Discipline and Passion


"Total commitment to your goal, which is what a mission is, eventually produces passion. But dedication and discipline precede passion.  In other words, you may not be passionate about your goal initially, but the more disciplined you are in working towards it, the greater your passion will become."  Joe Friel, Triathlete's Training Bible, 4th edition.

For me, those words from Friel brought to life the exact feeling I have noticed growing, as my glacial movement to return to racing form has been taking shape.  Let me explain a bit further.

In our culture it seems we often have this concept of working toward goals backward.  We think that if we have enough passion for something, the motivation and discipline will somehow magically happen.  When the passion is lacking, we start second guessing ourselves, our goal, and whether or not the effort is worth it.  We start listening to negative thoughts in our heads.

In my life, I have approached goals each way, with significantly different outcomes.  Most recently, I have decided to entertain the idea of racing competitively again at the prompting of many of my athletes (for some reason they want to see me race too).  After no less than 12 months of this prompting, I started to let the possibility roll around in my mind and consider what this might look like.  To be completely honest, at first the idea scared me beyond belief.  Why does it scare me so much?  For starters I am not easy on myself.  Doubt - doubt that I will be able to ever perform at the level I feel I could if I really apply the abilities I have been given.  Anxiety - anxiety that I will allow my life to fall out of balance and will miss out on what is most important in my life, my family.  Fear - the fear of letting others down (which is likely just a made-up, fictitious fear that has no basis in reality).  Knowing what will be required to perform at the level I would expect of myself, while balancing family, business and life, is at the same time frightening and extremely exciting.

What I find so true from Friel's words is that the more I apply myself to the tasks that I can control, such as the standing date with my bike and trainer at o'dark thirty in the morning, the more I have a growing passion to return to racing.

Is it easy to get out of bed in the morning?  It sure wasn't for the first several weeks.  I would find myself lying in bed, thinking of all the things that I had to do before I could actually get on my bike and ride.  Find my riding clothes, move random junk out of the way so I can get to my bike, set the bike up, get a water bottle filled, set up a fan, set up my computer, find my HR monitor…and the list went on.  These distractions were much worse if I had stayed up too late; being dedicated, it turned out, started the night before I had a planned workout.

I find that being disciplined to do these things the night before helps me remain dedicated to getting on my bike more days than not.  While this initially seemed like a small victory in the pursuit of my goal, it now has the feeling of the start of something bigger.  Being disciplined and dedicated does really bring about passion.  It can make what seems like a distant dream begin to come into focus.  My excitement, motivation, and passion increase the more I am disciplined and dedicated to the work. 

Based on my experiences coaching, mentoring, and interacting with others, I know I am not unique in this.  This relationship between discipline and passion does not only apply to physical-fitness related goals; it applies to all types of goals.  If you are feeling a lack of motivation and passion, push through with your commitment to discipline, and expect to see your passion grow over time!