This article was first published in 2002

The first “Under the Bar” article went over much better than I had imagined. I would like to thank you all for all the great feedback we received. I always felt the “under the bar concept” could carry it own weight. This is because just about every skill needed to be successful in business and life is also needed to be successful “under the bar”

Elitefts™was founded with the purpose to provide strength coaches, athletes, and trainers with the highest quality equipment, personalized service and knowledge needed to advance their training programs to the next level. This was not an easy task to undertake in an industry known for inferior equipment, bad customer service, and representatives with little or no training knowledge. I knew from the beginning that Elitefts had to be a value-based company geared with a vision to empower success through personal achievement. To accomplish this we set up nine core values that guide every decision we make as a company and individuals. Integrity was the first of these values to be discussed. This column will focus on the second value; Attitude

Attitude is defined as:
1. A position of the body or manner of carrying oneself
2. A state of mind or a feeling; disposition
3. A relative stable and enduring predisposition to behave or react in a characteristic way.
4. A complex mental state involving beliefs and feelings and values and dispositions to act in certain ways.

At Elitefts™ we define attitude as approaching life and work with passion, a smile and a positive state of mind. We strongly believe our attitude determines our success in the marketplace. I selected this as a company value for several reasons. The most important is I have seen how attitude has made the difference my own (and others) training over the years. Attitude is a key ingredient in having success “under the bar” as well as in business and life.

Some may feel attitude is all about positive thinking and motivation. While this is true to some degree motivation and positive thinking is both temporary while attitude should be a value that is part of whom you are. Attitude is a clear indication of who you really are or who you really want to be. If you are not on your way or where you would like to be the first place to look is inside at your attitude. The first most important thing to keep in mind is that YOU choose you attitude to any give situation. Regardless of what someone has done to you, you choose how you want to react to it. Let me explain with a few “under the bar” examples.

Chuck Vogelpohl has become known for his unbelievable training and competitive spirit. In his recent training video “Westside Secrets Chuck Vogelpohl XXX” you can see a great example of his training and competitive attitude. In one of his squatting session Chuck begins to work up in weight to get a better feel of heavier weight and his equipment. After a few sets of increased weight Chuck is now close to near maximal weight. On this particular set Chuck un-racked the weight and began his descent to the box. He did not finish the weight and ended up having the spotter pull the weight back to the racks. Most lifters I know would have called it a day and been happy with a “nice try”. Chuck on the other hand had a different attitude toward the situation and called for one more try BUT also asked for the spotters to add another 50 pounds to the bar. On his next set Chuck not only squatted the weight but also did it for two reps.

You may all know JL Holdsworth for his contribution to the elitefts.com Q and A forum but a few of us from Westside know him for more than his training advice. I knew from the first training session JL took at Westside that he had the right attitude to succeed in the sport of power lifting. A great example of JL’s great attitude was seen at this years APF Senior Nationals. JL’s training for the meet went very well and we knew there would be big things in store for him. JL started off the day with an easy squat opener and then jumped to a PR 900 pounds. JL has missed this weight at his two last competitions and was looking forward to another shot at it. On his second attempt JL missed the weight and the spotters had to help him back to the rack. JL repeated the weight for his third attempt. This would be his fifth time he has tried this weight with four misses already. JL set up the squat and made it look very easy as he stood up and racked the weight for a good lift. JL went onto open his bench with an easy 733 and then jumped to 777 for his second. He presses the weight to the top with very little problem but was red lighted a bad lift for his hips coming up. JL repeated the weight and missed it again for the same reason. JL could have been very upset with this as he had the same problem a couple months before this meet with 800 pounds. He was really looking forward to an 800-pound bench press. With the dead lift coming up JL found that he was in a very tight race with two other lifters, both of whom also have great attitudes. We did not know how JL would end up, as his best pull was 760 pounds while we knew he would need all of that plus more to win this class. JL ended up pulling 800 (805?) for a 40-pound PR and the win. JL willed himself to pull what he needed top put himself on top. JL had a great day and should be proud of what he accomplished but all he can think of know is getting ready for t he next meet where the stakes and lifts will be higher.

Jeff Adams like myself spent many years and many attempts trying to bench-press 600 pounds. I am not exactly sure of how many times he had missed this weight but I do know it was more than I had. I missed the weight over 10 times before finally making it a couple years ago. Jeff has a very extensive injury history and has spent more time being beat up than almost any lifter I have ever known over the years. Jeff great attitude kept him hard at work at trying to reach his goal of 600 pounds. Regardless of how and why he missed the weight he would always go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan of attack without ever letting the last miss hold him back. After many years he finally found the right plan of attack and at the 2003 Outlaws bench – dead lift meet Jeff finally made the weight. I was there for this lift and have to say it was one of the more memorable lifts I have ever seen. This lift was not memorable because it was 600 pounds. It was memorable because it was a great display of an attitude that had to overcome much adversity to reach the final outcome. Success!

I could keep listing examples like this dating back to the first day I walked into a “real” gym and was approached by a few power lifters who offered to help me out. It is not very often you find men in their 30’s offering to take the time and help a 14 year old kid out with his training. Throughout the years I have seen many great examples of positive attitudes that have all lead to great success while I have also seen many examples of very poor attitudes that have always lead to sub par results and unhappiness. The one observation I have always see regardless of where I am is that those with the poor attitudes will always try to do whatever they can to bring you down to their level. This is one way they have found to make themselves feel better. It has also become much easier to see this negative behavior with the increased use of the internet over the years, I have learned a few very simple basic concepts over the years that has helped me to keep a great attitude. These concepts have helped shape my training, business and life. These include:

1) Keep company with those people who share the same attitude, as you would like to have. Being at Westside has had a huge difference on my training that I would have never had otherwise. The staff at Elitefts has also had a huge impact on the growth and success of the company and without them it would still be an “at home” operation being run out of my spare bedroom. Family has also been as positive force and will continue to be as when you do what I do (Power Lifting and Business Owner); family is the only balance I have. My family could care less about how my lifts and business is going. What they really care about is how I am doing. I learned a couple years ago with the birth of my first son that family is what keep us all in balance and complete.

2) Let it go: When things go wrong, as they always will then learn to learn from it and let it go. Okay, so I may still need some work on this one. I have learned “under the bar” that a missed lift is not the end of the world and does not mean that you will always miss the weight. What it means is you need to find out why it happened, learn from it and then let it go. This is also true with your personal life and business but is much harder to do in real life then it is in the weight room. There is many times where something is said that will fire me up and while I know I should let it go, I have a hard time with it. My solution is to try and keep these incidents behind closed doors with those who know I am just blowing off steam and know that it will pass or take it upon them selves to bring me back to reality. Even with this situation I have to always remember what I am upset about and whom am I speaking with. For example is I am pissed because our sales are down and we may be in the red for the month. I can’t bitch it out to my staff. If there is something wrong with the business it is not their fault. It is mine! This is the role I took up when the company was founded. At the same time if things are going very well and we are having a great month then it is never due to something I did. It is due to what they did! For this reason I have learned you have to be very selective of what you say and to who you say it.

3) Decide what type of day you will have: When you wake up you need to decide right then and there that it will be a great productive day that will help lead you to your goals. This is truer than you think it is. Who really decides how you will feel? Only you can talk yourself into a bad day. Yes, bad things can happen but when they do you need to realize that the number of days we have on this earth are limited and is this one bad thing worth the cost of one day of your life?

4) Being positive is not enough: Let’s face it you can have all the self talk you like, think 100% positive thoughts and never let anything bother you but this is just not going to happen and even if it did it will not produce anything without action and execution. You have to be able to pick the right things to do and then execute them effectively. Execution will be discussed in a future “Under the Bar” column. Let’s face it; if you say you want to bench press 500 pounds and then do not train for it, the odds of it happening are very rare. You need to find the best plan you can and get to work on it and try to do something each day to help you achieve your goal.

5) Your attitude will determine the attitude of those around you. Have you ever noticed when you are in a good mood everyone else seems to be in a good mood. Have you also noticed that when you are in a bad mood every one else is also upset? This can be seen in any gym or team environment. The next time you go to the gym to train with tour team or training partner go in with a fired up positive attitude and you will notice that the rest of the crew will also be fired up. This is a great reason to have a number of training partners and one reason why Westside is so great. If you feel like crap and do not have the right attitude, more than likely someone else will have a great attitude and it will rub on you. This is the same approach I used when selecting the current staff at Elitefts. I was looking for different types of personalities that would fit together and help keep the wheel moving, even when someone may be off for the day.

6) No matter what happens it all has it purpose. This is a tough one and the reason why I kept it last is because I feel it is the most important. This is the one where you suffer a great loss, have huge injury, go bankrupt, or any other issue you feel is huge. Regardless of what the issue is or how important it is to anyone else, it is huge to you and words can’t explain how huge it is. This is why it is very hard to get anyone else to understand the significance of the event. The one common thing with all these events is that they will change you life. How they change your life may not be seen for years to come but sooner or later you will begin to see a pattern of events that lead up to something that turned out to be very good for you. The day I tore my pec off was one of the worst days of my life. I felt that I was done with power lifting as my surgeon told me. But when I look back it was one of the best things that have ever happened to me. This event is one of the main reasons I decided to move to Columbus. This then lead to a series of events (trained at Westside, worked as personal trainer – founded Elitefts) that have changed my life in more ways than just training. There have been many other major events that have changed my life that seemed very bad at first but then turned out to be a situation that helped lead the way to bigger and better things. The key is to try and remember this while you are suffering through the bad.

Attitude is a value I could write an entire book about. While nobody can be expected to have the best attitude 100% of the time it is more important try to always be better than we are. We all will have our bad days, say things without thinking, and think there are many things we just can’t do, this is normal. We can however always work on keeping a positive outlook and try to help others do the same. Always keep in mind how you would like to be remembered when you leave this world. I know how I would like to be remembered and work hard at it each day. Do you?