7/22/21: Your body will reject the lies you tell it

Sent 7/22/21


  • I went to the Olympics! I saw two soccer matches in Miyagi Stadium. Brazil beat China 5-0, and Netherlands beat Zambia 10-3. 18 goals! I wrote about it here.
  • We interviewed sprinting legend Sanya Richards-Ross and 2021 US Olympian Joe Klecker (coming soon!) on the Fueling the Pursuit podcast (Have you subscribed yet?)
  • I wrote an article on Sanya's "Five P's" of 400m Racing (and Taking on New Endeavors), which she described in our conversation

This week's Think Better Newsletter is about not being able to lie to yourself to increase confidence. 

The Idea

When I was a junior in college, I first implemented the concepts and frameworks I wrote about in Make the Leap. And that year I not only got stronger and significantly faster, I was increasingly more confident when I toed the line.

With each day of high quality work, each decision to get extra sleep, each conversation about raising my expectations...my confidence rose. As my friend Jon Rankin puts it, "I knew each race was going to be a good race. It was just a question of how good it was going to be."

I qualified for my first NCAA Cross Country meet, ran huge PRs on the track, and didn't have a truly bad race all year.

The following year, I had a number of setbacks. A chest cold, a smashed toe, a new living environment, a sick father, and higher expectations that I struggled to perform up to. I lost motivation and started slacking in a few areas. I was inconsistent with my core work. I stretched less. I didn't get enough sleep.

And when I toed the line, it showed. I never felt ready. I never felt confident. I never felt like every race was going to be a good race. I was just as fit, maybe even stronger, but in my heart I knew I wasn't as prepared.

That feeling came rushing back to me when Sanya Richards-Ross described how she spoke to herself prior to her gold medal win in 2012:

"We can't lie to ourselves. What happens many times is when your subconscious starts telling you something, you say no no no, and so now your body's kind of fighting you. Your mind says, 'Last time you were here you lost,' and it's like, 'Yes I did, but I'm more prepared now.' And you [have to] keep beating down that negativity with truth, because your body will always reject lies.

And so it was really working through, when you're in that situation and your mind is playing tricks with you or that monkey chatter is coming up, how do you confront it with facts to be able to stand confidently? To stand on that line or stand in front of that room to make a presentation and be confident?

It's about the words that you tell yourself, but they have to feel true to your spirit or [you] reject it, you know?" 

The System

There are a few phrases that I simply don't like. One of them is, "Our work speaks for itself," or its cousin, "The results speak for themselves."

No! That's simply not true! "The work" and "the results" are just data. The explanation is always what someone wants you to believe. Sometimes that someone is you.

How you tell your story determines how you feel about it. And that feeling determines how you will act. We don't act based on data. We act based on feelings. It's critical that we create feelings that lead to positive and productive actions.

Step one is to do the work. Confidence is 99% preparation. If you haven't done the work, you can't lie to yourself and believe you have. Your body will reject it.

But step two is framing that preparation truthfully and productively. Find the truth and emphasize it. You'll know, because your body won't reject it.

You've done enough. You've done more than you did before. You've done more than your competitors. You've done more than you thought possible when you started. You've done it despite obstacles that would have held back others. 

Find the truth that most boosts your confidence. And seriously, stop assuming your work can speak for itself. In the absence of your positive voice, you'll likely just get monkey chatter.

The Question

Who will speak for your work, if not you?


Go Be More,

Bryan Green
Author of Make the Leap: Think Better, Train Better, Run Faster and the companion Think Better Workbook
Co-host of the Go Be More Podcast
Co-host of the Fueling the Pursuit Podcast

"Talking to yourself is okay. Answering back is risky." — Brian Spellman



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