Prior to these days, I would define myself as hard-working, motivated, and prideful. I’m sure you know someone who also would describe themselves the same. I was the athlete growing up that played all the sports, and of course had the big time dreams. I was the athlete who had a lot of success not only on the field, but also in the weight room. However, as I’m sure most of us know, life always has a way of following its own course, regardless of whether you agree with it or not. I found myself in a place I never expected and a life-changing situation that I was not prepared for. And needless to say, this situation left me with a lot of free time to think. And in that time, one thing became apparent when I actually started being real with myself: I was living for the next coffee cup.

The next coffee cup? What do you mean? What I mean by this is I was not driven. I was going through the motions. Not just in life, but at work too. As a strength coach, early mornings are usually a guaranteed part of the job, but I found it hard to wake up every morning. Getting out of bed was dreadful and it reflected in my early morning track record at work. Yes, we all have early morning mishaps; mine were just a little more frequent than normal. It was difficult for me to stay late after being at work all day, knowing the next day I had to do it all over again.

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I realized I was living for the next coffee cup, the next energy drink, the next boost to pick me up to make it through. Morning after morning. Day after day. Night after night. The next cup of coffee was my motivator, my comforter, and my scapegoat for my excuses.

“I work too much, I’m tired, I don’t make enough money, and this schedule isn’t fair.”

I won’t lie — I almost broke.

Does this sound like you? Are you someone who is finding it hard to “bring the juice” day in and day out? Wake up for the early mornings and stay late into the night? Complaining about every little thing? Well, I found the one thing that I was missing, and you might be too. The one thing that is a bigger energy booster than any cup of coffee: PRIDE!

bryan rudolph the spot

My story begins on a regular day. Everything was normal. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then out of the blue a coworker says to me, “Bryan what in the world is wrong with your eye?” The comment took me back. I wasn’t sure what my coworker meant. So I went to the bathroom to check. To my surprise, one of my eyelids was half closed. I looked like a monster; it was if my eyelid decided to take a day off. I freaked out and immediately ran home to put on my glasses. This surely was being caused by my contacts, I figured.

By then I still had some time before I needed to return to work, and my hair was looking rough so I decided to go get my haircut real quick. As I was driving, the road began to split into two. I tried blinking or rubbing my eyes, but nothing could fix the problem except closing one eye completely. Needless to say, this is when I began freaking out. I called my mom and was able to get an emergency appointment at the eye doctor. Everything checked out and my doctor looked at me with some worry on his face, as if he was thinking of all the terrible things this could mean but didn’t want to say.

He looks at me and says, “Bryan, you need to go to the emergency room right now and get these tests run.” There was a strong emotion on his face and his voice was stern. Fast forward almost a year later after countless tests and my body getting weaker and weaker, finally an answer comes. Now, understand along this time frame I have become very weak. My grip was reduced to almost nothing and my strength reduced to that of a young child. My body seemed as if it was quitting on me. Simple everyday tasks became extremely taxing and difficult, like taking my clothes off, putting socks on, being able to hold myself up in a push-up position, or spotting my clients at work. All this time my eyes continued to make it look like I was high or deathly tired at all times of the day.

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I got the call at work. My doctor said, “Bryan a test has come back positive. You have myasthenia gravis.” You can look that up if you want to learn more, but basically my body was attacking the very things that were necessary for my muscles to contract. It causes rapid fatigue and rapid weakness. Over this time, I had a lot of time to think about life, about motivation, and about what was really important to me in life and my career.

Pride, I have come to learn, can be the most motivating and important piece of the puzzle when it comes to motivation. I started to notice that getting up early was getting easier. I started to notice that the long days didn’t bother me much anymore and I was still energized by the end of the day. Work started to feel less like a job and more like a place I was supposed to be, all because I started to take pride in myself. All because I started to take pride in the company. All because I started to take pride in my position in the company.

I’m not saying this happened over night. It has been a process and it took me some time of being real with myself about what was driving me. Was it because I genuinely wanted to help people, or was it just some ego trip I was on? Was it hard for me to find my motivation because I could no longer lift weights like I used to, or was my mindset lacking direction in the first place? I found my pride from taking a real look at myself as well as those around me.

Here are some simple tips that you can use to ensure that you take pride in yourself and what you do:

  1. Find a boss and environment that emulates a level of pride that will help you commit to the process.
  2. Open up more with yourself about what you actually want from life and your career.
  3. Pay attention to yourself and your job. There is nothing more toxic than worrying about what someone else is doing.
  4. Ask yourself if you are actually doing the best you can do. This is a hard question because the only person who can truly answer this is you.
  5. Decide whether you are living for the next cup of coffee or are truly motivated to be where you are.

So at the end of the day, when it comes to motivation and truly getting what you want out of life, it all starts with pride. There has to be something inside of you that drives you, something that makes you want to get out of bed, and something that makes you not dread Monday morning. I understand some situations are not ideal and you need to pay the bills, but what are you doing to change that? Do you have enough pride in yourself to do what it takes to change your situation to where you want it to be?

So here is my challenge to you: Try to get out of the mindset of the next coffee cup and take some pride in what you do. Do this and watch the coffee cups disappear, the dreadful mornings disappear, the dread of Monday's disappear. Pride is the best motivator and most natural energy source in the world.

Bryan Rudolph joined The Spot Athletics family in 2015 and is a former collegiate athlete with a passion for helping others. Originally from Pickerington, Bryan played baseball and football during his youth. He attended Ohio Dominican University where he continued his baseball career and received his bachelor's degree in Exercise Science and master's in Exercise Physiology.