There’s a saying in business that it’s not what you’re doing that’s of primary importance. It’s not even necessarily how you’re doing it, or who with. What matters most, and directs the rest, is why.
(And rather than summarize a most excellent TED talk on the subject and of the same title as this blog post, I’ll point you towards it here.)
I’d like to offer this same spirit towards our movement practices, fitness training, and healing from injuries of all sorts.
I think we like to start with “what” because it’s the easiest to grasp, especially in a busy life with lots of tasks to complete. Shoulder problems = do these two exercises and you’ll be set. Tell me what to do so I can keep going with my life. (And it is so, so understandable to want that; we are busy people!)
But that only gets us so far. Exercises done poorly can drive us even deeper into the patterns we want to get out of. Even an idea like “get fit; do some cardio” can be detrimental, and push someone over his edge and into new, harder adaptations to meet the demands of new movement training.
So we dive a layer deeper, into “how.” Aaah, the subtle differences between turning on the external rotators of the shoulder in an isolated physical therapy exercise. It should look like this. It should feel like this.
Being guided well into the “how” of any movement is immensely helpful, and is the hallmark of good physical therapists and trainers worldwide.
But … what’s the point? You can learn the “what” and “how” of all sorts of things. Why this one? What’s the fuel for this particular fire?
The answer may be quite obvious to you: “to get out of pain” or “to get stronger.” Is there a layer underneath that?
Why do you want to get out of pain? To lift your children with more ease? To be able to ease back on muscle relaxants that seem to numb your senses?
Why do you want to get stronger? To perform your job better? To look better naked? To prove something to someone?
Whatever your answer is, it’s all good—there is no shame in the truth. It is only important that we answer the question honestly. So really, for you, why?
Feel that fire in your body, the why that began this whole search in the first place. That’s your fuel source, at least for now. That’s where you start. That’s what matters.
Start with why.