Historically, the Lion Tamers in circuses died young because at some stage even Lions used to forget that they were tamed, and the instincts took over. In those days the tamers used to have a whip their hands, but the whip was mainly for show. Once the instincts took over, the show was also over! Clyde Beatty was the first Lion Tamer, born in the early part of the 20th century, who died at the age of 60 because of Cancer.
He did something right in his job. Along with the whip, he was the first person to use a chair during the show. He would use the chair, and it’s four legs to divert the attention and focus of the lions during the show. The lions probably were trying to concentrate on pouncing of the limbs- in this case, four legs of the chair; but their concentration was wavering! As Clyde would always move the chair, the Lions became indecisive as they could not focus on their wish to pounce on the limbs. Before the chair, it was the Tamer’s limbs!
Many a time, we are in the same position as that of the Lion. How often do we have something we want to achieve (i.e. lose weight, gain muscle, start a business, travel more) – only to end up confused by all of the options in front of you and never make progress?
It is especially true in health, fitness, and medicine, where every person and company seem to believe they must make things more complicated. Every workout routine you find is the best one. Every diet expert says their plan is the optimal one. That frustrates us to no end because while all the experts are busy debating about which option is best, the people who want to improve their lives (you and me) are left frustrated by all of the conflicting information.
The result is that we feel like we can’t focus or that we’re focused on the wrong things, and so we take less action, make less progress, and stay the same when we could be improving.
I will tell you about how I did things. I started walking exercise about 25 years back. Initially, used to walk briskly 5 km every day. A couple of times, I had some issue with my ankles, I took the advice of an Orthopedic Surgeon. Things worked out quite well. Later I started to go to the gym too. During some gym exercise, I started having some issues with my knees. I again went my Orthopedic doctor. He advised me which exercises not to do! I asked him if I should stop walking for some time. He advised me to reduce my speed and the distance for a month. But he said never stop the exercise. Your body starts getting comfortable, not doing exercise, and you start losing focus on what you want to do.
Other than medical advice, he ensured that I did not lose focus on my main aim, to exercise. That is the key to any situation. Whatever we start doing, there is a chair being waved in front of us; this hypothetical chair is the various options we have. Different methods can be followed — multiple means of achieving your goal.
Most of the time, the ability to get started and commit to a task is the only thing you need to do to focus better. Most people don’t have trouble with focusing. They have trouble deciding. Those are the famous four legs of the chair. The legs are a metaphor for having different ways of achieving our goal.
Sometimes we need to do some task which must be completed. As per normal tendency, we may procrastinate but ultimately complete the job. Successful people follow this method. Additionally, they get a feeling which is described as a gut feeling. The gut feeling is nothing but rationally comparing various ways and taking a decision at the right time, instead of delaying the decision. The chosen path maybe 80 % efficient instead of a higher %. But since the action starts on whatever we want to do, the work gets completed.
A gut feeling can also be compared with something we usually see on expressways. When we reach a toll booth, there are multiple lines of the vehicles waiting to pay the toll. We use our gut feeling, which lines to follow. You win some, and you lose come. But some people win say 80 % of the times. We call them “lucky people”. We feel that these people are lucky; they always end up into lines which move faster. But these are the people who use the gut feeling; they must be using the same decision method in their work situations too!
Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Whether you know it or not, you’re already in the ring. We all are. Most of the time, we sit quietly, gazing at the chair in front of us, silently debating about which leg is the most important.
Nowadays, I have changed my strategies for what to I do in the gym. When I joined a gym recently, on the first day itself, I told the instructors not to worry about what I do; I told them I would do what I want to do. Before joining the gym, I had discussed with Atul, my nephew, who is also my physician. He told me that now the purpose of going to the gym is different. He said, “Mama, at your age, the muscle atrophy starts. What you should do is your warmup, then treadmill which keep feet mobile (I have some dormant knee issues) and then do the weights. The weights may not reverse the atrophy, but weight training slows it down, and you will feel better. Select the weights that your body tells you are suitable for you. Never overdo it.” I follow his advice to the last T! I also do something practical. I take 5 kg weights in both hands and walk for about five minutes. It has helped when I go out and buy things. I can carry my bags easily. I can also remove my carry-on bag from the compartment on flights. I don’t need any help.
If you have somewhere you want to go, something you want to accomplish, someone you want to become… then make a decision. If you’re clear about where you want to go, the rest of the world will either help you get there or get out of the way. Both of those are useful.
You should think and decide, but there is a goal you need to achieve. Something that’s calling you, something that’s important to you, something that you’re destined to do. I don’t know what it is, but you do. Swipe the chair out of the way and choose it.