“The only thing you have control over is perspective. You don’t have control over your situation but you have a choice in how you view it.”

Chris Pine

18 months
It’s been about 18 months since I started weightlifting (snatch and clean & jerk). It’s also been about 18 months since deciding on becoming a Strength and Conditioning Coach. These two decisions are integral parts of my life now.

If you are unfamiliar with weightlifting it involves two movements (snatch and the clean & jerk) where a barbell is hoisted above the head. The snatch consists of one movement while the clean & jerk has two components to it. This sport has a storied history and its roots date back to men competing to see who could pick up the heaviest objects. You have to be a little crazy to want to do this. Putting hundreds of pounds over your head is crazy in its own right but being excited about the opportunity to do it? That is what I feel when I approach the bar. But it wasn’t always like that.

My mentors starting out were great teachers and men. They were fresh in the journey of becoming Strength and Conditioning Coaches but they were where I wanted to be. Teaching me how to train, they taught me things I still reflect on today. I went from squatting 300lbs and it being painful at the bottom (hip) to 4-6 weeks later hitting 429 pounds and eventually 450 pounds. They reinforced a drive I’ve always had to push the limits. They allowed me to shine my light by providing me with a stimulus in which to do so. While these increases in poundages were happening I also learned how to snatch and clean and jerk. My clean was more advanced than my snatch and jerk due to previous experience, however, I learned countless things throughout the process.

1. Start where you are at not where you think you should be
Too many times we can get caught up comparing ourselves to people who are doing better than us in a given endeavor. It’s vitally important to have goals and chunk them down but comparing yourself on a daily basis or habitually is a recipe for unneeded pain and anguish. Accept where you are, work ridiculously hard from that point, and be disciplined to stay the course.

2. Show up
There are days when we don’t want to do what need to do. Even if these things are what we enjoy doing it can be a chore to go do them. Becoming aware of the times when it’s necessary to back off and when to show up and grind through is a learning process. But it is a HUGE step in the direction of growth.

3. Know when to stop
At a certain point progress halts. A variety of things could be the culprit but the important thing is to acknowledge. Do you need time off? Do you need to re-evaluate what you have been doing? Does a change need to be made? Putting everything on yourself instead of what you have been doing can derail you mentally. If you’re working really hard and staying disciplined with great progress for a while but then a plateau occurs, it’s probably not your effort. It’s probably your method. And that’s ok.

4. Practice Gratitude
This is a new habit I have formed. Being undisciplined in this practice before allowed me to reflect on how well I did when I practiced this. Starting and ending the day with gratitude will take you to a whole new level. It puts things into perspective. It allows stress, momentarily to be pushed aside. And with much practice, a healthy alternative to brooding on what you don’t have.

5. Attack Weaknesses One at a Time
We all have amazing strengths that make us successful in many things. It’s the weaknesses that we tend to focus on and for good reason. We want to improve! But focusing on what we don’t have instead of what we do lends itself to a let down. We are not living in the now. Instead, KEEP your strengths and focus on 1 weakness at a time. Work hard at improving the weakness for 4-6 weeks and re-evaluate your progress. You’ll be amazed.

6. Show Appreciation 
Appreciate yourself. Appreciate your loved ones. If you’re lucky, these people will support you on your journey.

7. Journal, Goal Writing, and Reading
Journal the days events, what you accomplished, and things you are grateful for (see #4). Successful people have goals. They also read their goals daily and visualize how to get there. Re-reading goals has been an integral part of reaching my goals. Chunking the goals down into achievable milestones and celebrating each while keeping the eye on the prize is an invaluable practice.

8. Think all you want, UNTIL the moment comes
It’s easy to overthink things. Sometimes we are just going through how to do something, rehearsing if you will. But once the time comes to act there must be no thought. As Bruce Lee would say, no mind. In weightlifting it is once you step on the platform there is no thought, just swift and deliberate action.

9. Beginner’s Mind: Be a White Belt
Whether you are an elite person in your field or just starting off, using the beginner’s mind mentality will allow continual growth. You shut off learning when you think you know everything. Be a white belt and take it all in. You’ll be surprised.

10. Do What You Love or Quit
If you don’t love what you do you need to. It will take time. It may be the hardest thing you ever decide to do. But it will be worth it. Growth is impossible without getting uncomfortable. And that is what the Hero’s Journey is all about. Remember we are living and not simply existing. Attack your dreamsI

In this non-inclusive list many things could be added but here at 10 lessons I’ve learned in the past 18 months.

Remember to always shine your light!

Love what you do or quit!

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