The inspiration for this blog post comes from Dr Jordan Peterson’s book “12 Rules For Life” – which is a fantastic read and I’d recommend it to anyone. So any useful mindset related things that happen to be in this article should be attributed to Dr Peterson before any credit goes to me. Similarly, anything that doesn’t make any sense or sounds like bullshit is probably my doing, not Dr Peterson’s.


Now, to the matter at hand. It has occurred to me – mainly because it’s f*cking blatantly obvious – that there’s a lot of people struggling to improve their physique. It’s puzzled me for some time as to why this happens. It may be that there’s a lack of knowledge and education out there for exercise, nutrition, recovery, stress management and all the other components of improving body composition – which is why I dedicate so much of my time to providing free information on these areas.


But I think that to find the main reason for our failings, we need to dig a little deeper. I think it’s more of a mindset issue than a knowledge issue.


Mindset Principle #1: Would You Act Differently?

Picture, for a second, how you would act if a family member or friend came to you for help. Imagine they were paying you, or they simply were depending on you as a pivotal part of their success. How would you act? What would you do differently to when you’re only responsible for yourself? How would that change your mindset?


Allow me to illustrate my point with a little personal experience here (this may be purely anecdotal, but I think it’s worth mentioning nonetheless).


I help people change their physiques for a living. It’s what I do. It’s what gets me out of bed in a morning and it’s what’s on my mind as I go to bed at night. I live and breathe the stuff (as boring as that may make me). People pay me to help them succeed and if they succeed – I succeed. I also usually become, rightly or wrongly, friends with pretty much all my clients. I work with some pretty awesome guys. So, I’m emotionally and financially invested in their success. If these guys succeed and get what they want out of training with me, I get the satisfaction of seeing them become stronger, fitter, leaner, more muscular, more confident, more productive at work (so they make more money) and generally start lighting up areas of their lives they didn’t have a clue they weren’t doing well in before. That’s my mindset.


If I achieve great results with these guys they’re also more likely to recommend their mates to come and work with me, give me a great review/testimonial and have before/after pictures I can put on my website forever.


The incentive for me to be really f*cking good at my job and effectively help these people is beyond huge. It’s literally the lifeblood of my business, and as a result it takes up a huge part of my life.


Now before you get carried away this isn’t me trying to blow my own trumpet and use this article as an excuse to be arrogant. I’m far from the best coach around and I have lots of room to improve. But I’m just trying to articulate what it means to really help someone achieve success. I’m sure many of you reading this have helped others achieve success in other and equally vital areas of life so you’ll understand where I’m coming from.


Now, switch your mindset and put yourself in my shoes for a few minutes. But instead of having other people depending on you for their success, you’re depending on you for your success. Explain to me exactly how and why that is in any way different to helping someone else?


You’re a person just as worthy of success and help as anyone else on earth. It’s time to give yourself some f*cking respect and realise you’re entitled to the same help, energy and effort as everyone else. Being slack on yourself, allowing yourself off plan foods, skipping workouts, staying out all night and drinking or taking drugs to excess isn’t being kind to yourself. It isn’t allowing yourself a reward, it’s depriving yourself of the things you want. That’s the difference in mindset that is required.


Don’t get this twisted, I’m not saying you should cut out the joy from your life. If the occasional blow out is what you need to keep you sane or enjoy life then be my guest. But if you were responsible for someone else’s success, how often would you allow them to go out and get absolutely mortal? It’s not rocket science is it. These things have to be the exception, not the rule. That is – if you actually want to get anywhere.


At the risk of sounding narcissistic here I’m going to revert back to using myself as an example (it’s the only real reference point I have to be honest). When going for my own physique goals, I treat myself as if I was a client, coming to me for help. I go through the exact same processes I would go through for someone I’ve only just met with myself. Everything from the physique assessment, to the food diary, to the structured and personalised training and nutrition programmes and the stress management and recovery tactics. I’m responsible for my own success just as I’m responsible for the success of my incredible group of lads.


This approach won’t work if you only apply it at the start either. You can set yourself up for success perfectly but if you don’t consistently do the necessary you won’t get anywhere – you’ll cave at the first snag and fall at the first hurdle. We’re not interested in 2 weeks of excellence followed by 6 months of utter shit. That takes us 1 step forwards and 10 steps backwards. What’s the point? A patient, long term mindset will always trump a short term mindset.


Mindset Principle #2: Discipline

“Discipline Equals Freedom” – Jocko Willink, Former US Navy Seal and all-round f*cking badass


If you really want to change your physique – in fact, if you really want to change anything in your life – you need to apply discipline. Discipline isn’t anything magic, it isn’t something you need to go on a course or pay a coach to teach you, it quite simply means doing the necessary every single day of your life. In the context of improving your physique, this means you need to be eating the meals you have planned and/or prepped every day. You need to hit your required training sessions accurately and with balls, and you need to be going to bed and waking up on time. Nailing these 3 things every single day will see you physique transform completely from what you’re used to seeing in the mirror and that’s before I’ve given you any remotely technical piece of information. Discipline is the key.


At this point in the article I’d just like to point out that I’m sat in Costa listening to Cher on repeat, no real relevance to that statement I’d just like to get it off my chest. Y’know, full disclosure and that.


Mindset Principle #3: Don’t Be A Tyrant

So far in this article I’ve spoken about the need to hold yourself accountable and take action on the necessary steps to achieving success in what you say you want. However, what I don’t want to happen is to give you the impression that you have to be a tyrant to yourself. No one likes tyrants. They aren’t respected, they may be feared at times, but not respected.


Hitler was a prick (there’s my insightful knowledge of history for the day). If you bully yourself into constantly working and stripping yourself of all the joy in your life, sooner or later you’re going to get pretty f*cked off with yourself and go on strike. Don’t push yourself that far.


It’s important to be lenient with yourself. Don’t get this twisted – there’s a difference between lenience and being lazy. We still must be disciplined and do the necessary every day, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything else. Stress is a massive factor governing our success or failure in our physique goals. If sticking to a ridiculously boring meal plan is bringing you more stress than it’s worth then it might actually be beneficial to relax the rules a little bit. That doesn’t mean going from the chicken and rice diet to the pizza and cake diet (not that I endorse either of those approaches), but it means allowing yourself some freedom in order to keep your cortisol (stress hormone) down and keep your sanity.


The degree you can get away with this largely depends on your current goals. If you have a bodybuilding show in 3 weeks and you’re not yet lean enough, you need to man the f*ck up and get the fat off. But if you’re a skinny dude that wants to get bigger with no set time frame on it, you’ll be able to get away with a lot more.


Get After It

Listen, I could blab on about this all day (and I’m sure it feels like I already have), but the point is you’re responsible for your own success, failure or anything in between.


Act towards yourself and your goals as if they’re someone else’s that is desperately depending on you to help them achieve success. Respect yourself enough to give yourself the help you deserve. Treat yourself as someone you’re responsible for helping.


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PS – Enjoyed this article? Why not check out this popular article I wrote on Stress And It’s Impact On Your Physique?