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The Power of Focus in Achieving Sports Excellence

Shawn Ray

Any champion in any sport will tell you the #1 reason related to their success is their ability to Focus.

In a world where social media, cell phones and video cameras run rampant, content is KING!

Athletes around the globe have succumbed to the belief that if they're training hard and it’s not captured on camera and shared with the world immediately then it didn’t actually happen. In today’s competitive world of pursuing the plentiful IFBB Pro Cards, more often than not we see top level athletes more focused on tracking their “Likes & Follows” than focusing on the hard work it takes to elevate their status in competition. We’ve seen it time and again, athletes in prep mode posting videos and photos of their personal journeys to the big stage and again after the show is over with sharing their video diary explanations of what went wrong or what went right. Back in the day, bodybuilders only relied exclusively on feedback from honest training partners, people we knew personally and other gym rats that could tell us the Truth!

Former Training Partner, Troy Zuccolotto

Sadly, today most of the validation comes mostly from anonymous Followers and Fans that have zero contact with these top-level athletes. Today athletes run to their social media for validation and comments to get their evaluations from strangers which is where the disconnect lies for me. When I was coming up the ranks my validation came from the veterans in my gym, more experienced bodybuilders who could look at me and break it down with what was good or bad about the direction I was taking my physique. Experienced bodybuilders who knew what they were looking at and Mentors that I respected and valued their opinions because they had Experience over me not because they were Fans of mine.

2x Mr. Universe, John Brown

In today’s economy, most gyms are chock full of great athletes who appear at the gym for their training sessions with film crews, cell phones, cheering sections the works! To me it’s ludicrous because my time spent in the gym was personal, I was on a mission to fulfill my childhood dream. What I was trying to do was not a Team Sport. I was trying to create something I saw in my dreams; I was an artist trying to paint my Picasso which meant only I could do the work. In contrast to today’s athletes, many are preoccupied with what others think they should do or look like rather than uniquely creating their own masterpiece and be content with the results they achieve.

The ability to Focus entails being able to block out the noise, eliminate distractions and concentrate on the end game. Those athletes relying on fan participation, likes and follows via anonymous validation are in for a rude awakening. Typically, these guys will show up on Instagram or YouTube crying, complaining, explaining the outcome of their placement all without taking into account the distractions they welcomed into their contest presentation. Putting on blinders, not caring about other’s opinions, staying quiet and doing the work is what we did back in the day. Champions like 6x Mr. Olympia said it best, “Eat, Sleep, Train and Repeat!” Dorian was a classic study of someone who gave two shits about opinions, he was focused and driven to win and defend his titles year in and year out! As Dorian rose to the top of his game he was bestowed with the famous moniker from the Late, Peter McGough as “The Shadow” because Dorian would disappear for months at a time so that he could isolate himself from the world to fulfill his calling which excluded fans and followers but included full-time commitment and focus which became his explanation for why he was so great when he looked back on his success against Hall of Fame Bodybuilders.

The ability to focus is a main ingredient missing from our sport as I see it from the audience as a fan. The distractions today are plenty but for a select few they have found their way through the madness of distraction to exceed when most have failed. My advice to those seeking to elevate would be for them to eliminate distraction, identify the goal then remove the dead weight from the journey. Those with the ability to focus will be able to beat gifted, out last the genetic freaks and find promise in their sacrifice of luxury when all is said and done. In this business the athlete has to realize there is a time and a season for promotion, celebration and inclusion but for those who believe in their own greatness, these will be the last ones standing because nothing else matters more to them than progress and victory. It’s not a wishing game but rather a game of discipline. The great Muhammad Ali once stated so eloquently, “Suffer now and live the rest of your life like Champion.”

2020 Ben Weider Lifetime Achievement Award


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