Scowling to Succeed

Anger is a gift. – Rage Against the Machine

“Successful people share a willingness to get uncomfortable,” Alwyn Cosgrove says. That applies to their training, diet, and lifestyle.

Now, how does a self-pitying whiner deal with discomfort? He quits. How does a guy who’s willing to be an asshole deal with it? He gets ticked and fights through it. And he wins.

Anger isn’t the only socially unacceptable personality trait that comes into play. “Significant change comes with getting a little selfish,” says John Berardi, Ph.D. “That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, although some of your friends and family may think so.”

Even if it feels weird to set aside time for yourself and your own self-improvement, it’s the only way to pull it off, Berardi adds. “You have to get a little selfish and take some of your time back.” That allows you to avoid distraction while focusing so intensely on a single goal.

Another dickish trait common to physique success stories is a certain sense of superiority. You don’t have to hold the weak-willed people around you in contempt, but it helps to remind yourself that you’re stronger and more determined than people who skip workouts and succumb to the siren call of Dunkin’ Donuts.

If you feel guilty about your newfound arrogance, remind yourself that it’s temporary. Use it, get what you want out if it, and then drop it like a bad relationship.

Take-home lesson: Positive changes often occur with the use of a negative attitude. Being an angry, self-centered asshole with a superiority complex helps body transformers reach their goals. Just be sure to cut that shit out when you’re done.
Chris Shugart

I’ll add further commentary – people who look pissed off in the gym may not, in fact, be pissed off about being there[1]; to the contrary, they may be there because they’re pissed off (working out frustrations, for instance, or for the reasons Shugart mentions); they might be angry with their last set, or their last session, or their performance in the last competition (whether it was formal, or merely internal).

I’m completely guilty of everything he mentions in that part of the essay, and more. I don’t feel a great deal of shame over it. To be perfectly honest, until the self-consciousness I feel when I think about being seen without my shirt on in public outweighs any guilt I have about my workout time and what I spend on nutritional supplements, I don’t see my attitude changing. Once that balance shifts, like any good proprioceptive feedback system dictates, I will react to re-balance myself.

[1] Ghod knows, there are enough people who bitch about going. However, they usually don’t stick around. The selfish, results-oriented part says, “Good, more equipment and fewer distractions for me,” no matter how nice these folks are to chat with.



  1. […] way to the gym, or the track, or wherever we do our sweating because, somewhere along the line, we got pissed off.  If you get pissed off at me, that’s good.  If you get pissed at yourself, that’s […]

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