This morning, NPR enlisted a panel of college newspaper editors from Dartmouth, Virginia and Vanderbilt for a discussion.  All of them seemed anxious to change the world and their immediate focus was sexual assault and racial diversity on campus.  They were adamant about finding and implementing a solution to these seemingly never ending problems.

Their conversation reminded me of a Charles Bukowski quote I have on my wall:  “You begin saving the world one man at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics.”

It doesn’t matter if it’s campus behavior, social ethics, or triathlon training, substantial change rarely, if ever, happens when it is forced.  Fear, threat, or rules are bad places to start changing the world . . . or yourself.

You have to go inside and let it happen.

Three years ago the energy and newness of training consumed me and I forced my body to the limits.  I was genuinely motivated by the fear of not finishing my first Ironman.  I would not be embarrassed!  And, while it worked in the short term, I quickly learned there has to be a deeper, long-term reason for tangling with these challenges.

I’ve realized this process can’t be about false confidence–it has to be authentic.

It can’t be just for your body, mind, or spirit; it has to be all three.  They are interconnected (much like swim, bike, and run) and if one doesn’t get enough attention, the recipe falls out of balance.

For years I have tried forcing things I don’t like out of my life, whether that be too many sweets, negative thought patterns, or staying up late.  But that’s the wrong approach.  It’s more about flooding my life with good, consistent, and meaningful patterns and letting the bad habits leave on their own.


Forced Change and Motivation