If I look at anything that I have done well or that has been a success in my reasonably short tenure on this planet it has been the things, I have stuck with through thick and thin. When it comes to lifting I decided a long time ago that all I really cared about was how much I could squat, bench and deadlift these are the only lifts I have made progress in for the past 12 years that I have been lifting. I got distracted for times like the hilarious period where I tried to take up weightlifting as a former rugby player with a 180 kg bench press and destroyed shoulder joints this adventure was far from inspirational.
The same is true in either business or my social life, I used to be pretty handy at Tekken the video game because I used to come home from school and play it for 3-4 hours non-stop for the guts of 2-3 years. I’m still pretty reasonable even though I didn’t really play for the past 10 years, I got reasonable at StarCraft in 2011-2014 I was never really any good but it’s difficult to become good at a game where the standard is so absurdly high literally hundreds of thousands of players almost treating it like a full time job it’s pretty hard to stick out. The aspects of what I do for a living – strength programming, coaching and writing probably first and foremost (although I make nothing out of writing) are the areas in business where I hold good strengths.
What all these avenues or areas of my life have in common is that I do them come sunshine or rain. If you want to be really good at something you need to stick at it for a long time not in the order of months but in the order of decades if you want to be genuinely good at something. It’s not enough just to show up every day although that is the starting point.
You have to push yourself out of your comfort zone on an almost daily basis.
Consistency of challenge is one of the things that definitely separates those who are successful vs those who just take part. In lifting or sport if you don’t want to vomit or get scared even thinking about a workout or competition coming up chances are you are stagnating.
The worst thing you can do in any area of performance is become comfortable. Comfort breads complacency and competition treats complacency with the contempt it deserves. You catch yourself just going through the motions then you need to do something to shake yourself out of what you are doing. That’s not to say that you need to be red lining it 24-7 as discussed in previous articles this is a terrible idea. Being out of your comfort zone can be doing exercises that you don’t like but benefit from or making it to all of your training sessions no matter what.
The cliche (and actually not very factually sound saying) – steel sharpens steel – is true if you want to progress or better yourself you need to put yourself in harms way or train in an environment where you aren’t allowed to coast or just show up.
You need to be your harshest critic every day.
The people who post up shite about loving yourself no matter what aren’t the ones out there doing big things in the world have you ever noticed? Either that or they are mouth pieces who are famous for having abs or pushing their tits out in Instagram. Telling yourself you’re a strong independent women or the strongest man that no one has ever heard about is going to do fuck all for your performance in the real world of sport and objective outcomes.
In the real world of outcome based measures and performance based outcomes your subjective well-being means nothing. Realise that this might not be a healthy attitude or might not be the best mentality for everyone in every situation but if you want to be a healthy person or do what is best for your mental state then trying performance sport or trying to be the best you can be isn’t really for you.
The people who always ask more of themselves or who are never content with their lot are the ones who go on to become the best athletes or lifters whom I have coached. The folk who need consistent reassurance or seek praise fall by the way side 99% of the time if you want a fun environment to be in join a support network not a sport.
You need to consistently expect more of those around you.
Great athletes, coaches or lifters drag the standards of those who they coach or train with up. Shit athletes, coaches or lifters pull the standards of those who they coach or train with down. It doesn’t matter if you are physically lifting with the group it’s about how you interact with each other, how you apply praise and how you expect those around you to act and deliver.
If someone does something that lets them or you down in a training session a good athlete or lifter will call them out and make sure that they address what is wrong. An also ran or someone who isn’t destined to become good at what they do will let it stand unaddressed or won’t take the onus on themselves to take action. If no one does this task which is quite frankly a pain in the ass then standards in your training group will slip and as a result the performance of the group will slip down with it. Never let bullshit stand unaddressed not unless you want to wade through shit ever day in training.
You need to consistently suppress negative Nancy
Everyone has that little cunt who sits on your shoulder saying whatever you’re doing isn’t good enough or who makes you stalk your rivals on social media to see what they are up to or how things or going. You need to push this little person’s head under water and keep it there until they stop kicking. You can’t entertain lots of self-doubt into your daily self-talk as a lifter or in any physical limit based sport because the sport and training will chew you up and spit you back out.
When what you do is consistently feedback as weight lifted on the bar or time to completion for an event you can’t escape your own capabilities it’s there for you to see every time you complete a training session. The poor mind set will let the day to day swings in training define who they are or to affect their mind-set totally. The strong mind-set will focus on the big picture and make the most of that session.
Even if the upswing of the session or competition was that the training cycle you just did was complete and utter dog shit and you need to learn from it. The strong willed athlete or lifter will take the lessons the weak willed athlete or lifter will crumble into despair.
You need to consistently welcome critical appraisal, the harsh light of day and the acid test of competition.
Competitions can be really fun places to be, they can be really shitty places to be as well. They will expose you to the cold harsh light of reality, lifters who massage their egos in training and squat high in competition will scream and rile like the weak people they are when their lifts get turned down in competition. The competitor or strong willed lifter will accept it for what it is and squat deeper in future both in competition and training.
If you want to go anywhere in life, never mind lifting or athletics/sport you have to expose yourself to the elements on a consistent basis. That coach who doesn’t stroke your ego or that training partner who calls you out for being a shit house in training these are the people you need in your life. If you have a business partner who only tells you how much profit you’re going to make or how awesome your business is going to be that person will sink you. Always take care of the downside in your planning and periodisation, the upside takes care of itself.
I’ve lost count of the amount of talented lifters who I have come across who weren’t ready for competition because they wouldn’t win that’s a fucking weak attitude. Players who have been told by coaches that they need to achieve x, y and z who go on to achieve nothing and then wonder why they aren’t starting week in and week out.
You need to consistently prove yourself to yourself every fucking day you train or go to work if you don’t then don’t expect to go anywhere worth caring about in lifting, sport or life.