Results OR Excuses, Never Both

Guest writer Max Bartlett, DPT, CSCS shares three rules to getting gritty and staying on track to achieve your biggest, scariest, toughest goals. 

Results OR Excuses, Never Both

by Max Bartlett, DPT, CSCS

Let’s be honest, everyone understands motivation is necessary to achieve desired results, but the cultivation of that secret sauce is not well understood. Motivation powers individuals to realize goals, stay focused, embrace adversity, and overcome obstacles. So where does it come from?

If success was an ingestible pill, how many people would wolf it down? To get to the heart of the matter, sharpen the focus of that introspective lens squarely on yourself. Would you take such a pill?

If the answer is YES, success will elude you. Your problem is you are lacking intrinsic motivation—or the internal drive to repeat specific behaviors to achieve your goals.

And if you were a firm NO to the magic pill, could you work to become more motivated?

Don’t worry, some of us are naturally more or less intrinsically motivated, and that’s OK! Cultivating motivation is a skill that can be practiced and will allow you to consistently achieve your goals. Now let’s get some reps and start practicing.


This is not a new concept. Former Navy Seal Jocko Willink explains in Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win that we all have an ego. And it is great at making excuses for us. You have to use your ego in all relative matters to determine your shortcomings.  If you truly want to succeed—and not be a miserable bastard in the process—be open to the fact that there is always somebody, somewhere, that is better than you! Embrace that. It is the mindset of a motivated individual. And relax, humble pie tastes better the more often you eat it.


In regard to that person who is better than you…find them! If they aren’t in close proximity, some quick social media stalking will suffice. Kristina made a most excellent point in a recent blog post: Crabs in a Bucket. That’s right, no need to put a lid on the bucket to contain crabs. Egomaniac crabs will pull each other back down into the bucket and never escape. Assuming this rockstar crab is “better” than you, don’t pull them down. Instead, use their escape as a blueprint for yourself. Learn from them. You see, the success of another person doesn’t mean you can’t be successful too. It should illustrate for you that what one person can do, another can do too! I personally find incredible motivation in this practice. In doing so, your daily regimen will hone your body and psyche into a stronger version of the former you.


Discipline must be trained, like a muscle. Yes, it takes discipline for rockstar crabs to get up early and slog out extra miles when they are tired and it’s raining sheets outside. It also takes discipline to actively practice the concepts outlined in Rule 1 and Rule 2. The goals you seek will not come to fruition through relentless fixation on the results or the reward that comes from achievement. Instead, goals become reality when you focus on the process and consistently perform behaviors that you know will make your goal a reality.

First, identify the necessary steps to reach your goals. Next, break those steps down into smaller behaviors. Start by performing a few reps of those behaviors every day. When those behaviors become natural for you, start working on other necessary behaviors. Allowing yourself to celebrate these small victories will stoke your internal fire—allowing you to become the self-actualized badass you set out to be!

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Max Bartlett is a Doctor of Physical therapy and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist in Bozeman, Montana. An unending source of inspiration and wisdom for me, Max exemplifies the concept of grit: the powerful combination of passion and perseverance that gets rockstar crabs out of the bucket.


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