by Joel Sward
When you are trying to build the lean, strong and muscular body you desire the road is long and often difficult. There are no quick fixes and no easy ways to achieve your goals. The adversity we face can lead us to look for other ways to achieve results, each of which attracts a different kind of person. See if you can recognize yourself in any of these three character types?
When Dabblers begin the training process, they initially have tremendous enthusiasm. They enjoy the rituals involved in starting the process. They love getting their new lifting belt, knee wraps and chalk. They are excited about talking in lifting lingo and the overall newness of the experience.
When they begin to show their first signs of progress (which usually does happen when you start anything new) they are ecstatic. They will share their enthusiasm for their new endeavor with family, friends and everyone around them. They can't wait for the next workout.
But then, the falloff from their initial excitement begins to set in. The plateau that begins to set in confuses and discourages them. Their joy about this new undertaking quickly starts to disappear. They start missing workouts and their mind begins to fill up with all kinds of reasons for the diminishing returns on their efforts.
They might start to think that maybe this isn't the right kind of activity for them. They might start to think it is too boring and tedious. Then they start telling everyone that this hard training thing just doesn't fulfill them like they thought it would.
Dropping this undertaking and starting another would give Dabblers a chance to replay the exciting process of beginning another activity all over again. So they convince themselves it is time to try something new. They decide to quit training and move on to the next activity.
This repetitive routine probably applies to every aspect of a Dabbler's life. They most likely have a long resume of starting up many endeavors. They revel in the newness of things and delight in the initial progress they make. But then, here comes the plateau. Here we go again. They decide this new undertaking just isn't right for them after all and it is time to start looking for a new one. So the process of starting and stopping continues. Though the Dabbler's undertakings may change, meaningful long-term growth does not occur and they always stay the same.
When Obsessives begin the training process they have the mind set that they will be the best, no matter what. They believe that winning and being the best is all that matters. They want results and they want them right now. They will not accept second best. When they look at the powerful images of the athletes in the bodybuilder magazines, they want to look just like that and they want it now. The bottom line is getting results and it doesn't matter how they get them, just that they get them fast.
Obsessive people want to make everything happen in the very first workout. They initially work out hard and long (probably too hard and too long). They look for advice from personal trainers and advanced weight lifters. They manically digest all the instructional information they can get their hands on in a frantic attempt to get the results they want faster. They exactly copy the latest and hottest fad workout expecting to achieve the results that it took advanced athletes years to build.
In the beginning their energy exudes out of them as they start to make amazing progress. The first growth spurt is just what they expected. Unfortunately, this doesn't last for long. When the Obsessive begins to see results slow and they find themselves on a plateau, they decide to attack the problem. They decide to double their effort. They push themselves harder and harder. They refuse to accept failure and they shut out advice from those around them, telling them that maybe they should back off. Instead, they go from one workout a day to two and instead of one hour training sessions, they do two-hour sessions. The entire process of their training begins to swirl into a frantic and manic spiral.
People who we recognize as successful (or appear that way on the surface) are often the Obsessive. The super rich and famous people we idolize quite often fit this profile. They strive intensely to keep the money coming in and to stay in the lime light, even if that means giving up development that is long term and sustainable. They will do whatever it takes to stay on top, but most of the time they don't stay on top for long.
Obsessive people are unlike Dabblers, in that when they hit a plateau they do not look elsewhere for another endeavor. Instead, they try to keep things going no matter what. They refuse to quit and they will keep banging their head against the wall, no matter how hard and thick that wall may be. When things are going bad, instead of backing off they just increase the intensity. Their undertakings become a wild up and down ride, with the end result usually being a dramatic and painful crash.
The Obsessive does not understand that plateaus do happen and are actually a necessary part of any growth process. Initially they somehow make brief spurts of growth but this is most likely followed by a dramatic decline and a long hard fall. When that fall happens the Obsessive hurts themselves and everyone around them. As a result, the Obsessive never really gains anything from their endeavors, in terms of self-discovery.
When Hackers begin the training process they are happy with just getting started. They kind of get the hang of things and they are happy with just getting by. The Hacker will often skip key parts of their training that are important to their development. They are not really concerned about getting results. They just like being a small part of the process and hanging out with others who are involved with their training. Think of the Hacker as being on a long plateau and being content with never getting off it.
I am sure you have seen Hackers at the gym. They think of training as more of a social endeavor. They are the people who are always talking a lot between sets so they can catch up on the latest gossip. They are distracted from the main reason they are in the gym -- to train. The Hacker is the type of lifter that is happy with doing a certain amount of sets, reps and weight and it doesn't really matter to them if they actually progress. The Hacker is the one who always leaves the gym early, takes long breaks and likes to talk instead of lift. Of course, with this type of approach progress never comes.
Hackers look at their undertakings not as a chance for self-discovery and growth, but instead as a comfortable, safe place from the problems of the real world. They are willing to settle for a stale, unchanging approach and they feel uncomfortable with the idea of change. They don't like to rock the boat. They just want to stay above water. The Hacker does not understand that change is part of life. By not embracing the idea of change they set themselves up for failure.
Avoid These Personality Pitfalls
Ask yourself which of these personalities are similar to you. Do you tend to be the Dabbler, the Obsessive or the Hacker? By identifying which category you fall into you can then make the necessary adjustments needed to get you on the path to ultimate success in your training and all of your life's pursuits.
Don't be the Dabbler. Understand that the initial excitement will wear off. Accept that training is a long, hard road and don't quit and jump to the next new thing when things get tough and the newness of the undertaking wears off. When the plateau hits, stay the course and don't abandon your training for some new and different undertaking. This is the only way you will experience long-term growth and success.
Don't be the Obsessive. Understand that you can't have everything you want right away. Doubling your efforts and training manically and frantically will only bring short-term success. Strive for long-term and sustainable growth to achieve your goals. When the plateau hits, accept it as a necessary part of the growth process. The plateau will end and you will start to see growth again, but this will only happen by slowly, steadily staying the course.
Don't be the Hacker. Understand that just getting by and doing just enough to stay in the game will not produce meaningful results. When the plateau hits don't accept it forever. The plateau is part of the process but don't accept the gray abyss of mediocrity. Only by not settling for being average will you rise off the plateau and move forward.
As you try to build the lean, hard, strong and muscular body you desire, do everything possible to avoid falling into any one of these personality groups. By avoiding the snares and pitfalls these character types produce you can shape and form yourself into what you want to be and it will have a huge impact on your overall success and your ultimate destiny.
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