What moral psychology, persuasive communication, and procrastination have to teach you about lifting weights…and why you should care
Tuesday, 9:06 AM
Auckland, New Zealand
Talking to people is mostly pointless.
That’s what I’d been telling myself since around 2012. If you ever wanted to know why this blog died, there’s your one-sentence answer.
People don’t think. They aren’t rational. They don’t listen to arguments. They act on emotion. They act from gut feelings. They defend the tribe and attack the other team no matter how silly the words coming out of their mouths.
That’s all true.
And it’s all absolutely wrong.
Want to know why? Keep reading.
This blog is basically dead and done. But none of that stuff is why, exactly.
Blogging, the medium, is on its death bed. Nobody really wants to read, what with all the flash image- and video-driven content out there.
That oh-so-valuable attention of ours is getting farmed out in different ways by an ecosystem of machinery you can’t see except in slivers and slices.
You, reader, are a dry autumn leaf blown around on winds of desire and emotion produced in you by billion-dollar advertising industry. And they’re damn good at it.
RIP your attention and focus and concentration.
Yeah, people can suck…
…but when you shove a few million very different people, with very different hopes, dreams, beliefs, wishes, desires, ideas, thoughts and feelings, into the same room…
…and spend a good chunk of annual GDP to make them feel upset and uniquely special…
…wonder of wonders, there’s going to be friction. Enough to burn down modern civilization, from the looks of it.
What do you do? There are no Big Ideas to solve this problem. No utopia on the other side, friends. No Mars colony. No apps and hackathons are going to solve it. No global consciousness-raising awakening.
Look on the other side and all you see is the same chaos and conflict we’ve already got around here.
Remember: talking to people is mostly pointless.
Whatever’s going to happen is out of our hands. Yours, mine, probably the whole human species. There’s no ghost in this machine. (If you won’t remember anything else, remember this.)
All you can do is enjoy the ride. Not like you have a choice.
But it doesn’t have to be all gloom ‘n doom, or a slow decline into a Stoic’s posture of relaxed acceptance.
Instead I’m going to try and be a little light for some of you out there.
See, even with all that, Myosynthesis itself isn’t dead yet. (Just ignore the IV drip and the beep-beep of that flagging heart monitor…)
Because the death of Big Chatter is also
An opportunity to build smaller, more tightly connected communities
These two pesky little birds…
…the problem of attention
…and the problem of connecting to an audience in the Age of Mass
…can be taken out by a single stone.
Talking to people is pointless. “People” is a generic word. It means The Average Person…that normalized construction sitting right in the middle of the bell curve. Nobody wants to talk to average people.
If you’re here, you’re probably not “average”. And that means I want to talk to you.
For that unruly crowd of dissidents, rebels, curmudgeons, outcasts, outsiders, nerds, geeks, and other varieties of ne’er-do-well who like my brand of soapbox-in-the-town-square rants…
I won’t be blogging anymore.
And I won’t be putting up talking-head videos on Instagram or Youtube or whatever else you folks are using to bare the quick of your private lives to the masses.
(Okay, maybe…MAYBE…but please keep in mind that I’ve got a face for radio and the voice of a Gomer Pyle impersonator.)
I am writing to that select few of you who are interested enough to raise your hand and join the Myosynthesis Email Newsletter
No charge. No catch. No strings attached.
Just emails worth reading. Right in your inbox. Sometimes.
Keen? Get on the list by entering your real email address in the form here:
What’s this about anyway?
I’m writing to the right people who are interested in the right ideas.
Let me tell you that this is not for everybody. If you want cotton-candy popcorn “self help” and feel-good dopamine hits you get from quote-captions and cat gifs, you’re not going to be happy around here.
There’s going to be some chatter about the fitness, strength-training, nutrition, physique-development stuff, sure…I mean, that’s the whole theme here, you know.
But that’s just the gateway drug. Here’s some other stuff you can expect:
- The real reason why you find it so hard to set a goal and focus on it until you finish.
- How to figure out what you really want and go after it.
- Why you really feel bad about yourself… why your brain probably isn’t to blame… and what to do about it. (I’ve fought depressive feelings my whole adult life and even I was surprised at how effective a handful of simple “mind tools” can be in fighting it off.)
- How to get a handle on your day, instead of playing video games all day OR working 100 hours a week. (Being too driven and being lazy actually share in one important thing in common.) A few changes to your morning can give you the most productive, and satisfying, days you’ve ever had.
- Remember how I used to write to you about getting fit, strong and healthy?
I’ll talk to you about why I stopped caring about all the nuts and bolts of exercise and nutrition science…why the science became mostly irrelevant…why there isn’t much point in obsessing over studies, and how the science REALLY matters to the fitness audience…and why there is such a powerful incentive to keep scientific knowledge in the hands of experts.
- The three things that matter more than ANY supplement, super-special diet, or ultimate workout program.
- How to stop focusing on all the things that don’t matter — in the kitchen, in the gym, and in your life. Why you allow yourself to live in “reactive mode”, and how to take back control of yourself.
This has a lot to do with why so many people do so many goofy things in the gym…when they don’t really “work” anyway. The antics you see in the gym are just a “case study” for the goofy things going on in the wider world. (Hint: it’s NOT because everyone is stupid. The trick is in the word “works”…)
- Stress and recovery don’t work the way you’ve been taught…and even many professional standards require you to learn out-of-date “scientific facts” about living organisms… you’ve been systematically misled, and you’ve paid for the privilege.
To be blunt about it, most of personal training and strength coaching is stuck in a “Dark Ages” of outdated, barely-scientific understanding of the body.
The latest cutting-edge science shows us that the human body is a complex system… it doesn’t work like a simple machine that you can adjust with a wrench and a tool box.
Complex systems have many moving parts which are all tightly related to each other. You can’t predict its behavior by figuring out how its parts move… or how it has behaved in the past. The same thing that stops you from predicting next week’s share prices on the stock market also prevents you from predicting how a complex system — like your body — will behave.
(You probably don’t know this, but John von Neumann, one of the “fathers of computer science”, once said that the only way to understand a complex system is to build a machine at least as complex…and then you can’t tell the difference between the original system and the machine you built. It’s a paradox.)
This is why performance coaches need to think more like gardeners and less like managers.
- The unreliable “social signals” you’re probably using to judge people…and why you shouldn’t fall for them.
- Why you should skip pre-workout supplements…and have a hard think about your coffee intake. (Most people have NO IDEA how to manage their mental and physical energies, so they cover it up with stimulants…and then have to booze up in order to wind down at the end of the day.)
- Do you know the secret fears driving most people into the gym? You probably have them yourself. What men and women are trying to hide from themselves when they turn obsessive about exercise… and… how to turn it around and live with integrity even when nobody else around you will.
- How to find what really matters to you in your life… what you really care about… and get rid of all the obstacles stopping you from getting it.