On a random afternoon thirteen years ago, I ran into my (now) best friend Brian outside of our old middle school. For reasons outside of our control (school schedules, etc.), we hadn't talked in years and spent quite a bit of time catching up. I was twelve years old, and had just signed up for a gym membership. I took off my backpack, pulled out my binder, and showed Brian the front of my spiral bound notebook. Underneath its clear protective covering, was a picture of Ronnie Coleman flexing. For years, Bodybuilding had consumed my life, and I was excited to have finally started my own personal journey. I told Brian that I wanted to be a professional bodybuilder and that I would do whatever it took (excluding drugs) to make that happen. I wanted to be the next Ronnie Coleman. With an open mind, Brian said, "You're a smart and hard working dude, and you will get there". Other than my dad, Brian was the first person to genuinely support me in my bodybuilding journey.
Fast forward 13 years: Now, two years into his fitness journey, Brian is stronger, bigger, and more powerful than I am... With 11 years less experience. Despite that, he credits me for his success. You see, I will never be the biggest, the strongest, the leanest, the fastest, or the most powerful guy in the gym. I am not a genetic outlier and I have accumulated way too many injuries over the course of the past 13 years to succeed at the industry's highest level. The harsh reality is, I was not built to thrive on the field.
Do you smell defeat? Well, you are wrong. The truth is, I was not built to thrive on the field, I was forged to excel in the field! I LIVE TO LEAD. Because... I started my fitness journey before bodybuilding took off, I am passionate. I did not join the bodybuilding community for its popularity, I joined out of love for the sport. Because... I have devoted years of my life to fitness with little to show for my consistent efforts, I am humble. I am not a mass monster, and I don't care. I realize that every single human being is, in some way, shape, or form, just as capable of accomplishing greatness as I am. I approach others with an open heart and show respect, the same way that I would want to be respected. Because... I have grinded through years of adversities, I have integrity. Nagging shoulder injuries suck, and random, "Do you even lift" remarks hurt, but they don't effect my spirit. These experiences have shaped my ethics. They have instilled in me the importance of always doing the right thing, regardless of another's presence. I understand that not doing the right thing can negatively affect both myself and others around me, and that I cannot let happen. Because... I have 13 years of experience in the field (7 in the classroom) and continue to learn, I am knowledgeable. I am obsessed with exercise science and crave new and different information to progress as both an athlete and a coach. Because... my friends continually out lift me, I am open-minded. I understand that my philosophies are not the "end all be all", and take bits and pieces from others' practices to improve upon my own.
My physical deficiencies have strengthened my psyche, and my past experiences have shaped my core values (passion, humility, integrity, knowledge, and open-mindedness). I know that I am not the world's next Ronnie Coleman, and I am okay with that. I recognize that I was born to serve a much greater purpose. I was born to elevate others around me. I am a leader.
A lot of people ask me where "LIVE TO LEAD" originated. "Live to Lead" is the product of a 13 year emotional rollercoaster. It is a constant reminder to both myself and others that, leadership outweighs elite level aesthetics and sports performance. You see, anyone with superior genetics and a decent work ethic can look the part. But It takes a much stronger person inside to live the part. Leaders motivate, leaders educate, and leaders move others towards self improvement. They make a difference in today's industry, and that is far more valuable than 20 inch biceps and a 600lbs deadlift. Live to lead!