How To Shape & Sculpt Your Performance

Photo by Pixabay


How good is your Performance?  Not last year, not someday, but right now.

In leadership you are required to judge the performance of those you lead on a very frequent basis.

In sports those who stay in the game the longest are the highest performers.

In sales you must perform or you’re out of a job in a hurry.

In taking the stage and giving a speech/presentation, those who perform the best receive the top marks, sell the most products, and are asked to return.

You my friend, like it or not, are a Performer.

Your Promise is to improve your performance on a consistent basis.

How do you improve your performance?  You read this whole article first of all!

So let’s begin: I’d like you to compare yourself to a unique breed: The Bodybuilder.

Have you ever watched these fascinating works of art perform?

Laugh all you want, but bodybuilders are incredible creatures we can learn so much from when it comes to both business and life.  I have admired, and often been frightened, by their commitment to sculpting the perfect physique.

In my attempts to be like bodybuilders (2020 here I come, yeah!) I have found myself doing bench presses with the same weight muscle-bound bros use for shoulder fly warm-ups, and combined with my stomach always throwing a wrench in the party, I have no chance of ever being on a stage with no shirt on (you’re welcome), but I still like to do as many dumbbell curls as possible to get that “pump”.  It actually is something I LOVE.

Recently I attended a bodybuilding contest.

I’ve always been curious how the art of shaping one’s body over months and years of dedication, to then be scrutinized under the lights, on the big stage, in the contest, would compare to the grunting grittiness of a sweaty gym where your sole reward is dudes commenting how “swole” you look today, with barbells and buddies chugging protein shakes, might differ.

What struck me first and foremost was that pretty much, with very little exception, most of the bodies looked the exact same:

Same nasty fake tans;

Same look in their eyes of, “When will this be over so I can have a drink of water?”;

Same strut on and off stage.

There’s really not much more you can do to a certain point (and then the “extra help synthetic” stuff comes in, but this was a clean contest) to differentiate yourself at this level, and outside of the occasional genetic freak, there was only one minor detail that set the best from the rest:

  • Time in the gym helps.
  • Diet is a key factor.
  • Timing of water retention and depletion certainly is “everything”….or so they claim.

But the real detail to winning a bodybuilding contest is not in who has the biggest biceps or most well defined abs and lats.

Nope, it’s in:

  • The oil.  Rare, Arctic white baby seal oil.

I’m kidding, the secret is actually in:

The Performance

It’s in the selling of how beautiful you look.

Yep!  Bodybuilders are in the business of Sales & Performance.  

One of my favorite guilty pleasures is a 1977 movie called “Pumping Iron”, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, among others, and the real classic era of bodybuilding.  It is on Netflix and I watch it maybe 6 times a year as motivation during work-outs in my basement.  About 20 minutes into it I find myself lying on my Gold’s Gym bench eating Cheetos and drinking a soda (So what?  Leave me alone).

What it comes down to is Ferrigno (later to become TV’s “The Incredible Hulk”) killing himself doing 2-a-days to be bigger and more in shape than Arnold.   And he achieves that.  He looks literally like The Hulk he would later star as.

But when the contest comes right down to it, Arnold has psyched everyone out prior to the stage and the show.  He intimidated them to such an extent that they generally crumpled before him, even when Ferrigno was much taller and overall a giant.

At the beginning of the film, Arnold is going through ballet poses with his friend and future Mr. Olympia, bodybuilder Franco Columbu (whom we lost in 2019), as they work on the art of posing, performing, and perfecting their form and motions of showing, displaying, and selling their crazy amazing muscles.

This to me is the most telling part of the movie.


Photo by nikidinov


Those who worked not just on the body in the gym, dieted, put in all the time, ate all the right foods, were also doing something few would consider – working with a ballerina to create movement, beauty, the showpiece and performance to win the contest!

The Promise of masterful Performance is to do what others aren’t willing to do.

In what ways are you metaphorically learning ballet as a bodybuilder in order to win your performance?

To me this is the equivalent of the Performer who:

  • Listens to podcasts that inspire
  • Invests in online learning courses to improve
  • Hires a Coach who has been there done that in your field to improve performance

That’s The Promise.

Ultimately Lou Ferrigno is relegated to 3rd place and these two friends, Schwarzenegger and Columbu, end up on stage together doing their “ballet performance techniques” while flexing as the crowd is freaking out and loving the final pose-down.

Signature Moves were established, Legendary Leaders were made, Promises were kept.

Arnold takes the crown, as he always did, and that’s that.

Returning to the local bodybuilding show I was attending – truth is, no one really looked any different than the next guy.

It was The Performer who won each round, even when they looked pretty much the same as everyone else.

Those who had practiced any form of posing at all, let alone the way they walked, smiled, held themselves, made eye contact with the audience, engaged us, played to the judges, made us feel we were watching something special, and eventually these were the ones who won.

Most of the competitors just waltzed out on stage like, “Hey bro, look at me, the ladies think I’m so hot”.  Did a few power moves and bolted for more baby oil (in fact, the amount of oil in the room made me wonder if Daniel Day Lewis might suddenly appear to announce they were filming “There Will Be Blood 2”).

We sat uninspired, even unimpressed, by their lack of interest in us showing interest in them.  They just assumed we would admire and worship and love them.

Not at a SHOW baby!

You must SELL IT!  You must PERFORM when you are under those lights.  GIVE ME something to cheer for!

And those who did, those who kept The Promise to The Audience, WON.


Photo by DreamLens Production


The Promise is simply that we bring 100% each and every time, not just in the present moment, but in the preparation, and the fusion of both is where Legends are made.

Let’s say WE ARE ALL EXPECTED TO PERFORM in our jobs.  Now imagine we are graded, or rewarded, for doing that job incredibly well.  Now let’s pretend you get the raise, you get that promotion, you earn that job over another….just imagine it for a second!

How did you do it?

Is it because you just waltzed out under those lights, power posed, and everyone admired you for the work you did yesterday?

Or is it because you SOLD IT!?  You performed it!  You practiced and prepared and scrutinized not just the building of muscles but the movement of your strength, talents, gifts, and the essence that is you and your finely sculpted craft.  You gave us your all and left nothing but sweat, love, passion, everything.

That’s who wins the contest.  That’s who wins the job, the relationship, the promotion, the All-Star vote, the life they want.


Photo by Isabella Mendes



  1. Record Your Performance
  2. Watch/Listen to it
  3. Cry Alone in the Corner
  4. Discuss with a Leader How it Can Improve
  5. Commit to Education to Level UP (Podcast, Online Training, Mastermind, Hire A Coach, etc)

What type of Performance are you shaping in your life, and what level of Promise are you willing to commit to get there?


Leadership Expert * Author * Speaker Hall of Fame * Award-Winning Entertainer

The Promise: Become a Legendary Leader and discover your Signature Moves

Ready to become a better Speaker for your next Presentation?  Let Jason show you how click here

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4 thoughts on “How To Shape & Sculpt Your Performance”

  1. so – more fun facts about me – i am the youngest person to ever take, pass, and first person to make 100% on the judges examine for power lifting and bodybuilding. And my Dad, John M. Pettitt, is in the Hall of Fame so to spend time with him I judged meets (he retired from competition and ran meets). Arnold, Lou, Franco, all were my dads friends. Arnold taught me to play chess.

  2. What a great analogy.
    I will record my next few presentations and analyze. Never been to a body building event, but can certainly transfer the principles.

    1. Thank you Louise. Yes! Recording your presentation will be the equivalent of this for us as speakers. Excited to hear your thoughts and thank you for the wonderful comment and support.

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