It takes a special kind of mentality in this world to be a leader. It doesn’t come as a surprise that leadership and innovation are rare and prized qualities since much of society is structured to operate around these individuals. For example, most workplaces have a general manager (read: leader) that gives direction to all their subordinates.
In America, we elect a president that acts our nation’s leader. In most all sports the team has a captain (or several) that, once again, act as a leader. Steve Jobs (the ever-so-popular creator of Apple) lead the smartphone industry with the innovative iPhone.
Why, then, do you think we look up to such individuals? Is it because they just got lucky and had some karmic gift endowed to them to be a leader in this world? Absolutely not. Such individuals are embraced because they take control of their life and lead by example; they create their own paths.
Believe it or not, you too possess this quality of leadership and are in fact exemplifying it (to a degree) every waking moment of your life. No matter how much your family, your peers, your teachers, or your boss (or anyone else for that matter) influences your decisions, you still ultimately make them. You are responsible for the entity that is sitting behind the screen right now and reading my boring dribble (and I appreciate that).
My hope for this discourse is not to make individuals believe leadership is some esoteric quality that they have to search endlessly for, but to help them realize it’s an innate characteristic that’s been sitting inside you since you left the womb, waiting to be expressed. You are your leader, your creator, and this is your life.
Ideate: Think for Yourself
In the health and exercise realm, the first thing the majority of people do is wonder what other people are doing for their fitness regimen, “Hey that guy is pretty ripped; he must be on the best program! I’ll just do what he’s doing.” For better or for worse, a lot of folks with admirable physiques or strength don’t have a clue about nutrition and training (what you see is usually heavily influenced by their genetics and/or performance-enhancing drug use). This is why it is imperative in this aspect of your life that you are your own leader and find what works best for you.
Not don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be willing to learn from others, because if every individual was so stubborn to believe that only their methods are the best than we all would fail to progress on so many levels. Having an open mind and challenging concepts is highly important if you want to be a better leader.
At the same time though, you must think for yourself; don’t be afraid to try things that no one else has done, even if people tell you it won’t work or they doubt you. It’s your path to create and there really is no way to veer off a path that doesn’t exist yet, is there? Like Doc always said to Marty McFly, if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. If you have an idea, don’t dismiss it just because others don’t believe it will work like you do.
Believe: Exude Self Confidence
After you have an idea, you need to protect and cultivate it, not in the literal sense like copyrighting it and/or patenting it, but in the sense that you stand behind it no matter what others say. This means being true to yourself and having integrity to go forward when everyone is telling you to stop and head back the direction you came from.
If you think you can make great progress on a certain program that others haven’t tried in the gym, then what is stopping you from going through with that program? Is it the voices emanating around you saying “You’re wrong, that can’t work because it hasn’t been done before” or is it coming from within?
If it’s the former, I implore you to keep your head down and pursue your idea; walk the line that no one else has and lead by example. Have confidence in yourself. If it’s the latter then go back to the drawing board and find out what you think is flawed with your idea or plan.
Don’t misconstrue confidence with arrogance or cockiness though. It takes a certain amount of egotism to stick to a path when others are trying to derail you, but be careful not to dig your own conceited grave. They always say insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting different results, so if something just isn’t going to work don’t try and force the issue just because you think it should be otherwise. Be wary and able to decipher facts from opinions.
Act: Do What Needs to Be Done
Now comes the phase that weeds out those who are great leaders from those who just make excuses or give up easily. At the end of the day, nothing can be accomplished unless you actually do something and see things through. No matter how great an idea seems from its inception, it can never truly be a great idea until its wheels are in motion and it’s stood the test of time.
Yes, in the world of bodybuilding and weightlifting, this means you’re going to have to get off your hump and physically do things. As with most rewarding things in life, there will be a certain amount of diligent effort required to see your idea through to the end. If you want to be a leader this is mandatory and there are no shortcuts. I wish I could tell you otherwise, but that’s the way it goes. What you put in for effort usually reflects in the results.
Resiliency: Be Prepared for Failure
Before you jump out of your computer chair and find the nearest squat rack I should forewarn you of possible setbacks that may occur so they aren’t a total shock to you. Failure is an interesting topic because it is so often taken as a negative connotation. The reality is most successful leaders in this world have failed time and time again, but they just have the resiliency to bounce back up when they get knocked down.
You’re going to face challenges if you want to be a leader and change your body for the better, that’s just the blunt truth. Think of it like this, when you first set foot in a gym and could barely bench press a 95lb bar off your chest did you leave the gym thinking “Well that’s it for me, I might as well not even come back for the next workout because I’m too weak today”?
Maybe you did, and odds are you probably didn’t show up the next training day. Essentially you failed and considered yourself a failure, but therein lay the distinction I’m trying to make about successful leaders; you can fail without being a failure. There is a difference, one is a verb and one is an adjective. Don’t let the term failure describe who you are. It’s okay to fail; it’s not okay to be a failure.
Why Leading Matters
I felt it was relevant to discuss the topic of leadership in regards to health and physique training because so often people are looking to others for the answers when the reality is everything you need is lying dormant inside you. Again, this doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to seek advice from experienced individuals about your training and nutrition, but it iterates the point that you have a capable brain in that cranium of yours and its potential is beyond anything you can possibly fathom.
Don’t be afraid to challenge concepts and think for yourself, especially in the gym and kitchen. Imagine how dull the fields of training and nutrition would be if nobody deviated from the beaten path of yesteryear’s ideologies. If you would’ve asked me six to seven years ago if lifestyles like intermittent fasting would be applicable to physique competitors I would’ve laughed hysterically at such a postulation. Ask me that same question today and I would say without hesitation that someone can absolutely make tremendous improvements in their body composition only eating one or two meals a day.
That’s just one example of hundreds of concepts that have arisen in the health and physique world because of people taking the helm and challenging preconceived notions. So what’s holding you back from doing the same? The answer is you. You set your own limits, don’t confine yourself to the monotony of being “normal”. Think outside the box, try new things, and be a leader. What do you really have to lose in the end? Absolutely nothing; and the reward could be grand if you just see it through to the end.