Over the years I’ve been asked time and time again about the key ingredient to my success. Was it the training system? The well-thought-out diet plan? Or, as the old Michael Jordan commercial would ask, was it the shoes?

Well, from my perspective, it could have been all of them, or maybe none. There’s no way that any one athlete can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that he trained harder than all the athletes who finished below him in the standings. Nor could he say, “No one paid attention to nutritional detail more than I did.” I’ve seen athletes with far less genetic potential reign supreme because of something intangible they had beyond the physical.

Which brings me to the point of this discussion. After watching and studying the lives of some of the world’s greatest athletes, I believe that in most cases there existed a mind-altering catalyst that drove them beyond the boundaries of the ordinary—that something that created an unquenchable desire to strive
to the pinnacle of greatness.

At the age of 6, I dreamed of being the Greek hero Hercules and the biblical strongman Samson. Every physical chore I was given by my father was, in my mind, a way to grow bigger muscles, so I looked forward to every strenuous task my dad would give me. I looked at all these chores as being what was necessary to become like my childhood heroes.

I’m of the belief that there are those of us born with that special “something.” It can’t be trained into you. It can’t be purchased. It can’t be taught. You either have it or you don’t. That something is deep inside the hearts of a select few whom God has gifted for a particular place in time. There is only one Arnold, one Frank Zane, one Phil Heath, one Muhammad Ali, one Lebron James, and one Jim Brown, to name a few.

There’s no duplication to these particular athletes, yet the question remains: Where did they get the drive to defy the odds and refuse to accept “impossible” and “can’t” as options? I feel that my personal catalyst came by way of what was ingrained in me as a child. I was fortunate to have two awesome parents. My mom was constantly saying to me, “Son, put God first in your life and you will be blessed.” Then my dad would say, “Whatever you do, be the best at it.”

And so I’ve achieved the greatest bodybuilding accolades as the NPC National Champion, the IFBB World Champion, and an eight-time Mr. Olympia. My catalyst may be unique in its nature; however, all great or inspiring athletes have that unexplainable something that sets them apart. Some call it “the eye of the tiger”! Always hungry! Never satisfied!