What is Determination?

What exactly is determination? In my experience I believe that there are natural laws such as gravity that are not simply created - they exist whether we want to admit it or not. Gravity just is. You can call it what you want or you can even try to fight against it, but it is there. Always has been and always will be. It is a perfect example of a natural law. Principles used in affecting epic success likewise are natural laws. They just are. They just exist. Understanding them and living with them is key to operating at maximum capacity in your life and truly affecting epic results. Determination is one such principle. When asked what determination is, I have a simple and short answer: it is a natural law of epic success. Embrace it, understand it, live it and you will begin to unfold within you marvelous capacities.

The principle of determination is a powerful and deep rooted element of affecting epic. Like all principles, you can develop a greater mastery of them with practice. The larger your understanding and commitment to a principle, the greater your capacity within the operation of that principle as well as your overall global capacity to succeed.

Ben's Office: Pain is Temporary - Quitting is Forever
Ben's Office: Pain is Temporary - Quitting is Forever

Determination can best be understood by not allowing any quit. It really is that simple; a person's level of determination can be measured by how long they can not quit. Obstacles and challenges will inevitably get in the way of our goals. It is never if something will try to prevent us from reaching our goal, but rather when that something, someone, event, circumstance, etc. pops up and then appears to make your path unattainable. What do you then? Do you stop (i.e. quit) or do you press forward? How much difficulty can you endure before you quit? I have a sign on my wall in my office that says: "Pain is Temporary - Quitting is Forever." How true that is.

As odd as this may sound, solid and perfect determination will result in mental breakdown, physical failure, death, etc. before one quits. A perfect determination knows no bounds. While in our personal lives, relationships, and corporate world we are not often in a position to die trying to achieve our goals, it is still helpful to have a "die trying" resolve. It is my belief that anyone can begin developing a stronger determination, and even a perfect determination.

Understanding how to develop determination is relatively straight forward. There are 3 essential elements to developing determination. Understanding this principle and how it works will change your life. These elements are in and of themselves principles with layers of depth to each of them. More articles will be written later on these individual principles.

Clarity. First is the principle of clarity. You must be clear as to what your intention is. What is it that I am trying to affect? Cause? Achieve? Influence? What is my intention? Be clear with your objective. When the going gets tough the tough get going... or phrased in our way: When your on the path towards achieving your goal and it gets so difficult that it seems impossible to succeed you will quit IF you aren't clear with what it is you are trying to achieve. Clarity of intention is key. Impossible to be determined and not know what you are doing, or working for. That is not determination that is just inefficient and doomed to fail effort.

Commitment. Once you are clear as to what you want you must be committed to it. This is no casual statement or declaration. True Commitment is deep within you and rooted in your desire to actually get what you want to get. Said another way, commitment is an outward expression of an inward dedication. Commitment in my sense of the word is much more a verb than a noun. Your inward dedication or commitment (the noun) is manifest in your outward commitment (the verb). True Commitment is an unbreakable promise. It is deep in your soul and a part of you. Commitment is different than just saying you are on board with an idea or goal. It is so deep it is almost a physical offering of the soul to your goal. Your ability to make lasting and true commitments will be strengthened by understanding and living the principle of integrity (discussed later).

Grit. Not to be confused with determination. Grit is the essence of inner strength to hang on to your commitment. Grit is a cousin to Determination. I understand Grit as strength of character and resolve. The sort of inner strength to be able to have clarity and commitment. See, our brain and our soul need to be strong enough to have a space for clarity and commitment to flourish. We need grit to be able to breed, nourish and cling onto the other elements. If the motor of determination is firing on all cylinders then think of grit (or strength of character) as the engine block with the strength to hold all of the power and torque of this incredible 2 cylinder motor. Clarity and Commitment being the firing horsepower behind your determination. In this sense it is an essential element in our formula for Determination. Clarity + Commitment + Grit = Determination.

Determination Formula
Determination Formula

Recently I was able to re-experience true determination in my life. I was one of 9 finishers in the June 2016 Race Across the West (RAW). I made it as a solo cyclist. I barely made it, but I made it. RAW is a 930.4 mile non-stop bicycle race from Oceanside CA to Durango CO. Yes, non stop and in the dead heat of mid summer. You only have 92 hours to complete it which means you are on your bicycle the entire time. A few bathroom breaks, etc. but NO hotels or lengthy sleep breaks. Just non stop peddling and approximately 50,000 feet of accumulated elevation gain.

This race is and will always be epic. About 60 of us started. 9 of us finished. Many quit after a few hundred miles with heat exhaustion, dehydration, and more. Many were hospitalized. And some just gave up. I started RAW with a clear intention of finishing. I had my deeply personal reasons why this was important to me and that fueled my commitment to succeed. Having focused intentionally on developing determination and grit I was one of the fortunate ones who had been mentally prepared for the strenuous toll this race would inevitably take on each of us.

Ben Dodge RAW 2016 Shermer's Neck
Ben Dodge RAW 2016 Shermer's Neck

As predicted, it got real hot and real difficult real fast. I remember feeling overwhelmed and over heated in the first few hours of the first day. I pressed forward. Eventually developing pulmonary edema, hyper tension, coughing up blood, severely restricted airflow, and more. About half way through I developed a painful neck condition called Shermer's Neck. I was physically unable to hold my head up on my own and it would just painfully flop down on my chest. With the help of my support crew we rigged a solution to allow me to continue riding. We fashioned a blanket in a roll and tied it together with gauze and tied it under my chin and around my helmet to prop my head up. This allowed me to continue on for 2 more days to the finish.

The point of me telling this experience, is that I understand Determination. I get it. I know what it is like experience the success from developing and living this principle. I was the least trained and most overweight cyclist that attempted RAW 2016, yet I finished and the others didn't. I know many cyclists who quit with far less issues than I encountered because it just got too hard.

When we know what we want and we commit to doing it/getting it, etc. then determination can see you through. This is a life changing principle. Practice it. Develop it. Live it. It will bring you much success on your own journey to affecting epic.

-Ben Dodge

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