Conventional Wisdom

In a past entry, I commented on those who ask others what they are capable of in life. One example was the aspiring fighter who asked me if he was too old to pursue the sport of boxing. He wanted the formula that would calculate (beforehand) what he could achieve. Such an approach to life is flawed in many ways. Perhaps most importantly, you end up living your life based on someone else’s opinion of what you can do.

This past weekend I came across a quote that was related to this subject. I was flipping through an old book that I’ve had for many years (Leadership Secrets of the Rogue Warrior, by Richard Marcinko). It’s a quick (and fun) read that you can tear through in a day. Marcinko has some interesting thoughts on the world.

One of the more useful quotes is listed below:

“Conventional wisdom is no wisdom at all. Conventional wisdom is taking somebody else’s word for the way things are… It’s the followers of this world who rely on assumption. Not the leaders.”

This is a powerful statement, which is unfortunately ignored by many in this world. Much of the world instead promotes sameness. When you go against the grain, you will often be criticized and doubted. Almost every successful business owner who has started a business from the ground up had to deal with their share of doubters along the way (often friends and family).

Just think of some of the truly successful entrepreneurs in this world. Bill Gates didn’t take a class on how to become the next Bill Gates. No one told him how to do what he did. He didn’t live his life based on conventional wisdom. He instead took chances and set out to do things his own way. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that other successful entrepreneurs have also followed unchartered waters on their way to the top (ex. Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, etc.)

Application To The Sporting World

Oddly enough, this entry has nothing to do with becoming the next Bill Gates. It is actually closely related to training and sport.

If you want to become a special athlete, you must differentiate yourself from the rest. You can’t simply do what everyone else does and expect to somehow come out on top. Training to become the best (at anything) means going above and beyond the idea of sameness. Consider the following example…

Suppose when you wake up tomorrow morning, a well known athletic trainer has put up a new 2-month routine on his website. He has 1,000 dedicated readers who all religiously begin the workout. At the end of the two month routine, how can any of the individuals expect to differentiate him or herself from the pack, when they’ve all done exactly the same thing?

If you never raise the bar and set higher standards for yourself, how can you expect to rise up above others? Great athletes differentiate themselves from the rest. They go above and beyond what is expected of them.

I never listen to others who tell me what I can achieve, because no one knows how much I’m willing to sacrifice and endure to achieve my goals. There are times when I don’t even know. How the hell will someone else have the answers for me?

Take these words to heart. Write your own future. Most of us have more potential than we will ever come close to achieving.



  1. Hey Ross,

    You’re absolutely right about this! In fact, those guys you mention (Gates, Jobs, Ellison), didn’t even graduate from college!

    Thanks for leading the way!


  2. On the other hand: if my goal is not to become a special athlete but escape the sickening effects on my health that my inactivity is promoting, listening to the famous coach preaching his 2-month-program and doing it like a sheep is better than not doing anything at all.

    What are your thoughts on that?

  3. Washburne – A little commonsense is all that is needed to answer your question. Clearly, something beats nothing. That isn’t the point of this entry however (and it’s also not strictly related to athletics).

    The real point is very simple. If you want to stand out (in anything), don’t expect to simply punch in on the clock and do what everyone else is doing. If you want to excel (at anything), you need to raise the bar. It isn’t supposed to be easy.


  4. Very nice..right on target. While playing college baseball I consistently went early to practice for extra grounders and stayed after to hit or use the weightroom. One day a teammate of mine complained to me about how he wasn’t hitting very well..this was not uncommon for him. Finally, one day, I had enough and said “well, why don’t you do something about it!” He was not one to stay after or come early, but liked to whine about his results. He continued to do nothing extra and finished out an average career…I continued to put in extra work and was drafted in the 16th round later that summer and signed a minor league contract. Not patting myself on the back, but just saying “DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!”

  5. “Write your own future.” Strong! Deep!!! Love it!

    You nailed this one for me, Ross. Sometimes people who are so engrossed in one particular fitness philosophy, the tendency is to get brainwashed overtime with no realization of the effects this will have into one’s personal fitness training in the long term. Result: a fitness roadblock over time. You just can’t expect to be stuck in one training philosophy and expect results everytime. The body is just too smart. It’s only then that it becomes a cult like atmosphere of followers who don’t know any better. But can you blame them? No…but the mindset of wanting to learn different approaches is so important in fitness and that’s why I went with Ross’principles…

    There will certainly be other programs out there that have a “wow” factor but my philosophy in fitness is ) and it was only a matter of time for me to realize this was: always think out of the box. Educate yourself. Mix it up. But most of all – do it for yourself, not because someone comes up with the “my way or the highway” to give you the guilt trip.

    Thanks ross…keep living the dream man!

  6. Well, as always Ross keeps it nice and simple:

    Do what everybody else does and you will be like everybody else.

  7. Wow, that was an awesome inspirational read Ross! Just what I needed to hear after just graduating high school yesterday. Great Job!

  8. Thanks, I’ve needed to hear an entry like that lately. Sometimes you need a kick in the pants to get you motivated and do it for yourself! – Nice Post

  9. You continually stoke my fire. I continue to learn from you. Not just how to get in shape but how I want to live my life. I don’t log on every night but I do when I’m in a slump. And I’m always glad I did.
    It’s got to be good I even had to look up how to spell two words here. I’m learning all the time
    Thank you again,
    54 and still learning

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *