December 5, 2017( Comments: 0 )

What Ive Learned

I wanted to take this opportunity to use a recent experience of my own to write about a topic I believe everyone could benefit from. How to deal with failure.

For those unaware, I recently competed in a powerlifting competition. Powerlifting is a sport that requires you to lift as heavy as possible in 3 exercise categories; The Squat, The Bench Press, and The Deadlift. Pretty simple really, (probably why I do it). On the day, I was lucky enough to get the win…taking out my weight division, best overall benchpress and best overall lifter. I know what
you’re thinking, “cool story bro, but where’s the whole failure part?”…so to tell that…I’ll take things back a bit.

My whole powerlifting training, I had excelled. Even though it was something completely new to me…I continually exceeded expectations set by myself, and my coach. Everything came quite
naturally to me. Weights increased. Technique improved. Confidence grew. There were a few minor injuries along the way, but essentially, it all went on without a hitch. So we decided to take part in a competition. Push the envelope a little. Have some “fun” with it.

Now, I will admit, and those who know me are probably well aware, I am quite a competitive person. I don’t participate in things simply for fun. If I do something…I do it to excel. No half measures. No “close enough, good enough”. And most certainly no “yeah but you tried”. So when it came to this competition…I wasn’t going to simply take part. I was going there to take it out. Admittedly, this was all internal pressure. My coach, my friends and family, no one was telling me I had to win it. It was all coming from myself. But it made me so driven and focussed on getting the result that it didn’t matter. I thrived on that pressure…and my training benefitted because of it.

Come game day…I was killing it. My first lifts, my squats, PB city. Nerves were expectedly high, but I managed to nail 217.5kg on my final lift, a 7.5kg best. From here, we progressed onto benchpress, and admittedly my least favourite category. Throughout the latter stages of my preparation, I had been affected by a pinched nerve in my neck and shoulder region as a result of a popped rib. It had caused some issues with my bench press in particular, so it was a little bit of an unknown how it would cope on the day. We weren’t expecting or chasing big numbers, just enough to be competitive and get me through to deadlifts without too much pain. Surprisingly, my shoulder decided to play game. We pushed out a pain-free 142.5kg, and whilst not a PB, it was most certainly a win in my eyes.

We are now onto deadlifts….my personal favourite and by far, my strongest lift. Deadlifts had been my real go to throughout prep. We had had no interruptions and as a result, the weights just kept getting heavier. I walked into competition day with a PB of 240kg, and both myself and my coach had set 250kg as the goal for the day. First lift of 3 down, and I easily pulled 222.5kg. I walked off the platform and backstage absolutely in my element. We had smashed it all day, I hadn’t missed a lift, and now it was time to clean things up. Lift 2, 240kg on the bar and confident. Too confident. Cocky.

This is where my story FINALLY becomes about dealing with failure.

Through a minor technical fault that I have overanalysed probably a thousand times since the day, I missed my lift. I got it….but I also didn’t (for a long….long winded explanation about it, ask me on the gym floor). I was devastated. My confidence took a HUGE hit, and I dropped my head massively. People around me out back should have probably been warned to watch where they stepped, so much was my bottom lip on the floor it became a trip hazard. It was the first real miss…my first major fail of my powerlifting experiment, and I was not dealing well. Rather than looking at things through a positive light, in that I actually pulled the weight quite easily, I dwelled on the obvious negative, that it was a “no lift”.

Come time to step up for my third and final deadlift, and final lift of the day…I was done. Defeated. I barely moved the bar.

We had made it all the way through…got to the final hurdle…and botched it. Blew it. Choked.

Come awards ceremony….head still down, I was surprised to learn that I managed to take out the top prize. Unfortunately, there was still a distinct taste of disappointment…which is equally disappointing as the missed lift itself. We should ALWAYS celebrate our successes, no matter the circumstance.

Whilst not happy with how I dealt with things on game day…In the days following…I learnt a lot about myself. And only THEN did I become proud of my achievements. This is where I began the
process of dealing with failure.

You see, the thing is, you learn a hell of a lot more about yourself in the bad times than the good. More from failure than success. Heard the saying, “learn from your mistakes?”. Case in point. Any
truly successful person, sports, business, whatever walk of life, has probably had their fair share of failure. What makes them a success is how they responded to that failure, learn from it, and the next time, overcome it. By missing that lift. By experiencing that failure, I am now better prepared for my next competition…and inevitably, my next failure. I will know that regardless of how good I have lifted previously, I still need to make sure I am respecting each lift. Going through my checks and ensuring when I get to the bar…I am not only confident…but prepared to execute 100%. I will know to look for the positives. Rather than focus on what went wrong, what went right! I encourage everyone to heed this advice. Time spent punishing yourself, or dwelling on what might have been, is time wasted. Simply LEARN from your experience.

–  Maybe you missed a lift.
– Maybe you didn’t lose weight.
– Maybe something that was easy last week…was a helluva challenge this week…Why?

What did you eat on the weekend? What was your activity level like in the lead-up? How is your body feeling? What did you do differently this time to last?

Treat every opportunity, and every experience, as one to learn from. Ask questions. Find answers. LEARN! And then, do better!


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