If you’ve ever spent quality time with a trainer or participated in any physical training program, you’ve heard this phrase. “Don’t sacrifice form.” When you hear this in a gym or physical fitness environment, it’s usually because someone has neglected proper form in their workout for the sake of just finishing the exercise or completing a higher number of repetitions. Perhaps the amount of weight they’re handling is a bit much, or they’ve become tired from the activity. Usually, a trainer will advise that the person use a lighter weight or slow the exercise down in order to maintain proper form and avoid injury. Making gains in the gym isn’t always about the amount of weight or the number of reps. More benefit will come when an exercise is executed properly.
The other day I was doing an online workout at home and I heard the trainer repeat this a few times.
“Don’t sacrifice form. Rest, use a lighter weight, or do fewer reps. But make sure your form is correct.”
I’ve heard this phrase many times before, but this time it struck me in a different way. I got to thinking about my life and my career.
I’m an artist. I love to write (obviously…). I’ve found that it’s a wonderful way to get my thoughts out, purge, and share what has been placed on my heart. The wonderful thing about writing is that I can choose my own words and use them to say what I want and need to say. I get to tell my own story the way I want to tell it.
But I’m also an actor.
As an actor, I’m called upon to tell stories that are not necessarily my own. It’s my job to bring life to a story and character that I may have a lot, very little, or nothing at all in common with. I believe in that charge. I believe that every individual should have the right and opportunity to tell their own story, regardless of my opinion about their experience. But I also believe that not every story is for me to tell. Yes, I’m an actor. But not every character is for me to embody.
In the midst of my work as a storyteller, whether the story is my own or someone else’s, it’s important for me to remember not to “lose form”. It’s important to constantly check in with myself, ask myself what I’m willing to do and how far I’m willing to go to get the desired result. Do the means always justify the ends? Am I willing to say “no” to something that may offer career advancement if it requires me to break form?
Many years ago I was watching an interview with an actor that is very successful and looked up to by many young actors. I don’t recall the question, but this actor made a statement that has stuck with me through the years. He said, “Decide very early in your career what you’re willing to do, and stick with it”. That is a piece of advice I still carry with me. It is something solid that I can look to when opportunities and setbacks come. It is a guideline that ensures I am being true to myself and the standards that I’ve set for myself. Yes, it is possible that what you say “no” to today, you may feel ok to say “yes” to tomorrow. But at the core, some standards just stand.
Whatever your walk in life, it’s valuable to check in with yourself from time to time to assess whether you’re in line with the values you want to maintain and the principles you’ve decided upon and accepted for yourself. Have you sacrificed your form and allowed yourself to waver, just a bit, because the perceived outcome is what you desire, or are you still in line with the guidelines that you’ve set for yourself? The outcome may seem desirable, but things are not always what they seem. “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”* Count the cost. Check your form. Be sure that the cost is a bit too much, even when the end is desirable.
Don’t sacrifice form…
*Proverbs 14:12 & Proverbs 16:25