What does success look like?
It’s the hidden work, performed behind-the-scenes in quiet solitude, long after everyone else has gone home.
My gym in Arlington, Va. is cheap and functional – it’s $10 a month, open 24 hours a day, and offers no classes.
There’s no yoga, no Zumba, no pilates or kickboxing.
There’s just rows of machines and folks sweating on those machines or straining under the load of free weights.
For years I belonged to a large “GloboGym”-style chain with reciprocity in other East Coast cities like New York and Philadelphia.
My $60 a month membership offered me access to any of its myriad locations in DC as well as those other places.
And the clientele was different – yuppies, normal folks, most who went to the gym simply for maintenance, to stave off the effects of aging, or to try to keep that gut in check, especially around the holidays.
In short, they were unintimidating.
Not so at my current gym.
Here, everyone * looks * like a bodybuilder. More than that, seemingly everyone performs the hard lifts – squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, clean and jerks.
When was the last time you saw five different women in a gym doing deadlifts…on a Tuesday morning at 6:30 am?
I learned the routine early on:
Monday is “International Bench Day.” Tuesday is “International Deadlift Day.”
But that’s not the point of this story.
Rather, the point is my recent visit to the gym at 9:30 pm on a Friday night.
With the work week beginning to fade to a distant memory, Fridays in DC tend toward one of two options:
- Evenings out to enjoy the nightlife; or
- Quiet evenings at home.
On this night, however, I went to the gym – to move my body, clear my head.
And it was packed.
More than 30 folks – as it happens, 90 percent were men – were toiling away, forsaking dates or quiet evenings at home in order to lift – to continue building their bodies.
This is the hidden work, the sacrifice that goes on behind the scenes of any success.
Sure – the “weekend warriors” would be there late Saturday morning.
But if “character is how you act when you think no one’s looking,” then success occurs in the shadows, born of nothing but discipline, perseverance and the willingness to do what others will not.
The next time I find myself in a training seminar or conference and someone asks what constitutes success, I’ll simply smile to myself.
While many don’t adequately appreciate or recognize the taste, feel or smell of success, I know exactly how it looks –
It looks like the quiet, focused intensity of a crowded suburban gym at 9:30 pm on a Friday night.