Kids are hilarious, aren't they? Have you ever noticed how strangely little boys act during a Little League game when faced with difficult situations? If you ever played Little League baseball as a child, maybe you can remember how you thought and acted during some of the especially challenging times that you experienced.

When I played years ago, it seemed that there was always one pitcher who was athletically superior to the rest of us. Maybe it was because he had matured a little earlier, had started playing at a younger age, or was able to grasp the skills better, but in any case this pitcher usually had a fastball that batters rarely hit.

This kid would often dominate the competition, striking out batter after batter with style and ease. He was so exceptional that the opposing team members never looked forward to their turn at bat.

Oftentimes the batters would be defeated even before stepping up to the plate. Kids being kids, they would tend to blame the umpire for their striking out, rather than examine their own shortcomings. "This ump is horrible!" they would argue. "There was no way that last pitch was a strike!"

As the pitcher racked up strikeout after strikeout, you could almost see the batters' fear of impending failure from the way they walked up to the plate and from the expressions on their faces. It seemed as though they were already complaining about a "badly called" third strike before the pitch even crossed the plate! Their excuses were ready so they wouldn't look bad in front of their teammates and families. Their focus and energy were placed on whatever they could blame for striking out instead of on the primary objective every batter should have: hitting the pitch!

Yes, kids sure are funny. It's a good thing you and I would never be so silly, being such intelligent, mature adults, isn't it?

But stop and think for a moment. If we are honest with ourselves, aren't we just as silly as those kids sometimes when we are faced with a challenging situation-like building our bodies naturally?

Just like the batter whose focus and energy are on preparing for failure, many natural bodybuilders have a long list of ready-made reasons why they can't build good physiques without drugs. Those natural bodybuilders must focus on what they want, instead of constantly worrying about what they do not want.

Fear of failure is what ultimately stops us from attempting what we really want in life or from giving 100 percent of our effort when we do.

Isn't this true? Whether you choose not to apply for a promotion at work that you think you'd enjoy, choose not to approach someone you are attracted to, or choose not to fulfill your desire to enter a bodybuilding contest, fear is usually what is stopping you.

Even when you do make an effort at these things, fear can hold you back from doing your very best at them. You can apply for a promotion, begin a relationship, or enter a bodybuilding contest but give far less than you are capable of giving in order to become successful only at a level you think you are capable of achieving.

Why in the world do people let fear hold them back from experiencing success? Because the pain from failure is a feeling they want to avoid at all costs-even if that means sacrificing the pleasure of succeeding. Nobody wants to be disappointed. Nobody wants to put heart and soul into achieving a cherished dream only to fail. Nobody wants to commit to accomplishing a goal then come up short.

Fear of failure is what ultimately stops us from attempting what we really want in life or from giving 100 percent of our effort when we do.

We do what we think we have to do to avoid looking bad in front of our family, friends, and peers. Nobody wants to be perceived as a loser. This fear prevents us from setting goals and working towards them with every ounce of our Godgiven abilities and talents. "Yeah, I failed-but, so what? I really didn't even try!" is the explanation we offer ourselves. In our hearts, however, we know what the truth really is.

Some of you might be saying, "What does that have to do with me, La Cour?! I don't have any fears! I'm not holding myself back from achieving my dreams! I'm a drug-free bodybuilder-and I bust my tail trying to be my best!"

First of all, it's perfectly normal to have fears. Lord knows, I have plenty of them. Here are just a couple of my more recent ones:

After placing fifth at the 1997 NPC Team Universe, I thought that would be the end of my bodybuilding career. I truly feared dropping farther down the ladder and ruining my reputation as a champion bodybuilder. I started telling myself that I didn't have the genetic shape to compete at that high level of competition anymore. "The guys now are freaks!" I would tell myself. I started checking into those "little contests" with big, prestigious-sounding titles. You know the one I'm talking about. Like the ABCQ Mr. Galaxy and Beyond which has only six lowerlevel competitors. "Nobody will really know that this contest wasn't very competitive," I would reason.

When the IFBB announced that bodybuilding was being considered to become an Olympic sport, many of my friends asked me if I would try to make the United States team. "Well," I reasoned, "I don't know how they plan on doing the drug testing. With the Olympics being such a prestigious honor, many 'not-so-natural' bodybuilders are going to want to get on that team also."

Fear prevents us from setting goals and working towards them with every ounce of our God-given abilities and talents.

What was I doing? Due to my fear of failing, I was protecting myself from the pain I could possibly endure in the future. In my mind, I was ready to blame circumstances that I could not control in the event I failed to do as well as I wanted at my upcoming shows. That energy and focus could have been far better spent looking for different strategies and opportunities to overcome any obstacles that stood in my way.

Whether I was saying that I lacked the genetics necessary to win the Team Universe or that the drug testing methods would determine if I actually had a chance to make the Olympic team, I was already making excuses in the event things didn't turn out well for me. How can I be blamed for my genetic shape? That was my parents' fault-and, as you know, we can't be blamed for not having great genetics!

As far as making the Olympic team was concerned, my fate would be decided by the way the rules were established. "Hey, it's not in my hands!" I subconsciously told myself.

How could I possibly become the best I could be, really go for my dreams, and enjoy the process of bodybuilding with such debilitating fears? I had to admit to myself I could not. Deep in my heart, I always knew what the truth was.

Come on! Now, it's your turn to 'fess up. Do you have any of the following fears or concerns? In order to become the very best you can be as a bodybuilder, being honest with yourself is an absolute must. Ask yourself: Do I . . .

· continually focus on how difficult it is to train without drugs?

· continually tell everyone who will listen how difficult it is to train without drugs?

· have the belief that I can't make it in the sport without using drugs?

· emphasize to your friends and the general public that I am drug free but that most other bodybuilders use drugs to get big?

· continually feel that I don't have the time to become a better bodybuilder?

· refer to myself as a hardgainer?

· refer to myself (even worse!) as a drug-free hardgainer"?

· feel that genetic potential determines about 95 percent of how good I can become as a bodybuilder and that you, unfortunately, do not have great genetics?

· feel that any bodybuilder who takes what you consider to be an "excessive" amount of legal supplements is really not drug free?

· continually complain that the major muscle magazines don't offer enough information directed specifically at natural bodybuilders?

· continually find myself complaining that natural bodybuilders don't get enough publicity in the major bodybuilding magazines?

· spend a considerable amount of time thinking about or studying the tremendous results steroids, growth hormone, and other illegal physique-enhancing drugs can do for the bodybuilder who uses them-although I personally would never use them?

· spend time judging the character of bodybuilders who do use drugs?

· continually question the drug-free status of outstanding natural bodybuilders?

· believe that drug-free bodybuilding contests are not truly 100 percent drug free?

· have a considerable number of discussions with my friends about the effectiveness or reliability of drug testing methods used at natural

bodybuilding contests?

· continually have discussions with my friends about which bodybuilders seem to be cheating on the drug tests?

· include among my personal beliefs that anyone who has used drugs in the past should not ever be allowed to compete in a drug-free contest?; or, that many so-called "natural" bodybuilders have elaborate plans to use massive amounts of drugs, quit exactly 365 days before a show, and then enter contests that require being drug free for one year?

· indulge in rumors with my friends about who is really using drugs in your gym?

These fears and concerns are all distractions that will prevent you from becoming your best. They will keep you from going all out with 100 percent intensity. They will prevent you from learning new strategies that you should know to take yourself to the next level. These fears may keep you from experimenting with new diets or training methods. You'll start blaming your lack of effort and progress on circumstances that are out of your control. You will be playing a game in your mind that you have made impossible to win.

"But Skip, some of those things are true and are valid concerns!" you might be saying. Are they true-or do you perceive them to be true? Your perceptions will create your reality. In other words, if you believe those things are true, you will train, eat, and sleep as if they were indeed true. Will that make you a better bodybuilder? Have you ever had a perception about bodybuilding that years ago you would have sworn to be true but turned out to be wrong? What if your current perceptions are unwarranted?

Look, I can't vouch for every bodybuilder who says he is natural. I can't say that everything is fair when it comes to bodybuilding genetics. What I can say, however, is that those things are beyond your control and you can't worry about them.

I'll share with you an e-mail I received to exemplify my point:


Quit wasting everyone's time with this idea that you can get big without 'roids. Every supplement you push is crap; unless you are naturally gifted, you'll always be small. Training your butt off won't get you muscles! I know a lot of guys that have been training for years and are nothing! So quit writing this crap and say what's right!!!! GET BIG-'ROID OUT! OUT

Later, skinny man!

This guy fails to grasp my message. The only way to set yourself up to win at the "game" of bodybuilding is this:

1. Become the best you can personally be, and

2. Enjoy the process at the same time.

There is no way possible for you to give all of your effort if you think the odds are stacked against you. There is no way possible for you to enjoy the experience of bodybuilding if you feel you are screwed right from the start. Focusing on your fears will ensure ultimate failure. Again, you must focus on what you want and not on what you do not want. Too many natural bodybuilders are complaining about how much less muscle they can build-without even giving 100 percent of their effort.

The question here is not Do you have any fears? More important questions are, What will you do in spite of those fears? Will your fears control you? Will your fears debilitate you? Will you let your fears determine what you try and do not try? Will you let fear ruin the unlimited pleasure you can enjoy from bodybuilding?

I'll emphasize this point through this book: Courage is the antidote for destroying all debilitating fears. Faith is also a very helpful virtue in overcoming them. But what you really may need are some new references to get you to start believing that your fears may be unwarranted.

I'll emphasize this point through this blog: Courage is the antidote for destroying all debilitating fears. Faith is also a very helpful virtue in overcoming them. But what you really may need are some new references to get you to start believing that your fears may be unwarranted.

And you know what? Who cares how they pick the Olympic team? If I'm not at my very best, I don't have a chance to make the team anyway! Maybe I need to focus more on creating the best physique I can without worrying about those things that are out of my control!

I will tackle the fears and limiting beliefs that I have mentioned in this chapter and offer some differing points of view in order to eliminate these impediments from your way of thinking. My goal is to clear your mind of these fears and concerns and get you on course to chase your bodybuilding dreams with undaunted passion!

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