A few years ago, I regularly had those brief but friendly verbal exchanges with a fellow gym member upon arriving at the facility each day for my muscle building workouts. You know the kind of interaction I’m referring to; just some small talk and friendly joking with someone you never get to know outside of that one specific setting. I recall having a conversation with him on one particular day that went something like this:
“Hey Scott… how’s the training going?” “It’s going great, Mike”, I answered. “But I’m feeling a bit tired today.” “Well… “, he said almost perfunctorily. ” At least you’re in here. You showed up for your workout and that’s better than a lot of people”
Interestingly, I cringed a bit at the sound of those words. ‘At least I’m in here?’ What if the muscles I had come to work that day were in dire need of one more day’s rest? What if working them prior to that rest would be the catalyst that sends them down a spiral of over-training and inadequate recuperation? If that were the case, then showing up would be about the most counterproductive thing (in regard to bodybuilding) I could do that day.
Although Mike’s point made sense within a specific circumstantial context, I detected traces of a mentality that’s all too common among us and all too subtly damaging to human potential. This mindset rears its ugly head in every life context. It resides within each of us in varying degrees, depending on the life setting and circumstances. I will refer to it here as simply – the Motive-Driven Mentality.
The motive-driven mentality sits in direct contrast to the Outcome-Driven Mentality. The outcome-driven mentality is concerned with objectively measurable outcomes that result from our actions. By contrast, the motive-driven mentality is displayed when we congratulate ourselves for our intentions rather than concerning ourselves with the effects of our actions. When we hurt another person’s feelings and the first thing out of our mouths is “I didn’t mean it”, we are (in that moment) saying: “judge me for my motives and forget about the actions”.
Unfortunately, the tendency to be driven by motives is especially prevalent in the contexts of bodybuilding, fat loss, and fitness. It’s displayed when gym members drift from one piece of workout equipment to another with no objective other than to “get a good workout”. With such an ambiguous short-term goal, it’s transparently revealed why the very same people will congratulate us for simply showing up at the gym. If we’re not driven by the consequences of our actions, we end up patting ourselves and others on the backs for activity – no matter how blind that activity might be.
The best mindset for success in life is to be as outcome oriented as possible. This is vitally important in all life contexts where more success is sought, regardless of how we define that success. When frustration sets in due to our current lack of understanding of what strategies will bring forth the outcomes we desire, we must rein ourselves in before that flustered state leads us to letting our intentions feed our egos. If that happens, we’ve been bitten by the motive-driven mentality.
Reining ourselves in is mostly a matter of how we set and pursue goals. Those goals need to be specific and accompanied by measurable steps that beat a path to their achievement. For example: When I enter the gym, I know precisely what my objective is and what I need to do in order to meet it. I know how that objective sits within the path to my long-term goal and I know upon leaving the gym whether I’ve met that objective. The rewards of this mindset, accompanied by an effective workout strategy, have far exceeded any fleeting pleasure I once derived from workout spontaneity. In other words, the results from an outcome-driven mentality in bodybuilding have made those of the motive-driven ones pale by comparison.
So much of success in life depends on our mental approach. Therefore, it’s important for us to honestly assess our mental strategies and discover how they affect our outer ones. Above all, when we detect that we’ve succumbed to a tendency to be self-congratulatory for our terrific motives rather than the consequences of our actions, it’s probably time to psycho-evaluate ourselves within the context in question. This can lead to an outcome oriented mentality, which provides a foundation for the ultimate success mindset.
Scott Abbett is the author of HardBody Success: 28 Principles to Create Your Ultimate Body and Shape Your Mind for Incredible Success. To see his personal transformation, visit www.hardbodysuccess.com