Sermons – I. Integrity
Who cares if you skip a rep?
Who cares if you don’t help put away equipment?
Who cares if you show up late?
Who cares if you stop running as soon as your coach can’t see you?
If you don’t care, then no one else does either. However every time you skip a rep, or don’t help put away equipment or do less work- at least one person notices. Its not always a coach. Sometimes its the soccer mom next to you. Sometimes its the real estate agent you share a bar with. Sometimes its the entrepreneur that you are dragging a tire with. But be rest assured every time you do have an integrity question someone else notices it.
Why should you care?
Ultimately everyone is training to be a better person. Regardless of personal goals – weight loss, strength, speed, mental fitness- every single one of us does this to be better. One of the single biggest hurdles in self improvement is doing the right thing when no one else is watching. This stems in everything from cheating on your diet, to using the correct percentage of your maxes to picking up your candy wrapper when it falls on the ground. Ultimately it sits squarely on your shoulders to do the right thing, to deny the lazy child part of your brain and make things a little more difficult. To be better.
So what happens when we skip reps or don’t help put away gear or do show up late, it’s your time, no one else should really care about you other than you, right?
Ultimately it comes down to integrity. Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. This has nothing to do with religion or really any other personal belief other than doing the right thing. Its one thing to say you are doing the right thing, it’s a whole other thing to put those words into action. Almost every time you have an integrity issue it involves your ego and your willingness to be uncomfortable. People that have a high level of integrity have no issues checking their ego and being uncomfortable.
Every time you come into the gym you have a chance to work on your integrity. When you come into a training session its is assumed that everyone is doing the same amount of work, or as much work as they are physically and mentally capable of that day. However if we are doing a session and I am skipping every other rep and you are not, did we do the same work? Or did I do half as much work as you and say I did the same amount? Is this fair? Should I be able to say I did as much work as you? Should I say I finished the workout as fast as you did or faster? Basically by lying or doing less work, I am tarnishing your achievement and your physical and mental fitness. I am saying we are capable of the same thing, when really we aren’t. You are capable of performing a set amount of work in a set amount of time and I am capable to taking credit for doing something that I didn’t do. This is the very cornerstone of what integrity is, but we’ll get back to why it is important in a minute.
What I am really doing by cutting reps is cheating myself. I am creating a habit of delusion. What this means is that when the going gets tough instead of rising to the level of work needed and pushing myself, I am ingraining the habit of doing less. Not carrying my equal load. Not pushing my mental or physical fitness. Instead of recognizing these for the weaknesses they are, I am ignoring them and acting like they aren’t. This is making me mentally and physically weaker every time I do it. Every time I cut a rep, I am doing less work so I am losing fitness. But more importantly than that every time I cut a rep I am consciously quitting. I am taking the easy way out by choice. This is creating the habit of weakness, so if a point in my life comes when I have to take the hard road or do hard things I simply don’t have the skill set to do it. All I know how to do is the bare minimum. All I can count on is the fact that when the going gets tough I am going to quit or try to take the easy way out.
While this might not seem like an issue initially for the casual gym goer it even goes deeper. As I said earlier every time you cut a rep at least one person notices- that soccer mom. Every time you don’t put away gear at least one person notices- that real estate agent. Every time you quit running when coach isn’t looking at least one person notices- that entrepreneur. If you do this day in and day out eventually everyone knows you as the athlete that cheats on their reps, doesn’t help clean up and doesn’t work hard when noone is watching. Sure this seems like a small thing in the gym, but lets say one day you are in a position where you need a job or a loan or a business partner. Someone you’ve trained with at the gym for years is an option and you go to them and ask them. What does this person really know about you?
They know you cheat to win when it doesn’t matter.
They know you don’t clean up after yourself.
They know you don’t work hard when your superiors aren’t watching.
Suddenly they know a lot about your character. Do you really think this person is going to give you a chance. Is this person going to give you a job or a loan or partner with you when they know you lie, cheat and don’t work hard? If they are any judge of character of course not. They’ve seen the real you. The you that only comes out when times are hard. They know exactly what you are going to do when they need you: you are going to cheat, work less and expect more.
Now think about it on the other foot. What if you are always early. You always bust your ass. You help everyone around you, are encouraging and work hard for no other reason than working hard. There is no job or partner or loan you won’t get when someone knows work harder than everyone else when it’s time to work hard.
A great example of this is an athlete that trained with us for years. She was a little bit older, her mid 40’s. She had no reason to work hard. No one expects a woman in her 40’s to lay it out every time she comes into the gym with athletes half her age. If she had taken it easy on herself no one would have judged her or said anything to her. But she didn’t. She was kind to every athlete she talked to, and she talked to every athlete. She always showed up early, cleaned up after herself, but mostly she always worked hard. She probably never came in first in a work capacity effort, and I am sure the Olympic lifts still vex her. But she never stopped working. She fought tooth and nail every day she walked in the gym. She never quit, she never gave excuses. She fought to the last second on every clock on every effort. She did this every single day for years. Jake paid her a compliment one day that I have never heard him say about any athlete or even any friend before or since. We watched her fight for dead last on a work capacity effort. It was hot, she was dirty and sweaty and she didn’t stop pushing herself until the last second ticked off. Jake leaned over and whispered in my ear: “I would take Cindy Freeman into battle with me.” And why wouldn’t he. Someone that never quits and busts their ass every day and every way. I have no idea who won the work capacity that day, and it doesn’t matter. But I can guarantee I will never forget Cindy. Being a great athlete is simply a physical pursuit. Embodying everything it is to be an Atomic Athlete is something else entirely.
Its not simply enough to say you do the work. Our community is tiny and over time everyone knows who works and who doesn’t work. You don’t think this will follow you but it will. It doesn’t matter how visible or invisible you want to be, you will be known and remembered. Your legacy won’t be how you want to be perceived, it will reflect who you were when you were pushed to your absolute limits. What did you do when you thought noone was watching? How hard did you work when it didn’t seem to matter?
If you don’t think this matters, then for you it doesn’t matter.
However if you really want to be better every time you train start by answering these questions:
What is your legacy going to be, how will you be remembered?
Who will take you into battle?