The phrase Someone's Doing Arm's came to me one day while preparing for a bodybuilding competition—little did I know it was a turning point that would morph into a mindset and motivational driver for the rest of my life. It inspired and motivated me to be not only my best self but to be better than the rest. I awakened one morning with the intent of going to the gym as I normally do but was feeling tired and if I’m being honest—lazy. After attempting to convince myself to go, I finally thought "Give yourself a break; you've been training every day for 6 months, you haven't missed a single day—how much harm could it do?" To be truthful, it wouldn’t have done any harm. I was fine with my decision to rest until I began wondering what I’d be doing at that moment if I were in the gym? I remembered it was arm day. I thought about my competition who will be standing alongside me in just a few months. What if one of them is at the gym doing arms right now, while I lay here in bed staring at the ceiling?” It was as if an alarm went off in my head. Someone is doing arms, and it’s not ME! I was handing him a competitive advantage, giving him a day to get ahead of me, if even by only one workout. I was not going to let that happen. If I lost this competition, I would forever blame it on the workout I missed. I got myself to the gym, determined to give no one the advantage over me. I had a great workout and was proud to have gotten to the competition without missing a workout in 11 months.
In today’s day and age, missing a workout is okay. There are things that will get in the way, and they are sometimes unavoidable. The key is to stay on track and continue what you started to achieve the goals you set out for yourself. If you normally workout five days per week but can only make two sessions this week, do not get dejected. The self-discipline and good habits you have formed will keep you from getting further sidetracked. For me, the experience changed my life in 3 ways.
1) It established an impenetrable discipline and regimen.
2) I learned how to gain an edge through the lens of competitive advantage.
3) I realized someone’s doing arms is a theory applicable to everything we do.
Others have often said to me, "Tony, not everything is a competition." There is some truth to that, however, in my mind, everything was. It was never about being a ruthless competitor or an obsession with winning. It was always about being the best version of myself. Was it a fear of failure or was I trying to be perfect? Subconsciously, maybe both. Consciously however I realize we shouldn't be in fear of failing. It gives you courage, makes you stronger, and helps you grow. Just look at one of the greatest athletes of our generation. After being cut from his high school basketball team, being told he was too short and did not have the skills to play at that level, Michael Jordan went on to become what many consider to be the greatest basketball player to ever play the game. Imagine if he would have given up after facing failure. I also realize that no one is perfect. Perfectionists feel that any mistake they make is a failure. Striving for perfection is futile—it will negatively affect your health, relationships, and confidence. “As I reflect on my relationship with failure and perfection, I realize the most important thing was actually setting high standards for myself. While raising your standards may increase the difficulty of accomplishing your goals, they are attainable. Best of all, you will continually challenge yourself to be the best version of yourself. You will be forced to think outside the box and find new ways of doing things.
Competitive advantage is defined as “the ability to stay ahead of potential competition…typically done by evaluating their strengths and weaknesses and seeing where you can step up and improve” (Garfinkle & Baldwin). Having a competitive advantage does not mean you will automatically be outstanding but it will force you to be detail-oriented. It pushes you to ask yourself: “What am I missing? How can I make myself better? What are others doing that I’m not? Gaining a competitive advantage does not guarantee you the gold medal; it does guarantee you’ll work harder than anyone else. There will always be someone stronger, smarter, more attractive. But there is no excuse for anyone working harder than you because that is entirely in your own control. Someone out there is doing arms, why aren’t you?”
Whether competing against other athletes for first place, candidates for the promotion, or businesses for market share, it comes down to what you have that others don’t. The difference will be found in the standards you set for yourself and the work you put in. So, have no fear of failure and shoot for higher standards. The result will be the competitive advantage you are looking for. Someone is planning out their strategy right now. That someone is your competition.
Garfinkle, Joel, and Daryl Baldwin. “7 Strategies to Define Your Competitive Advantage.” Garfinkle Executive Coaching, garfinkleexecutivecoaching.com/articles/business-intelligence-and-company-strategy/do-you-know-the-seven-strategies-to-define-your-competitive-advantage.