Are you a Caesar or Augustus? Build Self-Awareness to Train Effectively

Heard of Julius Caesar?

Julius Caesar wanted to tear up the Roman Republic.

He wanted to forcefully convert it into a full-on, autocracy (at least temporarily).

He created a love of the common man that discarded the opinions of the politicians.

Although he himself was not successful to realizing a Roman peace, he paved the way for his heir, Octavian to have the resources to do so.

Augustus proved a great choice.  He used his exceptional skills as an administrator, building a bridge that transitioned a decaying republic into a peaceable empire.  In fact, he spent his entire life doing so.

The Diversity of Personality

It’s amazing how different personalities thrive in different situations, and adapt.  Personality is why some of us can be cavalier Otto Von Bismarck, who loved duelling, but hated colonial expansion of Germany.

caesar otto von bismarck
The image of an anti-colonialist, who would still shoot you if you looked at his dog wrong.

Or someone could be a healer like Mother Theresa.  She helped so many people in need yet still harbored racial perceptions that would be considered racist in today’s context.

So if personality is so volatile, especially with respect to personal experience, and character, why talk about it at all?

Whether if it’s training, human history, or other industry, behavioral trends make themselves apparent    It’s through an awareness of these trends that we can adjust actions towards a goal.  In fact, information on personality can possibly explain our behavior.  It could even provide a means to overcome an obstacle toward our goals.

There’s an article on T-Nation by Christian Thibaudeau, where he talks about how when it comes to workout-programming you have two kinds of people.

  1. 1.  The Programmer

This is the kind of person who follows a program that is given to them or that they found and they act on it to a ‘T’.

These folks just walk in and walk out.  Now obviously any generalization always comes with the caveat of individual exceptions but here are still trends.

  1. 2.  The Micro-Manager

You also have the person who loves to micro-manage every aspect to their training.  From recovery parameters, to the total volume per training session, to exercise order; this person sees each training session as a tree to customize as part of a unique forest.  

Coach Thibaudeau, also points that neither of these types of people are superior.

What’s important is to know the strengths and pitfalls of each preference.

If your’ more of a micromanager, maybe it would be better to set a big picture vision, like Augustus Caesar.  In this way, you can realize the session by session changes based upon how the forest will be.  In fact, regularly referring back to that big picture vision could help keep things in perspective.

On the flip side, if you’re someone who diligently follows a big-picture philosophy, being attuned to how you’re adapting at the smaller scale could help you deal with issues before they become serious.

In fact, maybe making slight modifications to a bigger program, could help you in not giving up on a day of training.

Maybe it can help you get through a slump?

Even if that slump is so bad that you feel like you’re in the dark ages!

Julius Caesar and Augustus both thrived in their specific roles.  However to be able to cross through and really succeed, they had to still do well in the areas that weren’t their strengths.  Julius Caesar was a pretty decent administrator and Augustus HAD to maintain the love of the common people in order to have the same dominance as his adoptive father, Julius.

It’s on that note that I wanted to transition from PERSONALITY into something that we’re more familiar with:  CHARACTER.

Personally, growing up, the only places that really re-enforced CHARACTER were in sports or in religious education, and of course by parents.  The reason I mention it is that several sources point out that as a society, we have been moving towards a world of personality when, for hundreds of years, we lived in a world that emphasized character.

belisarius caesar
This is Belisarius. He had the kind of character where everytime he succeeded, he got shafted…and he still poured on the excellence for those he represented.

Now, when I say emphasize character, that doesn’t mean being more chivalrous than a care bear fantasy land.  It means that people’s characters are highlighted above their personalities.

You’ll remember from a post from last year, that the famous Byzantine general, Belisarius, helped re-conquer much of the lost-western Roman Empire territories, he was lauded in the histories as the “last of the True Romans”.  By that I mean one of the last leaders to embody the Roman character in popular narrative.

Even in the world of religion and spirituality, whether you ascribe to a view of action/inaction, a call to moral character is made.

Actually, I think the world of fitness is one of the few places where character is still emphasized.  Strength and conditioning coach, Joe DeFranco has an acronym called G.A.M.E.R. to describe the character of his athletes.   He describes them as being: goal-oriented, accountable, motivated, exact, and resilient.

It’s all about CHARACTER.

Another example of the role of character and its importance is from the ancient Romans’ perceptions on the ideal roman soldier.  The person who was from the city was more valued than the physically superior farm boy.  Why?  It was because the city boys embodied the WHY behind military service.

They understood the responsibility of military service.  In fact, this idea was probably ingrained into their minds from when they were very young.  This upbringing would most likely not have been very common in the rural, farmer’s son.  The farmer’s boy would have been raised to have responsibility for the maintenance of the family farm and estate.

Just like how exercises are simply tools to reach a goal, personality is just an expression of a person’s accrued behavioural patterns measured at a given point in time.  Albeit subjectively as well!  However, we can still gain SOME information about ourselves and even others

Check out this clip from the television show, Rome from HBO.

See the way that Octavian sets the tables for everyone else.  He’s very calculated.  Antony is a great orator and fighter.  While Lepidus, who became one of Caesars’s top generals, was a pure military guy, very foreign in the world of politics.   Each of these people, shared similar responsibilities, yet their personalities showcased a type of behavioural pattern.

What are your patterns?

Are you overlooking something crucial in your own training?

These are all questions I think we should ask ourselves in order to move forward.

And to re-iterate, Christian Thibaudeau said its necessarily bad to favor a certain type of personality preference.  However, we need to find ways to reach our goals through jail-breaking those behavioral patterns.