In Pursuit Of Success
If I’m going to talk to you about what it takes to be successful, I should start off by telling you what I believe success is. In America, most people equate wealth with success. If you have a lot of money it is assumed that you are successful in life. In fact, most Americans believe that there is a linear relationship between money and success. In other words, the more money you have the more successful you are. As the old saying goes money isn’t everything, but it sure beats out whatever is in second place. With money you can buy everything, or so we are lead to believe. I guess the real question is can money buy genuine happiness? Well, let me put it this way - It can buy a lot more happiness than poverty. Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness probably never had any money. It’s interesting to me that people who are always pointing out the trials and tribulations of being rich are people who would love to be wealthy. Perhaps Pearl Bailey said it best, “Honey, I been poor, and I been rich. And let me tell you, rich is much better”. She will get no argument from me there. In fact,I would venture to say that In most cases having money is a rewarding experience. Let’s be honest - money can bring you freedom, power, status and a bundle of wonderful material things. I do believe, however, that money isn’t everything and that there is a lot more to success than just being rich. When I was working In professional baseball, I was around some of the wealthiest people in the world and they were some of the most miserable people I have ever met. When I worked in the steel mills during my college vacations, I met some of the poorest people in the world. And do you know what? Many of them were extremely happy. Obviously, there is more to success and happiness than simply making money.
Have you ever read the book Quiet Desperation: The Truth About Successful Men by Jan Harper? If not, pick yourself up a copy - It’s fascinating reading. The book focuses on men who have power, money and wealth, all the things that we assume yield success. Interestingly, few of these men were happy and most of them were miserable. Why? Well… as Harper points out, having power and affluence is not the same thing as having success. These guys had all the money in the world, but they lost sight of what is essential for health and happiness. They became addicted to making money and in so doing became enslaved to riches and the things that go with it. In the process they lost themselves. Instead of gaining time and freedom from their affluence, they lost those very things. Instead of gaining the respect, esteem, and admiration that wealth can command, they forfeited it. In short, they cheated themselves out of the other things that make life so enriching and worthwhile.
This is not to say that money is bad or that it is the root of evil. The fact of the matter is that in itself money is neither good nor bad. There is nothing wrong with money or the desire to have money. In fact, money can be a great incentive for becoming a success. The point I’m trying to make is that money isn’t all there is to being successful.
If money isn’t the key to success, then what is? That is not an easy question to answer, but I believe Wynn Davis has the right notion. He says “Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is in the doing, not the getting - in the trying, not the triumph”. We become successful when we push our heart and soul to the furthest reaches of which we are capable. It doesn’t matter if you are closing a big business contract, competing at the World Championships, or just playing “OId Maid”. If you do your very best, you will never be disappointed, no matter what the outcome. As Davis says, success is not in the getting - its in the doing.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Mickey Mantle. When I was a little boy, he was everyone’s idol. He was a base-ball phenomenon. Mantle had everything you would want in a baseball player: world class running speed, an arm like a rocket, incredible eye hand coordination and awesome bat velocity. Best yet, he was a switch hitter, and man, could he hit. Not only did he hit for average, he hit with power from both sides of the plate. Believe me, he was a pitcher’s nightmare. At the end of his career, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was also selected as one of the top 25 baseball players of all time. Can you imagine that?
What an accomplishment! Of all the athletes who ever played the game of baseball, Mantle was among the very, very best. Not only that, but he had more money then you could ever imagine. He had it all: money,
fame, and prestige; but do you know what he said right before he died? In essence he said, “I’m ashamed of my career. God gave me all of these wonderful physical gifts and I abused them. I drank, I stayed out nights, and I never practiced hard. I have so many regrets, because I know that if I had done my best, I could have been so much better. Maybe I could have been the best of all time. Now I have nothing but regrets… believe me I’m no role model and I’m not a success. Look at my career to see what you shouldn’t do, not what you should do.” Right to his dying day Mantle felt that he could never make amends for the life he felt he had wasted; that was his cross to bear. This brilliant man, who had the world in his hands for the taking, threw it all away, because he was too foolish to realize that true happiness comes from accomplishment, not amusement. There will always be that “what if” that lingers about Mantle. What if he had applied himself, what contributions could he have made to his sport and his fellow man?
You know, in all the years that I’ve been in sports, one athlete stands out in my mind as being the greatest. No, it’s not Muhammad Ali, Pete Rose, or Wayne Gretzky, although these guys have certainly reached a higher plane of existence. What might surprise you is that you’ve probably never even heard of the guy I have in mind. His name is Kenny Hall, and his sport is boxing. He’s never won a world championship, a national championship, or even a regional championship, but in my mind he’s the greatest athlete I’ve ever come in contact with. Why do I feel that way? Well, the major reason I feel Kenny was the best of the best is that he got the very most out of what God gave him. Every time he went out, he performed at an optimum level both physically and mentally. He took every moment to the very limit - every moment. Best yet, he performed the same way in practice. He pushed himself to the ultimate point of possible development - that’s “greatness.”
I don’t care how important you are or how much money you have, there is no worse feeling then walking away from something knowing you could have done it better, wondering ‘what if?’ When you don’t push yourself to your limit - you limit yourself, because you are not becoming all that you can become. There is no greater sin in life. The essence of life is to become all that you can become. When you fail at doing that, you fail at life itself. Like Robert Louis Stevenson said, “To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.”
There is no doubt in my mind that success is attainable for each and every one of us, but it doesn’t come without a price. Success means getting your hands a little dirty, struggling a little, suffering a little, and working a little. It means taking the responsibility for choosing and defining your own life. It means being the very best that you can be.
Over the next few months I am going to talk to you about some of my ideas of what it takes to be successful in sports and in life. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to convert anyone to my way of reasoning. And I certainly don’t want to tell anyone how to think or conduct themselves. No one knows better than you what is best for you. If you do things my way, then you are not you… you become me. That’s not my intention. I want you to be all that you can be. I Just want to share with you some of the things that I have learned along the way. There is an old saying, “Don’t walk behind me, because I’m not a leader, and don’t walk in front of me, because I’m not a follower. Walk with me, side by side, and then maybe we can share something beautiful and meaningful together.” That’s what l want to do. I went to walk with you and share some of my thoughts. That’s all. Take the ideas you like home with you and leave the others behind. We might call this series of talks, “In Pursuit of Success”. I’ll see you then. Judd Biasiotto Ph.D.
I believe another important aspect of being a successful person is having a systematic goal oriented program. Goals are the seeds to success. Without a goal or a mission in life, there is no sense of purpose in life. Successful people know exactly what they want and exactly how to get what they want. The first step in every successful adventure is to determine your objective. It is virtually impossible to achieve anything of true significance unless your thoughts and desires are linked to a purpose. Success is seldom achieved by chance. If you have no idea where you are going in life how can you expect to get there. Goals give you a starting place and a destination. The process is very clear. You conceive an idea, you believe in that idea, and then you achieve it.
I think those of us who are actively involved in sports know, perhaps more than anybody else, how important it is to find purpose, to maintain that purpose, and to be able to work and strive to fulfill it. For In reality, without purpose we are limited. Consequently, I believe that it is in man’s best interest not to be dissatisfied., but to always be unsatisfied. Once you are satisfied you have reached a cumulative point in life, inertia will breed and the next thing you know you’ll be on the backslide. When you have no purpose in life there is nothing to look forward to, nothing to strive for Iife becomes dull and uneventful. With purpose, life is exciting; the world is beautiful.
I remember in 1983 when I first retired from powerlifting, I more or less lost direction as an athlete. I would still go to the gym to work out, but my heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t have any clear-cut goal or purpose for training. Consequently, I stumbled through my workouts, never really knowing where I was going and never really getting anywhere. My workouts had no intensity and I had no drive or desire. Take my word for it, not having a goal is the worst thing that can happen to an athlete or anyone else for that matter. Goals are essential to success. Without goals there is no direction, no hope, no growth. Every human being must have a purpose in his life Just to stay alive.
Without a purpose or an objective, an athlete is, figuratively speaking, dead. When you set a goal and channel your energies toward that goal, you can tap the reservoir of power within you much easier. Without a goal in life, you cannot grow; you can’t really live. Man, by his very nature, ia a goal striving being. Thus, true success and happiness can only be achieved when he is functioning as he was made to function - as a goal-striver. We are built to conquer, built to achieve goals. Without obstacles to conquer and goals to achieve we will never find true satisfaction in our life. When we have no goals to strive for, no meaning in what we are doing, we are apt to flounder around, finding life purposeless. In order to be great you have to have a purpose. You have to have something ahead of you to look forward to and to hope for. When you lose purpose in what you’re doing, you’re lost.
I believe this was never more evident than with Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight champion of the world. When Tyson first turned pro his goal was to become the greatest heavyweight champion ever. That goal was extremely important to Tyson. In fact, that’s the only thing he ever talked about, or for that matter, ever thought about. It was his sole purpose in life. That one goal kept Tyson on track. He sacrificed everything for it. He didn’t drink, he didn’t date, he wouldn’t even leave his training camp. All he did was train. He was totally driven toward achieving his goal. In the ring he was relentless - a madman. He would beat his opponents from one end of the ring to the other. Some of the beatings he dished out were merciless.
When he claimed the Heavyweight Championship of the World at the age of twenty one he was already considered by most boxing experts as the greatest heavyweight of all time. He was considered invincible - unbeatable. However, rather than looking to future improvement and growth, he began to think more about immediate gratification. When he got to the top, he felt like there was nowhere else to go, and he began to look backwards instead of forwards. He was on the defensive, defending his present position, rather than acting like a goal-striver and going on the offensive to attain new goals. He started going out nights, drinking and chasing women. He also slacked off on his training. He lost the purpose in what he was doing and in so doing he lost himself. And then do you know what happened? I’m sure you remember; an average fighter named Buster Douglas knocked him out. It was the greatest upset in the history of boxing. When Douglas was interviewed after the fight, do you know what he said?
My sole purpose in life these last six months was to beat Tyson. That’s all I thought about. He was the first thing on my mind when I would wake up in the morning and the last thing on my mind when I went to bed. When I’d fall asleep I would dream about beating him. If there was anything else going on in the world the last six months I didn’t know about it, because my mind had just one thing on it - beating Tyson.
Is that incredible, or what? Of course, goals are not just visions. They are visions that are acted upon. There is a major difference between a vision and goal. A vision is a vague flight of fancy that we hope comes to pass. Goals have direction and purpose. They give us a destination in life.
You know it’s kind of interesting that when people find out that I’m a writer many of them will tell me that one of their goals in life is to write a book. That is a great aspiration, but it is not a goal per se. It’s too broad of an objective, consequently it gives the individual limited direction. The human mind will only gravitate toward a specific aim; it will not move in the direction of generality. The idea of writing a book is wonderful aspiration, but it is an objective that has to be accompanied by specific goals, deadlines and a strong work ethic. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about.
A couple of years ago Novagenics publishing company asked me if I would be willing to write a Sports Psychology textbook for them. Of course, I immediately wanted to know how many pages they wanted, and how much time they would give me to complete the project. They said that they needed a book that was approximately four hundred pages and they would give me two and a half years to complete the project. To which I responded “Damn!.
Let’s be honest - four hundred pages is a lot of writing, even for a professional writer. In fact, it was kind of overwhelming at first especially considering the fact that I only had two and a half years to finish it. After I thought about it for a while though I realized that it really wasn’t that tough an assignment.
Here is what I did. I took that long-range goal of four hundred pages and broke it down to a series of secondary and/or weekly goals. My secondary goals consisted of writing seven pages a week. Now that’s not exactly a walk in the park either. I’ll give my students a seven page paper to write and it will take them the entire quarter to do it and when they hand it in it looks like James Michener wrote it. And most likely he did because they probably copied it right out of his book. So seven written pages are not all that easy. What l did next was to take the secondary goals and break them down to primary or daily goals. As you probably have already guessed, my primary goal was to write one page a day. Now one page a day is not all that tough. It takes me about an hour or two to accomplish that. One page a day is something I knew I could handle fairly easy with a little work and determination. In fact anyone with a little desire can do that. Once I set my goals down, I only focused on my primary goal. I never worried about my secondary or long range goals because I knew that if I took care of my primary goals, my secondary and long range goals would take care of themselves. And that is the way it all worked out. At the end of a week I would have seven pages and at the end of a year I had close to 365 pages. At the end of two years… well, I didn’t have to work that long before I had the book completed. l took a project that looked overwhelming and through a systematic, goal oriented approach made it rather easy to achieve.
Actually, l do the same thing with every goal I have. I break every one of my long range goals down into primary goals and then I focus strictly on those daily goals. When I attempted to become the first ADFPA lifter in my weight class to break the 550 pound barrier in the squat, that is exactly what I did. If you think writing four hundred pages in two years is tough, think about squatting 550 pounds at a bodyweight of 132 pounds. Let me put that lift into perspective for you. When I squatted that weight, the world record was 535 pounds, and the average ADFPA lifter in my weight class was only squatting 355 pounds.
The best squat in the world that year (up to that time) was just 487 pounds. At the time, everyone in the sport of powerlifting said that the 550 pound barrier was beyond the physiological limits of a drug-free athlete at my weight. They said such a lift was impossible. In all candor, l wasn’t sure if the lift was possible. Once I set the goal of breaking the 550 pound barrier, l determined, with the help of a lot of other people, what I had to do each day to reach that goal. After that was determined I never worried about that 550 pounds. l just focused on what I had to do each day, because I was confident that if I achieved my daily goals when it came time I’d have a real good shot at the 550 pounds. If I would have worried about squatting that 550 pounds every day it would have been overwhelming for me. l probably would have psyched myself out. The way it was, l never thought about it much until it was time to do it.
One achieved goal should inspire you to see and set even higher goals. Every positive outcome that we experience is an ultimate triumph for what we have worked so hard to achieve and will create yet another inner driving ambition for what we have yet to do. Once we are truly able to believe in ourselves, our goals, and our inner ability - the sky’s the limit.
With the aforementioned in mind, here are just a few suggestions that you may want to follow when establishing your goals. Set goals that are realistic end flexible. Don’t set goals so impossibly high that you ensure failure. For example, don’t set a goal of a 300 Ibs. bench press at the end of a 16 week cycle if your present best is only 200 Ibs. Your chances of accomplishing a goal like that are practically nil. Likewise don’t try to squat 1000 lbs. If your best is 500 Ibs. unless you’re trying to kill yourself. Goals that are totally unrealistic will only lead to frustration and failure.
In the same light, don’t set your goals too low. For instance, an increment of 20 pounds in the squat over an eight-month period may not challenge your full potential. In short, keep your goals just out of reach, not out of sight.
Also, don’t expect immediate results and don’t get discouraged. Understand that Eddie Coan wasn’t built in a day. Chances are you won’t be either. Be patient and persistent. Remember that in sports, as in life, it’s not what you start with, but rather what you end up with that’s important.
Remember you must be systematic about goals. Write them down under the appropriate heading and check them off as you accomplish them. This will not only serve as reminder of your daily routine, but it will also shape your attitude by reinforcing small bits of behavior.
Often the achievement of your goals will include a number of other considerations. On the sheet listing your goals, add a column that outlines all obstacles associated with that goal. These obstacles may include physical weaknesses, time restrictions, coaching or knowledge you must obtain, or monetary constraints. After you have identified the obstacles to each goal, identify the people who can help you. This list may include family, coaches, training partners or experts, such as psychologists or nutritionists. Along these lines, save room for another column that identifies training aids, supplements equipment, or knowledge that you need to succeed.
Having outlined this information, you can now construct a game plan that will help you to deal with obstacles effectively. The idea is to devise a systematic approach to reach your goals in the most economical and efficient way. With game plan in hand, all that’s now required is action on your part. Remember, merely writing a goal down does not guarantee that you will achieve it. As mentioned, goals are more than just visions. they are visions being acted upon.
When I was working with the Kansas City Royals Baseball team my roommate Branch B. Rickey III met a guy who was willing to let us buy into a condominium project that was being constructed in Florida. The deal was that we could purchase up to ten condominiums at a price of $10,000 a piece. At the time $10,000 was a pretty good chuck of money, but the deal was extraordinary. If everything went as planned there was a good chance that we could double or triple our money in no time. Still there was a risk - there is always a risk. At the time the area was fairly underdeveloped, consequently there was a chance that the condominiums would not rent or sell. Also because it was beach front property the taxes were extremely high. Unlike Branch, I didn’t have the money to invest longitudinally. I would have to borrow the money at a fairly high interest rate and then hope that I could turn the property over in a short period of time. Otherwise, I would lose a lot of money. It wasn’t exactly a sure thing. Believe me, I lost a lot of sleep deliberating over that decision. In the end I decided against making the investment. I was afraid I would lose too much money if things did not work out.
Every time I think of that decision I could kick my butt. In less then five years those condominiums were selling for more than $100,000. Today they are worth over a quarter of million dollars apiece. If I had taken that chance I would probably be Lying on the beach in the Bahamas with two chicks beside me. Instead I’m sitting here talking to you. I guess there is a silver lining to every cloud … Hey! That’s a joke! The point I’m trying to make is that if you are not willing to take a chance in life you will never know the magic you can create. When you are trying to gain something in life you have to be willing to lose something. There is just no other way around it.
You know, there’s one thing I’m certain of - if you don’t have the guts. to put yourself on the line now and then, your chance of success is limited. I firmly believe that in order to reach the top, an athlete - or anyone else for that matter - has to know how to live on the edge. He has to enjoy the element of risk and danger a little. I’m not talking about taking needless senseless, incalculable risks. Like running with the bulls or attempting a five hundred pound squat when your personal best is three hundred pounds, which proves nothing except that you have the brain of an infant. What I’m talking about is intelligent, calculated risk-taking in which the action in question is a risk that has a legitimate cost-reward relationship.
Let me give you a prime example of what I am talking about. A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to hear a presentation by Tom Dorsey, a stock market guru. I sat there for three straight hours listening to this guy lecture on stock charting. I was totally spellbound by his presentation. I didn’t understand a damn word he said, but I loved every minute of it. Believe me he is that gifted a speaker. One thing I did grasp though was that the stock market, like sports betting, is risky business. It offends people who love security and predictability. This is an area were a lot of mistakes are made. It is certainly not a business for the faint at heart unless you can predict the future. Actually, that’s what Dorsey does he predicts the future. In fact, it has been said that he is the Nostradamus of the stock market. How does he do it? Intelligent risk-taking, that’s how! Through hard work Dorsey became an expert in reading and tracking the history of specific stocks each and every day. By studying the history of stocks he became a master at foreseeing and predicting the future price of those stocks with incredible accuracy. Sure, he makes mistakes now and then, but overall he has an extreme high accuracy rate. By taking calculated risks Dorsey has forged out a multimillion dollar business for himself in an extremely high risk industry
As I’ve already mentioned, I believe that in order to reach the pinnacle in your field you have to learn to live on the edge, to enjoy the element of risk and danger - at least to a reasonable degree. Look back through the annals of time and I think you’ll find that people who had the courage to take a chance, who faced their fears head on, were those who shaped history. The people who played it safe, who were afraid to take a risk, well … have you ever heard of them? I love what Theodore Roosevelt said about this very issue. He says:
“It Is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who Is actually In the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again because there Is no effort without error and shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself In a worthy cause, who at the best knows In the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst, if he falls while daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
Sports are full of great physical specimens, but there is a real shortage when it comes to athletes who are willing to play their game with reckless abandon, and athletes who are willing to put themselves and their careers on the line. Those that do are usually the ones at the top.
Let me tell you about Ted Arcidi. In case you have never met him, he’s one of the biggest and most powerful human beings on the planet. I swear his anterior deltoids look like bowling balls and the middle of his back is like a drainage ditch. I’m serious, his back is so deep that I could crawl inside of it and take a bath. His chest, arms, and legs are just as massive. In short, his physical stature is almost beyond comprehension. Believe me, if Arcidi hit you on the top of the head, you would be eating through your fly for a month. What really sets Arcidi apart though, is not his physical awesomeness, but rather his mental toughness. He has a will that could bend tempered steel. Once he sets his mind to something, there is no turning him back. I remember when he was training to break the seven hundred pound barrier in the bench press, a feat that was considered impossible at the time. He went to his father and told him that he was going to drop out of dental school so that he could train for the “lift.” Of course, his father flipped out. In fact, he kicked Ted out of his house. Actually, you really couldn’t blame his Dad. After all, he had invested over ten thousand dollars in Ted’s education, and like I mentioned, 700 pounds in a bench press at that time seemed a little ridiculous. The world record was only 633 pounds. Ted was probably the only guy in the world who thought the lift was possible. Anyhow, after he got kicked out of his Dad’s house, he rented a cellar in Newton, Massachusetts, to live in. It was primitive at best. Ted called it “the catacomb.” The floor and walls were constructed of stone and there were no windows in the place. At night it would get so cold in the cellar that he would have to sleep on the screen porch in the backyard under the stars. Actually, the only thing he had in the cellar was a small gas heater, a couch, and an old fashion chain-drawn toilet. He could cook his meals on the gas stove and he took his showers at the gym. To say the least it was a Spartan existence. Most guys would have said, “To hell with this,” and gone back home. Not Arcidi; instead, he looked at his situation as something positive. “My living conditions were great,” he said. “It gave me a chance to really focus on my goal.” And focus he did. If there was anything else significant going on in the world at that time Arcidi was definitely unaware of it. He was totally riveted on his one objective - 700 pounds. He was going to make that lift come hell or high water. Nothing was going to stop him.
Well, to make a long story short Arcidi succeeded in his quest to become the first man in the world to bench press 700 pounds. Because Arcidi had the courage to put himself and his career on the line, he was able to go beyond himself and into the stars. He went beyond the boundaries of what most men believed was possible. For an athlete, there is no moment more precious in life. It is the so-called “white moment” - the moment in time that an athlete trains a lifetime to experience. There is no amount of money, no amount of power, or status and no position in life that can equal the experience. It’s totally awesome.
Of course, Arcidi took a big chance to achieve greatness, but everything in life is a risk. I want to read something to you that I found in the book, Chicken Soup.
To laugh Is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out for another Is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair. To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing and is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.
Chained by his own fears, he is a slave.
He has forfeited freedom.
Only a person who risks Is free!
That last line really gets me because it’s so true. If you’re not willing to risk, you have nothing - no growth, no change, no freedom. And when that happens, you are no longer involved in living; for all practical purposes you have no life - you’re dead, you just don’t know it. So RISK for God’s sake. Be a part of life. You have the power to be or do anything you want. You can produce miracles if you have a mind to. You have the magic, you just have to tap into it. Get in touch with it, make things happen, live - journey to the stars, push on to new galaxies. If you don’t you will never know your GREATNESS!
Article Source: Iron Curtain Labs
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