Succeeding at the Gym and the Notorious EGO

by Michael Saad
Succeeding at the Gym and the Notorious EGO

Let me tell you a story about squats.

When I started weight training in middle school, I was mortally afraid of doing squats. It looked hard, everyone else seemed to be a pro and when my knees wobbled under a measly 120 pounds, my dreams of being strong took a back seat.

In the front seat: The Unconquerable Squat.

My form got better, I improved slowly, and one day in high school I was in the gym when someone commented, “that’s the best squat form I’ve ever seen”. I puffed my chest up a little and thought, ‘damn, I guess I’m a squat expert now’.

I did more of them, had a blast, and when I saw someone squatting shallow or tipping onto their toes, I silently thought, “what a noob”.

Then another thing happened.

One day, a friend noticed my form was kind of scruffy and commented on it. Just like that, the squat was again unconquerable. I felt embarrassed and the next time I was due for a leg day, I made a lame excuse and skipped the squat.

Ladies and gentlemen: the seductive power of the ego.

Too much ego will kill your talent

There’s a lot tied up in your performance at the gym. How do you compare to others? Are you progressing fast enough? If I had let all of that go, however, I probably would have been able to just focus on my technique and improve a lot faster, the hell with what anyone else thought.

Signs your ego is undermining your gains:

  • You have a favorite exercise and you only like it because it’s easy. The difficult ones? You kind of avoid those
  • You get butthurt if someone tries to show you how to improve
  • Once you achieve a goal, you just stand around and gloat – instead of planning what your next goal is
  • You often think, “I’m not doing this fast enough” or compare your progress to other people’s
  • You’d rather not take a risk and try something new or difficult – because you’d be so embarrassed if you failed

If you’re serious about building strength and reaching your goals, sooner or later you’ll confront your own ego… and you’ll need to kick its ass.

Let go of the outcome for a while, don’t be afraid to learn or make mistakes, and put your focus onto doing the best you can, right here and right now.

What to do now?

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