I started playing soccer when I was 5 years old and over the years I dedicated tens of thousands of hours crafting as much skill, fitness, and tactics into my game as possible. This ultimately led me to play soccer at the University of Illinois - Chicago in their Division I Soccer Program, on a full ride scholarship, and later for the Chicago Fire in 2005 as a reserve.
I've played in thousands of matches and have experienced the full gamut of outcomes that go with that type of dedication. There probably isn't a match condition I haven't personally witnessed or contributed to. However, one unique, strange, and specific scenario I've observed numerous times is what I call the "Nearing 90" principle.
Nearing 90 is a term I use to explain the scenario where only a few minutes are left in the game before the 90th minute strikes, and my team is on the precipice of losing the match. When trapped in that moment, I've seen massive change happen before my eyes.
Out of nowhere, everyone on the team begins to play with a sense of urgency, a sense of DESPERATION. The tackles become harder, the positioning better, the effort higher, and the level of contribution intensifies.
I've often thought to myself, "Why haven't we been playing like this the entire game?" It's such a tragedy to witness this transformation happen at the end of the game...when it's often too late.
I've seen this happen at all levels - even professional. When the game starts, energy is low, conviction is weak, and everyone is going through the motions on the field. This dismal and lackluster game play doesn't have anything to do with fitness or technical aptitude. It has everything to do with ATTITUDE & PERSPECTIVE.
It always looks the same: The kick-off whistle blows, a slow level of activity musters, and the team plays too relaxed. There aren't any bursts of life or flare on the field. It all feels average. After half-time, the game drags on even more and the clock ticks down closer and closer to finality.
As we near the 90 minute mark something strange begins to happen. A mysterious sense of urgency begins to develop and emerge. The prospect of losing becomes a reality in the hearts and minds of the team. We start to actually acknowledge the idea that time is running out. It isn't infinite. The deadline is looming. Losing the match is truly going to happen... in just a few short minutes.
This transformative clarity begins to raise the stress level on the field. Fear of losing intensifies. Then, desperation magically materializes. Players are now motivated to save themselves from a painful loss. They work harder, take more risks, play with greater precision, cherish every play, and every second.
As soon as DESPERATION forms, progress starts to happen. Goal scoring opportunities develop, players become empowered. All of a sudden there is HOPE.
The match can be salvaged!
How Can Working with Desperation Make Me MORE Successful?
This is a question you should ask yourself.
How much desperation do you operate with in your daily life?
Imagine a time when a deadline loomed. Maybe it was at your corporate job and the presentation was due in an hour. Maybe it was an all night cram session before a big exam or a few days before Christmas when you realize NONE of your shopping was done. The OH SHIT moment is real now....
How Did You React?
Out of the proverbial ether emerged this moment in you - a moment of action. Your action transformed into resolve. You made massive progress in very little time. You didn't give a shit about the obstacles. You didn't procrastinate any longer. There wasn't any second to spare! You had to act now, as quickly as possible, if you were going to get out this alive!
Think About That.
Where was that urgency and action when you had enough time? Why did you let the clock work against you? Why did you do that to yourself?
How To Use Desperation Sooner Rather Than Later
If you have fitness goals, start them today. If you have a business idea, start creating real action on that idea today. Tomorrow is not a good time to do anything. EVER.
I saw a sign in a bar one time that said, "Free Beer Tomorrow". I smiled when I read that, because that bar is never going to give away a free beer to anyone, EVER. If anyone tries to come back tomorrow, the offering will have expired.
This represented a powerful idea - tomorrow does not exist!
When you decide on a goal, create live action today in an effort to achieve it. If your goal is to lose weight, start hammering that first pound Today. If your goal is to save money, put $10 into savings right now, Today.
Act with Desperation NOW!
I went through a thought experiment in my head that was incredibly helpful. I thought about what it would be like to be the 80 year old version of myself. Regardless of my wealth or health at age 80, I know one thing for sure, I'll spend a lot of my time thinking about my life.
All I might have at that point are my memories. A view into the rear view mirror and whether I like it or not - I will be forced to review the life I actually lived. Not the life I wished I lived. When you look back on your life, there are no more tomorrow's to rely on.
I bet 80 year old Adam would give anything for more time. More time to run more miles. More time to spend with my family. More time to write that novel. More time to read more. More time to take my wife on vacation or more time to tell my parents I loved them. 80 year old Adam would do anything...for more time.
So, I take that thought experiment, retrieve the sentiments I projected, and bring them back as artifacts to reality in an effort to create action today. That's when I started this site. That's when I got serious about running a marathon. That's when I got serious about cutting down on my insane level of drinking.
I want to make 80 year old Adam proud of his time and history. I want to put in the work today so that my older version won't have painful regrets. So he can rest peacefully knowing he didn't take his time for granted. When 80 year old Adam is faced with the facts of life, that his tomorrow's are truly numbered, that there aren't many days left, he can rest easy knowing that not a single day went to waste. He did the honorable thing and truly tried to live. The wins. The losses. The attempts and re-attempts. The grind. The mileage. It was all worth it because he went after it every chance he got.
There Is No Perfect Time For Anything
Don't wait until your time is running out to take action on what you want to do. Don't wait until tomorrow to be happy. Live with desperation. Act with desperation.
No one likes to think about death. No one wants to imagine what it will be like to stare backward at one's life instead of forward. I get that, but if you don't take a moment to respect how valuable your time is and that you are spending your fixed amount each day, then you'll end up living life ungratefully, without passion, without desperation.
Every. Single. Day. Counts. Take action today, while you still have the time to change.
When I found out I was going to be a father in February 2016 I was excited. Admittedly though, there was a selfish side of me that feared fatherhood. And what I feared was that my life would disappear. My life would be hijacked and I wouldn't have any free time or latitude to enjoy the things I used to enjoy.
I changed my viewpoint & developed a strategy.
First, I knew that fatherhood was imminent - it was going to happen with or without me - so I needed to accept that, lock it in, and come to terms with reality. I needed to lock shit down and I only had 9 months to do it.
Second, I knew that being a parent was going to be tough, because everyone told me it was going to be tough. In my savage mind, this meant that I had to get serious with my health and fitness. I hadn't had a grown man physical in over a decade. I wasn't eating well. I drank bourbon TOO heroically, and I couldn't walk up 6 flights of stairs without wanting to die. Time to lock that shit down.
Third, and most important, I knew that execution was everything. I knew the idea of something was far easier to buy into than executing against real goals. So, I got real with myself. I peeled back ALLLL the bullshit layers - especially about drinking - and starting filling in my spare time with long runs wearing a 25-lb vest in 107 degree Texas heat.
For me, I knew I had to exorcise the demons so to speak. I needed to break my habit of lethargy. The curse of procrastination. I knew that if I brutalized myself on a run, if I was able to begin right away being a heroic savage, then I'd have a better chance of sticking to it and it would make me feel like I could accomplish anything. I needed that kind of breakthrough win.
Here is the key - Aside from good old fashioned discipline, I looked for small wins everywhere and I didn't dwell on short-term failure. At first, I'd get in 2 runs a week, and eventually fall back into going out with the boys and drinking 700 gallons of bourbon. I could have looked at that week as failed. Or, I could champion the idea that I got (2) good days of running in when I used to get none.
To put this visually - I knew this wall was too high for me to climb over - and too thick to break through with a sledgehammer - so I decided to just hammer away at it all the time, every day, in some capacity. As time progressed, I got stronger, I got more disciplined, my mileage increased, my healthy habits improved, and I was finally on my way to breaking down that wall. I could actually see the once impervious exterior crumbling under my relentless effort.
After about 8 months of running, kettle bells, battle ropes, and diminished drinking, I finally got the courage to finally go to the doctor. I got the blood work done, blood pressure checked, urine sample, the whole deal. All the results came back favorable and I felt empowered. I finally locked that shit down and broke through the first wall.
The morale of this story is that I was a regular guy, with regular guy discipline, regular guy bad habits, and I knew I needed to become the best version of myself. It's not rocket science, all it is, is hard work.
Start now. Start right now. Start right fucking now. Tomorrow isn't soon enough. Start it right now and begin the first steps toward becoming the best version of yourself TODAY.
Ask Yourself The Five Questions
This is what you need to do. Be really, real with yourself. Cut through all the bullshit excuses and justifications that usually sound convincing. Figure out the real shit that is sabotaging you (mine was bourbon) and lock that shit down.
Tony Robbins has (5) Key Questions people need to ask themselves when they want to get down to it and begin accomplishing greatness. Start by asking yourself these questions and figure out the answers.
1. What do I really want? (Vision)
2. What is important about it? (Values)
3. How will I get it? (Methods)
4. What is preventing me from having it? (Obstacles)
5. How will I know I am successful? (Measurements)
Lastly - no matter what - start hammering out miles or weights within 24 hours of reading this. If it's 10 minutes a day that's 10 more minutes than you used to do.
Then, turn 10 minutes once a day into 10 minutes four times a week. Then turn that into 30 minutes 2 times a week. Build, refine, build, refine. Find that warrior within you. Break down that wall incrementally. Be relentless. Be the hero of your own story.
In the great words of Cameron Hanes - #KeepHammering
Becoming a father for the first time is usually met with excitement – but often with overwhelming dread about the life you will inevitably give up and ALL the sacrifices that will bang on the door of your tomorrow. And while there is some truth to a lifestyle change, being a father does not mean that you have to forfeit ALL the things you enjoy for the rest of your life. There is absolutely room for you in your life. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
When my wife told me that we were pregnant – and after we found out we’d be having a son - there was an idea in my head that looked like this:
Before Fatherhood = Freedom.
After Fatherhood – Servitude.
I feared that the above tenet was true – because hand over fist – as soon as someone found out my wife and I were expecting – they would take great joy in telling me about the fearsome “boot camp” I was about to embark on, a boot camp they barely survived, and one I was getting locked into.
This pissed me off. A lot.
The reason why it got under my skin so much was because it felt like they were happy to give me the bad news. Under the guise of advice, it felt like I was being hazed. “Kiss your sleep goodbye!” or “I hope you enjoyed your life, because it’s over now bro!” All of this was said with a big smile on their face, which was menacing and unacceptable. People like this are fucking demented and if you let them inside your head with thoughts of doom you will end up living a life of doom.
I’m here to tell you: You are not doomed in Fatherhood.
You are still allowed to be the person you are today. The only caveat, is that you’ll have to inject more discipline into your life. Things that make you happy don’t have to be forfeited, you are not required to club happiness into submission in order to be a good Dad. You don’t have to eliminate every secret stash of happiness (watching the game, having some drinks, sleep, etc) in order to fit the mythical role of subdued fat dad.
However, you will need to make some strategic adjustments. You will have to re-set your routine. You will have to harden your willpower and clearly envision what type of life it is you want to live.
It is easy to surrender your happiness. You can be the victim of servitude if you allow a punitive perspective to take over. Or you can rage against it. You can find workarounds. There is an escape, if you really want it. There is a savage within you. A Spartan. A warrior that has the strength and endurance to shape his life from malleable fear into hardened happiness.
He’s in there, we just have to find him. (I'll show you in part 2)