Powerlifters are often on a quest, on a mission, striving for a goal of which they have a vision. So focused on the goal at hand that what they see, what they focus on is in the purest sense, trying to successfully bring that vison to fruition.

Powerlifters who actually reach their goal — those powerlifters are a little bit different.

The successful powerlifter also had a vision, they also developed a plan and they too started the process toward that goal. But, they were unfettered by anything taking away from their goals. They were specifically immune to producing or absorbing any negativity that would impede their chance for success. But how did the successful powerlifter avoid the shark filled waters negativity?

These types of individuals possess something intrinsic that makes them immune to the negative influences in their lives. They have a key ingredient, a psychological personality trait that has long been like an Earth hardened root, lending tremendous stability to the tree of their powerlifting success.

What I am not talking about is physical prowess, or genetic muscular explosion, or the right bodily structure. Many unsuccessful powerlifters have these traits.

Every successful powerlifter shares the trait of self-confidence. Some intrinsically possess this trait and some have developed or nurtured it over time. These powerlifters have the self-confidence to move forward to their goals and do so with the self-confidence and moral fiber to lift others up along the way. I have always said that powerlifting is a journey and during that journey you will be exposed to opportunities to create bonds of positivity along the way. You will have an opportunity to create some good karma for yourself and others along this journey.


Even during the chaos of a meet, self-confidence allows you to enjoy the moment. NFL (ret) Washington Redskins Defensive End, powerlifter and MGG co-founder Phillip Daniels, with Erik Rico Johnsen. Photo: Courtesy of MGG


Powerlifters who often fail at their goals might also be driven, be physically strong, and have a good plan. But along the way they allow themselves to bathe or even steep in the waters of negativity, and often are the source or origin of the negativity. It is their lack of self-confidence that causes them to want to take away from others rather than to add to them. It is their lack of self-confidence that compels them to over-look the ten positive aspects of a situation, but yet hone in the single negative aspect.

There’s a common psychology saying I like: what one says about others is often more telling about themselves. The self-confident powerlifter will find the good in most everything, and will pass on opportunities to be negative towards other powerlifters. Indeed, what one says about others is more telling about themselves, but additionally, it is the volume at which some voice negativity that is a white hot light exposing that powerlifter’s own deficiencies. Those who consistently seek to tear others down are, without realizing it, displaying their soft-white-underbelly of emotional deficits, tattered moral fiber, and ultimately their lack of self-confidence.

Self-confidence is a key ingredient to the success of so many powerlifters.

The powerlifters who silently go about their training, while also go about lifting up others along the way repeatedly enjoy the fruits of their labors. These fruits might appear modest in grandeur, like a gym PR or a good redemption meet after a poor showing, or perhaps just finishing a training program that might have been a bit too much to take on. For the physically great powerlifters, perhaps the fruits are an all-time record. It is not the scale of the success, but the success itself that is the prize.


Self-confidence shows when those that have been there and done that, take time with powerlifters who are new to the journey. Living legend and “Godfather of Powerlifting,” Ernie Frantz with novice powerlifter, JuJu Yang. Photo: Courtesy of MGG


There have long been those with intrinsic self-confidence and those without it. We merely see it more clearly through the lens of social media. Social media, among other things, is an ongoing experiment in sociology as it involves groups of people. It has a magnification effect on the psychological traits of the person making the post, be those traits positive or negative. Social media illuminates ones lack of self-confidence in a way that was not seen at this level prior to social media. This is very evident in the world of powerlifting.

I will guarantee as a powerlifter you have seen examples of these things. In our world, there are doers, and there are keyboard cowards. Keyboard cowards, in the world of powerlifting are those “powerlifters” who have nothing to say, yet say it via post after meaningless post. 

He's a wonderful talker, who has the art of telling you nothing in a great harangue. ~Jean Baptiste Molière, Le Misanthrope

Those of you with social media friends who are powerlifters see it in your daily feed all too frequently. You see the negative comments about this training squat, that competition bench, those deadlifters’ form. It is something you have seen many, many times. As the majority often does, they go about their business leaving the keyboard coward be, not unlike a person walking down the street would leave a used tissue at curbside. We see it frequently, but what we may not always realize is that those who choose to post all things negative are actually a tiny minority. They represent a sad new category of social media that seems larger than it is because those who have nothing of worth to say speak very loudly.

In other words, because likely no one listens to keyboard cowards in an actual life setting, they find themselves compelled to be heard in the artificial world of social media. In many ways, it is not unlike the old school bully. The classic bully, in their attempt to try to denigrate another, is actually screaming, “I have no self-confidence and in order to feel better about myself, I have to besmirch others.” Typically the lower the self-esteem of the poster, the higher the status of the target they choose to focus time on.

A while back I read about an amazing deadlifter who bested Ed Coan’s 198-pound class deadlift record set back in 1985. Ed’s statement about his deadlift number being surpassed was simply that of congratulations. As the record was broken in a deadlift only meet, I suppose Ed could have talked about apples vs oranges, or how his own pull was after squatting and benching. Yet Ed demonstrated by his genuine statement of congratulations, why he is The King and can still be the best while celebrating another’s achievement.


Lifting up those along the way is a sign of self-confidence and a strong moral fiber. “The King,” Ed Coan after working with MGG and Quads Gym member, Tatum Susberry. Photo: Courtesy of Ed Coan and MGG.

The difference between a smart man and a wise man is that a smart man knows what to say, a wise man knows whether or not to say it. ~Frank M. Garafola

Ed’s abundance of self-confidence is one of many key ingredients to his legendary success. Ed Coan, like Dave Tate, like Ernie Frantz like so many great lifters, is always there with a positive tip, a word of encouragement, and never a negative remark.

The powerlifting world is full of both sheep and shepherds, followers and leaders, negative and positive. The self-confident will continue to make gains and those without will continue to make excuses. The successful remain steadfast and ever-onward past those who tout their negatives as “the right to have an opinion.” The successful added to their arsenal of tools, (their work ethic, training program, consistency) the tool of self-confidence and the ability to lift their fellow powerlifter up along the way. They realize that helping uplift another does not lower themselves. In actuality, it does just the opposite.

Powerlifters are often on a quest striving for a goal of which they have a vision. So focused on the goal at hand that what they see, what they focus on is in the purest sense, trying to successfully bring that vision to fruition.

Avoid the negative and embrace the positive. It will go a long way toward your ultimate success. Ever Onward!

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