It’s a rainy, fifty-degree, windy day. It’s miserable outside. The type of day where you just want to drink tea and watch The Office. Well, I didn’t do that. Instead, I went for a three-mile run. The run, much like the weather, was miserable. And I am thrilled I did it.
I knew the run would not be fun. Yet, I chose to do it. And that was the point of the run. Don’t get me wrong exercise is important, and lord knows I could use more of it. However, I could have exercised inside. I could have had a relatively comfortable workout. But, I wanted to run in the rain. I wanted to be miserable. The run improved my cardio. Running in the rain improved my grit.
Steven Pressfield in his books, The War of Art and Turning Pro talks about ‘resistance.’ ‘Resistance’ is the fear to get going. The fear to create. It’s that little voice in your head that makes you seek distractions. The voice that just says it’ll be easier if you just quit. I think, and Pressfield would agree, fear or ‘resistance’ is what prevents most people from success.
If ‘resistance’ is the enemy of success, then we need to overcome it. That’s where perseverance or grit comes in. I think perseverance is a skill. The most important skill. A skill that isn’t worked on by most people, because they don’t think to work on it. How many people choose the more miserable activity? Fighting resistance in trivial tasks makes fighting resistance in the important tasks easier.
I wrote a blog post about a week ago discussing that it is important to realize what you spend your time on. You get good at what you do often. And I related it to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour theory. That it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something. 10,000 hours is a long time. It’s years of doing work. There will be ups and downs. There will be times where you’ll want to quit, but if you want to become an expert you have to push through. And that requires perseverance. Hence why I think the skill is so important. You’ll never get the 10,000 hours to become an expert if you haven’t developed the skill to persevere.
So challenge yourself. Put yourself through hell. Find something that sucks. Something you don’t want to do. The type of activity where the whole time all you’re thinking about is how much you want to quit. How great it would be to quit. How it would feel so good to quit. And then don’t quit. Or at least push yourself to last longer in that suffering. Get comfortable with suffering.
For me, that’s running in the rain.