#19 – Commit and be willing to fail

Achieving your goals with your body depends on your ability to set a clear goal and being willing to falter on the road to those goals.


Hey everybody, this is Matt Hsu from Upright Health. Welcome to Episode 19 of the Upright Health Podcast. I apologize that it is now the middle of May and that means it’s been nearly a month since my last podcast episode. In the intervening weeks, I have moved the Upright Health headquarters to Redwood City, California. And I have picked up a partner and friend, Josh Hash, to join me at Upright Health, to make things even better and badder for everybody. So if you are in Redwood City and you’re looking for people who are willing to help you and really passionate about helping people move better, then come check us out. You know where to find us. But in case you don’t, it’s brainfood.uprighthealth.com.

So today’s episode, episode nineteen, the topic today is “commit and be willing to fail.” Today, it’s kind of more personal, I think. I’m going to share some personal things with you, in the hopes that the ideas will help spur you to action. I’ve been reading a bunch of different books while doing all this moving and such. And also I’ve been doing just random research, as I normally do all the time anyway. And I came across some quotes that I thought I would share with you today. And just wanted to share some related stories from my life.

So the first quote that I wanted to share with you is actually a quote that I’ve found in a book by Peter Thiel. He’s one of the co-founders of PayPal and his book is called Zero to One. And there’s a quote in the book on page one or two that I think is extremely relevant to things that you do with your body. It’s something that I have said in a different way before and is being said in this book in a way that applies to business, but also I think to life in general. And the quote is this: “If you think something hard is impossible, you will never even start trying to achieve it.”

I think I should say that again: “If you think something hard is impossible, you’ll never even start trying to achieve it.” So the meaning there resonates so clearly with me. It gives me goose bumps. And I hope it means something to you, especially when you’re dealing with the body. It’s very easy – very, very, very, very easy — to think things are basically stuck the way they are. There are a host of reasons that I’m just not even going to talk about. I don’t wanna get on my soapbox today, but there are hosts of reasons that can make you feel like… make you mentally fully convinced that the way things are with your body now, just cannot be changed. Whether the reasons you have are age or whether you think it’s because you have some sort of diagnosis or a disease or your body has always looked a certain way or your body has always moved a certain way. If you think that you cannot change it, you will clearly have no reason to even start trying to change it.

So one thing that I think, you know, this is probably the one thing actually that stymies most people’s efforts and it’s just simply not believing that they are capable of doing or changing their body in some way. Whether that’s because of pain, whether there’s plenty of people who feel like, “Oh, I’m overweight and there’s just no way I’m ever going to lose this weight.” And I’ve seen countless examples of other trainers’ clients lose weight. I’ve seen my clients lose that weight. I’ve seen even on myself, I’ve had plenty of extra chub on my body. And I should probably share a picture. I don’t know if I’m brave enough to share a childhood picture of myself, but maybe I will. I have a picture of myself in my underwear as well and it’s not flattering. But may be a childhood picture, I’ll share so you can see what I looked like up until around time that I finally decided that I wanted to change my body.

So anyway, whatever things that you are thinking about — whether its building strength, whether it’s just getting out of pain – you really need to set in your mind that doing it is possible and that is just a matter of experimentation to find the answers that are going to get you there. I know there are a ton of dead ends when you do this stuff and that’s why the title of the episode is “commit and be willing to fail.” So whatever your goal is, commit to it and know that you’re not going to get there right away. It just doesn’t happen that easily.

So related to this is the second quote that I wanted to share. And that quote is from a guy named Thomas Edison. He is both a lionized and demonized, so however you feel about him, I think this is still a good quote. He says, “Negative results are just what I want. They are just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best, until I find the ones that don’t.” So this idea of embracing failure has always been a difficult concept for me. I have always been raised to try to do things exactly right — without messing up at all. That was the mindset I was told was correct, and that was the mindset that I have tried to use for a good portion of my life.

And if it’s a mindset that you are really comfortable with, there’s the mindset of “do everything perfectly well and never screw up,” I really, really, really encourage you to try to just dabble with being wrong about stuff and doing stuff wrong. I still find it challenging to get into things that I know I’m going to do wrong, but the older I get, the more I realize that the more things that I attempt — even if they don’t go well — the better off I am. Because I do learn either what I could’ve done better or I learn how to approach either the same problem or a different problem in a better way. And it’s a fantastic way to grow.

For me professionally, a lot of the things that I’ve learned professionally, I also wanted to learn for personal reasons. My own chronic pain issues, my own joint issues; those are all things that I wanted to correct – whether it’s the knee or the hips or my elbows or my hands or my wrist or shoulder — whatever it was, those were all things that number one, I was fully committed to fixing and then number two, was willing to experiment with until I found a solution. And you know, there’s a lot of stuff out there for professionals to learn and not all of it is useful. A lot of it is unbelievably impractical. And a lot of it is it’s actually nonsense. And some of it is really, really, really, really good. But you don’t really know what’s what until you have tried different things and gotten a good perspective on what might be useful and what might not be.

So this quote from Thomas Edison, I’m just going to read it one more time: “Negative results are just what I want. They are just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.” So this quote, again, is an invitation for you, dear listener, to be willing to screw up every now and be willing to try things that may not seem like they’re going to turn out perfectly, but at least you will learn something about that thing that you did or something about yourself or something about your body or whatever it is. Particularly with the body, when you’re dealing movement problems, it’s really helpful to experiment. And it’s really helpful to test; to see what your body can do, what it can’t do, what the result of doing certain things is.

I just did a video in YouTube recently about using a recumbent bike if you have hip problems. And I’ve mentioned in that video that most people that I’ve seen that have hip problems, when they use a recumbent bike, that it screws them up even more. But if you’re one of the lucky few who actually know how to use the right muscles while you’re sitting on top of your butt, then maybe it won’t be so bad for you. But that’s what I’ve noticed but it doesn’t necessary mean it applies to every single individual out there. So even when I share pieces of information to people, I do expect people to test it a little bit and see how it works for them. Everybody’s body is a little different and everybody’s body may require a slightly or very, very different approach.

So in closing, I’m inviting you today to commit to your goals, whatever they are. Look at them as being very possible. Think about what steps you’re going to take to achieve those goals. Be ready and willing to fail and keep that commitment to the goal, in spite of failure. Failure will happen. It happens every single day but success also happens. That may not come every single day, but when you do find success, it is totally, totally rewarding. That’s it for today. I’m Matt Hsu from Upright Health. And I hope that you remember that pain sucks, life shouldn’t.


About the Author