Psyched Online

MOTIVATION: Encouraged By The Force Within Us

by Wayne Dominowski

For those of you who have seen the Star Wars trilogy, you may recall Obi-Wan Kenobi encouraging Luke Skywalker with “May the Force be with you.” I’m not sure whom or what the Force actually was – whether it was God, inner-strength, self-confidence, self-esteem, or positive self-efficacy. Maybe it was all of this. Whatever it is, I liked the fact that old Obi-Wan let Luke Skywalker know that he was special, and that he could do whatever he set his mind to do.

I was reminded of this recently when a workout friend of mine said to me that he wanted to reset my thinking. “Focus on kids,” he said, “and forget the adults.” I was taken by his comment, and didn’t respond. “I never told you this,” he later added, “but when you started working at the last school you were at, I had a mother call me and ask me what I thought about you.” He went on to say he had only good comments about me, but then asked the woman/mother what she thought. “I don’t think it’s right for Mr. Dominowski to fill kids’ heads with high expectations and things they will never achieve,” she told my workout partner. He answered her, he said, with a “Who are you to determine what someone can or can’t do? Wayne is giving kids hope and a belief in themselves. What are you giving them?”

Hearing this, I was both elated and then angry – elated with what my workout partner revealed to me, and angry with the woman who held such low expectations of her child and other kids. But later, as I thought about what I learned, I began to indeed readjust my thinking. I started to recollect many of the athletes and non-athletes I’ve worked with over the years, both girls and boys, young women and young men. I couldn’t think of one failure. There has never been a youngster I’ve worked with in the weight room who quit on me. (I smiled when I thought about what I just wrote, because the truth of the matter is, no one I ever worked with ever quit on himself or herself.) Each did great. Each improved.

Currently, I am working with one young man whom I coached in football when he was in high school. During his senior year, he told me he had gotten his girl friend pregnant. “OK,” I said, “what are you both going to do?” Without hesitating, he said they were “going to keep the baby.”

“Good first step,” I answered. “Now, what are you two going to do?” He said he didn’t know, but that he loved his girl friend and he hoped in time they would get married. That was almost two years ago. After some back and forth, the young man’s mother called me and asked if I would “talk to” her son. He had sunk in his attitude, the mother said. When he wasn’t drinking and getting drunk, he would sleep continuously. “I’m worried,” she said, “I think he is getting very depressed.”

I called up my former football player and asked if he would drop by and visit. “I haven’t seen you in awhile,” I said to him. He stopped over, and I asked him if he’d consider returning to the weight room. “You’ve got a scrappy build,” I said, “and I’d like you to enter the Body for Life competition.” I went over with him what it would take to build up his body and we sat together and looked up prominent sites on the Internet that provided materials and before and after photos of various body transformation individuals. Looking and listening, he turned to me and asked, “If I do this, will you be my trainer?” You bet, I responded, and a year ago, January, he began training.

The entire process never got away from him. With work, baby-sitting his young son twice a week, the young man made it to weights three times a week. I took before photos of him, put him through body measurements, and then organized his regimen of training. Three months later, after shaving down, tanning up, we took his after photos. What a dramatic change! When I reviewed his photos with him, I watched as he scanned the before and after pictures. He was quiet. “I had hoped I would get bigger,” he finally said. “Hey, that comes next,” I answered with all the seriousness and enthusiasm I could muster.

At any rate, the young man hasn’t stopped training, and I am so proud of both his effort and the tremendous changes that continue to take place. And this brings me to some of the things he has told me.

One day, while putting him through his paces, I said to him that I didn’t feel I was very successful with other kids at his former school. “Coach,” he said, “when are you going to get it into your head that parents in that community don’t want their kids to leave. They want them to stay at home, grow up, and be just like them.” I was startled and amazed at what he noted to me. Several weeks later, he talked about how he and his girlfriend were trying to get together, but how other people in his town would tell him things that would upset him. “D____,” I said to him, “when are you going to get it into your head that your “friends” don’t want you to leave. They want you to stay there, grow up, and be just like them.” I also added that in his town, he was everybody’s source of entertainment. Because he was not like everyone else, I explained to him, the people there learned which buttons to press. As such, he would react, drink and get drunk, then go after whoever was a perceived offender. The outcome, I told him, was everyone’s entertainment – they all had something to talk about for the next several weeks. I can still see his statement when I told him this. With his own words, what I told him was a revelation to him.

Not too long after that, a couple of additional things happened. One day after he completed his weight training, I motioned him to go in front of the weight room mirror in order to put him through his compulsory poses. “Lat spread,” I said, and VOOM, out comes these super wings. “Side chest,” I said, and BOOM, what a tremendous upper body. “Double biceps,” I said, and POW, the kid has a set of guns. “Abs and serratus,” I call out, watch, shake my head. “You’re going to have to concentrate on that,” I note.

As our session concluded, I was jotting down some notes to myself. When I looked up from my clipboard, there’s the youngster I’ve been working with standing there, waiting for me. “You know, coach,” he said, “this has just changed my life.” His brief comment packed so much meaning that I was quieted inside. I thought to myself how we sometimes spend so much of our time in something that we believe in and at the same instant can forget why we are doing what we do. So, that caught me. Then he said he and his girlfriend found a farmhouse about 10 miles from the town he had lived. “We’re going to move there with our son,” he said.

Wow, I felt inside. I was so happy to hear this. “And don’t let the freeloaders in there,” I said. The young man smiled. “Don’t worry coach, my girl said we’re going to make this our home.”

That brings me to the real issue: Kids reading this. I want you to know I am writing this for and to you. Well, what I want to say is: don’t let anyone steal your dream. The road to personal physical and mental development is a life-long commitment, not something we do in passing. Building yourself up mentally, physically, emotionally and yes, spiritually, means more than just building yourself up and looking good. If physical development is what you want, it means determination, dedication, perseverance, and patience. It also can mean you are alone and on your own. That’s sometime the real test of long-term endurance.

While others get their kicks partying, drinking, taking drugs, getting into trouble, or quitting school, you have taken a road that’s tough, demanding, and very often a solo endeavor. Don’t stop. Don’t quit. Don’t listen to those who would seek to discourage you. Listen inside to yourself. Listen to your heart and what it is telling you. When all has been said and done, when you’ve completed the first leg of your journey – and the second, third and fourth leg, and thereafter – you won’t ever regret the transformation you’ve brought about in yourself. You’ll never regret it. All the others you’ve met along the way – you’ll find out – will be among your greatest admirers. And, you’ll also learn, those who cut you down will have counted among those who are jealous or envious of you.

I’ve often told youngsters I work with that working out and training means you are doing something positive. Rather than being DE-structive, I’ve said, be CON-structive. Do things that help you, whether it’s bodybuilding, sports, academics, reading, writing, or math. Always advance. Never regress. In other words, like Obi-Wan Kenobi said, always “look inside yourself… and May the Force be with you.”

Wayne Dominowski holds a post graduate degree from the U.S. Army Command & General Staff College. He retired at the rank of lieutenant colonel. He also has a certification in Performance Nutrition and is a Certified Fitness Trainer. Wayne has earned the distinction of Master of Fitness Sciences from the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA). He is currently completing research (Master’s thesis) toward his Master in Counseling degree. Dominowski is a long-time strength and conditioning coach, football coach, sports and news