Stop Being "Good Enough": Build The Mentality Of A Champion

Cliff Wilson
Written By: Cliff Wilson
June 29th, 2011
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Motivation
43.4K Reads
Are you working as hard as you think? Natural bodybuilding expert and coach Cliff Wilson talks about the "next level" of training, and what it truly takes to be a champion and succeed.

Cliff Wilson Champion BodybuilderDo You Have “Good Enough” Syndrome?

My high school basketball coach always used to say “Everyone loves to win, but not everyone truly hates to lose. Those that hate to lose are the ones that will eventually win.” This statement has always stuck with me because it holds true with all areas of life, and definitely applies to the sport of bodybuilding.

Every new client that I start will tell me that they want to win their class, win a pro card, win a pro show, or even a world championship. It is less common to meet competitors that simply could not live with themselves if they did not achieve the physique that they were capable of.

I have been fortunate to be able to work with many competitors at many different levels in the sport of bodybuilding. This has allowed me to see certain trends that others do not get the advantage of seeing. Over the years, it has become glaringly apparent to me that everyone has a different definition of what hard work actually means.

What some people consider to be working extremely hard, those that truly hate to lose may view as just the bare minimum. Many people have what I call “good enough” syndrome. This is when you know that the work you have done is not 100% but you figure it is “good enough” to still do well. This “good enough” syndrome does not only apply to how hard someone works but also how smart someone works. It does not matter how hard you work if the things you are working hard at are not effective.

It is possible to go from a person that has “good enough” syndrome, to a person that truly hates losing and will put everything they have into their work. I have seen this transformation before, but it is not easy. Many people that have this affliction do not even realize it. So with this article I hope to help competitors realize exactly what it takes to become a champion.

Are You Working Smart Enough?

Making sure you are working smart is the first step of working hard. After all, you can’t get to work until you know what you’re going to do. Working smart – doing all the right things -  is every bit as important as working hard. Too often I see people working extremely hard but doing all the wrong things.

If I want to be the greatest homerun hitter the world has ever seen, but I never pick up a bat, and all I do is practice my pitching all day long, that isn’t going to help me achieve my goal. It may still be baseball but I am not working in the right area. I see a lot of bodybuilders making similar mistakes with their lifting programs.

Anyone that competes or wishes to compete is always subjected to a never ending onslaught of diet and training advice. This advice comes from everywhere, magazines, the Internet, friends, and other people at the gym. It can be very hard to know who to listen to. When preparing for a show there are a lot of decisions to be made and making the wrong decisions about what approach to take can spell disaster come show day.

Whether you are prepping for a show or you are trying to add as much muscle as possible in the off-season, there are certain things you can do to make sure you are taking the correct approach to your diet and training. Too many people blindly follow the advice of the biggest guys at the gym, figuring that if they are big they must know what they are talking about. This is not always the case because genetics play a very large role in how muscular people are. Keep in mind that some people are big and muscular in spite of what they do, not because of what they do.

Cliff Wilson posing

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that every big guy at your gym doesn’t know what they are talking about. What I am saying is that blindly following their advice can be very risky. Much of the common “gym science” that people take as truth has no scientific basis whatsoever, so be picky of who you take advice from. For all you beginners out there just know that just because a person has competed before it by no means guarantees that they know what they are talking about.

Believe it or not, Internet forums and message boards are not the Mensa meetings that some people make them out to be. For every one bad idea I hear around the weight room I hear 100 bad ideas on internet message boards. Keep in mind that people can write whatever they feel like writing and have no repercussions for giving someone terrible advice.

No matter what your source of information make sure that it is credible. Anything that you do that pertains to diet, training, and cardio you should ask yourself, “Why I am I doing this?” If you don’t have a good, scientifically sound answer, then it’s time to reevaluate your methods. Putting in some research to make sure you’re working smart is the first step toward avoiding “good enough” syndrome.

Are You Working Hard Enough?

Once you have established that you are working smart, it’s time to get to working hard. It is much easier for most people to know if they are working hard as opposed to if they are working smart. People like to make hard work a very clear cut scale, you either work hard or you don’t.

Many people that have  “good enough” syndrome work very hard by the average person’s standards, but if you want to be a champion the real question you have to ask yourself is, “Am I working hard enough to achieve the goals that I have set for myself?” Not everyone has the genetics to be 1st place at every show, but to have the mentality of a champion you should plan on being in the best shape you are personally capable of with the genetics you have.

Often, the differences between the person in first place and the person in second place are miniscule. That difference does not usually result from which one of them ate too much pizza on their diet, but more likely the result of which one of them would tend to eat an extra ounce of chicken or sweet potato when they were really hungry. That same person who would figure one extra ounce occasionally can’t hurt, is also the same person that would cut their cardio 5 minutes short on the days they are really tired.

Over the course of the months leading up to the show, these little bits of extra calories coming in combined with the little bit less calories going out can all add up and make a difference. All of these minor details may only add up to a couple of pounds. This may not seem like much, but keep in mind that those last couple of pounds can mean the difference between having striated glutes or not. People that have “good enough“ syndrome do not end up with striated glutes, and just to make my point abundantly clear, yes, champions do have striated glutes.

Where Do You Stand?

Anyone that competes as a bodybuilder or figure athlete must understand one thing about this sport. Much of what will determine your placing is out of your control. You can’t control your genetics; you are born with what your parents passed on to you. You can’t control how many years you have been training as compared to your competitors, you started training when you started training. You can’t control which competitors will show up at your show. These are all out of your control, so you should not concern yourself with these issues.

In bodybuilding and figure there are only two things that are under your control, how smart you work and how hard you work. That’s it. If someone has better genetics than you, then the ONLY way you are going to beat them is to work harder and smarter than them. On the other hand, if you have excellent genetics, someone with lesser bodybuilding genetics can only beat you if you allow them to outwork you.

Very few competitors have what I would classify as elite genetics for bodybuilding or figure. If you want to have any hope of beating someone with great genetics you cannot have “good enough” syndrome. Too many competitors that have amazing gifts fail to realize their full potential because they were not willing to put in all the work that is necessary to be a champion.

“Good enough” is just that and nothing more. Champions realize that in bodybuilding there is good, there is better, and there is best. Your diet and training routines should not just be good enough, or merely good, they should be the best. Your execution of those diet and training routines should not just be merely good, it should be the best. Since working smart and hard are the only two things you can control you had better make sure you get it right if you truly want to be the best.

Not everyone has the genetics to be a champion, but those that train like a champion will have no regrets come show day. So cure your “good enough” syndrome before your contest, otherwise you will find that you’ll only be left with “what if” syndrome after your contest.

Posted on: Tue, 05/21/2013 - 13:22

Great article Cliff. Thanks for this. My father has a "good enough" attitude that he passed on to me. I don't want my son to get it, so I'm ridding myself of it yesterday.

Posted on: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 06:48

I would like to add that there is one more thing that you can control in this sport: nutrition. You can control your body composition, what type of muscular fibres you develop and how your body uses energy while training and at rest. Again, the muscles grow (adaptation) when they need it. The right mental attitude will definitely challenge the muscles in every single training... and will also let them recover!! As the articles´s author suggests, if you want to stand out in competition, then you must develop your mental skills.

Posted on: Wed, 04/11/2012 - 15:35

Just what I needed today... Thank you!

Adam Freeman
Posted on: Fri, 07/01/2011 - 04:18

Im currently serving in Afghanistan (in the British Royal Air Force) and training hard when I have time off. This article I think is brilliant and also very true. After being out of weight training for a few years I thought I would come back into the game. The biggest problem I had understand it wont come over night and Im 30 not 20. This has really helped

Cliff Wilson
Posted on: Mon, 07/04/2011 - 07:21

Thanks Adam,

I definitely appreciate your service. I am glad the article was helpful for you. Keep working hard and stay consistent and you'll get where you want to be.

benard ouma
Posted on: Tue, 03/10/2015 - 04:45

i salute u bro...u guyz put ua life on the line for the whole a kenyan loves to workout n join the army .

Juanita Martin
Posted on: Thu, 06/30/2011 - 10:42

This is awesome material...Thank you :)

Cliff Wilson
Posted on: Thu, 06/30/2011 - 14:47

Thanks Juanita!