with a problem a lot of us default to a mindset that insists we work harder. It’s like, “well, I’m good with easy, but I know when luck hits the fan, you gotta work hard.” You see this in the martial arts world where many people train light but when the real fight starts bodies and fists are flying. But I see this is kind of wrong. Let me give you my perspective. Think of inverting as a triangle. The problem is the base of the triangle and the solution would be the tip. So what this philosopher is saying was “invert”. He’s saying, switch this so that if what is hard becomes easy. What if the problem you have had an easy solution? What would that be? Let me give you an example. If I am having a bit of an argument with someone, the solution is in that person in front of me. I can put myself in their position to figure out what they want, and the argument is over pretty quickly. Nothing needs to be dragged out. So when you are faced with a problem, say to yourself “how can this be easily solved or easily done?” People today are suffocating under layers of complexities in their lives….things are getting far too complicated these days, in the business world and even in training. You want to train hard, and there is nothing wrong with training hard, but that shouldn’t be the end goal. It’s where we start. Because what happens is, as you go along, and you are training hard, you find what works for you, what makes you feel good and what is repeatable. You find what gives you the best results and then gradually it becomes easier. That’s the trick. You don’t just keep working hard, you become more efficient, you become part of the flow, and things become easier. Another example I could give is, if I were a construction worker and my job is to dig a big hole every day, that’s hard work. But then each day I’m paying attention and asking myself what would be easier – if I did this or I did that. What if I got a longer shovel and used more leverage? What if I relaxed more, I could pull the shovel up easier? Gradually I become more and more efficient physically. But you have to think psychologically too. Doing this every day for a year would wear on a person, so you have to take care of your mental state. The idea is to transcend your state of mind so you free yourself from the burden and are no longer thinking much about digging the hole. You can even free yourself spiritually. There are lots of people who have endured horrific things and have found a way to transcend those situations. This is doable. So you start the hard work but then you look for things to be easier. It doesn’t matter what you are doing. You could be trying to lose weight. Too many follow complicated diets. For me, I just stopped eating sugar and increased my water intake. No complicated recipes. I fast for 16 hours a day. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love sweets, but once you stop and get it out of your system, it’s easy to stay off. It’s the same with health and fitness; the same with martial arts. I see people doing things that are complex and hard and likely won’t yield a result. I say, work hard, look for efficiencies, and things become easier. If things are not becoming easier you are doing something wrong. If after five years of digging that hole isn’t easier for me, I’m doing something wrong. “Easy” often has a bad name. There’s this thing in our society that anything accomplished is hard earned. Hard work has an allure to it and it has been given a special place in our society. Working hard is seen as positive and easy is seen as weak and negative. Like “oh, that’s easy money”. Why does saying something is easy make it sound somehow not real? Efficiency and ease allow you to be more present. The aim should always be efficiency, not constantly working hard. I think the only reason people persist at working hard is they haven’t found an easier way to do it yet. Training should help you find different ways to make it easier; whether that be reading, watching videos, or listening to speakers like myself. You have to have the mindset that there is always an easier way to do something. So when I am going through my hard phase, be it running or cycling or martial arts, I haven’t found an easier way yet. I need 4-6 weeks to focus on making it easier. Everything you do, from brushing your teeth to taking a shower, your main goal is to make it easier. You start to calibrate the body. When I’m doing push ups or squats, I’m trying to keep it light and easy. After a while the body begins to say “ok, I’m recalibrating this compass and I’m looking for easy.” It’s about balance. You know there are people who love to complain, and with Covid, we are surrounded by them. All of us have those thoughts. But I also have gratitude. And when you have anger and complaining on one end of a spectrum and gratitude on another, they bring you into the center more, and that is where you need to be. So you can complain, but you can also be grateful. Take it from me guys. My entire world was turned upside down from this pandemic. It was a full-on assault, a front kick to my face. But I’m still grateful, and I mean that sincerely. So when I’m asking you to look for easier, it’s because I see a lot of you working too hard without calibrating or engaging yourself to look for easier.