A Ship Without Direction Won’t Reach Its Destination


I sold my CrossFit in November of 2016 and went from planning and building a new 12,000-square-foot custom facility to swinging kettlebells in my garage. Now, two bathroom rehabs later and enough time to know I don’t want to permanently become my wife’s on-call handyman, I needed to figure out what the hell I was going to do with myself. I came up with at least 10 new things — ranging from opening a new gym, just something small or maybe something huge, on my own or maybe with partners, but definitely a luxury Box or possibly a warehouse space. I also thought about consulting Box owners one-on-one, or in groups, or creating an online product they could use, or maybe a video series, but what about a podcast?

I had a ton of ideas, but nothing would stick. I would love an idea one day and hate it the next. A ship without direction can leave port, but it will never reach its destination. So what did I do? I had a pity party, I got anxious, was short with my wife and kids, and told myself that a lot of people drink beer by themselves at 1 p.m. on a Tuesday.

I knew I needed direction, but I didn’t know how to find it. Patience isn’t one of my better virtues; just ask any of my ex-business partners. However, when I am patient, I can usually see that my life has a direction and purpose. I just need to keep working and be open to all possibilities. Much like the story of the young shepherd boy Santiago in The Alchemist. If you haven’t read it yet, stop what you are doing, find it and read it! This will be my answer to the questions, “What book have you most gifted?” when I am interviewed on the Tim Ferriss Show. In a nutshell, the book tells about how we all have a personal legend or journey we are all meant for, and if we are brave enough to pursue it, the whole universe will conspire to help us achieve it. All we have to do is be brave, truly want it and be open to listen to signs around us.

Then the realizations hit — when people do drink alone in the afternoon, they’re called alcoholics; nobody likes a dick, especially my wife and kids; and all I had to do was to listen to what the universe was telling me and be open to its signs. So like the scene out of Rocky 3 after Rocky’s confidence was diminished by Clubber Lang, Apollo Creed showed up at my garage when I was swinging those old kettbells. The same original kettlebells I had 15 years ago in my garage gym in Chicago, which are the only things I took with me when I sold my gym. Apollo told me I had lost sight of why I started this journey in the first place. I love to coach — I always have and always will. I didn’t start because I always wanted to have to worry about if the bathrooms were clean or if there was enough Fit Aid in the fridge. I started because I love to coach!

So I’m going back to the beginning. When a student receives his black belt, it doesn’t mean they are done; it means they are just about to start the journey. I’m going back to the old gym with Apollo, back to where I can become hungry again and rekindle my love of coaching. So I visited a local big box gym that has a CrossFit Affiliate to see if they needed a Coach. What happened? Wouldn’t you know it: the universe came to my aid. Yes, I know — that model of CrossFit never works and ends up looking more like bootcamp, but what place better to earn my black belt in coaching and help the people who need it the most?

Conor McGregor regularly states that not only do you need a clear vision, but you need to have the courage to tell others about it, no matter what you think their response will be. So I’m going to follow my personal legend. I want to coach. I want to be the absolute best Coach I can be. The black belt of coaching in CrossFit is a Level 4 Seminar Staff Coach. I remember sitting in my L-1 listening to Joe DeGain speak and telling myself, “That’s what I want to be.” The only thing stopping my from pursuing it has be my own self doubt, or resistance as Steven Pressfield refers to it in The War of Art, another must read. So I’m following McGregor’s advice. I’m proclaiming my personal legend of becoming a Level 4 Coach. It was actually hard to write that, but I know if I’m consistent and intentional in my daily actions, I will get there. I might not know when, but if I don’t try or I give up, I can say with certainty I will never get there.

What does all this mean? No matter what your own personal legend may be, whether that is to be the best Coach or run the most successful Box, be open to letting the universe help and let all of the unnecessary business fall away. A car dashboard only displays a handful of necessary information. Why? Because that is what’s important right here, right now. Focus on what is important, what direction you need to go in, and you’ll be amazed at how easy it will be to find your treasure.

Eric Karls is a founder of CrossFit 859 in Nicholasville, Kentucky. He also helped open CrossFit Fisticuffs in Georgetown, Kentucky, and is the founder/supervisor of Georgetown College CrossFit. Eric can be followed on his personal Facebook or contacted at crossfit859eric@gmail.com.

1 Comment