I have a lot of problems with goal-focused training, and goal-focused living for that matter. I’ve also achieved a lot because of that mindset, but it’s not without problems. Primarily – when you’re supporting a goal, it doesn’t mean you’re supporting the person. The goal is the thing that becomes important, not the individual. Progress becomes important, rather than the individual. Growth loses meaning.
I often say your training serves you – you don’t serve your training. What’s important? This used to come up a lot in martial arts. You go to a new school, and they tell you to forget what you know – you’ve got to start again at the beginning. There’s truth to it, and if you hold the system to be the important thing in this equation, then yes – it’s obvious you need to ‘relearn’. But if you see yourself or your education as the important thing in this equation – then it’s not about forgetting what you already know, it’s just about learning new skills.
Because you don’t serve the training, the training serves you.
When you encourage a person to achieve their goals, are you supporting them or not? Are their goals safe, psychologically, or are they exploitative? Is the pursuit harmful or healthful? Are you sacrificing one thing for another? Are they genuine pursuits, or are they motivated by shame? And if you are trying to motivate someone else with shame, or yourself with shame, make no mistake – you’re not supporting the person.
But if you do support the individual, if you do support yourself, then you’re free to pursue what you truly want, what truly fulfils you – without prejudice, shame or judgement. And when you start to support yourself, not your ambition, not your goals, you start to see that sometimes exercise is appropriate and sometimes it’s not. And you can embrace whatever you need to do without shame, without prejudice, because the activity is no longer important.
You are what’s important.
This is why I want training to be accessible, and I want our approach to training to be unprejudiced. It’s not about the training, it’s not about being obedient, it’s not about following anyone’s propaganda. What do you need to do, for you? What do you want? Is it time to rest, or to work? To recover, to engage? To eat? To sleep?
We think we need to be hard on ourselves, but the opposite is true. Vulnerability is not weakness. Recognising it is necessary. Prejudice achieves nothing. Compensation is not helpful. And forcefulness is never as useful as understanding.
When you judge yourself you cannot see your needs clearly. You will forever be confused by what you think you should be doing and your resistance to it. Your resistance is true, it’s valuable, and it will help to keep you on the right path. Rebelliousness doesn’t exist in a bubble. It exists in relation to something, and that something is rarely pure. The cure for doubt is not suppression, it’s investigation. The cure for resistance is not domination.