Phoenix Ignition Fitness Company

Fitness by the Fire: Mental Conditioning: Balancing Drive with Desperation.

by Ron Kennedy • January 29, 2019
Passion and drive and necessary elements for success, not just within the pursuits of a fitness lifestyle but for every challenge one sets before themselves. The late Steve Jobs often made mention of a certain “insanity” that is required to master your pursuits. He believed that you had to be crazier than everyone else, take risks others would not, and be so committed to an idea that others might deem futile otherwise it is unlikely you will accomplish your task. After all, who but a crazy person would dedicate their time, resources, and often mental wellbeing to create something that currently doesn’t exist? I would assume Mr. Jobs wasn’t referencing the type of crazy that people indulge on to go start their own cult or cover themselves in grape jelly just to run across the field of a crowded sporting event screaming “I’m Barney the Dinosaur, come sing with me!”. What he meant was the feverish push to go beyond where most others would turn back, the thinking and processing of concepts that others feel are taboo or not possible.

With the new year’s rush of wishful thinking quickly coming to end, this is the time of the year where I reach out to our clients and ask them to reflect on the progress they have made thus far, and if their efforts are in alignment with the goals they set for themselves coming into 2019. Our philosophy year-round is to focus on a permanent fitness lifestyle, not just the temporary guilt that swiftly follows the holidays. Doing so yields answers from all over the board. “I’m right on track! I have not even started. I am doing alright, but I could improve my nutrition. I’m getting stronger, but I need to do more cardio.” I have mentioned numerous times that it is not my job as a fitness professional to tell you what to do with your body. My job is to guide you on the most effective and safe path to reach the goals YOU have set before yourself. Yet, unlike the drive for success in business mentioned above, fitness progression can suffer from “misdirected” passion that can ultimately not only lead you to failure in your pursuits, but also injury and even mental destruction.

The word “drive” from a psychological point of view is defined as an innate, biologically determined urge to attain a goal or satisfy a need. Simple to understand right, but would qualify that definition as a good or bad thing motivating factor? As a professional motivator in a sense, my natural answer would be Yes, drive is a very good thing. How could push yourself without it?

 You want those bursting out the shirt chest muscles? You have to want it baby!

 You want that 6-figure income? Go Go Go, work your butt off to get the education and then the job!

 Want to create a brand to turn it into a booming business? Here are the keys, now start your engines!

That is the drive the I have found for the most part, has personally yielded me at the very least major change, if not accomplishing what I have set out to achieve. Nothing wrong with that right??...

But what is the cost of that ambition? What is the fuel needed to create that fire that burns so bright and feverishly?

Here is another word to consider; Desperation. Desperation is defined as a state of despair, typically one which results in rash or extreme behavior.

You want those bursting out the shirt chest muscles? While over train to the point of injury until your chest splits. Still need more, try this steroid to give you an edge!

You want that 6-figure income? Abandon your life, your happiness and your sanity, hell…. Anything that distracts you from that goal!

 Want to create a brand to turn it into a booming business? Make sure you find the cheapest way to create your product, cut cost with cheap labor that is meaningless and easily replaceable, and slander your competitors until their business crashes.  

Its funny how quickly drive can turn into desperation isn’t it.

I often see this occurrence when working as a fitness trainer. A client will run endlessly day after day since they have a vision of themselves (often unrealistically) yet despite their bones and joints constantly aching, muscles in never ending torment, they keep going and going. Is that drive or desperation?  
Another client goes to bed every night with stomach pains. Tosses and turns for hours before the body finally succumbs to sleep, wakes up stiff and not feeling rested. Why? Because they are denying themselves dinner because in their mind they are too over weight to eat at night, and as punishment they do not get to eat past 4:00 pm thinking it will somehow trigger weight loss.

This last example is very touchy, but I feel it shares a very profound point, but reader discretion is advised:

A predator sets his sights on a victim. Where she works, where she eats, where she lives, everything about her. He has an innate and biological urge that he needs to satiate. In his mind, he is DRIVEN and possibly even justified in his actions. Yet, since his obsessive nature is not only a major turn off but against the law, he is desperate. Desperate to see his victim, desperate to hear them speak, desperate to watch every moment of their life unfold in front of him. Scary enough, often desperate to do much much worse.

All the examples listed above started with drive, but quickly descended into the realm of desperation be it from lack of patience, unrealistic expectations, or delusions of grandeur that things are different from what they are. Within pursuits of a fitness life style, it is very easy to fall victim to this trap. I encourage everyone reading to fully commit yourself to goals. Embrace the strength and fortitude to follow up on your dreams and ambitions to change your healthy life into whatever your heart dares you to pursue. Yes, you absolutely can do it! Yet, do not pursue your goals with any vehicle that is driven with a negative emotion! Positive begets positive, and negative begets negative. It’s a universal law I assure you. If your driving force is because you want to prove to yourself you can, you are on the right track. If you are doing something because someone told said that you are incapable of doing so and you act just to smite them, be warry of where that path will lead you. You can’t trick your true intentions; your heart knows what you really want and why you are really doing something.  

Find the balance between drive and desperation. Well thought out, calculated actions with a time-line of success and room to make adaptations is very beautiful thing to witness coming together and executed. Passion without direction, burning everything in your path just to keep the fire hot and never knowing if and when you can ever put it out is more than just dangerous, it will be your destruction if you let it.