elitefts™ Sunday Edition

I’d like to step away from the regular articles to follow up on the Lens article. If you remember, the Lens article essentially said that the way we view things is what shapes our reality, not what actually happened. This is great because we can change our viewpoint on anything at any time.

Many people have said that the Lens article and some of the other articles weren't only great lessons for lifting but for life as well. Knowing that, I’d like to share with you a bit of my personal life.

Like so many children these days, I grew up in a broken home. In 1987, my parents finally ended their marriage and we moved to Springfield, Missouri. Knowing the hardships that a single mother was about to face and the hardships that a young boy could have without a male role model, my grandfather decided to retire from his job as a truck driver. He had driven trucks for 52 years and loved doing it. (He loved driving up until the point when he couldn’t do it anymore, and even then, that's all he talked about. He was still a trucker until the day he died.)

Instead of growing up the way most kids with a single mother do with little supervision because she's working two jobs and going to school to make a better life, my grandfather supervised me. He stepped into the father role seamlessly and taught me right from wrong, the value of hard work, the need for education, how to fix things instead of throwing them away, and how to treat women. He also gave me strong ethics and morals. He attended every choir recital, band recital, school assembly, football game, and track meet.

When I started powerlifting in my junior year of high school, he either drove me to my meets or met me there. He did this throughout my college powerlifting years as well. After he had a heart attack in 2006, he wanted to see the videos of my competitions because he couldn’t make the long drives to watch in person. If I went for anything, he showed me unwavering support. If I tried to quit something, he wouldn’t let me do it. He made sure that I saw everything through to the end even if I didn’t like doing it. He is one of the people who helped convince me that I needed to go to college even though he didn’t make it past the sixth grade.

On July 10 of this year, he passed away. The loss hurt like hell and it still pains me. I was feeling sorry for myself when I happened to be reading through some George Patton quotes. (I love George Patton. If you ask any of my athletes, they'll know who he is as well as several of his quotes.) One quote in particular struck me: “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”

My grandfather was one of these men. He was a child of the depression, part of a wealthy farming family who lost everything they had. He was a moonshiner, a bouncer, a trucker, a mason, and a Shriner (which he was very proud of). He was a strong man without every lifting a weight. He was stern without ever raising his voice or saying an unkind word. I never feared him. I feared disappointing him.

Another one of my favorite quotes is by Isaac Newton. He said, “If I have seen further than other men, it is only because I have stood upon the shoulders of giants.” Jack Reynolds was the rock to which I could anchor myself so that I could go out and make my way in the world. He was my rudder that allowed me to stay the right and true course rather than turning out to be a burnout like so many other kids in my neighborhood who were in similar circumstances. He was the giant who allowed me to see where I could go in life.

With all these things that he was, I could sit around and be depressed and mourn his passing. I could mourn all that I have lost and will never have again. Or I could thank God that a man like him existed and lived and was an influence in my life.

The way you view things has all the impact in the world. You either choose to be happy or you choose to be sad due to circumstances. You choose to think positive thoughts or you choose to think negative thoughts. You choose to see an incident as a springboard for opportunity or you choose to see it as concrete shoes to sink you to the bottom of the river.

On any given day with any given obstacle with any set of circumstances, you have a choice. You have the choice to look at the incident with one of two lenses—one that can help with positive thoughts and set you up for success or one that can help with negative thoughts and set you up for failure. Your lens is what will help you be strong of mind.

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