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To be great…

I recently saw where someone made a Facebook post asking what the point of having a strong deadlift was if you can’t run a mile and what was the purpose of being able to run, bike, and swim fast if you weren’t strong. Well, let me answer that question…Winning!

The point is to win!

I will not go into details about the importance of aerobic fitness and capacity in regards to strength sports nor the importance of resistance training and anaerobic abilities in regards to endurance sports. Instead, I will address the real question hidden in the post: “What is the point of being great at something, if it means you have to sacrifice something else?” And the point is  TO BE GREAT!

I have seen this question and thought towards training more than once before and I am not sure of the true underlying cause. It may be from a lack of understand of how achievement is gained or, possibly the more likely reason, because it is easier on the ego to be better than average at many things but great at none. In the second case, someone can say to a runner, “I am more muscular and stronger than you” and they can say to the lifter “I am faster and in better aerobic shape than you”. Either way, a basic understanding of how things work is needed before truly being able to answer the question.

First, the world rewards the specialists. Peyton Manning gets paid big bucks because he is an extremely good quarterback. He’s not a great public speaker nor is he qualified to run a fortune 500 company. He can’t create an ornament out of blown glass and he doesn’t know how to set up logistics for a manufacturing company. In truth, he’s not that big, fast, or strong. But, he’s extremely smart, he’s extremely accurate, and he is dedicated to being the best quarterback he can possibly be and because of that, he makes millions of dollars. The same can be said for the computer genius, the stock trader, the metal worker, and the surgeon. They are all specialists.

Second, to be good at a craft takes sacrifice. Whether time, money, relationships, health, or other possible sacrifices, something must be given for something else to be gained. In order to be a great surgeon, a person must sacrifice money in student loans, time in studying, and possibly strain the relationships of their spouse, kids, friends, or family and also probably put a big strain on their health through long surgeries and crazy hours and high amounts of stress. This same sacrifice can be said about any athlete. At the highest level, all athletics are incredibly bad for your health. An NFL Football player running head on with some of the biggest, strongest, and fastest people on earth is going to feel the repercussions of his actions later in life, but he does it anyway. A bodybuilder going through contest prep is going to place a strain on his relationships because of the time and energy requirement to compete at that level, but he does it anyway. A upcoming tennis pro is going to spend money on equipment, lessons, travel, and all the work needed to keep her body performing at the highest level, but she does it anyway. Why do they do this? Because they want to be great, they want to win.

In life there are those who feel most comfortable on the field and those who feel most comfortable in the stands. Neither is “the right” way to be, people are different. However, if you are someone who is comfortable in the stands and has never been on the field, you have not earned the right to criticize those on the field for their actions and sacrifices. There is nothing wrong with wanting to just be healthy, feel good, and be overall decent at many aspects of fitness. But if you’re never going to step on the platform, on the stage, on the field, or into whatever competitive environment and test your best against the best, keep your mouth shut and enjoy the fascinating endeavor of human performance at its highest level.

Those of use who strive for greatness understand the sacrifices we make and are willing to make them because at the end of the day, when we die, we want to look back and be able to say that we gave it everything we had. If you are scared of the future, you will never realize your potential in the present.

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