Evolution of The Strength Scout

When beginning this blog months ago, my intent was simple: to test methods and speak of my own experiences of building physical strength and resiliency. But as the evolving content reflects, my mindset has shifted. Isolating physical development, from the rest of the body, is futile.

The Strength Scout has become an eclectic approach to developing strength and resiliency. Challenges await anyone who wants to squat 200kg or master the handstand. And while having a road map to these goals is valuable, learning to navigate the unforeseen obstacles is just as important.

The pursuit of physical goals has become less important to me. I still have goals – like wanting to squat 200kg – but I’m no longer burdened by them. The value lies in the process and the lessons learned along the way.

I have been guilty of allowing physical endeavours, such as achieving certain strength feats or physique goals, hold me back from progressing. My single-mindedness was more of a hindrance than a help, I know realise.

It’s clear that pursuing mental strength benefits the physical and vice versa. But developing the mind is not thought of highly enough, and this belief holds many of us back.

Physical training is a great to practice things you wouldn’t normally associate with the gym, like mental rehearsal and patience. By being more conscious and aware of our bodies in the gym, we can achieve better outcomes.

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Consistency of Character

A good leader possesses many qualities but a consistency of character should underpin all that he does. Would you follow a leader who’s words and actions contradict each other on a day-to-day basis? Hell no.

Consistency builds trust.

A leader can’t hop from one side of the fence to the other or confusion and dissatisfaction will soon follow. Imagine the negative emotions you’d feel if the internet advertisement of a car, demonstrating it’s excellent condition, was false.

Don’t expect people to follow if you speak and act inconsistently. Be sure of yourself. Ensure your actions are aligned with what you say. And burn the adage, “Do as I say, not as I do”.

Intangible

Many trees shed their leaves in autumn. This means setting aside time for raking; a cause of annoyance for some.

But there is satisfaction in clearing the yard – it’s cathartic. The grass is clear of debris leaving the garden looking pretty again.

As the week’s pass, leaves fall at an accelerated rate. Regular raking continues but it’s difficult to make headway, with freshly fallen leaves quickly replacing their recently cleared brethren. There is no sense of accomplishment.

Grind – this phase is temporary.

Whether clearing the leaves or chipping away at your goals, progress is not always clear-cut. There is the belief that, change must be tangible and easy to observe, but this isn’t always the case.

Long-term progress is not linear.

Practice perseverance and patience when progress becomes unclear. And just as trees survive the harsher winter months by shedding their leaves, you too will become more resilient.

Take Responsibility

Failing to take responsibility for our bodies is the main reason injuries linger and performances stagnate. Let’s explore this issue and outline a way to improve.

Let it be

You’ve been struck by injury. Your strategy is to rest and avoid painful movements.

This is a good approach for mild injuries. The body is a healing machine and given the right environment, it will heal on its own accord. Issues, like chronicity, arise when you the injury is more severe than you thought and that’s when you…

Push through

You’ve built momentum with your training program only to feel a niggle. Your progress slows and pain levels rise.

But you don’t give up that easy.

You won’t let a small injury like this bother you, now that you’ve built a base. You push on and the injury worsens and frustration grows until you can train no more.

Triage yourself

Ego holds us back from making clear decisions – males especially.

Taking responsibility for what we do – and don’t know – is the best way to manage our bodies. We don’t have the knowledge of a medical professional but we can educate ourselves about the basics of body function. We can learn from reputable resources, take relevant courses and listen to our bodies at every opportunity.

Once we’ve taken responsibility, knowing when we’re out of our depth is the next step. The expertise of a health professional is invaluable given their knowledge and skills. But we need to understand this is a partnership – a doctor, podiatrist or physio – can only do so much with the time they have with us. Asking questions to find out how best we can aid recovery is an important part of the process.

Take responsibility and know when to share it with an expert – that’s good body management.

How do you approach management of your body? Leave your thoughts below.

Redefining Strength

‘Mum’ isn’t the first word that comes to mind when talking strength. Not physical strength anyway. But as I found out, mothers are strong – they have endless reserves of patience and are the lynchpin of the family.

As I interviewed my Mum, I discovered ‘strength’ means different things to different people.

Defining strength

Strength is hard to pin down. While the physical strength of strongmen and powerlifters is clear to see and quantify, there is another form of strength that eludes the naked eye.

“There is physical strength and inner strength. We need both,” Mum says.

“Physical strength helps us to keep up with the demands of life and maintain wellbeing”.

She was less sure when defining inner strength, admitting it was difficult to put into words. “Inner strength is what stops us from falling apart. It’s a type of emotional strength that helps us cope with bad news and tough times,” she says.

Building strength

Physical strength is something that can be developed but what about inner strength?

“I don’t know if this counts but I pray to God. I don’t believe in organised religion though there must be a creator,” she says. “I pray for help, guidance and reassurance. I feel a sense of calm after”.

It’s invaluable to spend time with our thoughts. It gives us a chance to break away from being on autopilot and interpret what’s going on in our head. It also lets us practice gratitude.

‘Mindfulness training’ is no longer a tool accessible only to yogis and the enlightened. There is an increasing number of mindfulness apps available while businesses are beginning to focus on mental wellbeing in addition to physical health through increased support and flexible workplaces.

But building emotional strength isn’t as logical as physical strength. Mum admits that having a proactive approach to inner strength is difficult. It’s something that is developed mainly with time and experience, in her opinion.

“It’s about stepping up to challenges. When you receive bad news, like a health scare, it’s important to stay positive. I’ve learned over the years that nothing good comes from falling apart. You’re better off acknowledging the event then getting on with what needs to be done,” she said.

Life gives us opportunities. It’s how we perceive them that determines how we respond. If we view obstacles as challenges, then we put ourselves in a position to tackle the issue positively. But if we see obstacles as problems, we shy away, make excuses or complain.

It’s our choice.

Who is strong?

People who have overcome adversity, like financial hardship or a health scare, are those we consider strong. But there is more to it than that, according to Mum.

“They may be strong on the exterior but this could be a facade. People act tough to protect themselves,” she says.

Though, what might begin as false bravado might become genuine strength and resiliency over time. Just as those around you perceive you as strong, you too will begin to believe in yourself if you put on a front for long enough.

There’s value in acting strong even if you don’t necessarily feel it.

Your biggest strength

It doesn’t take me long to list off my Mum’s strengths – patience, commitment and consistency, are few of many. But when asked, Mum draws a blank, “I don’t know if I’ve got one,” she says.

At this point Dad chimes in. “Her cooking!” he shouts from across the room. Then he answers more seriously, “She’s fair-minded, your Mum. And what still strikes me to this day is her ability to put others well being before her own,’ he says.

After gentle coaxing, Mum finally opens up. “I guess I would say my ability to raise my children,” she says.

Parenting is a balancing act, “I wanted to make sure I didn’t pressure your way of thinking but at the same time provide enough guidance to a happy life,” she says.

“It’s funny when you were little you wouldn’t listen to me when I asked you simple things, like to sit down at the table at dinner time. I’d pull my hair out and tell myself that you’d listen more when you grew up. But you still don’t listen!” she says.

Luckily I evade getting drawn into a discussion on why you should always listen to you mother by pointing out that the interview is over. The perks being the interviewer!

Conclusion

I’m guilty of hanging off every word of a stranger’s opinion on strength, success or happiness. But the people around us – family, friends, and colleagues – can teach us just as much through their experiences.

Fame isn’t proportional to a person’s worth and strength is more than lifting a heavy weight.