As I was on my way out of the gym last night I ran into one of the martial arts
instructors that I used to lift with years ago. We caught up for a few minutes and talk drifted (like it often does when you run into somebody that you haven’t seen in a while) to mutual friends and acquaintances that we hadn’t heard from in a while. One of the guys that we spoke of is a prime example of what I’m going to talk about today.

This guy, we’ll call him Bob, used to train with us on occasion (he actually trained with the martial artist pretty regularly) back when we had a pretty solid group of powerlifters at this gym. Bob was a nice guy, and we all got along with him well. He also had some crazy genetics for size and strength. I’ve trained with some of the strongest guys in the world and as far as raw potential goes he stacked right up there with them.

The thing is that he wasn’t all that strong. Relative to the average guy on the street, he was strong, but as far as our group goes he sort of hung in the middle of the pack. He wasn’t even in the ballpark of elite lifters.

This was an awesome group to train in and we were all crushing personal records (PR’s) left and right. We had guys adding hundreds of pounds on their lifts over that period of time and every time we trained we would all get better. Bob, on the other hand, started out a bit stronger than most of the guys (and much bigger), and while he did slowly improve, his pace was far below everyone else’s.

The reason that he didn’t improve was that of fear. Every time we would work up to some big weights and start getting towards new territory Bob would start getting nervous. He’d begin to make some excuses that something or other ached and he might “just rep out a bit this week” to keep from going after a big lift and risk getting hurt.

Look, in order to get better at something, no matter the field, you’ve got to go out of your comfort zone. That’s the bottom line. Want to learn website design? Then you gotta pick up some new skills and ask the dumb questions for a while. If you want to get bigger, stronger, and faster, then it’s the same situation. You gotta put more weight on the bar and get uncomfortable.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you go out and do a bunch of stupid stuff. That’s just… stupid. However, if you’re really looking to improve and be your best then there’s a risk to that. When you’ve got more weight on the bar than you’ve ever done before, there’s a risk of getting hurt. When you’re trying to jump over a higher box than you ever have, there’s a risk to that. If you’re trying to become the best artist around then there’s that moment of risk when you finally put your stuff out for critique.

On the trail of life, there are several different ways to go. Do you know why the path that’s firm and level is so nice and secure? Because everyone takes it and beats it down. If you follow that same path, you get where everyone else is going.
Congratulations. Now you’re average at best, and probably a lot less successful than you want to be. If you want to find the prize, you can bet that it’s not on the path most traveled. Instead, you’re going to have to go where other’s fear and get a little dirt on you. You’ve got to step off on to that shaky ground.