Focus on the Process to go from Zero to Hero

Tommy Leung wrote this on Jun 6, 2018
4 minute read

I had my first encounter with weight lifting at around 13. I had recently recovered from a broken wrist. I broke it playing a street game called Asses Up.

It has been renamed Butts Up for the modern audience.

My arm was quite weak after being in a cast for several weeks. So I had to work on strengthening it. And that’s when it dawned on me that I could do things to make myself stronger. Better.

I started playing basketball. Shooting a basketball seemed like a good way to strengthen my arm.

Then I found a solitary 20 pound dumbbell that belonged to my Dad and played around with it. I wasn’t strong enough to do much with it. But I was fascinated by it.

My parents later bought me a dumbbell set from Modell’s–a sporting goods chain in the Northeastern United States.

Exercise, fitness, and weight lifting has been a part of my life since that first encounter.

My teenage years included opting for weight lifting instead of normal gym classes and working up to 100 push ups.

I once recorded myself doing over 100 push ups in a row. Teenage boys are silly.

My attitude toward physical fitness changed when I discovered the difference between training and exercising.

“I was a slightly overweight, spiky-fringed, rat’s-tailed ’80s girl who was just showing up. That’s all I’ve ever really done to get here, just kept showing up. Even when I didn’t want to. That’s what I do.”

- Sia

Training is a long-term endeavor. It’s a practice. It is work.

Exercising is an activity. Usually for fun and can often be skipped if more important things come up.

I was always pretty good about sticking to an exercise regiment. But the goals were always short term.

Which meant that I would also take a break from exercise after I finished a 12 week program. And sometimes that break would lead to a long hiatus.

Changing my perspective to one of training has kept me consistent. I haven’t missed any significant training time since I decided that what I’m doing is training and not exercising.

And that has been almost 8 years ago.

Training can be a lifelong endeavor. The ups and downs of any given day doesn’t mean that much in the bigger picture.

Some days I don’t feel it at the gym. Maybe I’m physically tired. Or mentally exhausted. It could be anything.

“Most of life is showing up. You do the best you can, which varies from day to day.”

- Regina Brett

But I do some work anyway because it isn’t about a 12 week plan. It’s about the next year. Or 10 years from now.

Having a bad session here and there is just how it goes in a long-term endeavor. It is a marathon. Not a sprint.

I work through the bad days so I can get better at them. That’s why it is training. Some days are easy. Other days are hard. You learn how to handle all situations.

This applies to any long-term endeavor.

No one starts out a master.

The important part is to do the work. Put in the time. You’ll improve as long as you keep at it.

Failing is not a big deal. You aren’t looking to become world class tomorrow. But you’ll be a lot better in a year. And even better in five years.

And there’s always more to learn and more ways to improve.

Whether it is cooking, writing, painting, programming, investing, or any endeavor you want to pursue.

The process is more important than the result.

Maybe you want to squat 300 pounds. You’ve been working up to it and you did 295 pounds the previous session and it felt like you could have added another 5 pounds.

But you just aren’t feeling it today. Maybe it is completely psychological. Maybe you didn’t sleep so well yesterday.

That’s okay. You do the work. You do your warm up. You work up to the heaviest weight you can do today. Maybe it is 295. Maybe it is 300. Maybe it is 280.

It doesn’t matter. You show up and you do the best work you can today. That’s the process.

You don’t necessarily force yourself to 300 pounds. You might hurt yourself and that isn’t worth it in the long run.

The process will teach you about yourself. To know when you should push yourself and when you should pump the brakes.

Same for writing. You write. It might suck. It probably will. Just write it. Show up and write. You’ll get better.

Investing? Same. Show up and do the research. Take action if you see an opportunity. Follow your process. The first rule of investing is to not lose money.

Cooking? Show up and try. What didn’t work last time? Do it differently this time. Adjust the ratios. Cooking time. Ingredients. It might not come out right this time but that’s fine. One day it will.

Show up and do the work.

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”

- Margaret Thatcher