We live in a culture that can be very self-indulgent. There's a lot of lazy people who like things the easy way. Is it any wonder then that there is so much mediocrity in our world? Take health for example. Too many of us are lazy. This leads to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, poor mobility. These conditions are rampant in America among both young and old alike. People want to blame fast food companies. But, they're only giving lazy people what we demand – the easy way. The blame lies in the mindset. If you choose to be unhealthy you will. By the same token, if you settle for mediocrity, that's all you'll get.
The gym is a fertile breeding ground for mediocrity. No one is going to get on you if you're not hitting it harder than you were yesterday. In fact, no matter how bad you're mired in mediocrity, you'll still get people who will say that what you're doing is incredible! But someone close to you knows better than to feel good about a so-so effort. It’s not your spouse or parent or best friend that isn’t going to be proud of you. That someone is you.
If you're not making gains or not improving, it's probably time to do some honest self-assessment. Are you training your body like never before or are you settling for a mediocre workout, just going through the motions today the same as you did yesterday? You know, the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. You can't improve performance without doing the work. I’m sorry, it’s not going to happen. No offense, but you’re insane if you think it works that way.
I love the quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.” The only thing I would add to that is to forget moving the hearts of others. Just stir your own heart. Deciding to go to the gym and doing a mediocre circuit on the exercise machines might be good enough for someone else. But what about you?
If you settle for mediocre effort you'll get mediocre results, putting you as close to the bottom as you are to the top. Is that what you want? The surest way to kill your dreams is by giving a half-hearted effort. Giving less than your best only makes you feel bad about yourself. So, instead of striving and reaching higher, you lower the standards. If you shoot an arrow and then draw a circle around wherever it lands, I guess you can tell people you hit the bullseye. But someone knows you aren’t being true to yourself. And that someone is you.
How do you rekindle a flame that has basically blown out? You can watch a movie like 300 or Gladiator or Braveheart or Remember the Titans. It will help fire you up. You can load your iPod with some great songs. All those things might help. But ultimately you're going to have to hit the gym and do exactly what you set out to do. You're going to have to go an entire day eating exactly what's prescribed. You're going to have to tell your friends you aren’t going clubbing because you have to catch a full eight hours of sleep. Success breeds success. Nothing feels better than doing exactly what you're determined to do—no matter how hard and painful it might be. In fact the harder it is the better you feel. The old adage is still true: No pain, no gain.
“No excuses” is not a trite saying some overpriced shoe company is printing on their tank tops. It's a real mindset that must be lived - if you want to own an impressive physique or exact maximum performance. No one wants to hear excuses, and you sure as hell better not be telling any to the guy in the mirror. He doesn't want to hear them either. Be the guy that says “I can't complain,” When he's asked, “how you doing?” No one wants to hear complaints, excuses, and other meaningless drivel designed to justify your failure. If you lie to yourself enough eventually it becomes the truth. In the gym and in your mind, you have to be vicious. You have to be an animal. Period.
They called me the “Dragon Slayer” because that's what I did. I came out of nowhere and stepped up into the pros swinging a battle axe. I slashed my way to the very top, slaying dragon after dragon – the absolute biggest and baddest monsters in the world – until I came up against the only dragon on the entire planet that could not be slain. Considering there's 7 Billion people on the earth, that's still pretty damn good.
I'm putting this so dramatically because it is. I didn't find myself at the top of the heap because I was endowed with freak genetics, packed on a 6'3”, 310 pound shredded frame. I got that way because I lived like you'd imagine a mythical dragon slayer to live. I got that way because I was fierce. Arnold Schwarzenegger once called me an animal for my work ethic. And that was in regard to my business acumen! The secret to a stellar physique does not lie in a diet, or a workout program, a bottle of test, or your genetics. It lies in your brain. The more intensity you can focus on your training, diet, rest, cardio, posing, etc., the better you'll do. I didn't get to battle Lee Haney because I was the biggest and the baddest, I got there because I wouldn't settle for less. I was more of an animal that anyone else.
So, how do you start? It's really a pretty simple choice. You just look at today and empty your guts. Today. That’s it. All you have to worry about is today. Do everything better and harder than you ever have before. Attack everything you do like a wild animal. Do that and tomorrow will take care of itself. If you just worry about today, you'll quickly realize that ultimately, tomorrow is yesterday's today.
I was thinking I'd close with something inspiring and motivational, but I'm not going to. I don’t want to give you anything. I want you to go out and do whatever it is you are supposed to do today with your own determination and self-motivation. Don't settle - be an animal – don't settle for mediocrity.