It has a number of different names. “Failure, losing, setbacks, screw-ups, F-ups,” are some examples of how you label not getting what you want or expect; of how you label things when they don’t go your way, or any way whatsoever. When things go straight to hell despite your better intentions, an autopsy needs to be conducted on your dead dreams. Whatever label you choose, the concept of failure has a number of elements as contributory causes but there’s one main element at the top of the list, one primary element that is the cause of death of all big dreams – weakness.
Weak mind or weak body or weak soul or all of the above. Not being strong enough is the #1 cause of death of goals, objectives, plans – or any of the fashionable terms used and overused by post-Internet self-help gurus. The truth is that nothing works out when you’re weak, literally and figuratively.
I had losing down pat in the 60’s, 70’s and the first half of the 80’s. I was an expert at losing in team sports. Little-league, high school… all of it blended together into one continuous losing season. We never won a championship ring, never made the playoffs, never even had a two-game winning streak. Just scoring was a moral victory. We got the sympathy vote, “Hey, at least you didn’t get shutout this time.” We blamed everyone and everything – coaches, teachers, principals, referees, bad uniforms, each other, anyone or anything to mask the pain of the truth. The truth was that our teams were weak. Acute weakness was the main element of our loser culture.
No one is born to be a loser. We are born weak but we all have the choice of staying weak or not. We all have the freedom to exercise free will – get stronger or get weaker. We have the right to choose strength or weakness. A culture of losing isn’t found in our DNA or in the stars or in the alignment of the planets.
The losing continued during my 8 seasons as an assistant high school coach at the start of my coaching career from 1975 to1983. Being an assistant coach was a pain in the ass because I knew I was just a younger version of all the old stuff. My birth certificate proved my age but I coached the same old way as those who had coached me. Contrary to popular myth, the definition of “insanity” is not “doing the same thing and expecting better results.” The real definition of “insanity” is “doing the same loser things and expecting to win.” Madness is found in the habitual rituals of futility. “We’ve always done it this way,” is the easy way out when you’re losing because it’s effortless, literally and figuratively.
By the end of the 1983 season, everyone had had enough of losing. The head coach quit; the job was open so I applied – to work for free. I won the title by default because no one wanted to inherit a chronic loser program and no one wanted to work for free. I kept the losing streak alive in 1984; the madness continued with yet another winless season. Then it hit me – the same way my team was getting hit – weakness. “Weakness” was the cause and effect of losing. It’s impossible to win when you’re weak. It’s impossible to lose when you’re strong. If you think you’re strong and lose, you weren’t as strong as you thought you were.
Things changed in 1985, starting in the weight room and culminating with a perfect season and a championship ring. I coached my team to work out the same way I had worked out since 1969. Those who couldn’t cut it, cut themselves. Strength was built. Losing stopped.
The secret to winning isn’t a secret – build stronger muscles than your competition in mind, body, and soul and you are guaranteed to win. Strength is our greatest natural resource, a God-given talent. But it has to be developed. No one is born strong. Genetics are important but natural talent alone will not win rings. We have to build strength through #TheProcess that builds the Chain of Strength in mind, body, and soul. The beauty of working out is that building strength is not reserved for the super-genetically gifted. Anyone can build strength with the right coaching.
I had made a life-altering decision when I was 12 years-old, that continues to positively influence every aspect of my life physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. No decision has made a bigger impact. A series of events led to my childhood obesity, leaving me a socially inept, dysfunctional kid who shut down psychologically whenever I was met with a challenge of any kind. Then I made a decision to start working out. It changed my life forever. I have never stopped working out because I had vowed never to return to obesity. My 46-year workout streak continues. Working out not only transformed me, it led me to my calling, in finding meaning and purpose in every profession I have worked in.
Losing fat and gaining the self-confidence that had been non-existent, led me to a 40-season volunteer football coaching career. I have been blessed to have witnessed the actualization of potential in the least – those who started in the same minus-zero hole that I had. Thousands of underdogs who have achieved what they believed was not achievable. Weak, troubled adolescents who proved over and over that working out can solve adolescent problems for good – dual meaning – for the better and forever. Building strength in adolescents is transformative – lifting and running puts up ladders for the weak. Physical strength is connected to psychological strength. The more that a student-athlete invests physically, the less likely s/he will invest in self-destructiveness. Once you’ve build strength, you will protect the investment with all your heart and soul.
Fitness became my business. Dual meaning. In 1969, it became my personal serious business and in 1985, I made it my professional serious business. I opened a non-profit gym for the benefit of my high school football team, providing volunteer strength training. I used football as a platform for fitness. Later, I used college law enforcement teaching as another platform for fitness. Building strength together is the main element of team-building. Nothing bonds a team like building and applying strength together. Strength-building is the ultimate bonding agent. But strength doesn’t just happen. Nothing just happens. Nothing happens randomly, automatically, or overnight. #TheProcess is needed to separate out the uncommitted, leaving the dedicated to build a cohesive unit in mind, body, and soul, assembled using energy that is applied in the same direction, for the same purpose. A collective expression of souls that unites the spirit of every individual, without forfeiting individuality or personal ethos.
Fitness became my message – the lifting of mind, body, and soul. Fitness is soul-lifting. There is no greater reward than lifting souls. The reward of coaching teaching, instructing and encouraging people to bring out their full potential in body, mind and soul beats any material rewards. The transformative power of fitness has been central to every element of my life since I made the decision to change my dysfunctional, obese 12-year-old self.
The objective of my Podcast, Blunt Talk, is to feature grassroots case studies in commitment and dedication to #TheProcess that can change lives forever. It features guests who are living proof of the transformative power of soul-lifting and working out. The latest Blunt Talk #Podcast episode is called, “The Business of Fitness” (dual meaning) with guest Stephen Longwell, general manager of Fitness Business Magazine, www.BluntTalk.Libsyn.com. Fitness is everybody’s business and fitness is a commercial business. If you don’t take care of your business, your business won’t take care of you. Stephen shares insights from his fitness business experience to help you take care of the business of fitness.
Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., Level 3 NCCP (Nat’l Coaching Certification Program)
Head coach – Niagara X-Men Football
Owner – X Fitness Inc.
Blogs – www.GinoArcaro.com and www.SWATFootball.ca