Are Alphas Driven?

I’ve been away from this blog for a long time. The fact is that my perspective on things has evolved or moved on. But the ideas still resonate with me.

Lately, I’ve been working at a small fitness studio in Fairfield, NJ, where I’ve been able to transcend nearly all of the obstacles that plagued my development at Crunch. I’m also pursuing my small business as an independent personal trainer, which my current place of employment is only too happy to accept. At Crunch, working elsewhere was prohibited.

I find myself quite driven to build my small business. Partly, it is that the things I am doing to build it are relatively second-nature for me. They largely involve writing: blogging, writing articles, commenting on message boards, updating my Facebook page, “networking” on LinkedIn. When I get on a roll, two hours can pass like 10 minutes, and they are usually the two hours before I need to get ready to go to work.

It feels good to finish some marathon of networking and such, or some article or another. I have learned, the hard way, to take breaks every two hours or so, or to leave time to chill for awhile before leaving for work. Otherwise, I show up frazzled and uncentered. The work I am doing, sitting at my dining room table drinking an espresso or two with my mind flying at 100 miles an hour, is indeed work. It is indeed taxing. I know there is always more that I could be doing, and I have to calm my instinct to castigate myself for not doing it, for having to stop at all.

Whenever I reflect on my current lack of social or political life to my friends, they all say, “you’re doing you.” It’s true; I am building up the foundation for success and stability moving forward. I want to add a “but” to that but I know I shouldn’t. I think sometimes general disbelief regarding my own life holds me back: disbelief that I am in the fitness industry, disbelief that I have the ability to build a small business, disbelief that I am fortunate enough to be able to get paid to show people how to exercise safely and effectively and cleanse their lives of at least some pain. And this disbelief seems to reinforce certain fears, fears of being unprepared and unworthy.

The last ten years of my life have been fairly odd. I only recently grasped the idea that my father’s passing in 2008 left many things “unresolved.” That is, I had issues with him—about anger and authority and motivation and being driven—that I was never allowed to overcome by interacting with him. By overcoming him, in a way. Now, I have to overcome them, if I’m going to, by overcoming “society.”

But society is not as well-known as a father. I often anticipate disappointment and anger from other people who don’t have any inclination to feel that way, because Dad was angry a lot. I am often obsessed with being liked by everyone—being adored as the best trainer ever by my clients, and if I don’t succeed at this unrealistic ideal, I sometimes feel like a failure—because Dad’s demanding personality required a high level of supplication, or so it seemed. It has turned me, somewhat, into an accommodator, a compromiser, a beta, eager to please and in need of constant validation.

Of course it is an important ability to know when and how to compromise and accommodate, but compromise shouldn’t be made out of desperation. It should be made only when your decision-making is based on a strong sense of self and position, and foreknowledge that your objective is being at least partly accomplished in accepting the compromise. It shouldn’t be an acceptance of failure.

Anyway, I think this sense of disbelief sometimes holds me back. For a lot of other people, I think the sense of disbelief would be couched in feelings of being fortunate. I know intuitively that I am fortunate. I am fortunate to be able to build a business, to be in good health with no injuries, to have a strong sense of what I want to do with at least the next five years of my life. Just the other day, I designed the floor-plan of what I want my future gym to look like. It was inspiring and exciting.

But I know that no feeling, no inspiration, no uplifting sense of being fortunate, will keep me going. These are motivators that don’t last. Only pushing myself, no matter how frustrating it gets—no matter how much I “feel like it,” or even how much I want it—will get it done, will accomplish forward movement in my life, will provide me with that sense of self and position and alpha clarity that I want so much, that might’ve come with overcoming the challenges my father placed on me but now I must cultivate by myself.

Maybe that outcome, that struggle, will provide fortunes of its own. I guess we’ll see.


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