Below is a section of my book that I will release sometime this year. It’s all about mindset. I think today is a perfect time to release it. I am at the Arnold Classic 2015, and I find myself surrounded by athletes that refuse to set limits. It doesn’t matter where you are raised, or the circumstances that you were raised in. All that matters is what you believe to be possible.
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Below is the section of my book:
Growing up in the mountains of North Carolina was a challenging geographical area for me. Not only was the area challenging but my childhood had its ups and downs. I am from the most northwest corner of North Carolina. I am from a place so small that the county is referenced as opposed to the city or town. I am from Ashe County in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. There are no major interstates that come anywhere near my home in the mountains. I often talk about all the places that my life has taken me. My romance with the Barbell has taken me all over the world. The Barbell without a doubt has taught me who I am, and what I am about. However, the Mountains of North Carolina made me that way!
I grew up with my single mom. We were poor, but I don’t remember wanting for a lot. I remember being teased a little about being poor, but that was mostly the few rich kids in the county spouting off. My mother was no joke! She had very high expectations of me both in the classroom, socially, and athletically. I believe that she knew I had potential, and she didn’t want me to waste it. She expected straight A’s, touchdowns, and popularity, and that is what I produced. She taught me that the friends I hung out with were a reflection of me.
My dad was a great guy. He was a blue collar lover of Christ. He wasn’t as driven as my mother, but he was a great example of someone who took the time to love others and life every day that he was alive. My dad loved me and his granddaughter Bailey more than anything on this earth. I am in tears as I write this thinking about the childhood moments spent with this loving man. Lung cancer took him for me in 2005, and I still miss him every day. I have spent most of my life trying to leave this world with some sort of legacy of my accomplishments and work. Sometimes I reflect on my dad’s life, and I wonder if I have spent my time wisely. My dad radiated a peace that I will never understand. He simply worked eight hours came home and loved his family day in and day out. It’s a lesson that I am still trying to understand, and I pray that I might experience that amount of peace in my life.
My hometown is stricken with poverty. The only sources of income are a few manufacturing plants and Christmas Trees. There is an abundance of alcoholism and drug abuse. Crystal Meth has hit my hometown like a tornado. Crystal isn’t prejudice! There are grown adults and pillars of the community that have been affected by the poison of Crystal Meth. No doubt, my mother saved me from all of that. She kept me focused on school and sports two things that would steer me away from all of this craziness. She made me strong, and she taught me never to be satisfied with anything less than, EXCELLENCE!
There is more from the mountains that shaped me. Ashe County was settled by mostly Scotch-Irish. Scotch-Irish is a name given to Protestant settlers from Northeastern Ireland. These people were tough, wild, and liked the seclusion provided by the mountains. They wanted to be left alone, and they were accustomed to defending their home during the Revolutionary War. This trait carried on to the people that inhabit the mountains now. They like to be left alone, and if anyone wants to get in their business, they will put up a fight that could light up the night sky for years. The people have a history of fighting, drinking, and playing blue grass music, and they love to be left alone.
Ashe County is secluded from the rest of North Carolina. There are no major interstates or roads. The weather there can be very unforgiving in the winter. Imagine the people that settled this area in the 1700s! The people were tough! They just wanted to be left alone, so that they could live the life that they wanted with no outside influence. Today there is more tourism and outside influence, but the people still like being left alone. We are an independent type of people, and we don’t need anyone’s help. That is just the way we are.
My grandfather, Jack Cox was a very strong man. He was the true MashMonster! I spent most of my childhood hanging out with him and my grandmother. My grandfather worked for the NC Department of Transportation. He also owned 600 acres of land in the most secluded part of the county. Horse Creek is the name of the community that he lived in. He farmed and raised several heads of cattle. He would work all day for the D.O.T., and then come home and work all evening on the farm. There was always something to do. I watched this as a child, and I helped him as much as I could. I watched this man throw two bales of hay in each hand onto the top of a truck bed stacked with hay over and over. He was an amazing strength athlete that was a local legend. He didn’t compete in powerlifting or weightlifting, but he was stronger than anyone I have ever known. My grandmother was equally as impressive. No woman on earth outworked my grandmother. The two of them loved me, and they taught me to work hard. These two built a small empire deep in the Appalachian Mountains by working harder than everyone else. They were disciplined with their spending, and they were wise in their investments.
Can you see the lessons that I was learning: 1. Outwork your competition, 2. Self-control, 3. Discipline, 4. Make wise well thought out decisions, and 5. Planning is winning!
I can’t say that life wasn’t tough though. Life in the mountains is hard. If you can succeed up there, you can do anything. My best friend, Kevin Jones, was an incredible influence in my life. He taught me to never set limits. He helped me see that I could accomplish whatever I wanted with the right plan. Kevin is now the CEO of Anovia Payments in Irving, TX. The dude is unbelievable! When I look back to our childhoods, I can’t help but see the unbelievable odds that we overcome to get to where we are now. We were both poor with single mothers doing their best just to keep food on the table. Now he is a big time CEO, and I am the Head Coach of the Attitude Nation’s own Mash Mafia Weightlifting Team and owner of Mash Elite Athletic Performance. My athletes range from NFL studs to Division I Collegiate studs. I travel all over the world teaching my methods of weightlifting, powerlifting, and athletic performance. Not to mention, I was pound for pound the strongest powerlifter in the world at one time. Not bad for a couple of mountain boys! I would never have survived without Kevin in my life. God only knows how he taught me to believe that there are no limits in life except for the ones that you put on yourself.
I am a guy that was destined to do something really bad or really good. I am an extremist. It’s just who I am. My mom, my dad, Kevin, my grandparents, and my family all pulled together to make sure that I chose to do something good. Now my wife Emily Drew has taken over where they left off. My love for her does all the work. I am driven because I want to provide a good life for her, my daughter Bailey, and for our future baby that she is pregnant with now that we simply call Baby Mash. Baby Mash touches down in September of this year, and I am so excited to welcome our baby into our lives.
Most of the people that grow up in Ashe County stay in Ashe County. My whole family stayed there, but I have always been the black sheep that had to know what the rest of the world was really like. I wanted to meet different people, experience different cultures, and learn everything the world had to teach. I did that, and I still continue my search. I believe that all of this has made me the coach that I am. I am always in search of something better. I always will be! My melting pot began in Ashe County, and my heart will always remain with my home.
One of the problems with growing up in the mountains was a weakened mindset. For some reason most people in the mountains set limits on themselves and their children. Maybe people in other parts of the United States have the same issue, so it is an important part of my life that I must discuss. Putting limits on people is a disease. It is a problem that cripples so many areas of the United States. People are quick to say such comments as “be realistic” or “be safe”. I say, “Shut your mouth, and keep your limits to yourself!”
It has always baffled me as to why people set limits on others. People like Michael Jordan and Barak Obama are human beings just like the rest of us. Did it ever occur that these types of people bleed red just like everybody else? The big difference is successful people like Michael Jordan and the President of the United States set their goal high as young men. They not only set the goal, but they believed that they could do it. It doesn’t matter where someone is from or who their family is. It simply matters what they believe is true, and what they are willing to do.
A paradigm is someone’s view of reality. That is all it is. Just their view! My goal for all of my athletes is to shift their view of reality up a notch. If an athlete tells me that he is shooting for the Olympics, I tell them great and ask what their plan is. If either of my children express interest in becoming the President of the United States, I would encourage them. I would also tell them what is expected like a perfect character, good grades, and an Ivy League education. I would help them set a plan, and I would remind them of the task at hand every day.
My mindset was that of a limited one when I first entered college. I played college football at Appalachian State University, and at the time I was just happy to be there. In my hometown athletes were never encouraged to strive for the collegiate level. Thank God I was bullheaded enough to take matters into my own hands. I was able to get there, but then I was satisfied with simply making the cut. It was such an amazing accomplishment to play college football coming from my hometown that making it on a team was my paradigm. Earning a starting position was never truly in my belief system, so it never happened. It wasn’t until the Olympic Training Center that starting believing in myself as an athlete.
After making my bold move to the Olympic Training Center, I quickly moved up in the ranks of USA Weightlifting. After a year and a half of training under Wes Barnett, I was asked to train with the team at the OTC. It was there training with Olympians like Shane Hammons, Tom Gough, Pete Kelly, and Wes Barnett that I started to shift my paradigm. If I was strong enough to train with the greatest weightlifters in the United States, then I was strong enough to be the best weightlifter in the United States. It was an epiphany for me. I realized at that time in my life that I wasn’t lucky to be at the OTC. I realized that I was capable of being the strongest man in the world if I was willing to outwork all the others.
If you get nothing else from all the words that I write, please understand that you are capable of reaching whatever dream you set out to accomplish. You just have to be willing to outwork all the others competitors. You also have to become a master of the mundane meaning you have to be willing to do the little things. Let’s pretend that you want to be a champion weightlifter. You would need to perfect your nutrition, recovery, mobility, and programming. Mastering these elements and outworking all the competitors equals victory. The same goes for any other major goal in life. On my podcast Weightlifting Talk, Jon North and I talk a lot about the sport of Olympic Weightlifting, but we also talk about life. We talk about crushing life! If you want to start a business, you have to be willing to:
1. Believe that you are capable of succeeding.
2. Set a plan and be willing to carry it out.
3. Outwork all competitors.
4. To become the expert in your field.
5. Take an educated risk.
I want everyone that reads this book, listens to The Barbell Life, or follows the Mash Mafia to never set limits. I never want any of you to limit others as well. We are black sheep, and we will never allow society or anyone else tell us what we can and can’t do. That is up to fate and God! I want you all to take up your swords, and take over this whole world. It doesn’t matter where you are from, or the circumstances that you grow up in. The only way to do any of this is to believe that we can. Our blood bleeds redder than others, so now go out and take over the world.
Look guys join our online Mash Mafia Team! We are just a bunch of athletes wanting to reach our own specific goals. Some of these guys and gals are weightlifters, powerlifters, CrossFitters, and some are just trying to get jacked. Go to www.MashElite.com/join-the-online-team/.
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