We are Forerunners. Guardians of all that exists. The roots of the Galaxy have grown deep under our careful tending. Where there is life, the wisdom of our countless generations has saturated the soil. Our strength is a luminous sun, towards which all intelligence blossoms... And the impervious shelter beneath which it has prospered.
Mike Tuscherer is one of the best drug-free powerlifters in the world, which is sort of like saying that you're one of the best anything in the world. He posted a video a little while back about how to push through the mental barriers that stop you from reaching the next level:
Watch the entire video, all the way through. There is nothing fancy about it- you're basically watching a very, very strong guy lifting very, very heavy weights while his voice-over talks to you. The delivery is not important- the content is.
The basic point that Mike makes here is that you cannot let yourself be afraid or intimidated if you want to reach your goals. You cannot allow yourself to fall into the mental pit of timidity- because the moment you let yourself fall into that trap, you have exactly two options.
First, you can stay there, and keep failing.
Second, you can power through, become a beast, and overcome your limits.
Doing the latter takes willpower. It takes sheer cussed pigheadedness. It requires a mental attitude that simply refuses to admit defeat- or even the possibility of defeat.
This is hard advice to take. It is even harder to apply.
In my own case, Tuesdays are my least favourite days, by far, for exercising. I hate Tuesdays, because that is bench press day for me. Except that I don't just do bench presses- this is what I would call a "typical" Tuesday workout:
Squats 5x5 @ 275lbs (or more)
Deadlifts 1x10 @ 225lbs, mixed grip- this is just for form and explosiveness
Bench press, 3x3 @ 145lbs, 165lbs, 185lbs
Bench press, single rep @ 195lbs, 205lbs, 210lbs
Possibly also 5x10 chin-ups
(Yes, I know, my bench press sucks. I'm working on it.)
This would be a taxing workout for most men my age and size. When you factor in the 2-hour workouts that I put myself through on Sundays, where I aim to max out my squats, OHPs, and deadlifts all in the same session, and the fact that I engage in full-contact sparring on Monday nights, and the fact that Tuesdays are my worst days at work because they tend to be full of meetings and "face time", well, you may begin to appreciate it when I say that I would rather do almost anything than walk into the gym on a Tuesday evening to lift weights.
But I do it anyway. And it sucks, at first.
Then something clicks- roughly around the time that I start deadlifting. And I get "the face"- the one that says, "stay out of my way or I will murder you right here". It's the face that every powerlifter gets when he's hit "beast mode", and when that happens, you're best off just leaving him the hell alone.
Once you experience the awful lows, and the euphoric highs, of a workout like that, you'll understand what Mike says when he tells you to embrace adversity and to thrive on it. This is what it takes to be the best- you have to be willing to suffer in order to grind out that last rep, but once you embrace the pain and accept it, then you realise that it isn't really that bad.
Thing is, this doesn't just apply to powerlifting. It applies to any and every aspect of your life where you feel like you're not reaching your goals.
Not happy with your love life? Learn online game, day game, or night game, and start approaching. Grind out the numbers. The rejections suck. Embrace them and learn from them.
Wondering why your blog posts don't get much traffic? Keep writing. Keep honing your style. Keep playing with ideas. Write even when you don't feel like it, even when you'd rather just sleep. Work for it.
Trying to figure out why you keep getting screwed over financially? Take charge of yourself and your finances. Learn how to invest. (More on that coming soon.) Pay off your debts- which may mean living well below your means for a while, which always stinks. Suck it up and deal with it.
You have to learn to embrace the pain. It is NOT fun, or pleasant. It is also the only way that you will ever test your limits- the only way that you will ever be able to find out who you truly are. By pushing yourself through those barriers, you push yourself to become better.