So what does it take to be a figure competitor? You can talk to many people about what it takes to be a success at something and all self help ‘guru’s will have an opinion about what character traits you need to stick at something until it works and actually most of them tend to agree on what they are. For me it boils down to these:
If you’re not determined enough, when the going gets tough, you will quit and I think it comes down to attitude really, those with a ‘can do’ attitude ‘can do’ and those without one ‘don’t do’. It was Henry Ford that said ‘If you think you can or if you think you can’t – you’re right’
Can Do-ers will go that extra mile, they adapt to challenges, find solutions to issues that arise. Can do-ers can see the bigger picture and stay on track when little things threaten to derail them. They know that obstacles can be got round and are there to test their resolve.
I’ve often been told that I’m stubborn as a mule – I prefer ‘determined’ but they’re right, once I decide to do something, I do it. All in. Whatever it takes. Nothing left on the table. And the more you tell me I can’t do it, the more I will dig my heels in and do my damndest to prove that I can!
Other words that fit here – contrary, bloody minded, selfish …
Ok, so maybe we do go with stubborn as a mule
This is critical, if you want something so badly that the thought of it takes your breath away then you probably have the right amount of desire. I can be in the deepest meditation, completely relaxed and out of it and all of a sudden I literally get hit by a wave of feeling so intense it jolts me back to now and leaves me gasping for breath. It’s a total physical reaction my fingers and toes all tingle, the hairs stand up on my skin, my skin becomes super sensitive to the feel of my clothes, I become hyper aware of every sound and my vision becomes super sharp and clear. My mind is alive and buzzing, I feel at once incredibly light yet incredibly full, strong and powerful beyond belief, my heart is pounding and I have this intense core of emotion – desire – spreading from my heart through my body. Its amazing, I feel so alive – I WANT this like you wouldn’t believe.
I just can’t describe this feeling in words, you have to have the experience for yourself – if you’ve ever done a bungee jump, or a skydive or something that scared the hell out of you, you will understand the intensity of the feeling. Its so uplifting – you feel that you can take on the world…and win, nothing can stop you. This is when you know that you’re on the right path.
Laser like focus is what you need. By way of example – just say you’re locked in a windowless room and the door had been welded shut. Would you be able to use a really big flashlight to open that door? Not likely. Yet if you had a laser you could cut your way out. Both objects are sources of light, but one is completely diffuse and lights up a wide area and one is so focussed on one tiny spot at a time that it heats it up to melting point. To really achieve something that you desire, you need to focus on it to the exclusion of everything else. You have to blot out all distractions. When I decided to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, I got the usual range of reactions from various people ‘you’re crazy’, ‘why on earth would you want to do that?’, ‘go for it’, but decision made, nothing was going to stop me from doing it – and I mean nothing. I trained absolutely religiously/obsessively – 6800 steps + a weight/interval training session – 3hours a day every day for 6 months, through pain, soreness, exhaustion and 4 sprained ankles . Come hell or high water I was going to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. No ‘if’s’ ‘buts’ or ‘maybes’.
And now my focus is getting up on stage in the best shape of my life, I will be the best prepared and practiced that I possibly can be. I have changed my whole lifestyle so that I can achieve this goal.
You must be passionate about whatever it is you’re taking on, you have to absolutely LOVE what you’re doing. You can have all the desire, focus, determination, support and self belief, but if you’re not passionate about your goal you will probably achieve some level of success or progress but you will never feel truly alive, you will always find something that is not quite right about it. And when the going gets tough as it inevitably will you will find a reason to quit and make up excuses as to why it wasn’t for you or wasn’t meant to be. A quick test is this – if you would do it everyday for the rest of your life for FREE and you eat sleep and breathe whatever it is, then you probably have the right amount of passion. For example I’d like to run my own business, but the thought of being tied to a particular place day in day out, fills me with horror and, well, that’s just like having a job. And in addition then you’ve got all the added responsibilities, overhead, stress and worries of looking after and growing that business. Not for me.
However being a MENTOR to someone who is running a business, and helping THEM to plan, strategise and grow now THAT I can get my teeth in to, because I love helping people, I love giving back, I love finding a solution to a problem. I also love real estate investing – if you come and ask for my help in buying a house, not only can/will (!) I talk your ears off, but I will go out of my way to find useful articles, put you in contact with lawyers, solicitors, quantity surveyors, tradies, finance brokers, help out with property inspections, you name it – why because I love it, it makes me buzz. I could set myself up as a buyers advocate, which would also nicely align with some of my core values of freedom and independence and whilst that may be something that I’m passionate about, right now I don’t’ have the desire, determination or focus to do it – so its just not going to happen…yet
How crucial is support? To me, its invaluable. If you don’t have support it can take you down and can derail your dreams in seconds…if you let it. Support can come in many forms, you can have a raving fan squad – which is always nice! And sometimes when its getting hard, all it takes to keep you going, is one kind word that lets you know someone is in your corner with you, that lets you know that you’re not alone. That is priceless.
You might need financial support, or informational support – coaching, mentoring, advisors, you might need practical support – admin, IT, marketing, training, diet, but most of all you will need emotional support and its those closest to you who matter the most. Your values and beliefs are primarily shaped by your environment - your friends, family and colleagues may be your biggest influences on your life. If you have a major goal that you want to achieve, chances are you will let yourself be influenced by those around you, so before you start out on anything assess your support network – take a really good hard look at them – where are they going in their lives? What goals and dreams do they have? Do they follow them or do they allow them to be squashed by other peoples opinions and influence? What have they achieved? Have they ever started something then given up because of lack of support?
You know how I’ve struggled with this, especially from friends and family, I’ve cut people out of my life because of their adverseness and negativity – its tough, but I had to ask myself if what I’m doing matters to me and what sort of influences do I really want surrounding me. I know it sounds harsh, but I don’t want or need to be cut down by other people, and I figure by removing the unsupportive influences from my life I make room for good things to come in – and they have
Can you do it?
Success or a major goal doesn’t just happen overnight! I’m sure you can think of plenty of examples of ‘overnight sensations’ – people who suddenly hit the limelight as a raving success, but when you ask them what the secret is – generally it takes years of practice, practice practice, try fail and try again. Look at Cadel Evans for example – how long has it taken for him to achieve his success? Lance Armstrong – nothing else to add there, the guy is a flat out legend. Thomas Edison found 9999 ways not to invent a light bulb, Colonel Sanders (KFC) got rejected 1000 times
Any of you who already compete – you know exactly what it takes.
Perseverence and stickability – you’ve gotta stick at it! Do I LOVE getting out of a nice warm bed at 5:15am to cycle through the rain to the gym on a cold dark Melbourne winter morning – er…No – but its what I have to do. Sure I could stay in bed, but then if I do it once…then I’ll probably do it again….and then before you know it I’m back to my bad old ways, and then I’ll just be someone who was once quite fit and who thought they had what it took to compete.
I’ll also have let a lot of people down, which I don’t want to contemplate how awful that would make me feel!
This is another critical element in my mind, if you don’t believe in yourself that you can do something then you’ll open yourself up to doubt and you might start seeking validation of who you are or what you’re doing from external sources. As we all know once you do that, then when those opinions conflict with each other you’ll end up confused and conflicted within yourself.
I’ve always had plenty of self belief, if I didn’t I wouldn’t have done half of the interesting things I have done. For example, I wouldn’t have chucked in everything and arrived in Australia where I didn’t know anyone and with everything I owned in the world packed into a single suitcase if I didn’t believe that I could do it. I wouldn’t have done a RTW trip by myself, or travelled to Bhutan 2 weeks after 9/11 or climbed Mt Kilimanjaro if I didn’t believe I could do it. I only made the decision to compete at such a late stage because until I saw my photoshoot results I thought people were just being complementary – I didn’t at that point believe that I had the physique to be a competitor.
Earlier this year I lost my self belief completely and I started seeking validation from external sources and events – I became a victim, I felt like I had no control over my life and the events that were happening to me. It was like losing my best friend – I felt lost without my self belief. Thankfully I’ve got it back and am sailing along nicely now
There have been a couple of times when my self belief has wavered, and I’ve felt a bit like I was going through the motions. But this week has changed, now I know I can do this. I know deep down that I have what it takes to be up there and that is a very reassuring place to be. Everything else from here on is going to add polish
There are plenty of other factors of course, this is definitely not an exhaustive list!
What do you think it takes?