I have been training for more than 30 years now. Over that time, I have made about every mistake there is to make in sport and life. I have also learned some valuable lessons through those mistakes. These are lessons that I wish someone would have told me when I was a young man.
Now I want to pass these lessons on to my children and all of you. Hopefully I can save some of you from making these painful mistakes.
My Greatest Mistake
During my career in strength, I was the most driven athlete I have ever known. A lot of coaches would have loved to coach me. However there was a major problem with me: I sacrificed everyone and everything around me in pursuit of becoming the best powerlifter in the world.
I thought that was what it took to be the best. I missed holidays, weddings, and funerals in my quest. Some of you right now are thinking that is exactly what it takes. You are wrong! What good is becoming the best in the world if you have ruined all the relationships around you? The answer is: not good at all!
I was interviewing Matt Vincent on The Barbell Life podcast just last week. Matt is a two-time World Champion Highland Games competitor. As a matter of fact, he has either won it or come in second place for the last five years. His perspective on competition is one that I wish I had taken when I was competing.
Matt makes time for his wife and friends. He knows that the Highland Games is ultimately a hobby. It doesn’t define him. Yes, he wants to win – but he knows that his relationships are more important.
He simply approaches his training like a math problem. He figures out the amount of training required to outwork everyone else, and then he schedules it. His training is just another appointment that he doesn’t miss. When he is with his wife, his mind is on her. He is balanced, and that has allowed him to make a much bigger impression on the people around him.
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You are not going to find eternal glory from becoming the best at any of the strength sports. Three hundred years from now, no one is going to remember the amount of weight that you lifted. However, there is a way to leave the world with a lasting impression of your life.
The most important thing an athlete can do is to love the people around him. First, your children are under your roof. My son is only one year old. I want him to grow up seeing me love his mother, and I want Rock to grow up being loved by me. I want to spend quality time teaching him what’s right and wrong. There is no better way to show him God’s love than the way that I love him and his mother.
Now before you think that I am some kind of saint, I want to be honest with you. My daughter is 15 years old – and for about four years of her life, I was pretty much absent because I let my powerlifting career rule my life. Those are four years I will never get back. I regret that with all of my heart, and I will spend the rest of my life making up for those four years. I don’t want my children or any of you to have the same regrets.
There are also relationships and friendships I ruined because I was obsessed with winning. This extreme obsession didn’t help me! That’s right, it didn’t help me!
I am sure I could have stayed on top longer if I had led a more balanced life. This obsessive lifestyle led to sleep issues, overtraining, and an all-around unhealthy lifestyle. This leads me to my biggest lesson!
What I Want
Life is not about records, wins, and championships. Life is about the good you can do with whatever you are doing. When you are at the top of your game, you have the ability to influence so many people. You have the ability to help people through major struggles in their lives simply by reaching out.
Even if you are not a champion yet, you have the ability to help those around you. Right now, there is a young man from my church who is missing. This young man is a loner, and he is experiencing major depression. If someone would reach out to him, maybe that’s all it would take for him to see a light in this world. People like that are all around us. Open your eyes!
I have no doubts I could have been an even better champion if I had spent more time loving the people around me. My life is spent helping others now. I am a coach to many great athletes. I am the father to two great children, and I am the husband to the best wife in the world.
I want to teach my athletes how to live balanced lives while pushing their bodies to the limit. I want them to love the people around them. I want them to find a greater purpose to their lives other than just sports. I want them to experience God’s love while passing it on at the same time. I love my job!
As a father, I want my children growing up knowing that I love them unconditionally. I want them to learn solid work ethics to pursue all of their goals with the same determination. However, I want their lives balanced with love for others and God. My job as a father is one that I take very seriously. If any of you are fathers or mothers, there isn’t a sport on earth more important than them. I promise that it can all be balanced.
I want all of you to crush your goals. Don’t mistake me here! I just want you live fulfilling lives while crushing your goals. Here are my main points:
- You don’t have to sacrifice all of your relationships to be a champion.
- Look to guys like Matt Vincent who maintain healthy families and lives while winning the Highland Games World Championships twice.
- What good is winning and championships if you are not helping people along the way?
- Life is not about how good of an athlete you become. It is about the amount of good you do with your abilities.
- Being a balanced athlete will lead to a longer and healthier career.
I want all of you to go out there and crush your goals. I just want you to avoid the lonely pitfall I experienced because I lost focus on the real goal.
I want you to become a World Champion who changes the world by helping the lives of others with your influence. Now go out there and change the world!