Energy, or the lack of

One of the promises I kept making to myself and breaking was to make a sustained effort to exercise more.

I’ve always been feeling tired. Even when I was a child. I disliked to do anything that required an ounce of physical effort because I am just too tired to do so. I hated Physical Education classes more than Math.

Inspired by Sport

It just occured to me while waiting for the train today while feeling totally drained, no matter how much discomfort I am in, trying to make some effort to gain some energy, it wouldn’t be that bad compared to an athelete recovering from a long term injury, for example. I think I had this epiphany while watching football. There are plenty of football players who had suffered from serious career-threatening injuries and had to rehabilitate for a year or more. Typically after surgeries, they have to recover almost literally inch by inch, from letting the wounds heal, to doing a lot of gym work to grow their muscles back, to gaining match fitness. I can actually imagine how much physical and mental pain they have to go through.

Recovery from injuries are not the only example. I have to admire footballers like David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, not because they have great looks and to-die-for bodies, but they are known to train harder than anyone from their teams. How many people know of this fact? Do they know why Beckham’s freekicks are so eerily accurate? He actually practiced them everyday, by trying to send the ball through a spare tyre hanging at the corner of the goalposts.

The best example in football today has to be Darren Fletcher. I have to admit, along with many other Manchester United fans, that we moaned each time we used to see his name on the team sheet. He cannot dribble, he can’t make 60-yard passes like Beckham, he basically didn’t know how to attack. All he had was stamina, but he couldn’t even be a proper defensive midfielder because he was simply too thin and scrawny. We had no idea what did Ferguson see in him.

He has come a long way. He went through some metamorphosis and he is probably the first name on the team sheet if he is fit. I read an interview of him a while back, and he attributed his success to gym work. The Manchester United trainer asked him to be inspired by Ronaldo – Ronaldo was the fittest player in the team (before he went to Madrid and got cursed by a witch lol) and that was because he put in extra hours to train at the gym everyday. Fletcher admitted that he did not enjoy the gym work, but he knew he had to do it if he wanted to prove himself.

That is my epiphany.

That bit of dedication

I hated to exercise because I didn’t like how it feels. But I’ve neglected to see the bigger picture. That in order to accomplish goals, there must be stamina. Stamina to carry on when the going gets tough (which is like always).  And stamina doesn’t simply appear. It has to be acquired. By sheer hard work and dedication.

I have entirely missed the point for the past 28 years. I thought that as long as I invested my time and effort into my work, I would see some form of success. However, I did not have enough stamina to push myself through when it got tough, I came through it eventually, but it took a lot out of me. Instead of drawing from my strength, I drew from whatever else I had – and that drained the life out of me.

This is not only about having enough energy to carry on the work, it is about having the stamina to have the clarity when making crucial judgments. To nurture creativity. Nobody can create when they are tired.

I cringe when I think about doing all that manual work, but honestly, if I don’t invest time and effort in myself, nobody will. Thus, this morning, despite not sleeping well the previous night, I flipped a switch in my head and coerced myself to go for a swim. I was on the verge of not going because I badly wanted to sleep, but I reminded myself of athletes again. I am sure many of them on plenty of days do not feel like training but they do it anyhow.

I always tell friends that what defines a good relationship is not how good two people are together, it is actually how they ride out the tough times together. Now, I have come to realise (yes, albeit slowly again), that what separates people who achieve their dreams/goals from those who don’t, is that bit of dedication. The willingness to work on things even if you don’t feel like it.

Having ideas is just probably 10% of the war won. The difficult part comes in the execution. And that is where most people fail.

If I want more energy, then I just have to work hard for it. It won’t just appear out of nowhere.

I only did 5 laps and some sun tanning, which thereafter I felt like my body no longer belonged to me because it has been eons since I did any exercise. But I have faith that I will get only stronger with time. If the universe permits. Baby steps are better than none.

The other side of Roy Keane’s quitting habit

News filtered in at the major news sites yesterday that Roy Keane has quit Sunderland after a string of seven defeats. All of the football writers are criticising him for quitting when the going gets tough. That he was unable to persevere.

Now, that sounds really familiar. I have had people saying the same of me, because I did not fulfill society’s expectations of me when I did not subscribe the conventional hold-a-job-down-for-as-long-as-possible mentality.

I do not know Roy Keane personally, obviously. However, I do not see him in the same light as most people do. He is known for his fiery temper and passion, for his winning mentality, for his ability to command respect and awe as a professional footballer. He, more than once, almost single-handedly motivated his team mates to win a game when they were staring at defeat. He, was the player, who unselfishly played out his heart despite facing suspension to give Manchester United their first European final for many years.

How can a man like this, whom many professional footballers openly admire, be such a weakling that he must quit because he was unable to take hardship?

For most of my life while in employment, I have wondered the same question of myself. No matter how strong can one be, it is difficult not to be doubtful when everyone around you does not understand.

Roy Keane quit because he feels like he has given his all, and he is no longer confident of guiding the club back to winning ways. It is typically viewed as ‘courageous’ to stay on and fight, but is that really an act of courage, or an act of a selfish ego by stubbornly hanging on and risking the entire club’s fortunes along with himself?

Probably there are tons of many reasons that would remain hidden, perhaps it was because the new shareholder undermined his authority, nobody would know unless Keane himself steps out to talk about it. I believe he will, one day, when he is ready. He was never known to shy away from his words, and I am sure he is his own harshest critic.

His very high expectations of himself, is the same factor that has contributed so much of his success, as well as his failures. His high expectations of everyone around him, has landed him with tons of negative publicity, when he walked out of the world cup on his country, when he openly criticised both his team mates and the supporters of Manchester United.

All he wanted, and wants now, is to be true to himself.

When the day comes when you can no longer answer to yourself, that will be the day to have the guts to give up.

Many people fail to see that, quitting takes courage too.

Would a man like him fail to pre-anticipate all that backlash that is happening right now? He knew what he was in for, yet he still quit, rather than hang on to his job for dear life that many football managers do.

Roy Keane is an exceptional man, and for all his brilliance he will continue to be misunderstood, because the mainstream would not be able to empathise and understand what drives his actions.

Nobody probably feels worse about Sunderland’s current situation than the man himself.