Words Can Kill

Words Matter

When tragedy strikes, especially ones caused by evil behavior like the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, the initial reaction is to look for a motive. Most people are not murderous psychopaths, so our ability to understand why someone could hate their fellow man enough to indiscriminately kill and injure hundreds of them is limited. We understand the tools they use to kill so many, so it’s easy for us to target those tools and weapons. But weapons have no feelings. They have no motives. Law enforcement will attempt to figure out a motive, but I’m proposing that all this type of behavior begins early in life when we all form the beliefs, values and philosophy that forms who we become and how we act. I’m suggesting that something as simple as an “innocent” phrase can plant the seed of hatred towards others. After all, the one thing common in all mass murderers is a blatant disregard the value of human life. We know this is true because often times the killers commit suicide, showing they do not value even their own lives.

Below are common phrases that can be heard in nearly every culture and country on the planet that I believe contribute to the devaluation of human life and mankind as a whole. When reading the list, think to yourself how many times you’ve heard these phrases. Think also, whether you have ever uttered one. Who was around when you did so, or who were you speaking to? What did you mean by what you said? As we will see, words matter. More than you may know.

“Don’t trust anyone.” How many times have we all heard this phrase? Most of us began hearing it when we were children and it drilled into us a sense of fear and hatred towards humankind as a whole. If we can’t trust other people, how are we supposed to live? The answer is a life filled with fear, anxiety and paranoia that can push people over the edge.

“Don’t talk to strangers.” This is a difficult one to stop saying because we all want our kids and loved ones to be safe. However, while this phrase may have good intentions, when combined with the other phrases on this list can and most likely will lead to a hatred of others.

“If you want something done right, do it yourself.” I must say that I’m guilty of this one. Part of the reason for it is that I’ve had experiences, which reinforced a belief that others are not reliable. The truth however, is that by uttering this phrase, I’m simply choosing to focus on negative experiences involving others rather than all the benefits I have received in my life from humans cooperating with each other. The truth is, if you are reading this, it’s because of the incredible capacity for humans to cooperate and create new things for the purpose of increasing the standard of living for everyone.

“You’re all alone in this world and then you die alone.” This is just patently false, but I continue to hear it. If you feel alone, again you are choosing to focus on negative human interactions in your life rather than ones that have brought you joy, income, housing, food or just about anything else in the modern world. You are not alone. Others have been through what you have. Others feel what you feel. It took me a while to realize this truth, but once I did, hundreds of opportunities opened up to me in my life.

“People suck.” Except for you, right? I think this is probably one of the most common negative phrases I encounter. Sure some people suck. Sometimes we suck. Generic, ignorant statements like this do more to create a philosophy of hatred in people than almost anything else I can think of. Be very careful when uttering phrases like this, even if you’re just kidding around. Others who may be in your presence, who look up to you may not understand that. You just may be a cause of their distrust and possible hatred towards mankind.

“You can’t depend on anyone but yourself.” This is much like the “do it yourself” phrase that is so prevalent. Both statements are patently falsely and serve only to reinforce a philosophy of hate.

“Human nature is evil.” Sure. It is also kind, selfless, caring, greedy. It’s all those things and more. It just depends what you choose to see and focus on.

“Mankind is dangerous.” This is true, but nature itself is dangerous for all living things. Anything mortal faces constant danger from its environment.

“Rich people are evil and greedy.” You can replace the word rich with whatever you like—whites, Jews, bankers, business owners… It doesn’t really matter. What you’re doing by perpetuating these types of slurs is to create a lack of harmony between groups of people. In reality, there are no groups of people. There are just people. Any person is capable of certain behaviors or characteristics. The color of the person, their financial situation, their sexuality, all of that has no bearing on who they are as a person. The only thing that truly matters is the set of beliefs and philosophy they live and act by.

“Marry inside your own race.” This may seem like an “old school” belief, but it’s still found in the world today. I’ll say it again, your race has no bearing on who you are as a person. Your philosophy and values do. These phrases are so destructive, especially to impressionable young people. They serve to create discord and fear towards those we see as “different.”

“They are not like us.” Really? Do “they” eat, sleep, work, bleed, love and die? Oh! Then they really are more like us than you think.

Most of us have heard or even uttered some of these phrases. Let me pose a question: what good has it done? Another question: what harm has it done? The harm is unknown because everything we see and hear affects us to a degree. This is especially true among young people who are just beginning to develop their philosophy for how to live. Let me be clear, saying these phrases doesn’t not make you a bad person. It doesn’t mean you hate people. It only means that you hold certain beliefs that cause your to be distrustful of other people. My request is only that you not let your distrust of others plant the seed of hatred of mankind in others. We cannot always know how our words affect others. Let our words be those of harmony, love and strength rather than hatred, violence and fear.

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 begin 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 opening my first full-service health club at 24 years old. In 2008 I competed in my first bodybuilding competition. I won my classes as a novice bantamweight and open lightweight. 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. In 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 she took Holly on as a client. 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. I reached out to IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Jon De La Rosa, who 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 me 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 her coach and told her she wanted to do the NPC USAs, just 13 weeks away! I agreed to continue on with her and compete then as well.

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 De La Rosa, were present to watch me earn pro status. So how did I do it? A weak, sickly kid with arthritis and asthma?

HOW I TURNED PRO IN FIVE STEPS:

  1. I first assembled a great team around me. I had my wife, kids, parents and my amazing coach. 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.
  2. I trusted the people on my team. When push came to shove and I 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 quite frankly, honest, caring coaches who are qualified and hungry to see others do well are very rare. So, I was lucky in a way.
  3. 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 beaten 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 do 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 friends again for their support. I’d like to thank 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 to find out about his services.

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