The Most Vital Component to Success

A few years ago I wasn’t feeling very successful. I wasn’t feeling very good about any aspect of my life or anything about ME at all. I was in the dumps. I eventually came out of the dumps, and I learned a lot about myself and success. These are some of the things I learned and I learned them all with a heavy barbell in my hands.

The first layer I peeled away is the importance of commitment.

I had been competing in powerlifting for a couple of years and had done well. It wasn’t until I decided to make a significant weight cut that my eyes were opened to real commitment.

My experience with dieting was pretty much nonexistent. I had competed in the 123lb weight class for all of my previous meets, and I decide to cut to the 114lb weight class.  

At first I was super pumped. The new challenge was exciting and I was up for it. At some point my enthusiasm died. One day, while angrily doing cardio, trying to figure out how I was going to survive Mother’s Day at my Grandma’s, it hit me. I thought, “I DON’T CARE about Mother’s Day and what I’m going to eat or not eat on Mother’s Day”. It became clear to me that these kinds of things were unavoidable. There will always be a Mother’s Day, a family gathering, a busy schedule, a snack in the break room……there will always be distractions. In this moment, I decided to be stronger than my distractions.  

After that angry cardio session, I became relentless. I followed the plan meticulously. I did not waiver. I learned that commitment was an action I had to make everyday, every minute. Commitment does not denote a feeling. Commitment is a choice.

I successfully cut to 114lb and competed.

Commitment is not the most vital component to success.

The next layer: Magic Fairy Dust

When I first started competing, I would watch other lifters have an amazing meet. I was in awe at how well they could execute each attempt. In my mind, I knew I was just as strong and capable of hitting big numbers but I couldn’t figure out what I was missing come meet day.

“There is no magic fairy dust on the platform”. I said this to one of the newer lifters in the gym when chatting about attempt selection.

After doing the meet at 114lbs, I went back up to 123lb and did a meet with an injured arm. Before doing that meet I read an article that really resonated with me and still refer back to it. It’s written by Dr. Mike Israetel, and it talks about the importance of using process goals to become better at your craft.

This article helped me see past the magic fairy dust. There is no magic fairy dust in success. It’s not enough to state a goal. It’s not enough to have “intentions” of achieving greatness. Those lifters I watched, they didn’t have magic fairy dust, they had a well thought out plan.

At this point I’m training for one of the biggest meets of my early career. I became so obsessed with the process that there was no part of my training that I hadn’t already thought about. I knew every weight, every warm up, various outcomes and exactly how I would deal with them.

At my meet, I went 8 for 9. I broke an all time squat record, won best lifter, and held the highest current total for my weight class. There was no magic. There was weeks of planning, taking action and execution. I trusted the process and the outcome took care of itself.

Trusting the process is not the most vital component to success.

My name is Jennifer Millican and I am a champion. The final layer.

After my last meet, I was elated at how well I had done. I still couldn’t believe that I, me, Jennifer Millican had actually accomplished those things. When I would think about how it happened, I would remember all the things I had done. The angry cardio sessions, the early mornings, fearing failure, thinking that others were special and I was not. I remembered the dark moments of feeling like success was something that I didn’t have. I found myself having to remind myself that I had achieved success. It was in fact me that lifted the weights. It was me that executed the plan. I did it and truthfully I did it because I wanted it, because at some point I believed I could.

I was in the midst of training for USA Powerlifing (USAPL) Raw Nationals, literally the biggest powerlifting meet in history. There were over a 1000 competitors. I went into the meet with one goal: win.

While training for the meet, I know I’ve got to hit some big numbers. Occasionally, I start to feel the pressure of the competition. Occasionally start to feel fearful when I’ve got a big lift in training. They announce the prime time session and the prime lifters. I am on the prime time stage. Pressure.

I have found that the most difficult person to convince that I am capable of achieving success is often the person staring back at me in the mirror.

During this training cycle, the pressure to perform well had grown. It felt as though because I had achieved some success, I had now set a precedent. There were times I felt like I was crumbling under the precedent.

I remember a particular session where I needed to hit a 350lb squat. Something I had done several times before. The pressure was building and I was feeling so nervous about it that I walked outside. There were a million thoughts running through my mind and finally I just stopped and said out loud to the only person needing convincing, “My name is Jennifer Millican and I am a champion”.

My name is Jennifer Millican and I am a champion. These words echoed in my mind for the entire training cycle. I went 8 for 9. I set an American Squat Record, American Total record, won the 57kg open class, won Best Overall Female.

Believing yourself to be wildly successful is difficult. I often find it easier to beat myself up and recall all the excuses and reasons I wasn’t able to reach to the top.

Today, I choose to create the reasons I’m successful. Today, I choose to create a plan for my success and follow that plan. Today, I choose to believe in me. Today, I choose to hold myself accountable.

I am the most vital component to my success. Are you?

Strong, Brave, Empowered by Iron.

– Jennifer Millican

– Elite Powerlifter, Mother, Blogger & Female Badass

Check out Jennifer’s Blog: Power Your Own

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