By Judd Biasiotto Ph.D.
I believe that you will find that patience and persistence is another very important aspect in achieving peak performance. Nothing worth having in life comes easy or naturally. You've got to be patient and work at it, if you're going to succeed. When things get tough and your back is against the wall, that is when you really have to plug away. You have to refuse to quit. Don't even entertain the thought. You have to think positive. You have to believe that you can still achieve your objective, provided you persist. Rid yourself of negatives. Such self-defeating words are for fatalists, not intelligent people. That's the type of mindset you need if you want to be successful. It's always too soon to quit ... never quit, and nothing is impossible... nothing. No matter how overwhelming the situation seems, it can be handled, provided you're patient and persistent.
Unfortunately, patience is one quality that most Americans know little about. Everyone wants to be successful, but few people are willing to pay their dues to reach that level of achievement. I know a lot of guys who have these magnificent goals in life, but when they don't materialize immediately they're ready to quit. They have this mentality that things should happen overnight and when they don't, they don't know how to cope. They have absolutely no patience or persistence. Actually, it shouldn't really surprise anyone that most Americans think that way. After all, we live in an "instant gratification" society - one that has conditioned us to believe that whatever we want should be at our disposal immediately or sooner. Think about it for a second just about everything in America is "instant." Through our sophisticated satellite and telecommunication systems we can communicate with anyone in the world - instantly. Hell, we televised the Gulf war. With our supersonic jets we can visit any place in the world - seemingly on an instantaneous basis. We have drugs that can bring us instant relief, instant strength, and instant happiness. Through cybernetics we can get instant information, instant data, and even instant analysis. When you think about it, just about everything in America is instant.
Being a bachelor has really made me appreciate the instant gratification condition. I'll go home after a tough day at the office, take a box of Lean Cuisine out of the fridge, throw it in the microwave, press a few buttons and "presto, " an instant seven-course meal. If I'm too lazy to microwave, I'll drive over to the 'golden arches' and get my food even faster. Now there's a real scenario. Have you ever watched someone who had to wait at McDonald's for more than a minute for their food? They absolutely freak. They'll be jumping all over the place saying things like, "What are they doing, killing the cow?" No patience! We expect everything now - instantly!
Check this out. If I run out of money, there's this machine at the bank called "Benny I drive up to it, press a few buttons, and - presto - instant money. I was doing that for years before I realized that they were taking that money out of my account.
And have you ever watched the television program "Mission Impossible?" I love this show! Every week these guys will solve a world crisis in an hour. And they've been doing that every week for the last ten years. Isn't that incredible? No wonder people in America can't understand why we haven't cured AIDS yet or why cancer is still a major health problem. We have been conditioned to think that we can do anything in America at the drop of a hat. Of course, you don't have to stretch your imagination too far to understand why most Americans have trouble dealing with a little adversity. When people are taught their whole life that things work out immediately, they expect that kind of consistency in their own life but when it doesn't work out that way they "freak." They don't have the patience or persistence to work things out for themselves; they've never been taught those qualities.
The love game in America is a prime example of what I'm talking about. Listen to this, two out of every four marriages end in divorce. In Southern California it's almost three out of four marriages that end in divorce. Casual relationships that start with great feelings of love and tenderness last on the average three months. The abortion rate is epidemic, as is the illegitimate birth rate, and the S.T.D. rate. Genital Herpes alone is as common as a head cold. Hell, even computers used in dating services have viruses these days. Why so many problems with intimate relationships in our culture ... obviously there are numerous reasons, but certainly one of the reasons is the lack of patience and persistence. When people in our culture start a relationship, they don't even take the time to find out who their partner is before they're using the "L" word and jumping into bed. They want instant love - instant sex. Next thing you know, they're married. Then when things become a little difficult or unpleasant, instead of trying to work through the problems they just move on. They can't handle anything that's a little unpleasant. They've been told from day one that life is joy, pleasure and happiness. Unfortunately, life is also trials and tribulations. You've got to be patient and work at it, if you're going to succeed. No matter how overwhelming the situation seems it can be handled provided you're patient and persistent.
Think about this, it took Thomas Edison almost ten thousand unsuccessful experiments before he invented the light bulb. It took Jim Fix more than fifteen years to find someone to publish his best selling book, Everything You Wanted to Know About Running. Steve Young sat on the bench behind Joe Montana for seven years before he got a chance to start for the San Francisco 49ers. And listen to this Joe Tanner spent seventeen years in the minor leagues before he was brought up to the major leagues. Be assured that God is with those who persist patiently.
In the Far East there is a magnificent, tall plant called the Chinese bamboo. It's grandeur and beauty is astounding. A full-grown Chinese bamboo easily stands over one hundred feet. Amazingly, the tree seldom grows more than three or four feet the first four years after it is planted. During those first four years the people water and fertilize the tree with seemingly little in the way of results. Then the fifth year in a span of a few weeks the tree grows ninety feet in height. Is that incredible or what? Of course, the question is did the bamboo grow ninety feet in five weeks or five years? The Chinese will tell you straight away that it grows ninety feet in five years. Why? Because they know that if they fail to water or fertilize the tree at any time during those five years it will die.
The same thing happens in life all the time. You work like crazy to make gains, but the results you get are at best negligible. It's as if your effort is totally fruitless. Then, all of the sudden, everything seems to fall in place and the next thing you know you're making enormous gains. That is certainly the way it was with my powerlifting career.
When I first started competing in powerlifting I lost all the time. In my first seven competitions I finished dead last. I wasn't just beaten either. At times, I was absolutely destroyed and humiliated. It wasn't unusual for me to find myself two or three hundred pounds behind the leaders going into the deadlift.
I hate to admit this, but some guys could have beaten me without even bench pressing. Their squat and deadlift totaled more than I totaled on all three lifts. Heck, at that time women and children could have beaten me. There was even a joke going around that the American Athletic Union was going to revoke my lifting card for impersonating an athlete. At least I think it was a joke. My little sister Mary Jean begged me to quit competing because, as she put it, I was embarrassing the family.
Believe me, I was just that bad. And it wasn't because I didn't try. I worked super hard at my sport every day. I gave my entire heart and soul to it, but I just couldn't seem to make any progress. During a three-year period my total improved a miserable 50 pounds. A lot of people told me I should quit, but I knew better. Even though it didn't show I could feel myself growing physically and mentally as an athlete from one day to the next. I was establishing a flawless groove, learning how to drop weight, how to compete, how to train. Like I said, I was growing, it just wasn't discernible. I knew that if I just persisted, eventually everything would fall into place. That is exactly what happened. In the fourth year of my career I came out of nowhere to post a nationally ranked total and then less then 4 months later I posted the third best total in the world. What happened? Simple! Like the Chinese bamboo, those first few years I was establishing my roots - a firm foundation - and when it came time to really grow I shot up like a rocket. Boy did I grow and I never stopped growing until I retired seven years later. It wasn't what I did the fourth year that brought everything to fruition. It was all the years combined. It was all the hours I spent learning about the sport, all the hours of training, all of the learning experience I gained from competing that got me to the top.
When things really look hopeless, that's where you have to really suck it up. You have to think positive. You have to believe that you can still achieve your objective provided you persist. It's always too soon to quit ... never quit, and nothing is impossible . . . nothing.
Believe patience, persistence and me can take you to the stars.