WILL: One Word, One Syllable, Infinite Possibilities
By: Steve Moriarty
Fear is inevitable. I think too often we (myself included) talk about not having fear or being fearless. To truly be fearless I think we would have to eliminate our most basic instincts. Fear is the primary emotion that causes the release of adrenaline in the “fight or flight” response. If we did not have this our ancestors may not have survived the early existence of man. So not only would I say it is impractical to eliminate fear, but potentially detrimental to our success.
Fear today is a bit different as the majority of the time it has nothing to do with fighting for our lives. However, it is still a major part of our daily lives. The answer is not to eliminate fear, it is to overcome our fears. To overcome fear, we must first have the will to succeed. This means much more than simply wanting something or hoping for something. To have the will to succeed in the face of fear, to have the will to summon the courage necessary to conquer fear, we must have a burning desire to succeed. An overwhelming passion to accomplish whatever our end goal may be. This is the only way to master our fears and prevail in those pivotal moments where most fail or quit.
Will is what separates the successful from the unsuccessful. Often we will hear others speak of good or bad luck. They call our will to overcome and our persistence in the face of failure good luck. To an outsider it is good fortune that one is able to accomplish something they were not. You will likely not be credited for your resilience through the many failures that will likely happen at the worst moments, when you are most vulnerable. No one wants to credit someone for pursuing their dreams no matter what and having the will to surmount their fears and never give up. On the flip side, people tend to call their lack of will bad luck or misfortune. When they fall short of a goal and quit it is because they were not as lucky as the person who failed countless times and never quit only to ultimately realize success. When they never attempt something they claim to desire it is not a lack of will it is because they do not have the finances, connections, genetics, support, etc. to attempt said undertaking.
We often tend to blame that which we can control on extrinsic factors because it is safe. As far as I am concerned a lack of will is more often the culprit than anything us when it comes to our shortcomings. If we had the will to overcome, the faith in ourselves to persist, the desire to do whatever was necessary to accomplish our goal we would never quit and therefore ultimately succeed. This of course does not mean simply wanting something or believing in something will get us there. There has to be a plan of action and just as importantly action. If we fail at our first attempt we must devise a new plan and not hope to get a different result with the same efforts...I believe a very intelligent man called such a concept “insanity.”
Harnessing the power of our will allows us to reach our potential in all that we apply it to. Once we realize this we can accomplish most anything we put our minds to doing. Making substantial sums of money, organizing a successful non for profit or just trying to live a healthier lifestyle are all things we can attain if we truly desire and have the will to endure when things are hard. Finding that will can be challenging and it will be next to impossible to find it for something that we are not passionate about. For things we truly care about though, that will can give us the confidence and the courage to be inexorable in the pursuit of success. As we learn to apply this will of ours to one aspect of life it becomes easier to harness its power and use it for success in other endeavors. Each time we tell ourselves we “can” our will grows and with it so does our success. The result is a snowball effect of greatness! Beware, that this road travels both ways and the lack of will and submission to fear and failure can also lead to a snowball effect. So break the cycle, conquer fear with your iron will and keep destroying it along with failure every time they rear their ugly heads and try to make you waiver. Master this and success becomes second nature.
Can’t or Won’t?
By: Steve Moriarty
My whole athletic career I was always the guy who believed I could do anything. I knew that if I truly believed in myself and gave my best effort I would be the best. The only problem was I constantly doubted myself and would hold back for fear of failure. Fear of failure is a funny thing, it is a situation in which a a persons hold back because they are afraid of the possibility of giving it their best effort and coming up short. The error in this rationale is that you will likely come up short due to lack of effort. So why not just give 100% and find out what you are capable of, eliminate any doubt and increase your odds of success? Sadly, it is because we rationalize that it is not truly a failure because their was not a true effort. For me, I would get nervous when it mattered...with sports, with girls, with really any situation I felt there was a chance the outcome could be less than favorable. When I got nervous I would give a sub par effort and (not always wittingly) have that lack of effort as my fallback for why I came up short. I never felt like I could not, I just felt scared and I did not.
As a trainer I encounter people on a daily basis who self limit. The tendency is to say that they cannot...often before giving a sincere effort. Although this is not the same attitude I had when I was younger, it is the same core problem. Irrational fears with often little or no basis (hence why they are irrational haha) cause them to hold back. I can think of literally hundreds of instances in which people have told me they “can’t” and so far I have yet to ask someone to do something they have been incapable of...just some things challenging enough that it invoked doubt. By the end of all my nagging, pep talking and sometimes yelling (not too aggressive, but some people need that little extra push), every one of them has managed to succeed at whatever the originally daunting task was.
We all have goals in life. We are all scared at times that we may never reach those goals. In my opinion both these things are good. Obviously having goals is good because it forces us to press forward and continue to grow. To have goals big enough that they may seem unachievable means we are not taking the safe road, but rather striving for what we truly desire. When I quit thinking about whether or not I could and just started doing my success rate with everything I did went through the roof. That is really all there is too it. Quit thinking about “can I?” and just decide on “do I want to?” All goals are set based on our desires, so strive for the greatest extent of your deepest desires. It is not going to benefit you any to aim lower. Why hold back and not find out what you can do? Why achieve less because you “don’t know” if you can achieve more? We spend so much time trying to figure out what is “realistic” or what we are capable of without ever actually applying ourselves...which means we are not actually figuring anything out we are just aiming for targets we already know we can hit. How do you grow with an approach like that? As I found out and as I am sure anyone who has ever experienced this type of thinking...you don’t.
On a daily basis there are a few things I like to tell my clients (not only the people I coach for shows but also general population personal training clients just looking to be healthy):
“Shoot for the stars and even if you fall short you’ve reached the moon.”
“If you do your best you can’t fail.”
“Success is not measured by what we achieve compared to those around us but rather by what we achieve relative to our own abilities.”
“Don’t tell me you can’t, because when you truly can’t you won’t need to tell me”...
Every day we will meet someone who says something to try to hold us or themselves back. These statements are rooted in insecurities. The whole world is full of these self-limiting ideas, statements, concepts. People say what is realistic. We are governed by what is socially acceptable. Everyday presents us with people or situations that will try to limit us, so why would we limit ourselves. If you truly cannot do something, you will find out when you try. You do not need anyone telling you what you can or cannot do...and that includes YOU! If you want something, go for it! If you fall short, analyze, revamp your approach, and try again! The very worst that can happen is you find out you are already achieving the best of your ability. So the worst case scenario is maintenance and the best case scenario...is limitless...
By: Steve Moriarty
The week is over...and it was a tough week. Just finished some light cardio on an “off” day and ready to head home. Feeling broken and defeated as I finish, the perfect song comes on and it inspires an idea. Time for a new challenge! That cardio did not go very well and the last couple workouts were mediocre at best, was tired and skipped dinner yesterday, boss has been on my ass and all I wanted was to remind myself I am capable...of anything.
So I go over to the squat rack, put a plate on each side of the bar (135 pounds). No problem. 100 squats, 100 deadlifts...if I average three seconds per rep I will be out of here in ten minutes. Restart the song and make sure the one on deck will hit me with a boom. Watch ready, set, go!
Reps 1-30 are a breeze, I got this! Reps 31-50, the burn is building and wind fading, but I’m already half way...keep going. Chorus hits and I know its only been about 90 seconds, I’m ahead of schedule. Take a couple deep breaths...51, 52, 53...I can do this. Seventy-five reps down and I am ready to collapse, “don’t stop” I tell myself. Just ten more reps, but the vomit i working it’s way up. I push on, “91...92...93” I think to myself. Almost there. One hundred! Rack the weight, fall to a knee, try not to vomit... “I did it!” I think to myself. Wait. I am only half way there.
Rip the weight off the rack, four minutes forty seven seconds to go. Hit “next” to start a fresh song for round two, grip the bar and start off with a blast like I am on rep one! “14!?!” I think to myself as I am already wanting to quit. “Who’s idea was this!?!” I press on, each rep feel like someone is adding another ten pounds. “Twenty eight...come on, you can do this, it is not the weight stopping you...twenty nine...it is not your body slowing you down...30...it is your mind...31, 32, 33!” Form is wavering but will is strong. Then the fortieth rep hits, the nausea returns with avengence and will starts to waver as well. Faster, slower, nothing helps. The room is spinning. Couple that with the tunnel vision that has lasted for what seems like an eternity. Fifty reps down, half way. Lungs collapsing, legs shaking, grip failing I drop the weight. Again I collapse to a knee, “I can’t do this” I say to myself.
I need to leave with my dignity so I try to rack the weight before I collapse to my back in defeat. Always minding my form, I lift with proper deadlift technique. “Fifty one...past half way...get five more...” I press on. “Get two more, get one more, just make it to 75!” My pace picks up as I round the final bend, five more sets of five left. I count in my head, “76, 77, 78...79.” My legs quivering every inch of every rep. A stitch in my side since rep 21. My lungs heavy, as if I am breathing through a coffee stirrer. Finally I reach eighty, each rep seems like an eternity. I am now doing two reps then stopping for three deep breathes. It does not seem to help. Nothing seems to help. Thoughts are pouring through my head as I battle to complete each rep, “you can’t do this,” “try for all 100 next time,” “this is too much, what are you proving,” “this is stupid” and finally “completing a task given to yourself, achieving a goal, overcoming adversity to better yourself...is never stupid...just twelve more...” I push forth, there are no more bursts left in me. Every rep is accompanied by a pause and a couple heavy breaths. I feel like I want to cry. I look like I want to cry. “Just eight more reps” I assure myself...93...94...it is so close I can taste it. Finally, the most exciting count comes. Number ninety nine. Just one more and I am done, just one more and I can cross this off my list (because if I fail, I obviously have to come back and try it again). One hundred! I drop to the ground and roll to my back. Huffing and puffing I look at my watch, it reads 10:38...that was just today’s time, next time I will do it in ten minutes...
When I actually tried this for the first time it did not go quite so well for me. Everything started just the way it did in my story, but after a brutal experience I ended up on the floor after only completing 50 squats and 27 deadlifts...it was brutal.
I then decided to train for about 3-4 weeks. Increase my cardio training as well as vary my workouts more. The goal, to continue to progress toward my constant goal of achieving my ideal physique and gaining strength while also working toward my new goal...complete 100 squats and 100 deadlifts back to back. It was only while writing this story that I decided to put a time frame on this achievement. I wanted something more than a completion goal so I created it...but had not tried it.
The day after I wrote this I made my second attempt. The final count was 71 squats and 40 deadlifts. This time I made more of an effort to maintain a set pace. I finished averaging about 3.2-3.3 seconds per rep. (here is the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=athTccVGn3U&list=HL1328214724&feature=mh_lolz
Although I have not yet reached the goal I have already written about, I am making markable progress and am confident I will accomplish this feat. I do not have documentation of the first attempt, but did decide to video tape the second attempt and posted the video on youtube. I will be posting biweekly progress updates for anyone who is interested to follow...hopefully I do not have to post too many haha...
The BodyBuilder Inside You
By: Steve Moriarty
Have you ever been told you could not do something? Not in the way of a parent forbidding the actions of a child, but rather in the way of someone saying you were not capable of achieving something you desired? Odds are if you have ever shared your aspirations with another you have encountered this in life. I remember the first time someone told me I could not do something. I was 12 years old and I wanted to set the new bench press record for the 86-100 pound weight division at my middle school. I was about 95 pounds and the current record was at 145 pounds...it had stood unchallenged for over a decade (or in my mind at the time...a lifetime!). Being told I could not do it inspired me for the first time in my short life true will to succeed. The attitude of “failure is not an option.” Had I not been told I it was not within my reach, I may not to this day hold the bench press record for the 86-100 pound weight division at Gower Middle School...most likely I would not have broken the record for the 100-125 pound division the following year (by enough to also be given the record for the 126-150 pound weight division in honor of breaking that record despite being in the division below) and graduated with three bench press records to my name (as well as the single season pin record for my wrestling team, but that is a story for another day).
Now I understand that we do not all strive to break middle school bench press records. I even understand that we do not all aspire to reach our physical potential. My point however is that we do all have goals and aspirations in our lives and in order to achieve these things need the appropriate mentality. For any of us who aspire for something more, something beyond the norm we will almost inevitably be faced with the doubts and criticism of others. The most important thing to remember is these so called “reality checks” have nothing to do with our potential but rather the insecurities of those expressing them. People have a tendency to limit themselves. People come up with notions in their heads of what is realistic or achievable and it is often based on a fear of failure. “If I only aim this high,” they think “I know I will succeed.” That unfortunately is where the story ends for most people. Settling for a life of mediocrity based on nothing more than the fact that the concept of coming up short scares them more than the idea of succeeding excites them. It often is not even due to a lack of passion to achieve a goal so much as an inappropriate focus. Then when they find themselves in this comfortable life style and meet someone looking upward they get uncomfortable and express doubt. My question is “Why?” What benefit does self-doubt achieve? Why share this with others? To protect them or to hold them back and protect yourself? I would have to say it is the latter...
Hopefully there has been something in your life that you have wanted so bad that no amount of negativity from your peers or even superiors could stop your pursuit of success. Assuming you have experienced this my assumption is you did not succeed on your first attempt. You likely had to persevere in the face of multiple failures and learn to be resilient despite a lack of success or support...but you wanted it so you did not quit. If you have experienced this, AWESOME! I say awesome because that means you have experienced one of the greatest feelings in life, setting your mind to a goal that pushes the limitations of yourself as well as what society (or at least your current “society” at that point in your life) deems achievable and you accomplished it! So you know that it is possible, you can achieve beyond what conventional limitations would tend to allow. This could have been anything that you were told you could not do. It does not need to be something so grand it would inspire the world, just something that meant a lot to you at the time. Maybe not everyone was saying you could not (in my experience parents tend to have blind faith in the ability of their children so likely there will be some form of support...even though in childhood it is seldom appreciated), but there was doubt and you pushed harder just to prove to yourself you could do it.
Here is where I am going to blow your mind. In that moment, that one instance that stands out that you are thinking about right now (and for some of you there may be more occasions that come to mind than others), you were a bodybuilder! It may not have been so directly correlated in actions as mine was, but without a doubt it was in your mentality.
After my experience it was quite a few years before I realized I was a bodybuilder. I was a wrestler, that is how I identified myself. Sadly this misidentification allowed me to continue to doubt myself in many instances. To listen to the doubts of others and never know if I was capable. I am not trying to claim that today I always know with 100% accuracy if I am capable, just that I gave up doubt for my lent in 2005 and have not found a reason to reintroduce it into my life.
So as I continued through my identity crisis I had a lot of unfortunate shortcomings in sports as well as life. I did not ask out the pretty girl because she may say “no.” I wrestled a poor match because I was not sure if I could win. As ridiculous as this all sounds I know that everyone has experienced similar situations. Where is the good in that? I am not certain I can achieve so I just won’t try and then I will have a reason for never achieving my goal? It may not be what we are consciously thinking but it is the ultimate deduction for the situation and inevitable outcome. I find it sad that society lends itself to this line of thinking. As if this is healthy or productive...well it is not! So STOP! “...but I don’t know if I can...” THEN TRY YOUR BEST AND FIND OUT!
“Is he going to talk about how any of this relates to bodybuilding or just yell at us?” No need to worry, I am getting there. When I quit wrestling and had a friend introduce me to bodybuilding I finally realized my calling...I was meant to be a bodybuilder. So in sport I became a bodybuilder...but in life I still did not seem to know who or what I was. I was still afraid to ask out the pretty girl. I was still afraid to aspire to make more money. I was still afraid to strive for more with anything outside of the weight room. It was about five years and much adversity before I realized that everything I was doing in the gym had a practical application in life. At my university no one believed it was possible that I had achieve in bodybuilding the things I had without the use of steroids. It hurt me for a long time, I felt like people were tarnishing my accomplishments. Over the years and after a few traumatic life events I finally decided to ask someone for help. I went to student services, signed up for a counselor and started the journey of self-exploration. Throughout the course of the next year is when I came to the realization that all of the negative things people were saying about my achievements in no way were a reflection on how they felt about me but rather how they felt about themselves.
Here is where my true journey began. I started to realize that I liked people making the accusations. I enjoyed the idea that I was achieving things that most did not think possible and I wanted to go even further. So I continued to push and reached a point that even many of my friends did not believe I was not taking steroids. That is when it hit me, bodybuilding is not a sport, it is a way of life. A way of life that embraces pushing your limits and being the very best at any and all of your pursuits. Not the best you can be, but the best...and never settling until you get there...and then never settling so that you can retain that rank for, well, ideally forever! So at this point I decided to start experimenting. If I went out I would get the number of the prettiest girl in the bar or club. If my goal for work was to sell “x” dollars, I would try to sell 2x or 3x. When someone challenged me to try an mma fight, not just try it out but go out there and win in 68 seconds against an opponent who had been training for two years to my four weeks! I am not saying I started excelling in every walk of life. I am not even saying that I never hit a slump or that I am infallible. I will say though that the “heart of a bodybuilder” helped me find the will to believe in myself...and in the absence of doubt we are bound to succeed, if not immediately, eventually in all of our endeavors. You cannot fail if you never quit trying and who would quit trying to achieve their goals/aspirations if they believed they were able to reach said goals?
This is why I say there is a bodybuilder in all of us. We are all possess the power to accomplish even our greatest aspirations. It starts with knowing we can do this and not quitting when the going gets tough. The tendency I have found for most people in the gym is to say “I can’t” even when I know they can. My response is prove it. If you truly are incapable of lifting that weight, doing your next lunge or holding that plank for another ten seconds you do not have to tell me, I will see that you cannot. When you lead with “I can’t” and follow with quitting then it was not an inability, it was you setting up mental barriers to protect your fragile ego from the possibility of failure. As I mentioned, we all tend to set our “limitations” a couple steps below our true capacities. This allows us to allows succeed...or does it? Failure is a benchmark for our current abilities and the only true way to measure success. If you do five pushups today and quit, then do six next week, did you improve or just come one step closer to your true potential? If you never realize your true potential how do you measure when you improve? If you already had the tools for successful completion of a task then you never challenged yourself enough to grow. All that being said, I do not think you can truly succeed if you are not growing or bettering yourself. My examples may come from the gym but they are a reflection of a negative mentality. If you quit here when it gets hard, you are likely going to quit in other areas you claim to care about.
So go to the gym, walk on a treadmill, do some squats or lunges, try lifting some weights. Go until you are winded, fatigued and noticing that lovely burn caused by lactic acid build up in your muscles. When you do not think you can go one more minute, take one more stride or do one more rep, say “F!&? that! I can do this!” and keep going. Not with some ridiculous weight that you will hurt yourself, just something that becomes more challenging than you want to try to endure. Then get that one more minute...and maybe even another after that! Go until you do not think you can keep going then keep going anyway! Then when it is all said and done, look back and realize that you just did fifteen minutes more on the treadmill than you thought you could, or twenty more lunges, or five more reps on the chest press. Now use this as fuel with your next challenge. Let it have a synergistic effect on your life to fulfill your dreams with your relationships, work, spiritual conquest...and of course your physique! Go unlock the bodybuilder inside you and unleash it on the world! Because if someone has to be successful, why not you!?!