elitefts™ Sunday Edition

My athletes know me as a bit of a storyteller. So, for this article, I want to tell a story. It’s about a man named Joshua Chamberlain. Some know the story and some don’t. But let’s go through the story and then relate it back to powerlifting.

Joshua Chamberlain started out as a college professor at Bowdoing College in Brunswick, Maine. At the onset of the Civil War, Chamberlain decided to leave his cushy job as a professor because he believed that everyone had a duty to step up and support the cause of the Union. He ended up entering the war as a Lieutenant Colonel and was in charge of the 20th Maine. (If you’re a Steve Earl fan, check out his song Dixie Land. It references Chamberlain and the 20th Maine).

Although his unit was involved in many battles, it was the Battle of Gettysburg that brought him fame. During the second day of battle, while the Union forces were licking their wounds from the whipping the Confederates had inflicted and regrouping into their defensive positions, the Confederates noticed the weakened state of the Union and decided to attack. At this point, Chamberlain’s 20th Maine was on the left flank, and they were being assaulted by the Confederacy and cut off from communications from the rest of the Union forces. There was a lack of supplies overall and a great shortage of ammunition. However, instead of waiting to regain communication and receive orders (as most military men would do), Chamberlain saw the dire circumstances and ordered a flanking maneuver called a “wheel right.” (At least I believe, but I could be quite wrong. My military involvement is limited to family members and movies). They affixed bayonets and performed a charge where they essentially assembled into one line and ran at the enemy. The line eventually hinged upon impact so that they were coming at the enemy from the front and then from the side.

Chamberlain’s actions forced the confederacy to draw back and allowed the Union soldiers to win the battle. He was thereafter awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day.

Now, here is what this has to do with powerlifting. Many times we know that something needs to be done. Sometimes it’s a machine that needs fixed. Sometimes it’s that we need to start cleaning up our diets. Sometimes it’s changing our technique in order to keep a nagging injury from flaring up, and sometimes it’s doing extra workouts to improve work capacity. There are a lot of people who know a lot of things that need to be done. There are a lot of people who know that these obstacles are standing in their way of results. And unfortunately, there are a lot of people who are waiting for others to do something for them…either by telling them to do something or by doing it for them.

These are the same people who get the same totals and the same lifts meet after meet. They are content with where they are, and they don’t want to get out of their comfort zone. They don’t want to act, and they are not willing to go out and read or learn from other people about how to change things. They don’t want to replace a broken cable on a lat pulldown. They don’t want to grease up the bearings of the equipment to keep it working well. They don’t want to get up early or go home late in order to get in some work capacity. Instead, they want to bitch and moan about what is standing in their way and hope that someone else will do something about it. If these people were in charge of the 20th Maine rather than Joshua Chamberlain, it is quite possible that we’d be singing about times in the land of cotton rather than bombs bursting in air.

People of action go to seminars and visit other lifters’ and gyms. They not only learn what they need for the moment, they also learn what they’ll need to know down the line. They take care of business in the gym—both in terms of training and of taking care of equipment. They do what needs to be done—not because it is convenient and not because it’s fun. They do it simply because it’s what needs to be done.

The world changes for people who act, and the world changes because of people who act. The world waits for no one. PRs and championship totals wait for no one. Those who achieve their personal potential—their own little world of greatness, are the ones who act. Those who fail to act chase their tails just doing the same thing.

Those who become stronger are the ones who act. Now, how does this relate to the stronger mind? Well, simply put: taking action is a choice. You choose to either act or not to act. You choose excellence, or you choose its antithesis. Our choices are our thoughts—you become what you think and what you choose.

While you may not win a Medal of Honor, or go down in the annals of history as the person who changed everything, you can choose to reach your potential and become Strong(er)™ of mind and Strong(er)™ of body.