On Being Awesome

Jim Wendler. His name most likely means nothing to many of your reading this, and that’s fine. Unless you are a power lifter, or like me, appreciate his approach to strength training, then you have no need to know about Jim. Except, you do.

There are plenty of expert coaches and trainers on the Internet today. They have multiple degrees and certifications and a wealth of knowledge offered for the taking. I don’t respect Jim Wendler because of his expertise. In fact, I may respect him more because he’s not an expert in the traditional sense. He lived in the trenches and came out with one hard-edged maxim: Be Awesome.

You can’t quantify such with research and analysis. There are no peer-reviewed articles on the matter. So why should you care, and why do I? Because Jim’s not merely talking about the iron game, he’s talking about life. He’s talking to all of us regarding whatever endeavor we choose. And this is especially applicable to writers.

Like Jim, no one told me I had to do this. I chose. And because it was my choice, the pressure to succeed stems entirely from within. That pressure is more severe than any external force can ever be. Because I don’t just want success so that I can say I wrote such-and-such and isn’t that cool? No, I want to be capital A– Awesome at it.

Why not?

Here’s a reason: being awesome isn’t synonymous with having life easy. Being successful at anything takes some amount of sacrifice and dedication and pain. I think a lot of people would much rather avoid the discomfort altogether.

I can’t. It may be that I’m hardwired for a masochistic life. It may just be that I’m a fool. But I do know that I just finished my first pass on my next manuscript. The story is good and I like what I did thematically. But is it awesome? No, not yet. That’s a bit painful. But I know what to do. I know how to dedicate myself and where I can sacrifice to meet my demands.

As difficult as it is to accept the reality of the struggle is, it’s also exactly how it should be. Awesome doesn’t emerge fresh out of the gate. It takes practice. It stumbles and regroups. It learns. It grows and then it parses itself down into its perfection. Not perfection, but its own form of such.

The last piece, the most difficult to accept, is that being awesome is not the same as being better than, being a cut above. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being awesome means always being hungry and remaining humble and knowing your hold on its elusiveness is fleeting.

So whatever it is you are doing: writing, training, studying, working, parenting… dig in and do it well. Be awesome. Raise the bar for all of us, so we have a greater target to aim for.

Or in Jim’s words: “Start doing and believing in the stuff that works, and do it today and forever.”

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