The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889. At 984 feet (300m) tall, it was an achievement for its time. It weighed 9700 tons and was built to withstand the additional weight of 729 tons of visitors. It was erected on the soft banks of the Seine, and two of its four foundation pilings were built extra large to accommodate the softer earth near the river.
When I was studying Architecture in college, one of our assignments was to calculate the total mass and weight of the four foundations. I was surprised at how massive the foundations were. But compared to the total mass and size of the Tower itself, they didn’t seem like they were enough for the job. But the foundations have held, the Tower still stands.
The World Trade Center was opened in 1973, after 12 years of planning, consulting, and building. The massive towers house 15 miles of elevator shafts reaching to 120 floors. Twenty-three acres of land was added to Manhattan to support the buildings. The buildings were designed to withstand 80 mph winds, minor earthquakes, and yes – a direct hit from a Boeing 747. To support all this weight, including furniture, office equipment, employees, visitors, and such, the foundations were buried seventy feet into the newly established Manhattan soil.
When one goes to the gym for the first time, they are encouraged to build on a good foundation. Core strength, established by compound movements, are essential for safe and successful progress. Without a good foundation of core strength and cooperative coordinated muscular movement, future exertions may lead to disastrous injuries.
While foundations in any project are essential, they aren’t the first consideration in any endeavor.
We must first decide what we are to build.
We must have a plan in mind, we must focus on a direction. The foundation of the Eiffel Tower is much different than that of the World Trade Center, or even the new One World Center. All these are different from the foundation of your house.
So we begin with our desired outcome, the end product. Once we have an idea of what we are hoping to achieve finalized, we can begin to build a foundation.
I’m no longer talking about buildings. I’m talking about life.
Let’s look at athletics.
Michael Phelps, Rulon Gardner, Usain Bolt, and Arnold Schwarzenegger all trained differently because they had a different plan. They had different goals and wanted to build different products. Their bodies were going to be put to different uses and their foundations were built to reflect these plans.
Stephen King, Bob Costas, Tom Clancy, and John Grisham all built their foundations differently. While their chose field is more closely related than the athletes mentioned above, they each apply their craft in different ways and therefore needed to build different foundations.
All these examples are mentioned because their goals determined their foundations. They set a goal first, sought after it with laser focus, and built the foundations necessary to achieve greatness.
Tell me why you’re different.
What are your goals? What will it take to achieve them? What foundations are necessary to support the weight of your dreams?
Visualize your goals first, then build the essential foundation to support them.
I started lifting weights at thirteen. I had no goal in mind other than to get stronger. I saw “Pumping Iron” and knew what I wanted. I read every magazine and article I could get my hands on and learned all I could.
I started martial arts training at eighteen and my foundation was already built. I saw Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee Jean-Claude Van Damme and I wanted to emulate them. They became my goals and I trained consistently and constantly.
I set a new goal at twenty-five to join the Police Department. My foundation of strength, athleticism, and self defense were firmly established.
This foundation was dug into the earth of my life by the habits of discipline and determination.
When I started Reiki training, it led me to explore other healing modalities. My foundations in anatomy, physiology, exercise science, martial arts, stretching and other health issues developed over a lifetime of study put me in a perfect position to absorb these new disciplines.
I’m now studying Therapeutic Massage at Ivy Tech. I feel I have a grasp on many of the topics due to my endless pursuit of fitness and holistic health. When I’m finished, I will be able to combine massage, reiki, and acupressure in one session for a holistic approach to rejuvenation.
All this is based on my early desire to become strong and fit at thirteen. While I didn’t have a goal of being a massage therapist then, my ever-evolving goals and desires have led me to build greater foundations capable of supporting my dreams.
Foundations are made of habits. Habits are built on discipline. Discipline often requires us to look at something bigger than ourselves as motivation to do the hard things, or to keep practicing the basics of a skill until it is second nature. Discipline is what separates the exceptional from the mediocre.
Once a habit is developed, it allows us the inner strength to move into new and unfamiliar places. Inner strength, discipline, habits, determination allow us to tackle the greatest opponent in our lives – ourselves. Once we conquer ourselves, we can face any fear, surmount any obstacle, overcome any hardship, and defeat any adversity.
Discipline builds habits. Habits build foundations. Foundations help you survive adversity. Adversity builds fortitude. Fortitude achieves goals.
Set your goal, build your foundation. Start today.