September 20th, 2010
I want to begin my new website with some words of encouragement (that I tell myself all the time) I would like to introduce you to my 5 steps to success.
1. Establish Credibility. I.E. College degree, or a certification, professor networking, student networking, internships, online social networking, whatever gives you a slate of knowledge to pull from for further use and gives you a solid and reputable name.
2. Job. This is the phase people mistake for success often. They turn their shitty job into a career with a 401k and a two week vacation once a year. They settle into the false sense of security that blankets their thoughts and clouds their minds because their belly is full. Sometimes the pay is good, enticing even. The idea here is to dabble in different things that you like and have the credibility for, hopefully this job matches your interests, but the main goal is to support yourself and pay the bills while being creative.
3. Creation. Step 3 absolutely must coincide with step 2 (unless you are unemployed where you should spend a certain amount of time each day seeking meaningful employment so you can live). This step is hard for most people because it takes strength and perseverance to act above and beyond yourself with no pay and no one to push you. Step 3 is to create something. For me it’s a book and a fitness career. My step 2 is a cushy job that I really enjoy but I must push myself beyond the pay and even beyond the sense of great moral purpose and fulfillment that my job offers me to something much greater. I work 9-5 and I get home, having eaten clean all day and suit up for a two hour gym session because I wanna compete in the NPC, which offers no cash prizes. Then I come home and write. I repeat this every day until my body is in shape and my book is completed. I even write on my hour lunch break.
4. Execution. The hardest step, even harder than step 1, (gaining credibility). Say my goal is to be a female bodybuilder and a writer. My body is ready so I must now compete in as many shows locally and in nearby states as I can to get to junior nationals, then nationals, and earn a pro card. This can take years, or never happen. But I work hard and think optimistically keeping up with rules, beauty, and marketability, eating clean, working out—hard. Also, let’s say my book is finished! I have to submit my manuscript to everyone and get a literary agent. I may get rejection letters in which case I repeat step 3 and re-write certain aspects or completely create something new–authentic with a bold voice yet marketable and witty while maintaining step 2, my job—still gotta eat! This step is a reality check. Not a point to give up. I may never get published as many times as I repeat step 3. But I choose to look optimistically toward building my future as I work hard and keep up with the writing culture.
5. Success. The “I made it” phase. Say I won my pro card, no money, but got sponsored by BSN or Gaspari for example. (A huge contract!) Which means I have to stay in shape, be current by competing often, stay out there on people’s minds by posing frequently at live shows or in magazines, interviews, blogging, networking, etc. Also after some rejection and rewriting I got a book offer and signed the contract! Essentially step 5 is your dream, whatever it may be. Success!
Unfortunately, most people stay at step 2, with their security. Often they get fired, laid off, or bored and do a “career change” in something else they don’t absolutely love, but convince themselves they do because they need the money, got bills to pay, and mouths to feed. Some, only a few try step three, and of those few only a microscopic amount actually try again after failing. It’s obvious. Open your eyes and look around you. They are everywhere. What do you think suburbia is?
Note that trying is different than doing. Some people try once and fail and instead of rethinking they shut down under the weight of criticism and failure. They use this failure as a reason to justify their actions, depression, and discontent; and this adds to their sense of security, oddly. They are happy to have not lost their jobs while balancing the job process with the creation process.
People can get extremely unreasonable and self-sabotaging when it comes to creation in the form of unrealistic deadlines, and the refusal to change something that isn’t working. Or sometimes they set the bar so high they will fail without a doubt, and use this failure as a means to justify their current stale situation. They refuse reality and instead live in disillusionment and can even force others to play into their intricate illusions. Reality is unbearable to them because they don’t know how to deal with it in increments. Incremental reality is a process, not a short cut or overnight solution. Some people may feel depressed when faced with their full reality, but beware that illusion may be perceived as safe when in fact it is extremely harmful. Anyway when people become this way they are zombies. They try to peddle thru life and wait to die with some sporadic smiles and bursts of joy in between the surreal lines of reality and illusion. Hey, maybe at one point they’ll snap out of it for a moment! They’ll have a mid-life crisis, get a mistress, get a penis enlargement or buy an unreasonably priced car. They do this in an effort to take “control” and be “proactive” be the “actor” in their own life. What they don’t realize is that step 3 is still left unfinished. And it’s not expensive, won’t ruin your marriage, but will enhance your life. Are you ready?
I learned these steps through bodybuilding. I’ll share a little bit about what it means to me.
Bodybuilding: A Love Story
I would like to talk about how I define failure. Failure can actually equate to success. But this definition comes with a story. I learned this lesson young when I first stepped foot into a gym with dad. I first began to work out when I was eleven years old. My father was heavily into bodybuilding and had been since he was a teenager. He said it was the only positive thing in his life. He was thrown out onto the streets at age 12 with his older sisters (barely older than him) to fend for himself. He lived on the streets in the summer and in cars and bars during the winter—when he was lucky. He flowed in and out of the foster care system (most of the parents were abusive, and scarier than the streets) and in boys ranches. He eventually tried all forms of drugs and took any job he could get for food or a place to stay.
In 1980 he ran into a kid who would become a lifelong friend, Gary Golding, who introduced him to bodybuilding a month after dad’s best friend and foster brother, Jeff Fry, died. Dad was told to care for his body like a temple, and that everything he put into his body would have a positive or negative chemical reaction. He could choose to eat healthy and grow to be big and strong, or put junk into his body and deteriorate his joints, muscles, and mind. He hit the iron once and was hooked. He and Gary locked themselves in Gary’s home basement for one month without leaving and pumped iron, listened to Ozzy, Black Sabbath, and ACDC, ate and drank rice, eggs (sometimes guzzling them raw in protein shakes), and other proteins like fish, beef, and chicken. They had one bathroom, one sofa, and a mattress to sleep on. They had no television, no phone, and no visitors. They became very strong and this sort of discipline and the results they received from consistent training led them to become their own heroes.
When I was conceived dad was hoping for a boy, and intended to name me “Rock Arnold Isaacson” after Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky and his inspiration in the gym, Arnold Schwarzenegger, six time Mr. Olympia. He was going to train me to become Mr. Olympia. When he found out I was a girl, he immediately began looking into female bodybuilding, and intended to name me after a successful female bodybuilder named Cory Everson, but he and my mother settled on Sarah Alexis Isaacson when I was born in January 1989. Dad taught me a lot growing up, and when I hit eleven he finally introduced me to the gym, but told me not to go too heavy because he didn’t want to stunt my growth.
We were living in Delta, Utah, a place that felt like how we imagined hell to be at the time. His father had just died and we were living in a trailer court. Although I was young, I was experiencing extreme circumstantial based depression and anxiety. I’d have panic attacks up to 14 times a day sometimes. It was difficult to keep food down from stress, but dad choked fruits and vegetables, protein, carbohydrates and Gatorade down me. He would make me lie in the sun for 30 minutes a day for the vitamin D, because he said the sun uplifts the mood. Doctors never found out what was wrong with me, never diagnosed me, but drew my blood up to six times a week in hopes of coming to a conclusion. It may have been chemical changes, it wasn’t an ulcer that created the stomach pain, and I felt hopeless and painted a negative picture in my head about how my future was going to be filled with this negativity. We had just left our home in Sanpete County, I had no friends, and I think it was extreme depression born out of me trying to control our poor circumstances living in a trailer court for the first time.
I first stepped foot into the gym at Delta High School. I felt at ease immediately, the smell of the rubber floor mats, the metal, the clinks of the barbells, and a smile crept over my face. I watched my dad lift heavier than everyone there, and I wanted to lift as much as him too. Everyone would stand around and just watch him lift. He was respected for his strength. I wanted to be strong.
I was thin, and it was too early to tell visibly where I would gain weight because at 11 years old my body hadn’t at all developed, but dad eyeballed my body type, added it to our known genetic pool and made an intelligent guess. I had sloping shoulders like mom, long shapely legs like his side of the family, and he guessed that since I didn’t have a big bubble butt (like the one my 8 year old brother got from mom) that I wasn’t going to get fat on my butt and thighs, and thought my greatest problem area would be my stomach and face (cheeks and double chin) just like him. (As I aged, and became more sexually developed his suspicions were confirmed.) My mother and all her sisters were flat chested, but my father’s mother and sisters were all bigger than double D’s to varying degrees. So, this area was a toss up for me, we were hoping for a natural C cup to meet both genetic possibilities in the middle. Dad and I were frightened I would have huge breasts (his sister’s had back problems due to theirs) Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. I got nothing. Ended up with a breast augmentation at 19 to cover the muscle striations growing on what looked like boy Pecs. He built up my sloping shoulders to look and feel more sturdy and worked my calves (something many people overlook in their training regimen) until they, too, were sturdy.
Dad trained me every day for years. One day he showed up to the gym with a small garbage can and said to me “today, you must learn to fail”. I looked at him, then at the garbage can, then back at him nervously. He stated that failing in the gym is the best way to succeed. I cocked my head sideways waiting for a follow up statement. Nothing. We trained and when I wanted to rest he refused to allow me to. Instead of resting he increased the weight and made me go on for another set. He did this until I had maxed out the capacity my muscles had to lift that particular exercise. Then he made me run for a mile. I learned what the garbage can was for when I puked. My body was shaking and was already sore and I looked up at him wondering why he had done this to me. He smiled and said “that’s how gains are made.” Failure is one of the best things you can do to your body, and it is life’s great lesson. We always hear about the rags to riches stories. Rarely do we hear how many people they knew or that their parents were in the biz, or how many they slept with to get there, or how long it actually was because the whole point of becoming a successful person is to make it look effortless. Natural. Destiny. But it’s not. Life’s hard, winning and losing happens every day. And we all have to deal with both lessons. But bottom line: don’t be afraid to fail. Failure shows you your weakness and what you need to improve on to win. Don’t live life in fear. Strength comes from failure. Criticism is nothing to be taken personal. It can be a tool.
I learned a lot about life from the gym. Especially intuition. Intuition comes from listening to your body, and then you can learn to listen to your spirit. If you’re hungry, eat. Thirsty? Drink. Your body tells you when you need to poop, go poop. Your body shifts between catabolic and anabolic states. Your body is naturally healthy at an anabolic state, eat a little every few hours so your metabolism absorbs nutrients and kicks out the bad fats and junk you don’t need. If one doesn’t listen to the body one will skip a meal, hold in excrement, and go into a catabolic state, then your body says: “I am going into starvation mode, I’m not sure when ima get food next so I will store fat!” That is your body’s response to poor choices. Listen to your body; be intuitive because it speaks to you. That’s what the mind muscle connection is in the gym. It’s that voice that says “One more set” and the same one that tells you an apple is needed for energy. It’s also the same voice that grows strong enough to say I can lift 30 more pounds this week than last. It also says “get the hell out of here” in bad situations or “I need to be here for some reason” and holds you in place like glue so a life lesson can be taught to you or a good thing can come into your day. Intuition is survival, it is success. Listening to your body is the best way to learn how to be intuitive, it will happen naturally after awhile.
“I don’t believe in quitting.” That quote is a new religion. Organize your life around it. Ritualize it. It will become a habit like a memorized prayer. It also refers to step 3 in the “5 steps to success” above. Be fluid like water and changeable, adaptable to your surroundings and be willing to leave when you become a big fish in a small pond. It is good to win and to be the best, but it is never good to stay the best for too long. Otherwise you lose hunger and become like a housecat—domesticated and unable to hunt and survive, even thrive in growing and changing or unstable environments. Arnold Schwarzenegger knew this. He was 6 time Mr. Olympia, but he didn’t stick around forever. Instead he got out while he was on top (before someone bigger and better came around to beat him at his own game) and he threw himself into a successful acting career, and changed the way action movie stars look forever, bringing muscle into the game that inspired and opened the door for people like “The Rock”. But Arnold had other plans before he aged in film and got tossed out. Now he’s the governor of California. I have read his books, quotes and studied this man. Everything he knows came from his intuition that came from bodybuilding. He also knows to keep moving, never stay a big fish in a little pond. He was the biggest and best in Germany, but migrated to America where things were tougher where the big game meant higher stakes. There are many examples of this sort of success throughout history.
Another great one is Sylvester Stallone who wrote the Rocky series. Instead of telling you the story I will let Anthony Robbins tell it. I first listened to him when I was 11 and he got me out of the trailer park. He’s a lot more popular now then he was back then, but I recommend everyone read his earlier works. Click on the Youtube link to listen to him speak if you haven’t heard this already. Then read below.
X X X X
Hunger. That is one of the most important aspects of success. It also coincides with my Step 2 above. Maintain hunger while in step 2 so you can move beyond it. (It’s weird how I choose the two success stories from the two men I was going to be named after. I just realized that. Wow, they have had influence.)
I get pretty excited about bodybuilding because not only do I reap physical rewards, but I become mentally strong and emotionally capable and stable. It’s the animal in us. We need to be physical in order to become spiritual—or in spirit (which is derived from inspired).
Life is easier when we got our ducks in a row, but even when we line ‘em all up something can knock them down. We have to keep our sights on the ducks even though they are no longer in front of us. It’s hard, but it’s what the strong among us do. And that is something that separates the strong from the weak. The strong don’t cave even when everything appears to have been lost. The strong show up everyday even when no one is watching.
Anyway, that’s the inner dialogue/speech I have been giving to myself since I was a kid (not in those exact words), and I haven’t always been strong. I have lost sight of the bigger picture and got caught up emotionally in a negative way in the moment and have responded irrationally to events. I haven’t always done the right thing. I do have some regrets. But I don’t want to dwell. That’s why I chose the web name “SarahToday” because I want to stay present in this moment and keep moving forward.
Rocky says it best: “It aint how hard you can hit. It’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. That’s how wining is done! If you know what your worth then go out and get what your worth, but you have to be willing to take the hits. You can’t blame or point fingers at anybody ‘cause your life didn’t turn out the way you want. Cowards do that and that aint you. You’re better than that.”Share on Facebook