There are three pivotal points in my athletic career where things happened, that shaped the way that I think, the way I govern myself and how I handle myself in life. The first one happened my junior year in college when I was playing football at Howard University.
I sat on in the office with Steve Wilson, they had these grading sheets, where they kind of graded you out to see what type of football player you were and, your hustle your speed, your power, your blocking and your attitude and all those things. I sat down in his office and nothing on my grading sheet was bad. But when it all got added up together, and you did the tally, and your random percentage, came out about somewhere around 82%. I 100% believe that he never remembers this conversation. But he said a remarkable line to me that changed the way that I prepare from that day on.
He said, “We can’t win with you.” And he repeated himself and said, “we can’t win a championship with you.”
You come out of high school your all world, I was starting running back, I was playing two, three sports at the time. I was decent, didn’t do everything right but I was a decent athlete. But I never had a coach Tell me up front, which most people don’t, hey, we can’t win with you on the field.
Meaning we’re going to have to find somebody else. It was my junior year. I didn’t play a lot. I played I got pulled from my starting position and the reason was because I didn’t do the preparatory work in the summer to be able to perform at the level of which they needed me at that time and as you advance in college, they need they need more of you than they expect more of you and as the expectations increase your preparation, your work, all those things have to increase.
Nobody’s having that conversation with you in college, they are just going to sit your butt down and put somebody else in the game. if you can’t pick up the rest of that stuff, through having great friends, great coaches, great mentors, other people on your team who was driving for championship too, and having a culture of winning, you’re stuck.
That’s why that’s why winning programs begets winning because the culture of the place has an expectation of winning. It’s just really different, that conversation really changed how I prepared.
By the time coach Wilson gave me that information. It was too late for me. His assessment was based upon the work that I had done previously and the season was getting ready to start. That was it.
The second time was when I graduated from college, and I’m training with Jimmy Pedro and I’m at the Olympic Training Centre. Just years later. I go train with Jimmy Pedro because Jimmy’s 99 World Champion 98 winner of the Shirky cup, the best Judo player pound for pound on the planet in 1998 without a doubt. There was no World Championship in 1998 the best pound for pound Judo player on Earth, As I’ve done in my MMA career when I started MMA Rashad Evans was the number one guy in the world I went out and train with Rashad to see why it was.
My dad used to always tell me to find out who’s the best in the field, and go train with that person. So, you can see where you are at, or listen or sit down or talk or read or watch, whoever is the best at what you’re trying to do.
I asked him if I can go to Massachusetts and train with him. prom. It was me, Jimmy Pedro and Orlando. Now, there’s a point in your athletic career where you accept that you have to do the work, if you just accept it.
“I have to do the work, I have to be miserable, I got to do the work, I got to be miserable, I got to embrace the grind. I got to embrace this discomfort, I got to bathe in discomfort, I gotta, jump into the hot lava. I gotta, I gotta I gotta” you just accept it.
But then, once you accept that, you don’t really know what you’re accepting. It’s like when you sit there and you get married, you say to having to hold from this day forward until death do us part. You talk about ‘In good times, and bad times and sickness and health.’ OR you marry yourself to your career, or you marry yourself to being able to be the best you can and physics or math or science or MMA or Judo or Jiu Jitsu, you marry yourself to that thing And then when the thing gets tough when the requirements of what it is to be that good are known to you, then you dip, then you run, then you divorce yourself from the thing because it’s too hard and you concern with being happy.
I went to train with Jimmy Pedro, I thought that I knew what world class training was. I had no clue. The workout for Jimmy was a regular workout, the only reason why I completed the workout is because something that Jimmy did in seven minutes. He finished one circuit in seven minutes.
It took me 16 minutes to finish!
We had one circuit where we had to go up the steps and do the circuit upstairs and then come downstairs and I thought they had gotten downstairs so fast. I thought they took the elevator downstairs.
In my mind I could not fathom going down those steps after the amount of single leg squats that we had to do inside of a circuit was so ridiculous. i said there’s no way that they ran out of steps and they laugh at me to this day because I took the elevator down during the circuit. But what I received was a really good idea and I learned this from also it got stapled down when I learned also by Grant Cardone and his book 10x.
Whatever you believe the work is as necessary in order to be what it is that you want to be 10 times that amount of work and then 10 times that. That is what it takes it. Whatever you think it takes. You have no clue. None!
You’ve never seen Usain Bolt workout you’ve never seen called Louis workout. You’ve never been inside of Iowa wrestling practice. You’ve never been inside of a Greco Roman practice at the Olympic Training Centre when they’re doing a 60 minute grind.
The words that you would hear in there you would not like you would not like the vomit that you see or the projectile is going in that Gray bin, you wouldn’t like the smell of the place. You’ve never seen Matt Lind land and TC Dan slur throw each other on their head and neck like they don’t like each other with Matt Lind land his wife and children sitting on the side of the mat.
you have not lived until you have a friend that you love. Who you get upset with because they’re not trying to make you draw blood during the round? You start getting upset with them because they’re not pushing you past the point of regular discomfort. Like I got a friend Jason, he’s a Greco Roman wrestler. He does a lot of work with the guys. He just hit me about two weeks ago. He said uh he said, Man, I need to come up there, man, we need to get together, man, we need a 60-minute grind.
See, man, I don’t want to do a 60-minute grind man. Let me paraphrase his answers it because this is one of my clean coffee With Rheid’s. He was basically saying a man stop talking negative stop being weak access who you’re supposed to be and let me know when we’re going to do this 60-minute grind. This guy is about maybe 60 pounds less than me. But the mental vacation that I need to take in my mind in order to do that 60-minute grind with him is not somewhere I want to go…
in my mind is not the Cayman Islands, its this slum somewhere in Bosnia? Alright, it’s not what I want. It’s a it’s a war zone in in Palestine. I don’t want to go to that place in my mind. But that’s why I got to go because he doesn’t start on the 60-minute grind slow. He starts like the 60-minute grind, like it’s a three-minute sprint and then he keeps that pace until he can’t hold it anymore and he waits until you break.
When you when you start to break then he pours the hot lava on you. You got to make a decision about your life. You have to get to a point where you understand that whatever however hard I thought this was going to be there’s going to be 10 times that and then 10 times that.
The next person I learned from was a guy by the name of Lord Ervin. I remember we were training. I was doing my master’s degree from 2000 to 2002 at Howard University, and I had one training partner during that time. Lloyd was the only training partner I had. We trained in the mornings, middays and nights. I remember we were rolling changed my whole perspective. I said, stop for a second. He said what’s the problem? I said, Man, I caught a cramp. He says man I’ve been cramping the whole round. He said you can’t stop because you cramp…
Now, all my life to that point was. When you cramp you stop because cramp hurts? It wasn’t until then I started studying bodybuilding and stuff like that. I didn’t know that those guys were on stage did cramping while they are posing. I had no clue. I didn’t know that you can when you’re doing hamstring curls, and you feel your muscle getting ready to cramp. It can cramp and you can keep going. I didn’t know that. Because there’s levels to this stuff.
It cramps, it’s not a pool. It’s not a strain. It’s a cramp. You can keep going. But I had no clue. But when I started training later on and do marathon, when you do a marathon you cramp you cramp at my 18, you cramp at mile 22, you cramp at mile 16, you cramp and you finish, you just cramp. But I didn’t know. Until Lloyd said it that day. It changed my changed my whole perspective for my career on then about cramping, and rolling, cramping and lifting, cramping and running, cramping and doing judo.
I wasn’t aware that when you start increasing your pace, and you start working your way out of whatever reserves you have, you start working your you start sweating more than the water that you have available, you start working more than the salt that you have available to the potassium that you have available, man, you’re going to start cramping. And there’s no way to get that stuff in while you’re doing the round. So, what do you do because you might crap. At the World Championships, you might cramp at the Olympic trials, you might crap at the National what do you do? What do you do? And all these situations, I had to learn that my life is not going to be ideal.
Let me tell you something, when you plan against the big dogs, they know who’s getting involved. They know what side you’re running behind. The linemen know on both sides the line-backer knows running back knows. They all know. The question is, have you bathed in enough hot lava to the point where that situation doesn’t heat you up? Because if the situation heats you up, the situation going to eat you up.
Because any time in life, and you’ve heard me say before, any time in life where you are overwhelmed, its because you are under prepared. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations in the weight room. Put yourself in uncomfortable conversations when you’re talking don’t bypass that uncomfortable conversation. Have it respectfully. Do not run from difficult conversations because they’re difficult. Don’t run from stuff.
Man, I used to be training with Lloyd and I put the weight on the bar on the squat and he looked at it on each side and he go grab a 25 and he put a 25 and a 10 on each side. What the hell are you doing? I didn’t understand until later. If you’re lifting at that particular time in my career, and you didn’t look at the weight and started to have a conversation with yourself. Then the weight wasn’t heavy enough.
At the after you’ve warmed up, if you’re looking at that weight and the weight Don’t, don’t give you a little bit of discomfort. if it’s heavy enough that it requires all of your attention, all of your focus and it’s a little bit uncomfortable. Man, people ride in air dyne bike in my facility. As soon as it gets hard, as soon as their legs are burning, they start slowing down. No, you got to change that.
As soon as it gets hard. And as soon as It starts burning, speed up, run into the fire. It’s a different mentality and people don’t realize, when those things happen, you’re not training yourself for the next bike ride or the next day, you’re training yourself for life and you do not want to get in a situation like I was In my junior year in college, when coach wasn’t sat down with me and he said Ferguson, we can’t win with you.
If I knew better, I would do better. But at that time, I did not know, you now know. Make the adjustment, make the change. Anytime you had a rough situation or a forced rough spot, you got to find something to hold on to. My thing is Jesus don’t know what yours is. But there’s going to be times in your life where whatever you’re doing is more than what you can physically handle and you’re going to have to lean on something else emotionally and spiritually.
This is Dr. Ferguson. I love you, but God loves you best. Take care, man. Have a super fantastic day.
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