This weekend has been a crazy roller coaster. Ups and downs, but the ups have been phenomenal. I was just the observer; the helper; the videographer biting my tongue. My son was the tenacious warrior stepping into the arena. He competed in the final group at the USA University and Under 25 National Weightlifting Championships in Gainesville, Florida.
Benson, my son, has come a long way. He’s played many sports, from soccer as a 5-year-old to football and basketball in middle school to state champion in track and wrestling in high school. He initially decided on the University of Miami because he wanted to be a Division I athlete on their track team. He made the team but due to some elements beyond his control, it was short lived. So, there he was; cut adrift from any sport. Athletic challenges, of any kind, are his passion. He needs to have an arena. He thrives on competition. This is how he landed in weightlifting and the national stage.
This is what we can all learn from Benson:
Find a posse. I’m not sure how Benson found Crossfit Soul in Miami but it’s definitely his posse. There is a community of athletes and coaches who genuinely care about Benson’s success. Whatever success looks like. Whether it’s to compete, get in shape or just have fun. Every time I’ve attended competitions, many of his posse are there to root him on and support his cause. When I saw him compete in Miami several months ago, it felt like the entire room was his posse. Find a posse to support you in your success.
Be accountable. I don’t care where Benson is in the world…he is accountable to his workout regimen. We traveled to Medellín, Colombia over the holidays and Benson went to several gyms to work out with guys that did not know English and did not know him. He was home in North Carolina and had a few days where he had to work out twice a day (insane…right?). He did. His workout is first and foremost. Be accountable to your goal. Make it first and foremost.
Absolutely no excuses. Several weeks before this national competition in Gainesville, Benson had a meniscus tear. He couldn’t…shouldn’t do deep squats. He had to change his workout. He could have backed out. At the competition, he could have blamed the tear for missing his last Clean and Jerk, which would have qualified him for the USA Nationals in Chicago next month. He takes responsibility for where he is and steps into the arena for better or for worse. Take responsibility and move forward.
Be a badass. Benson does not take no for an answer. He asked me to pick up some tacos for him for after his weigh in and before the actual competition. The gate keeper at the arena told me “no outside food” (which is crazy, since hot dogs and nachos are not exactly food for nationally and internationally ranked athletes). Benson came out, gave me a hug, grabbed the bag and audaciously walked past the gate keeper. Some rules are meant to be broken. Be a badass.
Perseverance is key. Benson last competed at the same University National competition in September of 2016. Overall, he came out in 17th place. It was his first national competition and he admitted that he was pretty amped up when he was on the platform. Adrenaline is a powerful thing. He came out way ahead of his competitors in his group. But he was in the fourth group (each group has around 15 competitors). Typically, the first group are the ones who make the podium (the medals). Benson kept working. He kept showing up. Proud of 17th place and continued working. Persevere.
Grab the recognition. As I sat there at the competition, I could see based on the results that Benson was solidly in fourth place. He could not drop any further down. Apparently, there were two competitions going on, one for University students up to age 28 and the other for those under age 25. So Benson’s solid 4th was actually 3rd because the top guy was 28. We stood there as they announced the bronze medals and inadvertently, they gave the medal to the guy in fourth. Benson’s coach immediately disputed the medal. It was a tense few moments, but he eventually had those shiny medals around his neck (One for total score and the other for a 127 kg Snatch). He stood on the podium and was recognized. Be sure to grab your recognition.
I truly believe that we all can succeed if we just show up and work hard. I’m not saying you can go from 17th to 3rd in the nation. You can show up and work hard in the arena you choose. What is your arena?