Training for What?

Some people are in what I call constant training mode. They keep preparing for some phantom occupation or some magical circumstance to come into existence where they will be called into action to use their collection of random skills and knowledge. They are waiting for some “I told you this would come in handy someday” moment that no one else seems to care about. They are active, busy, and knowledgeable people who don’t seem to be training for anything in particular.

I had a manager who told me he spent three hours a day at the gym five times a week. He wasn’t a body builder, or a marathon runner, or an athlete in anyway. In fact, he worked about 12 hours a day. This meant he basically spent about 15 hours of his waking hours outside of his home and family, just to exercise and work. And, no, he did not look all that fit to me. I’m no fitness expert, but I’m sure exercising three hours a day for five days a week is a little excessive, and possibly even counterproductive.

I have an associate who does nothing but read books and websites about self-help business, and ancient philosophers. I have no idea what she intends to do with all that knowledge. She also has no job. In fact the longest she’s ever had a job was maybe 2 years, but average, less than six months. She wants to open her own business someday, but has no idea what that business will be. I’m not so sure those books are helping her.

I have a friend who spends a lot of time reading snowboarding magazines, and watching snowboarding videos. He’s in his mid 30’s, and barely gets out to exercise, except to snowboard in the winter. Not exactly a prime time to start becoming an Olympic snowboarding champion, especially considering he lives nears a beach in California.

I mentioned in a previous post that I knew how to tango. Tango people in general tend to be very active. There are some members of the community who are a little obsessed with this dance. Then again, I guess this is probably true in all social dance forms. They spend thousands and thousands of dollars and a lifetime of hours on lessons, shoes, clothes, festivals, and trips to Argentina. Although they dance for years and become excellent dancers, they never perform, never compete, and they never become instructors. In fact, most of their friends don’t even tango, and most of them do not hang around each other outside of tango. Ironically, sometimes the most trained dancers actually get the least dances.

All these people seem to be obsessed with training for the sake of training, and not training for any specific purpose. Training without purpose is like taking a photograph without a memory card (or film) loaded into the camera. It’s important to exercise, to have a hobby, to read, and socialize. But when it consumes your life, you’re life is no longer in balance. An unbalanced life is a symptom that you have lost your sense of purpose. Preparing for a success, or having a passion is one thing. Preparing and training without purpose is unproductive mindless obsession.

So before you go off and spend three hours in the gym, or spend another $300 on tango shoes, or read another business magazine, or watch another snowboarding video, ask yourself… what are you training for?

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