Under the Bar

TAGS: marketing, Elitefts Legacy Log, under the bar, powerlifting, Inspiration, dave tate, Elitefts Info Pages, barbell

Over the past couple years I have seen a shift in the type of questions I receive each day. While I used to get hundreds of training questions, I now seem to get more and more personal development and business questions. I am honored to receive these questions as when I founded Elite Fitness Systems I did not know anything about business. I have had to learn everything through trial and error, research and surrounding myself with a network of people who knew much more than I did. I still don’t know everything and have much more to learn.

The biggest lesson I have learned in life is to always pass on what you know. By doing this you accomplish two very important things. First, you pass on knowledge to others that may not have access to it. Second, you gain a better understanding of what you are teaching. So while this may not be the usual training article that I am accustomed to writing, I can say that just about everything I have learned in life and business was first introduced to me in the gym. We all have the skills necessary to become successful in whatever we do because we are all already using them every day in the gym. It just took me awhile to apply these same skills, values and lessons to my personal life and business. I can honestly say, “Everything I needed to know was learn 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 to no training knowledge. I knew from the beginning that EFS had to be a value-based company geared with a vision to empower success though personal achievement. To accomplish this we set up nine core values that guide every decision we make as a company and as individuals. This column will focus on one of these core values; Integrity.

Integrity is defined as:

  1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code
  2. The state of being unimpaired; soundness
  3. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness

Brian Tracy defined integrity as a value that guarantees all other values and is the quality that locks in your values and causes you to live consistent with them. Integrity is the highest value and the one that will set the stage for how you approach your personal relationships, training, and business and how you will live your life. Integrity is determined by how you live your life consistent to the values and believes you have. If you are an honest person then you should be an honest person all of the time, not when it is convenient. If you want to know what type of person you are then you need to look at what types of behavior you engage in and what values you deem the most important to you.

As stated above, everything I needed to know was learned “under the bar”. I have always tried to surround myself with the best lifters of the highest level of integrity and have been fortunate to learn from their examples.
A great example of high integrity is high quality training. Louie Simmons is a great example of this. Louie will always be in the gym early, stay later and concentrate on every detail needed to advance his training and the training of lifters around the world. He lives this value 24 hours per day and has been know to train up to 17 sessions per week. I have never seen him turn a lifter away and will spend hours on the phone each day helping lifters and coaches work through their problems. One example that comes to mind was one afternoon where I met Louie at his home. I forget where we had to go but do remember it was a very important meeting. Louie was on the phone with a novice lifter when I walked in. It was very apparent to me that the lifter on the other end did not have a clue to how we trained. The answers I overheard Louie give were very basic and have been covered in every article time and time again. Louie took his time and answered every question asked. During this conversation I began to realize that we had to get out of their ASAP as we were going to be late for our meeting. To put it kindly, I was stressing about this. I hate to be late for anything! Louie did not show any signs of stress and kept helping this lifter out. By the time he got off the phone our appointment time had already passed. Louie did not say a word and we left for the meeting. Yes, we were late but I learned something about Louie that day that I will never forget. Helping others should always come before helping yourself. This left a huge impact on me and should serve as a constant reminder to all of us.

Who you are inside will always be shown by the actions you take everyday. This is especially true when you are forced to make a decision between two alternatives. Having integrity means doing the right thing every time, even if it may not seem to have the best outcome from the beginning. At EFS we strive to offer the highest level of customer service and have a great track record for this. We still do make mistakes, as we all do. The difference is we will go out of our way to make these mistakes right. I have been advised by many people I respect that there are times when you should “fire” the client or customer just to get rid of them. This has always made me uncomfortable and is one thing I have always disagreed with. What if that person was me?

Because of our commitment to integrity and the customer there have been times where we not only lost our total profit margin on a deal but ran deep in the hole. We will never back away from an issue where the customer does not feel we did our very best to make it right, even if we lose money on the deal. I have also been told that this is a mistake because the odds of them ever reordering again drop by 80% and all we are doing is throwing money away. While this may be the case, we have to ask “What if it was me?”

So how do you develop a high level of integrity? The first thing I would suggest is to first determine what values you hold the highest. If you do not know what these are than examine the people that you hold in high regard. Why do you admire them? When you find out why you admire these people you will determine what values are the most important to you. Now ask yourself if you live your life by these same values. Do you in every situation? Are you consistent with your values and do you keep your word?

A second way to determine what values you have is to ask those around you what they feel you stand for. Make sure to ask people who are friends, family, and even those who may not like you at all. Get as much feedback as you can. Is this feedback how you want to be remembered? If it is not, then you can change but only if you want to. Life is too short to not be remembered the way you want to. This is your life and how you live it will determine how you will be remembered. Do you want to be remembered as the guy who screwed everyone for a buck, treated his wife like crap, spent little time with their kids, had no friends, and did nothing to make the world a better place? Or, would you like to be remembered as a great coach, husband, father and friend who helped make a positive difference in the world. Living a life of integrity is the first way to set yourself on this path.

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