Congratulations on your IFBB Pro Card! There is a photo floating around that depicts you lying on your back in elation shortly after the show. What were some of the emotions you experienced with the realisation of such a long-term goal? And how long until you were truly able to appreciate it?
I honestly love that photo so much. Every time I look at it the emotions come rushing back – excitement, happiness, satisfaction, pride, relief, exhaustion - I was completely overwhelmed yet completely calm at exactly the same time; it was such a surreal feeling.
After so many challenges, trials & tribulations, and having pushed myself to the edge so many times, the feeling of finally achieving such a long term goal is impossible to put into words. Even now, over 3 months later, I really struggle to truly appreciate it.
I think the first time I step on the IFBB Pro Men’s Physique stage in the USA and the bright lights hit me smack in the face, I think that will be that moment when I truly appreciate it.
One of our favourite metaphors is “to take the island you’ve got to burn the boats…” in short, it’s a way to prove how committed you truly are to your endeavour. The IFBB Pro Card - What an epic journey with so many opportunities to quit. What boats did you burn?
I went absolutely all in. I left no stone unturned. I tripled down on everything that was within my realm of control. I removed all my safety nets and gave myself no option but to one day win my IFBB Pro Card.
One thing that many people probably don’t know is that when I set the goals of winning my IFBB Pro Card in Men’s Physique 5 years ago, I promised myself that from a health & fitness lifestyle perspective that would be my #1 focus. My only focus.
I cut everything in my training and in my diet that did not support that goal. No more heavy compound lifts that would upset the aesthetics of my physique. No more periods of dieting that would cause me to put on unnecessary body fat. No more messing around playing performance sports that would take away from my workouts. No wasted workouts. No compromises.
And I promised myself that I simply would not quit until I achieved it.
It is said that the way you do one thing is the way you do everything. This is no different for burning boats - like a habit, behaviour or muscle… the more you practice or use it, the stronger and better it gets. What experiences have you had in growing MassiveJoes that practiced the same boat burning principle you used to become an IFBB Pro?
When I first started MassiveJoes in 2005 it was a part time thing for me. I was studying, working, tutoring… doing a lot of other things that really pulled my focus and attention away from the business. Looking back on it now, I was risk mitigating. I was putting insurances in place to give me something to fall back on. I was securing my safety nets just in case MassiveJoes didn’t take off the way I wanted it to take off.
And it didn’t.
Until I decided to go all in.
In 2011 I finished my studies, quit my other jobs, and put everything I had into MassiveJoes. I removed all of my safety nets, gave myself no option but to succeed, and the business exploded. I knew that to be successful as a Men’s Physique athlete I had to do the same. Remove all safety nets. Go all in. Give myself no option but to succeed.
Another word for going “all in” is obsessed and many people avoid obsession with a fear it detracts from a balanced life. How would you answer such opinions? How do you view balance? Do you even believe in balance? And if so, do you employ balance in your life?
Oh yes – the good old “balance” debate. The hard truth is that success often demands obsession. And obsession and balance are antagonistic; they are complete opposites. They cannot simultaneously exist at the same point in time. So, from a short term perspective you have to choose one over the other. And if you want to be successful in anything you do, you have to choose obsession. I think people can easily fall into the trap of using “balance” as an excuse. Using it as a cop-out. Using it as a safety net because they are afraid of going all-in and it not working out. They are afraid of failing at one thing, so they spread themselves thin over everything.
That being said, I do understand the importance of balancing all aspects of your life, but I take a much more long term view of balance. I understand that in the short term I am going to need to sacrifice some aspects of my life in order to be successful in others. I am going to need to go through periods of obsession. But when those periods are over I am going to make a conscious effort to focus on the other aspects of my life that have been neglected.
By doing this I am able to focus on obsession in the short term, and balance in the long term. Achieving balance is a marathon, not a sprint.
Considering your success in both business and bodybuilding you’ve clearly found your stride in that marathon. You’ve also found the ability to obsessively focus on a mission. Your mission in business is clear for all to see - deliver the products and information to help people improve their lives through health and fitness. What’s your personal mission and how does being an IFBB Pro fit? Why do you do it and why do you endeavour to be the best?
I’m an opportunity fiend. I feed off making the most of opportunities that are presented to me.
I attribute this to the way I was raised and the sacrifices that my parents, my grandparents and those before me made for me to be able to have the opportunities I enjoy today. I understand and respect the sacrifice, and I am extremely grateful for it, which is why I endeavour to be the best at everything I do and why I pursue the most of every opportunity.
That answer exemplifies you and being an IFBB Pro. It is a prestigious label that puts you in an exclusive world class group of elite athletes who are the very best at what they do. What does this mean to you as CEO of MassiveJoes?
From a business perspective being an IFBB Pro is the ultimate example of practicing what I preach. A lot of supplement and apparel companies sponsor pro athletes. MassiveJoes is owned, operated and run by pro athletes. That’s a huge, fundamental difference. The health & fitness lifestyle is in our DNA. You’re not going to get that from any other supplement or apparel company. Period.
What is one lesson you would like to impart on all those budding entrepreneurs and bodybuilders out there?
It’s funny, actually, because the lessons that bodybuilding has taught me over the years I’ve taken and applied to business; and the lessons that business has taught me I have taken and applied back to bodybuilding. It’s almost cyclical, but at the same compounding.
If I have to narrow it down to just one lesson, one piece of advice, it would be this; it is so easy to fall in to the trap of making short term goals only, without any consideration of the big picture. It can cause you to become disheartened when you don’t reach those short term goals or experience short terms losses. You must remember that struggles develop strengths. And this applies to all aspects of life – fitness, career, business, family, relationships, private life…
Just as strategy and execution are vital elements in achieving your short terms goals, patience and perseverance are critical to achieving long term success. Success in all aspects of life. Taking a long term, macro view of goals rather than a short term, micro view is incredibly important. Execute on a micro level. But think on the macro level. Small steps. Great distances.
Michael Puhle is an Australian High-Performance Speaker, Executive Coach, and CEO of Words With Oz.