10,000 Pushups

Posted by matt on August 1, 2017 in learning, Matt |

Over the course of July it wasn’t uncommon for someone to ask me why I’m doing 10,000 pushups. Here’s the skinny…

Doing 10,000 pushups in a single month is ridiculous. There is no meaningful reason that exists for why someone would do that many pushups in a single month. So, why?

The genesis of the idea came last year from Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse. Sasse mentioned while on the campaign trail, he routinely challenged his staff to complete this insane number over the course of a month and I thought it a great challenge to attempt while we were moving last summer. I needed something to keep me engaged physically as I knew my gym attendance would be a bit sporadic during that season. Since I am not one to suffer alone or in silence I began challenging others to join me, because as the saying goes, “misery loves company”. Yet, this type of motivation only lasts so long, and since the overwhelming majority of your pushups happen when nobody else is watching, there has to be more to keep you motivated than the simple challenge. It was at this point, both this year and last I began to learn a few things. Here are the 5 top things I have learned.

It’s good to do hard things

We live in an unparalleled time in history when it is quite possible to live your entire life without challenge, difficulty or being placed in situations that require you to bear down, grind and get things done. While this may sound good on the surface, one consequence is a lack of opportunity for character formation. Where it wasn’t uncommon even a generation ago to spend formative years working on the farm, throwing hay, or performing manual labor of some kind, it’s increasingly anomalous now. When we don’t subject ourselves to hard things, it shouldn’t surprise us when we are soft people.

Not everything we do in life is fun.

When it is 11pm at night, you only have 50 pushups in so far for the day and you need to do about 275 more to stay on track, it’s no picnic. But the truth of the matter is, I can choose to be happy, ticked off or indifferent, but either way the pushups have to get done. The only difference is what my attitude is while grinding them out. In reality, the things that are fun are things I say that are fun. I tell myself, I tell my body and brain what is fun. Nobody outside of me gets to dictate what is enjoyable. 300 more pushups to do? Awesome! Kid pukes in your bed? Smile, laugh and grab the bleach. This isn’t the “power of positive thinking” it’s a mindset essential to persevering when life gets ludicrous.

Plan your work and work your plan.

Doing 10,000 pushups is difficult, not impossible. Like setting any kind of goal it requires you to plan your work and work your plan. It’s good to set goals that seem ridiculous to show yourself and others you CAN CRUSH THEM!

There is not a single problem, goal or challenge in your life that cannot be overcome by the Leadership of the Holy Spirit through Prayer and Personal Discipline.

Not to over-spiritualize this, but if this is true in the physical realm of pushups, how much more true is this in the spiritual realm? If I can be disciplined to do 10,000 pushups of no eternal consequence, what else am I capable of that has eternal consequence? If I can be disciplined to do 325 pushups a day for a month, can I be disciplined to be a better neighbor, father and husband? Yes. If I can be disciplined to take time and do pushups throughout my day, can I be disciplined to take time and pray throughout my day? Again, yes!

It’s not really about the pushups.

Pick your thing, challenge others to join you and GO GET SOME! Why wouldn’t you? With the desire you have to lose weight, go back to school or start a new business or area of ministry, the best time to begin was yesterday; the next best time is right now. Next month or next year are still going to happen, the only difference will be if you crushed your goal or not. Friends, there are seven days in a week and someday isn’t one of them.

Discipline Equals Freedom

One thing I’m continually learning (thanks jocko) as I move through the years is that, hard work, hard, unrelenting, persistent work beats dumb luck every single time. If I want the freedom for my life to work a certain way it will require discipline to reach that point. There is really only one way to do 10,000 pushups. One at a time.

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