The Wedge of
Discouragement by Tom Venuto - author of
Burn The Fat, Feed The
One day the devil was having a sale, hawking
his many diabolical tools of the trade. On display, with their price tags
attached, were all the devil's tools and weapons: the arrows of jealousy, the
hammer of anger, the dagger of worry, the slingshot of doubt, the axe of hatred
and numerous others.
But one tool stood out above them all.
Displayed prominently on a pedestal high above the rest of his wares was
showcased, "The Wedge of Discouragement."
Intrigued by this little tool, which was
dented and worn with use, a curious shopper inquired about the high price,
because the wedge cost more than all the other tools combined.
"Ah yes," said the devil, "THAT is my
favorite tool of all. You see, it's so easy to use. It hardly takes any effort.
All I have to do is get the very tip of the wedge into my victim and the rest
is easy. Once the wedge is in, I just tap it ever so slightly and it slides in
deeper and deeper.
"Sometimes I don't have to do anything - my
victims push the wedge in deeper all by themselves! A small opening soon
becomes a gaping crack, making room for the rest of my tools. Before you know
it, my wedge has completely split a person's dreams, hopes and aspirations in
"That's why the wedge of discouragement
commands such a high price - because it's my most effective tool. It has opened
more doors for me than all my other tools combined."
The moral of this story is obvious and so
true, isn't it? The smallest bit of discouragement can split your dreams apart
- IF you let it.
Taking the first step toward a fitness,
bodybuilding or weight loss goal is seldom spontaneous. I know people who
thought about competing in bodybuilding or fitness for YEARS before they
mustered up the courage to set the goal and start the training (let alone stand
onstage in a "teeny bikini!") Many people spend months "thinking about it"
before they finally join a gym and get started.
So much planning, thought, time and effort
go into overcoming inertia and getting the ball rolling... and what happens?
You hit ONE rough patch (you always do), and you allow the wedge the tiny
opening it needs. You stray from your diet, miss some workouts, sustain an
injury, or more often than any other reason; you simply don't see results fast
enough. One little setback or challenge and you let yourself become hopelessly
It's a pity how easily most people are
discouraged, because reaching your goals will occur with mathematical certainty
if you consistently follow proven principles and natural laws. Too many people
get discouraged or quit before they allow the required gestation period to
If you planted a tree in your backyard, you
would know for certain it would grow, as long as you provided the necessary
conditions. If you planted it in good soil, nurtured it, and provided it with
water and sunlight, your seed would sprout and grow towards the sky as sure as
the night follows the day.
Goals are like seeds and they require time
to take root and sprout. Getting discouraged just because you have a setback or
you don't see your body transform "overnight" is silly. It's denying nature's
immutable laws. Becoming negative or quitting because you don't see results
fast enough is like digging up your seeds to see if they're growing down there
(killing them in the process).
If you're nurturing your "goal seeds," OF
COURSE they're growing! Have you ever watched the grass grow in your backyard?
You don't actually SEE each blade getting taller, but you KNOW it's growing
because every week you have to mow your lawn! Sometimes getting in shape is
like watching the grass grow - it really tests your patience. Don't EVER allow
that to discourage you! Keep advancing confidently in the direction of your
It's ok to have BIG, magnificent goals, but
allow a reasonable time frame for achieving them. Shun the quick fix and
cultivate the virtue of patience. Impatience leads to frustration. Frustration
leads to discouragement. Discouragement, allowed to fester and grow, is the
When discouragement strikes - and it will,
right along with its brethren, doubt and fear - see it as an opportunity to get
stronger. All progress and growth occur against resistance. The lumberjack
says, "The stronger the wind, the stronger the trees, good timber does not grow
with ease." Just as muscles grow against resistance, the strength of your will
also grows when exercised against resistance. You can't become a strong person
unless you experience setbacks, challenges and discouragement and overcome
them. Life's challenges were meant to be met head on and mastered.
It's been said that when God wants to give
you a gift, he wraps in up in a problem. Your current problem, difficulty, or
whatever is making you feel discouraged, is your great opportunity! Each time
you feel discouraged and press on in spite of it, you get tougher. Your skin
gets thicker as if a callous were forming. Eventually, you forge an
impenetrable armor against the onslaught of discouragement's wedge and all the
other tools that destroy the dreams of weaker men and women. You gain the faith
and confidence to look in the mirror and KNOW you'll reach your goal
eventually, even though you don't see dramatic changes on a day to day
With the new year before us, I want you to
make a commitment today, right NOW: Set goals for 2003, but don't stop there.
Set "a goal for your goals": Decide that you will see your goals through to
completion, no matter what slings and arrows (and wedges) come your way. Decide
that you will never give up when you feel discouraged, but instead, you will
see discouragement as your signal to dig in and work even harder. Decide that
you will conquer discouragement, and in so doing, become more resolved, more
determined, and stronger than ever. Make the commitment today! Make 2003 your
best year ever!
"To be undiscouraged and undismayed by
whatever turn of fortune is encountered is always a mark of maturity and
- U.S. Anderson
This article originally appeared in the
December 2002 issue of Tom Venuto's Bodybuilding and Fitness Secrets (BFS)
Newsletter. If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive others like
it for free every month, you can subscribe to BFS here:
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Tom Venuto is a bodybuilder, gym owner, freelance writer, success
coach and author of "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle" (BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets
of the World's Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom has written over 150
articles and has been featured in IRONMAN magazine, Natural Bodybuilding,
Muscular Development, Muscle-Zine, Exercise for Men and Mens Exercise.
Tom's inspiring and informative articles on bodybuilding, weight loss and
motivation are featured regularly on dozens of websites worldwide. For
information on Tom's "Burn The Fat" e-book,