Saturday, June 1, 2013

What the weight room taught me about life, and business

Three years ago, I wrote an article about how strength training has affected me since I started training almost 30 years ago (that is a good article to give some perspective on this one).   I received more feedback from that piece than any other article I have penned to date.  It seemed appropriate to dive into the same topic and list my top ten lessons that the weight room/lifting weights taught me:
  1. DISCIPLINE.  As a rebellious teen, I was searching for new ways to express my pent-up frustrations and lifting became my primary outlet.  I also was beginning to understand that true discipline means giving up things you enjoy so you can stay laser-focused on your Goals.
  2. STRUCTURE & ROUTINE.  There is nothing worse than going through each day (and life) without accomplishing matter how trivial.  Knowing that I had to train on a certain day meant that everything revolved around that hour:  eating, sleeping, preparing.  Without that structure, I would not have DISCIPLINE.
  3. SANCTUARY.  The sound of metal plates and barbells, loud music, obnoxious, human-like grunts and groans.  They are the sounds that I loved and made me feel at home.  No matter what was going on in the outside world, I knew that I was at peace in my own little corner of the gym.
  4. PERSEVERANCE.  No matter if I had a good or average training session, I was never content.  "The next time I train I will lift even more!"  Now that I look back, that may not have been the best mode of thinking but it is amazing how youth can influence your immortality.
  5. PHYSICAL IQ.  There are several forms of intellect - book smarts, street smarts, emotional, cognitive, etc. - and lifting weights can enhance those but it truly is a great way to increase your body awareness and physical expression.
  6. RELATIONSHIPS.  The meatheads in the gym were some of the most interesting characters I have ever met.  Some were guys who lifted, while others were immersed in the culture (drugs, supplements, competing, dysmorphia).  I loved all of them and we were a tribe of like-minded individuals who shared a common bond.  While I haven't trained for several years, I still keep in touch with many of them.
  7. INDIVIDUALISM. While this may seem to contradict #6, at the end of the day, lifting weights was a very solitary lifestyle, bordering on lonely.  Unless you were "one of us", it was viewed as abnormal, especially eating all the time!  While I like team sports, lifting/bodybuilding appealed  to my reclusive personality.  You are in control of 100% of your results and that accountability is hard to find in other training and team sports.
  8. GOAL SETTING/COMPETITION.  Every rep....Every minute of sleep....Every chicken breast.  They all mattered and moved you closer to a goal.  In my case, setting foot onstage in bodybuilding competitions.  Win or lose, it was a driving force that made all the Sacrifice worth it.
  9. RESPECT.  More often than not, I walked out of the gym with a mix of fatigue and accomplishment, but always respected the weights as if they were living things who had just "played" with me for an hour.  They were there for a purpose and I just was along for the ride.
  10. HUMILITY.  Similar to RESPECT, lifting weights can teach you a great deal about humility (if you remove your ego).  "So you want to deadlift 500?  How about you start with the 100 first?!"  It was always humbling to see others lift more than me.  Plus, I always remained humble no matter how much I was lifting or how well I placed in a competition.
There are probably more but these were the first ten that popped in my head.  The biggest message, however, is that all of the above have also helped shape my attitude toward owning a business.  I hope you enjoyed these and can apply some or all to your journey of lifting and training.

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