Just Do the Work

Words to Live by for Firefighters and Kettlebellers

If I've heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times, "...just do the work." It's the way the Eastern Europeans cheered a fellow kettlebell lifter to greater numbers at the AKC's Miami comps. There is so much wisdom as well as strategy in those four little words.

A ten minute set of kettlebells becomes a test of will, of perseverance, of remaining under the bell for the allotted time, no matter what. Reps completed are secondary to time in the set. This creates a strong, but quiet discipline within each lifter. As a firefighter I've experienced this same process whenever the going gets tough, but the situation demands you keep moving forward. You have no choice but to just do the work.

Ten minutes can feel like a really long time when advancing a charged hose line or supporting a heavy steel ball over your head. When learning kettlebells, developing technique allows the lifter to "find rest" at various points within each lift, and reps are not just hammered out as fast as possible. This is a sure sign of inexperience, and results in a less than optimal set. As a young firefighter, one of the first things to learn is pacing, and resisting the urge to get too excited. You must control breathing and move with an "urgent calm".

Just doing the work implies focusing on the movement at hand, nothing else. Relax, control the urge to panic and expend energy unnecessarily, breathe deeply, and execute a perfect rep, or hose advance. Do the work and don't worry about anything else - a life lesson if I've ever heard one.

Firefighters live this work ethic at every worker. Each little piece of the bigger plan can be considered one rep. From receiving the alarm in quarters correctly, to final extinguishment, there's a thousand tasks that need to be perfectly completed without exception. Developing the physical capacity to stay with the set also builds mental fortitude. This effect directly crosses over from kettlebells to firefighting, another example of the transference.

In life, in kettlebells, in firefighting, just do the work says it all. The reason the FDNY and other great departments can be so effective is that they apply this philosophy inherently. There's no excuse for a job left undone or shoddy workmanship. The membership has so much pride, they can't do a bad job. Every task is executed with precise attention to detail and the work is simply done, adding up to a phenomenal overall result.

Remember, a job worth doing, is worth doing well. Just do the work!

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