I had one of those moments this morning, you know, when you’re just standing there, staring at the man in the mirror… And I said to myself, “Dude! You’re a badass!”
I share this moment, and the following internal dialogue I had, with you because June is Men’s Health Month, and guys are generally terrible at talking about their health, let alone their mental health. So, I’ll go first.
Unfortunately this is not a picture of me, but believe it or not this is my father-in-law Kevin, aging like fine wine.
Here’s how an unexpected internal dialogue led to a journey to discover how my inner voice became confident, seemingly overnight, and how yours can too.
If you’re busy and want a TLDR version of this, it comes down to two things to remember:
The essence of a personality is difficult to capture from a few eloquent and descriptive words on a blog, but if you knew me in real life, you’d know I can be my own worst enemy and brutal critic. Maybe I’m not alone on this, but I am often my own confidence killer. I suppose it’s likely a combination of my personality and the consequences of being extremely driven. I want to be better every day and I refuse to let excuses get in the way of that. It’s a whole lot easier being fit when you’re young and you don’t know it yet, but then your life changes, your body changes, and your list of excuses grows exponentially.
If you haven’t joined The Driven Facebook community you should join that for conversations with other guys on topics like this one.
To be fair, at some point, those “excuses” do become real and tangible barriers you can no longer jump over, but now you must strategically plan to move around them. For example, the natural and inevitable changes we face as men going through life. I.E. growing responsibilities, less time in the day, and the elephant in the room: aging.
I’m kind of getting deep here, but for me to wake up today and say that about myself was quite groundbreaking. To be frank, I talk shit to myself far more than I build myself up. It’s not healthy, and maybe it’s a motivational mind game I play, but “You’re a badass!” was an unscripted audible to start my day, and I’m here for it.
The “Me vs Me” battle has been waging for generations before me, and I know I’m not alone on this, fellas. But what caused this glitch in the matrix, and how was it manifested? On my drive the next day I put it together, or at least a few pieces to the puzzle.
In a past life, I was a young 23-year-old aspiring to make it as a financial advisor. At that time my uncle was a big shot with one of the biggest firms on Wall Street and he gave me some remarkable advice: Prolong your judgment period.
That advice was alluding to more than just investment time horizons, it was an invaluable guide to the complicated decisions in life to come. I’ve applied that same mantra as a lens to every career and life-changing decision I’ve faced since that day (Thanks Uncle Joe).
A few applications of “Prolong your judgment period”:
Subconsciously as I aged, I started tying those applications of that mantra together, gradually equipping myself to give the man in the mirror some (well-deserved) credit and ultimately some confidence. 35-year-old me has since prolonged his judgment period over the years. I have far more data, more experience, and far less ignorance. The man in the mirror is different, and that’s exactly what I was missing!
Put simply, the man in the mirror is a futile judgment of who you are, where you’ve been, and especially where you’re going. It’s literally a snapshot in time of what you look like now, at this exact moment. Did you know even bodybuilders don’t look competition ready 365 days a year?
Another flaw in this litmus test of reflecting on your reflection is what it fails to show: How you’ve grown inside.
I believe there’s an inverse relationship with age that we’ll call the Muscle/Wisdom index. As you age, unfortunately, your testosterone levels decrease and so do your muscles (for many reasons). BUT, as you age, your brain replaces the losses in your biceps with more wisdom! It’s science! Right?
I won’t create a fancy index for age in relation to responsibilities and excuses, but I’ll give you a little anecdotal mic drop moment for you instead.
That young, 20-something Taylor I mentioned earlier had a bit of an advantage in the fitness battle: he was a Division I athlete whose life revolved around eating clean, running fast, building lean muscle, and prioritizing sleep.
Rather than managing others, he was managed by many others: coaches, trainers, nutritionists, and academic advisors.
His responsibilities and priorities were a bit different, in fact, they were polar opposite from today’s.
35-year-old Taylor is at a bit of a disadvantage in this fitness comparison game being played in the mirror; he has grown and his priorities have changed. His job does revolve around eating clean, running fast, and building muscle, but more so in motivating and educating a community of Driven men. But his own fitness, sleep, and needs happen to be just a little bit less important than the responsibility of the 3 beautiful lives and 1 beautiful wife with whom God has blessed him as his priority.
Any decision, especially one with long-term implications, should be made while evaluating statistically significant data. The choices, and in turn, changes, we make won't be seen over night; good or bad. It's easy to get discouraged day after day or week after week and you start to doubt whether the healthy lifestyle changes you've made are worth the sacrifice. Change takes time.
At a time when Ancient Greek philosophers sought and prided themselves on their vast knowledge, the greatest philosopher of all time had quite a different approach to wisdom. Socrates famously said, “All I know is that I know nothing.”
If only I could go back a few decades and instill that in my younger self. Humility and humbleness are prerequisites for nearly every challenge we face as men in the modern world. We’ve all heard the stories from the older men in our lives, “Someday your metabolism will slow down!” or, “Once you hit 40 you’ll see.”
Well, here I am, getting closer to 40... and they were right. And that’s when the lightbulb went off, or more so a flame was lit, and I realized the inner badass flames were still strong inside this middle-aged warrior.
You see, I wasn’t comparing apples to apples, my body and my priorities had drastically changed over the years but with sufficient data gathered from years of experiences, came wisdom, and I now started seeing myself through a new lens; a clear one.
MMA training with coach Jordan Johnson.
The obstacles thrown at us driven men, bold enough to keep fighting and take control of our life, they never stop, and get harder every year.
So what are you going to do, give up and be one of those "The older I get, the faster I was." guys?
Or are you going to view your age as an advantage and lean in?
To combat the real effects of aging, the shifting priorities, and the relentless excuses is daunting. It’s truly an uphill battle, a mountain really.
It doesn't get easier, you get stronger.
Build muscle mass through research-based strategies. Don’t fall for gimmicks and preposterous claims. There has to be a plan in place to build quality muscle. Follow these five simple tips to start building muscle now so in a month, other people are going to start complimenting you on your gains.
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