Catalyst Fitness Training Inc. turns ten today (on paper, at least.) The first Catalyst Fitness gym didn’t open until late October, but we incorporated on Sept 14, 2005.
We’ll have a party next month. But I’d like to share a lesson I learned a decade ago that was only given a name yesterday.
The Morality of Action
Your mission in life: fail often.
My earliest partners in Catalyst were Norm and Luc. Both were my fitness clients first, and both were great experts at business. Most Catalyst clients know them only by their legacy.
I’m a lone wolf, and bought both out years ago. But the greatest thing Norm and Luc did was push me to START. They said, “Why don’t you open your own gym?” And I said, “Yes, I’d like to,” but took no action on my own. I bedded down in the soft pillow of Time, telling myself, “I’ll do it when Avery’s older,” or “I’ll do it when I can afford to.”
Norm and Luc didn’t wait. They called a lawyer to incorporate a new business. Ten years ago today, I sat in Luc’s office and signed the papers. Then they said, “Let’s find a space.” Again, I demurred. But they made an appointment with a real estate agent, and we started looking. Then they said, “Let’s get a loan.” I hemmed and hawed. Luc had $16,000 left on a personal line of credit, and told me to buy equipment with it.
The biggest lie most of us tell ourselves is, “Things will be easier later. Wait a bit.”
We’re taught, as children, that failure is bad. That mistakes will be reflected on our permanent record. That collaborating is cheating. So we avoid risk. We hide from failure. We believe that no action is better than the wrong action. Or we wait for others to “fix it.”
It’s not. They won’t.
Researchers won’t solve your diabetes problem. Committees won’t make you wealthy. And governments won’t make you happy. The best thing you can do to solve any problem is to take action.
The Morality of Intent
It’s important to WANT to change. That’s a first step, but it’s not the starting line. When the Boston Marathon is on television, millions of people resolve to start running. And a few actually go outside and run. Intent is necessary, but not close to enough. And worse, it can stop you from action.
Eight years ago, I was invited to a “Panel” discussion on driving entrepreneurship in Sault Ste. Marie. As a group of young workers–most, unfortunately, didn’t own a business–our job was to create a set of recommendations to help improve the downtown core. We each took our turn writing down ideas, handed them over to the representative from City Hall, and promptly absolved ourselves of action. Little improvements have happened downtown, with the notable exceptions of small businesses like Loplops and Shabby Motley, who took action on their own. The intent, though strong, actually stopped meaningful action for most. This happens with charities, with parents obsessed with hand sanitizer and with schools’ focus on science to the exclusion of phys. ed. And it happens with exercisers.
They MEAN well. But their intent leads to inaction.
Two or three new gyms will open in the Sault by Christmas (we plan to own one of them.) Most will focus on providing Access: new equipment, 24 hours every day, with “lunk alarms” and “no-judgment zones.” Ours will be spartan, by comparison, because my focus is on Action instead of Intent.
Intent, Action and Catalyst
I believe that any Action is greater than Intent alone. That seems obvious. But 24-Hour access doesn’t create action, just good intentions. Low-priced memberships don’t create action (they deter action, because there’s no real cost for NOT exercising.)
Likewise, many CrossFit gyms don’t allow the freedom to explore different avenues of fitness. For three years, I’ve worked with hundreds of other gyms to show them how to help their clients better. Free play, failure and good old “I’m gonna try it THIS way…” are an important part of growth. We allow clients the freedom to do it WRONG, in other words.
We celebrate Action: “Bright Spots” earned in the gym, in relationships, and on the job. Starting this Friday–the day before Catalyst Games 2015–we’ll start a new tradition: posting our own “Bright Spots” on the Catalyst Facebook page. Your actions are our victories, even if they’re not always deadlifting. Catalyst is a vehicle for its clients; we’ll wear your actions.
Thanks for jumping with us. We’ll celebrate next month!