Playing soccer was harder than Cody thought it was going to be. He wasn't as good at real-life soccer as he was at video-game soccer. Too much work. Too much sweating.

So Cody cries and throws a tantrum to avoid going to practice. He does the least amount possible during games. He displays about as much hustle as a three-toed sloth on a Vicodin bender. When his team loses, Cody's parents console him and blame the refs. They buy him ice cream after the game and proudly display his participation trophies in his room.

Cody's just a kid. But he's also a kid who may never learn to be a man. Unless something changes, he'll never be a leader, an innovator, or a gamer changer in any field. He was raised by a pacifying society to be a self-entitled taker, a coddled complainer and professional blamer. He'll grow up thinking he's somehow special just for showing up. He'll think that the rest of the world owes him something. And when he doesn't get it, he'll whine, bitch about "fairness" and generally make life miserable for other people.

Or maybe not.

Bleeding Hands

Maybe one day, pudgeball Cody will walk into the local gym and decide to pick up a barbell. He'll discover, much to his dismay, that the less effort he applies the fewer results he'll get. He'll be astounded that his talent at making excuses does not transfer into adding weight to the bar. He'll be shocked at the symbiotic relationship between sweat and success. The barbell will teach him things, and he'll hate the barbell for the education it's forcing onto his delicate sensibilities.

Maybe Cody will learn that his actions, or lack thereof, directly influence his strength, body fat percentage, performance, and muscle mass. He'll learn that no one else can lift the weight for him. There is no team to make up for his laziness. No one is going to shove the right foods into his mouth. He'll have decisions to make, and his progress will depend on making the smart choices.

A light bulb may go off and he'll come to understand that if he fails it's all his fault. He'll discover the inverse relationship between excuses and progress, and this will be painful and shocking for him, like a slap across the face. This could lead him to the discovery of his balls. Once they've dropped, he'll wonder how he's been getting along without them all these years.

As his body changes, he'll feel rewarded for his hard work. He'll come to understand that discipline and self-control and sustained effort will give him the things he wants. He'll think, "Hey, if I can get my body to do what I want, if I can build muscle and lose fat and get stronger, what else can I do?"

And right then he'll know that struggle pays off. That effort is rewarded and that the application of brain cells to problems reaps benefits. And it'll feel good, really good, to know that he did it himself, that it was fucking hard, and he liked that it was fucking hard because it made the payoff that much sweeter. He'll get addicted to that feeling of accomplishment and self-reliance.

Cody will apply these lessons to the rest of his life: his education, his career, his relationships. He'll see obstacles as opportunities. He'll get greedy for that successful feeling. And he'll soon want to spread the gospel of good, honest, hard work and delayed gratification. He'll become a role model and a mentor.

Or he could grow up to be just another pantywaist embracing his well-deserved victimhood. Boo-hoo. But let's hope not.

One thing is true: the barbell has lessons for everyone. All they have to do is pick it up and bleed.

Chris Shugart is T Nation's Chief Content Officer and the creator of the Velocity Diet. As part of his investigative journalism for T Nation, Chris was featured on HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble." Follow on Instagram