Forrest Griffin on Toughness

September 9, 2012 — Leave a comment

Here’s a great paragraph on developing mental toughness I read in Got Fight?, Forrest Griffin‘s book on… well, everything.

How do you develop this kind of toughness? The answer is simple – do things that make your body and mind scream at you to quit, but don’t. Personally, I use the treadmill to accomplish this. Every other day, I’ll rev that sucker up to twelve miles an hour and do three five-minute intervals. Running at that speed for that duration doesn’t come naturally to anyone – it’s hideous, absolutely horrible. But by pushing past the pain, you become progressively tougher. You prove to yourself that pain is just that, pain. You can walk away from it afterward knowing that you surpassed a barrier that makes most humans curl into the fetal position and weep for Jesus.

What Griffin says here reminds me of the Resistance that Pressfield talks about or Julien Smith’s Flinching.

Ever since I read their books I’ve been using that little voice in my head as a guide. Whenever it’s telling me to push the breaks and stop, I do the exact opposite and push harder – going even further than I had planned initially.

I have known for a while now that our minds are great at creating imaginary comfort zones – telling us to stop way before our actual limits. And I truly believe that going past the point where Resistance creeps in, will make us stronger.

What I often do to train this is try and improve my score of total kettlebell swings in a 12 minute time period. They’re the 12 minutes that make me hate my life most, but also the ones that are best at waking me up. I know beforehand that in those 12 minutes I’ll come up with the lamest excuses for why I should quit. I’ll tell myself to take it slow this session because I’ll still need some energy for basketball practice or that I’ll annoy my neighbours with all this puffing and grunting.

And that’s exactly why I do this. I want that voice to get inside my head and yell at me and ask me to please stop doing this to myself. It will get on it’s knees and beg me. Whatever it comes up with in those 12 minutes won’t help because I’ve set my eyes on a random number and there’s no way on earth that I won’t get it.

I don’t care about the blisters and burns on my hands afterward because throughout the following days they’ll serve as a painful reminder that it can be done – that feeling Resistance isn’t a reason to stop – but the exact reason for me to pick up the pace.

Pressfield opens up The War of Art with the following line:

Most of us have two lifes. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.

Using Resistance as a guide towards what I should do in life is something I’ll try to keep going. Realizing that I haven’t lived up to myself when all is said and done scares the shit out of me. So whenever opportunities arise that give my the chills and make me want to throw up, I will know that those are ones I should definitely accept and I’ll say YES before the excuses start flowing.


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