What You Get vs. What You Become

what you get

Source: Creative Commons

I was listening to the Success Hotline last week on the way to work and had an ah-ha moment. Dr. Rob Gilbert, a sports psychology professor at Montclair State University, told a story about the difference between his students who succeed and those who fail.

The biggest difference?

Those who fail care about what they get. They want to get a passing grade. They want to get a degree. They want to get a job after graduation.

Those who succeed care about what they become. They want to become smarter. They want to become more skilled. They want to become more employable.

This subtle mindset shift changes your focus from the outcome to the process. Once you realize that the process is infinitely more important than the outcome, your life will change forever.

Sure, you can cram the night before an exam and get a passing grade. But did you become smarter? Did you retain any knowledge that you can use in the future? Perhaps if you embraced the process of mastering the material – studying a little bit every day, seeking tutoring from more knowledgable people, doing more than expected – you’d become more than just the letter grade on the top of your exam.

The same applies to fitness. I’ve trained many people who concern themselves only with what they’ll get: a six pack, a smaller waistline, a powerlifting trophy, whatever. They don’t embrace the process. They’re easily frustrated with every setback and bump in the road. They struggle with the delayed gratification that is an inevitable truth of every fitness endeavor. They often fall off the wagon and revert back to the same person they were when they started.

On the other hand, all my most successful clients focus on what they want to become: more consistent, more disciplined, more confident, etc. When they concentrate on the process of becoming these things, the results take care of themselves.

My fellow CSP coach Nancy Newell is the perfect example of this. Nancy trains like a maniac with a focus on powerlifting. However, most recently she started training for Brazilian jiu jitsu and competed at this year’s Boston Open.

Did BJJ help her become a better powerlifter? Not exactly. Her lifting had to take a backseat to her BJJ training and her strength took a hit briefly. However, rather than focusing on what she got (in this case, not stronger), she focused on what she wanted to become. BJJ helped her become more confident and more disciplined as she stepped out of her comfort zone and pursued an entirely new sport. She became better equipped to learn new skills and handle multiple training demands. I have no doubt that in the long run, the person she became because of BJJ will make her a better powerlifter.

My personal “what you get vs. what you become” experience occurred in grad school. When I decided I wanted to be a strength coach, I only focused on what I should get: a certification and a Master’s degree. That’s what all the best coaches had, so that’s what I should get too, right?

After graduating, I couldn’t find a job and couldn’t understand why. Eventually, I realized that what all these great coaches had that I didn’t was experience and skill. I should have been focusing on what I needed to become: a skilled and experienced coach. My pursuit of a degree and certification completely omitted the process of becoming a better coach. It wasn’t until I interned at CSP that I started to embrace the “what you become” mindset. It made all the difference.

What you GET can disappear at any moment. But what you BECOME is forever. Which one will you choose to pursue?

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Posted in Monday Motivation

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