The Wannabe

Have you ever read a book on how to make money from someone who’s still broke? Ever read a self-help book from someone who hasn’t been able to shake depression yet? Ever read a strength training book from someone who is weaker than one of Nick Cannon’s rhymes? Actually, scratch that last one, but you get my point.

No one wants to get advice from someone who hasn’t walked the walk, put in the blood, sweat, and tears, and actually made it. I, for one, would love to get the thoughts of say a Bill Gates when he was just another college kid with big dreams, Jim Carrey when he was homeless and living in a van with his family, or even the less than dramatic story of a person who didn’t have to overcome impossible odds but just had to get enough confidence to begin the journey to his dream while fighting off the everyday crap we all face. That’s why I’m writing this article now.

I’ve never written a book, and I've never given a seminar. I’m a college dropout. I’m 21 years old, but I want to be the biggest, baddest strength coach who has ever lived. This is the journal of someone who could very well fail miserably at his goals or could, maybe, possibly make it and leave a path for future wannabes to follow. I’m doing that by contacting anyone with the experience and “street smarts” that I lack. Whether it’s a strength professional telling me that “colleges don’t know how to lift weights” or Chris Mason, owner of At Large Nutrition, telling me, “you can never be too strong,” my ears are open to anyone humble enough to work with a wannabe like me. I want to chronicle my ups and downs and be the human guinea pig for all the wannabes out there like me. Please learn my mistakes and hopefully my successes as I begin my journey.

So let's get started. I want to give four tips that I've learned. They will be broad and basic, but trust me—they have meant the world to me and will mean the world to you if you put them into action.

Tip 1: Contact the right people

Do this one step and your whole life will change. The internet has changed everything. All those people who were absolutely unreachable before are all at your fingertips.

I emailed a popular strength professional personally and asked if I could come up and spend the day at his facility to just absorb anything I could. I was a nobody kid from northern Virginia. I had been a personal trainer at a little gym with a daycare connected to it that I had grown up attending. I had no business going to learn from the strongest guys in the world, but I took a chance and I'm so glad I did. This strength professional was kind enough to let me come up and spend the entire day following him around. He may not even remember my name, but I will never forget that day because it was the day that I actually met someone who lived for strength. His humble attitude and teacher’s spirit inspired me so much. He even set me up with two guys down in Virginia (Justin Tooley and Chris Mason), and I'm now in Justin’s gym every day learning the conjugate system hands on. Never underestimate the power of one phone call or email to set you up with the right person because it almost never stops there. You always widen your network and more connections lead to more connections.

Tip 2: Always have something to offer (givers' gain)

You may get away with being a moocher and a leach for awhile just taking and taking without adding any value to the person who was kind enough to help you, but it will catch up with you at some point. Don’t think for a minute that you can get off the hook by saying that you're a beginner and don't have anything to offer. Here’s some ideas to get you started:

  • If you're given the privilege of using someone’s facility in any way, offer to sweep up, organize weights, or help fix a broken machine.
  • If you're a big reader like me, you can always offer someone a book that you don’t read anymore if you think he will enjoy it.
  • Talk the advice giver up on all your social networking sites.
  • Don’t be afraid to give advice in an area you may be the “expert” in if you feel it would be beneficial. Just remember to do it humbly and in the right setting.

Tip 3: Drop the ego!

This tip may be harder to grasp for some, but let’s be real here. You are the one asking for advice. Don't approach the person who is willingly giving of his time with any sense of entitlement. He owes you absolutely nothing. He may have dragged himself up the ladder of success from a much more desperate situation than you and deserves your utmost respect and attention. Always bring with you a beginner’s mindset. Sure, some people may offer you advice that you already know, but accept it and use it as an opportunity to reaffirm that information in your mind and be thankful. All the absolute strongest and smartest people I've had the privilege to meet haven't had any ego. Maybe I’ve lucked out and experienced the few who embody this quality, but I don’t think so. Usually the people who have made it to the top have been willing to put themselves in way more vulnerable and embarrassing situations than most people and have slowly had their egos chipped away until what's left is a quiet confidence, absent of any arrogance.

Tip 4: Persist

I know this sounds like something off a Hallmark Channel movie, but please, please, please don’t give up. The world doesn’t need more people who go to work angry every day because they aren't getting any fulfillment from their lives as slaves to the system.

If your dream is to be in the fitness industry or any industry, you owe it to the world to give it your gift. You aren’t doing yourself, your family, or anyone else any favors by leading your safe, boring life with your '9 to 5 job' if you're unfulfilled. That may be acceptable for a while to pay the bills and provide for your family, but you'd better be working on your dream at least a little bit every day. You may not get any responses to the first fifty emails you send out asking for advice from people you admire. You may get shut down by the people you most respect. That kind of adversity should be expected and brushed to the side when it takes place. Motivation comes and goes, especially with the onset of inevitable adversity, but it’s up to you to keep yourself motivated so that you can move from being a wannabe to the person who others look to for advice.