Simple is Not Easy: DO THE WORK


I had a student come into the gym not to long ago. He told me what hundreds of students before me had told me. He said, “I want to be a fighter.”
I’ve been that guy before. When I started doing Muay Thai back in 1996 I told my instructor the same thing. He grinned, and then told me what every coach should tell every athlete. “Show up and do the work.” It’s the same message that I passed onto my new student. It’s the same message I will continue to pass on to ANY student who has long-term goals.

 Let’s face it: We live in a fast food society. At some point, the notion of investing in a long-term commitment to gain an everlasting accomplishment has disappeared from modern day thinking. Alcohol and druds are taken to hide from daily physical, psychological and emotional pain. Get rich quick schemes are favored over long hours of work perfecting a craft. Loosing pounds in weeks that took a lifetime to gain has become the norm in every fitness magazine you see. We want it now. We want it yesterday, and we want it with little or no effort.

            We all are guilty of falling for the crimes of time. I have entertained the fast track in both the athletic world and the financial world, only to fall short. I know what it is like to want something now. As a skinny, insecure kid in grade school, I would have given anything to wake up one morning full of confidence and charisma.

            The fact of the matter is that all things worth having take time. Fighters are not born overnight. It takes a year’s worth of constant effort before a beginner will even be remotely ready for competition. Meanwhile, unscrupulous gyms are pumping out fighters in a few months time, simply to serve as cannon fodder for up and coming serious fighters. The allure of being a “cage fighter” or “world champion” blinds most from the obvious fact that anything worth doing takes time.            

            In all areas of life, our job is simple. Our job is to do the work that is required of us in order to achieve our desired goals. Smart people seek help from those who know more about their goals than they do. They develop relationships with mentors, coaches and even therapists who have their best interests in mind. These specialists are responsible for giving a game plan, a course of action that will lead them towards a positive result. If the leader who is chosen is competent and caring, then the job of the student, athlete or patient is a simple one. The job is to do the work and stay the course of which they are set upon.

Often when I say that work is “simple,” people get offended. They assume that when I say “simple” that I mean “easy.” That fact is far from the truth. It is simple to just do what your coach says for as long you say it, meaning that there is no complexity to the task at hand. “Easy” however means that the work is without challenges. This is far from the truth when dealing with changes that are drastic. Anything worth having will be challenging. It will require sacrifice and dedication in order to achieve success. It will often take longer than we expect and will rarely go as planned. In the end though, true pride comes from accomplishing something that was not easy. We hold our heads up high when we do what we never imagined we could do. “Doing” becomes contagious. It becomes a way of life. Success builds momentum upon itself, therefore becoming a habit. None of this, however, would occur if the tasks at hand were not difficult ones.

Our responsibility therefore is a simple one. We must do the work that is required. We must seek out people who have been where we want to go and we must follow them with a burning zeal that is equal with no other. We must to show up to the daily grind that is called “life” and accept the challenge that lies before us. We must do what is necessary everyday until the deed is done, however long it takes. This is how champions are created. This is how ordinary people become extraordinary in ANY endeavor.

I cannot help but smile when I hear the new and energetic student come into our gym asking about becoming a fighter. I am as excited for him or her as I am for the student who wants to loose 20 pounds, or the kid who wants to become more confident. I know that the road ahead of them will be a new and adventurous one. I know that some of them will achieve greatness, while others will undoubtedly fail.  I can also say that the success and failure have nothing to do with god given ability or forsaken hardship. They have little to do with skill or ill will. Success comes to those who work for it. It comes to those who show up, day in and day out, and do the work.