I had my first Powerlifting meet yesterday, and while I consider it a huge success for me, I am going to fill the bad example role in our story today. Let me first say that what happened yesterday isn’t like me. I am a confident man. I’m generally reserved by choice but not afraid to speak in front of a crowd and though I’m not much above average in the looks department you pretty gals don’t scare me (much). However, when given my first opportunity to go big or play it safe, I played it safe. What’s extremely frustrating about this is that I recently blogged about this: You see I am not some gifted and talented motivator who always lives as the perfect example. I jack this stuff up all the time! I just try to share my epic fails so we can all learn from them.

My moment of truth and the cornerstone of my whole day came right after my first lift. It was my opening squat which I had set at 396lbs. For me, this being my first meet, this was a VERY conservative opener. So as I said, being a confident man, when my name was called, i walked right out in front of 150 people, did my normal set-up and squatted the weight. Then I looked back at the scoring lights to see two white and one red. That means two judges said I was good while one said fail. All I should have cared about was that that was a successful first lift but what my mind saw was that one red light. What if I really miss my depth on the second squat? I might end up with a sub-400lb score if I bomb both my second and third! So immediately after the lift another judge comes to ask you how much you want for your second attempt and this was my moment of truth. I blinked. The correct answer was 429lbs, a weight that I could live with if I missed my third attempt yet left me close enough to make an attempt at 456. What I said, however, was, “I better play it safe and go for 407.”  So to make a long story medium, I come out for my second lift, bury it 2″ below parallel and fly up like there’s no weight. Yay! Three white lights, another successful lift…but wait a minute…how do i exceed my goal of 440 from here? It’s now a 33lb jump just to hit that goal so I told the judge to give me 200 kilos for my third and final lift for an even 440lbs. which was exactly my goal. This is nothing to be ashamed of and I am, in fact, very proud of my day. However, this was an opportunity lost and a lesson learned. My deadlift ended up around 30lbs short of a California State record in my division. With some bigger attempts I might have given that a shot. The video of my final squat and deadlift is there to show how much I had left in the tank. In other words I left a lot on the table and my great day could have been much better.

In the end, I totaled just under 1300 lbs., a great benchmark for my first meet, all because of one red light. One singular vote of disapproval and I developed a fear of failure. This has been a great learning experience that should help me get that record in a few months and I hope it helps you too. In the words of Tecumseh “So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart”. We all know exactly what we are capable of when we let our self-confidence win it’s never-ending battle with patience and reason. Use that knowledge to push on those boundaries that try to confine and constrain our lives and squeeze everything you can out of every day. With luck and hard work I’m counting on 7,447 good ones left and I aim to get as much as I can out each one. I hope you do too. (I will close with the full poem written by Native American Shawnee Chief Tecumseh. It’s a great mantra for life and I refer to it often.)

“Live Your Life” Poem by Chief Tecumseh

So live your life that the fear of death
can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion;respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.