Dumping the Bucket

I like to call it "dumping the bucket." It means giving it ALL.

The funny thing is that so few of us really know when we have totally done so or not. We are pretty sure or at least hopeful that we have, but there is only one way to know. It has zero to do with success or failure, it is not tied to an outcome, and it has no external marker. The only one who can ever answer the question is oneself and the sad, sad truth is that if you have not PRACTICED IT, you can't be sure.

I have been working very concertedly with three of my athletes on this for some time now. The lightbulbs are starting to go off. It is a process. It is a practice. It can become a habit. Before I give a few pointers to unlocking the skill, I want to just mention a few things.

One reason I think it is so difficult to access the 100 percent effort part of ourselves is that the heart of it has gotten starved from disuse. We live in a society that demands restraint more than release. We are accustomed to holding back. That is a boon to modern civilization, but it hinders in the weight room.

Can you think of the last time you let loose out in the world? Unless you were involved in an inauspicious bar fight, it is probably hard to come up with even one example. So, our NORM is to hold back. It is our habit. Then all of a sudden, we want to perform a personal best in the weight room, and we just expect to tap into the "full go" mentality.

Well, good luck. You aren't going to perfect the ability to let it all hang out if you only try to do it once or twice a year. I'll say this clearly: what you THINK is your 100 percent is only a cheap chimera. The reason it is not clear to you is because you have ALMOST NOTHING to compare it to.

Ah, but this changes when you begin to actively practice letting go. Most of the shackles we are bound with are of our own making. Therefore, if we MADE THEM, WE HAVE THE KEY! Not only are we responsible for their existence, they are usually completely in our minds. They aren't real in the physical sense. They are shackles of the mind and we are the blacksmith. This is sad, but it is also encouraging. By accepting the truth about it, we can get to work on freeing ourselves.

If we keep thinking that the problem and the answer lie on the outside, we will waste precious time looking in the wrong place. Accept your role in this. You are operating below 100 percent. Now, how to practice getting better at accessing more of the total available to us.

This is the trick of learning to trust yourself. Once you can trust yourself, you are less afraid to let loose and go for it. But you MUST go to the edge. You MUST take risks. You MUST become vulnerable to failure. You MUST put yourself on the line. People who avoid this uncomfortable testing ground can NEVER learn to trust themselves.

So, in a very simplified way, we can say that regular bouts of attempting something "UNSAFE" is required. Not unsafe in an injury sense perhaps, but the place where self-doubt HAS to be confronted. You must deal with facing your fears. =

This practice alone has merit. But it teaches the mental process of psyching up to a grave challenge and it simultaneously shows you that the world DOES NOT END if you fail! Constantly taking CALCULATED RISKS and coming through for yourself on balance will teach the process and make the fear more tolerable. If you crash and burn on balance, then you are just teaching yourself to NOT HAVE FAITH in your ability.

So the challenge must be attainable but extremely difficult. Each successive trial begets more and more trust. If you shy away, you never learn. Too often the imagined negative outcome of an activity restrains us from attempting it in the first place. This is step one. MAKE A REGULAR PRACTICE OF PUTTING YOURSELF ON THE LINE.

I will point out the concept of "trusting the training" here. It relates to the bucket. Your training is like filling a bucket. Every session you fill it with either gold or shit. If your training is solid, you get a bucket full of gold. So when it is time to give it all and "dump the bucket" in competition, whatever you filled the bucket up with comes pouring out. If you had shitty training, you end up with shit flowing out. But you can "trust the training" if you filled the bucket with top-notch training. Why be afraid to dump it? You know it's golden! You trust it. Because YOU filled it.

We come now to the trick of getting ourselves to give 100 percent. As I stated before, only you can know this. I only can say this from the outside: perhaps we should be focused on the UNCOVERING of more and more of our potential instead of ever deciding we did or didn't give 100 percent.

If we keep using more and more in training after training, month after month, year after year, we are certainly moving in the right direction. I'm not sure we should judge ourselves too harshly. That could lead to pressure. If we accept that we have LOTS AND LOTS of untapped reserves, then ANY that we discover or uncover or access is a big win.

Instead of worrying about getting it all, let's be concerned with just getting more. This simple reframing can do wonders in allowing it to happen. I feel that it is a "DIS-INHIBITION" type of phenomenon. Its already there, we just have to get out of our own way and let it out.

As my athletes are exploring this, I suggest giving themselves permission to go all out. JLS was working very hard on "erasing all doubt" before approaching the lift. Spending the moments immediately prior to the attempt contemplating ideas such as these is the place I start with my people.

They must make sense of what the concepts mean to them personally then find a way to hold them firmly in mind and MAKE SOME USE OF THEM. How a person takes an idea and makes it useful is as much a mystery to me as anybody else. But I know how to do it in my mind. In someone else's mind... you got me.

But EVERYBODY seems to accomplish it to some degree if I insist that they practice it. The results are visible in their attitude. So, you must accept that you are not at 100 percent and that if you keep practicing the process of putting yourself on the line over and over you will get closer all the time. The individual tactics you use to "push your own buttons" will be up to you to work out. It is very personal.

I NEVER use anger. It does not serve me. It distracts more than frees me. Some do. I will give you one of my tactics to engage the strategy of giving it all. I imagine what it will take to get the job done. Then I make a commitment to be WILLING to give MORE than it will take.

If it costs $5, I'm willing to pay $5.25 for it. I'll give you more than you expect me to. I won't try to just give barely enough. I'll give way over enough. I refuse to be stingy! I won't meter out my energy or effort to the mote. I'll OVERDO IT. The key in my mind is my willingness. Once I SURRENDER to the fate of giving more, I'm freer to do it. I am absolutely resigned to not holding back. I have committed to extra.

Once the deal is made in my mind, I get a sense of being allowed to go overboard. I release my inhibitions and RELAX. I actually feel looser! And what I've loosened the reigns on is my output. I let the horses run free. This sense of freedom is neither wild abandon nor loss of control. It is the freedom that I have granted myself to pull the trigger. No regrets, no remorse, no judgment.

I don't feel that I have explained it entirely because it is easier to see than to read about. But I hope it serves as an example to help you find your own tactic.

In the end, your goal is to find ways to release more of your full effort. Hey, if you come up with a good one, pass it on to me! I'm always looking for ways to help my athletes dump the bucket and trust the training! We should ask ourselves, "What's holding me back, exactly?" It's usually us!

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