As I get older and am more experienced in this world, I feel like one of the most important things we’re all supposed to do is show people a better way. I’m not saying to be pompous and arrogant, thinking you’re better than anybody else. I’m also not saying to push your way of thinking or living on anybody else. What I am saying is that if you have some knowledge or skill that can really help somebody else out, offer to take a little time and share what you know to those who would greatly benefit from it. Help people navigate this crazy maze of life.
Like take my field of physics. If I see a student struggling to understand some concept that I understand well, I try to take a little time and explain it to them, or at the very least, direct them to some book or materials that explains it clearly and easily. We all benefit from this. The more talented scientists and engineers we have out there, the more smart people we have to work on the technical problems we face in this world. The same goes for just about every aspect of life.
I also try to help out in the weight room. I’ve now been lifting for years. I’ve read lots of books on how to properly train and diet to transform your physique. Sometimes I’ll take time to explain to people how to properly do a cut, how to be careful during ‘bulking’ so that you don’t put on too much fat, I tell them about software tools they can use to track their macros (protein, carbs, etc), and all that. I don’t like to be ‘that guy’ in the gym correcting everyone’s form, but when people ask me, I do show them proper technique and tell them ways to avoid injury. It’s pretty nice, because doing this has cultivated a lot of new friendships in my life.
Not too long ago I was in the gym and some high school students came in. They were really young. Maybe 14 or 15? They saw me doing bench press and the weight I was using to warm up was more weight than their max, by a lot. They’re looking at me amazed because I’m not a huge guy and I was warming up with 185 lbs, doing sets of 10 just to get my shoulders stretched out. I guess I don’t look very old either, and they were all clamoring around me, “How can I get strong? I’m on the wrestling team. I need to strengthen up.” I’m not the greatest power lifter in the world, but I had a lot to teach them. I started asking them about their diet, what kind of workouts they were doing, and all that. I taught them about the importance of protein and getting in enough calories, introduced them to pyramid sets, and gave them a lot of tips to get them on track.
I was watching this video of World Champion boxer Mike Tyson talk about his early trainer Cus D’Amato and I found it really moving. Tyson was from the projects, grew up dirt poor, and had inherited the culture and mindsets one does growing up in that sort of environment.
D’Amato took Tyson into his home and personally mentored him, physically and mentally. He turned a violent street kid into arguably one of the greatest boxers to ever live. That’s amazing to me. D’Amato must’ve been one heck of a guy. I don’t know the history all that well, but I believe Cus D’Amato died before Tyson ever became the world champion. That’s sad because if D’Amato had been around, maybe Tyson wouldn’t have ended up in all the trouble that he later did.
As we get better at something, we tend to become deeply aware of the particular subject we’re dealing with. We become aware of the greats, whether it be the world’s top physicists, or the top power-lifters, and you don’t feel qualified to help somebody. They should be talking with the greats, not with little ol’ me. But what you don’t realize is that if you’ve been dedicated to something for years, putting hours and hours into it each day, you’ve learned a whole lot, even if you’re not the “best”. You have a lot to offer somebody who is new to that thing. Keep moving forward, but take a little time to help the people you bump into along the way. Pass on your tips and knowledge. Sometimes you can totally change someone’s life.