The 7 Most Dangerous Words You Can Say

smartest personI’m still riding the high of yesterday’s Optimizing the Big 3 seminar with Greg Robins and Miguel Aragoncillo. We had an enthusiastic group of lifters who came in willing to learn and ready to crush some heavy weight.

We forced many of the attendees out of their comfort zones as they tried new techniques and attempted personal records – the majority of which were successful!

I had an amazing day today learning from Greg Robins @TheStrengthHouse and Tony Bonvechio @BonVecStrength at the Optimizing The Big Three seminar @CressySportsPerformance! # Not only did I get to learn from some of the best coaches in the industry but I also got to spend the day lifting with some crazy strong, badass, and very lady-like ladies. # In particular these three bombshell beastettes, Nancy @Nancy_Newell, Emma @Echuff, and Mackenzie @KenzieRichard, two who are interns at CSP and one who trains at CSP. # Not only are these ladies insanely strong (e.g. Nancy’s max lifts are Dead-Lift: 275lbs, Bench: 130lbs, Squat: 200lbs, Emma’s max lifts are Dead-Lift 250lbs, Bench 135lbs, Squat: 230lbs, Mackenzie will find out what her max competition lifts are this fall at her first powerlifting meet), but also they are a testament that lifting heavy weights does not make women big and bulky and look like a man or a she-man. # These ladies are the girliest of girls who just love to lift heavy sh*t, and will testify that it is REALLY hard to put on muscle. This picture is proof! #GirlsWhoLift #GirlsWithMuscle #LikeAGirl #Muscle #Strength #Powerlifting #Barbell #Squat #Bench #Deadlift #BigThree #TheStrengthHouse #CSP #CSPFamily #Workshop #NotAfraidToLift #BeXena

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But every time I coach a group of athletes, there are always those who are hesitant to change. Their minds may be open, but their hearts cling tight to lifting techniques or training philosophies they hold dear.

I get it. It’s tough to change, especially when someone tells you to do so. Naturally, we want to flip the bird to anyone who says we’re wrong. And although we didn’t tell a single person that they were wrong during the seminar, we certainly pointed out where someone’s technique was far from optimal.

This got me thinking that the seven most dangerous words a coach, trainer or athlete can say are:

This is how I’ve always done it.

This simple sentence has ruined more teams and athletes than I could ever count. It reeks of close-mindedness and stinks of an unwillingness to think critically.

This phrase holds the stench of someone too stubborn to learn the difference between correlation and causation. Someone unable to wrap their head around the fact that just because they were successful with one method or approach, it doesn’t mean that method will work for everyone – or anyone, for that matter.

I’ll be the first to say that success leaves clues. I love this phrase. Seek out those who have the success you desire and emulate what they’ve done.

But success can be quantified and must be kept in perspective. Another dangerous phrase that attacked my ears was:

It got me this far.

How far? Are you a world champion? A world record holder? An elite lifter? Or just the biggest fish in your tiny pond?

uncle rico

Often times, we can reach a level of good or even great performance with suboptimal methods. But we must ask, where is the ceiling? If we improve our technique, our training, our philosophy, could we raise that ceiling and finally reach elite levels of performance?

I’ve been open about the fact that I struggled with the deadlift for years. I got myself to a mid-5oo’s deadlift, which is in the 99th percentile for all humans walking the earth, but far from great in our small powerlifting community. My suboptimal approach got me pretty far, but left me with a low ceiling. I had to make a change.

That’s what I loved about the seminar: we got a bunch of people in a room together and, naturally, they pushed each other. Competitive vibes were bouncing off everyone. And suddenly, those willing to listen began performing better and better to the point where, minutes after learning a new technique, new personal records were popping up left and right. And those who balked at changing were getting left behind.

Unfortunately, this quick dose of perspective is never delivered in many scenarios where it’s needed most.

Little League coaches get no resistance from their players when they say, “This is how I pitched, so it’s how you’re gonna pitch too.”

Strength coaches go unchallenged when they tell their athletes, “This is how we’ve always trained, so we’re not gonna change now.”

Personal trainers get empty “uh-huh’s” and head nods when they tell their clients, “This is what I eat, and I’m in great shape, so you need to eat what I eat.”

Is it the job of the athletes and clients to protest? It’s tough to say. As a coach, I much prefer the client who would run through a wall if I asked them too, instead of the hesitant, always-questioning worrier. The latter rarely sees things through to a successful end.

Ultimately, it is the job of the coach to continually evaluate his or her methods and make sure they always seek the optimal way. We must set aside ego, past accomplishments and traditions if we find a better way. We must be brave enough to let go of what made us successful in order to make others successful.

As athletes, we know we must surround ourselves with other hard-working individuals to create a winning team. Coaches and trainers must do the same. Seek out others who are smarter, more experienced and more successful. Make yourself better so you can make others better.

Very few of us have laurels large enough to rest on. And even then, we must realize that perfection is never attained, only chased. We must be willing to adapt and evolve during that quest.

So, how have you always done it? Is it working for you? Are you the best in the world yet? If not, keep working, keep evolving and never stop learning.

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