elitefts™ Sunday Edition

Just the other day, I had a revelation. As usual, I'm a little late to the party or “slow.” Some of you might even consider me just plain dumb as shit. No matter. After 44 years on this earth, over twenty years competing, and thirty in the sport of bodybuilding, it was an interaction with someone in the gym the other day that, as sure as I type this, made me see things so much more clearly.

It was a typical day in the gym, a Monday. I was training shoulders, and about halfway through the session, my training partner made a very general statement about having shoulder pain while doing an exercise. I admit that I took the statement as sort of a question. I assumed that I was being asked how to avoid the pain or if my training partner was doing something wrong that could be corrected to alleviate the pain or at least minimize it. Under this assumption, I responded by explaining that when my training partner does this particular exercise, the left elbow gets tucked and there is more stress put on the front part of the shoulder complex. I also noted that I had brought this up several times in the past, but it had fallen on deaf ears, so I was not surprised that the pain was still an issue.

Now, my training partner understands that I have about thirty years of experience training and that I have trained many people over the years, including top bodybuilders and professional athletes. That being said, my training partner looked me dead in the eye, scowled, and said, “That isn't why it hurts.”

With a perplexed look on my face, I asked, “Then why does it hurt?”

Her response was, “Do you think you know everything?”

No, I certainly do not know everything, but it would seem that I probably know more than you do.

You might wonder what my training partner’s background is. In a nutshell, she has a total of about four years of training over about eight years of working out. She did two shows about six years ago and hasn’t really trained seriously since then. I prefer to call my training partner my wife. Now, God love her, but even after training that long, she still can’t always remember what exercises work what muscles. Clearly, she isn’t exactly “advanced” in the workout department. Yet she wanted to make it clear that I didn’t have a clue what was wrong with her shoulder.

Leadership with education

You're probably thinking that this is typical wife/husband behavior, and I get that. It might be. But it shined a light on the fact that, not just my wife, but many people simply do not respect the experience of someone who has done something for years or even decades. Not many people treat people as experts in their field any more, or at least in this industry. There aren’t experts—only people who have done it longer than others and who don't count for much these days.

This is why you see young, inexperienced people not only giving advice on training, nutrition, and supplementation, but it's also why you see arguments over different philosophies and methodologies. The inexperienced like to argue—a lot. Ask yourself, how often do you see two very experienced people on the internet arguing methods? Rarely, if ever. People with experience respect others with experience the majority of the time.

I've changed my perspective on considering myself an expert and have come to understand that even with the experience I have, not everyone respects it and more than a few people simply think I’m a dumbass. And I’m not the only one. It happens all the time to even the most experienced people. I try to give as much information as I can through articles, my website, my free online DVD, and even in the gym if you ask me a question. You don’t have to agree with me. Just respect the information that you're being given. Respect the fact that it comes from years of experience, maybe even more years than you have been alive. If you do disagree with the information, ask yourself, how can I disagree with information that has been acquired over so many years? Is he wrong or could it possibly be that I'm wrong? Or at least think to yourself that maybe, just maybe, you should rethink what you think you know, even if you end up coming back to your original conclusion.

You can argue your knowledge, but arguing experience is pretty cut and dry. You either have it or you don’t. You can rarely, in five years, experience what someone has experienced in twenty or thirty years. You may have yourself convinced that you can, but this is incredibly rare. So if you have knowledge, I can understand and respect that. In return, it would be great if you could understand and respect the experience of people who have been around much longer than you have. I have been very vocal about my respect for those who have done it longer than I have or have done it long before I did. They deserve that from me.

The metaphor for this is a lot like driving. As I drive along during this journey, I make sure not to have my high beams on and I won’t follow too closely out of respect and courtesy for those in front of me. At the same time, in my rear-view mirror, I have people flashing their high beams at me, honking and flipping me off while yelling at me to get out of their way so that they can pass. The truth is there are diesel trucks in this world and there are Priuses. Know what you’re driving. Just sayin’.