The Vision of Success: Building Desire (Excerpted from Chapter 7 - Building the Mind of a Weightlifting Champion)

The starting point for building the overwhelming desire to achieve outstanding results in weightlifting (or anything else) is to set an objective that truly inspires, a goal that evokes a true passion. In order for the goal to do this, it must meet three criteria. It must be exciting.. It must be specific. And, it must be believable.

Excitement about the prospect of an achievement arises out of the perception that the goal is worth achieving, that its achievement will make one a happier person. The higher a goal appears in a person’s hierarchy of values, the greater the desire to achieve it. If a goal doesn’t excite you it is not likely that you will work very hard to achieve it.

Specificity is important because it is difficult to get truly excited about a goal, or fully focused on its achievement, if one is not specific about what one wishes. Clarity in a goal makes it much more real and inspiring. In addition, in order to achieve any goal you will need to make decisions and trade-offs regarding your actions toward you goal. If you goal is not clear in your own mind, making such decisions and trade-offs will be difficult if not impossible.

Finally, you must believe that your goal is possible to achieve because you will not strive with all of your ability to reach a goal that you believe to be impossible to achieve.

It is not uncommon for a person to experience a certain level of difficulty in placing various objectives within a hierarchy of values. This requires identification of the most powerful needs of your innermost self. This can be done in a number of ways. One of the most effective and direct methods is to consciously rank your values and objectives. You can begin by listing the things you want to accomplish in the short and long term. To determine the short term goals, you might ask, "If I had only six months to accomplish everything that I wanted to do in life, what would I do?" To identify your long term goals, you might ask, "Where would I like to be five or ten years from now, what would I like to have accomplished?"

A less direct approach, but one that can be very effective, is to attempt to recall the accomplishments in your life which made you feel the greatest sense of achievement. Think about what aspect(s) of those accomplishments made you feel the greatest satisfaction. These may be things that other people would overlook if they were reviewing your personal history, or they may be aspects of that history on which you may place much greater weight than others. For example, you might identify winning a race when you were eleven years old as one of your most fulfilling experiences. Others might conclude that the pleasure you derived arose out of the victory itself. To you, the primary thrill may have arisen out of knowing that you had performed your best on a day that you did not feel particularly well. The point is that you can use a personal inventory to identify the kinds of events that gave you the greatest sense of satisfaction and the specific aspects of those events that meant the most to you. While this kind of exercise will not help you to identify specific objectives in weightlifting, it will help you to understand better the kinds of achievements that will give you the greatest sense of fulfillment (e.g., lifting 200 kg. vs. winning a specific competition).

Forward projections or visualizations can also be used for values identification. See yourself achieving a number of things that you consider to be important. Then imagine those experiences of success and all of the things that accompany them. Think about which one of those things give you the greatest sense of accomplishment. By combining a review of history and future projections you will be able to identify recurrent themes. Certain kinds of thoughts and experiences will give you the most satisfaction. These should form the basis of your goals. Only by focusing on your core values (assuming that they are rational), can you plan to achieve the things that will truly bring you joy.

Out of this kind of analysis will also come another kind of conclusion, the identification of a sense of mission. A mission is a very fundamental kind of objective that a person forms. It states in the simplest and most concise terms a person's fundamental goal(s). It answers the question, "What kind of person do you intend to be when you have achieved your major objectives?" This is a more basic kind of goal than a specific achievement.

For example, your ultimate goal may be to make an Olympic weightlifting team. You may have a number of sub-goals along the way, including winning two national championships, setting several American Records and winning the Olympic tryouts. However, your mission might really be to compete with the best in the world at the biggest event in the world. Membership on the Olympic Team might be your means to accomplish this mission, but your real mission is to be on the platform with the best, to warm up with them, to give them some competition and to gain their respect as a member of their elite club. Consequently, if you made the team because some other athletes were injured and your own level of ability was not sufficient to be really competitive with the rest of the world, merely making the team might not fulfill your true mission, while a chance to compete with distinction at a particularly difficult World Championship might bring you closer to the accomplishment of your more fundamental goal. Personal missions are as different as people. Some people want to show that they can overcome some obstacle, to prove the "naysayers" wrong. Others merely like to pursue certain ends irrespective of what others think. The exact nature of what such a person might choose as ultimate achievement is secondary to the satisfaction he or she will derive from striving to achieve, and ultimately achieving, a challenging goal.

Once a person has identified his or her core values and basic mission, he or she is ready to establish goals that are really likely to generate excitement over the long term and to help that person become the best that he or she can be.

Although the perceived desirability of a particular achievement is the spark that can ignite a burning desire to succeed, it is not by itself enough to motivate a person to action. Many people spend much of their lives dreaming about a desired state of being. They can imagine the desired state and gain considerable satisfaction from that process of imagination. What separates these dreamers from those who achieve success (or at least attempt to do so) is the belief that appropriate action can lead to that desired state (or at least a state that is better than the current one). Those who act certainly do not believe that success is assured, but they do believe that they can make success happen. Such people have converted an imagined state into an actual object of desire.

Reaching your full potential in weightlifting requires an enormous expenditure of mental and physical effort. It requires an alignment of all aspects of life toward the achievement of your goal. Finally, your diet must be right, and you must receive adequate rest and relaxation. You must train assiduously. Total concentration must be applied to your lifting efforts. There may be some sports in which an athlete can let his or her mind drift during the training process, because the activity being performed is repetitive and relatively automatic in nature. Weightlifting requires complete focus and an awareness of what you are doing at all times. And, while weightlifting is a relatively safe sport, performing the activity at a high level requires courage. Hurling your body with blinding speed under a falling weight of several hundred pounds, to catch it at just the right moment, is not an activity for the fainthearted or the distracted. The dedication and courage to accomplish all of this exist only when you have achieved a burning, overwhelming desire to succeed.

To summarize, the process of building the champion's mind begins by visualizing the person you want to be. See the image of yourself as a future champion, a person who has all of the characteristics that you desire and will possess when you become the champion you want to be. Then identify the characteristics that you need to improve upon or dispense with if that ideal person is to be created. See the desirable characteristics emerging as dominant. Give the unwanted characteristics images and see yourself destroying them or throwing them away.

Work to increase your desire for the target characteristics and your distaste for any undesirable ones that you may currently possess. You will eventually find that you are almost automatically becoming the person you want to be. What you see when you close your eyes is what you can and must become.

The importance of developing a "no limits" mind set cannot be overemphasized. What you can conceive you can ultimately achieve (as long as it is not at odds with the laws of nature). The champion is energized by the image of success and is therefore capable of awesome deeds. Energize yourself with your vision of success and you will become capable of such deeds a well.

Copyright 1998 A is A Communications. All rights reserved.
Revised: February 15, 1998