Your Career: Are You “Training”? Or Are You Merely “Working Out”?

Your Career: Are You “Training”? Or Are You Merely “Working Out”?

Part 1 of a three-part series


For the better part of my adult life, I have been going to the gym and working out.

I’m in good shape, but for many years I have been stuck with this feeling of being comfortable with the results of the effort I was putting in the gym.  I wanted more in my mind but realized in order for me to reach a peak level of performance in the gym I had to find my way out of the sea of content.  I had to get out of the proverbial “comfort zone” and remove the life jacket and start swimming.  I had to change my mindset from merely “working out” to “training.” With that change of mindset, and my subsequent actions thereafter, results are beginning to take shape and I’m excited about that.

In this three-part blog series, my challenge is for you to take this same concept and apply it to your career. When it comes to your career, I challenge you to stop “working out” and start “training!”

Today I would like to discuss the training concept of “intensity” and the parallels between the results of upping your intensity at work and the gym.

Typically, when I go the gym, most people are merely “working out.” They go through the motions day in, day out, and their level of intensity is a five at best. You’ve seen these people:

  • They lightly jog on the treadmill or ride the stationary bike for 20 minutes while reading a novel
  • They lift weights but always do three sets of 10-12 reps with a weight that does not challenge them mentally or physically, and they barely break a sweat
  • They regularly attend the boot camp class but spend their energy on complaining or socializing rather than fueling an intense workout


I see these people, I am friends with these people, they are wonderful people, but from a physical standpoint, they look just the same today as they did 12 months ago. Why? Because they are not TRAINING with a level of intensity that breeds results, they are merely “working out.”

In order to see physical results, these individuals should be running or riding the bike at faster paces for longer amounts of time, or at higher resistance levels, actually challenging their muscles and cardiovascular system.  In order to grow muscles, build strength, or create muscle definition they need to be lifting weights that are heavy enough where their last one or two reps are done to failure. If they want to see results from the full body workout that boot camp provides they need to strive to do better than they did last class and look at those in attendance as their competition.

If you want your career to progress, if you want to one day become a future leader in your field, if you want to grow as a professional where at the end of each year you are somewhere better than you were in the beginning of the year, then you need to push complacency to the side and replace it with intensity. In fact, don’t push it aside…punch it in the face!

  • Don’t be the person on the treadmill reading a novel. At the office, this is the person who arrives at 9AM every morning, grabs a cup of coffee, works for a few hours, takes an hour lunch break, and ultimately completes the tasks that were put on his desk, by someone else, by 5PM.  Do this for your career, and that is what you will be doing for your entire career. You will be doing the same thing at age 35 as you were doing at age 25.  Plan your day the night before, arrive at work and grab your cup of coffee at 8AM, take a 30-minute lunch break, complete the required work for the day and then ASK for more.
  • Switch out your 25-pound dumbbells for 35-pound dumbbells. Challenge your intellectual and career progression muscles. If you are okay with yourself and where you are, and you are comfortable with remaining in your “comfort zone,” then you have nothing to worry about.  But look a few steps up on the career ladder – my sense is whether you want to admit it or not, you probably want to be there. Take a look a few rungs below on that ladder and notice those young up-and-comers who are hustling hard and challenging their minds.  Those above you are curling 50-pound dumb-bells, but they started with 10-pound ones. Those below you are curling 20-pound dumbbells but they just racked them and are now going for the 25’s. Do you want to see results?  Do you want your career to prosper and flourish? Find a way to work on more challenging projects; seek out and learn a new skill that is applicable to the advancement of your career; make yourself a little uncomfortable by joining a new firm where you may have to prove yourself or take on more responsibility that may not otherwise be available with your current company.
  • Be a part of the team, but strive to be the best player on the team. If you have ever been to a boot camp style work it can be a rewarding experience.  It’s okay to be that person in the boot camp who likes to socialize and make new friends, build relationships with other class members, etc. But those who are most respected and who see the best long-term results are the ones that know when it is time to G-R-I-N-D, and who somehow find a way to finish, even when the tank is empty.  From a career standpoint, it’ not the nicest people who finish on top, but those who can balance a strong social game with quantifiable productivity, who have defined vision in place, and who can rally the troops and raise the game of all who surround them.


Part two of this three-part serious will run parallels between proper nutrition and your career. Until then, stop “working out” and start “training!”

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