What Do Tiger Woods, Lady Gaga & Batman Have in Common?

22y old Tiger Woods became number 1 World Golfer in 1997 after only 42 weeks as a pro, but 20 years of daily golf practice preceded this. Lady Gaga from rags to riches after her debut album hit #1 worldwide, but playing piano since age 4 and performing since she’s 14. Christian Bale winning an Oscar for “The Fighter” at age 36, but playing in movies since he was only 12 y old.

Easy to think of them as “overnight successes,” thereby ignoring the struggles, sacrifice and relentless practice that it undoubtedly took them to get where they are today. Even easier to think their secret is talent, genetics, or plain “luck”.

Quite insulting to successful guys.

Yesterday you read the success story of StrongLifts Member Harrison (24y, USA) who achieved bronze at his first powerlifting meet with a 390lb Squat only 2y after he started StrongLifts 5×5. The temptation is huge to think Harrison was born natural Squatter, that he never struggled with his technique or flexibility or suffered nagging pains, that he got there easily and overnight.

To prove you it would be a big mistake to think this way, watch the next video of StrongLifts Member Harrison Squatting 165lb on April 29th 2009, just 5 weeks after he started StrongLifts 5×5. Pay attention to his Squat technique.

I’m confident you’ve noticed the Squat mistakes he used to do: the bar was resting too high on his back, he wasn’t sitting back enough on the way down, he wasn’t hitting parallel, his feet and knees weren’t pointing out, etc.

That does NOT look like a natural born Squatter to me.

Compare with the next video shot 2 years later, on April 9th 2011. Aside from the 38,5lb weight gain, the improvement in Squat technique is astounding…

It’s easy to look at Harrison, me or any of the dozens other StrongLifts Members Squatting over 400lb, and fall into the trap of thinking that we became strong without ever struggling with technique, pains or plateaus – worse, born strong. It’s also a guaranteed way to get discouraged when you meet tough times.

Don’t kid yourself, every successful lifter struggled before becoming strong. And that’s where you should get your motivation from when things turn challenging: the knowledge that plateaus are part of this game. As George Leonard wrote in his book “Mastery“: the secret is to start loving the plateau, like we do.

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