Take the Blame
Randall StrossenIf you want to gain
What makes one person succeed, no matter what? Why do some people fold in the face of the slightest opposition? Why do some people make excuses for everything that goes wrong, while others simply go about trying to make things right? What can you do to develop the ability to forge forward through any and all obstacles that appear in your path?
More times than I can remember, I’ve watched a world-class lifter backed to the wall who pulled off a lift that nobody would have believed possible. Maybe the lifter missed his first two attempts and, down to his last shot at staying in the contest, he makes the lift. I’ve even seen people in that situation ask for an increase and then make a good lift. We’re talking big-time contests here: world championships, the Olympics and so on. Those people know how to dig deep, how to not only keep going in the face of adversity but also go a little harder when things get tough. Consider, for example, Olympic weightlifting gold medalist Naim Suleymanoglu, who was doing snatches in the training hall at the Atlanta Olympics and had the bar loaded to more than the world record. He missed it. He tried it again and missed it again. He took it a third time and missed it yet again. He took it an unbelievable fourth time and made the weight. A few days later, in one of the highlights of the ’96 Olympics, Naim went lift-for-lift with archrival Valerios Leonidas, held him off and won a historic third gold medal.
There was the time in China when a guy named Marin Shikov, at the end of his second tough workout that day of heavy snatches and clean and jerks, worked up to a heavy single in the squat. The single was so heavy that he missed it, and, since he wasn’t surrounded by an army of spotters or the security of a power rack, he dumped the bar on the lifting platform. Normally, when you’ve gone through a tough leg and back workout and miss a limit squat, you call it a day. But nobody told Marinthis. He stripped the bar down, power-cleaned it, put it back on the racks, reloaded it, tried the squat again, and just as in his first attempt, when he couldn’t stand up with the weight, he dumped it. Once again Marin stripped the bar down, power-cleaned it, put it in the racks, reloaded it and, voilà, ground out a very tough, successful lift.
You might not know Naim Suleymanoglu or Marin Shikov from Salvatore Ferragamo or care a hoot about picking up an Olympic gold medal in weightlifting, but if you’re serious about making progress in your training and your life as a whole, developing a bit of their drive can open the door to a lot of really good things. Let’s take a look at one aspect of how the way you think and act controls your ability to generate outstanding results.
Once upon a time, if you were walking down a sidewalk and tripped and fell, you’d quickly get up, brush yourself off and hope that you were spared the embarrassment of anybody’s noticing what had happened. Now, when the same thing happens, a lot of people look around for somebody to sue. They might claim that the sidewalk was poorly maintained or that there should have been signs warning pedestrians that walking is a potentially hazardous activity, or that, perhaps, the sidewalk contractor was insufficiently schooled in the chemistry of sidewalk composition and the physics of sidewalk design. We’ve come so far in our attempts to avoid personal responsibility that even if a dead-drunk driver goes several times the speed limit and has an accident that kills everyone in his car who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, there’s a massive movement to blame the whole thing on a bunch of guys waving cameras in the distance.
Similar examples in bodybuilding and lifting are no less ludicrous and, more important, no less likely to obscure the path to progress. For instance, it’s amazing how many people blame others for misleading them about everything from training routines to diet—with straight faces they describe in exquisite detail how they were led astray, often for years at a stretch, before they saw the light. Or they excuse their lack of progress by noting that they have this-or-that genetic deficiency that keeps them from becoming world champions—ignoring the fact that five years into training they’re still squatting with no more than a couple of plates. And let’s not forget the drug line, either—that everyone who outperforms them is on some drug, even though they themselves haven’t made one iota of progress in the past year.