We are, ultimately, a sum of every decision, action and reaction we make up this point in our lives. This is especially true in strength sports.
The things we do most often, our habits, ultimately shape our successes and our failures. The problem is that our habits are rarely conscious decisions – therefore we know we are moving but have no real idea as to where we are going. These small, seemingly insignificant actions (brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, showing gratitude) rarely yield any immediate gratification but done consistently yield MASSIVE results. This is known as the Compound Effect – a whole bunch of small, seemingly insignificant actions performed over a long period of time snowballing into absolutely incredible accomplishments.
Although the Compound Effect controls every area of your life (positively and negatively), in my personal life it has yielded the greatest results in my training. When talking to the the strongest, most accomplished lifters I know the message is ALWAYS the same: Though they train using different methods, different techniques, different sports even… they all had to make an effort to re-program their habits and the things they did consistently every single day. Then, they maintained those habits over a period of years, often decades. So how do you harness this power and achieve your goals?
Do Not Seek Instant Gratification:
“Slow and Steady wins the race”
Given enough time I will beat virtually anybody, any time in any competition. I am not the smartest, best or fastest – but I will win because of the habits I develop and the consistency in which I have applied those habits! Consistency is the ultimate key to success or failure, and it is often the pitfall for people struggling to achieve.
This is the mindset of a winner. Most people seek to “win” in a short amount of time. The easist example to give is this:
Many beginners, depending on their goal, make drastic changes in quantity of the food they eat. After a few weeks, if nothing has changed… no fat lost or muscle gained they give up. What these people fail to understand is the Compound Effect –
Imagine for a minute if I was to clone myself. I decided to keep my entire life the same, but add 125 calories a day. My clone decreased caloric intake 125 calories a day. Keep in mind that 125 calories is a very very small number (swapping condiments alone can make up this difference).
After 8-10 month there would be almost no noticeable difference… this would discourage most. After about 18 months the difference would become noticeable and measurable. This is where the “overnight” success happens…
After 31 months of consistent action, there is a 67lb weight difference between me and my clone! One has gained 33,5lbs and the other lost 33.5lbs….
31 months = 940 days
940 days x 125 calories = 117,500 calories
117,500 calories divided by 3500 calories per pound = 33.5lbs
This is almost exactly what happened to me, by taking control of my diet and making sure I NEVER missed a meal my weigh didn’t budge much for months, hovering around 215. I rode that diet up for just above 240lbs over a 3 year period. The Compound Effect requires patience!
Old School Success:
There is a reason that wealth often skips a generation:
The most challenging aspect of the Compound Effect is that we have to keep working away for a while, consistently and efficiently before we can see the payoff.
Children of successful wealthy people often don’t develop the habits to gain wealth and therefor do not have the habits to maintain and create wealth. Even given all teh resources in the world, you cannot succeed if your habits are not on point!
Do not try to fool yourself into believing that mega successful businessman or athlete didnt endure early morning, late nights, bone crushing drills, kept working when others had stopped and faced the sheer agony and frustration of agony, defeats and loneliness. This is what successful strength athletes understand –
that your path to success continuum of unexciting, mundane unsexy and sometimes difficult daily disciplines compounded over time.
New, shiny, promising gimmicks and products are ALWAYS trying to lure us away from the root of success in all aspect of life, especially sports: Hard fucking work.
Control Your Choices:
“A police officer once stopped a man on his horse who looked to be in a hurry. When he asked the man where he was going, he said “I dont know, ask the horse”
Your daily habits are your horse, make sure its headed the right direction!
We all come into this world the same, naked, scared and ignorant. After that, the life we end up with is simply a result of the all the choices we make. You make choices and then your choices make you. We all know this, but we still put the mundane (and often dangerous) on auto pilot.
Our biggest challenge is not that we intentionally make bad choices, its that we sleep walk through our choices. Nobody intends to be obese, get divorced or go bankrupt, its a results of a seris of small, bad decision often make without acknowledgment,
The Compund Effect is always working, usually we dont notice when we…
– ate a whole bag of chips
– drank an entire soda
– wasted 2 hours watching tv without preparing for tomorrow
This is why, when you make the decision to become a strength athlete, you MUST reflect on take note of everything you do. It is important to have daily tasks on autopilot…. it allows us to focus our energy and creativity on bigger, more important tasks. However, we all need to take time to examine exactly what it is we have on autopilot. Make sure your autopilot tasks are tasks that need to get done to reach your goals. And we need to do it NOW.
Roots – the reason we fail before we even try
Imagine you are my pupil: while taking a stroll through the forest we stop before a tiny tree and I instruct you to “pull up that sapling” while pointing at a sprout just coming up from the Earth.
You could pull it up easily with just your fingers.
“Now pull up that one” (Pointing at a more established sapling that stands about knee high).
With a little effort you could pull it up, roots and all. It really doesn’t take much strength or effort.
Now what if I pointed to a more established evergreen about chest high? With great effort, throwing your bodyweight around and using stick or stones as tools you could probably eventually uproot it. Not an easy task.
Now I want you to pull up this mighty oak, so tall you can scarcely see the top. I am willing to bet, based on the struggle you just had with the tiny evergreen you would tell me “I can’t, It cannot be done”
This is the power habits have over your life. The older they are, the longer they develop, the deeper the roots grow and the harder they are to uproot. Some get so big with roots so deep you might hesitate to even try.
Putting it all together:
There are few things more difficult than looking at the things we do daily and admitting they are hindering us from reaching success. The fact is, though, that all of the great strength athletes have one thing in common; it’s not genetics, drugs it’s doing the thing they need to do consistently.
I would recommend looking the mirror, assessing you daily habits – the things you dont even think about. Ultimately, those are the things that are going to determine where you end up in your sport. Big, shiny, flashy products and decisions only effect the short term, but your mundane, daily habits will add up and an exponential rate until either the glory or tragedy is recognized.
Take your horse by its reigns, eat your meals, get your sleep in and do so consistently. And tell yourself:
“Given enough time I will beat virtually anybody, any time in any competition. I am not the smartest, best or fastest – but I will win because of the habits I develop and the consistency in which I have applied those habits! Consistency is the ultimate key to success or failure, and it is often the pitfall for people struggling to achieve. “
Overnight success can be yours. But it will take a lifetime of good decisions!
Nic Peterson is a top amateur strongman based out of Florida, with PRs of 705 deadlift, 429 bench and 342 axle clean and press, in addition to training athletes of all types from his facility, Relentless Performance. Website, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter