Guest blog! We're sharing Groundswell alumnus Conlan Mansfield's latest blog post on handling the totality of your dream: the costs and the benefits, the hardships and the fulfilment. Find the original post on his ventures's website: Feral Strength and Conditioning.
Conlan founded Feral Strength and Conditioning in 2016 to help people build the physical autonomy that we were made for. Feral integrates the latest movement research, thousands of hours training, and practical experience coaching to help you move your best, and trains individuals, teams, groups, and organizations. Check it out at www.feralstrength.ca
Often, when you speak with budding entrepreneurs about their dream venture, you'll consistently get a very similar answer as to why someone wants to do what they dream.
It's simple: to do more of the same! More of what we love doing for ourselves, only, we can now help others do it, too!
When I first began studying coaching and pedagogy, and thus moving away from my previous role as an athlete who did this for fun and self-defence, I thought the same. I wanted to pursue coaching and open my own business because I simply love training - the feeling of accomplishing new challenges, of becoming more than I'd thought possible, of training my mind to meet adversity... ad infinitum.
I truly loved what I did, and thus, thought it would be the perfect vehicle with which to make a career.
Now, the point of this post isn't to say that was a bad idea - in fact, I truly love what I do. I'd much rather be up early in the morning writing articles, doing research, and putting together the programming for my athletes in lieu of punching a clock for someone else.
Rather, the point is (and it does come back to movement, I promise) that we often evaluate scenarios, dreams, situations, opportunities, etc. by what we imagine we'll enjoy in the course of actualizing those phenomena.
Using myself as an example, I thought I'd look forward to helping athletes recover from injuries, set new records (in and outside the gym), build an inclusive and welcoming community, become a well-known and respected coach...
And I DO look forward to doing more of that, and I love doing all those things.
BUT - and here's that caveat - that's actually a remarkably POOR way to evaluate an opportunity.
The real test isn't whether or not you can handle what you enjoy about your vision - rather, it's can you handle the costs of your vision.
The quality of your life is NOT determined by the quality of your positive experiences, but of your negative ones. And to get good at dealing with those experiences is to truly live your dream and to love your life.
See, everyone wants "something", and it's usually really similar to what a lot of others want. A wonderful partner/partners, great intimacy, job satisfaction, financial security, etc... the needs are pretty similar across the board, with (of course) individual variations.
The catch-22 is that, regardless of those variations, most people actually aren't aware of what they want.
Because, to truly want something, you also have to want the costs.
Otherwise, what you really want is your idea of something, as it exists in your head.
With regard to my own experience, I was forced into a pretty steep learning curve around these ideas. I'm an avid student of the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha, and was perhaps better prepared than most, yet.... I found that in addition to a geat career coaching, I also had to want:
- Early mornings and late nights building the business;
- Learning to deliver stellar customer service, all the time;
- The emotional ups and downs of entrepreneurship;
- Managing athlete expectations and emotional turbulence of clients;
- Scraping old gum off the floor of my first the un-renovated gym space, in an unheated garage;
- Being OK with the variable and wildly unpredictable income of a start-up in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
A really good test for a vision is that if you find yourself wanting something year after year... yet nothing ever happens and you never come close to it, maybe what you want is actually a fantasy, a false idealization of reality. Maybe it's not actually what you want.
And, here's the kicker - maybe you just enjoy wanting.
I think we all enjoy wanting, because we can always imagine a world where we feel happier, healthier, fitter, popular, etc. You name it and humans can create mental fabrications about it.
The catch is: do you also want the costs?
Do you also want the struggle?
Because learning how you choose to suffer, rather than how you choose to feel pleasure, will tell you (and the world around you) a whole lot more about your character than anything else EVER will.
And it's NO different in movement and fitness.
It's the long-term training and movement practice, doing the same stuff over, and over, and over, and over again, that will lead to success. And the ones who learn to love that process - the challenges and the trials and tribulations that come with ANY skill mastery - will be those who succeed and achieve their dreams.
his is THE most important factor for your fitness/movement success.
We CAN all handle performing amazing movements to wow a crowd, lifting hundreds of pounds of weight for a new record, or flying down the sprinter's track faster than a speeding bullet.
We CAN'T all handle the thousands of hours of training designed to cement neural motor patterns, of perfecting technique through small, incremental loading of weights, and drills upon drills upon drills for speed and agility.
Those people who hold themselves accountable, discipline themselves, and make the time to prioritize their health/fitness over the course of many weeks/months/years, are the ones who do well and who actualize that life that they dream about.
Only, then it's no longer a dream - it's real.
Only wanting the reward without the sacrifice doesn't work. Only wanting victory without risk doesn't work. Only wanting the dreams without the reality doesn't work.
And, in the end, that might be why training is so valuable. Because you'll encounter all of these challenges while you train, in one form or another.
And it will be hard at times. It will test you.
And you'll learn to believe in yourself.
And you'll become more than you ever thought possible.
by Conlan Mansfield
2016 Groundswell alumnus
Founder of Feral Strength & Conditioning