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Inspiration and motivation are two words that are used interchangeably, but they actually mean two different things. The definition of inspiration is a person, place, or experience that makes someone want to do something, or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create: a force or influence that inspires someone.  The definition of motivation, on the other hand, is the condition of being eager to act or work. In simple terms, inspiration is internal, and motivation is external.

Inspiration is the little voice inside you that gets you up in the morning and makes you workout no matter the conditions—being sick, a snowstorm, having to stay at work late. Inspiration is anything that makes you push yourself from within. It is you setting goals, sticking to them, and finding a way to get them done. If you were stranded on an island with nothing else around you, well, you would still find a way to work out and get better. That is inspiration at its core—no external factors involved.

Motivation is a completely story. It can come from watching a movie, seeing someone hit a big lift, something you read in a book, or maybe a person overcoming unbelievable obstacles and surviving.

I wanted to reflect on some of the things that motivated me over the past year. I have found them in many different places and from all walks of life. The key thing to remember, though, is that you wear many different hats in a day. Motivation can come from and affect any one of those different facets of your life. You could be motivated as a dad from one thing, as a lifter from another, and as a coach from yet another. Remember, motivation is all around us, and it's there for the taking. Use it in your personal and professional life. Get out of you comfort zone and get better. As they say, "today is the first day of the rest of your life." Maybe your workouts are dragging and you need to get some motivation to change it up for the better.  How about all of those times that you said you were tired of the health club atmosphere in your gym and you want to start your own? Maybe in your garage? One the most motivating commercials I have seen is the one that lists all the great things that started in and came out of American garages—Dell, the Wright brothers, know which one I am talking about. Why isn’t that you? Why can’t you and your training partners be the next great thing out of an American garage? Scrape up the money and get it done.

I have an area smaller than a garage that I train in, and it is the best thing I have ever done. Sure, it is limited, but it is always open, and there are no distractions. It has really helped me get back to the basics. Truly. I have had some of the best workouts I have ever had in that place, and I would not change it for the world. The motivation I got from doing it has actually inspired me—it has made me want to work out at another level. On workout days, I always have that inspiration to go and get after it, and knowing that there won't any distractions, I can really get down to the nitty-gritty.

Two books I read this year also really motivated me whenever adversity hit in any area of my life. Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it. Both stories should be fiction they are so unbelievable, but they are true. It really shows the indomitable spirit of man. After reading these two stories and seeing what these people went through, I cannot believe that I have ever complained about anything.

The first one is called “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. It is about Louis Zamperini, the man who was favored to break the four-minute mile. The story of what he went through to train and run the races he ran was incredible. At the peak of his running career, he was drafted into the military in World War 2. However, he was shot down over the Pacific and became a Japanese prisoner of war for years. The hardships he faced and survived were unbelievable—I kept asking myself , “How much more can this man take?” because his situation kept getting worse and worse. It truly is one of the greatest tales of survival.

The second book was called “Endurance” by Alfred Lansing. It was about Earnest Shackelton, the arctic explorer who was trapped for two years in Antarctica, and the leadership he possessed to keep all of his men safe and get them all home alive. He is one of the greatest leaders to have ever lived in my opinion. The story broke down leadership at so many levels that it was uncanny. It covered how he picked tent mates and why, what work he gave his people to do and why, how to break the monotony of day-to-day survival, and how to deal with difficult/negative people. It is one of the greatest books on leadership that you could ever read—whether you are putting a team together, or whether you are just trying to help position your own children to head down the road of success.

Speaking of children and family, I find it amazing how we sometimes overlook the things that are the most important. We all take the time to plan for our teams so that they will do great; however, we often forget our team at home. The fact that I have a wife and five kids at home who are depending on me is also a huge source of my daily motivation. Being able to do things for them even though I keep crazy hours and spend a lot of time away is the most rewarding of all. Never lose sight of the real reason why we do what we do—to make our little place in the world a better place for them to be in.

Lastly, watching the YouTube video Powerlifting…the Mentality motivates me beyond belief. Any time I need some juice, I watch it (especially the first section). It works every time. These are just a few things that have motivated me this last year.