“A great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”– Walter Bagehot

All my life, I’ve been terrible at taking direction, not for lack of intelligence, but lack of understanding why somebody would be interested in doing something simply because “that’s the way that things are done”. Right out of the womb, I had to figure things out the hard way, figure them out on my own, or I couldn’t figure them out at all. If there was a “wrong way” of doing things, I did it, just to see why it was the “wrong way”.

Wearing thermal underwear in the middle of 100-degree Chicago weather in July? I’m going to try it. And shorts in the dead of winter? Sign me up.

I like “learning the hard way”.

I never understood etiquette, or the function of etiquette, or why anybody would want to follow etiquette.

I don’t understand “rules”. I mean, I understand rules of the universe, like gravity, or cause and effect; but I never understood “the rules” that I was expected to play by, the “rules of man” so to speak. I like to view them more as suggestions, and then test them, and break them, with a condescending grin.

At the age of 8, I decided I wanted to grow my hair long because my passion was hard rock music, specifically Guns N’ Roses. My father told me I could do it, so long as I understood that I would have to work that much harder to prove my intelligence to those around me– that I would most likely be perceived as “different”, and possibly “worse”, for choosing something so outside the norm. It has become a cliché in our culture that “perception is reality”. Maybe this is true for those whose reality is dictated exclusively by the opinions of others. To those of independent spirit, reality is reality– or taking it a step further, reality is what you chose to make of it, what you will it to be, not what you chose to let others make of it for you.

When I arrived in Columbia, Maryland, and had to rebuild my personal training business from scratch, the “normal” thing to do would be to present one’s self as approachable and friendly so as to attract as much potential business as possible. And of course, what was my business concept? To grow out a Mohawk and long goatee so as to look as unapproachable as possible. Why? Because I wanted to take the harder path– or more importantly, because I wanted to prove that I could do what people said I could not, and should not, do. I wanted to show that it was irrelevant, that there were more important factors involved in rising to the top and being successful. Within less than a year’s time, I had the top sales record at Lifetime, Columbia, purported “bad attitude” and Mohawk included. All the “perceptions” out there proved to not really be an issue.

This year, I have decided to compete again in several bodybuilding competitions. Prepping for a competition is like a full-time job in and of itself. I have decided to prep, while running a very time-consuming business, and while having a new child at home. I was told several times last year from close friends and family that I might not be able to do it, that I might be stretching too much, that it might be unreasonable to try to accomplish all of these things at once. Being told I couldn’t do it was all the more reason to make it happen.

I am now 10 weeks out from the NPC Philadelphia show on June 26th, and feeling great about my chances at winning.

Indeed, a great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.

Author's Bio: 

Get more of David's "Emotional Fuel" letter on his website. http://DavidJohnstonTraining.com

David holds a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) certification, as well as specialized certifications from NASM (Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES) and Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES)). His specialties include weight loss, building muscle and toning, strength gains, nutrition analysis, life coaching and motivation.

Find out more at my website http://DavidJohnstonTraining.com