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Athletic Bookworm Notes and Review of “The Motivation Manifesto” by Brendon Burchard

November 1, 2018

Athletic Bookworm Notes and Review of “The Motivation Manifesto” by Brendon Burchard

This month, we went a little outside of the athletic reading box to flip through The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard for the Athletic Bookworms. I’m generally pretty if-y about motivational literature (and speakers) so I definitely went into this feeling a little skeptical, but I did need a good kick in the ass to keep my training and work productivity rolling as temperatures dropped. There’s something really funny going on in self-development these days: I was chatting about this with Sonya Looney as we recorded a Consummate Athlete Podcast episode (SO stoked on that one!)… It seems like self-development is super divided between ‘rest and recover’ and ‘hustle harder’ messages. As Sonya pointed out to me, that kind of makes sense since typically people seeking self-dev help are needing one or the other. The super-un-motivated person needs the kick to hustle, and the perfectionist might need to chill out a little. I find myself waffling between these two camps on the daily, if I’m honest.

BUT ANYWAY… that’s a blog post for another day, really. But I figured I’d bring that up because if you already feel like you’re giving life 110%, you may not need this book. It’s definitely more in the hustle hard camp, though it does acknowledge that the whole hustle thing isn’t just for the sake of accomplishing more, it’s about loving the process and using it to get you to where you want to be in life.

We must remember we are not the sum of our intentions but of our actions.

This was a great place for me to start because I am the most well-intentioned runner/writer/etc. in the universe. My follow-through? I get things done that have to be done, of course. I meet deadlines, I show up to race start lines… But do I always do the training, the long-term writing work, the proper nutrition, enough sleep, etc.? Hell, no. I have super good intentions, and goals and intentions are hella fun to think about and write up. Every long drive I do, I decide that I’m going to be 110% better the next day once I’m home. And I make a ton of huge plans and goals… Only to get home and realize it’s easier to tick the boxes that need to be ticked, then chill out and read a novel. (Important to chill? Yes. But not when it means focusing on the daily and ignoring the long-term.)


“How does the lion tamer walk into the pride’s den unafraid? How does the public speaker stand in front of thousands without becoming ill with self-doubt? How does the executive make the decision her whole team is too afraid to make? Practice.” Ahem. Racers take note.

People who are motivated are not lucky

“People who are motivated are not lucky. They are conscientious. They choose to use their minds in a more purposeful way in order to energize and lift their lives.” This reminds me SO much of the post I wrote a couple years ago after cyclocross World Champs when the Aspire Racing team mechanic Tom Hopper uttered my favorite manta: Luck Favors the Prepared. Burchard is saying basically the same thing: Luck — the right place, the right time — might exist, but if you’re not ready to meet it, it very likely won’t be there for you.

Do not hope for motivation; choose an ambition to become motivated for.

“So we must go within and ask: ‘What do I want for myself? What new goal would be meaningful to me? What am I excited about learning or giving? What great new adventure do I dream of? What grand pursuit or act of service will be satisfying to me and get me out of the bed each morning?'” he wrote. And OK, this is generally something that as a writer, I naturally want to do: Write down what it is that I want. I was joking with Peter last night though… Basically once a month I have a moment of ‘I’m going to sit down and define what I want in life!’ and I get set up, make myself a cup of tea, and sit down with my journal… and then I open it and realize that the month before, I did exactly that already. I *may* either need to do some redefining, or actually just think about the progress towards those various goals.

(Are you caught up with all the Athletic Bookworm reads? Even if you’re not, the Athletic Bookworm page has my favorite excerpts and lessons from all the books we’ve read so far, so head there for your cheat sheets to the best passages from each book, or use that to choose your next read!)

Two choices will amplify our motivation to another level: attitude and environment.

“The way to keep ourselves sane and positive is to surround ourselves with people who are sane and positive,” he writes, adding, “Let us also be more disciplined in shaping our physical environments to amplify our emotions. We should love the spaces we spend our time in, and if we do not, we should make immediate changes … Our workspaces should inspire us. And we should have a ready contact list of other driven people to call upon when we need new inspiration.” This was a great reminder: As someone who both has an apartment that we own and spends most of her time living out of a suitcase on the road, I think I need to get even better at creating my space at home that I love PLUS being better about packing properly for a happy, healthy life when we aren’t home… And stop wanting to be gone when we’re home, and home when we’re gone!

“If I stopped and hovered above my life, what do I see myself doing, and why do I think I am doing that?

“If we can imagine life as a movie, then we can imagine ourselves as the one directing each scene and character within it.” I love this way of looking at one’s life. I think for myself, I tend to float through and pretty rarely stop to actively think about my life/goals/work/training/racing from an outsider’s perspective — for better or for worse. Sometimes, honestly, I get pretty down on myself and my motivation, and forget about all of the stuff I’m doing and have accomplished. And other times, I need to step back (hover) and think about what I could be doing better or more efficiently. Another great way Burchard puts this is: “How many times have we caused ourselves pain because we failed to pause and think, ‘How would my best self view and respond to this situation?'” Such an easy way to stop and check yourself!

Always favor action.

I love that when Burchard talks about this, he does mention that action can also mean making the choice to relax, meditate, chill out — the point is that it’s a conscious choice versus the sort of mindless ‘turn on the TV and veg for 10 hours and then realize it’s been 10 hours’ thing. It’s not saying that you shouldn’t have a rest day or swap the hard run for an easy walk because you’re not feeling good today: It means you do so mindfully, choosing that action.

I’ll leave you with a last quote from The Motivation Manifesto and say that as a motivational tool, I really enjoyed it and it definitely gave me a solid kick in the ass for this fall!

“Then let us get recommitted and decide that tomorrow, no matter what, we will march with courage toward our dreams regardless of the obstacles in our way.”

Let me know what you thought of the book in the comments here, or over on Twitter or Instagram!

Get The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard here


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