When you work out consistently at the same gym for a while, you begin to notice people. For me, there is one guy in particular that has, for better or for worse, left a lasting impression on my mind. Without fail, at 7 am every morning, he comes strutting in, all 275 lbs of him, pointing and shouting at people across the gym, “Go hard or go home, baby!!!” I’ve never been able to figure out if he actually knows the people he is shouting at, but if he’s trying to meet people, he should really take time to read Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. If he’s ever directed the challenge to me personally, I could not tell you because when I see him coming, I avert my eyes, turn up the volume on my i-pod and start praying, “Dear God, please don’t let him eat me!”

On one occasion (once my panic attack subsided), I considered his statement: “Go hard or go home.” How many of us have applied this statement to our lives? Here are some examples I thought of:

  1. Dieting – “Oh well, I gave in and had that pizza. I might as well eat the cannoli too.”
  2. Exercise – “I’m so tired this morning. I think I’ll go tomorrow when I am feeling a little more rested.”
  3. Work – “I’m sorry, honey, I am not going to make it home for dinner tonight. This marketing presentation has to be perfect or else I’m going to bomb it tomorrow.”
  4. Parenting – “I am such a failure as a parent. All the other mom’s are working a full time job while homeschooling their seven children and training for the Hawaii Iron-man.”
  5. Ministry – “I’m just one voice. What I say or do doesn’t really matter. Anyway, the minister is the one who has been called to this. He can handle it.”

I could continue the list ad infinitum, but the real point is that anyone who tries to ascribe to the “go hard or go home” mindset, usually ends up going home, crawling into bed, and watching reruns of their favorite 80’s television show. Why? Because no one can go hard all the time and those that do end up burning out. “Go hard or go home” is an example of what professional therapists call “all-or-nothing” thinking.  Some more examples:

  1. “If I can’t be perfect, then I must be a failure.”
  2. “If I can’t be at every meeting, then I’m not going to volunteer at all.”
  3. “If this one girl does not find me attractive, then I must be ugly.”
  4. “If I don’t have 5 million followers on twitter, then what’s the point of tweeting?”

This mindset affects our actions and it affects our view of ourselves. For example, let’s say that you would like to start working out, but you don’t because you’re not in shape. (Consider the logic of that statement first, by the way.) Well, your goal might simply be to get to the gym every day. How intensely you work out doesn’t matter at this point. You just need to get there! Accomplish that step, and then look at hopping on the treadmill the next time. If you are socially isolating yourself because you fear being rejected, consider this: if you reach out to 100 people and 80% of them reject you, that still leaves you 20 people who want to be your friend. Instead of looking at the 80% of rejections, consider that you just went from 0 to 20!

How about your view of yourself? If you are not the star athlete, the top sales associate, the supermom or dad, the greatest [fill in the blank], that does not mean you are stupid, unsuccessful, insignificant, or a failure. Most of us are somewhere in between. Striving for excellence is a process, one that requires pacing and patience. Striving for perfection is insanity and will only make you miserable.

So the next time you hear the statement, “Go hard or go home” consider these alternatives:

  1. Something is better than nothing.
  2. Perfection is not the goal, excellence is.
  3. Excellence is always achievable if you remember that excellence is a process that never ends, requires patience and hard work, and allows for our continual growth, no matter where we are on the journey.
  4. Growth occurs in ebbs and flows. Don’t get discouraged when you get tired, fail to meet preset expectations or disappoint others. Remind yourself of #’s 1, 2, and 3 and keep moving forward.  

Question: What do you think when you hear the expression, “Go hard or go home!”? Does it motivate or discourage you? What helps you to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself?

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