You find out life’s this game of inches…. The inches we need are everywhere around us—they’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second. On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves, and everyone else around us, to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know, when we add up all those inches, that’s going to make the… difference between winning and losing, between living and dying. I’ll tell you this, in any fight, it’s the guy who’s willing to die who’s going to win that inch. And I know if I’m going to have any life anymore, it’s because I’m still willing to fight and die for that inch. Because, that’s what living is—the six inches in front of your face!
Oftentimes while doing my cardio on the treadmill—first thing in the morning, empty stomach, tired, half asleep, starving, waiting for the minutes to be over—I get into a groove, a mindset, a meditation that carries me through. I picture myself as a warrior striding over an open plane, not sprinting, but striding, steadily, like a monster from an old Godzilla flick, step by step, crushing the earth beneath me with each foothold, driving me forward at a slow and steady pace. I do not sprint forth, but walk, steadily, powerfully, picturing that nothing can stop me, picturing that brick walls would simply fall if I stepped against them. Sometimes I purposely slow my pace into a lumbering lunge of a movement, in order to over-exaggerate the slow-motion effect. I am tired, but I look at the clock, and I count the minutes—not in misery, not in suffering, but in honor of a small goal accomplished. One minute down, only fifty-nine left; two minutes down, a mere fifty-eight left. The minutes pass one at a time. Nothing can speed them up. So my stride remains steady and true.
We have been conditioned, in modern society, to always look for the “next big thing”. Attention spans have shortened, along with patience and resolve. Even while watching 45-second-long YouTube videos, I find myself getting impatient, wanting to skim forward, wanting to multitask. The media and news have pounded into our heads that what matters is whatever is “next”. That’s what grabs attention, after all. The days of creeping forward are over. Overnight successes, trends, viral marketing—the only thing that matters is the rapidity of results, with no reference to quality.
But life doesn’t really work that way. Life passes a month at a time, a week at a time, a day at a time, a minute at a time. The final result at the end of days is the accumulation of minutes hopefully spent well, of living fully and maximizing every second—“living in the moment”, as they say, rather than constantly seeking out “what’s next” like an adrenaline junkie ever dissatisfied with the present. A goal reached can be broken down into the steps taken towards that goal—and the larger the goal and larger the success, as a rule, the more steps it took, and the steadier the stride.
When searching for a slogan for my business, a client of mine recommended I use the old saying from the Rocky movies, repeated often by Rocky’s trainer Mickey—“I didn’t hear no bell!” In other words, my constant demand for another repetition, that constant demand for pushing just a little bit harder. I went instead with what I considered the slightly more poetic “Seeking the Best Within You”.
But the two phrases have the same meaning. Pushing for that extra rep—picking yourself off the mat—clawing for that extra inch that Al Pacino discusses—is the best within you. Going for that extra inch, when everything is weighing you down and holding you back, but fighting through it, going for it anyway, is the best part of the human soul—if and when you tap into it.
“Because that’s what living is—the six inches in front of your face!” Yes, we forecast, we plan, we use our rational and logical minds to dictate a path taking us from beginning to end. But the six inches in front of your face—the current repetition on the bench press—the current minute of cardio—is the only part you have real control over. Get through it, and there will be another six inches awaiting you. Crumble, quit, get tired and walk away—act like the bell rang and the match ended—and you will have the misfortune of not getting to see what the next six inches would have revealed.
So I walk through my days steady, not sprinting, but striding purposefully, knowing that it’s an inch at a time. I am still forcing the game forward, as much as it tries to push back. And that’s precisely what I expect of my team of clients:
On this team, we tear ourselves, and everyone else around us, to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know, when we add up all those inches, that’s going to make the… difference between winning and losing, between living and dying.
Living only, please. Heaven and hell will have to wait.
-David A. Johnston
David Johnston is the founder and lead trainer of TEAM Warrior Within. You can also listen to him weekely on the GEARD Up podcast. ( GEARDUp.com ) David works with clients ranging from the everyday person just trying to lose weight and get healthy, local and national bodybuilding and physique competitors, to IFBB professional athletes.
David lives and breathes all things related to physique transformation, and has devoted nearly half of his life to passionately studying and educating himself to be the absolute best at what he does. His intensity in the gym is matched only by the passion he gives to his clients.