What Are We Teaching?
When I was growing up, I was taught toughness. I’m not talking about the type of toughness that called for beating up kids in the neighborhood but good old fashioned toughness. Work hard, don’t make excuses, and find a way to win. My father was an 8th grade dropout and had me when he was 58 years old and my mother was a cafeteria worker who would walk 3 miles to work every day to make $3.35 an hour. I never heard my parents complain one day about what we didn’t have or how life was a struggle. My mother always emphasized doing what was necessary. That’s the bottom line. I took my parents example to heart and became the first person to attend college in my family. Became an All-American football player and member of my college Hall of Fame, patent holder, and a successful entrepreneur.
When I was 12 years old my mother and I delivered the morning call and we woke up every day at 4am until the day my mother passed away when I was a senior in high school. If I wanted something, I bought it. My parents didn’t have the money to purchase bikes or other big ticket items. I learned to value what I had because I associated what I had with hard work. This instilled a strong work ethic. I was determined to become successful and I knew that it was going to take a shit ton of hard work and motivation. I didn’t have money, family, or to most, a shot in hell to make it. To be honest, I didn’t care what anyone else thought because they weren’t the one doing the work, it was me. I didn’t care what anyone else had, what style car people were driving, or what travel sports team they were playing for. I was focused on what I needed to get done.
Fast forward my life 20+ years and the landscape has changed drastically. I don’t blame it on the kids but the culture that surrounds them. It was built by people in my age bracket and to be honest, it is difficult to swallow. I built my business on the premise of hard work will equal results. Hard work doesn’t equal success. Success is elusive and is different for everyone but the one commonality is that it isn’t easy. I have seen how the day and age has changed and to be honest, I don’t like what I see. Last night was the tip of the iceberg when I had parent tell me that they decided to have their son workout at a different training facility because his son’s friends train there and that it is more convenient for them. I see this becoming a trend in people. I know that I should let it go but enough is enough. What ever happened to blazing your own trail and being a leader? I guess following what everyone else does gives you the edge these days….Well guess what, I don’t buy into it and if this is your mindset, to be quite honest, I don’t want you at my facility. I want people who are willing to sacrifice for their children similar to what my parents did for me. I want people who value hard work, discipline, and setting the tone for success in life. Not just athletics. Athletics are a stepping stone to the game called life. If you aren’t willing to drive an extra five minutes or find a way to spend a couple extra dollars to have your children around winners, how do you expect them to find a way to win? The next time your child is struggling to pass a class in school hopefully they find an excuse or tell you that their friends are failing the class too so it isn’t a big deal. This type of mindset is bullshit and it doesn’t build winners.
I’m tired of having people ask me what I have done or if I can get their kids bigger, stronger, and faster. I know what I can do and my track record with athletes speaks for itself. My question to parents and athletes is are you willing to take my coaching, experience, and push yourself. Are you willing to set goals, commit to those goals, and have the discipline to achieve those goals? If you are more concerned about showing off that you are lifting weights, practicing, and boasting about doing what successful people have been doing for centuries, you probably should go to the other local facilities throughout the Lehigh Valley. If you are willing to decide, commit, act, succeed, and repeat, you will join the laundry list of success stories that have passed through the gym and learn life lessons that will help you live a successful life. Becoming a better athlete will be a side effect of doing what we do at my gym.
If you have ever been to my facility you know what type of athletes I work with. I have been blessed. The type of people who are currently training at my facility and camps are the type of people I like to associate with. They are called go getters. They see what they want and go get it. They find a way to win. My athletes range from young kids trying to make a team all the way to the professional ranks. I don’t care how many games, matches, or awards you have won. All this doesn’t matter when you enter my facility. The only thing that matters is if you give me your honest best. All we can ever give is our best and if you want to improve, FASST is the place to be. If you want excuses, go elsewhere.
People often ask me if my facility is my only job and I wanted to let everyone know that it isn’t. My other job is making an impact in people’s lives. I have the opportunity to do this at my gym every day. I also do this by being a featured speaker at schools and businesses. I am able to share my no nonsense approach to success and motivate people to take control of their lives and make it happen. Next week I have the opportunity to speak at Reading Middle School to inner city kids who are similar to the person I was and I can’t wait. These kids don’t need a handout, they need some hope that they can make it on their own. If they are waiting for a handout, the will wait a long time and time is precious. With this in mind, I wanted to share a couple tips for anyone who cares to take a couple pointers from a guy who has taken the hard road to success.
- Set the tone– Most people are low energy people who talk a good game but don’t know how to bring it. Wake up in the morning and get ready to kick some ass. There will be a point in your life when you will be sick, tired, and physically weak. Guess what, that time isn’t now. Take advantage of your energy levels when you can and make your days count.
- Set an example– Don’t be a hypocrite and make excuses when faced with a challenge. Find a solution. If you are a parent and your kid wants to do something and it might be tough to pay for, a little inconvenient, or different from what others are doing, find some conviction and make it happen. Remember that you are your children’s first role model and sooner or later they will follow others. Teach them to be a problem solver and a no excuse winner.
- Let your children go– As a kid I would leave the house early in the morning and play all day. I didn’t have my parents on my ass non-stop showing me how to play. They let me play, have a blast, get into fights, learn to resolve the fights, and learn to do things on my own. I’m not telling you to let your kids go insane but let them struggle a little. Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. When that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.
- Get your ass kicked– You can’t gain toughness if you’re always winning. I recently had someone tell me that they pay a lot of money to have their kids win. I never knew I could pay a coach to insure that my kid wins. I almost passed out. Focus on work ethic and commitment. Embrace your child’s effort and acknowledge that it’s going to take a ton of hard work for them to achieve their goals. Remember that you didn’t catch every pass, win every race, or championship. Let them take their lumps and enjoy watching them make a comeback.
- Love the game and life– Kids don’t need to be rewarded to play and have a blast. If you ever watch the young kids at my facility run around, play tag, shoot hoops, and play pick up football games you will see that they don’t care who’s watching or whether or not they are being rewarded. The reward is fun. Once you give extrinsic rewards for things that are intrinsically fun you make it a job. Keep the trophies ready for real achievement and let the kids enjoy being kids.
- Show love– Embrace everyone’s success! When the people you are around are successful, it rubs off on everyone. Gold rubs off on gold.
- Toughen Up– My training facility is purposely cold in the winter and blistering hot in the summer. In life we don’t always choose our conditions and we need to develop toughness to break through when others break down. When conditions are less than ideal, use them as an opportunity to develop mental toughness. I am able to eliminate competitors from posers quickly when I hear people complain about conditions in competitive environments. The complainers let the conditions dictate whether or not they can perform at their best.
- Kaizen– This is a Japanese term that roughly translates to steady, daily, progress. I’m sure that you have heard that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Well guess what…neither is athletic and life-long success. Let yourself and those around you develop. If you are able to master something after a few times it probably isn’t challenging enough. Embrace the grind and let your kids and family know that you are going to support them regardless of how long it takes them to succeed. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
Best in Performance,