A Little Respect

Whatever you may accomplish is worthless if everyone thinks you're a dick.

Respect is one of those things that's that goes both ways. You've all heard the saying, “you have to give respect to get respect. That seems to be a bit difficult for some people. Then there's self respect. That's really the most important because if you don't respect yourself you can't possibly believe anyone else will respect you. And that's not really a good position to be in. So, respect yourself, respect others and you'll get the respect you deserve, right? Sounds simple enough. So then why are some of you suffering with this issue? I see it more than I'd like – people with low self esteem, low self respect, and little respect from others. It's a sad situation that you really don't have to suffer with. Maybe I can shed some light on how you can pull yourself out of it. 

One of the biggest influences on my life was Joe Weider. Unless you've been lifting weights under a rock, I know you've probably heard the name,  Most people associate him with Arnold Schwarzenegger, but exactly who is he? Joe is the man most responsible for building the bodybuilding industry. Back in the 40s and 50s, he was big and strong, but wasn’t a bodybuilder himself. However, he firmly believed that physical strength was important for a man’s self respect.  He was so far ahead of his time. 

He, his brother Ben, and his wife Betty—a pinup model and a pioneer for women’s fitness—founded the International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB). They created the Mr. Olympia and Ms. Olympia and other contests. Joe founded and published Muscle & Fitness, Flex, Men’s Fitness, Shape, and the other important magazines that predated those modern titles. When Arnold Schwarzenegger, then the governor of California, awarded Joe with the Muscle Beach Life- time Achievement Award, he pointed out that it was Joe who inspired him to be a bodybuilder and immigrate to the United States.

There are literally millions who would say the same thing about Joe, including a kid from Edison, New Jersey. I not only admired his accomplishments, but I also admired and respected the fact that he did this starting at the bottom. He had $7 in his war chest when he launched his first company, typing bodybuilding pamphlets in the middle of the night, while his family was asleep, from under the dining room table, with a sheet draped over it to help drown out the noise of the typewriter. 

Without Joe Weider, bodybuilding as we know it would not exist. He did tremendous things for the sport and for fitness at large. I can vividly remember the last time we spoke. He was well into his 90s, his voice wasn’t as strong and clear as it had once been. But, as always, his words were powerful. Toward the end of our talk he said something that brought tears to my eyes. He said, “Rich, I’m proud of you and I respect you for all you have accomplished. I know this is just the beginning of all you are going to do.”

He didn't give me this remarkable compliment when I was getting ready to turn pro, or at the height of my career. He said this after I had retired, hit rock bottom, and had finally gotten my lean and mean company up and running. He knew all the good things that I had pulled off, but he also knew the struggles I had; from injuries to going bankrupt. He was a friend to me the whole time. Some people who had accomplished a whole lot less than Joe wouldn’t take my calls when I was down. He would. He was that kind of man. He cared about people. He built people up. And when he told me how proud he was of me, and that he respected me, it felt like a confirmation that any hardships I had to overcome were worth it. He recognized that I was the same person in good times and bad. He saw that I was a fighter. Next to my dad, I can’t think of anyone who's words of respect and blessing meant more to me.

Respect is such an important theme to me. Self-respect. Respect from others. Respect for others. I am a firm believer that all of us have been created with infinite worth. But respect is something different from self-worth. It isn’t something we are born with. It is both learned and earned.

I like to think that I have even just a little of what Joe had - a genuine concern for people, a desire to see them reach for their dreams and a generous mount of respect. I always respected Joe, not only because of what he did for me, but for what he did for others and for our industry. The highest honor you can pay someone is that they are a man of respect. And to strive to be such a man is the greatest aspiration you can strive to achieve. More than a supplement contract, however many million “likes,” a trophy, or the accolades of your fans. Any accomplishment you achieve is worth nothing if people think you're a dick.

I've said this before and I'll say it again, my message to you is more about building your ultimate body. Your ultimate body is worthless unless, along with it, you build the ultimate you. Learn to respect yourself and others, and respect what you are accomplishing. And, if you didn't already know it, the place to start is by showing more respect to yourself. Don't put yourself in demeaning or compromising situations. Our culture can be pretty cynical and negative and offer opportunities to venture down some pretty dark roads. Always seek the better path, even if it's more difficult – which it usually is. Don't follow where the negativity points you  - it might look like an easier path to follow, but in the end, it won’t take you anywhere. Respect is one of those investments in life, where you end up receiving more than you give. Show it. Receive it. And, appreciate those who have it – they earned it. At the end of the day, that's what you want people to feel about you.

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