Being self-taught has a bright side and a dark side. Let’s start with the dark side. The foundation of whatever you want to become an expert in can’t be self-taught. You won’t get to the point of expertise that you’re looking for because the teacher is incompetent. A novice is clueless about the topic. Zero knowledge, zero experience. Trying to teach yourself from scratch won’t work out because the teacher is lost. In order to become an expert, the basics have to be taught by an expert, followed by practical experience, followed by more learning from the experts, followed by more practical experience. If you’re going to teach yourself, you have to be an expert at both content and delivery or you have a fool for a student.
There’s a trap associated with being self-taught – myths. Passed down fiction about what works and what doesn’t work out. Beware of bullshit that will cloud judgment. I work in professions mired in bullshit – football and fitness are just two of them. Listen to any football broadcast or interview. Nothing original. Re-cycled thoughts. It’s easy to conform to the myths passed down by those who confuse strategy with rules. Just because something’s been done the same way, over and over again, doesn’t mean it’s the truth.
The business of building strength often ignores the proven basics for one reason – the truth hurts. Literally. The basics work out but it’s painful. The natural and unnatural reaction is to make excuses in order to rationalize avoiding the truth of what works out. Rationalization is a basic principle of promoting cognitive dissonance, the inner conflict, tension, and anxiety caused by the frustration of what’s too tough to do. What’s too tough to do has a tendency to piss us off, tempting us to look for excuses to avoid it. Beware of unresolved cognitive dissonance. It’ll turn into an inner hell that’ll burn you up unless you come to grips with things that are tough to do.
The tougher something is to do, the better it is for you. The greater the investment needed, the greater the return. High risk, high reward. If you can’t do it alone, join a team that will drive you where you want to go. What’s tough to do will try to break you. It’ll get inside your head to fight you from the top down. Call for backup. Join a team that will teach you to fight through the mind battles that, left unchecked, will knock you out of the game. The toughest thing to do is the best thing to do. The toughest thing to do is not give up. The toughest thing to do is to fight what needs to be fought when you think you’ve got no fight left inside you.
Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., NCCP Level 3
owner – X Fitness Inc.
head coach – Niagara X-men football team