The Big Idea 1/31/13: Continuous Effort

Photo by Flickr user Upstate Options Magazine

I’ve been doing a “strength cycle” down at my local CrossFit gym. What that is is three hours a week of lots and lots of lifting: squats, presses, deadlifts.

One of the more surprising discoveries I’ve made in the class is all of the mental aspects there are to lifting. You step up to the barbell and kind of don’t know what’s going to happen, but there’s a lot of value in showing up, making the habit and adding a little bit of weight each time.

Incremental change is something that I’ve been thinking a lot about as I immerse myself in the rhythm and structure of strength training. I started very modestly but now, halfway through, I can see pretty incredible gains.

And while it would have been ridiculous to show up to my first strength class expecting to bench press 250 pounds (and then quitting when I could see how impossible that is), I have come to the realization that that is exactly how I treat a number of big goals in my life.

So I’d like to dedicate this post to the idea of continuous effort…and incremental change.

Here are a few things the greats have had to say: 

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”
― Winston Churchill

“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’” — Maya Angelou

“Over the years, I’ve found one rule. It is the only one I give on those occasions when I talk about writing. A simple rule. If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time. Count on me, you are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write.” — Norman Mailer in The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing

Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection. —Mark Twain

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but habit. – Aristotle

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