The moment, the decision, the opportunity…


For some it is a piercing and unrelenting siren. For some it is a staticky broadcast of the morning’s traffic report. For others it is the sound of a babbling brook or crashing waves, but no matter how you dress it up, the sound of waking up is never pleasant.

Each morning we face a difficult decision. This decision is made ever more difficult by Newton’s principle of inertia. The inertia of the previous nights slumber with a seemingly inescapable warm embrace. In this moment, the thought of a cool jog, or a chilly splash into the pool is abhorrent. The thought of returning to the warm beach we were just dreaming of is much more enticing. To further tempt us, alarm manufacturers include this devilish feature referred to as the “snooze.” This feature easily allows us to delay the impending “to do” list of the day, and return to our dreams. String a few of these “snoozes” together, and you just skipped your workout. A few more, and there goes breakfast. Push the “snooze” one more time, and there goes your shower, and forget about getting the garbage out in time!

In high school, before I was able to drive, I needed to wake my father up to drive me to swim practice. With this in mind, I rarely could justify sleeping in. In the event that I did in fact utilize the ‘snooze” and skip my workout, my father would counsel me. he would ask me if I wanted to improve in swimming. He would ask if I wanted to win. Of course I would reply “yes!” He would ask “How bad do you want to win?” He would name off my rivals, and ask if I wanted to win more than they did. I would consider this and reply again with “yes.” He told me that each time I missed a workout, my competitors would be out there, at practice, training to beat me, while I was in bed resting. He told me that each time I gave up on a workout, I gave up an opportunity to get ahead of my competition.

I will admit that at times, I thought this principle was ridiculous. How much could one hour in the pool really matter. Over time I have come to realize that it is more than just that one hour in the pool. It is more than the chronic effect of multiple workouts. It takes dedication to a goal, it takes commitment to that goal, and it takes gumption to train hard each opportunity that you can. By going through the process of setting a goal, and then training hard to achieve it, we develop virtue and strength of character. My dad didn’t care if I slept in, and he didn’t care if I won or not. What he cared about was my understanding and development of character.

I remembered this lesson as I slapped the “snooze” button for the third time this morning. Each day this week, I set the alarm for 445 the next morning with the intention of hitting the pool before work, and each morning I made up some excuse to myself to justify skipping my workout. My schedule is very busy, I’ll need the rest to get through the day. I didn’t sleep well the night before. The pool will probably be crowded. It’s cold outside. I’ve already missed a few, whats one more?

We will always be able to make up new excuses. The fact is that each of these morning moments is an opportunity. Each time we can decide to take advantage of this opportunity, and develop mentally as well as physically, or we can succumb to the “snooze” and pass. Passing is not always a bad thing, and sometimes it is truly warranted, but hopefully by reading this and readdressing your goals, the next time “Marimba” jerks you from your slumber you will decide to take charge of your destiny.