A Journal of Strength, Health, and Self Cultivation
Arthur Saxon once failed to pass the physical test in the German Army. But, by seizing every training opportunity he had, Saxon became one of the strongest men in history. Public domain photograph.
When I was 16 years old, I worked part time in a neighborhood grocery store. On one occasion there my supervisor asked me to stock new cartons of eggs. I obliged, but none too aggressively. My supervisor had walked away, and I rationalized that because I was only getting paid minimum wage there was no reason to work at full speed.
So, there I was stocking eggs at a snail pace and taking it rather easy. In due time, however, my supervisor caught on to my poor work ethic, and she gave me a life-changing lecture. In a heart-filled tone she told me,
“Bob, I can see that you are not working to your full capability. I am not angry with you, but I want to tell you something very important. If you don’t put forth your greatest effort, you will only cheat yourself. You will be giving up golden opportunities to learn new skills, build self-esteem, establish productive work habits, and increase your value to prospective employers. These are opportunities that will be lost forever if they are not seized in the moment.”
Although her approach was a soft one, my supervisor’s words pierced through me like a sharp arrow. In less than 30 seconds, she had taught me a very important lesson, and one which I now live by. And, looking back, I can see that what my supervisor told me probably kept me from venturing onto a dead-end street.
My supervisor probably didn’t know very much about physical training, but what she said relates directly to muscle-building success. Like an employee in a grocery store, as a strength athlete you are continually given opportunities to better yourself. But, these opportunities must be seized with full force if you want to achieve prosperity in your training life.
Every training day you have an opportunity to do your best in the gym and to realize your dream of building a super physique. And, if you take advantage of each opportunity that arises, you will be on your way to muscle-building success. However, it you don’t consistently train your level best, then you will never realize your full potential. Think about this the next time you are doing a press, a squat, or any other exercise. Before you put the barbell down, ask yourself, “Can I grind out another rep?” If you can, keep your muscles going until you know in your heart that you have given it your all. And, if you fail to do your best, you only cheat yourself.