Thoughts on Knowledge and Strength

As I’ve gotten older I’ve been fortunate to develop a strong sense of self-awareness. While this is generally a good thing as it keeps one humble it can also present some disadvantages in the development of one’s image in a field. I’ve often found myself reluctant to engage in conversation/debate about a subject, even if I feel I have good points to add. I often second guess my opinions and ideas. Again, this is a good thing but staying out of the conversation altogether eliminates many opportunities for learning.

In powerlifting there’s a natural bias to ascribe more knowledge and experience to a stronger individual than a weaker one. This is a useful heuristic because it allows us to quickly make predictions about the relevance of the information an individual put forth. However, that’s all it is, a heuristic. We have to remember that the stronger individual is not always the more knowledgeable one. It’s important to keep this in mind as more individuals enter the sport of Powerlifting. We would all do ourselves a disservice if we disregard the ideas of less experienced individuals.

I’m not a particularly strong Powerlifter (yet). Nor am I very experienced in Programming and Coaching. I’m no Mike Tuchscherer or Matt Gary and I would never pretend to be. Does that mean I have no place in the conversation? Does that mean I should stop blogging and wait a number of years before I express my thoughts on the subject? I would argue no. While I haven’t been lifting as long I have been using my brain for most of my life (at least I’d like to think so).

If there were two individuals, one who stayed out of the conversation, put her/his head down, trained hard for 10 years, and another who trained just as hard but contributed to the community, engaged in debate and allowed the experience of others to suss out her/his own thoughts, who would be better off? I’d argue the second person. It’s quite possible the first individual would have some unique ideas on how to train but it’s also likely they would have simply stumbled onto existing ideas because of the lack of community to bounce them off of.

Particularly relevant to blogging is the need for practice. If I had the desire to write about Powerlifting (as I do) I’d naturally improve through practice. Should I write in seclusion without any feedback? Or should I present my ideas (no matter how naive they may be) and allow others to respond and pick apart my writings. Again, I’d argue the latter is a more productive course.

One would be wrong to say that knowledge is more important than strength and experience but you’d also be wrong to claim the converse. A good Powerlifting coach will be the confluence of knowledge and experience. I’d argue that a good Powerlifter would also fit this mold (or at least her/his coach would, if they have one).

I’ll close by saying that it’s difficult to write a blog on a topic without occasionally sounding like a source of authority. It’s a constant trade-off. You want to highlight your personal shortcomings while at the same time no one would want to read your writings if you sound too unsure and wishy-washy. All I can promise is that I am fully open to feedback, be it good or bad, as long as it’s constructive, and you’re welcome to call me out when I speak from too high a position of authority.

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