I am not sure if life has taught me more about lifting or if lifting has taught me more about life. Either way, the better I become at one, the better I become at the other because they are so closely linked together. Even after 47 years of life, I continue to realize there are crossover lessons between them. It seems strange to me that there are way too many lifters that still do not realize this.
A year or so ago, I decided to sell my Jeep Wrangler that I built up for the desert with my father. It was a great Jeep, which had never let me down on any of my many adventures. I sold it because I felt a Jeep Cherokee would suit my needs better now.
Last year, I found a good deal on a Jeep Grand Cherokee with low miles, but unfortunately, I ended up getting into a bad wreck that totaled it. I did not get back as much as I had invested in the Jeep, but all in all, I did OK with what insurance gave me for it. I ended up deciding to wait for an XJ Cherokee this time, but these are much harder to find in this area.
After about eight months and a couple deals that fell through, I got a really good deal on one. Such a good deal that it allowed me to put the extra money I saved for the Jeep toward my saving for some of the off-road modifications I’d planned. Well, a few weeks ago, I was finally able to purchase and install the beginnings of this Jeep project. This included all new brakes, the lift kit, shocks, SYE, new driveline, and new tires. During this stage of the building project, I kept chuckling at all the similarities of life, lifting, and apparently, Jeep building! There were times I felt tremendous pride in being able to transfer my life and lifting lessons into this situation.
I would say the biggest lesson I saw across the board had to do with drilling metal. I'm guessing there are going to be readers who work in the metal fields who are thinking, “Duh! How did he not know that or do that?” On the other side of the spectrum, there will be readers who have no idea what I am talking about. So let’s start with the fact that I am extremely impatient and seriously hard-headed.
I started working on my own bicycles as soon as I could ride one. I actually asked my dad to help me take one apart and put it back together for no reason at all except that I wanted to. Around the same time in my life, I started accumulating a massive number of stripped bolts and nuts because I could never get anything tight enough in my warped mind.
Jump forward many years, when I began to get into a situation of drilling metal and began to accumulate massive amounts of screwed up drill bits as well. I have been working with wood my whole life and decided metal should be no different to drill. I wanted to drill at the fastest speeds, and when it did not happen fast enough, I put even more pressure on the bit, like more pressure was going to just punch a hole in the metal.
Needless to say, I finally got really sick of spending money on drill bits. I also began to feel that my complaining about the quality of drill bits was getting pretty auspicious. It was not uncommon for me to use multiple bits on one hole many times. Well, recently, I had been thinking about this situation of drilling metal and what I would say about a lifter using similar logic in training.
I would tell this lifter something about doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. I would say something about not having to make so many mistakes if you were willing to listen to others that have already made mistakes. There would be something about using your mind as well as your body. I’d probably even say that if you take your time, you will get a more harmonious outcome. It sounded like good advice that I should listen to.
Luckily, I had the chance to meet many people in many different fields, and I decided to take advantage of this. I think first started with some YouTube video searches under “why do I keep screwing up metal drill bits?” Then I went to some of the machinists I knew and started asking if they could give me some advice.
It really was pretty simple advice that made sense once I chained up my maniac ego. Heat destroys bits by dulling them and changing their microstructure. Friction causes heat hence more pressure, and speed creates more heat. Putting too much pressure on the bit when it pokes through is also hard on it. Use slower speeds and more so with larger bits. Use a lubricant and back the bit out every now and then. Let the bit do its job and don’t force it.
It was simple advice, and during this project, I had to drill a few new holes through some tough steel. I actually thought about the advice I had gotten and was determined to finally do this right. I bought a new set of bits, and after this project, those bits are still in great shape. Funny enough, I actually saved myself time and money by doing it correctly — weird! I was happy with this outcome but wondered why it took me so long when this was the same attitude I used every day in lifting.
It is no secret I have dealt with anger issues in my life, which have always been multiplied by frustration. I believe this is part of what originally drew me to lifting because it helped me deal with these issues. As I learned in life, I realized dealing with these issues only made lifting a crutch but was not a cure. Ironically, powerlifting forced me to look deeper for control of my anger issues. I think this lift kit was probably one of my most successful in terms of not letting these issues get to me.
My Jeep is 19 years old, and there are a lot of things that did not want to change underneath it. There were many times I could have gotten frustrated and let my anger run free. Instead, I stayed calm and backed away, even if just for a few seconds. I reminded myself about all the struggles I encountered in lifting and what I eventually did to overcome them.
I am all about using physical force when needed but not just for the sake of using force. I became a successful powerlifter because I started approaching it with my mind and brought the physical force in at the right time. Emotions are great but they rarely solve anything. It is intelligence and logic that make an endeavor successful. Strength training is more about intelligence than physical strength.
My time seems to be somewhat limited these days with so many projects going on. I knew I did not want to start this one without being able to finish this part of it in a timely manner. I admit to looking up just how long it would take a technician to accomplish it.
Let’s say I at least doubled that time, and that is extremely irritating to me. The most worthwhile things in life take time and lots of it. I do not do this every day, and I’ll admit, I am not the fastest learner with some things. I am teaching myself while I am doing it.
Learning takes time, and in this situation, it is unrealistic to compare myself to a professional. It is not a bad thing to strive for but that striving has to be kept in check. Yes, I would have loved to squat 1,200 pounds in my first year of lifting, but, it took over 10! Know where you want to get but be patient on how long it takes to get there.
Throughout life and throughout lifting, you will have times of great struggles and setbacks. It is fully up to you to choose the perspective you want. It is your choice to let it crush you or to let it teach you to be great. I chose to see the wrecked Grand Cherokee as an opportunity to learn. I realized I would be better off finding an XJ even if it took longer. I chose to focus on the positives instead of the negatives. No one got hurt in the accident, and although, I had started working on it, I had not soaked too much money into it at that point.
All the little struggles and issues working on this project were nothing more than training opportunities to be a better person. A chance to test myself and what I had learned. A chance to strengthen my resolve. Life, lifting, and Jeeps are about challenging yourself to continue learning. They are about growing as a person through these new challenges. They are not just about learning new things but learning to learn in a better and quicker way. Not only have I learned more about myself and had the chance to strengthen my beliefs, but I also ended up with a new desert vehicle that best fits my needs at this point in my life.