Guest post by Ted Hessing
Deadlifts are hard. I mean really, really hard. They are used in weightlifting competitions to judge a person’s strength because they tax the competitor’s body and mind so thoroughly.
And yes, ask anyone who has tried the poundages that Josh has; the mental exertion required to move those mammoth weights often exceed the physical effort. Heavy weights can be terrifying. They can really, really hurt you.
So why would anyone choose to deadlift?
Because deadlifts can save your soul.
Mind + Body + Soul = 1
Like many readers I came to Josh’s home here on the interwebs following a link back from a post on CopyBlogger. You know the one where he wrote about taking on a massive guest posting campaign in order to keep his Tourettes at bay.
Well, the feat of massive guest posting drew my attention and I subscribed as a member of his audience. What kept me coming back time and time again was the writing of the interrelatedness of mind, body, and soul – something I certainly believe in.
Think of Josh’s projects and goals; each of them require all three aspects of his person to be focused in on that one achievement. It’s easy to dismiss deadlifts or stillness as purely a feat of physical strength the same way one might dismiss The Dewey Lunatic Project or the writing of The Knot as purely a cerebral act.
Excellence is a Habit
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
I swear, Aristotle’s line must be the most quoted in the blogosphere. (Often accompanied by some self-branded lifestyle designer trying to sell you something.) This unsavory coincidence doesn’t make the quote any less true. And no, I don’t mean that by doing deadlift after deadlift will turn you into a barbell.
What I do mean that through strict repetition this act will turn you into something much stronger than the iron you are pulling off of the floor. It’s amazing how much easier every other kind of challenge gets once you taste that primal success of lifting a couple hundred pounds of inanimate object off the ground and against gravity’s will.
Deadlifting, in it’s pure form, is a microcosm of all of life’s challenges. Sure, it’s scaled and dumbed down to a match between you and the weight, but that’s the beauty of it. When you strip away off of the nonsense our lizard brains pile up on top of our daily challenges all they every really reduce to is a simple equation; you versus your goal.
The great thing about a deadlift is that unlike many of our personal challenges it provides an objective measurement of success. There are two elements: you and a specific poundage. Once you conquer that one, you can dial up another weight. And then another. And then another. There is never a muddy moment of uncertainty.
You’ll never ask yourself or debate ‘Did I really conquer that challenge?’ The weight goes up or the weight doesn’t budge. There can be no middle ground, no ‘almost’ got it. Close enough is good enough for horseshoes and hand grenades and the practice of deadlifting builds the mental tools you need to tackle those life challenges that share a binary measure of success.
The funny thing is, after a few rounds of overcoming deadlifting challenges, you’ll refocus your life in those same kinds of terms. Pass or Fail. Completed or not. Do or do not. There is no try.
The Riddle of Steel
“Steel isn’t strong: flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it? Look at the strength in your body, the desire in your heart, I gave you this!”
Conan the Barbarian
In the end I believe that the lessons that deadlifts teach can save your soul. Perhaps pursuing herculean lifts is not in your cards – but hopefully something else is. If not deadlifts then perhaps something else big, scary, and amazing that will challenge you to grow in a similar way. You’ll never reap the rewards of seeds you never sow.
So, maybe you deadlift and maybe you do other amazing feats combining mind body and soul. What are they? What lessons have they taught you? Please share with us in the comments below.
About The Author:
Ted Hessing amuses himself (and others) by pursuing goals like swimming 5 miles in open ocean or being Indiana Jones for a week and then writing about the results at Cubicle Warrior. You should stop by and say hello – he gets into trouble without adult supervision.
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