IT’S IN OUR NATURE AS HUMANS TO FIND COMMUNITY BUT IT’S ALSO CRITICAL FOR SUCCESS.
As a weightlifter or any athlete for that matter, it’s important not only to be coached and on a great program, but it’s critical and in our nature to find a tribe and thrive in it.
Just think of all the best athletes for a second. Most of them seek out a community with other equal or even better athletes to train with. People travel from all over the country to train at Westside Barbell. Our Olympic Weightlifting hopefuls uproot themselves from their homes, jobs, family to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. CrossFit athletes from all over travel to Cookeville, Tennessee just to train with Rich and experience the community of Team Mayhem.
There are a number of reasons why community is so important
You can train with people who will push you.
When training alone, it’s so easy to just quit whenever things get hard or just aren’t going your way. Having people around you to motivate you to keep going or engage in a some competition will definitely help propel you further than you would alone.
You can have access to many people to learn from and new ideas.
You don’t know everything and there’s always something new to learn. However, when we’re by ourselves, we can often fall into a comfort zone where our ideas aren’t challenged because we aren’t seeing different viewpoints or getting new ideas. Settling in with a group of people who have more experience than is a wealth of wisdom and new ideas that can absolutely help you perform. It’s part of the reason many rising athletes from all over travel to train with elite athletes and coaches if given the chance.
Support for when things get rough
Shit happens and there will be times in life that just make you want to give up on your goals. But when life gets rough, it’s easier to get through the bad times and refocus on your goals when you have good people to seek out who genuinely care about you and believe in you.
This is the big one everyone wants. The truth is no one can hold you accountable but yourself. What you’re really asking for is consequences for not doing what you said you’re going to do. It always sucks to know you’ve let someone down because they were banking on you to come through. So having others around that depend or rely on you will help keep you focused, on track and crushing.
Finding your tribe can be difficult but that’s no excuse
Finding a good community can be difficult, especially if you become focused on a particular goal such as weightlifting. There may not be one that supports you or your goals nearby.
Maybe your gym has a weightlifting class only once or twice a week. Maybe like some, you train in your garage alone, or you are pushed to a corner of your gym by yourself. It can be difficult. I remember when I started , I broke off from the classes, alone on the one platform in my gym. No one really understood my struggle. There wasn’t a weightlifting facility close to me, my gym was really all I had.
I see the same thing from many of the athletes. They are wanting to train, but they don’t have a community. But today we have the internet, so not having a community locally isn’t an excuse.
Find a person or a group of people who will push you and get you out of your comfort zone.
Maybe it just starts as one person who wants to lift with you. Push them too, they will push back. As you grow, your tribe will grow with you. People who want you to grow are going to push you to do so. These same people are the ones you’ll want to stick with. If someone you are training with is okay with half-assing multiple days a month, speaking negatively too often, or just never pushing you-this is someone you need to run from.
Remember that your tribe should only build you up, and it’s okay if someone just isn’t compatible.
If you let that person in, more people like that show up-it’s like a law of the universe. When finding your tribe, ask yourself- what is it that YOU need to bring to the table? Consider life like net fishing. EVERYTHING you do is a net you cast; and the kind of net determines what you catch. Radios on the same frequency communicate with each other. Remember that always. If you are low energy, that is exactly what you will attract and who you will be compatible with. Always be the best you can be in any given moment in training.
Our Flight Weightlifting program is a prime example of an online weightlifting community. Our athletes formed such a strong bond that at the end of a full year of training together and supporting each other they decided to come together and slam bars but it was over a weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina I got to witness the true power of the online community.
The Flight Weightlifting Meet Up
Over the past several months, a group of athletes in Flight have worked hard to plan a mock meet that would serve as not only the first meet experience for many, but as a place to celebrate together. To meet in person, smash weights, and most importantly have fun together. I was in lucky to see of how it came together and how it all went down.
On this weekend, a large group of Flight Weightlifters descended onto Charlotte from all over the globe, each ready to slam bars. We met at the gym, trained, then went out to share drinks and memories together. I couldn’t believe how fun it was.
The most powerful thing is that 99 percent of these people have never met in person, and you would never have known it. It was truly incredible to see how solid and concrete the relationships were. Unshakeable friendships formed over the internet were all around, now in person and I can’t even begin to say how cool it was. Since the beginning of the program, these lifters have been supporting and carrying each other mainly through Facebook, group texts and email. It was the community they needed, a group of learners, like-minded and on a mission.
On the morning of Saturday, May 21 the fun began. Looking out over the gym as lifters warmed up, I walked around coaching a little, but mostly chatting with all of these awesome people and just taking it all in. Stepping back, seeing all of the smiles, loaded barbells, and Flight T-shirts was overwhelming in the best way possible. I was floored. PR’s were being crushed left and right on the platform. I witnessed a lifter who’s only experience with the lifts was entering the Flight program. His best Clean and Jerk before the meet was 175#, and he absolutely SMOKED 220# that day, power cleaning it as well. I left the announcer’s table to hug that guy!
All day the Flight community worked together to push each other, help coach and work with each other to pick their next lifts. The more experienced lifters worked with the newer athletes, showing them the ins and outs of how a meet is ran. It all came together here.
How to be an awesome part of your community
It’s been said you get what you give. And it couldn’t be any more true.
Finding a community is only half of it. To get the full benefit of a great community, you have to be willing to contribute to it, help it grow and give back those involved in it.
I always say this, but consider any program you enter like a college course. Learning is up to the individual but the more you dig, communicate with others and are present, the more successful you will be.
Because it truly takes everyone present to build something strong and worth a damn. In Episode 213 with Jason Leydon, he told us that he saw the community in his gym declining. When he asked his wife why that was happening, his wife told him the truth: “It’s because you’re not here!” You don’t have to lead your tribe if you don’t want to but find ways to add value to your community everyday and just BE THERE.
Everyone has something to give. Give it.
As mentioned earlier, always offer any value you have. Day in and day out, these Flight athletes write blogs to share with each other, they post in the group to start conversations that all can learn from, and everyone is better off for it.
You don’t have to be some great leader, just bring what you have to the table. If you have something to say, SAY IT. If you have something you need, ASK. The people around you need you and you need them. Being a pillar in your tribe only takes you being an active member of it, and every single person in it knows something you don’t. Each person around you has their very own unique set of talents, and offers a unique opportunity to learn.
It was so cool to see these athletes learn from each other, and take it upon themselves to host and run a weightlifting meet. It was a learning experience for all, and it came from a group of athletes hungry for knowledge. To see it all come together was stunning.
Be the person you’d want to be around and train with.
Jason Leydon couldn’t have said it better, “If no one wants to sit down and have a beer with you, they’re not gonna come to your gym”. You can be the best athlete or coach in the world but if no one likes you, then no one is going to want to be around you. Build others help and surround yourself with people that will do the same. Avoid being negative and overly critical. We often forget this applies to ourselves too.
Having an attitude of gratitude is a great way to start. Be grateful just to be healthy, and for the opportunity to train. This is something we’ve all maybe struggled with too. You can kick the chalk bucket for missing an 85% squat, but it’s only going to put a gross damper on the environment around you. Always find a way to be okay with what and how you are doing, and be grateful that you get to be there, in that moment with your tribe. Remember, if no one wants to legitimately hang out with you, the people you want in your tribe aren’t going to come around. This is why the Flight team has been so successful. In moments of pain, they carry each other. When times are good, they celebrate together.
Through coaching Flight, I’ve witness first-hand power of what community can be and I’ve shared some things you can do find your tribe and help build a strong one. Since the beginning of the Flight program, these athletes have helped each other through ups and downs in not only lifting but life, and forged incredible friendships almost entirely through the online experience.
The Flight team is incredible, and this was an event and community that I’ll never forget. I am impressed by every athlete that commits to the program, no matter where they start out or where they finish. In Flight, no matter the experience level, everyone starts in the same place. We take it back to the fundamentals, and everyone grows and learns together, and all lifters struggle. We share that struggle, learn together, and help each other along. It takes a certain mentality to start from scratch, and those willing to join us put the work in have a way of getting along beautifully. They form our tribe.