About a week ago, I went into Lexington to get a new tattoo. I went there with about ten ideas and worked with the artist, Stu, to develop them. After some talking, we decided on one, and Stu drew something up. Now where to put it…

There were a few options—calf, forearm, or rib/stomach (side panel). My first inclination was to put it on my left forearm to begin the completion of my sleeve. Stu didn’t like the way it would flow with the other work though so I was left with my calf and side panel. The sick bastards that they are, the whole shop suggested that I get it done on my side. They’ve all been through it, but they couldn’t hide their smirks. I knew how painful this area was.

So I decided to put it there.

After drawing it up and fitting me for it, I laid down on the table, and the work began. As soon as Stu started, the rest of the shop came in and started laughing. They knew there was no going back. They even took pictures to document the pain. But I can appreciate the humor in that.

Now I don’t make any claims of being a tough guy. I once heard someone say, “The only thing that hurts me is pain.” This is my philosophy. As the ribs were done, I was yanking on my arms and about dislocated my shoulder. The table was covered in sweat, and my teeth were grinding. I have had both arms done, my elbows, hands, wrists, and the ditch (the area opposite the elbow). Nothing can even compare to this.

During the tattoo, Stu said something to me that I believe everyone should know. It applies to training, tattoos, and just about every part of life—“Jim, a lot of people want a tattoo, but no one wants to deal with the pain. You are going to earn this tattoo, and you will be proud.”

I heard those words and couldn’t believe such prose was coming from Beef Stu! But the point is that there are so many people who want things in life, yet they are unwilling to deal with the pain. Many people have never had to sacrifice in their life and don’t deal well when the shit hits the fan. These people fail when the first sign of struggle occurs. Others are too afraid. These people never even attempt anything and live a life of mediocrity. Others will never have to do so and will live in their version of Utopia, the world of the socialite and trust fund. I prefer to live in my Utopia—a world of success (and many times failure) built by work and sacrifice.

So my question to you and something you have to ask yourself is this—are you willing to take the pain for five more pounds? Are you willing to do what it takes to total elite? How bad do you want to bench press 500 lbs?

If you are honest with yourself, then you will know the answer. There is no shame in admitting to yourself that you can’t do what it takes. This is actually healthier than living in a haze and a lie. But if you are willing to take the pain (physical and mental), my hat is off to you. You are part of a special breed, and we welcome you with open arms. Just don’t hug me too tightly—I’m still sore as hell.