Finding a Great Partner part 2.

Finding a Great Partner…. Part 2.

What follows may seem like a love note to my wife. It is. Bear with me….

I’ve written about the importance of harmony in human relations and building a mastermind group in your own life. I’ve also written about having a partner dedicated to realizing your goals as well as their own. This is vital in the gym. Having someone to watch over you, care about you and push you past your own perceived limits will create a huge level of progress for you. The problem of course is finding someone who you harmonize with most of the time as well as having your best interest at heart at all times. It’s easy to make acquaintances. It’s hard to develop real relationships that last and make both parties stronger. If you’ve read Finding a Great Partner part 1, you know that my wife Holly has been my partner in life through marriage and raising a family but also in the weight room. She helps to motivate me to do better than I would do on my own. Because she’s watching, I push harder.

I’ve achieved pro bodybuilder status because I found a great partner, who also led me to finding other great people to surround ourselves with so that we could grow. Indeed, my wife is so special it’s beyond words. She’s not just special because she’s a great wife and mother, she literally makes everything just a little more special. She will go out of her way to make a decoration for a cake because the detail will bring a smile to someones’ face. She will send flowers to her grandparents on their birthday across the country every year. As I write this, I’m reading through a book she created of our family vacation just two weeks ago. The trip was already special, but this book is like the icing on the cake. Now whenever I see it, I will experience the emotions I had on the trip along with the gratitude for having a wife that cares about going above and beyond.

Many think they have someone special in their lives. Here’s how I know; regardless of how long we have been together or where we are in our lives as far as business and parenting, Holly never stops trying a little harder than she did before. She is always looking for ways to make others feel special. She’s the best partner I could ever ask for. I sincerely wish for everyone reading this, that you find someone to partner with in different aspects of your life so that you may grow in those areas. I’ve grown in business because of my wife. I’ve grown in bodybuilding because of my wife. I’ve developed a philosophy on life because of my wife. Most of the times I’m smiling, it’s because I’m thinking about her and how great of a partner she is. I try harder daily because I don’t want to disappoint her. That’s the truth.

So go out and find that partner that loves you AND forces you to grow as a person.

In health,

Sean

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What You May Be Lacking

What’s the most important thing in life? Money? Family? Love? I’ve often said in my writings that personal philosophy- a set of guiding principles is the biggest determining factor in the quality of your life. I’ve said this for years, but it wan’t until this year that I realized what truly underpins the development of philosophy and fulfillment. I have had more personal development this year than in the last 10 years. After really focussing on why, I’ve come to the realization that I discovered the most important thing in life, and took advantage of it. So what is it?

The most important thing in life are the relationships we develop with others. Simply put, our associations with others develops in us our philosophy, sense of fulfillment, joy, frustration, depression, ecstasy, anxiety, fear- nearly every emotion we experience as humans stems from our interactions with other people. Humans are social creatures. The reason we have survived so long as a species against larger, more powerful creatures, against the forces of nature, against disease is because of cooperation and the development of language and communication. We well stories and write about our experiences and discoveries so that other generations may learn. The length of human existence will depend largely on the harmonious relationships that can be sustained.

This is also the case with all our individual lives. The quality of and harmony of the relationships we build will affect the quality of our lives more than any other aspect of life. This year I have been lucky enough to develop incredible strong relationships with people that have solidified my faith in others and myself. These relationships have also led to incredible experiences that have helped transform my philosophy towards life. All of this has led to an increase in fulfillment in my day to day experiences because I am grateful most of the time. Before I focussed more on expectation. Today I focus more on appreciation. And that has made all the difference.

So, my advice would be to get out in the world and develop quality relationships that serve you and shape you into the person you’d like to be. Look for honest, gracious and humble people that you admire. Look for mentors you can learn from. Don’t just look in your local area. Relationships can by built across the world today, something not possible even just a few decades ago. Look for people you can be in harmony with, so that you may work together to build something greater than yourselves.

 

P.S.  Don’t allow just anyone into your life.  Make sure they have your best interest at heart.  Even if you’ve known someone for years, make sure they fit your criteria for a harmonious relationship.

 

In Health,

Sean

FOCUS. DISTRACTION. PURPOSE.

As I write this blog post, it’s 5:20 am and I’m sitting here on a cruise ship, waiting for the gym to open. This is a My Little Pony themed ship mind you….it’s for my kids and during the day I’m surrounded by people with their families, friends and loved ones. It’s a beautiful sight for the most part. However, being a cruise, there are, of course copious amounts of alcohol being consumed and right smack dab in the middle of the ship is a Casino, for those who haven’t quite figured out how to waste ALL of their money yet. Don’t get me wrong, the beauty of the cruise far outweighs the negative images of drunk gamblers, but it’s fairly clear to see that many of these folks are drowning their desperation in alcohol, excess food and gambling. I can see this because they don’t even look happy while eating and drinking. This is normal for them. This cruise may be an attempt to escape their everyday life, but as the saying goes, “wherever you go, there you are.”

This leads me to a few concepts that I have come across on the nature of fulfillment and success that have stuck with me over the years. Success is fairly easy because it leaves clues. Millionaires and billionaires are common today. Their blueprints are there for anyone to look at should they wish to. What is less common is someone who is truly happy and walks around with a sense of fulfillment. Just look how many rich people consume drugs and alcohol to numb themselves from the problems of life that money cannot fix. The issue I think comes down to focus. The word focus, has been on my mind as of late. Over the last seven months I’ve become more focused- laser focused even, on achieving certain things in my life. But I have also tried to pay attention to exactly what I am focussing on, or what the story is that I’m telling myself about what is happening. Energy flows where focus goes. When I decided that I was focused on returning to the bodybuilding stage, I had to make sure I was focusing on the right things, the right people and the right lessons to achieve what I wanted. I had to sacrifice the distractions in my life. I stopped drinking completely. I gave up trying to help certain people because I was allowing my energy to be sucked away. My focus became a set of disciplines and that became strength. Mostly, I had to analyze what I was focusing on and whether or not I was focusing on my problems or my outcomes.

BE OUTCOME FOCUSED

I believe firmly that whatever you focus on you find. If you’re looking for problems with someone, you will find them. I also believe that most people focus on the things they DO NOT WANT rather than what their desired outcome is. If you are a problem focused individual, this may be a good example of the conversations in your head; “There’s never enough money. See, people can’t be trusted! I have to do everything myself. I never get what I want because I’m not special. I’ll never be rich. I can’t overcome this problem. I’ll never find someone to love. I deserve to be alone.” When these thoughts are running through your head, it’s important to remember that you are focussing on your problems rather than what you really want. I realize it’s easy to focus on the problems because life seems to be a series of obstacles that stand in the way of what we want. However, if that’s true, it would be just as easy to see problems as normal and not things that need to dominate your mind space.

IMPORTANCE OF FOCUS
When thinking about how important focus truly is, it would serve us well to remember that energy, if focused can do seemingly impossible things. A simple ray of light from the sun, if focused through a shot glass can produce extreme heat and fire. Think about this when looking to set fire to an endeavor in your life. Likewise, some of the best investors and businessmen in the world offer similar advice; the best investment you can make is to focus on on thing you’re good at, and put all your effort into that one thing. “Put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket”, as Andrew Carnegie put it. Diversification is often overrated. Focus is more effective. Nothing is as powerful as concentrated human effort.

ELIMINATING DISTRACTION
As important as focussed effort is, it cannot occur without first identifying your purpose and desires and then subsequently eliminating all distractions that do not fall in line with achieving that purpose. A burning desire is fine, but if you are distracted by television, social media, gossip, the news, family that doesn’t support you, friends that are toxic…whatever the distraction is it must be eliminated. That sounds harsh, but I stand by those words. Focus and distraction cannot co-exist. My distractions were the news, drinking, eating out too often and finding fault with things and people that I had no control over. Refining my philosophy helped eliminate the distractions in my life.

So the steps here are: 1. Identify your chief desire or purpose in life.
2. Get so focussed on achieving that desire that the people you need in your life will be attracted to you and help you achieve it. (The point is not that you have to go the road alone, but rather the RIGHT PEOPLE will come into your life when you are focussed.)

PIG- HEADED DETERMINATION

One of the concepts that stuck with me from a great book, The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes was that of Pig Headed determination. What he is really talking about is perseverance at all costs, but he highlights that others will see you as pig-headed when you set out on your journey. And….that’s okay! That’s what it takes sometimes to get what you really want. Note: this does not give anyone permission to be mean or violate the rights of others. Pig-headed determination simply implies that nothing or no one will deter you from arriving at your destination in life. No one can truly be successful without others, so being pig- headed does not in anyway imply that you should be abrasive or rude, rather it suggests never being distracted while finding harmony with others and working together to achieve your burning desire.

PURPOSE

This is the hardest concept for most people to nail down. The Stoics believe that our purpose is to live in accordance with nature. They also believed that our primary job as humans is to be “good people.” I agree with the latter more than the former. As humans, we have always defied nature. Although I understand that by referencing nature, the Stoics are suggesting that we don’t waste time on things outside our control– nature. While this is true, I would suggest that too many philosophies have taken nature to mean that we shouldn’t try to alter our environment and change our external circumstances. I couldn’t disagree more. Humans were never intended to fly, yet millions do in airplanes daily. The human desire to achieve more and defy nature and genetics is what makes us human. We get to choose. We don’t have to follow nature. If it’s cold, we don’t have to fly south. We can wear a coat and turn on the heater.

So the idea of purpose really comes down to answering three questions in my opinion:
What can you do exceptionally well, if not be among the best in the world at?
How can your work help others so that more may prosper from your existence in the world? (Fulfillment)
How much value can you offer others and how much do you demand from the marketplace for your services?
Once you have answered these questions, you have found your purpose. And here’s the thing; although your work may change throughout your life, the truth is your purpose is to do the work at hand the best you possibly can. That’s all. It’s not complicated. Do the work the best you can. If the work doesn’t suit you, change it. But, don’t blame the work for your lack of effort. If your job is to sweep the floor, do it the best you can. That’s your purpose in the moment.

I hope this helps anyone looking to hone in on an endeavor in life. My goal in writing all articles is as much to help others as to remind myself of truths I have discovered in my own life. In other words, I write to remind myself of my own advice as much as any other reason. So, in closing please remember.
-Focus on what your want and keep your mind off of what you don’t want.
-Identify and eliminate all distractions that are keeping you from achieving what you want. It may help to make a DO NOT DO list. Like, do not watch TV after 9pm, do not eat sugar….whatever you know is harming you.
-Ask questions to discover your purpose so that you may align yourself with a plan to achieve your desire.
-Never forget that the ultimate goal is to always grow and then give beyond yourself because fulfillment comes from growth and giving.

In health,

Sean

How I Turned Pro (In 5 Steps)

On the left: How I looked seven months prior to earning my Pro Card.
On the right: Earning IFBB Pro Card at the USA Championships.

It may or may not surprise you that one of my dreams as a kid was to be a professional in sports. I think that most kids, especially boys, share this dream. There were a few problems that I realized would keep me from fulfilling this dream. The first was that I have been plagued with severe asthma since I was one year old. I spent a great deal of my childhood in and out of hospitals and on various medications for breathing. Another obstacle that stood in the way of me becoming a professional athlete was that I was a small, skinny kid. My hand-eye coordination was great, and I was fast, but I lacked the mass for football and the endurance for most other sports. In my eighth grade year, I began lifting weights pretty seriously with my father and I was able to gain significant strength. Then, in ninth grade, I made the wrestling team. This sport actually suited me well because I was short and a little stalky. Not long into the season, however, I developed severe back and hip pain. I struggled with this pain for two years, all the while popping ibuprofen like candy.

After I graduated high school, I was misdiagnosed with RA, rheumatoid arthritis. I was prescribed Percocet, Darvocet, and a steroid to keep the pain under control. I nearly became addicted to these compounds. To say that I walked around like a stoned zombie would be accurate. Not only that, I stopped lifting weights. After losing lots of muscle tissue and feeling miserable most of the time, I decided to go back and see a specialist. This time, Holly, my girlfriend at the time and now my wife, went with me. The doctor properly diagnosed with with AS, ankylosing spondylitis, a form of reactive arthritis that attacks the joints and organs. People with this specific disease actually carry a genetic marker, HLA-B27. The recommendation of the doctor was that I stop exercising and being immunosuppressive drugs along with chemotherapy drugs to lower my immune system and reduce the pain. After hearing this news, along with seeing how sickly the people in the waiting room were, I decided to completely ignore his advice and embark on a journey of health and wellness. No drugs. Lots of weight training and exercise. I would also try to identify foods that were making me feel bad. I knew that most autoimmune diseases are at least exacerbated by poor diets. This led me to becoming a personal trainer and open my first full-service health club at 24 years old. In 2008 I competed in my first bodybuilding competition. I won my class as a bantamweight and lightweight open. I did two more shows in 2009 and 2010. I won the lightweight class in both of those shows as well.

After 2010, Holly and I decided to focus on the business and start a family. I’m happy to say we have been very blessed with two kids and a successful chain of health clubs. This year, 2017 my wife Holly decided that she wanted to push herself to do a figure show. I researched a great deal to find her a coach that I thought would be a good fit and came across Swann DeLaRosa, a top five Figure Olympian. After two weeks of watching Holly’s body transform, I decided that I wanted to test the water again and see if I could make a return to the stage. Swann’s husband, Jonathan has long been my favorite bodybuilder after watching him turn pro at the USAs in 2011. Honestly, I was nervous that he wouldn’t take my on as a client because I wasn’t in contest shape and I only had nine weeks to pull it all together. But on April 1st, 2017 after putting in the work and giving it our all, my wife and I competed together at the Governor’s Cup in Sacramento. She took second in her class in her very first show (and many had her winning the show). She look absolutely amazing and I knew that she had a bright future. I also won the lightweight bodybuilding division and the new classic physique (classic bodybuilding) A class under 170 lbs. Right away my wife called Swann and told her she wanted to do the USAs, just 13 weeks away! Long story short, Holly got sick and was forced to pull out of the show, but I was able to carry on and earn my pro card, becoming a professional athlete. My childhood dream had been fulfilled and the best part was that my kids and coach, (now one of my very best friends) Jon DeLaRosa were present to watch me earn pro status. So how did I do it? A weak, sickly kid with arthritis and asthma? Well, it’s been one week after stepping of the stage of the USAs and I think I know how I was able to make a comeback to the bodybuilding stage and turn pro all within 7 months.

HOW I TURNED PRO IN FIVE STEPS:

I first assembled a great team around me. I had my wife, parents and two amazing, coaches Jon and Swann. As Jim Collins says in the book Good to Great, “First figure out who belongs on the bus. Your team. Then you can figure out where the bus is going.” I didn’t know I’d be turning pro this year, but I assembled the right team to do so first.
I trusted the people on my team. When push came to shove and had to cut carbs, change my training style and add more cardio, I didn’t complain. I did the work as prescribed knowing that my team cared about me and had that best plan for me. This is very difficult for most people and frankly, honest, caring coaches who are qualified and hungry to see others do well are very rare. So, I was lucky in a way.
I believed in myself. If there is one trait that I have that has made me successful in any way, it is my capacity for faith, or belief, if you will. I have always had faith in myself and those around me, that the best possible outcome will happen. I have never doubted my abilities. I don’t consider myself cocky, but I see obstacles as more of a challenge. Having beat AS and asthma, I love a good challenge. A Napoleon Hill said, everyone has the capacity for faith, but most are using it in reverse gear and getting the things they don’t want in life, the things they fear. I agree. Have faith you can get what you want and then take massive action to get it.
I had a clear vision of exactly what I wanted and desired. Clarity and focus are crucial to achieving anything. I firmly believe that most people don’t know what they want in life so they resign themselves to boring lives of quiet desperation. In the days leading up to the shows this season, I would meditate and read to control my mind and focus it on my outcome. I think that outcome-focused people avoid becoming problem-focused people. The biggest drug in the world isn’t in pill form. It is problems. We become addicted to our problems because we focus on them instead of what we actually want our outcome to be.
I let fate take its course. This may sound counterintuitive considering the previous four steps, but the truth is that some things are outside our control. This is especially true in the bodybuilding world. It’s a subjective sport where opinions matter, not facts. While this may be difficult to handle, the truth is we live in a world where bad things happen to good people, the best don’t always win and terrible things occur. Paying too much attention to things outside our control is a sure-fire way to depression and dissatisfaction. Instead, as the Stoics believed, I spent all the time and effort I could doing the things that were in my control and I let fate take it from there. That doesn’t mean settle by the way. I’m simply saying that we should identify what we have control over and what we don’t and spend all of our energy on the things we CAN control!

So there it is, my long journey to becoming an IFBB Professional Classic Physique Bodybuilder. If I’m being honest, it’s still a little unreal. I’d like to thank all my family and friend agains for their support. I’d like to thanks my clubs Fitness System for being the best place to train in California. I’d urge anyone looking to have an incredible coach and human being in their life to look at http://www.jondelarosa.com and http://www.swanndelarosa.com and find out about their services. I’m honored to call them both some of my closest friends.

And above all, I’d like to thank my wife Holly and kids for sticking with me through this journey. There will be more adventures to come.

In health,

Sean Covell IFBB PRO