Burpee belief

"And worse I may be yet: the worst is not
So long as we can say 'This is the worst'"
William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 4 scene i

We're in to week 26 now, and have racked up over 16,500 burpees in the year to date (since 1st April). When I say it out loud it seems, by equal turn, a trifle and a ludicrous thing.

I tend to do my burpees in one session and, depending on what the day throws at me, there are days when I feel pretty flat before I start.
Calvin and Hobbes by the outstanding Bill Watterson

It is close to unbelievable to think that I have come this far. It is not that I ever thought that I wouldn't, but that is down to a lack of imagination rather than a devastating self-confidence. I'm still firmly of the belief that the single biggest danger to this endeavour is my almost limitless capacity to be distracted by something shiny and have a pop at another challenge along the way. 

A case in point. No need, just no need!

Other than that, I can't think of any good reason why I can't make it through the year. Granted my self-esteem issues call it lack of imagination but that's an ingrained fight against pride, vanity, arrogance and hubris. There is a danger of undermining oneself of course, even if that is done accidentally; collateral damage in the war waged against something else.

Let's take a trip down that mental tributary of belief.

There's the oft-quoted line from Paradise Lost which tells us that "the mind is its own place" but I'm actually a fan of another line from earlier in the same monologue

"All is not lost; the unconquerable will,
[...]And courage never to submit or yield
And what is else not to be overcome?"
Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 1, 106-9

We start with a model; ABC; it was ever thus! Catchy acronym but unfortunately, its full form, antecedent>behaviour>consequence is not so smooth off the tongue! Roughly translated as belief>behaviour>result it starts to make more sense to the layperson. It starts with what we believe about ourselves; about our behaviours; about our worth; about our capability and capacity...the list goes on, and that's before we start considering our beliefs in the world and its kaleidoscope of parts.

And your behaviour rides in on the coattails of your beliefs. As human actors in this play, we manage to maintain our path in line with the direction we set ourselves. Anybody that has worked with other people will have seen that drift which comes if, having set them off, you leave people to their own devices. The results (in so far as our influence over them extends) follow on from our actions and behaviours, which flow from our beliefs. Picture the lottery winners who piss away their jackpot in short order to find themselves back at square one. Too remote an example for you? How about the person who gets promoted, in work or in sport (this is your example, run with it!). 

The person gets promoted but they "know" what nobody else seems to, that they shouldn't be there. Maybe they got lucky, or maybe there was nobody else, but either way they have this feeling that they will get found out. They might be able to hold it together for a bit but their performance starts to slide. Silly errors creep in. Perhaps not catastrophic mistakes, maybe nobody else notices. Oh but the individual does! There, there it is again. "I knew it, see, I told you". And with each one, the "knowledge" (which from the outside, we know to be a belief, and perhaps only their belief at that) is confirmed and reinforced. The pressure increases on them and more problems emerge as the situation spirals downwards. Until eventually, with an almost palpable sense of relief, they are removed from their responsibilities.

To try to break this cycle, most people target their actions, their behaviours. They put in more effort, drive themselves harder and harder at the same things. And for some, for a time at least, that has some effect. For the majority of others it is like trying to lose 100lb by flogging yourself day in, day out in the gym. Sure it might work but if you are not addressing what fuel you put into the system, your food and drink, you are missing a big chunk of something which underpins the whole. Without that sorted, your weight or your actions, will return to your baseline as surely as a pigeon returns to the man with the flat cap!

So, to bring it back to me, because
  1. it's all about me, and
  2. there is supposed to be an element of personal log to this
I believe that I can see this through, other things being equal. Don't laugh! It's hard to say why I think it. I don't have a great track record of seeing things through and I have never done anything, anything but exist, day in, day out for a year!

Perhaps I took the blue pill and came back to here, choosing what to believe. I hope not, my imagination is a little more limited than I would care to admit if that was the case! Maybe it is. Or maybe it's because there are plenty of struggles that I haven't walked away from. Or because I have no reason, real or imagined to think that I can't. And there we start to have it. In coaching others I have the brakes people apply . I have generally believed that most people can do most things. However, we confuse quality of output or effort required (or seen to be required) with base capacity to do something. Quality and/or efficiency of output are factors of training and practice. Some of us will never hit maestro levels but with work can not only finish but manage levels of competence. If we at least afford ourselves the benefit of the doubt and start.

So why couldn't I do a burpee year? Because it will take time. Because it will be hard work. Because it is a lot of burpees. Yep, those are all reasons not to. But barring injury, those are all reasons for not wanting to, not "not being able to".

And so, with the companionship of my geographically distant brother-in-burpees, Sheldon, who continues to easily match me rep for rep; the still supportive initial group of burpeurs, and the lively, vocal interjection of a cracking new group of Singapore based 100-dayers, I carry on. Some days because I have to, other days because I want to and on some glorious days, because nothing could stop me. And with each day gone (or catch-up day as recent ill-health brought on), there is another reason to think that I can. And another reason to quell the growl of the wolf of fear.

And with the questions removed, what else is there left but to burpee?

As ever, thanks for stopping by, your interest, however quiet helps in the darker moments when quitting begins to feel like an option!


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