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Can I See It In Your Eyes?

Zach Even-Esh Hall of Champions

Can I see it in your eyes?

Can I hear it in your voice?

Can I sense it through the e-mail you sent, asking me how to dominate the competition with 4 weeks of training or asking for the best marketing advice for starting out as a strength coach?

What is "it"?

Let me explain. About two years ago I was invited to Lehigh University to train a group of wrestlers. Some of them were from the college, and others were from the athletic club which was prepping to compete internationally at the Olympic Trials.

The historic wrestling room at Lehigh University was awe inspiring, training was held in that room dating back to the 1930s. But this year would be the last time the wrestlers would train in that room. While the guys were still walking in and getting ready for my training, and I gave them a few minutes to lace up their shoes. I was drawn to the walls of the wrestling room, which were covered with countless black and white photos spanning the entire room.

These photos dated back to the 1930s and I was drawn to the intensity in each photo. I saw "it". I saw it in their eyes. I walked from one photo to the next until I finally stopped. I closed my eyes for a few seconds. And even though they were still talking, the outside chatter from the wrestlers came to a halt in my mind.

Then I soon heard wrestling shoes on the mat, and the wrestlers grunting as they pushed, shoved, hit takedowns and battled against one another. I heard the coach blowing the whistle. I heard the intensity. I felt it. Except, these wrestlers from the past weren’t there, but their spirits were.

The ONLY way for these spirits to live on, and for their legacy to live on… was through passion and intensity. The only way to make an impact in any area of your life is to have passion and intensity deep within you.

When you have it, others will sense it and your actions will speak for themselves. The message you convey will impact others beyond your words and beyond your actions. People will feel your passion and it will inspire them to take on greatness.

When coaches or athletes email me wanting one answer to a HUGE goal or question, I know they don’t have "it". I know if I passed them on the street, I wouldn’t see "it" in their eyes.

There are no quick fixes, and no one thing is the end-all-be-all answer. Until you get that fire in your gut, and that look in your eye, success will always be out of your reach.

Perhaps you recall Rocky III when Apollo takes Rocky out of his fancy life and back to his roots. He explains "that look" to Rocky and you can see it in their eyes.

It’s that "eye of the tiger" that will push you to succeed as a coach, an athlete and in life. I address this because I see many more participants than I see competitors. I see athletes who are just part of a team and they don’t change even when they lose, time and again.

I see coaches with losing records year after year who take no initiative to change, improve, or do anything to start WINNING.

I call this being a "clock puncher". You show up, do your job and never go above and beyond, while only doing the least amount of acceptable work. Success will never come to you like this. You must push for success, instead of sitting back and waiting for it.

When I first started off as a strength coach, I remember doing things that others saw as "crazy". I would call out sick from work on a Friday, then drive before the sun came up for 12 hours to attend a seminar all weekend. I would drive home through Sunday night into Monday morning, and sleep a few hours before going back to my "regular" job.

I found a way to succeed. I never worried about the drive, the money, the time or the effort. I wanted to be the best. Second best or top ten wasn’t something I strived to become. I wanted no part of "good enough".

Once you begin to stray from the "good enough" crowd, you begin to dare to be different, you’ll understand that there’s not just one way, there are hundreds of ways or things that must be done to achieve your goals. The fads, short cuts, and gimmicks will only sidetrack you.

Look at your training. Look at your life. If you’re a strength coach, look at your business. How can you simplify the process while maximizing the results? Continue to learn from others, but never blindly follow them.

In training, get rid of what’s fancy. Focus on and dedicate your training to the basics. Simple plans that look unimpressive on paper often become some of the toughest and most effective workouts.

In business, learn what works for you, focus on your mission and your philosophy, not what other coaches demand that you do. In life, get rid of the excess for greater peace of mind.

There are times in my training when I perform only one exercise—with variations—in a workout. For example, sometimes I will just squat after a good warm up and some mobility work.

I’ll begin with sets of 5 reps and work up to a triple, a double, and a strong single.

Then I’ll drop the weight by about 40% and perform some speed work, sometimes with a box and sometimes without for 5 sets of 2 here.

Next, I’ll take the same weight and do 2 or 3 sets of rep work, pushing for at least 10 reps each set.

By the end of the session I’ll have done about 15 sets of squats, and the workout become more of a challenge and a form of meditation at the same time. It was nothing but me vs. the barbell and ultimately, me vs. me.

That’s success, a challenge of who’s willing to fight for the extra inch to reap the rewards. Training, life, business. If I can see it in your eyes, if you have that fire in your gut, there is nothing that can stop you. Nothing but yourself.

Encyclopedia Of Underground Strength And ConditioningZach Even-Esh is the Author of The Encyclopedia of Underground Strength & Conditioning, the founder of The Underground Strength Gym & The Creator of The Underground Strength Coach Certification. Zach is also the Strength & Performance Coach for The Lehigh University Wrestling team. Zach's blog is