From the Weight Room to the Boardroom

TAGS: business culture, mental sticking point, technical sticking point, physical sticking point, professional lives, boardroom, Michael Speidel, Business World, gym culture, sticking points, westside, dave tate

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I remember reading one of Dave Tate’s articles from 2013 on mastering the squat where he stated that “any sticking point can be attributed to one of three things: physical, technical or mental.” I am pretty certain that all of us who have followed elitefts for several years have heard Dave write and speak on this subject. I’ve always considered this philosophy as a type of problem-solving strategy and have often referred to it when talking to a training partner about how their training is going or analyzing my own efforts to see where I need to improve.


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There is real genius in its simplicity and I hope that it has helped others towards bigger totals and PRs as much as it has helped me. However, I must say that this philosophy is far too valuable to stay within the confines of the weight room and would argue that it is very relatable to overcoming “sticking points” in our professional lives, especially if we own or run a business. You can use the physical, technical or mental paradigm as an analytical tool to evaluate where your organizational shortcomings are — you simply have to change the vocabulary a bit to make it a bit more relevant to the business world.

Physical

When talking about physical shortcomings in the weight room, Dave has always referred to lifter genetics, joint health, muscle mass, etc. In essence, this is the “raw material” that the trainee must work with. In the business world, I would simply change out the word physical for “resources.” If you don’t possess the manpower, the suppliers, the cash, the location or a viable market, then you simply won’t make it. Just like it would be highly unlikely for a seven foot tall ectomorph to obtain a world record in the bench press because his long arms aren’t conducive to lifting heavy weights, it is equally unlikely for a sixty store shopping mall to survive in a town with 300 people — the small market doesn’t have the ability to support it. All too often, I see businesses make incredibly ambitious goals without considering whether or not they have the resources and potential to accomplish the goals — and the ramifications of this overestimation are often very damaging. Conversely, the businesses that possess a realistic understanding of their resources and develops the self-control to live within its capabilities will almost always enjoy consistent success and incremental growth.

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Technical

Powerlifting is a profoundly technical sport. It is one thing to possess the physical attributes needed to lift the weight, it is something altogether different to execute the lift correctly. This is important for a variety of reasons: safety, training efficiency or three white lights. In the business world, I would simply call this “expertise” or “talent.” Does your organization possess the industry knowledge to make the right decisions at the right times? It would be a disaster for an accounting firm to go into the engineering business simply because they lack the basic knowledge to be successful. It would be a much better idea to stick with what they are good and knowledgeable at. Unfortunately, the business world is filled with case study after case study of large organizations pursuing business lines that were far outside of its knowledge base which almost always leads to extreme financial hardship. Stick with your craft and get better at it. Strive to be the technicians and experts of your chosen field. Being a “specialist” generally commands trust from your customers, as well as a more premium fee for your services.

Mental

I have always enjoyed Dave’s stories regarding his days at Westside Barbell. I remember he once described the key to survival at Westside was the lifters’ willingness to do most anything to get stronger. This “do or die” mentality was inarguably the key component to Westside’s success. The mindset of the lifter always dictates how well he or she is going to utilize their physical and technical attributes. In my opinion, the word “culture” would be the most accurate way to describe this component when applying it to business. Talent and resources are not enough to make an organization great, it must foster and possess a healthy and results-oriented culture in order to fulfill its full potential. Is there engagement at all levels? Is there a clear sense of purpose? Are people valued? Does the company keep its promises? If the answer is yes, then the culture is typically a good one. On the other hand, if the company is plagued by politics and an inability to execute its strategy, if its people are unmotivated and apathetic to its results, then chances are likely that it will never live up to its true potential. The mentation or culture of an organization is more complicated to grasp, just like in strength athletes than its talent pool or resources. However, I would argue that it is what ties everything together and creates the outcome for better or for worse. It is what dictates whether the organization over-achieves or under-achieves.

I will happily go on record that I am…unapologetically…a huge fan of Dave Tate’s logic and philosophies. From “Blast and Dust” to “Passion Trumps Everything,” I have always enjoyed his perspectives and his concepts have done much to improve my training and gym outcomes. However, as I have demonstrated above, they have also done much to expand my business sense as well. At times, we can be paralyzed by the complexity of our professional lives and it can be very valuable to find simple, yet proven philosophies that help us find our way. Honestly evaluating your business on the basis of resources, expertise, and culture can do much towards setting the stage for success and the results that you desire.

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