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Being Strong



Jan 9, 2013
Being Strong

By Paul CarterPublished: May 5, 2013
Posted in: Training
Tags: being strong(er),dave tate, Elitefts Info Pages, knowing when to quit, mental toughness, Paul Carter

elitefts? Sunday Edition
A few weeks ago, I shared an exchange on Facebook with Dave Tate. Dave had linked to an article about Ecomom founder, Jody Sherman. The article went on to read that Jody had died, but no one wanted to talk about the fact that Jody ?died? of suicide. The article also mentioned two other men, Aaron Swartz and Ilya Zhitomirskiy. They, too, were very successful entrepreneurs who also took their own lives. They were a mere 26- and 22-years-old, respectively.

The article didn?t speculate on all the factors that could have been associated with their suicides, and I won?t do so either. I will only make note of the fact that all three were the founders of successful start-up companies and that I?ve known other men in similar situations. I can state, very emphatically, that the men I knew all shared very similar qualities. Namely, they were all very driven and self-motivated individuals who never knew when to quit. The best way I could describe them would be to say that they all seemed to be driven by high horse-powered engines and had an innate ability to focus on many tasks at once. They never worked fewer than fifty hours a week, and they never stopped obsessing over how to improve their product or how to grow it into other avenues or areas.

But that is to be expected. This drive is what gave birth to their success in the first place. The combination of supreme intellect within their field and an undying will to achieve greatness are generally what the most successful people have in common. However, the other thing I?ve noticed that many of them have in common is the inability to know when to turn ?it? off, to let the cylinders cool and allow the engine to idle for a while. Even the most hardened of engines, if pushed too hard for too long in the red, will eventually crack under the strain.

Metaphorically speaking, I?m talking about letting go of stress and simply learning how to enjoy life. Doing so requires coming to grips with the fact that if you take on too much, eventually you will collapse. Emotionally, mentally, or financially, you will fall. And in retrospect, you?ll realize it could have been averted by simply asking for help.

This past year I lost three friends to suicide. I went through the standard gauntlet of emotions that I think most people go through when they lose a family member or close friend to suicide?sadness, grief, confusion, and then, of course, anger.

?Why? Why couldn?t you reach out and ask for help??

I believe that is probably the most common question that we have when we lose someone to suicide.

?What could have been so awful that you felt like life could no longer go on??

It seems like such an easy question to answer when you?re looking in from the outside, not submerged in the depths of an emotional abyss where the blackness has enveloped you so completely that you feel as though there?s only one option and only one way out. This is because for many men, reaching out to ask for help is never seen as an option. They believe it exposes them as weak.

As men, we are generally expected to be strong in life, both physically and emotionally. Being ?touchy-feely? is for womenfolk and is seen as a crack in the alpha male armor that we so proudly wear. We wear this armor into battle each day and believe it will always be enough to protect us from whatever we may encounter. In our hand, we carry a hammer as our weapon of war. If we don?t like something, smashing it always seems like a viable option. This is a lesson we learn in our youth and sometimes have trouble letting go of. Besides, smashing tanks and blowing up your buddy?s favorite G.I. Joe was always a good time.

For guys who are founders of companies or for men in very high positions of power, these ?battles? can be business negotiations or financial meetings.

For other men, it can simply be surviving the onslaught of a tyrannical boss each day or coming home to the tension of a failing marriage.

Over time, too much exposure to these stresses causes the armor to wear thin and the hammer starts to wear down. Our energy to wear the armor and swing the hammer begins to wane. Eventually, we find our self alone on the battlefield, left with only our tattered wares and the inability to maneuver through the professional and emotional landscape in front of us.

This shouldn?t be surprising really. When you?ve never cultivated anything outside of ?Hulk smash!? and believe it is up to you to constantly carry the burdens and supply all the answers, you haven?t a clue in the world what the next step should be. The once proud man who had the adoration of friends and loved ones now feels helpless and weak. The darkness sets in and overcoming it becomes far too difficult. With the armor removed and the hammer now useless, the strong and vigilant shrink into the role of the small and feeble. The warrior now becomes the peasant.

Suicide or not, most men know these feelings. I certainly do. You don?t have to be the founder of a company or successful business to know the feeling of being overwhelmed by life?s problems?being ?shamed? by your peers as a teenager or failing to get into the school that mom and dad so badly wanted you to get into. It might be the feeling of embarrassment and failure while having the talk with your kids about how ?mommy and daddy are going to take a break for a while.?

Life presents these obstacles to us early and often. Sometimes in these situations, when resolution can?t be forced, the strong man in each of us feels as though the battle has been lost, that ultimately we have failed in our task to win the day. For those who choose suicide as an option, it might be that taking their life seemed like an easier choice than asking someone to help them back up on their war horse. After all, ?generals? don?t fall. They don?t fail.

This may be one of the reasons why some men refuse to ask for directions from the gas station attendant or go to marriage counseling. We believe we should always be smart enough and strong enough. Any sign that we aren?t means that we are a failure somehow or less of a man. This is how we think people will perceive us, regardless of the fact that we almost never perceive others that way.

In the exchange I had with Dave, I wrote?

?Any time you hear of an ?expert? in a field who says, ?I don?t know. Let?s ask someone who might know,? you always respect him more for not bullshitting you and still maintaining an aptitude to learn. So the negative connotation of asking for help really only exists in the ?strong? person?s mind, not the people looking at him from the outside.?

Generally, we, as men, believe that overcoming fear in order to conquer goals or establishing ourselves as an expert in a field has a very strong, positive connotation with it. It shows strength and bravery. But we fear asking for help because we believe that it has a very strong negative connotation with it, that it shows weakness and insecurity. This is a fallacy.

As I wrote above, we never view someone we consider to be an expert as being weak for saying, ?I don?t know.? And no one will consider us a failure or less of a man if we eventually say that the burdens have become too great and we need a helping hand.

One of the most poignant things I was ever told was that ?the worst thing about being the strongest is that no one ever bothers to ask you if you?re OK.? At the time I was told this, it moved me to tears. I felt like so many areas of my life were crumbling in front of my eyes and I was helpless to stop it. Eventually, I did what a real strong man does?I asked for help.

Gradually, with help, I was able to put things back in place. Soon, all the facets of my life that I felt had deteriorated past the point of no return became stronger than they were before. I won because I was strong enough to know that I couldn?t do it alone anymore.

The most important part about being truly strong is knowing when to take your foot off the gas and let the engine idle for a while. The truly strong man knows that he doesn?t have to win every battle via the hammer. That saying, ?I?m wrong; help me get better? is winning as well. The truly strong man knows how to lift his hand, not only to strike a fatal blow but to also say, ?Please help me up; I can?t do this on my own.?

That?s because the truly strong man knows when he just isn?t strong enough anymore.


Editor?s Note:

Take it seriously:

? Fifty to 75 percent of all suicides give some warning of their intentions to a friend or family member.
? Imminent signs must be taken seriously.


If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide:
? Do not leave the person alone
? Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
? Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255)
? Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional

porky little keg

porky little keg

May 21, 2011
Related side note...... Does anyone know what Paul Carter has ever done?
He's been cool every time we've talked in person but I'm totally unaware of anything he's accomplished...... not trying to hate I just don't know.

Has he competed in a high level in something or is he just an industry personality?


New Member
May 29, 2018
You clearly don't know much about lifting and the way you phrased that sounds like you were being a dickhead, despite your,, "disclaimer" "don't mean to sound like a dickhead... But... Insert dickhead comment."

Quick Google search will tell you he is a well respected author, has coached some pros and has competed in powerlifting...

Best writer imo though I don't read his life articles...only his lifting articles
Lizard King

Lizard King

Staff Member
Sep 9, 2010
You clearly don't know much about lifting and the way you phrased that sounds like you were being a dickhead, despite your,, "disclaimer" "don't mean to sound like a dickhead... But... Insert dickhead comment."

Quick Google search will tell you he is a well respected author, has coached some pros and has competed in powerlifting...

Best writer imo though I don't read his life articles...only his lifting articles
What are you talking about? This is a copy of an article from 2013...


Senior Moderators
Staff Member
Aug 13, 2013
You clearly don't know much about lifting and the way you phrased that sounds like you were being a dickhead, despite your,, "disclaimer" "don't mean to sound like a dickhead... But... Insert dickhead comment."
Settle down there Cal. Strong 1st post. Not sure where you saw disrespect and equally puzzled why it tweaked you nerps so bad.


Fancypants VIP
Mar 23, 2011
Was that seriously his first post? Of all time? In response to a reply from over a year ago to not only an accomplished powerlifter but well respected member of this board...