You tighten your belt, you close your eyes, and you take a deep breath. As you open your eyes, you walk to the bowl that holds that soft white powder. You grab the block and go through the same pattern you always do. You take one last look at the weight on the bar and begin to walk towards the rack, going through your mental checks and balances as you go. You approach the bar the same way you have hundreds of times before. It’s now or never. You place your hands on the bar - the same spot every time - and you step under. You bring your shoulder blades together and down, pulling that bar through your back. You take your air, you unrack the weight, and then, as Dave Tate says, one of three things happens...“you make the lift, you miss the lift, or you get hurt.”

After the lift you hopefully rack the weight, step out from under the bar, and look around at your teammates...or you grab your phone to analyze what you did wrong. As we all know, no lift is ever perfect - just like neither you nor I is perfect. We all have our faults. The only losers in life are those who refuse to admit they have faults. We get so caught up in what other people much our opponent squatted, how many championships the coach across from us won...However, to really determine how successful we will be is to look at what we do. It’s not about what our competition does; the only competition we really have is ourselves. We need to stop wasting time and energy worrying about whether we are going to win or lose or about whether we will get the lift or not. Instead, we need to concentrate on preparing ourselves to become the very best lifter/coach/athlete/husband/entrepreneur that we can be...every single day.

Each and every day we wake up, we should strive to become better in every possible manner - whether it be strength, conditioning, mental toughness, coaching, communicating, or even physical toughness. We need to keep finding new ways to outwork who we were yesterday so that we can become better for today. If we do this, then we expect to win...we expect to be successful. Winners don’t have time to worry. Losers do.

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Go ahead and look in the mirror. What do you see? We can fool our friends, our family, and even our enemies, but we can’t fool ourselves. We need to be honest with who we are. We need to take the time to understand who we are and evaluate what we’ve done and where we’re going. If we can look in the mirror every single day and tell that person staring back at us that we’ve done our best today to become strong(er) both mentally and physically, then that is all that matters. However, if we know that we haven’t done our best, then its time to evaluate. It's time to figure out why we didn’t do our best, learn from it, make a plan, and get ready to attack the next day. Just like powerlifting, we make a plan to address our weaknesses. We find out where we made our mistakes and determine where we need help. The more critical we are of ourselves, the more honest and realistic we are with ourselves, and the higher our standards will be. The higher our standards are, the better we will become at what we do.

It may be cliché, but whether we're on the platform, on the field, in the office, or with our family and friends, we are only as strong as our weakest link. We need to recognize our weaknesses before we can even think about correcting them. But if we look in the mirror and lie to ourselves, and if we aren’t open enough to admit that what we’re doing is wrong, then we’ll never correct anything. If we don’t know ourselves - our own abilities, flaws, strengths and weaknesses - then how can we accomplish anything in life?

Most of us are willing to analyze our lifts and address our weaknesses in the weight room, but how many of you are willing to analyze who you are on a daily basis? Lifting is only a small part of our lives, yet we dedicate so much time to it. Figuring out the best supplements and nutrition protocols, the best accessory exercises...we analyze others and what they do, but the one thing that needs to be analyzed is the person staring back at you in that mirror. Be honest with yourself.

Nic Bronkall is the director of strength and conditioning at The Spot Athletics in Columbus, Ohio.