November 13, 2005 is a day that I will never forget. I was competing at the IPA nationals in York, Pennsylvania, and on my opening squat attempt, I lost my balance. As I stepped back, the barbell shifted to the side and crushed me to the ground. My right patella tendon was fully ruptured, my kneecap was broken in three places, and my right ankle was fractured. Looking back, I now know there were numerous reasons for this incident.
But looking back at the incident, I now realize that the ball was set in motion for the injury that morning in the lobby of the motel. That morning I ran into Louie Simmons, and he asked if I was lifting. I responded by saying, â€œYeah, I'm going to see what I can rip off today.â€ Louie cringed and said, â€œDonâ€™t say that.â€ But I just laughed it off and later said to my wife, â€œWhatâ€™s his problem. I always joke about getting hurt. Thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m known for.â€ ... Now, some of these injuries were just typical powerlifting related misfortunes, but in really analyzing the situation, Iâ€™ve come to the conclusion that Iâ€™ve actually been guilty of talking myself into many of these injuries. Where your mind takes you, the body follows. How many of us take the time to train our thought life? We spend hours at the gym, we spend thousands of dollars on food and supplements, and some of us may even invest in massage and chiropractic work, but how many of us take the time and effort to purposely train our thoughts and tongues into positive actions?
...Donâ€™t you think that by dwelling on the negative, I have actually sealed my fate into one of failure? Please be aware of what youâ€™re saying and what youâ€™re thinking. A simple joke can set into motion an injury that could set you back for weeks. Constantly dwelling on feeling crappy will assure yourself that you will continue to feel crappy. Iâ€™m not saying lie to your self. Iâ€™m suggesting keeping your mouth shut. If a negative thought jumps in, keep it in your head and turn it into a positive thought. Donâ€™t get drawn into the â€œwoe is meâ€ conversations of most powerlifters.
Iâ€™m not trying to say that positive thoughts or words will make you a world class lifter. I could tell myself that Iâ€™m as strong as Ed Coan from now until the day I die, and I will still never be like Ed. Iâ€™m saying that negative thoughts can severely damage any plans you have for a big total on the platform. I canâ€™t tell you how many times Iâ€™ve said, â€œI hope everything holds together todayâ€ only to rip a quad or groin or peck. How many times have you joked about bombing in a meet only to hear those dreaded words, â€œCome on folks, get behind him. He needs this lift to stay in the meet.â€ Do you think the jokes may have actually caused that dreaded reality?
...However, Iâ€™m convinced that the outrageous numbers and incredible lifts we are seeing today are not so much the results of extreme gear or slack judging but more the result of guys believing these numbers are possible... Maybe we all need to start believing that we will be healthy and strong instead of dwelling on what ails us. I have learned many things over my career in powerlifting, but the most important lesson Iâ€™ve learned took me nearly twenty-five years to understand and only now have I tried to practice it. Guard what you say and control what you think. Negative thoughts can kill all your hard work, and constantly harping on feeling crappy will assure that you will remain that way. Take some time throughout the day to dwell on how great you feel. If you hurt, donâ€™t give into it. Think positively or you could be like me and end up with a career full of injuries and regrets.