The weight over bar had concluded and I was soon to be crowned the 2016 IHGF World Heavy Events World Champion. Fellow competitors and friends were congratulating me as volunteers and organizers offered their well wishes. I had done it; all the training, all the practice had culminated to this.
I was walking to the athletic tent when a certain man pulled me aside. This man was Bill Kazmaier, the strength legend. If you don’t know the “Kaz,” then I can best describe him as the biggest name in American Strength Sports history. A three-time winner of World’s Strongest Man (there’s a long story of him not getting invited back to defend his titles because he was so dominant). Kaz was also a world champion and record holder powerlifter. Kaz has been a commentator on ESPN and other networks through the years, and was helping announce our event in Palmer, Alaska, where he now lives.
Bill shook my hand and congratulated me. He told me how he enjoyed watching us during the weekend, but he had a much more important message on his mind he wanted to share with me. And his message was something so many athletes need to hear. Sadly, too many men and women struggle with this, and it’s not isolated to us meatheads. This is the crux of the message he told me:
“Now, this is a great moment. You need to enjoy and celebrate this moment in time. But, please, realize that it is just that: a moment. Imagine this is a dove. Be happy. Celebrate. But, let it go. Let this moment leave you and share it with others. I’ve seen so many strength athletes struggle with this. They take these amazing moments and they think it defines them. They dwell on it and they wind up squashing this amazing dove; hording it to themselves and not moving on to the truly important moments. I know this moment does not define you, and you understand that, but let me encourage you in that. Don’t squash the dove.”
I thanked Bill for his words of encouragement; I could tell he was very passionate about this and something he has witnessed all too many times over the last 30+ years in the Iron Game. This legend I grew up watching on T.V. was encouraging me in my pursuit of greater and higher things.
This legend I grew up watching on T.V. was encouraging me in my pursuit of greater and higher things; reiterating to me that strength ends and there's a life to live beyond it.
I heeded Bill's advice and it made me reflect on my career; it didn't take me long to realize I won’t “squash the dove.” I simply look at my five sons as they sleep, hear them laugh as they play outside, watch them lead, grow, and win in life. These are the moments I truly cherish; the ones I wish would simply freeze and I could experience them over and over again; to never end, but knowing already that time passes and children grow. Titles, records, victories, and money mean nothing compared to the responsibility I have to raise five future warriors. And if those things are ever done in sacrifice of their preparation for life, well, then shame on me.
So, let me ask you this: are you in danger of squashing the dove? Are you dwelling on a victory? Your victory may be different than mine: a new job, a raise, a new toy, a victory, graduation … I don’t know what yours is, but I have a feeling you do.
1 Corinthians 10:31 is one of my favorite verses, as it speaks volumes about this topic:
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
For me, as a thrower, it has to be all about HIM. If it's not, then, really, I'm squashing the dove; like Bill talked about. If I am all about what I do and not who I do things for, well, then I've missed out on the most important "moment" of my life. And that's something I can't ever get back.
We must remember that what we do does not define us. You see, it's just that - something we do. Let’s treat that moment for what it is: a moment. Don’t squash the dove.