Every once in a while I read a book so epic that it changes the way I think, work, and perceive life in general.  There are many books I have read that have done just that and truth be told that I like to read, a lot.  Sometimes I have my nose in several books at a time from strength and conditioning, self-help, leisure, to badminton conditioning.  What motivates the girl with the dragon tattoo to deadlift?  (This is how my brain works)

The most recent book I finished is Dan Pink’s book DRiVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.  Sounds geeky huh?  This is my life but honestly some of my favorite reads and those which have profoundly impacted my life are those dealing with behavioral psychology and economics.  I mean, it’s not only a huge part of my profession to motivate people but to motivate myself as well.  Walk the talk or something like that.

The key word in the title of this book is motivation.  That which drives us to get up in the morning, go to work, cook breakfast, be kind to others, clean inside your ears and go to the gym to train.  In my case head out to Mt Vernon St on Beacon Hill to run :07 by :45 hill sprint repeats this afternoon in 90°+ weather.

It is partly because I am insane but also because I am training for the Spartan Race at the end of August.  The other part is because two of my clients are insane as well and like to run hill sprints every Wednesday.  Animals these two.

Unlike Dan and Jack though, many of my clients lack motivation to train each day.  One of the most difficult parts of my job (as much as you think it is hard for me to dish out burpees) is finding out what motivates people and what will get them to reach their goals.  Unfortunately, this is often times much, muuuuuuuch harder than it needs to be.

Now, I don’t want to give away Dan’s phenomenal book since everyone and their mother should have a copy on their bookshelf but I will share a few of the takeaways pertaining to my job (fitness). First though, here is a video I found on youtube that illustrates this book quite well:

After citing the research of various psychologists, Pink (coolest last name ever, just sayin’….sup Pink) digs a little deeper to discover not only what motivates people but what keeps them motivated and well, driven.  Besides the basic drives such as safety (#1), elimination (gross), and carnal pleasures (awesome) what gets you going may be more simple than you think.

To break it down, people prefer activities where work becomes play and satisfies a deeper need than money or in the case of fitness just “losing a few to look better” or “because my doctor said I have to” or “everyone else is doing it”.  To stay motivated in work or the gym, people prefer the activity to have:

  • Autonomy – People want to have control.

What it means to you: You have to be doing this for you, not your doctor or what a magazine depicts or even for your trainer.  Although, reaching your goals would make me very, very happy. 🙂

  • Mastery – People want to be better at what they do.

What it means to you: You have to WANT to get better at what you do.  Set realistic goals like like squatting your bodyweight, doing 3 pullups, or in my case deadlifting 500lbs….one day.  You must also realize that you will never be perfect so accept it and move closer to it anyways.  You will feel fulfillment.  I promise.

  • Purpose – People want to be part of something that is bigger than they are.

What it means to you: My takeaway is that you have the drive to be better than what you already are for not only yourself but for your family and everyone in your life.  Do it for little Timmy.  Also, do it for yourself.  The goal should be self-fulfilling or autotelic.  It should be fun and make you feel better every time.

Another big key to reaching your goals is having something known as “grit” which is defined as “perseverance and passion for long term goals.”  Without grit you are screwed….so get some!  And remember that it isn’t all rainbows and puppy farts.  It is going to be hard work.

He even talks about fitness and even though it is only a brief 2 pages it is what I talk about every day.  Set goals, master technique, and reward yourself (the right way).  He even says DITCH THE $#$%ING TREADMILL!  Well, unless you actually like it.  The takeaway: if you are doing things in the gym that feel like drudgery (a.k.a. are boring as hell) then you are doomed to fail.  It should be fun and rewarding, learn a new exercise, play a new sport, master kung-fu.  Just make it fun, k?

He goes on to talk about flow and mastery and gives you different strategies to move yourself towards them which are all really cool.

I am going to leave you with one:

What is your sentence?

Every great man has a sentence.  Abraham Lincoln’s was “He preserved the union and freed the slaves.”  Franklin Roosevelt’s was “He lifted us out of a Great Depression and helped us win a world war.”  Chances are those will not apply to you but you get the idea.  What will your sentence be?  It should go something like this: ” (S)He was a great friend, strong in character, bright, caring and kicked some serious booty in the gym to get a body that makes mere mortals tremble.”  All of you.

Needless to say, this book made a huge impact on the way I view many different things.  Wickid cool.

Bonus Points if you can tell me why there is a picture of a runner on the cover.  Your reward?  A one-month custom program.


Written by Steve