Here's what you need to know...

  1. You can either be balanced or you can be great. They're mutually exclusive.
  2. Those who are highly motivated don't let anything stop them from becoming elite in their sport.
  3. Success requires 100% focus. The price you pay for it is time and energy you can't spend elsewhere – like work, family, personal development, friends, or on general athleticism.
  4. To be successful, you must rearrange your priorities and focus only on the one thing you want to obtain. Excuses and laziness don't exist among the successful.
Tate Walking

Greatness: Accepting the Unbalanced Life

When your goal is to achieve an elite level of success, you must make it 100% of your focus. This will make your life "unbalanced." Accept it if you want to be great.

This is the most important secret to success: Lock yourself onto your destination and eliminate any possibility of not getting there. Make your goal the core essence of your existence. Fix your focus 100% onto your desired outcome and the process of achieving it.

Let nothing stop you from training toward your goal, short of a crippling injury or major life trauma. And as you'll see below, not even that is enough to stop some highly motivated individuals.

A lot of people are afraid of making this kind of commitment. They don't fear failure so much as they're simply unwilling to sacrifice certain parts of their lives. This isn't a bad thing, and most people reading this probably don't have the kind of aspirations that demand heavy sacrifices.

Nothing wrong with that. If everyone was exceptional, no one would be.

The Price of Greatness

For those few who do aspire to the highest level of sport, you need to understand that greatness comes at a high price. The price is the time and energy that you can't devote to the other aspects of your life.

We all have the same 24 hours in the day and the choice of where to focus our attention. There's no way you can focus on your work, family, personal development, friends, and on your training.

Yes, you can achieve balance, and as I said, this isn't a bad goal. All I'm saying is that you can either be balanced or you can be great. You shouldn't expect both at the same time.

I can already hear the murmurs of dissent from the peanut gallery. "Dave, you have to keep a balance in your life to move ahead. How can you say balanced people can't be great?"

My response is, show me one great person who achieved balance at the time of his greatness.

To be in the top 10% of anything requires a selfish, fanatical drive that most people will never understand, let alone possess. Maybe there's someone somewhere who can be great at everything, but I haven't seen it.

What I have seen are people who would give their right nut to be the best at the one thing they're pursuing, at the expense of everything else. No way are they attaining anything close to balance in their lives.

Jason Pegg

The Jason Pegg Story

Here's a story that illustrates my point. It's a little harsh in places, so if you're a pansy, maybe you should leave the room for a while.

Jason Pegg is an aspiring powerlifter, and until a few years ago he was a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne. On Memorial Day, 2005, in a little shithole town in Afghanistan, Sgt. Jason Pegg and other members of his team were hit by a roadside bomb.

Fragments from the exploding 107 mm rockets ripped through Jason's elbow, tearing away a good part of his forearm.

He spent the next year and a half at Walter Reed hospital, his bodyweight dropping from 310 down to 238 in only 45 days. When he was given leave, he didn't have the energy to walk 500 yards from the hospital to Fisher House, where his family was staying, without stopping to rest at least twice.

Even after several surgeries, his left arm was so weak he couldn't keep his eight-month-old son from prying his fingers apart. It was unlikely he'd ever bench over 155, let alone compete again.

Most people would accept this situation as an excuse to give up, but not Jason. Instead, he focused every remaining fiber of his body and mind to building up what he could still do: the squat and deadlift.

At first, Jason couldn't squat 315 with the safety bar and didn't have the mobility to use a regular bar. But with one good arm and laser-like focus, he put all he had into attaining the biggest squat possible.

Sure, there were plenty of people who told him all the reasons why he couldn't or shouldn't pursue his goals, but Jason ignored them all.

Two years later Jason squatted 900 on two separate attempts. He can also pull over 700 pounds.


Your Lame-Ass Excuses

So don't let me hear your lame-ass excuses for why you can't even make it to the gym. How you have crappy genetics, don't have time, blah, blah, blah. Just get your lazy ass away from your remote and start busting your butt the way Jason has for the past two years.

Listen, Jason has every reason to sit at home and make excuses, but he decided to "ball up" and see just how far he could push himself. Think about him next time you make some shitbird excuse why you can't do something.

If you want to be successful, you will rearrange your priorities and put your focus where it belongs: on the one thing you want to obtain. Results will follow.

Dave Tate is the founder and CEO of Elitefts and the author of Under The Bar. Dave has been involved in powerlifting for over three decades as a coach, consultant and business owner. He has logged more than 10,000 hours coaching professional, elite, and novice athletes, as well as professional strength coaches. Follow Dave Tate on Facebook