If you ask any number of successful bodybuilders or athletes what was the motivation behind the start of their careers you will receive a myriad of reasons. They will run the gamut of possible causes but when you look beyond the words you come to see that one simple emotion is a common catalyst for someone to endure the pain and struggle to become a champion, pride.
Some of us were born into athletic families and felt the pressure to live up to expectations placed on us before we took our first breath. Some were pushed around in the schoolyard or just wanted to take a run at the redhead in homeroom. A few will have far more noble reasons such as a health issue early in life that forces one to choose between life or death.
There is always the case of gender roles that say that little boys who want to be men must first prove their mettle on a football field or basketball court, or the lone female child in a family of boys just trying to prove she belongs.
In my case, it was a combination of these, I was born the runt in a family of super-human athletes. When I began to work out my own mother thought it was “cute” that “little Robbie was mixing up his little shakes”. At this point, the emotion that is fueling your hobby is pride.
Pride is a very strong motivator, but to have any chance at all to be successful in the gym, you must overcome it.
Pride makes you grab dumbells that are too heavy to control through the proper range of motion, too heavy to employ a proper technique to impact the intended muscle. Pride prevents you from opening yourself to the unlimited resources accessible to you by way of your fellow bodybuilders. Pride will make it easier to lie to yourself. The next time you enter the facility where you train, stop and take a good look around.
There are no lies there. Your commitment, level of involvement, and tenure are all clearly visible to all. Your lack of discipline is transparent and there for all to see, as is your mastery of such. Next, take a good look at yourself. Giving yourself credit where it is due, but more importantly, getting in touch and accepting your shortcomings will move you a step closer to being a complete athlete.
Recognition and assimilation of this truth may turn your pride into a much stronger, longer lasting, and valuable emotion, desire.
Desire makes you get up an hour earlier to get your workout in when the demands of your job, and/or family, encroach upon your free time. Desire makes you push out another set of squats when your quads feel as though they are going to tear in half. Desire makes you take the pain and agony of intense training and use it as fuel. Desire means that win, lose, or draw, you will keep coming back. Pride may get you in the building, but desire will keep you there. The motivation of pride has limits, but the power of desire is infinite.
Case in point, I use this example with my clients sometimes because it underscores the unlimited potential humans possess when confronted with success or failure. In 1993, Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys totally dominated a game against the hard-hitting arch-rival New York Giants. He rushed the ball 32 times for 168 yards while catching 10 passes for 61 yards, scoring the game’s only touchdown on a pass from Troy Aikman. Sounds like a fairly pedestrian day for a future Hall of Famer, and the only man to ever break Walter Payton’s rushing record, right? Wrong! He had a separated shoulder!!
Desire is stronger than pride if you are lucky enough to learn this lesson you just may find that there is so much more going on in the gym than pounds and inches. Best of luck!