I’ve seen it happen over and over.
Someone with loads of talent never quite reaches their potential. And by potential, I’m not talking about merely high school or college sports. I’m talking about world champion level. You know the ones. The highly touted college football player who was drafted high in the pros but proved to be a bust. Same with every sport across the board. In bodybuilding, there was Matt Mendenhall and Troy Zuccolotto. They were two of the best amateur bodybuilders on the planet in the 80’s and 90’s but could just never get to the next level and continue their conquering ways.
As I get older, I realize that for most, including myself, developing a champion mindset was not a priority as a teenager or as a 20-something year old. My parents never talked about it, my coaches never talked about it. Wasn’t necessarily their fault, they just didn’t talk about mental training. They were caught up in the day to day stuff like all the rest. I careened my way through college with stops and starts, no focus and no personal power to accomplish much. Once again, this was no ones fault but my own.
I was drifting.
I was confused about my life early on and as a result, nearly joined the marines knowing that I needed direction and discipline. I went down for the initial visit, met with the recruiting officer and told him that I would think about it. I knew that I needed discipline because I was drifting. I felt lost but knew deep down that I was capable of much.
I WALKED UP TO THE BIGGEST GUY IN THE GYM (Mentor #1)
I moved to Dallas in my early adulthood. I had gone from Austin to Waco to Dallas. I had begun working out at Golds Gym in Waco while attending Baylor University and wanted to continue in Dallas but didn’t know anyone. So I joined “The Gym” and walked up to the biggest guy in the gym, Mike Scarcella. I asked him if he needed a training partner. He promptly laughed. He laughed because he had run through training partners faster than the mortgage payment arrives each month.
He finally agreed and we began working out together. I began to develop the mental toughness that I was so desperately searching for. Five hundred pounds on your back during a barbell squat will quickly make you tough…or crush you. When you keep coming back for more, you know you’re getting there. I learned to never be satisfied, that I’m stronger than I think and that it all starts and ends in the mind. My focus began to narrow.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THE BEST
You cannot get mental toughness from a workout dvd, a youtube video or someone in your social circles who USE TO BE ABLE TO…(fill in the blank). You need to experience it in person. My friend and former bootcamp client, Stefanie Ediger recently ran the Boston Marathon. Stefanie is married, with 2 kids and in her latter 30’s. The Boston Marathon is quite the physical and mental test. She wanted it, trained for it, showed up on race day, completed it and no doubt grew tougher mentally as a result. She had to EXPERIENCE IT to understand the intensity, the will power and the strength that it takes to run it. This is one of the reasons that I typically train WITH my clients as opposed to just watching over them. New clients need to FEEL the intensity required, need to SEE it in action. I want to be in the arena with them, going to battle with whatever their demons are – body fat, lack of strength, endurance and/or all of the former.
ONE RUNG ON THE LADDER LED TO THE NEXT (Mentor #2)
I met Frank Capallupo in that same gym, “The Gym”. In his 40’s at that time (early 1990’s) he was still competing in bodybuilding, a family man and a working white collar professional. He was well rounded, fun and knowledgeable about all things bodybuilding. He had been competing since his teens, had hung out with legends such as Sergio Oliva and was on his way to winning the 1992 Masters Mr. America title. He was my training partner, gave me a job and a future. He was mentor number two. I had begun to surround myself with the best.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BOOKS THAT YOU’VE READ? (Mentor #3)
This was one of the first questions that mentor #3 asked me. “In Search Of Excellence” by Tom Peters, I answered. Joe Vitale soon turned me on to real personal power – mental toughness but with the focus being more on the mental side.
Everything began to click but I couldn’t help wonder why I wasn’t exposed to all of this earlier in my life? No blame, only curiosity.
The past is but the beginning of a beginning ~H.G. Wells
These days, I spend my time raising 4 young boys committing my time to “being there”. I maintain a rigorous and challenging physical fitness lifestyle and challenge myself regularly. I read 3-4 books at a time on success, biographies of those who overcame, fitness and more. I run my fitness businesses from home. Whereas I use to be active in the community (pre-kids), now I’m content spending time with them watching “Total Drama” on Netflix. I feel complete. I feel focused. I feel alive.
KIDS DON’T CARE
My kids don’t care about any of this. Maybe yours did at 12, 10, 6 and 2 but mine only care about where their next meal is coming from and where the Playstation controller is. I know it’s OK, they’re kids. I was the same way. I notice them watching more and more when I’m training in my garage gym. A couple of them have begun to ask about training. All kinds of questions. One of them wants to get better at kickball so he won’t be picked last. I don’t sweat it, his time is coming. He’s only 10. Another wants to be able to hit the ball further during baseball. I show them this and that and some roots are starting to take hold. But it’s still early. When the time is right, they’ll get the full effect. Everything that I wish I had gotten when I was growing up.
I competed in bodybuilding on and off for 13 years. At 50, I’m more interested in being “capable”. Capable of running a mile in a decent time, capable of doing 60 seconds of burpees for 30 plus reps, capable of squatting, benching and dead lifting respectable poundages. I want to jump, sprint, crawl. Move. I still love lifting heavy iron but it’s more cathartic for me these days. Stress relief, keeping my body in balance. I’m currently 3 weeks away from a local competition called, “Austin’s Fittest”. UPDATE- I won 1st place in my division and was Austin’s Fittest Man Over 50 in 2015
I believe that setting a goal is a must otherwise you’re just…drifting. Set a goal. Do something. Compete. People who compete smile a lot even if they don’t win. They smile because they are aware of their strength. The discipline that it took to get to the starting and finish line.
The knowledge of one’s strength entails a real mastery over oneself; it breeds energy and courage, helps one over the most difficult tasks of life, and procures contentment and true enjoyment of living. – George Hackenschmidt
Below is the shirt that I will be wearing in the 2015 Austin’s Fittest competition. This is a custom designed logo with the ‘S’ at the top, the word “Compete” across the middle and “ScottYorkFitness.com” across the bottom. There are four stars near the bottom which represent my 4 kids. They can represent any 4 things that you deem important in your life. The back of the shirt has the same ‘S’ right below the neck, in between the shoulder blades.