by Dave Thomas

Our long-term results are decided before the first day we ever step foot in the gym.  Are you mentally tough or are you fragile?  Do you have patience, commitment, fortitude and perseverance?  Or do you feel some inherent right to results immediately? Stick to those four ingredients, commit yourself to a plan and magic happens.  Bail on any one of them and it’s back to the comfort of mediocrity you go, quitter.

There’s nothing we as coaches enjoy more than helping people who want to be helped.  Answering questions about goals, helping people with issues into which they’ve put a lot of time and thought, tackling tough questions about diet.  That’s what makes us tick and wake up excited for work.  However, there is nothing that bums us out more than people who have quitter written all over them.  No drive.  No ability to commit.  No work ethic, and heaven forbid something not go as planned, absolutely zero intestinal fortitude to stay with it.  These are the people I avoid like the contagious death of progress they are, for I don’t want to catch it and pass it along to someone else.

Get this straight.

Changing the way your body looks?  Achieving a high level of strength? Performing pull-ups on your own?  If these or others like it are among your goals, then buckle up and batten down the hatches, dude.  They take time.  A winner’s state of mind.  Consultation with coaches.  Commitment to diet, not just for a few weeks, but months.  Total overhaul.  A willingness to re-program yourself.  It takes dealing with failure, hitting road blocks and navigating around them.  It takes toughness, discipline and most of all, it takes a genuine, intrinsic desire to get better.

You can’t fake it.

While our world may be one of instant gratification and gimme now, old truths ring true for a reason.  Nothing good comes cheap.  Nothing permanent comes easy.

When you miss a lift or discover you have a weakness (guess what, we all do), do you run from it permanently?  Or, do you address it?

Do you bail on a diet because you didn’t get your results in a few weeks?  Or, do you commit and stick with the mentality of a grown-up, with an understanding that lasting results occur like an IV drip, not a shot.

Do you run away from challenge because it’s new?  Or, do you embrace it?

Do you accept failure or rejection?  Or, do you learn from it only to later stand over its dead body?

Do you inflict your will upon an outcome or do you get pushed around by circumstance?

The best lesson I ever received was at age 18, almost getting cut the first four weeks of my first college baseball season because I played like total dog shit and was a complete pansy about it, feeling sorry for myself and hanging my head in defeat.  Failure infected me like a sickness and each day I became more ill.  Once I snapped out of it and realized I was with the big boys, and that only I was responsible for my own destiny, I slowly got stronger and better.  I chipped away for two and a half years while I sat on the bench, waiting for an opportunity and rooting on my teammates.  When it came time, I happily seized it (and ultimately became a team captain).  Throughout those four years I was a part of over ten school records, a national top 10 ranking, two NCAA tournaments and some of the best friends I’ve ever made.

I almost quit two weeks in.

What’s the point of this Uncle Rico lesson?

We are given two options in life.  The hammer or the nail.  Working or quitting.

A lot of people have the hammer mentality and most of the time, it’s the unsuspecting folks.  The silent killers.  Few things are cooler than seeing the switch flipped on for someone who had no clue of their potential.  Many first timers arrive at the gym and find a passion they didn’t know existed.  It becomes life changing and a domino effect of success and positivity in other parts of their life.  Success begets more success and hammers allow the snowball to get bigger and bigger.

Others are more comfortable being the nail, reveling in excuses, settling for below average and pushed into the ground at the first sign of adversity.  Whether it’s because privilege has followed them like a debilitating shadow, fear has crippled them or because no one or no place has ever pushed them, some are just flat out better at quitting than persevering.  I do not pity nails for they are active participants in their own fate.

Hammers are open to all levels.  Unfortunately, so are nails.

Both are an active decision.

When I congratulate and become excited from someone’s big PR, I don’t give a damn about the weight or the lift.  The physical act is simply the outward expression of that person’s internal commitment and path of most resistance they’ve chosen.

There’s a reason most successful people are successful at more than one thing.  They either have it, or they developed it and they don’t stop until they succeed. I hope this quick post finds you in possession of those four ingredients and standing proudly next to, or on the path to some pretty amazing results.

Had I made that decision to quit, I have absolutely no doubt my life would have gone another path.  Pritz and I never become friends. P360 doesn’t exist.  We’re not having this chat here today.

You never know where a decision to be successful will lead you.

Are you a nail, or are you a hammer?

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Dave Thomas is a coach and owner at Performance360, a strength and conditioning gym for all levels in San Diego, CA.  P360 has two locations, one in Crown Point and one in Mission Beach.  They make hammers.