Saturday, August 15, 2009
Take advantage of every day.
I was recently asked what were the biggest strategies that allowed for my dramatic increase in placing from 2002 to 2003? I would not say it was any different strategy but rather an improvement of my mindset and greater execution of the plan for a longer period of time. Let me explain.....
In February of 2002 around the Arnold Classic time there was talk about the NPC making a rule change that would effect former class champions of the NPC Team Universe. I don't even remember all the details at this point but the summary was that the same people were finishing at the top of their respective weight classes year after year and were not going to be allowed to compete for the weight class but would be allowed to compete for the overall. That being the case myself along with some of the other past champions decided to forgo the Team Universe that year and enter the NPC USA instead. Long story short, that is why I didn't participate in the 2002 Team Universe. I ended up placing 15 in the light heavy weight division of the NPC USA. (As a side note, as the show got closer in 2002 the NPC changed their minds and never followed through with that rule change for the Team Universe. By the time I found out my mind was already fixated on doing only the USA that year so I opted not to change my plans.)
I was disappointed with my 15th place finish at the USA but I also understood this was another level up from the Team Universe. The NPC USA is not drug tested and the NPC Team Universe is. Now some people will roll their eyes and say that the drug testing is a farce at the Team Universe and I beg to differ. In my three victories at the Team Universe I was polygraphed and urinalysis tested on each as were the other champions. Could someone try and beat that test? Of course they could just like they could try and beat a drug test for any event. Are there guys and girls who are in the Team Universe that are taking drugs? Probably so because there will always be some people who will cheat and try and beat the system no matter what but it is not fair to make a blanket statement that it is a farce and assume everyone is dishonest. The drug tests at the Team Universe are very real but this is a whole other topic.......so back to my story.
Top to bottom in each weight class there is no mistaking that the USA is a much harder contest than the Team Universe. Being on that stage against the best and not placing well really inspired me to prove to the world and to myself that I could compete at that level while being completely drug free. I never once used the excuse that my poor placing was because I was not taking drugs and everyone else was. That was not my style. I enetered the USA full well knowing what I was up against so I took my placing like a man and went back to the drawing board as I always did after a contest. I took a day or two to reflect on the experience and the moment I arrived back at AST HQ in Golden, CO I was on a mission to make the top 5 at the 2003 USA and to win the overall at the Team Universe.
Those were two lofty goals and I owned them both from day one. I wrote both proclamations on note cards and placed them in strategic spots so I had to read them multiple times a day...."I am a top 5 USA finisher"...."I am the Overall Team Universe Champion"... Those positive affirmations would drive and direct that entire year for me.
I took advantage of each day of that year unlike any other year prior. I always worked hard for every contest throughout the years but this year was special for me. In 2003 I asked more of myself daily and I delivered.
I followed the same formula of Max-OT training, Max-OT cardio, the same nutritional principles that I did the year before so there was nothing really different in strategy. Like I said, I just did a better job of performing at a higher level for a longer period of time. It was my mantra to take advantage of every day and make decisions on a daily if not hourly basis that would propel me closer to those two goals written with blue sharpie on white note cards that stared me in the face almost every where I looked.
As most of you know I made those two affirmations a reality. I placed 4th at the 2003 USA and I won the overall and IFBB Pro Card at the 2003 Team Universe.
An interesting tid bit about my positive affirmation note cards....My mother and my aunt would come to visit me over Mother's Day each year that I lived in Colorado. My mom later admitted to me that seeing those note cards around my apartment (during her stay in 2003) with those bold proclamations actually made her nervous to look at. She was worried I would take it very hard if I fell short of those goals. Fortunately, we'll never have to know because 2003 was my best year by a mile and a very happy ending to my competitive career.
Don't underestimate the power of writing down positive affirmations. It is one thing to think you would like to achieve "this" or "that" and another to take complete ownership of those goals by actually writing them down as if they are a statement of fact.