I Refuse to Die
There is a mindset that I have used to get through my most challenging personal accomplishments.
I call it the “I refuse to die” mindset.
After only a few weeks as a Royal Marine recruit I had already reached the horrifying realisation that I was in completely the wrong place.
I was not naturally suited to being a commando.
That was clear.
But it didn’t matter.
I made a deal with myself
I had already committed over 18 months to the selection process and I had given up my home, my car and most of my other belongings to be there.
I was desperate to be converted from unconfident, uninspired civvy into elite soldier.
I needed it.
So I made a deal with myself…
If fate decided through injury or outright failure that I would not make it, fine.
But those were the only terms I would leave on.
I myself would not give in.
Essentially, I refused to die.
The gruelling 8-month transition from civilian to Royal Marine commando was, in relative terms, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to get through.
And I owe that success predominantly to the “I refuse to die” mindset.
Telling myself over and over again that my internal demons and my weaknesses would not be negotiated with.
No matter how shit things got, I wouldn’t quit.
This mindset isn’t the only type of attitude that breeds success and personal achievement.
But there’s a reason why it’s my favourite.
Because it’s “excuse-resistant”.
It leaves no room for reasoning with the parts of ourselves that aren’t strong enough.
The parts of ourselves that can’t put up with discomfort and insecurity.
The parts of ourselves that want us to fail.
What I have found over the years of sports, soldiering and fitness coaching is that rationalising our excuses is often our biggest failure.
We can and do excuse ourselves from anything if we feel like it.
And when the going gets tough, the excuses start flying!
Luckily there are tried and tested methods to combat this problem…
In order to succeed in any challenge, It’s absolutely critical to understand how our behaviour changes when we are under stress.
We have to accept that motivation rises and falls.
When stress is high and motivation is low, our weaknesses WILL try to get the better of us.
We WILL start creating excuses and our resilience to our own excuse-making will determine success or failure.
Prepare for war!
Preparation is the key and it's easier than you might think.
If we know in advance the battles we will come up against then we can be ready early.
If excuses are inevitable, we can simply have countermeasures in place to employ at the first sign of them.
I don’t know where the concept originates from but in Matthew Syed’s book “Black Box Thinking” he discusses a process called “pre-mortem”.
Simply put, the idea is that before a project has the chance to “die” (fail) we can consider in advance all the potential factors that could cause its death.
A simple concept that easily increases our likelihood of success
A simple example could be that if I plan to go to the gym after work each day, I consider the potential obstacles.
I know that if I return home from work first I may need extra motivation to then leave the house once more to get to the gym.
So, upon doing my pre-mortem I’ve assessed that a potential death of my “going-to-the-gym” project is going home first.
I therefore plan to take my gym kit to work with me and drive straight to the gym from work instead.
A simple concept that easily increases our likelihood of success.
The same principle can be applied to excuses.
I know that if I go on an extremely long run that at some point my feet will hurt and I will want to stop.
I know that if it’s pouring with rain on gym day I will not want to cycle there and think of excuses not to go.
There are no surprises here.
Have your counter-reason ready.
Decide before your excuses even have a chance to materialise what your counter-reasons will be.
“Of course my feet hurt, if I keep going they will hurt less next time and I will feel awesome for running all the way”.
“Of course I don’t want to cycle in the rain but in less than 2 hours I’ll be back home dry and feeling awesome and pumped from the gym”.
The examples are endless.
As your fallback option or in extreme cases where you know that excuses will be abundant and you may not be able to counter each and every one, the “I refuse to die” mindset is your saviour”
Universally excuse-resistant, with it you are bomb-proof.
Make the pre-determined decision that you will not negotiate with weakness.
Maintain the steadfast belief that you will not give-in, to anything.
Refuse to die.