“You’ve Gotta Want It!” – Really?
I am currently reading “SHAM” by Steve Salerno, which is an expose of the Self Help and Actualization Movement in America. For the past 15-20 years I have read my fair share of these types of books. And as I read through SHAM I think to myself, “yeah, I thought that when I read that “(that being a particular book or author).
On the empowerment wing of the Self Improvement industry, as I prefer to call it, many authors preach the Tommy Lasorda line of “You Gotta Want It!” They say if you don’t achieve then you didn’t want it badly enough. The massive 2006 best seller “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne is a great (or not so great) example of this infantile and very convenient way of thinking.
In SHAM, Mr Salerno recounts seeing Tommy Lasorda at an after dinner speech he was giving. He was recounting Kurt Gibson hitting a game winning home run in game 1 of the 1988 World Series; where Gibson, with 2 injured legs no less, hit the ball out of the park and limped round the bases fist pumping for a walk off home run. Lasorda said that nothing was going to stop Gibson that day – he just wanted it that badly.
Gibson “Really Wanting It”
Salerno then asks; “does that mean that the Oakland A’s pitcher, Dennis Eckersley, who gave up the home run didn’t want to win?” Eckersley is well known in Baseball as a fierce competitor; perhaps he was willing to let it slide on this day; it was only game 1 of the World Series after all!
This got me thinking about some my moments in the competitive spotlight; albeit in the rather niche sport of Powerlifting as opposed to the glamour of World Series Baseball.
It wasn’t at Dodger Stadium but at Bradford University in 2009! And it wasn’t the World Series but the much anticipated (by me anyway) World Drug Free Powerlifting Federation (WDFPF) Single Lift Championship. I was the reigning British National Champion; and I really, really, really wanted to be World Champ!
In Powerlifting (in this federation anyway) you arrive at the venue at a ridiculously early time to weigh in, and then wait impatiently to see the “flight” listings. This shows who you’re competing against and what their opening weights will probably be. I was opening at 210kg, my friend and British Powerlifting great “Sir” Les Pilling was opening at the same weight, and last on the list of 8 was an unknown (to me) Swiss named Michel Ortega opening at 240kg! I doubted that I had 240kg in me that day so there was only one thing for it – I had to really, really, really hope that he bombed out, which is lifting terminology for not getting a good lift in.
I made my opener, and Les made his; we then ganged up in an attempt to pool our negative thoughts and make Ortega miss. At first it looked promising, Ortega had called the wrong rack height, this is the height at which one takes out the weight in order to Squat it. Obviously a loaded bar bends and this has to be taken into account when calling your rack height, which he had failed to do; sloppy preparation I thought.
Ortega took the bar out on his neck as opposed to his upper back; he then bounced the bar down his back to get it into the right position. Les and I looked at each other dumbfounded and then looked back in time to see Ortega drop into a deep Squat and blast back to standing as though it were an empty bar. The World title was lost; the new World Champs technique really sucked; but he obviously wanted it more than I did, he didn’t need to work on his technique just his “wanting it” power.
Ortega went on to set a single lift World Record of 255kg; Les was second with 240kg (an age group World Record), and I was third with 225kg, which was – err… 225kg
Me Congratulating Les on his 2nd place and World Record
So in the space of one blog I have destroyed the whole Self Improvement industry; OK, not really! But I have shown that sometimes at least, it doesn’t matter how much you want something; there might be someone less deserving than you, who hasn’t worked as hard as you, who’s not as consistent as you, who still kicks your butt. That’s life; and in this instance Mr Lasorda, you’re wrong, and I don’t care if you’re one of the greatest Baseball coaches of all time.
In closing I will say that, as with all things, follow this advice attributed to Bruce Lee, “take what is useful, and disregard what is not”. While there is undoubtedly much about the Self Improvement industry which borders on pseudoscience and outright profiteering there is still a good deal of common sense material for you to use, some of which I outline in my book, which can be found here –
The issue is being able to sort the wheat form the chaff, and for this one needs some basic critical thinking skills. I have read the following article many times and I still go back to it; I think it helps keep me sharp or at least not as open to ridiculous notions as I would otherwise be –
By the way, don’t be put off by the title; this article is really a critical thinking tool box.