The thing that blocks us from being heroes and athletes (and how to become what we most want to be)

As a girl, I stood at home plate wearing the jersey of my softball team. (My friends had talked me into joining. I think they needed to get to a certain number to be able to play.)

I gripped the bat begging under my breath.

Please let me get a hit. 
Please let me get a hit.
Please let me get a hit. 

Then I swung with all my might.


I walked sadly back to the bench embarrassed that this had happened once again.  In my mind, I thought I was just a bad athlete—maybe poor eye-hand coordination—but in reality, there was nothing in my daily life that was going to help me get better.

It's all about the choices we make with our time. 

The daily routine of an athlete is different than the daily routine of a non-athlete. My friends who were good at softball were playing catch with their dads, getting up early to run and typically had very physical recreational activities.

And while some people are born with a natural inclination to spend their time this way, there are many, many others who do it through intention.  And it isn't just athletics.  People have become musicians, built businesses, grown as artists and accomplished amazing things through sheer sweat equity.

Becoming who we want to be is about doing the things that will get us there on a daily basis.

It starts awkward and then becomes automatic. 

I listened to a podcast this week with Lisa Perkins who said the phrase, "Easy is earned."

The idea is that when we first learned to drive a car it was hard. We had to think about everything. Left foot taps brake.  Hands at 10 and 2.  Check the rear view mirror.  Put on a seatbelt or that annoying bell never goes off.

All things are hard when we begin them, but the daily practice of doing them makes them easy.

No one has this down better than the "hero" professions.  Every soldier, fireman and policeman has thousands of hours of practice to build the muscle memory needed to perform the job. Every athlete trains.

I have found that the key to becoming who we most want to be is in consistent, daily action.  We decide what we need to do, then take the action on it every day until it stops becoming what we do and starts becoming who we are.  Of course this is awkward before it becomes automated.  But repetitive action eventually becomes part of our identity. We don't just drive.  We become a driver. 

There can be a gap between our label and our action

I heard an interview with the famous yogi, BKS Iyengar, where he mentioned that it was really easy even for advanced yogis to get busy then neglect the practice, but that if you stopped practicing, then you were no longer a yogi.

I think that happens to a lot of us. We start to wear the identity label and forget we need the daily action to back it up.

It is the pitfall of busy pastors who get so caught up in caring for others they cut short their daily time with God.  Couples whose lives become so much about the "business of being married" that they stop romancing each other. Athletes who rest on past laurels and stop training.

While the identity factor can blind us to a lack of current action, it can also reveal what future action we need to take.  For example, if we want to be a writer, then part of our daily action needs to be writing. If we want to be someone who lives in a clutter-free house, then we will spend some time each day decluttering.  If we want to be successful in business, then we will put in the extra time to cultivate clients and build up our teams.

The identity we desire gives clues to our path forward.

Consistent daily action isn't glamorous. It is just consistent. 

It is more exciting to be the hero leaping from the exploding building saving the child, than getting up early each morning to do the push ups, jumping jacks and climbing the salmon ladder in order to have the strength to do it.

We want to get to the end result.

The thing about small, daily actions is that they give us credibility with ourselves. When our actions are in keeping with our desires, they integrate. Notice that integrate is the same root as integrity. When our thoughts, speech and actions are aligned, we have integrity— which shapes us at a core level. At some point, the forward motion stops being externally driven. It becomes the engine inside.

Resources to help get started.

We can set up systems to support us in our desire to create consistent, daily action.  The key is to try something, test drive to see it works, and if it doesn't, try the next thing.  Here are some resources to test out: 

1. Use the reminders on your smart phone.  Alarms can be labeled and reminders set for tasks. If you have a phone with Siri, Cortana, or Google assistant they can set reminders for you by voice. (Which is handy if you think of something while you are busy doing something else.) They can also update your calendar. 

2. Try an analog tracker. Podcaster, Jeff Sanders, has a Daily Rituals Tracker—a simple spreadsheet that helps you set up what you want to do each day, and track your progress  It is free when you join the 5am Club which will put you on his mailing list that sends weekly encouragement in reaching your highest goals.

3. Get friends who are where you want to be. It is hard to make changes if you aren't exposed to the people who are already living them.  Join a MeetUp group in your area of interest, volunteer in a place you are likely to meet people further ahead than you, or simply start following the podcasters who are doing what you care about and learn from them.

4. Get up earlier to create dedicated time. The early morning hours are some of the few that we can truly own.  Author, Hal Elrod, has a book called The Miracle Morning that provides inspiration to leverage those hours to get in your consistent daily action.  Jeff Sanders' book The 5am Miracle (with 5am being an arbitrary time) is a fantastic tutorial for how to make it happen even if it sounds impossible.

5. Start using a planner. Whether it is a digital system like MSOutlook, Todoist, Wunderlist, Workflowy or Smartsheet, or if you try out an analog planner like Bullet Journal, Action DaySelf Journal (only 13 weeks, focuses on steps to a big goal), or Freedom Journal (100 days to goal), it helps to give your mind a single place it can trust for all of the things you want and need to do each day.

You can get rid of the block that is keeping you from where you want to be. 

I wish I'd known when I was a girl failing at softball, that it wasn't that I was a terminally terrible athlete. It was just that I didn't have an athlete's habits. I erroneously believed that because I wasn't naturally good at something that I couldn't become competent. That failure caused me to see myself in a way that kept me from doing other physical things. Things I might have really enjoyed.

I learned later in life through the consistent daily habit of practicing yoga that I could actually become good at something athletic, and when I started going with my husband to the batting cages, I got to where I could hit a ball.

We all love the movies where the fairy godmother (or Hagrid with a tale of our undiscovered powers) comes to make us into more than we are now.  But the reality is that we are the ones we've been waiting for. And the steps to get there? Incremental, daily and consistent.

Go break through that block. Become who you most want to be.

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© Random Cathy
Maira Gall