By Yohnnie Shambourger

I learned early in my bodybuilding career that motivation comes from within and not always from others. It seems like only yesterday when I first became interested in bodybuilding. At the time I was 34 years old, weighed between 150 to 155, and could only bench press 135 pounds (max, with a spotter). My friends thought it was their duty to remind me that I was too old and a little too small for this. At this point in my life, I had no time to start a career in bodybuilding, they said. Their intentions were good, they were just trying to protect me from disappointment. But they couldn’t see inside me; they couldn’t see my dreams.

Motivation, in its simplest form, is the your ability to “see, feel, and experience success in your dreams.” You may not always know the right steps to take or which turn to make. Sometimes you won’t even know where to start. You only know where you want to be and how it’s going to feel when you get there. You set out on your journey and along the way you get pushed back, knocked down, and criticized. What should you do?

Many of us eliminate possibilities for ourselves by giving up to early in the fight. Our biggest challenge is to overcome self-defeating thoughts and to keep going. When someone tells me that they tried to reach a goal but couldn’t, I always ask, “How long did you try and what did you learn along the way?” There is a lesson in every set back. You just have to take the time to figure it out. I believe that if you are willing to organize your time, devote the energy and study everything about your challenge, you can accomplish nearly anything you set out to do. I believe if you keep coming back again and again and if you are willing to ask for help and to keep asking until you get it, life will give you what you want. Don’t take an escape route. Don’t look for something to justify why you haven’t done what you said you wanted to do. If you knock on the door of opportunity long enough and hard enough, somebody is going to answer. As a wise man once said to me, “Yohnnie, you have to understand that you are always more powerful than the circumstances that surround you, provided you do not accept momentary defeats, hard times, or losses as a permanent condition.”

As an amateur, my goal was to become the best middleweight in the world. I got smacked down year after year. People kept telling me, “Yohnnie, this is your year,” as I watched someone else walk away with the title. But, in 1995 my journey reached its climax. I won first place at the Pan American Games held in Argentina, the overall title at the NPC Team Universe Championships and a Gold Medal at the World Amateur Championships held in Guam thus affording me the title, “Mr. Universe”. I was the only American to do so. What a year!

This could be your year for reaching all of you dreams. Don’t lose sight of your dreams. See, feel, and experience your success wherever you go. To help you, remember these seven points which I call “Yohnnie’s Magnificent Seven”:

1. Study your challenge (i.e., how much do you really know about nutrition, training, and recuperation?).
2. Write your main goal down to remind you every day.
3. Develop five smaller goals to reach along the way.
4. Look at each “set back” as a “set up” for something better.
5. Don’t be too proud to ask for help.
6. Don’t rush your journey; enjoy each moment one day at a time.
7. Never stop dreaming!
We all have the potential for achieving greatness. I want you to take life head on. I want you to live it passionately and courageously. Trust in the “Magnificent Seven” and watch your journey unfold.

If you would like to reach Yohnnie Shambourger, you can by email or his web site