I sometimes find inspiration for my personal journey from some of the most unlikely sources. It’s not really all that often though that I’ll read a quote and have it go off like a gong in my head, recognising something profound about a matter that is totally unrelated to what the speaker of the quote meant it to mean.
Today I came across the following quote:
When you are in command, command.
– Fleet Admiral Chester William Nimitz
Nimitz was a 5-star admiral of the US Navy, and is kind of a big deal historically having been placed in command of the Pacific Fleet during World War II and the person who signed on behalf of the US when Japan formally surrendered at the end of the war. This quote in particular makes me think that Nimitz was probably the kind of guy who was practical and direct. He’s saying that when you are in charge, you need to take charge and not allow others around you the opportunity to question your mandate to do so. Failure to be in command of yourself and of your crew would lead to uncertainty and a lack of confidence in your ability to see things through.
I see this quote also as a very good way to look at yourself in terms of your personal health and fitness. Your body is your ship, and you are both its captain and its crew. As its captain, you need to take charge of your actions, and to be responsible for them no matter what the outcome. Failure to do so will only allow you to undermine your own self confidence and to needlessly fail to achieve your goals. When things turn bad and failure seems certain, a good sea captain will see the entire situation through and will take personal responsibility for the actions of every individual on board. Why should you treat your own health any differently?
So to elaborate on Nimitz’s point:
Only you are in responsible for your health and fitness. Take command of yourself.
Set some goals, take personal responsibility for them. Learn from your mistakes, and have the wherewithal to see your journey through to the very end.
Now you might ask me “If it’s so ‘easy’, how do you do this?”. Well, for that I’ll draw inspiration again from Nimitz who apparently kept a card on his desk with his 3 favourite rules of thumb printed on it:
- Is the proposed operation likely to succeed?
- What might be the consequences of failure?
- Is it in the realm of practicability in terms of matériel and supplies?
When you choose to set a goal it needs to be specific and realistic. If you haven’t been out of bed for a year and you tell yourself that you will compete in a half-marathon the next day, ask yourself how likely you would be to succeed, and what the consequences of failure would be. The answer of course would be that you will be guaranteed to fail due to a lack of adequate preparation, and the consequence would be that you would probably see the failure as an excuse to avoid committing to another goal any time soon. Everything that we do has a consequence. Some consequences may be good while others may be less desirable. It’s up to you to decide for yourself what you are willing to allow as acceptable, and what you are willing to learn from both the failures and the success.
- If you set an easy goal and you achieve it, have you learned to achieve something or have you simply given yourself the easy way out?
- If you set yourself a difficult goal and you achieve it, did you encounter any problems along the way to learn from?
- If you set a goal and you failed, did you choose to persevere? Did you choose to create a pathway of easier goals that could lead you to an eventual success? Did you simply give up?
- Did you fail or succeed because you had or lacked access to certain foods, equipment, or expertise? Do you need these things? Can you do without or make alternative arrangements to help you to get closer to achieving your goals?
- In all of these cases, what are the consequences. What do the successes and failures mean to you personally?
Is it easy to do all of this. Probably not, and nothing worth anything is ever easy. It can be more manageable however if you apply a practical rule of thumb to help you to gauge where to expend your energies and how important it is to you personally to do so. This really all comes back to taking command of yourself, making choices rather than simply having those choices made for you, and finding something deep within you that gives you the personal courage to see things through no matter where the journey will take you.