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Ted Arcidi and the Power of Focus

During my college years, I met and befriended Ted Arcidi, who has recently appeared in major films like "The Equalizer 2," "The Town," "The Fighter," and the new Chris Evans series "Defending Jacob." We attended schools that were six miles apart, but met and trained at a local powerlifting gym. Shortly after graduation, Ted became the first man in history to bench press over 700 pounds in strict form competition. He surpassed Bill Kazmaier’s previous world record by more than forty pounds, an incredible achievement. For serious lifters, cracking the 700 pound bench press mark was as significant an event in sports history as breaking the four minute mile. For decades, nobody thought it would ever be done.

What always intrigued me most – even more than Ted's monstrous 705.5 pound lift in Hawaii, and his subsequent world record lift of 718.1 pounds – were the discipline and strategy my old friend employed in pursuing those world records.

Powerlifting is a sport consisting of three separate events: deadlift, squat, and bench press. A lifter wins a powerlifting meet by scoring the highest combined total in his weight class. But Ted wasn’t interested in winning a powerlifting meet. Ted was interested in becoming the best bench presser who ever lived. He was terrific at the other two lifts – and at everything else we did in the gym – but didn’t want the deadlift and squat to distract him from the bench press. He would attend lifting meets and request only a very minimal poundage on the bar for his obligatory squat and deadlift. He needed to compete in those two other lifts to avoid disqualification – but he wasn’t interested in those two other lifts. He was completely focused on the bench press. Consequently, another competitor would win the trophy. Ted didn’t care. Ted kept focusing on the bench press until he eventually demolished the world record. And it didn't take him very long.

The power of laser-like focus is amazing. I don't believe its positive effects can be overestimated. Ask yourself what personal world records you can set in your own life and career when you follow Ted Arcidi’s example of looking past short-term victories and setting your sights on something much, much bigger down the road.

Try this strategy for yourself and see what happens. Maybe we can all follow in Ted Arcidi’s footsteps. Maybe we can all set our goals ridiculously high – and then achieve and surpass them. Maybe we can all accomplish something truly superhuman with our lives.

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