I am sure some of you have noticed this phenomenon before, whether it is with turtles or goldfish. I noticed that one of my brother’s turtles has grown bigger each time he put it into a bigger tank. I started to think about how this parallels life and lifting.
I am getting set to open my new facility within the coming months. I remember back to when I started as many of the great strength coaches did, out of the back of my car. I would load up some resistance bands, med balls and a few dumbbells and head over to whichever client’s house was on the schedule for the day. I could have kept doing this, but I knew I would be limited in how big I could grow. I am sure many of you have experience something similar in your careers. You could have stayed where you were comfortable, but would you have really grown and reached new heights? We often need to be put into a new and bigger or more competitive environment to continue to grow as a person. If we stay with the same people, there is often no need to grow. Reaching new heights requires us to leave our comfort zone, something that most people despise.
In fact, they say that the one thing people fear the most (no, not public speaking) is change. Yet, the one thing you can be sure of in life is that there is going to be change, so you may as well be the catalyst to that change. If you are a manager of 10 people and your next move has you managing 100 people, you can be sure that you are going to develop a whole new skill set out of necessity. You will develop skills and traits you didn’t know you could, but again, being put into a new and bigger environment forced this out of you.
Getting back to why I thought of this, I went from the car, to renting gym space, to building the first version of the PIT. Then, the second until now and I have now outgrown that space, so its time to move on and get bigger. (The PIT is the studio I built in my basement).
We can draw a few analogies to lifting with the turtle getting bigger when it is placed in a bigger environment:
- The environment must be right for you to grow. For the turtle, it means more room to move around. For us, it means more sleep, better nutrition and smarter training. One of the reasons that a turtle’s growth is stunted in a smaller tank is due to stress. If our systems are dominated by our sympathetic nervous system and we are constantly stressed, we have no chance at muscle growth.
- If we are around bigger and stronger people, we will have to grow. That is, if you have any bit of competitiveness in you. If you put a tiny turtle into a bigger tank with some other bigger turtles, the turtle will need to grow if he is to survive. If I put you at Westside Barbell out in Ohio, you better believe you are going to get bigger and stronger!
- More freedom to find what program works the best for you. You need to be able to play around with some different protocols. Maybe you have been working on a linear program and have stopped getting results or got bored (which can be just as bad). You have the freedom to switch to a conjugate program (my favorite). However, if you didn’t have the freedom to move within and about different programs, you would eventually stagnate and progress would come to a halt. Perhaps one of the reasons the turtle will grow is by having more freedom to move around and explore.
I know this may seem out there, but that’s okay. This is what happens when you let your mind wander. Get into a bigger tank and grow!