October 18, 2018 3 min read
My fiancé loves to pick my brain about the sport of powerlifting and my philosophy surrounding different aspects of it. A conversation that comes up quite often is “genetics vs hard work vs mindset and their relationship in allowing an athlete to achieve elite levels of strength and success.”
Individually, those attributes will only get an athlete so far. I believe the highest form of excellence can only be achieved with an appropriate balance of all three. I consider genetics to be the base of support. The bigger the base, the higher the potential for success can be. There is no denying that, however potential is the key word there. It’s like getting the keys to a brand new car without gas to get somewhere. It’s what you put into yourself that allows you to maximize your potential.
I try to preach to my athletes to control the things that they can. Unfortunately, we cannot pick our genetic make-up, however we can control our efforts, energy, and mindset. These attributes are the gas that will make your engine go fast and far.
In June 2018, I competed in my first international meet in Calgary, Canada. The sole goal of the meet was to win. I didn’t go there with the intention of breaking records or getting individual lift awards. I wanted to be named the number 1 63kg lifter in the world and anything that came along with that was a bonus. That did not happen. I did not get beaten, however I lost. I made the decision that didn’t give me the opportunity to win.
After my first attempt on squat, I came off the platform and told my fiancé, this is our day! I was feeling good and fired up! The first attempt moved way better than anticipated. The second attempt squat, took a little more work than I would have liked but my head was still in the game and I was ready to fight for my third. I had no doubts that I was going to hit that lift. On my third attempt at 368-lbs, I came up confident only to look at the score board and see 2 red lights. I got called for depth. It was the first time in over a year that I didn’t see all white lights on a squat. I forgot what that type of failure felt like.
Honestly, this was the turning point in the meet. When we visualize success, we fail to visualize failure. There was no mental game plan in place. In this moment I went from being the aggressor to being passive. I went from being someone who makes lifts to someone who could miss. DOUBT. It was that moment that fueled the decision to take the conservative jump instead of going for the win on my final deadlift to become the IPF 63kg Champion.
In the moment, I was happy with the decision to take the world record pull. It’s a WORLD RECORD, who can’t be proud of that? However, when I reflect back on the meet, the fact that I didn’t do what I set out to do ate away at me. I didn’t even give myself the opportunity to succeed and fail. I realized that every great pull I have accomplished in a meet, it was because someone believed enough in me to put it on the bar. When I was presented with the decision, I doubted my ability.
“Don’t be Weak” doesn’t refer to strength and lifting weights. It refers to mindset and the ability to not allow your self-perception to cloud your capabilities. It’s what stands in the way of maximizing your genetic potential and achieving things that surpass what you think are possible of yourself.
It’s now 4 months later, and I write to you as a National Champion and a world record deadlift holder. I received the best lifter award for 2018 USAPL Raw Nationals and recorded one of the highest Wilks in female raw history.
A lot had to change within those 4 months to get me to this point and it wasn’t my genetics. It was my effort, focus, and mindset.
To learn more about Samantha Calhoun, click here! >>