I wrote this for my team the other day.  It’s something that I’m going to have to say again and again as long as I coach for a job.  At first it’s going to sound like NOT the right thing to say from the business standpoint.  But in my opinion it is the moral and ethical thing to say as a coach.  And the longer I do this job, the more comfortable I get and the less I care about what other people do besides myself and my group.  Personally speaking, weightlifting was not a healthy habit for me for a long time.  That doesn’t have to be the case for you or any of my lifters.  Hear me.

Gang,

Learning and eventually mastering a skill set is both a noble and incredibly difficult thing; even for such a skill as irrelevant to your life as weightlifting. But you have to enjoy going through it. You have to learn to take progress as it comes (and goes) and get some level of gratification out of it. If you can’t do this, then I honestly would rather you didn’t lift at all or lift elsewhere. We have an incredibly competitive but also a positive environment. I want you to enjoy it.
Do this after every practice:
Say to yourself TWO positive things that happened or TWO things that you are proud of that you did at practice.
If you can’t do that, it’s time to take a break. Progress and enjoyment while lifting weights is a lot like your world view. If you think you’re shitty and you suck then guess what: your progress and enjoyment will reflect that. The same goes for the opposite end of the spectrum.  If you’re overly satisfied with doing the work that is expected of you, then obviously you won’t be hungry enough to earn progress.  Somewhere in there, there’s a happy medium.
As always, I’m a resource for you guys. Take me aside during team hours if you’re having a rough time with training and we can find a solution to make your training work for you.

With care and respect,
-Ben

I have a message for you,

Nothing bothers you for the next 3 weeks.  Understand?  All your problems that you have right now, and there’s sure to be many because ’tis the season and all that, WILL be there when you get back from Florida.  So relax.  You’ve come this far.  You’ve obviously made weightlifting a priority in your life even if you’re there to get dead last in the J session.  So take it seriously.  Unless you plan on stepping on the podium, you’re going to Florida to lose.  And that’s OK.  Take it seriously and go out there and compete.  That’s how you have fun in this sport.

“But that’s not a balanced or healthy mindset.”

Guess what: neither is peaking for sport; which by definition is not natural or done for health.  You obviously don’t care about that since you’ve gotten unnaturally strong enough to compete at the American Open.  So live it up for the next few weeks.  And when it’s all over, eat too much, have a drink or two with your true friends and take care of the rest of your life.  Don’t go right back to the squat rack (unless of course you ARE one of the top lifters in the country and this is basically your job).

I’m going to eat one last decent meal on Thanksgiving and enjoy my family and friends.  After that, I plan on being as extreme as I god damn want to be.  I’ll see you on the other side.

Courage.

November 4, 2015

I took a temporary retreat yesterday with a group of strangers.  Honestly, it came at a good time even though it’s the middle of the week and I never leave the lair during the week unless it’s work related.  However, for me to sit down and be forced to interact and speak personally with a group of strangers is one of the things I need to work on the most.  Because I hate it.  But I do value how that situation forces you to organize your thoughts into words in real time; organically, not written such as on here.

One subject that came up was courage.

To me, one of the most courageous things one can do is to look introspectively.  Taking a good look at yourself and seeing all of your flaws, seeing all the room for improvement isn’t fun and certainly doesn’t feel rewarding.  However in my opinion, the pay off when applying what you find to whatever it is you do with your time (whether its lifting, or coaching or being in a long term relationship or being a father) is the only true path towards personal development.

I’m inspired to be more courageous every day by seeing people do this themselves.  Go forth and keep being courageous because it inspires the rest of us to do the same.

Trust the process.

-Ben

I remember MY first beer.

October 25, 2015

I actually do though and it’s a mildly funny story told in person.

I was actually talking about this.

Jean tasted his first rainbow on Friday with this 160kg clean.

Jean tasted his first rainbow on Friday with this 160kg clean.

And you know what? It looked easy.  I gave him a hit of salts (also a first).  He threw on some Radiohead (I’m so proud) and that shit flew off the ground FAST.  Good thing I caught it in slow-mo.

Also notable is one of our young guys hit like 9 PR’s on Friday.  And this was after I let him know the night before that none of the lifters we watch on “Unbelievable Bulgarians” are actually natty.  I know. So young.

I guess the theme of this post is that I’m surrounded by youth and their radiant optimism.  It keeps me getting after the big boy weights, searching for that 1-2% I have left in the tank.

Thanks, guys and girls.

Gems.

October 9, 2015

Greg Everett is an excellent communicator.  When he writes, his voice is succinct, specific and entertaining.  This little gem struck a chord with me this week.

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Sure it’s a common sentiment and blah blah blah but it’s worth more than 90% of the asinine quotes that people post on the internet every day.

Without Passion.

September 24, 2015

A man I used to look up to once told me this:

“Without passion, I am nothing.”

I overheard a man I looked up to say that.  I was around 19 at the time and it was at a weightlifting meet at Sac High.

How it Ends.

August 16, 2015

You have a right to re-invent yourself.  Be the best version of yourself.  That person will and should change over the course of your journey, even during the relatively short life of your weightlifting journey.  When you finally get to the void; the unknown.  Don’t just stand there. Jump in.

I lift this evening At nationals in Dallas.  Regardless of the outcome, I’ve got a community at home.  I’m going to show them how I want it to be done; give them a snapshot at my journey through the process.  By my estimation, I’ve got about 2-3 years left of high level competition which makes these last few years my twilight years.  Very soon I dive into a different kind of void, gaining more knowledge of self, further growing the community.

Trust the process.

-Ben

July was the most productive month of my entire life. I will never forget it; both the ups and downs.  I really feel like I’m ready to start acting like the leader that my people think I am whereas before I felt like I was just pretending.

I’ve always been motivated, though for what reason I couldn’t really identify.  Now I have purpose.  And it is through purpose that we find true strength.

Trust the process.

-Ben

Essay: Social Media.

July 25, 2015

The modern day weightlifter is accused of being increasingly narcissistic as the number of social media outlets increases.  This is a matter of opinion and it’s not my intent to argue against this other than by saying that weightlifters have been boasting about their accomplishments since people started picking heavy things up off the ground.  It’s just that their legacy needed to be passed on through a far less efficient oral tradition instead of “hash tagging” 15 second snippets of themselves and then electronically uploading these snippets to the internet.  Hey, I get it.  I’m with it.  I’m hip.  That’s why I put the young people on the team in charge of our Occam Athletics instagram account.  But as far as I’m concerned, I’m always going to default to ways of communicating that provide a little bit more insight and effort.  I’m of the opinion that a 3 minute long youtube video set to music or a blog post serve as a more complete snapshot in time.

A snapshot in time.

A snapshot in time.

I look back on these memories and they help me look towards the future; help me find what I’m looking for.  Hard work is not special.  Dedication isn’t special.  Anyone who’s been halfway decent at something that they care about is going to work just as hard or harder than you.  Figuring out one’s purpose, on the other hand, IS special.

On your way to becoming a decent weightlifter, you’re going to develop a strong sense of self.  It simply comes with the territory.  You’ll need it.  Along the way you’re going to meet people that will try and tear you down; bring you down to their level.  For every one person that’s tried to reach out and touch the sky there are several more unremarkable individuals who will desperately grab at his heels.  Your sense of purpose and self will be the only thing that will protect you.

The team is settling down nicely in our new turf.  It feels like a fresh start.  I anticipate that we’ll be in our own space (Occam’s Lair) within a couple weeks or so.  Once that happens, we’ll be unstoppable.

Trust the process.

-Ben

Answering the Call.

July 19, 2015

Something that has affected me over the course of several years and something that I’ll refer back to often is Bill Moyers’ interview series with Joseph Campbell, “The Power of Myth.”  Campbell discusses his thoughts on what he calls “the mono-myth” and the transformative process of the “hero’s journey.”  This is a concept that in his mind is not limited to mythology, storytelling or religion but all facets of life.  I’ll occasionally thumb through some of his writings or re-watch pieces of the interview when considering my own transformative process.

Lately this has resonated with me:

joseph_campbell

“The achievement of the hero is one that he is ready for and it’s really a manifestation of his character. It’s amusing the way in which the landscape and conditions of the environment match the readiness of the hero. The adventure that he is ready for is the one that he gets … The adventure evoked a quality of his character that he didn’t know he possessed.”

(The Power of Myth, Episode 1).

10 years ago I decided I wanted to be strong.  It was all consuming.  Though I didn’t have a clear idea why, it has taken me though a constantly changing landscape.  It took me several years before I realized that maybe my end goal wasn’t just physical strength.  If it was, my actions would’ve taken me down a different path.  The more I worked I realized that my actions are also firmly rooted in the community that I create.

“Occam’s Lair” is the fun little name we’ve given our new home.  Right now, we’ve got 4 temporary platforms set up on the main floor of Capital Strength and Performance.  We’ve got  a growing collection of (nice) barbells, plates and squat racks.  But once the lair is cleared and we move in, I’m going to pour every dime I have into turning it into our perfect little weightlifting dungeon.  I’m sure that it will serve as the final landscape of my high level weightlifting career.  But it will be the very beginning of something new; The next step of my journey.  It took me most of my 20’s, but I finally feel like I’m growing into the person that I was meant to be.

Trust the process.

-Ben