Your years are not your age, especially if you're an athlete. Learn Dr. Biasiotto's personal perspective on the fountain of youth.
What are the chances of becoming a world class athlete?
Actually...not very good. Less then one percent of all athletes who participate in competitive sports ever reaches an elite level. As an example, consider the odds of making it in professional basketball. Each year approximately 250,000 high school seniors participate in inter-scholastic basketball. Of these seniors, approximately 12,000 will receive college scholarships. Out of that 12,000 around 200 players will be drafted by the N.B.A.; but only about 50 will actually be offered a contract. Of these fifty, only five will eventually earn a starting position. Of these five, only two will stay in the N.B.A. for more then five years. Unfortunately the odds of making it big in any other sport are not much better.
What does it take to reach a world class level?
According to John Lather, a renowned sports researcher, the number one variable related to elite performance is time spent in training. Lather estimates that 20 hours of quality training per week for a period of eight years (approximately 10,000 cumulative hours) appears to be the amount of work required to reach a world class level. Lather emphasizes that it is 20 hours of quality training - with great intensity, not just the time spent in training that is required for elite performance.
How many hours do world class athletes train?
It has been established that the average world class athlete trains approximately 23 hours a week. Interestingly, the average athlete in America trains approximately 12 hours a week.
Do world class athletes train the same way?
Surprisingly, no! A survey conducted by Richard Cox of 367 elite athletes revealed that although they apply basically the same principles of training - progressive resistance and the overload principle - few elite athletes actually train the same way. In fact, there is a large variance in their training methods. Again, motivation and commitment seems to be the common bond between world class athletes - they all tend to train with high intensity and purpose.
How many hours do world class athletes sleep?
According to researchers, world class athletes sleep an average of 520 minutes per night - 8.75 hours a night. That is approximately an hour more sleep than what researchers Frederick Backeland and Ernest Hartmann found for the average person. According to those researchers, the average person sleeps 7.5 hours per night.
Are world class athletes intelligent?
In general, superior athletes possess average and above average l.Q.'s. For example, in a recent study of the intelligence levels of elite athletes in Europe, their average l.Q. was found to be 112 (S.D. 9.0). In similar studies conducted in America, the l.Q. of superior athletes ranged on average from 96 to 107.
Do world class athletes have esoteric information that affords them a greater opportunity for success?
No! A survey conducted by Martin Miller of 427 world class athletes revealed that they did not have access to any information that the general public could not attain. However, it was found that elite athletes have a greater knowledge of the available information. They also use the information to benefit their performance more so than non elite athletes. In other words, world class athletes are more knowledgeable about their sport because they study more, not because they have access to esoteric information.
How long do world class athletes play their sport?
Not so good. The average elite athlete will die by the age of 67. That is considerably lower then the 76 year life expectancy of the average American. Do you want to hear something that is really scary? According to the NFL Players Association, the average life expectancy of an NFL player is 58 years of age.
What is the marital status of world class athletes?
Elite athletes marry at about the same rate (73%) as everyone else, but their divorce rate is considerably higher. A recent study revealed that 57% of the marriages of elite athletes ends in divorce. It might also be noted that many of these divorces take place during the first year following retirement. For example, the NFL Players Association estimates that during the first year following termination, 50% of the marriages of ex-professional football players end in divorce.
Are world Class athletes sexually active?
Yes! According to studies conducted by Philip Whitten and Elizabeth Whiteside, the average world class athlete engages in sexual intercourse 3.4 times a week. That frequency is significantly higher then Alfred Kinsey reported for men and women of the same age (20's and 30's). According to Kinsey most people in that age bracket engage in sexual coitus 7 times a month and/or 1.7 times a week.
What is the personality profile of world class athletes?
According to a review of the research literature by William Morgan, the psychological profiles of elite athletes are superior to those found for lower classification athletes and the normal population. In terms of psychological states, world class athletes score low in tension, depression, anger, fatigue, and confusion, but extremely high in self confidence, mental toughness, and determination. This psychological profile is distinctly different from the profiles found for non-elite athletes and the normal population. Interestingly, non elite athletes have just about the same psychological profile as the normal population. They tend to experience more anxiety, confusion, depression, fatigue and anger then their elite counterpart. They also exhibit significantly less confidence, mental toughness and determination.
Do all world class athletes use steroids?
No! Although there is strong evidence to indicate that many world class athletes use performance enhancing drugs, there is no evidence to indicate that all elite athletes use such drugs. In fact, recent estimates indicate that approximately 40% of elite athletes never used performance enhancing drugs.
Are world class athletes highly respected?
In general, yes. However, there is considerable research which indicates that the normal population tends to perceive elite athletes as being egotistical, aggressive, and intellectually inferior. Also, there is a linear relationship between performance and acclamation. In other words, accolades are contingent upon performance - no performance - no accolades. Many athletes in retirement find this very phenomenon a bitter pill to swallow.
Yours in Strength,
Dr. Judd Biasiotto
I had a wonderful experience recently, one that I would like to share with you. This is a once upon a time escapade…so brace yourself. I of was in the gym working out when a number of bodybuilders started “ragging” me about being an “over the hill” powerlifter. I don’t know if you are aware of it but there is a good- natured rivalry between powerlifters and body builders. Well it’s more like they have an aversion for each other. It’s probably because they don’t really appreciate and/or comprehend each other’s idiosyncrasy. For instance, powerlifter’s don’t understand why every time a pretty girl walks by a bodybuilder, he immediately goes into a posing routine, or why bodybuilders walk like they are trying to carry an ear of corn without using their hands. Conversely, bodybuilders don’t understand why the only thing powerlifters can talk about is steroids, more steroids, and themselves. Like I said good-natured rivalry.
In any event, they were saying that although I was a fairly good powerlifter there was no way in the world I could ever bodybuild. To which I responded, “Anyone can bodybuild…Gumby could bodybuild. Heck, you guys are bodybuilders, so it couldn’t be that hard.” And then they said “OK, then you do it”. And I said, “OK, I will”. Of course, I really didn’t have any intention of doing it. I’m mean lets be real, I was 52 years old at the time and at best I had the body of an eleven- year old stamp collector. A relatively plump stamp collector at that. I hate to admit this but I looked like I had been training at the International House of Pancakes rather than at the local gym. I was probably more a candidate for the pudding belly Olympics than a physique contest. Consequently, my chance of competing in bodybuilding was about as good as Mr. Ed competing in the Kentucky derby. In other words, I was just running my mouth…that’s all. I had absolutely no intention of entering any contest. Everyone in the gym knew I was just bluffing, but they weren’t going to let me get away with it. The next day they presented me with an application to “THE GEORGA” the biggest bodybuilding championship in the state.
That’s when the “trash talk” really started. “You won’t go,” they said. “You don’t have the guts to compete in a real sport…You’re an old man ... I’ve seen better legs on a high chair…You do have arms like Schwarzennegger, Maria’s not Arnold’s”… and on… and on… and on. Naturally, I talked my share of trash too, but I still wasn’t about to back up anything I was saying. Like I said I was just talking trash.
Then when I was getting ready to leave Chuck Mansfield, the very best bodybuilder in our gym, came over to me and said “ Judd, go for it, you can do it. I’ll help you.” He was serious. I thought this guy is crazy. I’ll get killed. But then he started with all this positive thinking stuff. About how I was a world class athlete, and that I knew what it took to be great. And that if I totally committed myself like I did in my powerlifting career that there was nothing I couldn’t do...including being a bodybuilder. He even made reference to a number of quotes that I had in my books. It was one of the best motivational speeches I’ve ever heard. Believe me, he really packed my head. By the time he got done talking to me, he had me convinced that I was the “second coming” of Lee Haney. He had me so pumped up that I filled out the application and sent it in that very day.
And so we began training.- harder then I have ever trained before. A fifty-two-year- old over the hill powerlifter and a twenty-six year- old champion bodybuiler--studying, learning, working—really getting into one another and the sport of body sculpting. It was incredible. For close to three months I drive my mind and body unmercifully. I lost forty pounds and dropped my body fat from 16 percent to 3.8 percent. At THE GEORGIA I stood among the best bodybuilders in the state and guess what? I won. I became the oldest man to ever win the State Bodybuilding Championships. I had literally gone through a metamorphosis-from a pudgy old man to a champion bodybuilder. It was one of my greatest moments as an athlete. It reaffirmed what I always believed to be the truth- that we have the power to do anything or be anything that we want to be. That there is nothing in any aspect of life which is beyond the scope of man. Nothing is hopeless, nothing is impossible, and that there is no boundaries for man.
Well, that was just the beginning. When I returned home Chuck insisted that I start training for the Regional Bodybuilding Championships. “You can do it,” he said. “I’ll help you.” I thought this guy is a lunatic, but somehow he talked me into it. So we started again. For two more months I trained like a madman. Pushing iron from one end of the gym to the other. The training, pain and sacrifice was brutal. I literally pushed my body and soul to the very edge. It was absolutely murder. When it came time I stood among the best bodybuilders in the south and guess what? I won. I became the oldest man too ever win the Southern United States Bodybuilding Championship. In all candor I surprised myself. Once again though it validate in me what could be accomplished if you have a goal and you are committed to achieving that goal.
After the Regional Championships Chuck got this really insane idea. He wanted me to train for the NPC National Championships. Now let me explain something to you right now. The NPC National Bodybuilding Championships is the biggest and most competitive amateur bodybuilding contest in the world, bar none. The athletes that compete at this level are basically professionals. They have their own trainers, nutritionist, and choreographers. Most of them don’t even have real jobs. They train three to five hours a day and they typically use gargantuan amounts of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. Believe me these guys place a higher priority on their sport than they do on work, family, interpersonal relationships, and even their own health. In fact, they seem quite willing to sacrifice the very essence of life just to achieve greatness. Nothing matters to them-just their sport. In short, their whole world is bodybuilding. Everything else savors of anticlimax.
I knew that’s what I would be up against if I decided to compete at the Nationals. I was also aware that there was a good chance that I would be defeated and that just to be competitive at that level would require tremendous sacrifice, suffering, and determination. To be perfectly honest though, I really wanted to go to Nationals. I wanted to see how I would measure up against the very best athletes in the sport. I’ve always felt that to be the best you have to compete against the best. I would much rather come in dead last at the Nationals then first place in the All-Backyard or All-Neighborhood Championships. I mean that. I see no significance in winning a title that is basically bogus. Even Aristotle made the distinction between titles and merit when he wrote, “Dignity does not consist in possessing honors but in deserving them. Besides, in sports and in life you have to risk. You have to take chances if you want to be somebody. You have to reach out, put yourself on the line, if you’re going to be a part of life. If your not willing to risk, you can’t grow, you can’t experience all the wonders of life. I firmly believe that in order to reach the top, an athlete has to know how to live on the edge. He has to enjoy the element of risk and danger -- at least to a reasonable degree. Consequently, with that in mind I decided to go to the NPC Nationals. It was an easy decision.
As a result we started again. This time I was determined to squeeze out the maximum of what I had left. As far as I was concerned there was no tomorrow. As before I drove myself unmerciful. I pushed steel, heavy steel, for three hours a day, six days a week. Each training day, I would push myself to the limit, both mentally and physically. Some days I worked my legs so hard that I could barely walk out of the gym I also gave my back, chest, arms, and abdominal muscles similar attention. I did sit-ups until my “abs” screamed in pain. I showed myself no mercy. I never worked as hard in my entire life-never. My intensity and drive easily transcended anything that I experienced during my entire powerlifting career. Some days my entire body actually racked in pain.
When my training was complete I was literally ripped to the bone. My body fat was 2.7 percent and my muscles were thick and dense. Remarkable, after less then 10 months of training I was ready to compete against the best of the best. Think about that for a second. Here I was a 52 year-old drug free over the hill powerlifter primed to compete at the biggest and best bodybuilding Championship in the world. Like I said nothing is impossible, nothing is beyond the scope of man..
Now here is something else you need to know. I'm just an ordinary guy, just like you. I have no special gifts that God gave me. I'm not a Michael Jordan or an Albert Einstein; I'm just an everyday guy. Anything I can do you can do; and many of you can probably do it better. I promise you that. All it takes is commitment, sacrifice and hard work.
Anyway, when it was time I stood among some of the worlds greatest bodybuilders-the very best that America had to offer-on stage at the World Congress Center in Atlanta Georgia. Here I was Mr. Ed at the Kentucky Derby. I had gone beyond the boundaries of what most people believed was possible for a man my age and abilities. In fact, I had gone beyond what I thought was my breaking point and I succeeded. For an athlete, there is no moment more precious in life. It is the “white” moment. The moment in time that an athlete trains a life time just to experience. There is no amount of money, no amount of power, or status, and no position in life that can equal the experience. It is totally awesome.
Guess what happened? I was extremely competitive, but I got beat. It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had as an athlete. The feeling was unadulterated ecstasy. A feeling as good as squatting 603 pounds at a bodyweight of 130 pounds, as good as any record I ever broke, and as good as winning any gold medal I ever won.
Now I know exactly what you are thinking “Biasiotto, what are you talking about, you got beat”. You are perfectly right, I did get beat, but I didn’t lose. I was the very, very best that I could be. That is the essence of sports and that is the essence of life. To be your very best at what ever you do. It’s the ultimate achievement. Besides that I learned a lot. I learned that I could be anything I wanted to be, provided I had the courage to suffer a little, struggle a little, and work a little. I also learned that happiness comes only when we push our hearts and minds to the furthermost reaches of our capabilities. Most importantly I learned that if you really believe in yourself you can go against the odds and WIN!
Yours in Strength,
Let me tell you about my best friend Sebastian. I first met Sebastian ten years ago while visiting my mother in Easton, PA. I liked him immediately. He was so intelligent, warm, kindhearted, and full of life that it was Impossible not to like him. It was a joy just being around him.
That night he invited me to his home to meet his wife Lisa, and his two little boys Gabriella and Fillip. It was a magical evening. In all honesty, I was totally enamored by his entire family. His sons were absolutely grand and Lisa... well, she was just the very best. That was the beginning of the best friendship that I've ever had. Aristotle says that friendship is two minds in one soul. That's the way it was for Sebastian and me. Actually, we became more like brothers than friends. He was always there for me and I always tried to be there for him. It was great.
About two years ago, Sebastian started experiencing some really tough times. First he made an honest, but major mistake by withdrawing over ten thousand dollars in cash from his personal savings and then depositing it into a brand new account without informing the IRS - a federal offense. Immediately the IRS seized all of his assets. Amazingly, even though Sebastian proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the money he had deposited was his own, the IRS still refused to return his funds. It was more then a year before the IRS finally relinquished his assets. Of course, they fined him significantly before they returned the money.
Then three days after he settled with the IRS, he had a terrible automobile accident, in which he sustained a major neck Injury. The Injury was so severe that he was unable to go back to work. When he was still unable to return to work after six months his employer had to terminate his position. As you can imagine this impasse was a real hardship on him and his family. In fact, it broke Sebastian’s spirit. It was as if his life's blood had been drained from his very soul.
Lisa, on the other hand, she was a "rock°. The worse things got, the stronger she became. She went out and acquired a really good paying job and started supporting the family. Within less than a year she turned everything around. There is an old saying "Tough times never last, but tough people do." Believe me, Lisa was living proof of that cliché.
Anyway, they bought a beautiful new home in Boca Raton, Florida, and they obtained a Pizza Hut franchise. It was absolutely amazing what they accomplished in a year's time. They literally rose from the ashes. In fact, they were better off after the misfortune then ever before. They had money, a bright future and, best yet, Sebastian had his health back. The problem was that Sebastian just couldn't let the past go. He complained constantly about what the IRS and his previous employer had done to him. He was so cynical and so untrusting. His beautiful smile seldom appeared. Even though his health had been restored, he still refused to work. Lisa literally carried the burden of the family. Most of the time Sebastian was totally gloomy and despondent. He was a man who could only see darkness. He had become the antithesis of what he once was - a warm, positive, loving human being. It wasn't long before Lisa and he started having marital problems. This beautiful marriage was literally being destroyed because Sebastian couldn't let the past go. He just couldn't find it in his heart to forgive the people who had done him harm. Consequently, the hatred he had for them not only brought him down but his entire family.
Three days before Thanksgiving my sister called and said, "Judd, did you hear" This glorious human being who was so full of love and kindness, whose mind was so gifted and exhilarating, who gave constantly to others, had gone home, got his gun and killed his beautiful wife, his two magnificent little boys, and himself. It still bothers me to this very day.
There are a lot of things that happen in life that we have no control over, but we do have control—complete control - over how we will respond to such matters. We can roll over and die or we can get back up and live. When you're defeated at something, you have to get back up; you have to go on. If you don't, your personal inertia will decay and then you're finished—no growth, no development. Addis Whitman said, "If we live our lives well in suffering, hardship, or failure, if we can use all our talents and courage, then something of great worth will emerge and be added to the common good."
Now let me tell you about my other good friend, Kenny Blanchard. I first met Kenny about twenty years ago. He was a warm, loving person with many extraordinary gifts to share. In all candor, he was one of the most exciting human beings I have ever met. He was so enthusiastic, and wondrous, and so full of life. Then about six months after we met, exactly five weeks before he was to be married, Kenny ran his motorcycle into a road sign and broke his neck. The injury left him paralyzed from the chest down, with his hands completdy non-functional, a quadriplegic - the most devastating condition a person can endure and still survive. When I saw Kenny the first time after the accident I was shocked. To be honest, I couldn't even recognize him. His body had been transformed into a mass of nonfunctional protoplasm. It was heartrending.
For most men such an ordeal would be devastating. At first it was for Kenny. He told me that initially he was mad at everyone, especially God. He didn't understand why he had to bear such a cross. 1 hated the world and everything in it", he told me. "I was totally lost, but my parents refused to let me die emotionally. They taught me to appreciate myself as I am and my life for what it is. I've learned from experience that when tragedy strikes you're either going to be positive and enthusiastic about life or you're going to sit around and be filled with self-pity. Self-pity is the greatest form of self-destruction. There is no merit in being preoccupied with something that can't be controlled. Conversely, it only makes sense to be occupied with something you can control... Like the present. That's where I live in the present, among my friends and loved ones".
Now this will probably blow your mind, but today Kenny is one of the happiest, most content guys you would ever want to meet. I'm serious! I see him every day and he is never without a smile or a kind word for someone else. He is an absolute treasure. Believe me, he is one of the most loved and respected men in our entire community. Less than a week ago Kenny came to my office and he said a beautiful thing. He said, "You know Judd, considering everything, I'm the happiest man in the world". Do you know something, he's not lying!
Kenny didn't let adversity destroy him. He didn't look at why he couldn't do something, rather he focused on what he could do. So many times we let what we don't have keep us from using what we do have. Great men are generally at their best when their backs are at the wall. Adversity stimulates them to rise to the occasion and in many cases it drives them beyond their mental and physical parameters. It takes them to the stars.
You know, most people invariably assume that adversity is inherently bad. I don't believe that for a second. Show me a man who hasn't had adversity in this life and l'll show you someone who hasn't lived. Adversity constitutes a sign of life. In fact, I would venture to say that the more adversity you have, the more alive you are. Adversity helps you grow; it builds character and endurance. Perhaps Martin Luther King Jr. put it best when he said, 'The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge amid controversy."
Nikos Kazantzakis says a beautiful thing, "You have your brush, you have your colors, you paint paradise, then in you go." Paradise is what I choose to paint, but if you prefer to paint yourself a nightmare, go ahead. However, take credit for the fact that YOU painted the nightmare; no one else did. Sure, life is hard, but it's also great. No one can protect us against pain or sadness, but through such experiences we can learn what love is, what compassion is, and what life is all about. Sometimes you have to experience sorrow to understand what happiness is all about and sometimes you have to experience defeat to appreciate victory. And sometimes you have to look at death to understand life. Experiences make us grow. Life is not easy, but it's worth it if you're willing to live it fully. And you can t do that by "half stepping it."
When disaster strikes, you have a choice to either give up or go ahead. The real champions of life go forward, despite being afraid or blocked by obstacles. They do what has to be done, no matter how hopeless things look or how overwhelming the odds against them. They are aware that fighting back may not always restore things to normal, but that trying always makes things better and provides immense self-satisfaction. They are disciples of the classic slogan. "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."
Yours in Strength,
I hate this thing we call age. I hear people refer to it all the time. "You're too young to do this" or "you're too old to do that." We are ruled by our primitive notions about how people at a certain age are supposed to act. It's ridiculous and sad.
Think about it. How many times have you heard someone say that he is too old to get in shape, that he's an old dog that can't learn new tricks? Like so many age-related preconceptions, that's just an excuse. Try getting in shape. If you do, you'll probably find out that you're a lot younger than you think.
The truth is that age is nothing more than a number. I've seen people in their 80s who could run most teenagers into the ground. And I've seen teenagers who've already reached a cumulative point in life. It's mindset, not age, that counts.
That's why I refuse to tell anyone my age. If I could get away with it, I wouldn't even tell my mother. The minute I attach an age to myself, I'll be expected to act a certain way, dress a certain way, think a certain way. The hell with that. I'm not an age. I'm a human being. I refuse to be trapped by a number.
A few years ago I had a very interesting experience wirh this age thing that proved to me how biased people can be. At the time, I was working with the Kansas City Royals baseball team as a sports psychologist. I had been there for three years when I heard about a job I was interested in at their research center. I had the credentials to get the position, so I applied for it immediately.
That same week my boxing coach called and told me about a tournament in the South. Since the winners would be sent to Germany to fight at an international tournament, I packed my bags. But when I got there, I was told that even if I won--which I went on to do--they weren't going to send me to Germany. They wanted to send younger athletes so that they would gain international experience. So even though I was the best fighter in my division, I couldn't represent them in Germany because of this thing called age.
When I got home, I found out that despite being selected as the top candidate for the research position I had applied for, I was considered too young for the job. Consequently, in less than 48 hours, I was told I was too old and too young to do something that I wanted to do, and deserved. What nonsense. If I hadn't told anyone my age, no one would have been the wiser.
This might seem trivial, but did you know that of the 26,000 people in the United States who commit suicide every year that the majority are under the age of 16 and over the age of 50? This statistic shows how our society treats the young and the old. We don't want them around. We beat them down. We ignore them, rather than tap into their beauty and productivity.
You want numbers? Nolan Ryan threw his seventh no-hitter when he was 44 years old. Mozart was only 7 when his first composition was published. George Foreman won the world heavyweight boxing championship at 46. William Pitt was 24 when he became prime minister of Great Britain. Fred Hatfield squatted over 1,000 pounds when he was 46. Benjamin Franklin was a newspaper columnist at age 16 and a framer of the Constitution when he was 81.
Obviously, age has little to do with ability. You are never too young or too old, if you've got talent and perseverance. I like what Leo Buscaglia says when someone asks him his age. "In some ways I'm not even born yet. And in other ways, I'm an adolescent and I'm struggling, and I'm rebelling, and I'm really raising hell. And in other ways, I'm a sage. What do years have to do with my age?"
Think about that. What you do in life is important, not when you do it. When you say you are too young or too old for something, you're closing your mind to it. You're never too young or old for anything. Don't believe what they might tell you, because age is in your, or their, head and nowhere else.
Yours in strength,
Dr. Judd Biasiotto
The rules for greatness are known by the champions of the world. Why are they champions? Because they follow the rules for GREATNESS!
When I was in college I roomed with Yoshi Takai who just happened to be the number two ranked gymnast in the world. After living with Yoshi for a couple of months, it was obvious that he was by far and away one of the greatest athletes I had ever come in contact with. Four decades later I can still say the same thing...Yoshi was strictly world class in every way. The guy was by far the most mental athlete I've ever known. He was always in control, even when defeat looked inevitable. In my opinion, not even the great Muhammad Ali could compare with Yoshi when it came to mind power. He was just that awesome.
Let me give you a prime example of what I am talking about. While working the high bar at the U.S. Gymnastics Federation National Championships in Los Angeles Yoshi literally ripped the palm of his right hand wide open. The injury was so severe that everyone thought he would have to withdraw from the competition. Yoshi didn't say a word. He threw his jacket over his shoulder, picked up his gym bag, and retreated to the locker room. One of the commentators for the Wide World of Sports followed him to get an interview. Once inside the locker room Yoshi sat down, opened up his gym bag, and removed a needle and thread. He then began to suture the tear on his hand. The commentator stood there watching with his mouth wide open.
"Doesn't that hurt?" The commentator asked. "That is raw flesh you are suturing...you need to get to a hospital."
Yoshi, smiling, answered, "No, it doesn't hurt."
"Well, how can it not hurt...it is raw flesh you are putting that needle through?" The commentator insisted.
My body serves my mind...my mind doesn't give in to my body. Yoshi retorted.
Why was Yoshi such a great champion? He followed a major rule for greatness...the body serves the mind! It's not the other way around. If you have a strong mind, your body will follow. A strong mind will create a strong body.
Jackie Robinson was not only one of the greatest athletes who ever lived he was one of the greatest men who ever walked the face of the earth. The former tribute can be confirmed by his accomplishments in both college and professional baseball. After starring athletically at Pasadena Junior College, he became the first man to letter in four sports at UCLA. He was an NCAA champion in the long jump, and a brilliant football, baseball and basketball player. Branch B. Rickey III whose grandfather integrated baseball with Robinson told me that if it wasn't for pure racism Robinson would have received All-American honors in all four sports that he played. After college he went on to play profession baseball at a world class level. He won the Rookie of the Year and two years later he was MVP. He was named to six consecutive All-star teams. His lifetime average was .311 and he was voted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
His greatest claim to celebrity though was integrating baseball. Branch told me that Robinson literally had to go again his natural instincts in order to break the color barrier. He told me that Robinson was a very forceful man who was totally outraged by racial intolerance and was quick to stand up for his rights and the rights of others. Case in point: while in the service he refused to sit in the back of the bus when ordered by his superior to do so and was court martialed for his courage to speak out against the discrimination. Eventually all charges were dismissed, and several months later, Robinson received an honorable discharge from the Army. "His nature was to face trials and tribulations head on", said Branch. "He was by natural instinct a man who was geared to fighting back rather than holding back."
Of course, Branch's grandfather wasn't looking for a man who would fight back to integrate baseball, but one who could restrain himself when subjected to racial intolerances and hatred that was sure to come.
A shorthand version of their historic conversation in August 1945 was as follows:
Rickey: "I know you're a good ballplayer. What I don't know is whether you have the guts."
Robinson: "Mr. Rickey, are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?"
Rickey, exploding: "Robinson, I'm looking for a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back."
That agreement between Robinson and Rickey would not only change the course of baseball for ever but also the course of the country. You have to understand that Robinson's debut in professional baseball on April 15, 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers came a year prior to President Harry Truman desegregating the military and seven years before the Supreme Court ruled desegregation in public schools was unconstitutional.
It certainly wasn't ease for Robinson. He was the target of racial epithets, of hate letters and death threats. Pitchers throw at his head and legs, and catchers spitting on his shoes. Through it all Robinson kept his agreement with Rickey and tolerated the near intolerable. He exercised extreme self-control responding to cruelty, brutality and racial injustice with non-responsive silence.
In 1997, baseball dedicated the season to Robinson on the 50th anniversary of his debut. How should we remember this grandson of a slave and son of a sharecropper? Perhaps by his own words, "A life is not important," he said, "except in the impact it has on other lives."
By his own standards, few individuals and perhaps no athlete, has impacted more lives than Robinson. While he didn't singlehandedly resolve the racial troubles in America he certainly contributed to the acceptance and tolerance of all races.
Why was Robinson such a great champion? He followed a major rule for greatness...he was a man who believed in himself and believed in the freedom and equality of others...a man who was willing to risk.
We don't live in a risk-free world. Everything worth having involves some type of risk. Granted, some things require greater risk than others, but generally speaking, the greater the risk, the greater the reward. Look back through the annals of time, and you'll find that people who had the courage to take a chance, who faced their fears head on, were those who shaped history. The people who played it safe, who were afraid to take a chance...well...have you ever heard of them? If you're not willing to risk, you have nothing...no growth, no change, no freedom. And when that happens, you are no longer involved in living; for all practical purposes, you have no life...you're dead; you just don't know it.
The greatest risk in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live. Chained by his certitudes, he's a slave. He's forfeited his freedom. Only the person who risks is truly free.
So, RISK, for God's sake. Be a part of life.
Yours in Strength,
"No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit."
- Helen Keller
When I was in professional baseball I had this brilliant idea. My plan was to develop an instrument that would be used to predict baseball success. Up until that time the only predictor of how well a ballplayer would perform at the major league level was running speed and arm velocity. Although these two variables were important to baseball success, they were not a valid predictor of baseball success. I figured that if I could come up with a valid instrument that could forecast how well a player would do in the major leagues, I would be able to save professional baseball millions of dollars and...well make myself a million dollars.
The first thing I did was call Dr. William Spieth, a close friend of mine who was a motor learning expert. I figured that if anyone could help me he was the man. Unfortunately, he wasn't interested. He said "Do you know what your problem is Judd? Everything you do you "shoot for the moon" Why not try something that is within reason?" Actually, he was probably right; I do have a tendency to "shoot for the moon. Still, I was not about to give up on my idea just because he thought it was impossible. Anyone can do things that are in reason. Doing the impossible; that's what makes you great. Sometimes you have to dare to walk where demons fear to tread.
With that in mind I spent the next three years of my life researching my idea. I probably put a good thousand hours of work into the project, and a lot of money. When everything was said and done, the project was a bust. I couldn't come up with a single instrument that would irrefutably predict baseball ability. I believe I got close but, no red star. I remember Spieth called me and said, "I told you it was impossible. You wasted three years of your life working on that project and all you have to show for it is one big failure." Well Spieth was wrong! Dead wrong! I may not have come up with the instrument, but I didn't fail, and I certainly didn't waste my time. I gained so much knowledge from that experience, it was incredible. I learned about biomechanics, biorhythms, statistics, experimental design, testing, motor development, psychological analysis, vision, and that is just the half of it. It was one of the richest experiences of my life. Here is something you have to understand, it's not the destination that is important but the journey.
Let me tell you a cute story I heard on the radio a few weeks ago when I was driving home from work. It was about these two little boys who were in their back yard digging this huge hole. They had dug a good three feet into the ground when an older boy walked over to them and asked what they were doing. "We are digging to China," said the boys. "Our teacher told us that if we dug right through the middle of the earth when we got to the other side we would be in China. So we are going to dig our way to China." The older boy started laughing "There is no way in the world you can dig to China. That is a goal you will never achieve. It is impossible." At first the little boys just stared at him with a puzzled look on their face. Then one of the youngsters picked up a jar that had earthworms, snails, buttons and an assortment of other bits and pieces in it and showed it to the older boy. "We may never get to China," he said, "but look at all of the neat stuff we have already found along the way."
That is the way it is in life sometimes. You have these really magnificent dreams that you work like crazy to achieve, but they just don't materialize. What we need to understand is that what is important in life is not so much in reaching our goal, but the really neat things we find along the way. It's not the end that is essential; it's the getting there that teaches us to embrace life. It is the process that enriches our lives and the lives of others, not the achievement of a goal.
Here is my take on all of this. You "shoot for the moon". Sometimes you hit it dead center, and then you have "A small step for man, a giant step for mankind". That's great! Sometimes you don't quite make it to the moon, but during the expedition you cover a lot of space. And in that process you become something new, something greater and something grander.
That's what life is all about!
Yours in Strength,
Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes. Chinese Proverb
I had a wonderful experience recently. One of my best friends Marvin "Iron" Simmons came to Albany to visit me for the weekend. You may remember Iron or perhaps you have heard of him. In the early eighties, he was one of the top ranked powerlifters in the world. At the time, Iron was a miniature black Atlas. I swear the guy looked like he could bench press an apartment complex. Never in my life had I seen a 132 pounder with more muscle tissue, and that would include world champions Joe Bradley and Victor "Shorty Bear" Williams. The guy was absolutely amazing. He looked like he weighed 180 pounds or more, certainly not 132 pounds.
Performance wise he was just as awesome. When most good bantamweights were struggling with a squat of 350 pounds, a bench press of 225 and a deadlift of 425 pounds, "Iron" was totaling well over 1200 pounds, and I know for a fact he was making those lifts totally drug free. There was no doubt that if he would have continued in the sport of powerlifting he would have won a number of world titles. That's not just a good friend talking either; it is simply fact. As it turned out, Dale Rhodes the United States Olympic coach recruited Iron to compete in Olympic lifting. Within less than a year, Iron was one of the top Olympic lifters in the United States. At 132 pounds, he snatched 240 pounds and clean and jerked 300 pounds. At the time, most good Olympic lifters were busting a gut just to total 400 pounds. After a serious back injury, Iron was forced to turn to bodybuilding. Like I said, he already looked like a black Atlas as powerlifter. When he got into bodybuilding, he literally turned himself into a hulk. He completely dominated the lightweight division in the Southeast. In all candor, Iron was the greatest all around strength athlete I ever meet. Again, that's not just a good friend talking either. It is simply fact.
Now, like I said, you may know of Iron or have heard of his accomplishments, but this is something you probably don't know about him. When Iron was in high school, he was one of the top running backs in the country. Lionel 'Little Train' James was Iron's back up. I am sure you know who Lionel James is. In case you don't, let me refresh your memory. Lionel was an undersized super star...same as Iron. At 5'6" and 171 lbs., James played running back at Auburn University and spent five years in the NFL with the Chargers from 1984-1988. In the 1985 season, James set the NFL record for all purpose yards (combined yards rushing, receiving, and returning kicks) in the history of the NFL with 2,535 yards. That same season he also set the record for receiving yards by a running back with 1,027 yards while also leading the AFC in receptions with 86. Lionel will tell you straight out that Iron was a better football player than he was. A rather grand compliment coming from one of the NFL's greatest running backs, don't you think?
Now, I am finally getting around to what I want to talk to you about...tough love! That was the very conversation that Iron and I had the weekend he visited me. You see we had a very similar, life altering experience when we left high school. First, let me tell you about Iron's experience. When Iron graduated from high school, he was one of the most highly sought after football players in the country. Penn State, Alabama, Notre Dame, Auburn and Louisville were just a few of the schools that were interested in him. He eventually signed a full ride to play at Louisville. "When I got to Louisville," said Iron, "I was scared to death. I didn't know anyone, and there was a lot of racism at the school. I also missed my mama and friends terribly. I immediately became home sick. I tried to stick it out, but after about three weeks, I called my mother and told her that I wanted to come home. At first she tried to talk me out of coming home, but I kept telling her how homesick I was. I remember her exact words when I told her that," Iron said with a smile. "She said, 'Come on home, Baby. It will be alright.' Well, that very night I was on a bus going back home to my mama. The coach actually came to Albany to take me back to Louisville, but I wouldn't go. My mama told him I wasn't happy there and that she would take care of me. At least she said something to that effect. My mama loved me so much she wanted to protect me...it was a mother's love doing the talking. Well, that was the biggest mistake of my life. I missed out on my education and an opportunity to play pro football. I don't blame Mama. I blame myself for not having the guts to stick it out," he said reflecting on the situation.
Now, I said I had a similar experience and I did. I had a scholarship to Notre Dame University after high school, but less than a week into my first semester the Kansas City Royals baseball team offered me a pretty good job. I was only 16 years old at the time. I went to my father and told him that the Royals had offered me a job and that I wanted to be a part of professional baseball. And he said, "What about your scholarship at Notre Dame? You will lose it. I told you I would help to put you through school, but I am not going to help you to be a baseball player." And I said, "But I want to do this with the baseball team." Like Iron, I remember exactly what my dad said. He said, "Okay, go ahead and go. If you do that, you are declaring yourself an adult and don't ask me for anything after that. You are an adult. You are free to do what you want." Man, I thought that was great.
Well, I wasn't with the Royals more than a week when I started getting homesick. I didn't know anyone, and the pressure was unbelievable. I wanted to go home, but I was afraid to call my dad so I sent him a telegram. I told him that I missed my family terribly and that I wanted to come back home. It was a rather heartfelt telegram. It took me hours to write it. Twenty-four hours later I had a telegram from my father and it simply said, "Tough...Love Dad." Three words but they were rather significant. The moment of truth! I was now an adult. What was I going to do now?
I am going to tell you what that taught me. It taught me about courage, about facing my fears, about fending for myself, about the pressures of life. It taught me a lot and I never would have learned any of that if my father had relented and let me come back home. If he had relented, most likely I would be working in the steel mills today. I stayed in baseball for years after that, just to show my dad that I could do it. I made a lot of money and put myself through college. I had my doctorate when I was only 23 years old. When I went home after earning my doctorate, my mother told me that it broke my father's heart to send me that telegram, but he was aware that if he hadn't done it I would never grow up." He was right about that.
There is a great postscript to this story though. Iron told me that after about a year at home he got a job working in the fields picking cotton. Interestingly, his mother got him the job because she wanted him to appreciate hard work and the demands of life. "It was a hell whole, working in the fields," Iron told me. "It was hot and back breaking work. Then one day after about three hours in the field I started getting sick, so I walked over to this tree and sat down to cool off. I wasn't there more than ten minutes when one of the older laborors came over to me and said, 'Mr. Thomas isn't going to like you sitting here. You are here to work.' "I looked up at him, and I swear he looked like he was eighty years old." Iron continued, "His skin was all wrinkled, he didn't have any teeth and he was all bent over from working in the fields. I said to myself, 'Hell no, I am not doing this the rest of my life. I left that very minute went home and told Mama I was going into the military and get my education.' And that is exactly what I did. When I went home many months later, Mama said to me one evening, 'Sending you into the fields and then watching you go off to the Army was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but if I hadn't done it, you would never have grown to be Marvin.' That was so true."
Yours in Strength,
"I think integrity is individual. Some guys believe in it and act accordingly. I don't expect it from anyone. Most athletes use the old pro wrestler saying, 'win if you can, loose if you must, but ALWAYS cheat.' The idea that just because you're a powerlifter, you have to have integrity is silly to me. Business has no integrity, the government has no integrity, religion has no integrity, but somehow powerlifters are expected to have it. I don't get it. By the way, once you fill up a syringe and jam it in, you have no integrity. What you have is a burning desire to go beyond, but not integrity."
- Billy Mimnaugh
To be honest, I don't even know how to react to the aforementioned quote by one of our sports best lifters. I am not sure if I should pay tribute to him for being honest about advocating dishonesty (Isn't that an oxymoron?) or criticism him for such a myopic view of life. Worse yet, to a large extent he is right. One thing I will have to agree with him about is the seemingly lack of honesty and integrity in our culture. Although our society formally and authoritatively condemns such behavior as fraud, cheating, corruption and deceitfulness that allows an individual to succeed by strategically breaking the rules rather than prevailing by merit, we seem to accept or at very least tolerate such immoral behavior. In fact, there is growing evidence that the next generation of Americans will be bringing into the culture a very tolerant attitude toward cheating and lying.
Surveys conducted on Masters of Business Administration (MBA) students, college students and high school students have revealed a common strain among them when it comes to honesty and integrity. Of the students surveyed 50 to 70 % of them admitted cheating and similar numbers indicate that they think there is nothing wrong with being dishonest. Worse yet, most of these students regard cheating as a "real world" skill that is essential for success.
Of course, this would never happen in sports. As we have been told for decades, athletics build strong character, honesty and team-building skills. It goes without saying that participation in sports encourages positive behaviors. Well, if you believe all of that, don't, because you are dead wrong. In fact, the way things are going sport arenas are becoming the training grounds for the next generation of liars, cheats, and thieves. A two-year survey conducted by Los Angeles ethicist Michael Josephson of 5,275 high school athletes from across the U.S. yielded some rather shocking results...at least for anyone who believes in the character building aspect of sports. Over two-thirds of the athletes that Josephson interviewed admitted to cheating on an exam at least once in the previous year.
Where did the kids get the idea that it is okay to cheat your opponent or cheat in school if you can get away with it? Josephson's interviews revealed that while the students overwhelmingly viewed their coaches as a positive influence on their lives, they also said it was all right for the coach to teach them how to cheat and get away with it. For instance, 43 per cent of boys thought it was okay for their coaches to teach them ways to break the rules without the referees noticing. Even more astonishing over 80% of the athletes surveyed said their coaches did teach such tactics. Interestingly, the rates were much lower for girls, of whom only 22 per cent thought it was all right for coaches to teach illegal tactics. Josephson concluded that, for most kids, sport promotes rather than discourages cheating and that too many coaches are teaching our kids to cheat and cut corners. He also found that there was a growing acceptance of cheating to gain an unfair advantage over the competition in sports not only by the athletes but by the coaches too.
How did we get to the point where cheating is viewed as a "real world" skill that is socially acceptable and essential for success? Rutgers professor Donald McCabe, who has conducted a number of the studies on this very issue, believes that sports are one of the major culprits. "Sports...the cultural 800 pound gorilla," says McCabe, "that both reflects the culture and dominates it, especially for men under the age of 30, which not so coincidentally is also the group most likely to cheat. Athletes and coaches on a continuous basis clearly demonstrate that cheating works and that cheating is no big deal."
How can they justify such behavior, you ask? Well, have you ever heard the expression that man is not a rational human being; he is a rationalizing human being? That's right, they simply rationalize that cheating is a part of sports tradition and, therefore, is acceptable. According to these individuals, competitors are expected to try and cheat and get around the rules...if you are not cheating, you are not trying. Of course, disproportionate cheating might earn you a penalty, but nothing major. In fact, the rewards for cheating far out weigh the punishment. Consequently, cheating and lying are reinforced and viewed as good even necessary.
Could there be a clearer message for our children who idolize elite athletes? The message screams piercing and pure...cheating is okay, and yes, you may have to be punished if you're caught, but the benefits of cheating are so great that it is worth the risk---especially since most of the public won't think less of you and maybe even admire you for trying. After all, they're probably cheaters themselves.
Now I know, Charles Barkley once said it was not his responsibility "to raise our kids." Barkley's point is irrefutable, but the truth of the matter is athletes can't escape from being role models. Actually, none of us can opt out of our obligation as role models. Like it or not we are all role models to some extent...some by infinite thinking, others by physical prowess, and even others by performing simple deeds. There is always someone screening our behavior while trying to determine what is the most appropriate behavior for themselves. Individuals who merit great public attention because of their role in sports, politics, the media or entertainment have an additional burden because they are being scrutinized by so many more people. Needless to say, people in general develop a blueprint for their own way in life by emulating the behavior of their more successful peers. Consequently, athletes, (as well as politicians, entertainers, educators etc.) whether they want to be a role model or not and whether they are qualified to be such an example or not, have little to do with the fact that their behavior is going to be emulated not only by their peers, but by impressionable children.
Unfortunately, a lot of our athletes (as well as politicians, entertainers, educators etc. etc.) are selling us short, and we as a society are subtly condoning their behavior. "By tolerating uncouth and unethical behavior by our athletes in return for a high level of performance, we are basically surrendering the sports we love to bad actors and in the process creating a corrupt generation. Not surprising, just about every one of the analysts articulating on the recent cheating surveys and studies have come to the same conclusion....we are in a crisis mode and we are cultivating a bumper crop of liars and cheaters in our culture.
What is the cure to the crisis? Obviously, the answer is rather multifaceted and convoluted, but a good start would be to present our children with good role models and ignore the boorish, unethical, and obnoxious role models we have in sports today. We need to demand that our athletes (as well as politicians, entertainers, educators etc. etc.) rise to higher standards both on and off the field. It goes without saying that if we are to hold our fellowman to higher standards we too should aspire to those same standards.
By being selfless, we can make a difference in the world. By spreading honesty, love and hope through our daily actions, we can make the world a better place. It is not only by what we say but more importantly by the life that we live that demonstrates what each of us is made of.
Remember, too, that God's gift to you is life....your gift to God is how you live it.
Yours in Strength,
Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.
Kenny Norton vs. George Foreman...it was being billed as the fight of the year. It turned out to be the slaughter of the century. Just in case your memory fails you, or you were never into boxing, we will tell you what went down. At the time, Foreman was considered invincible. He had literally destroyed every opponent that was put in front of him. He was so powerful that he could knock the bad breath out of you with one blow. In his World-Title fight against Joe Frazier, Foreman beat poor Joe around the ring like a rag doll. He knocked him down six times in the first seven rounds and then beat him into a bloody pulp of unconsciousness in the eighth round. When they revived Frazier a few minutes later, the ring doctor asked him if he was okay? Frazier replied. "I wull lite a pissa with anchovy and estra cheez.." It was a good ten minutes later when Frazier changed his order to three extra-strength Excedrin and an ice pack.
Of course, Frazier wasn't the only guy who Foreman beat the IQ out of. In fact, mental irregularity was quite common among Foreman's former opponents. His devastation was so complete and awesome that the Matell Toy Company came out with a George Foreman doll. It was great. You would wind it up, let it go and it would beat the hell out of you for three minutes. A great gift for a nosy neighbor or mother-in-law.
In short, George Foreman was an "ass kicker" of major proportions. Norton, on the other hand, was considered a highly skilled boxer with a good right hand. How good was Norton's right hand? Good enough to shatter Muhammad Ali's jaw. Good enough to put Dwayne Bobick into the land of OZ just :57 seconds into the first round of their fight.
Was Norton's right hand good enough to defeat Foreman? The betting line was against Norton and for once, Jimmy The Greek was right. When Norton entered the ring, it was obvious that he was anxious. When Foreman entered the ring a few minutes later, Norton's anxiety turned into, "I'm scared shitless." By the time the bell rang to begin the fight, Norton was cataleptic. The next thing Norton knew, he was in his dressing room ordering a "pissa wif estra cheez."
A few days later, after Norton had gained some semblance of sense, he tried to explain what had happened. "I just wasn't myself," explained Norton. "My legs and arms felt like lead. I could hardly move. Worse yet, I felt exhausted before the fight even started. I couldn't seem to focus on anything either. I was completely out of sync" Oh yea! Norton also admitted that he was a little anxious. Translated into more accurate terms...he was scared shitless.
Of course, most people can relate to Norton's experience, which is a primary example of cranial-rectal inversion. I also venture to say that every competitive athlete has experienced similar emotions. In fact, I don't care who they are, Wayne Gretsky, Nolan Ryan, Mario Lemeuix, Michael Jordan, or any other superstar. If they are human, they all have experienced competitive anxiety in one form or another. To put it in statistical terms ninety-nine percent of the competitive athlete's in the world have experienced stress and/or anxiety. The other one percent are liars.
Remember the boxer we talked about named George Foreman. Of course you do we just got done talking about him ten seconds ago. The guy who was so mean that he would rip your ear off and cram it up your butt just so you could hear him kicking your ass? Yea, the same guy who hit Kenny Norton on the top of the head so hard that Norton had to eat out of his by for a month.
Remember also that at the time Foreman was World Champion and had completely dominated the heavyweight division. In fact, it was the general consensus of boxing experts that nothing human could defeat Foreman. Then in the sweltering heat of Zaire, Africa, Foreman's invincibility was tarnished once and for all by a loud mouth fighter named Muhammad Ali.
During the first six rounds of their fight, Foreman banged Ali around the ring like a rag-doll. Ali seemed totally helpless; willing to lie on the ropes absorbing what appeared to be a brutal beating. It was not until the seventh round that Ali's strategy became clear to Foreman and the rest of the viewing public. By that time, it was too late. Ali was playing possum on the ropes, letting Foreman pound away at his shoulders and arms hoping that the energy Foreman was expending would burn him out. Ali's strategy worked perfectly. By the time the eighth round rolled around, Foreman was completely spent. It was then that Ali opened up, sending blows to Foreman's head with uncanny accuracy. With 1:36 left in the round, Foreman went down for the first time in his career. He remained there until the referee counted him out. Foreman had lost not only the first fight of his career, but the heavyweight championship as well.
Foreman continued to fight for a little more than a year, but he was only a shell of the boxer he was prior to the Ali fight. Continually haunted by the defeat at Ali's hands, Foreman eventually retired. Foreman's reaction to defeat is a phenomenon that occurs all too often in the field of sport. I have seen people who were ready to put a gun to their head because they could not handle defeat. It is as if winning transcends every other aspect of competition.
This is crazy. In a society that promotes the myth that winning is of paramount importance, athletes more often than not lose sight of the benefits that losing can bring. This type of winner-take all attitudes has lead us to the point where it is simply not enough to just compete. You have to compete to win, and if you do not win, the assumption is that you have done something wrong like fudging on your training, or chasing women.
As Dr. Thomas Tutko pointed out in his book, Winning Is Everything and Other American Myths, the assumption is that somehow the winner does everything right, and the loser does everything wrong. All too often, the message that comes through to those who lose or who fail to reach the top is that obviously they did not work hard enough and that they are not as worthwhile as the winners.
Consequently, when a person starts to lose, we begin to question his or her character. It is as if we see winners as good people and losers a bad people.
S.I. Hayakowa, a semanticist, concurs with Dr. Tutko's values orientation. "We talk about people as either a success or a failure when, in fact, infinite degrees of both are possible. There is a world of difference," says Hayakow, between, I have failed three times and I am a failure. Because winning is of such paramount importance, it becomes easy to see why many athletes are so afraid of failure.
Add to this the fact that many athletes have not been taught how to accept failure, and you have a reasonable understanding as to why many athletes are afraid to compete and/or fail. The simple fact of the matter is that we are human, and that failure is part of the human condition. In fact, being human gives us the right to fail. Isn't that great news?
Think about it though for one thing, no human being can achieve greatness at everything. Generally speaking, success in one field of endeavor often precludes success in another area. If you really study the phenomenon of success, you will probably find that people who are highly successful in one area are extremely deficient in other areas. A prime example of the aforementioned was a past winner of the Noble Peace Prize in Nuclear Physics. Considered by many scientists as the most brilliant person in the world, this man was not even familiar with the game of baseball, even though he lived in the United States his entire life. I mean the guy did not even know what a home run was. Check this out. He thought that the World Series was a card game. No, he is not a communist. He probably wears boxer shorts and eats Nerd Cereal, but he is a success.
While we were out eating hot dogs and following the pennant race, he was probably in some lab trying to refine the theory of subpartical fusion. This brings up another important point the cost of success. At times the price of success may be prohibitive. Especially in a sport like powerlifting where the rewards for success are minimal. In order to be really successful, you have to sacrifice a lot. There is a lot of time and money involved. And for what? A trophy and the pressure to repeat your former accomplishments. It never ends, the better you get, the more you are expected to do. When you weight the benefits against the disadvantages, at times it can be too costly. It just may not be worth it. Still, it is my contention that the reason most athletes fear losing is that they have not been taught that losing is really a growing experience.
Fredelle Maynard, an environmental psychologist, believes that most parents work hard at either preventing failure or protecting their children from the knowledge that they have failed! One way this may occur is to shift blame for failure. If Johnny's team loses, his coach is stupid or the referees are unfair. Better yet, the other team cheated. Another way parents try to protect their children from facing failure is to lower standards. Although Johnny played like a motor moron, he is told that he was great. The kid can't get out of his own way, but according to Mom or Dad, he is the best thing since Carl Lewis. Does any of this sound familiar? Don't lie, no parent is here it help you now. The trouble with failure-prevention devices, says Maynard, is that they leave a child unequipped for life in the real world. The young need to learn that nobody can be the best at everything, no one can win all the time and that it is possible to enjoy a game even when you do not win.
Unfortunately, most parents in their attempt to protect their child from hurt and pain, shelter them from the real world. They instill the idea that Johnny never fails, and that failure is bad. Consequently, when the child is faced with failure in later years, the child is usually devastated by its impact. What parents need to do is to let their children experience life, experience failure, and then teach them how to master it. Oh yes, it can be mastered.
The first thing we need to understand is that failure is not only inevitable, but helpful. The fact of the matter is that many of our successes are really no more than the manipulation of our errors. By accepting failure, by learning from it, we can free ourselves to live our lives fully. True, failure is never pleasurable, but neither is it terrible. What is terrible is the restrictions placed on life because of the fear of failure.
If you fail, resist the natural impulse to blame others, take full responsibility for your behavior. A person who takes total responsibility for one's own shortcomings is usually admired. It takes courage to admit failure, everyone knows that, and everyone admires a person with courage. Do not just accept your mistakes through, learn from them. Analyze why you failed. Determine what you have done wrong and then go about making adjustments to enhance your performance. Remember, success is simply the manipulation of error. Also remember that everyone fails, it is part of being human. Failure is a right we all have.
Yours in Strength,
How You Think Is Everything
"I've learned that there is no limit to human or athletic potential. We are unlimited possibilities."
The power to transform our lives, to make the dreams of today the realities of tomorrow, lies waiting within us all. Each and every one of us has the power to change our lives, mold our perceptions and shape our world. We have the power! In America the greatest country in the world we have unlimited opportunity. We are only limited by ourselves. In fact, the truth is that we are limitless. We have the power to do what ever we want to do. Nothing is beyond the scope of man. Today people are achieving success that only years before would seem unimaginable. Just look at what we have achieved in the last millennium. It is astonishing! We have literally gone from throwing stones to launching laser rockets, from crawling on our hands and knees to walking on the moon, from yelling at our neighbors to worldwide tele-communication...it is awesome what we have accomplished. And we are just in the embryonic stage of our development. In the next millennium we will accomplish things that will be beyond the comprehension of even the greatest minds of today. You just wait and see.
I am totally convinced that nothing is hopeless, nothing is impossible, and that there are no boundaries for man. I don't care what people have told you, or what you think is possible, if you believe in yourself and work hard you can become anything you want to be. Belief, I contend, is the "deus ex machina" or the magic elixir that can transform a mediocre individual into a world class performer.
Do you remember what our Lord said in the Bible? If I may paraphrase a little, He said, "If you have the belief of a mustard seed and you tell a mountain to move, that mountain will move." Belief is magic. If you believe in yourself there's nothing you can't do.
I am not just talking about business or sports here, either. There's nothing in any aspect of life, which is beyond the scope of man. You have the power to do anything or be anything that you want to be. Belief, hard work...such things can take you to new galaxies.
Look at what Bill Gates has done. I love the Bill Gates story because it's a prime example of how vision, belief and hard work can take you beyond yourself into new galaxies. I am sure you know who Bill Gates is, but do you really understand what this man has accomplished? Well, let me tell you. This guy went up against I.B.M., one of the most powerful corporations in the world and literally kicked their butt. Think about what happen here. The I.B.M. Corporation had everything, hundreds of researchers, sophisticated equipment, access to the most current information available, and near limitless financial backing. And what did Gates have? Comparatively speaking he had zilch! It was just Gates and a friend in the basement of his house with a computer. The odds of Gates defeating I.B.M. had to be a million to one. And believe me Gates knew that the odds were near impossible.
Still he risked everything he had, because of a dream and the belief that he would fulfill that dream. Well, as you know he realized that dream and some. Not only did Gates beat "BIG BLUE" to the finish line, but he also totally outmaneuvered them along the way. In the end he showed I.B.M. how to produce the hardware economically, but he kept the software...the brains of the computer ... for himself. Without the software the hardware was relatively useless. The I.B.M. Corporation had to have the software because without it they would have lost a small fortune. Of course, Gates was nice enough to rent I.B.M. the software for the small sum of ... oh ...about 10 billion dollars. David had killed Goliath ...dead even. What Gates did would be analogous to a Volkswagen winning the Indianapolis 500 or "Pee Wee" Herman kicking Lennex Lewis butt. It's that improbable. It's a feat that is almost beyond human comprehension.
Today Bill Gates is worth 56 billion dollars. He is by far the richest man to ever walk the face of the earth. Last year alone he made 18 billion dollars. That's more money than China's gross national product for the same year. All of this was accomplished by a man who wasn't afraid to follow his dream...a man who wasn't afraid of living his life...a man who believed in himself. It's one of the most inspiring stories we have ever heard. It's magical!
And look at Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was a poor kid from Austria who came to America with a few dollars in his pocket and a dream in his heart to be a millionaire. He could barely talk English for God's sakes. He was uneducated, a foreigner, with no friends in America but he ended up on the Fortune 500 list as one of the richest men in America. He started as a bodybuilder, went into real estate, and then to the big screen. Everyone said he would fail...they said he was too stupid, couldn't talk, was a simple muscle head. Schwarzenegger didn't let that bother him though. He believed in himself. When other people said he couldn't, he said he could. Today he not only has a multi-million dollar empire he is the "freaken" governor of California. Is that incredible or what?
Nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself. You can do amazing things no matter who you are or what your circumstances, you can become or do whatever you want if you put your mind to it. If you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right. There is magic in believing. You are what you think you are, and you become what you think you will become. I don't want to belabor this point but it's just that simple. If you believe, you can go beyond what other people think is your breaking point. In fact, you can go beyond even what you believe is your breaking point...if you believe. You can do anything if you put your mind to it.
Have you ever heard of Alexander Karelin? Karelin is universally considered the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler of all time. Over a span of 13 years he never lost a single match in international competition. In actual fact, he only lost two matches in his entire life. Over the last nine years he won nine world titles and three Olympic gold medals. God knows how many other titles he has won. In Russia they only count the important stuff. It is estimated that his wrestling record is somewhere in the neighborhood of 887 wins and two loses. The defeats were recorded when he was literally a child. Actually, he never was a real child he was more like a man-child. It has been said that when he crawled out of his mother's womb he picked the doctor up by his feet slapped him on the butt and then took a cab to the nearest gym. Apparently he has been residing there ever since.
If you think his won loss record is extraordinary listen to this. Over the last ten years no one has even scored a point against Karelin. That just freaks me out! Think about that for a second. Here is a guy that competed hundreds of times against the greatest wrestlers in the world and never gave up a single point. It's mindboggling! That would be like Pedro Martinez having a lifetime ERA of zero, or Mohammad Ali never losing a single round in his boxing career. It is almost beyond comprehension.
If you have ever seen Karelin you have a pretty good idea why he is so successful. First of all he is absolutely menacing looking. Even more terrifying is the fact that the guy is mammoth. The Russians say that he is as big as a Siberian Bear. Don't believe that. There is no bear as big as Karelin. Okay, there maybe a bear as big as him but none of them are as physically imposing or as ominous looking. At 6-foot-3, 287 pounds the guy literally looks like he was cast out of concrete. I personally know some of the world's biggest and strongest men including Magnus Ver Magnusson, Bill Kazmire, and Dorian Yates, but none of them compare to Karelin when it comes to shear mature muscle mass. His muscle tissue is so hard and dense that it looks like he was carved from a monolithic. Not only are his muscles hard they are also huge. His shoulders are eminence and his arms and chest are Herculean.
As you can imagine the guy also possesses superhuman strength and endurance. In fact, he is so powerful that once he carried a refrigerator up seven flights of stairs rather than ask someone for help. There is no doubt that with minimal training he would easily win gold as an Olympic weightlifter or powerlifter. He is just that awesome.
There is a move in Greco-Roman wrestling called a reverse body lift. The movement is executed by locking your arms around your opponent's waist in a bear hug fashion. Once you have him good and secure you lean backwards and hoist him up over your head. You then twist your body to the side and drive your opponent into the mat. The maneuver requires so much strength to perform that no super-heavyweight has ever attempted it. No super-heavyweight that is except Karelin. He uses it on a constant basis. In fact, it is his signature move.
Karelin's physical presence along with his sardonic glare that is as icy and frightening as the winters in his native Siberia literally terrorizes his opponents. Trust me on this one, fear is the kind of power that most people understand best. You can destroy an athlete's game just by scaring the hell out of him. And in fact to a limited extent it is possible to control people through fear. Karelin is an absolute master at this game. He incites fear. Do you remember how Mike Tyson would intimidate his opponents before a fight? Well that is how Karelin is on the mat only more so. World-class wrestlers literally terrible at his sight and many of them actually avoid competition with him. He is so feared that two prior Olympic finalists essentially quit on the mat to avoid taking any more punishment from him. They saw death and surrendered. They were that intimidated by him.
Karelin is much more then just a stare and a bear hug though. He is like a machine. His training definitely borders on obsession. His idea of a day off is a two-hour workout instead of his usual five-hour training session. And when he is in intense training he works out like a mad man...pushing his body to the very edge. He has been know to carry huge logs under his arms through waist-deep Siberian snow for hours when the weather prevented him from getting to the gym. He is relentless in his training. Needless to say Karelin is the prototype of the world's greatest athlete...big, powerful, and highly skilled. Basically a killer!
Now let us tell you about America's Rulon Gardner. Actually, there is not too much tell. Rulon has never won a NCAA championship. He has never won a medal at the world championships and he has never won a medal in international competition. In fact, his best finish in world competition was fifth place. Physically speaking he is essentially the anti-thesis of Karelin. He is big, about 300 pounds, but he looks extremely soft. To be quit frank he looks more like a guy who trains at the International House of Pancakes rather then the Olympic Training Center. Like I said big but soft. He is not exactly a wimp but he's not Arnold Swartzenegger either. And he does have talent, but he is certainly no Dan Gable. He definitely doesn't have the skill or brute strength that Karelin possesses. Nor does he have the menacing look. If anything he looks like a choirboy. In truth, he is about as scary looking as a ride on a merry-go-around.
Now what would you think if these two guys were matched up against each other for Olympic gold no less? Well I will tell you what the rest of the world thought. Their unwavering mindset was that there would be no chance in hell for Gardner to survive such a match. To be honest, I thought the same thing. Such a match would be analogous to King Kong taking on Cheetah. Like the rest of the world I was sure that if such a match would materialize Gardner would get killed...like dead even. Actually, they had competed against each other once before. In that match Gardner almost did get killed. Karelin reversed body slammed him three times breaking two ribs in the process and giving him a serious concussion. Of course, that was some time back. Everyone was sure that Karelin had improved considerable since that time and would definitely finish the job if they wrestled again. Well we all got the chance to see if our prediction would come true. Incredibly Karelin and Gardner were paired against each other in the finals of the 2000 Olympics.
When the two men went out and faced each other on the center of the mat a friend of mine who happened to be a former Olympic Greco-Roman referee turned to me and said, "This is going to be a massacre. Gardner is going to get annihilated." In all candor, I felt sorry for Gardner. He looked like a little boy next to a Goliath. When the match started though it became immediately evident that Gardner was there for a purpose. There was no trepidation, no fear in Gardner's eyes. He was there to win. Without question he was the only person in the world who thought he could win. I am not exaggerating about that either. Even his coach didn't think he could win. Of course, Gardner was the only person in the world who had to believe he could win.
During the first two periods Karelin pushed Gardner from one end of the mat to the other, but he couldn't score on him. To be quite candid Gardner was taking a pretty good pounding, but he stood up to it. Half way through the third period I was starting to feel sorry for Gardner again, only more so. Like I said he was taking a pounding. Still, Karelin couldn't score. He would twist and turn Gardner into knots but he just couldn't get him into a position to score points. As the nine-minute mark approached Karelin seemed to tire. He started taking fewer and fewer scoring chances. Then right at the last minute Gardner broke Karelin's hold on him and was award that one point...the only point that had been scored against Karelin in almost a decade and a half. Still, there was time for Karelin to pull out the victory, but fatigue had robbed him of his great power. Finally, with about eight seconds left, the truly impossible happened. The Great Russian quit wrestling, dropping his hands and conceding his first international defeat that he had ever sustained. On this night supposedly Karelin's night he did not have the strength to win. Gardner had pulled off the biggest upset in Olympic history by defeating Karelin 1-0. The miracle of miracles had come to pass.
For Gardner this was his moment in time. He had gone beyond what others thought was his breaking point and he succeeded. For an athlete there is no moment more precious in life. It is the white moment...the moment in time that an athlete trains a life time to experience. There is no amount of money, no amount of power or status, and no position in life that can equal the experience.
How did he do it? Gardner explained, "I kept saying, 'I think I can. I think I can' More importantly though I never quit. I never gave in," Gardner said. "The coaches kept saying, 'He's tired. He's mentally tired,' but I didn't listen to them. I couldn't listen to them; I knew that if I let up for even a split second, I would be doomed."
Everyone thought that it was impossible for Gardner to beat Karelin. Well, I am here to tell you that nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself. If you think that is extraordinary how about Jim Abbott. Abbott is an absolute poster child for positive thinking. He was born without a right hand. Nonetheless he wanted more then anything to be a baseball player...that was his dream. He worked at it as hard as any human being worked at anything. The kids in his neighborhood would taunt him because he only had one hand. They would call him "crab" for the way his malformed hand looked. He was also ridiculed for trying to play baseball. Still, he never gave up his dream.
He practiced hours upon hours throwing a ball against a wall in an attempt to increase his pitching control and arm strength. He also practiced switching his glove onto his pitching hand after each throw so that he could field balls coming back to him. By the time he went to high school he was literally a pitching machine-the most feared pitcher to ever come out of Flint Michigan. Not surprisingly at the end of his high career he was awarded a scholarship to attend The University of Michigan. While at Michigan he was selected to the All-American team his junior and senior year.
When he graduated from college he was drafted by the California Angels and became only the 15th player in baseball history to go straight to the majors without going to the minors. After four solid seasons with the California Angels, he was traded to the New York Yankees and pitched a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians. He was named to the all-star team two straight years. If all of that doesn't freak you out I don't know what will. It's incredible!
I don't know if you really understand what this young man accomplished. Just to make it to the major leagues is a monumental task. Less then one tenth of a percent of all baseball players ever make it to that level. To make it to the major leagues and then perform as one of the very best players is absolute awesome. To do it with one hand ...well that is simply unfathomable. Without question Jim Abbott proved that disability is not the same as inability and that if you have a dream and are willing to work hard there is no circumstance you can't overcome. Again, nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself.
A number of years ago I had a marvelous learning experience. Actually it was in the seventies but who is counting the years? I was sitting at the swimming pool at the Holiday INN in Statesboro, Georgia when his guy drove up in a beat up old Mustang convertible. He came over to me and asked if I wanted to buy the greatest sun tan lotion in the world. He said it was the only natural tanning oil on the market. That meant absolutely nothing to me and at the time I could have cared less. In all candor, I didn't wanted to buy his lotion, but the guy was so nice and enthusiastic about the product that I decided to purchase a bottle. To be perfectly honest I felt sorry for him. Like I said he was driving around in this beat up old car, and he looked like he need a shower, and a good night's sleep.
After he sold me the lotion he started telling me a little about how he got started in the business. He said that when he was in Hawaii he noticed that the women on the beach were using natural oils to protect their skin. Since there was no tanning oil on the market that contained such oils he decided to create one. He told me that he went back home borrowed $500 from his father and set up a business in his garage. He then concocted a formula by mixing coconut, avocado, kukui, and other natural oils in a garbage can. He was marketing the product by driving from swimming pool to swimming pool.
When he told me that I wanted to get my money back. It reminded me of when I was a little kid selling lemonade in front of my house. The lemonade was basically ice water that I swished a lemon through. I would charge 25 cents for that stuff. I figured this guy's suntan lotion was probably like my lemonade. It contained a lot of heart, little substance, and was extremely over priced. Anyway, he then went on to tell me that he was going to be a multi-millionaire and that his suntan lotion would one day revolutionize the skin care industry. Talk about positive thinking. I looked at him and thought "Right!" And someday I am going to be nuclear physicists.
Do you want to know something; today I still use the same sun tan lotion. You may have heard of it. Its called Hawaiian Tropic! You may have also heard of the guy, who sold me my first bottle of Hawaiian Tropic, his name is Ron Rice. Today Rice is one of the richest men in the world. His Hawaiian Tropic Company grosses over $200 million a year and is the second largest sun Care Company in the world. Think about that for a second. Here was an inexperienced kid who had a vision, the courage to follow that vision, and the resolve to accomplish it. What did he do? He made lemonade out of lemons. It just goes to shows you what you can do if you believe in yourself and are totally committed to something.
As I said, Ron Rice was one of my most important learning experiences. He gave me some major gifts. He taught me that nothing is impossible, you can be anything you want provided you're willing to work at it, because nothing comes naturally. He also showed me that it doesn't matter where you start in life but where you end that really counts. No matter what you are or where you are in life, you can change. You can become all that you can be. Like Rice, you can go to the stars. What Rice taught me most is that the dreams of today truly are the realities of tomorrow. That if you believe in yourself and if you dream and work towards those dreams you can make the impossible possible.
As I said, nothing is impossible...never say never. Everything is possible. Some of the greatest feats in the history of man have been called impossibilities, and someone went out and proved that the impossible was possible.
If you talk to people who have achieved success, you will find that they are individuals of vision. Their success was in their mind way before it ever materialized in reality. Think about this, O.J. Simpson was only ten years old when he told Jim Brown, the greatest running back ever to play pro football, that one day he was going to break every record he had held. At the time Brown didn't know Simpson. He was just a skinny kid with a dream. Brown knows him now. George Herring was only seven years old when he told his parents that he was going to be the strongest man in the world. Cassius Clay was only eight years old when he told his mother he would one day become the heavyweight champion of the world. Neil Armstrong was 10 when he told his dad he was going to be a famous aviator. Robert Kennedy while in grammar school told his classmates that one day he would be the President of the United States. And here's something that will really blow your mind. In 1985 while performing in small comedy clubs for minimum wage, Jim Carey wrote himself a check for 10 million dollars for services rendered and dated it 1995. And do you know what? The day before Thanksgiving, 1995, Carey signed a movie contract for; you guessed it, 10 million dollars. And that is just the very tip of the iceberg of ordinary individuals who have achieved amazing things in their life.
There is an uncomplicated axiom in play here. Simply put, you are what you believe you are. If you've been conditioned to believe you can, there's an excellent chance that you will. Conversely, if you've been conditioned to believe you can't, you most likely won't. In order to win, you must expect to win. That goes for sports, business, politics...everything in life.
A number of years ago, Maxwell Maltz wrote an incredible book called Psycho Cybernetics. Okay! It was a couple of decades ago that Maltz wrote it, but that does not diminish the relevance of what he had to say. Let's be fair the Bible was written a few decades ago too, and you would have to admit it is still doing pretty good.
Anyhow, the major premise of the Maltz's book was that the mind functions like a computer. In fact, the title of the book suggests that very concept. Psycho means mind and Cybernetics means computer...the mind is a computer. Within no time the book became a best seller. Perhaps you've read it; if not, you should. It's one of the most fascinating books you'll ever read. In truth, it may be the most significant book you'll ever read. I would like to tell you a little bit about it.
Besides being an outstanding writer, Maltz was also a nationally renowned plastic surgeon. Actually, he was one of the best plastic surgeons in the world. His work has been written about in all sorts of journals, and there are even a number of training videos that were produced by the medical profession so that other surgeons could study his work. The man is an absolute Michelangelo with a scalpel.
During his years as a surgeon, Maltz observed that individuals who had a congenital defect or who suffered from an actual facial disfigurement as a result of an accident generally had a very low self‑esteem. They were introverted, anti‑social, and extremely insecure. In fact, many of the individuals who Maltz treated refused to leave their home during the day, and when they did go out, they took great pains to hide their disfigurements. You don't have to be Sigmund Freud to figure out why these individuals acted that way. It's the old Cooley's looking glass principle...the principle, which states that we tend to make judgments about ourselves, by looking through the eyes of others. Unfortunately, when most people come in contact with an individual who is disfigured, their initial reaction is to turn away and/or try to avoid the individual. The individual with the deformity is thus taught that he is not acceptable. As Maltz observed, this feeling of non‑acceptance is easily generalized to other psychological feelings such as worthlessness and inferiority.
Maltz reasoned that, since his subjects' deformities caused their poor self‑images, by correcting those deformities, he could improve their self-images. Not surprisingly, Maltz decided to test his theory. He got together a number of disfigured individuals and put them through a battery of psychological testing. As he had expected, the subjects' psychological profiles indicated that they had extremely poor self‑images. He then went about correcting his subjects' disfigurements. Actually, I saw the before and after pictures of his subjects. It was amazing; he literally re‑sculpted their faces. When he got done with them they were absolutely stunning ...perfect "tens" on anyone's scorecard. As I mentioned, Maltz is Michaelangelo with a scalpel. Unfortunately, things didn't work out exactly as Maltz expected. Although Maltz transformed his subjects from "ugly ducklings" into physically attractive individuals, they still perceived themselves as being ugly. Maltz eventually realized that not only did he have to correct his subject's disfigurements with plastic surgery, he also had to correct the way they thought about themselves. In other words, Maltz not only had to change his subjects' physical appearance, he also had to change the data‑constraints that had been programmed into their brains during the years that they were disfigured. Now here's the really good news. Once the subjects were taught to act and think positively, their whole personalities changed. They became more confident, outgoing and assertive. And do you know what? They also started looking at themselves as being attractive and appealing. Isn't that great!
You may find this interesting, a few years ago, I was in Egypt for the International Powerlifting Championships. After the meet, I went with a number of other American lifters to this little cafe to get something to eat. After sitting there for a few minutes, a woman walked past the front door. After the woman passed the door, all of the non‑Americans in the cafe jumped up and ran to the front door to get a better look. Talk about heightened sexual libido! Those guys went into some serious heat. It was as if their hormones had staged a coup d'etat on their brains. I figured the woman had to be a cross between Cory Everson and Vanessa Williams ...a solid ten. Being the young, hot‑blooded American that I am, I decided to get a look for myself. When I got to the front door, I could hardly believe my eyes. This woman had a bootie as big as a Greyhound bus. You know too much junk in the trunk. She was so big that she made Roseanne Barr look like Cheryl Tiegs.
I thought, "This can't be the woman, who is getting these guys all excited," but she was. You see, in Egypt, a stout woman is most desirable. In fact, most of the sex symbols there fluctuate between obesity and plumpness. The country's top sex symbol Laila Alwi tips the scales at about 210 pounds. These guys had been taught their whole lives that fat is where it's at. And that woman, she was just struttin' her stuff, like Madonna at a rock concert. She knew she was "fine." Obviously, "fine" is in the mind. If she sees it, then that's what she is.
As mentioned, the way you think applies not only to physical appearance, but also to every aspect of human behavior. All of our actions, feelings, behavior, even our abilities, are consistent with our beliefs. In short, we tend to "act like" the type of person we conceive ourselves to be. Not only that, but we literally cannot act otherwise, even if we make a conscious effort to do so. Obviously then, the way you think will go a long way in determining how successful you'll be in life.
I don't know if you are aware of it but there is a growing phenomenon in America called "dyseuphoria," where people seem to have lost the capacity for happiness. A recent mental health survey revealed that eighty percent of the Americans surveyed said that they were not happy and that life was a real bust. Eighty percent! A similar investigation of young adults revealed only 14 percent of them were happy. Interestingly, when they conducted comparable studies across various socio-economic groups, the findings were eerily similar...no one seemed to be happy and in fact most of the people interviewed talked about hopelessness, despair and misery. If that is not enough, listen to this: one out of every two marriages in America ends in divorce. Worse yet, most of the marriages that are intact are unhappy marriages. Only 17 percent of married couples said they would do it all over again if they had the chance. The average relationship in America today lasts three months. Only 11 percent of people in the work force like their jobs and less than twenty percent of high school students enjoy school. Not surprising, one out of every five Americans will require psychiatric help before they reach the age of forty. And did you know that every year in America twenty-seven thousand people kill themselves? Is that sad or what!
And all of this is in America...the greatest country in the entire world.
It doesn't have to be like that. It isn't inevitable. It isn't ordained. This doesn't have to be...it shouldn't be. We have all the resources within us, all the magic and wonder to experience true happiness. Happiness is unique to each and everyone one of us. It is simply a state of mind. We make our own happiness. No one can be happy for us and no one can tell us what happiness is. Others can only know us to the degree that we know ourselves. Joy and self-fulfillment come only when we assume full responsibility for who and what we are. Consequently, we can only grow when we take responsibility for our own joy and happiness.
Euphoria can not be generated from outside of us. Lasting happiness and peace come from within. However, when we discover intrinsic happiness, it is ours. People and events come and go, but joy remains with us forever. Wealth, status, power, and security are not essential. These things are nice, but they're not essential; they are not necessary. The only security in life there is...is you. You have to accept who you are, and embrace who you are, if you truly want genuine happiness.
Everything comes from within. How you think is exactly how you will feel. You think positive happy thoughts and you will become positive and happy. The only place where what you want is impossible is in that six inch square that is on top of your shoulders.
Recently, I had an interesting experience. I was with one of our best friends, Kenny Blanchard. Without question Kenny is one of the most magnificent human beings I ever had the pleasure of spending time with. I really mean that. When he was seventeen years old, he had a terrible motor cycle accident that rendered him paralyzed from his neck down with only partial mobility in his arms. Although Kenny is a quadriplegic, he a magnificent teacher of what it takes to truly live life. He is so gentle and so wondrous and so full of beautiful things to share: his entire life is one of giving and sharing, as we would like our entire life to be and we are sure the way you would like your life to be also.
Anyhow, one afternoon Kenny invited me to lunch so that I could meet this woman who had volunteered two weeks of her time to help the disabled. Naturally, I accepted the invitation...heck I will do anything for a free meal. When we got to the restaurant the woman was waiting on us. She was an absolutely beautiful woman. She was a tall well-built exquisite blond with piercing blue eyes and beautiful white teeth...a face that could launch a thousand ships. She was also impeccably and opulently dressed. In all frankness she reeked of wealth. She had diamonds and gold draped all over her body. It was also quite obvious that she was extremely intelligent.
Interestingly, though, just about every word that came out of her charming little mouth was either pessimistic or fatalistic. She seemed "hell bent" on telling us in detail every little tragedy, every little problem, every miserable happening that ever transpired in her life. "My husband doesn't listen to me," she complained. I couldn't blame the poor guy I wouldn't want to listen to that negative crap twenty-four seven either. "My children are always fussing and complaining." That really surprised me. Do you think her kids could have learned that behavior from her? "It's so hot and dry all of my flowers are dying." I thought, 'Sell some of those diamonds and buy yourself a garden hose and water the damn things.' "My Porche isn't driving right." Poor Baby! It went on and on and on.
And she was great at blaming all of her problems on everyone else. It was her parent's fault, her teacher's fault, her friend's fault, societies fault...life's fault. She even blamed God for her misfortune and unhappiness. "I'll never forgive God for doing that to me." What a freaken ego. She was blaming, complaining, whining, moaning, and griping from the time we sat down until the time we left. And there was Kenny sitting in his wheelchair trying to console her on each and every issue that she complained about.
Think about all this...here she was with every physical advantage, with wealth, a great education and a magnificent gift of beauty from God and she was miserable, unsatisfied, and depressed. And here was Kenny who according to most people's standards had no particular cause to rejoice; yet he lived in genuine happiness. And that is the absolute truth. Since the day I met Kenny, he has smiled and laughed his way through life. He is always reaching out to other people sharing himself and giving to others. I seldom hear him complain, and when he does he takes a few moments and gets over it. He spreads happiness and joy...hell, he is happiness. Two people look out through the same person bars. One of them sees mud the other stars. Kenny is always gazing at the stars, this woman was waist deep in mud.
All of this reaffirmed to me that nothing but life itself is necessary for humans to know joy and happiness and that happiness is more a state of mind than a state of being. If you look for hope or happiness outside of yourself, you are going to be looking for trouble. Happiness lies within us and to discover that is one of life's greatest insights. Buddha told us that trips outside of the body are worthless. Jesus said, " If you want to find life and happiness you have to look inside yourself." Therefore, it is incumbent that we become all that we can be, the most wonderful, intelligent, loving human being possible. And then we will always survive. As Abraham Lincoln reminded us, " Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
Life has a way of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you always expect the worst, then you will hardly ever be disappointed. Conversely, when you expect the best you will get the best.
With that being said here are a few suggestions that you might want to use in order to develop a more positive attitude. First and foremost think positive. As you think is how you are. Consequently, make a conscious effort to always think and talk positive. Think success; don't think failure. At work, in your home, at the gym, constantly bombard your brain with positive affirmations. Every word, thought and action should be that of a positive nature. If you say something negative, stop yourself, analyze why you said it, and then manipulate it into a positive affirmation. Thinking, talking, and acting successful will program your mind to create strategies for producing success. Thinking negatively does just the opposite.
Remind yourself repeatedly and on a regular basis that you can do great things if you put your mind to it. Never underestimate yourself. We are always better than we think we are.
Successful people are not supermen. Einstein said an interesting thing. He said, "I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." Think about this: Einstein figured out that time and space is relative. He also ascertained that nothing could move faster than light. For God's sake, he was a patient examiner when he wrote breakthrough papers on special relativity, the particle nature of light, and the equivalence of mass and energy. Contrary to the way he is often portrayed, Einstein was just a guy with a good mind that did extraordinary things.
Generally successful people are just ordinary folks who develop a belief in themselves and what they do. When opportunity arises, go for it...don't sell yourself short. Never sell yourself short!
Tell yourself every day that your attitude is more important than any other aspect, including your physical make up. The body serves the mind. It is not the other way around. If you have a strong mind, your body will follow. Envision the reasons why you can achieve something not the reasons why you can't. Develop an "I can, I will" attitude.
Don't be a wishful thinker. The only thing wishing can move is you. Think about it...there are a lot of people in mental institutions who think they are God, but they are not exactly setting the world on fire. Thinking positive is great but you have to supplement it with systematic planning, and hard work if you are going to be a success. Dream big, but make the dreams of today the realities of tomorrow. The way you do that is to believe in yourself and work hard. In short conceive, believe, and achieve.
Remember that when you believe in yourself good things will happen. And if you don't believe in yourself, no one else will believe in you either.
Yours in strength,
Cheaters never win and winners never cheat. Maybe that is true spiritually but it is certainly not true on the athletic field. In fact there seems to be a linear relationship between cheating and winning. You take just about any sport and you will find more cheating going on than you will find on...well cheaters. Cheating in sports has gone from being unthinkable and a disgrace to socially acceptable. Essentially cheating in sports is just about a given. Deceit and corruption is certainly not confined to the corporate world anymore. In actual fact the sports world is setting new standards for duplicity all the time. It seems that major college athletic programs are caught bending the rules ever month or so. In professional sports cheating seems to be more the rule than the exception.
I realize that cheating in sports is nothing new. Heck! Nero was notorious for cheating at the Greek games. What I want to know is when cheating became acceptable behavior. In fact, the general consensus among athletes now is that it is all right to cheat as long as you don't get caught.
Integrity is a fundamental value of teaching, learning, and scholarship. Yet, there is growing evidence that students cheat and plagiarize. Powerlifting is just one of many sanctioning bodies in sports that knowingly allows people who to cheat to win.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that we live in a sports-oriented culture where the game is more important than any other aspect of life. In fact, in America sports transcends every other aspect of human behavior. It's sad, but that's the way it is. That's the type of world we've created for ourselves.
Actually, the whole concept that Americans have about winning scares the heck out of me, because it teaches us to judge ourselves and others, not by intrinsic qualities, but rather by how well we play a game. Amazingly, people go around believing that self-worth is a process of chasing down fly balls or lifting record poundages. They have this mentality that superior athletes are better human beings than less successful athletes. Of course, they also believe that unsuccessful athletes are better human beings than non-athletes. A few years ago, for instance, Seth Brady conducted a clever little study which clearly supports the "halo effect" that winners enjoy. In the study, the subjects were asked to make personality ratings of amateur boxers who were viewed on film. The findings were sadly predictable. The winners of the matches were almost always seen as being more mature, better looking, more valuable, more potent and more active than the loser. In other words, the winners were perceived as being better human beings than the losers are.
In the words of Henry Youngman, P-L-E-A-S-E. All you have to do is look at the background and lifestyle of some of our country's best athletes to realize that such a notion is absolutely absurd. Check out Mike Tyson, Michael Irvin, Pete Rose, James Phillips, Jennifer Capriati and Dennis Rodman for starters. Certainly there are more redeeming qualities in life than slam-dunking a basketball or beating someone senseless in a boxing match. At least, you would think so, but that's not the mindset of most Americans. We need to understand that there is nothing wrong with losing, nothing wrong with being number two if you've done your best. It's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game that counts. Of course, to say such things is to admit defeat, and to admit defeat is not American.
Of course, winning also reinforces winning. If you're a "winner" in America you get it all -- trophies, travel, money, prestige, even women. Winners are even given special privileges in school, in politics, in the media, in business, in the courts--in fact, I can't think of a single place in our society where athletes aren't given special privileges. Generally, the winner gets everything, the loser nothing. Worse yet, even when you are crowned with success the fulfillment is fleeting. In fact, the tendency to deny losing is the American way. Have you ever read the book, A Country of Victims? If not, you should. It will give you a revealing insight into America's inability to take responsibility for its own actions. The book arduously points out that Americans cannot accept defeat or failure whether it's in sports, politics, economics, education, or anything else for that matter. As a country and a people we are constantly pointing fingers at everyone else but never really owning up to our own shortcomings. Like our Lord said in the Bible, we tend to see the splinter in everyone else's eye but we fail to see the log in our own.
Yours in strength,
What I have witnessed in today's sports makes Ali look like Emily Post when it comes to sportsmanship.
For example I recently read were a mother of a 15-year old boy who scored the winning run in a youth league baseball game in salt lake City was beaten up by a number of angry parents who's son's played for the losing team. Actually, they just didn't beat her up they pounded her into unconsciousness. After the game, a number of women allegedly battered the woman with their umbrellas, punched her in the face and then hit her with a baby stroller knocking her into oblivion. Police said the woman was still unconscious when they arrived. She was eventually transported to the hospital and treated for head injuries and facial swelling.
Unfortunately, things like this are happening more and more in the sports world. Last year a high school wrestler head butted the referee after he was pinned by his opponent. The referee was render unconscious for more than five minutes and sustained subtle brain damage from the injury. A few months later a 40-year old father beat up a referee because he fouled his son out of a Youth Athletic League basketball game. Less than a week after that an assistant baseball coach with the local Police Athletic League was charged with aggravated battery after allegedly throwing a punch that broke an umpires jaw. That same week at a girl's softball game dozens of parents rushed the field and started scuffling after a player was tagged out: two mothers who were both coaches each served ten days in jail. And just last week, (the reason I am writing this article) a lifter beat up a judge because he turned his lift down.
Can you believe all of that? Well, you probably can in light of what happened at a Little League hockey scrimmage game recently. A father who was frustrated after watching his son take an elbow confronted another father who was informally supervising the play. The two men got into a shoving match. A short time later they got into a fight. The larger man at 6'1" 240 pounds, allegedly knocked the much smaller man (165 pounds) to the floor and, kneeling on his chest beat him to death while both men's children witnessed the beating.
And now as I am writing this article a fan who tried to grab a foul ball, preventing outfielder Moises Alou from catching it was blamed for the Chicago Cubs' collapse in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series. Give me a break! The guy did absolutely nothing wrong and nothing that 99% of the other fans at that game would have done. The ball was clearly in the stands as indicated by the umpire. Meaning that the fan had every right to try and catch the ball for a souvenir. Trust me, just about every fan in every ballpark would have reacted the same way in order to get a souvenir. Hell, if I were there in his place I would have grabbed the ball, Alou's glove, and hat if he came in the stands. Yet the guy was treat as if he was an Iranian Terrorist.
The fan, a youth baseball coach, had to be escorted by security guards from Wrigley Field after he was threatened by angry fans and pelted with beer and debris. If that wasn't bad enough a police guard had to be posted outside the suburban Northbrook home where he lives with his parents. The fans brother-in-law in a read statement to the media said that he "hiding somewhere because he feared what might happen to him. Angry broadcasters castigated him. A local newspaper found in a Web poll that thousands of people blamed him for playing a role in the Cubs' loss. Even the governor chimed in with what I would call a cynical statement. "Nobody can justify any kind of threat to someone who does something stupid like reaching for that ball," Gov. Rod Blagojevich said. The governor of Florida, Jeb Bush said an offer of asylum the fan might be a good idea, and an oceanfront retreat in Pompano Beach offered him a free three-month stay if he needed to get out of Chicago. Chicago fans also lit up the phones at sports radio talk shows to haul the guy over the coals.
It seems like we have lost the capacity to step outside of ourselves and feel the pain of others. Today we have kids in the little league talking "smack" and trying to denigrate their opponents, high school and college coaches cheating to gain an unfair advantage over their opponents, and professional athletes using drugs and illegal equipment to obtain an edge. What is all this about...a damn game? Let's be real. Sports are challenging, fun, and entertaining, but they are just games. Not life and death situations worth compromising your integrity or causing physical and emotionally tremia another human being.
In an age when violence, cruelty, and arrogance steal the sports headlines, it is often the smallest, most unnoticed acts of kindness that remind us that sports is merely a game and that winning is not as important as being the best that you can be.
Let me tell you about a story I read in Pat Croce's book I feel Great and So Will You. It's about this thing called winning. The incident occurred at the Special Olympics in Seattle a few years ago. There were nine contestants for the 100-meter race. Of course, each one of the kids had either a physical or mental disability. Still, these kids are as passionate and dedicated as any athlete you will ever meet. I know that to be the case because I worked with the Special Olympics for a number of years. Believe me these kids push their heart and soul right to the limit when they train. They want to win just as bad as you and I do.
Anyway, when the gun went off to start the race all nine contestants stormed out of the starting blocks. Unfortunately, one of the kids got his feet tangled up and fell down no more then five feet from the starting point. When he hit the ground he just lied there and started to cry. His pain was probably more a consequence of his disappointment and frustration then it was his injury. When the other runners who were a third of the way down the track heard him crying they slowed up and then stopped running. They looked at each other then turned around and ran back to the their injured competitor. It wasn't just one or two of them either. All of them back.
When they reached the boy they helped him up and brushed his shirt and paints off. A little girl who had Downs Syndrome gave him a big hug and kissed him on the cheek. "That will help make the hurt go away," she said. A slight smile appeared on the boys face through his tears.
Once the boy was back on his feet, the kids were going to continue on with the race, but they notice that the boy couldn't run on his twisted knee. So all eight of them lined up next to him, four on each side, and the nine of them linked arms and walked down the track together. They crossed the finish line in unison, united as one. Isn't that great?
Now that is what sports and sportsmanship is all about!
Yours in strength,
Profile of what it takes to be a winner!
I have been around world class athletes my entire life. I worked
with professional athletes in several major sports and I have had
the opportunity to train in just about every Olympic center in the
world. I think I know a world class athlete when I see one.
Consequently, I can tell unequivocally that James Hollywood
Henderson is one of the greatest all around athletes I ever meet in
my life. The guy could play just about any sport at an elite
level....football, baseball, basketball, wrestling, powerlifting,
Olympic lifting, tennis, golf, even volleyball. It was like he
possessed general motor ability. Believe it or not he would peddle
around town on a unicycle. He was just totally gifted as an athlete.
I was James's strength coach when he played football at Albany
State University. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you the guy was
absolutely awesome. At 6'5', 347 pounds he could run like the wind.
He wasn't just fast either he was lighting quick. Like a big cat.
And boy could he hit. You talk about pure brut strength...there was
no one like him. I'm telling you if he hit you on the top of your
head you would be eating through your fly for a month.
It wasn't just his physical size though that made him great. He had
a real nasty attitude when it came to football. I mean that in a
positive way. He was an emotional predator whose attitude
suggested carnage and savage brutality on the field. He looked and
acted as if he owned the world and was about to remove the entire
population from the premises. He had a presence that suggested he
belong any where he wanted to belong, even if it was in somebody
else's living room, with their girlfriend. The impression he gave
was this is my world I'm just letting you reside in it for the time
being. That's ATTITUDE!
More importantly though he was totally committed to excellence. I
don't know of anyone who worked harder or who was more committed to
a single purpose then James. He demanded maximum effort from
himself and his teammates. When you went up against James it was to
the death...he would never quit...never give up. He had a will that
would bend tempered steel. And everyone who played against him knew
it. His persistence and tenacity literally struck terror in the
hearts of his opponents.
He would have been a sure fire number one draft choose if he hadn't
ripped his knee totally out in his freshman year at state.
Honestly, if James had good knees today he would give Pad nic
everything he wanted in the world Strongest Man Competition. In my
opinion James would handle him pretty easy because James was not
only powerful he was quick, agile and he had tremendous
cardiovascular fitness for a man who weighs in excess of 400
Of course, James does not have good knees so he had to settle for
being the greatest super heavyweight bench presser of all time.
That is my opinion too and I am sticking by it. He was the first
man to bench press 700 pounds totally raw and he did it with
perfect form under the scrutiny of three international officials.
For six years he totally dominated the superheavyweight division in
the bench press winning five world titles and setting more than 20
world bench press records. During his entire career he lifted
completely raw. If he used a shirt he probably could have bench
press a small apartment complex. Interestingly, most of the alleged
super benchers in his weight class avoided going head to head
against James. I will tell you why...none of them could beat him.
He literally quit competing in his prime while still on top. Of
course, my question to him was why? His answer was rather
remarkable and inspiring. "I actually, never retired from
powerlifting." He said, "I just took my lifting in a different
direction. I started a ministry to help bring people to Christ. I
found that I could use my lifting within my ministry to encourage
people to use their POWER OF CHOICE. This added significant value
to my lifting. I was not just lifting for metals and trophies. I
was now seeing lives changed.
"In one year" he continued, "I lifted 700lbs forty six different
times as an illustration of Christ lifting the weight of sin
,Thousands of people came to the alter it was amazing and
gratifying. This took my lifting to another level and importance.
God has used my speaking and lifting in some of the largest
churches, prisons, juvenile homes and corporate America. High
school, college and professional athletes have all been apart of my
audiences. I have discovered that being a man of God, the first man
in history to lift over 700lbs without the aid of drugs or special
equipment and being a five time world champion can give a person a
solid foundation to speak from. So, you see powerlifting is
something that I could never retire from because it is way of life
for me. "
Eventually he joined the Power Team. While on the Power Team
he was a leading character on a television show called the power
connection, that aired for six years on TBN. He even made a quest
appearance on Texas Walker Ranger with Chuck Norris. Today he has a
weekly radio program on AM WMCU 1080 called "More Than Just
Winning". He currently travels about 40 weeks out of a year
encouraging people to use their POWER OF CHOICE!!
One thing is for sure he has not lost any confidence since his
departure from competitive lifting. "If you or any one else would
ask me how much I can you lift now? I would say whatever it takes to win.
That's right I could still win if I have too."
- Dr. Judd
If you always do what you always did, then you'll always get what you always got
lt came about, oh around the fourth century B.A. (before Apollo). This was before E.S.P.N.before Soul Train even. Hercules the prlmogenitor of Larry Pacifico, and the god of strength, went up to Mount Olympus were he fasted and prayed for forty minutes. lt was there that Zeus the king of heaven and the lord of the thunderbolt, appeared to Hercules in the form of a burning bush. Now Zeus said to Hercules, "Cut out for yourself two stone tablets and I will write on the tablets - if you help me with the spelling - the Seven Commandments of Powerlifting. Yes! Seven Commandments because he couldn't think of ten. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, "The Seven Commandments." Then he told Hercules "take these commandments and give them to the lifters of the World."
Thou shaft not lift until thou has developed picture perfect form. Before you even think about doing a single repetition, make sure you know how the exercise should be performed in order to get the greatest bio-mechanical efficiency possible. And don't you dare add an ounce of weight until you have developed consummate form. This isn't your mother talking hear, so pay attention. Proper form Is one of the most critical aspects of lifting heavy weight. Heck, It's one of The Seven commandments. By using proper form you will not only be able to cut down on Injuries but you will also be able to significantly enhance your performance. The more efficient your "lifting groove" the more weight you will be able to move.
Thou shalt not neglect hard work. Even a "doubting Aphrodites" knows that in order to be good at something you have to work at it. As Pacifico, the god of the "total" once said "hard work is everything". lf you are not willing to struggle a little, sacrifice a little, and work a lot, you will never make it in the "iron game". If you are going to get anything from your training, you have to work up a little sweat. And that means a little discomfort ... OK, a little pain too. Did you ever hear of the overload Principle? It states that in order to get a training effect you have to tax your muscles beyond what they are normally accustomed to. That means you have to push yourself if you want to make gains. The old cliche, "no pain, no gain" is true. (There are limits to this however - see Commandment 3). Interestingly, John Lawther a renowned motor learning expert has said that in order to reach an elite level In athletics you have to train approximately 10,000 hours. That's 10,000 quality hours of hard training, not just 10,000 hours spent in the gym. Like Pacifico said, "hard work is everything." Remember too, that whatever a man soweth that shall be also what he reaps.
Thou shalt not kill thyself. This is not only the law of the gods but it is also one of the primary rules of most gyms. Members are not allowed to kill themselves. Although most of us have been taught that there is a direct relationship between hard work and success, too much work will not only decrease the likelihood of success, but may even bring about serious injury. Research has consistently shown that if a muscle is placed under stress and then stressed again, without being given enough time to recover; the muscle will become weaker, rather than stronger. Continued use of a fatigued muscle is especially injurious if the muscles exhaust their supply of glycogen and utilize the protein of their own cells for energy. In short, train too much will not only decrease your performance but can also lead to serious injury. Note, that lifting should be a lifelong activity, not a life threatening one.
Thou shall stretch out, before thou shalt workout. An individual who does not have adequate flexibility cannot move with ease through movements requiring extreme ranges of motion at the joints. He also significantly increases his chance of injury especially in movements requiring a full range of movement. In fact, research has shown that maintenance of an adequate range of motion prevents and/or helps relieve muscle spasms and tears. Besides increasing movement capabilities and reducing the possibility of injuries, flexibility can also enhance lifting performance. According to research, proper flexibility will enable you to exert more muscular force in extreme ranges of movement. For example coming out of a deep squat requires that you exert maximal force from a position of extreme muscular stretch. Fred Hatfield, the god of squat, said that by improving hip and shoulder flexibility, the ability to perform explosive movements improves with the essential by-product of reducing the chances of injury to joints and muscles from over-stretching. So stretch for god's sake.
Thou shalt not stay up all night chasing women. OK, OK, you can chase women, but just don't stay up all night doing it. If you want to be great, you have to get your sleep. As you might expect sleep deprivation not only affects mental preparedness, but also physical performance. There are several studies which have revealed that as little as one hour of sleep deprivation for a period of one week can cause a significant decrement in strength, speed, and coordination. Physiologist, also believe that rest is just as essential to muscle growth as nutrition and proper exercise. In short, an adequate amount of sleep is necessary If you are going to reach your full potential as a lifter. So get plenty of sack time. Naps are good too, but skip the cookies and milk.
Thou shalt not feast on ambrosia (the food of the gods). You know like ice cream, cake, or any other food that tastes too good to be good. Although at present there is no way to ascertain an individual's precise nutritional needs for optimum health and/or performance there are some general rules you can follow. First of all most experts in the field of nutrition recommend that serious athletes consume approximately 60 to 75% carbohydrates, 15 to 25% protein, and 5 to 10% fat in addition to limiting fat (the average American consumes approximately 40% fat) the experts suggest you eliminate salts, stimulants, sugar, flour, hot spices, alcohol, charcoal-broiled foods and foods that contain additives and preservatives. Don't panic! It sounds like everything, but it really isn't. On the other hand, try to increase the consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain cereals. A multi-vitamin supplement might also be taken as determined by your age and sex. Remember, you are what you eat. You don't want to be a twinkie do you?
Thou shalt not drink spirituous beverages. Research has consistently revealed that even moderate use of alcohol can cause myocystites (an inflammation of muscle tissue) a condition that can significantly decrease an individual's strength and endurance. Strength decrements as high as six percent have been found in some subjects the day after they consumed as little as two ounces of alcohol. There is also a prolific amount of research which shows that moderate consumption of alcohol can decrease the production of testosterone (you know the hormone that makes men ... well, bigger and better men, and women almost men), which will also predispose an individual to decrements in strength.
And that's the way it was written in the book of lifting!
Yours in strength,
Color Me GREAT!
Can color make strong men weak, weak men strong, aggressive men timid and timid men aggressive? The answers may surprise you.
In the early 1980s University of Iowa coach, Hayden Fry, had the visitors' locker room painted pink in an attempt to get a psychological edge over his opponents. He had the stadium staff spray paint the room in pastel pink with the hope of creating a soothing and calming environment for the opposing team, thereby, making the visiting team as aggressive as ...well...mellow-yellow. This year as part of an $86.8 million renovation of the stadium, the school found ways to make the visitors' locker-room even more tranquil or as some sports writers suggested...Barbie-esque. The university didn't choose simple "pink", but rather "Innocence" for the walls and "Dusty Rose" for the toilets and urinals. While the Hawkeyes dress in a locker room decorated in the team's colors of gold and black, the visiting team changes in a room that looks like it is adorned with Pepto-Bismol. The ceramic tiles in the shower room are pink; the bathroom sinks are pink; the interior of the equipment room is pink, and the open metal lockers that hold players' uniforms are pink. In fact, the only thing not pink is the toilet paper.
Although there are very few incidences in the world of sports where colors were intentionally used to gain an advantage, the Hawkeyes are not the only sports team, and certainly not the first team, to use colors in an attempt to gain an edge over their opponents. The famous Alonzo Stagg, while coaching at Chicago, had two dressing rooms constructed for his players. One of the dressing rooms was painted blue for his team during rest period and the other dressing room red for the team's fight talks. Stagg apparently followed the line of thinking that blue would have a calming effect on his players, while red would have a stimulating effect. Along this same line of thinking, the athletic director at the University of New Mexico went a step further by painting his own dressing room red and the opponent's blue.
The only other application of premeditated color therapy in sports that I am aware of was at the Kansas City Baseball Academy. The Academy's involvement with colors was much more scientific and advanced than any of the aforementioned examples. Actually, the Academy spent a lot of money to research the effects that various colors had on human performance. What they discovered was fascinating.
First of all, they found a prolific number of experimental studies, which revealed that there is a powerful energy source in colors. It should be noted that color in the form of light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Of course, light is one of the eight components of the spectrum: others are cosmic rays, gamma rays, X-rays, ultra-violet rays, infrared rays, radio and television rays. All of these components transport energy. The most significant studies in this area emanated from the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, which found that an individual's muscular, mental, and nerve activity could be altered by subjecting the person to certain variations in color. For example, they found that under ordinary white light, muscular activity measured twenty-three empirical units, but picked up slightly under blue light, increased further under green light and reached 30 empirical units under yellow light. When the subjects were exposed to the aforementioned colors for as little as five minutes, they showed significant changes in both their mental and muscular activity. In other words, the colors had a profound effect upon the subject's physical and psychological make-up. Apparently, colors can alter the normal electrical pattern in the brain and the manner in which electricity travels through the muscles of the body.
As you might expect, this can have an influence on physical performance. For instance, research has shown that if an individual focuses on the color pink for as little as fifteen seconds, he will experience measurable weakening of his muscles, which can last for as long as thirty minutes. In addition, there is strong evidence to indicate that the color red can actually enhance physiological strength. We will talk about this in a moment.
Interestingly, colors are not only effective in inducing direct biological changes in people, but they also can arouse feelings and moods in people. For example, research designed to determine the effects of colors on human behavior have revealed that colors can stimulate, depress, relax, or cheer up an individual. There are even colors that can cause irritation and actual physical discomfort. Not only that, but certain colors can arouse specific feelings in people. Blue, for example, conveys peace and contentment; dark blue has a tranquil effect. The color yellow conjures up feelings of achievement. The color red gives you the feeling of vitality, power, and the urge to win. Green and red together stir up feelings of strength and reliability. I could go on and on, because just about every color is associated with some type of feeling or emotion. Generally, though, bright primary colors prompt immediate emotions while subdued colors evoke peace and tranquility. The Academy people were so convinced that certain colors could significantly affect the performance of their ballplayers that they had the entire complex repainted. Believe me, it was no accident that the Academy had the most colored coordinated complex in baseball.
Interestingly, in 1980, a study conducted by psychologists Peliegrine and Schauss revealed that strength scores of athletes could be significantly enhanced by having them workout in a room that was painted entirely in red. The study also revealed that athletes exhibited a significant decrement in strength when they trained in a room painted entirely in pink. Shortly thereafter law enforcement agencies were quick to see a practical application for the aforementioned results and began painting restraining cells pink. One of the most interesting examples of color effects is Baker-Miller Pink.(closely approximated by Benjamin Moore's #1328). Baker-MillerPink, also known as drunk tank pink, was used to calm violent prisoners in jails. Dr. Alexander Schauss, Ph.D., director of the American Institute for Biosocial Research in Tacoma, Washington was the first to report the calming effect that the color pink had prisoners: "Even if a person tries to be angry or aggressive in the presence of pink, he can't," stated Schauss. "The heart muscles can't race fast enough. It's a tranquilizing color that saps your energy. Even the color blind, amazingly enough, is tranquilized by pink rooms." Before you could say, "Paint your wagon" The medical profession, the academic world, restaurants, hotels and corporate America followed suit, extensively using colors in an attempt to manipulate human behavior and emotions. By 1987, just about every major field of endeavor, except the sports world, was using colors extensively to enhance performance.
Do colors per se really have the power to sway behavior? That question is still up for debate. Current experiments designed to repeat the original studies conducted on colors have revealed mixed results. It now appears that "demand characteristics" may have produced the results. Technically, demand characteristics are cues which are present during an experiment, and these characteristics influence the subjects to perform in a certain way. For example, if a subject is socialized to believe that the color pink is a feminine color and the color blue is a masculine color, this conditioning can influence the way the subjects are influenced by these colors. In short, the possibility exists that an individual responds to colors more by what he has been told about those colors than by the influence of the colors per se.
For instance, in a landmark study designed to test the power of suggestion, Jeffrey Smith had men and women look at eight different colored panels, one at a time and then pull on a hand dynamometer as hard as they could. Before the test, half of the subjects were told that pink would make them weaker, while blue would make them stronger. The other half were told the opposite.
The results revealed that to those who were told that pink would make them stronger, it did, and to those who were told that pink would make them weaker, it did. Smith also learned that contrary to other experiments, his subjects rated pink as more arousing and blue as more relaxing. Regardless, the explicit suggestions had more of an effect on grip strength than did color.
Interestingly, there have been numerous other studies since Smith's innovative investigation that revealed similar results. The question then is not if colors affect performance...the research clearly shows that they do...but rather if it is the inherent effect of colors themselves that have the power to influence behavior or is it the social conditioning associated with colors. That question will only be answered after considerably more research. Certainly colors are something for every coach and athlete to think about.
Yours in strength,
I remember we had this big anatomy test coming up and I asked Danny if he wanted to study with me. He said that he wanted to but he just didn't have the time. He had to attend a retreat for his church. I warned him that he better study because the test was going to be a real killer. He assured me he would be totally prepared when it came time for the test. That weekend I spent every waking hour studying anatomy. I really got into it. By the time Monday rolled around I was ready. I met Danny right before class and asked him if he had studied for the test. Amazingly, he told me that he hadn't even opened the book. I asked him what he was going to do. Do you know what he told me? He said "l am putting this test in the Lord's hands. He will take care of me." He then gave me this bright eyed look and said. "Trust in the Lord and all things will be possible to you." I was right, the test was a real nightmare. The kind that separates the men from the boys. I was ready, though, and as a result I got a 97, the highest grade in the room. How did Reverend Danny do? Well, he didn't even qualify as a fetus, he got a 23, the lowest grade on the test. Here is the point, the Lord helps those who help themselves. There is no free ride in life. You reap what you sow. If you're not willing to work no one is going to help you, not even the Lord.
We all want to believe that there is some easy way to the end of the rainbow. That there is some magic formula for success. In fact, most athletes and non-athletes are looking for a magic elixir that will transform them into a superman over night. Well the magic elixir is a nasty little lie that can linger for a lifetime, a fantasy substitute for the reality that we have to work for what we get in life. I would love to tell you that one day I ate a big bowl of Magic Flutie Flakes, went to the gym, and turned into a world class powerlifter. If I had such a magic formula that by-passed the hard work phase, I would be instantly rich and I wouldn't have the body of an eleven year old stamp collector. I would also be a fraud and a storyteller. The fact is there are no shortcuts in life. Over the past two decades I have researched just about every ergogenic aid known to man. I've read just about every book on human performance and I have visited just about every Olympic training center in the world. With the exception of dangerous and/or illegal drugs there is no alternative to hard work. And even if you are using such drugs, you still have to work. Nothing worth having in life is for free.
Let me tell you about this study that was conducted in the early sixties. It is a rather revealing investigation. A team of biomechanical experts went to the York Barbell Club in York, Pennsylvania in order to study a human phenomenon named Paul Anderson. At the time, Anderson was considered the strongest man ever to have walked the face of the earth. There was strong evidence for this claim. For starters, Anderson held all of the world records in both Olympic and powerlifting -- a feat unequaled before and since. Consider this for a moment: At a time when the world's strongest men were struggling to master 700 pounds in the squat, Anderson had already managed a 1200 pound squat. Even today, close to three decades later and with the aid of drugs and sophisticated equipment, no man has come close to cracking the 1100 pound barrier. Let me put that into perspective for you: that record would be analogous to Bob Beamon long jumping 40 feet, or Mark McGwire hitting 90 home runs in a year. It's mindboggling just to think about it. Just for the record, Anderson is still the only human being to back lift over 6000 pounds, one arm press over 300 pounds, and neck lift over 800 pounds.
Not surprisingly, the research team was hoping that by studying Anderson they could find a physiological substructure or some characteristic that was responsible for Anderson's awesome strength and power. They assumed that if there were a biological, anatomical, or psychological center of strength, then surely it would be found in Paul Anderson.
After considerable testing, they concluded that Anderson was indeed different from other lifters he had studied. From a biomechanical standpoint, Anderson's body was almost perfectly constructed to lift heavy weights. However, they found that Anderson's superior biomechanical structure was more the result of strength training - muscle and body mass have been shown to increase biomechanical efficiency - than good genetics. They thus considered that strength performance may be nothing more than a product of strength training - a process available to every athlete. In short, HARD WORK!
Although the study conducted on Anderson left a lot to be desired from a scientific standpoint, it did act as a catalyst for similar but more scientifically sound experiments. In fact, afterwards, a prolific number of studies were conducted to ascertain what variables correlated with world class performance. Interestingly, most of the research that was conducted supported the earlier theory.
Now here's something you need to stick in your notebook: A series of studies conducted by John Lawther a researcher from Michigan, found that the number one variable related to elite performance was time spent in training - not genetics. According to Lawther, elite performance was due more to quality training than to exceptional inborn capacities. Lawther estimated that twenty hours of quality training per week for a period of eight years appears to be the amount of work required to reach a world-class level. That's approximately ten thousand total hours. Apparently, a certain time is needed for an athlete to learn the most efficient methods and skills for enhancing performance. Even a would-be world-class athlete must learn the basics of the sport to build a firm foundation. To train twenty hours a week is, to say the least, very difficult. Yet, as Lawther emphasizes, it is twenty hours of quality training - with great intensity, not just twenty hours of training -- that is required for elite performance.
I'll go one step further and say that even prodigies have to work hard to be successful. You could be the greatest physical specimen to ever walk the face of the earth, but if you don't eat, sleep, and train right, you won't be around long. l don't care how much talent you have, if you're going to be successful - you have to work. You could be potentially the brightest person ever born, but if you don't get the proper inputs, or don't use them correctly, you're not going to function very well. The same is true physically. If you want to be great you have to pay a price. You have to jump in there and get your hands dirty. There is just no other way. I believe it was May Smith who said "The only place you find success before work is in the dictionary."
Larry Pacifico, arguably the greatest powerlifter of all time was once asked, "What is the secret to your great strength?" Pacifico fumed to his questioner in surprise that he had asked such an elementary question and replied. 'There is no secret. Hard work ... that's what it takes, there is nothing else. Hard work does it every time.
SOME KEYS TO SUCCESS
* Don't waste your time looking for shortcuts. Get it in your mind right now that in life there is no free ride.
* If you want to be great expect to work hard and long. Nothing worth having in life comes easy.
* Focus on what you're doing. Don't worry about the past or the future. Only the moment counts.
* Every day do something that will get you a little closer to your goals.
* Get a training log (preferably the one I published) and record your workouts as you perform them.
* Roll your sleeves up and get to work. It is the only way to reach stardom.
Yours in strength,
Nobody can acquire honor by doing what is wrong. Thomas Jefferson
Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud. - Sophocles
He has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so. - Walter Lippmann
I want to talk to you about something that really disturbs me. I am sure most of you are familiar with honor codes such as the street code of ethics, "The Blue Wall of Silence" (ironclad police rule) and the unspoken code of silence in journalism and sports. These are codes of ideology in which people do not snitch on other people committing crimes, breaking rules, or engaging in unethical practices. Those who live by such a code are seen to be honorable people who can be trusted to stand steadfast by their commitments even though their behavior supersedes doing what is right and, often, moral. Conversely, people who tell the truth and take responsibility for their actions are considered reprehensible snitches and rats.
For example, when Andy Pettitte testified to the congressional committee on drug use in baseball that Roger Clemens told him that he had used performance-enhancing substances, there was an immediate backlash of criticism and condemnation of Pettitte. He was called a snitch, a rat, and a dirty gutless bum by literally thousands of bloggers. Perhaps one blogger summed up the sentiments of most bloggers when he wrote, "Andy is a coward, a snitch and a rat. For God's sake, he rolled over on his own father. No one likes a rat; how can anyone have respect for this guy? All he had to tell investigators is that he did not know and that he couldn't remember Roger telling him anything. Instead, since he got caught using HGH, he felt that someone had to go down with him and that was Roger Clemens. Instead of manning up to it and taking the fall, he dragged his so called "best friend" down with him. What a friend. Andy Pettitte = snake." Yes! That sums it up nicely.
Now, from reading a prolific number of articles and blogs, I will admit that the way it looks I am in the minority on this issue. I accept that distinction whole heartily. I will also admit that the origin of "stop snitching" which originated in the late sixties was essential and beneficial for the survival of oppressed black people who were being harassed by the United States law enforcement authorities. However, in my opinion, what started out as something which was necessary and positive has evolved into something that is insidious and destructive. What is the honor in doing something that is dishonorable? It goes without saying that calling such behavior a code of honor is an oxymoron. At best it is a code of disgrace.
Personally, what Pettitte did was the right thing to do. In the midst of all the baloney and hot air, Pettitte refused to pay tribute to a ridiculous tradition of concealing facts for the sake of protecting a teammate who cheated and lied. Instead, he stood up and told the truth. "I have to live with myself," Pettitte said in his deposition. "And one day, I have to give an account to God -- and not to nobody else -- of what I've done in my life. And that's why I've said and shared the stuff with y'all that I've shared with y'all today -- that I wouldn't like to share with y'all." That's courage!
The idea that people who tell the truth are rats actually perpetuates immoral and corrupt behavior. To paraphrase Earl Ofari Hutchinson, all of you are doing by voicing this no snitching nonsense is saying; PLEASE KEEP OUR NEIGHBORHOODS, SCHOOLS, AND SPORTS TEAMS SAFE FOR MURDERS, THEIVES, CHEATERS, AND LIERS, because that is exactly what you are doing...creating a safe haven for thugs and cheaters. It seems to me that is the worst kind of self-destruction imaginable, and your self-destruction isn't just killing you; it's killing all of us.
Let's say just for the sake of argument that Clemens is guilty, which isn't a real stretch of the imagination, considering that just about every one in America thinks he is culpable. What honor is there in cheating, then lying about it, and worse yet, trying to ruin another man's character to save your own ass? That is cowardly...you do the crime, you do the time.
Let me ask you this too: if a person sees a rape or a crime being committed, should he just walk on by as if nothing is happening? I don't know about anyone else, but I'd rather take my chances for standing up for what is right, instead of having to live with the guilt of knowing I could have done something to help someone. If it means getting hurt to help another...well, so be it. I would rather be a rat, even a dead rat, than an accessory to a crime. I am also willing to chance speaking out about what is wrong in sports, academia and any other institution or individual who is debasing our way of life. Call me a snitch, a rat, a stool pigeon, an informant...call me what you will. I am willing to do all of that for only one reason - IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO!
When I was in college we had an honor code, a real honor code, which stated that a person should not at any time, any place or for any reason lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do. In fact, we were obligated to turn in anyone who did not abide by the honor code. Everyone who agreed to the university's code of honor, which was everyone at the school, took that pledge very seriously. How serious...I will give you an example. One of my friends saw his best friend and roommate cheat on a test. In stead of reporting him to the instructor, he went to his roommate and told him to turn himself in. His roommate informed him that he had already turned himself in. This presented a problem for my friend because he had breeched the honor code. He should have immediately reported the incident to the instructor. Consequently, he had to go to the instructor and acknowledge that he had also breeched the honor code. As a result, they were both suspended from school. Neither my friend nor his roommate expressed any ill will towards the professor or each other because they both knew they had broken their code of honor, and they took full responsibility for their own behavior. That, too, is courage!
I'm repulsed by pathetic individuals looking the other way at wrong doing, teaching others to do the same, and categorizing those who have a sense of fairness and justice as rats and snitches. It is rather astonishing to me that children are being educated from a young age to honor these rather bizarre codes which in truth advocate dishonesty and corruption. Even more amazing is that the guiding principles of these codes have been embraced not only by young children, but also by adults who you would think would have enough common sense to see the absolute duplicity and hypocrisy in such a system. What you are doing is buying into this lie that you are better off letting thugs and liars go free because in some perverse distorted way you want to honor a code that supports deceit and dishonesty rather than integrity.
I will say it again, these bizarre and absurd codes are simply tactics that permit criminal and immoral behavior to proliferate, and I'm not buying into it...not for a second.
Yours in strength
"It isn't sex that wrecks these guys, it's staying up all night looking for it."
For the past decade and a half I have been teaching at Albany State University, in Albany Georgia. At State I get an opportunity to teach a lot of different subjects. In fact, it is not uncommon for me to teach twelve different classes during the course of the year. Believe it or not my subject matter ranges from modern dance right up to advanced kinesiology. I like teaching such a variety of course because I feel like I am constantly learning in them. It is like I am getting paid to learn. It's great!
Anyway, my favorite class is sex education. It's an amazing class. We talk about everything in there from autosexual behavior right up to zoophilia. Naturally, I get plenty of teasing from my fellow colleagues. I walk down campus and they will yell out "Hey Judd, does that sex education class you teach have a lab on Saturday nights?" or they will say something a little more ingenious like, "Judd, do you give oral exams in that class?" Of course, I assure them that I do.
In all honesty it is not so much that I teach the class as I learn in it. Believe me, over the years I have learned some incredible things about sex education. For instance, did you know that fertilization is that stuff you put on your lawn to make it green or that fallatio is an Italian restaurant? And here is something else I bet you didn't know. Cunnilingus is the girl in the dorm who lives across the hall from Nikea. Did you also know that ninety-nine percent of the men in the United States masturbate...the other one percent are liars. And here is something that will really freak you out - some people get sexual gratification out of exposing themselves to others - they are called bodybuilders. I'm telling you; ever day I learn something new in that class. It's awesome!
What happened recently though in the sports world has changed our discussions in my sex class significantly. If you hadn't heard the Minnesota Vikings took a sex education field trip on the good ship lollypop and shortly there after two cheerleaders form the Carolina Panthers pro football team visited cunnilingus not at her dorm room, but at a restroom stall in Banana Joe's nightclub. Now my students have major questions about sex and sports.
For instance, the majority of my students want to know if having sex will have an adverse affect on athletic performance. Well, if you have been following the Vikings since their road trip on the Love Boat you would probably say unequivically yes. Interestingly, though that may not be the case. It just might be that the Vikings are as bad on the football field as thay are in the sack and neither of those two things have anything to do with each other.
Actually, the effect that sexual performance has on athletic performance is a rather provocative question - one that excites me, figuratively speaking, that is. In actuality, I have had a wealth of experiencing dealing with this very issue - empirical research not applied experimentation I might add.
A number of years ago at the Wide World of Sports Super Stars Com?petition in Sarasota, Fla., I overheard the former heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Joe Frazier, tell an aspiring athlete that two months prior to a fight he would totally abstain from sex. Sex will make you weak, I never did it before I fought," explained Joe. "Besides, when I didn't get sex, I would get mean as hell." At the time I thought Joe's advice was about as good as the swimming exhibition he gave during the Superstars competition (In case you missed it, Joe jumped in the pool, took eight strokes that propelled him three feet, and then went straight to the bottom).
I might have been able to buy the mean and vicious part, but as far as sex causing a decrement in athletic performance, I just didn't believe it. In fact, I had read somewhere that a world class pole vaulter had set a world record less than one-half hour after he made love to his wife. Joe had to be wrong.
Then I met a world class high jumper named Bruce McDaniels who swore that sex prior to competition would indeed cause a decrement in athletic performance. He said that when he had sex before competition he jumped like well, a white man. Less than a year later, I met six world class boxers who told me that not only did they abstain from sex a week prior to competition, but the night before a fight they would actually ice down their genitals so that they wouldn't risk having a nocturnal emission. Icing down your genitals sounds about as much fun as getting a rectal exam. These guys were obviously serious about what they were doing.
Still there was that Wilt The Stilt Chamberlain thing that makes you sit back and say, "Sex can't be all that bad." If you recall Wilt claimed that he had slam dunked 20,000 different females during his basketball career - which would have figured out to be about 5.14 ladies (I use the word ladies loosely here) a day. No wonder they called him "The Big Dipper." Certainly sex didn't seem to affect his performance on the court. Nor did it affect Babe" Ruth's baseball performance who was equally notorious for countless liaisons. They didn't call him "The Saltin of Swat" for nothing.
Needless to say, I started wondering if what these guys were saying had any merit. Consequently, I decided to look into the matter. A computer search of the research literature came up dry. I couldn't find a single well-controlled experiment that was designed to determine how sex affects athletic performance. In an attempt to get some answers, I started interviewing the athletes with whom I came in contact with. I was amazed to find that a number of powerlifters felt that engaging in sexual intercourse the night before competition would significantly decrease their performance. I engaged in sex twice before competition and both times I performed terribly in the meet," recalls an elite lifter who asked to remain anonymous. "My legs were rubber, and I had no strength in my hips or back." I used to engage in sexual intercourse before I competed," reported another elite lifter, but I soon found out that I totaled better when I abstained from sex at least the night before. In my case, sex seemed to make my legs heavy, consequently my squat and dead lift suffered. I guess like Rocky's coach Mickey says, "Women weakens legs."
Overall though, most athletes, including powerlifters, felt that sexual relations the night prior to competition did not impair athletic performance. In fact, some athletes actually felt that sex improved their performance.
"Actually, sex is a part of my precompetition ritual," stated world class Olympic lifter Billy Gardner. "It's relaxing. It helps me still my mind ... oh yea, it feels good too." Brooks Johnson, the United States Olympic track coach agrees (not with the feels good part, although he might if you asked him). "Having successful, as opposed to unsuccessful sex before competition has many pluses," says Johnson. "It can be relaxing and fulfilling. For some ath?letes it has the same effect as having a good rubdown." In my opinion, Johnson is either getting the best rubdown this side of the Gold Club in Atlanta or he is dating someone on the order of Cindy Celibate.
Interestingly, the American Medical Association's committee on the medical aspects of sports, reports that if sex is a regular part of an athlete's life, sexual relations the night before competition it will not cause a decrement in athletic performance. According to the AMA, the only way that athletic performance could be hindered by sexual relations prior to competition is:
If the athlete doesn't get enough sleep.
If sex is not a regular part of the athlete's life.
If the athlete believes that it will impair his or her athletic performance.
Unfortunately, the American Medical Association didn't have any research to substantiate the aforementioned points. Of course, you would expect that the A.M.A. would be in the know concerning this issue. However, they've been wrong before. Don't forget it was the A.M.A. who said that anabolic steroids did not enhance strength or athletic performance. In other words, because they (the A.MA) say it's so doesn't mean it's always so. Still, they probably are the people with the information to make the best calculated guess.
When you really think about it, they probably are right. According to Dr. Ruth, the average bout of sexual intercourse only lasts six minutes and it consumes less than two hundred and fifty calories. ( Do you ever wonder who times someone having sex beside my old girlfriend) Notice, I said "average." For a lifter, it would probably be six hours and a half million calories. Assuming the old cliche is true, that lifters get it up and keep it there. When you think about it, you probably burn up more calories in your first two or three sets of warm-ups. I would also venture to say that most lifters are in pretty good shape (with the exception of a few of our super heavy weights) especially compared to the average Joe Blow walking around. Consequently, they probably can handle six minutes of bliss a lot better than most people?from a physical standpoint that is. Still, all of this is just speculation. When research is conducted to determine the effects of sexual relations on lifting performance, we just may find out that it will decrease performance.
Come to think of it, I'd like to do that research. Anyway, until some research is conducted, your guess is as good as mine as to whether sexual relations will hinder athletic performance. So until then, you'll have to figure out what's best for you through trial and error. Look at the bright side though, the trial and the error is going to hurt so g-o-o-d.
lose grace win with dignity
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge amid controversy.
- Martin Luther King Jr.
When I was growing up the athlete that I disliked the most was Muhammad Ali. Now I know that Ali is one of the greatest athletes of the millenium, and without question he is the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. Even as a small boy I understood Ali's greatness. I knew that he was something very special. An athlete unlike any other I had ever witnessed. Still I loathed him with a passion. And my dislike for him had nothing to do with his religious beliefs or his refusal to be inducted into military. It was about him as an athlete.
He was just so brash and bold... so arrogant. He wouldn't just defeat his opponents he would taunt and belittle them. He took great pride in humiliating competitors who were not in his class. Often mocking their lack of talent and skill. He had no empathy or compassion for his opponents even after he had defeated them soundly. In effect he exhibited a total lack of respect for everyone and everything that was associated with his sport. He displayed absolutely no style or class. He certainly didn't understand or choose not to understand the concept of winning with dignity and humility. In my opinion he was the antithesis of what the true spirit of sport was all about. He went against everything that I was taught to honor and respect in sports. Naturally I detested him. I knew he was a great athlete but I had no desire to support him and in fact I couldn't wait until Ali got his butt beat but good.
Well that day finally came in 1971 against Joe Frazier. Before the fight Ali demeaned Fraizer calling him stupid and ugly. He said that Frazier was such a bad boxer that if he beat him he would get on his hands and knees and craw across the ring and kiss Fraziers feet. He even said he would leave the country for good if Fraizer beat him. Frazier wasn't impressed. When the bell to start round one rang Fraizer can out "smoking" raining blows to Ali's head and midsection. I knew right then that Ali would lose. Here was the first man to really stand up to the great Muhammad Ali. I loved it. In the third round Ali bellowed to Fraizer, "Joe you can't beat me. Don't you understand God is with me." Fraizer undaunted responded, " Well then God and you are going to get an ass whoopen tonight." True to his word Fraizer put a good whoopen on Ali. In the fifteenth round Fraizer floored Ali with a thunderous left hook. It was a blow that would have crumbled a brick wall. Amazingly, Ali regained his feet before the count of ten. He survived the rest of the round but it was clear that he was a defeated man.
After the fight Ali sat in his corner his face bruised and swollen from the terrible beating he took. In his eyes you could see that his heart was weighted down by the defeat. I loved every second of it. I just couldn't wait until the post fight press conference. I knew Ali would have to eat his words. And I knew the press was going to be really hard on him. After all he had humiliate so many other people in the past. Now it was going to be his turn to eat crow.
Well I was partially right. The press "hammer" him unmercifully but Ali handled the situation with such grace and dignity that he actually inspired me, and I am sure millions of other people who were watching the event. Although he had not boxed in three and a half years prior to the fight he never used that as an excuse. In fact he never made any excuses. He took sole responsibility for the loss and he gave Fraizer all the credit that was due him. He talked about how great Fraizer was as a fighter and a man. He was so gracious in defeat that you couldn't help but admire him. Ali may never have won with humility but he certainly knew how to lose with grace. Everyone talks about how great a winner Ali was, but in my opinion he was a great loser. He certainly taught me a lot about the experience of losing.
Lets face it life is tough. It's an endless series of ups and downs, yet it is through the process of facing and overcoming difficulties that life really has meaning. Certainly the way we deal with setbacks goes a long way in distinguishing how successful we will be in life. Failure arouses our determination and wisdom. Because of this, many people facing failure have been pretty surprised to find that the impending loss actually created courage, determination, and a new found wisdom. In basic terms, it's synonymous with that trite old cliché; "Every black cloud has a silver lining." Failure teaches us. Or as Ben Franklin said, "Those things that hurt, instruct." If we get burned, we learn not to play with matches. If we make a mistake, we learn not to do it again. Nobody can avoid failure all of the time. Even Muhammod Ali tasted failure.
Many times the difference between a good athlete and a world class athlete is whether or not he can learn from failure, whether he can use it or whether he will be eaten up by it. Martin Luther King Jr. has said, "The true measure of man is not how well he does during times of comfort and convenience, but during times of trials and tribulations." Look at a man who has handled defeat and setbacks well, and you will see a man with character. People who can rise from the ashes, who can handle defeat and adversity are the champions of life. Ali never let defeat, defeat him. That is why he is ALI-THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME!