By Danny Lazzeri
As early as childhood we are asked to contemplate the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Looking back it seems somewhat ridiculous considering, with a few exceptions, most of us probably changed our mind about 50,000 times. And while some kids chose a fairly simple answer like, “I want to be a mom” or “I want to do what my dad does,” the rest of us were a little less modest (Astronaut, Celebrity, Professional Athlete, Doctor).
In reality, the question isn’t ‘What do you want to be?’, but rather, ‘What do you want to do?’ and quite frankly, we had it all wrong. It’s not inherently bad to ask a child this question, but we are crippling them by having them focus on the achievement, as opposed to the purpose. We should be asking the future youth and ourselves a different question instead: WHO do you want to be?
Olympic Weightlifting is an ideal mechanism to demonstrate the philosophical gap between the type of things you want to achieve and the person you want to become. It is astonishing how well it applies.
Ask any experienced weightlifter what they want to do as an athlete, and they will rattle off a litany of goals, short and long, with little hesitation: “I want to hit this total or compete in this national meet.” However, if you ask them about the kind of athlete they want to be (the who), it might take them a minute to come up with an answer.
The ‘who’ is much more important than the ‘what’ and is something that contemporary weightlifters should ponder more often. Because ultimately, the ‘who’ is your true legacy. Who do you really want to be as a lifter? Do you want to be the kind of lifter who:
*Listens to their coach
*Doesn’t shut down when accosted by failure
*Owns their weaknesses
*Supports their fellow lifters
*Does the things outside of the gym required to excel
*Makes their coach or club proud
*Represents the sport well to the outside community
*Loves their sport with a passion that burns like a roaring tempest
These are the most important questions you can ask yourself because without a doubt, if you can look yourself in the mirror each day and respond emphatically, “YES I AM THAT PERSON,” then you will naturally progress in the direction of what you want to achieve. If you become the person you want to be, a true champion of the spirit, you are uniquely poised to reach your utmost potential.
So, stop obsessing over that 100 kilo snatch that is constantly eluding you and start focusing on becoming the type of athlete and person who would conquer a 100 kilo snatch. It is a shifting of gears and a changing on mentality. The longer I journey into my weightlifting career, the more I realize it is the intangible things that matter most. No matter how awesome it is to smash a personal record, it is inherently more fulfilling to wake up every morning and be completely satisfied with the person behind the numbers.
Now, lets apply this back to life (because every lesson in weightlifting is a life lesson right?). How awesome would it be if people stopped focusing on what they wanted to achieve so much (money, power, fame) and started focusing on who they wanted to be? What if kids spent time pondering not whether they want to be a doctor or astronaut, but whether they want to be the kind of person who:
* Exudes happiness
* Loves the people around them
* Is a leader in their community
* Creates more than they destroy
* Lives a life of passion and purpose
* Becomes the very best version of themselves
Not only will people achieve more with this mindset, but they will also live happier and more fulfilled lives. It is time for a fundamental shift in the way we collectively think on and off the platform. Stop thinking about the ‘what’ and focus on the ‘who’.
Personally, I want to be a warrior.