In the past years, I have been able to really dive into the gut of fitness industry. Between hosting powerlifting meets and strongman events at NBS, continuing to compete in physique shows, and doing media coverage of national/pro level physique shows, I have been privvy to the backstage antic of many competitors. One thing that strikes me as odd is when the following statement is made:
“(S)hes overly confident/cocky/full of her/himself.”
…and for what? Why do we make those observations? Seemingly we do it out of frustration or irritation, which are two emotions I would never recommend anyone act from. More importantly, we risk asking people to LOSE confidence they have worked hard to gain.
The overwhelming culprit: people who lack self confidence. From experience on both ends, regaining confidence means gaining a competitive advantage. Like will power, confidence is a state that needs developing. Doing so will take many different forms, but below are a few ways I have found to help keeping your chin up in a critical field
Develop impeccable self awareness
This article is about becoming a better version of yourself, not LYING to yourself about who you are. Self awareness is the act of staring your skills and weaknesses in the face and addressing them. I am TERRIBLE at math. I mean, awful. I took Math 0110 THREE TIMES during my undergrad years. For those that arent familiar, that’s a remedial math class. Do I believe myself to be worthless because I cant quite figure out improper fraction multiplication? Absolutely not. Instead, I know I am skilled in all the areas that make for a great coach. Once I got past the reality that math wasn’t going to be my strong suit, I figured out ways to align with people who had immense strengths in math (or at least excel spreadsheets/calculations) for situations that called for it and let them do what they do best, while I continue my own path of being a GREAT coach. By becoming self-aware, you can start really betting on your strengths. Apply this to strength sports: I know that my best events in strongman are moving events. While I am not going to be making any massive stride that gives me a 500lb deadlift in the next three months, I can take some points back by making sure my moving events are trained with some regularity and urgency. My static strength training doesn’t completely get ignored, but I wont cry over a middle of the pack placing in those events.
Detach from the opinions of others
I have touched on this in a few different posts, but allowing your self worth to be determined by the words of others is a no-win situation. Especially as you begin to really network and meet people. If you meet 1000 people this year (and you very well might), you can bet your ass at least a handful don’t like your attitude/body/social media posts/etc. If you waste time looking for 1000/1000 approval rate, you will never have the strong sense of self that you deserve.
Decide where you are going as a human
this is something I am still working on. Reflection on your values is of utmost importance to decide what characteristics you can be proud of. I like to look at myself as different roles I have, and choose traits I truly want to embody that require no genetic anomaly/talent: As an athlete, I want to be someone who trains SMART (hires a coach) and trains HARD (follows programming.) As a person, I want to be someone who acts from good intention. Once you have the framework of what a great person does, ask yourself everyday if you are closer or farther from those traits. Its much easier to exude confidence with a clear conscious.
Set “+10%” goals
A former employer of mine talked to me about the importance of what he called “+10% goals.” He recommended looking at goals that you know is well within your ability to complete consistently, then add 10%. This allows you to stay within reasonable territory but also forces you to take risks. When you take bigger risks, your reward is much higher when you perform well. If you don’t, you walk away with the ENORMOUS advantage of experience. In either scenario(win or lose), you leave with a greater understanding of competing / performing at a higher level. Maybe you are consistently winning local level shows/national qualifiers in physique shows…it may be time to hit a national level stage. If you are consistently winning the best lifter at your local powerlifting meets, look into bigger qualifiers and take a stab at it. Again, this is a no-lose situation.
Live and let live
This is a biggie. Maybe you see someone in competition that is outwardly confident. While it may be tempting to rain on their parade, realize that if you take that route, you are doing a MASSIVE disservice to the emotional stability of other people. Tampering the the emotional stability of other people is a dick move. If they are doing no harm to you or others, lets them enjoy their time competing and let the results play out in sport as they always do.
In the past two years, I have made conscious effort to approach my life more confidently, and the pay off has been big. I have improved in all areas of athletics, and have excelled as a professional. My relationships with others are stronger than ever before, and I have had to honor of helping other people become more confident. If the only downside is occasionally getting called “cocky,” I think I can live with that. Afterall, they may be right.