Bodybuilding motivation kai greeneEvery grain of sand poured to form every brick, and every brick laid to create my path…

…these are the elements that brought me here.

A path sometimes cluttered with wreckage from the past. Young and dumb, and full of some… bad ideas.

But still, here I stand today.

My path had some twisting curves and broken pieces. It wasn’t always straight and narrow.

Sometimes, it meandered through fields I later deemed “not right for me”. Sometimes, it went into neighborhoods that I wasn’t welcome in. Sometimes, it was overrun with obstacles that needed clearing long before I could get to the next brick in the road.

Some sections of that path were dark, unlit by the glow of promised achievement ahead. I stumbled through those dark sections, grasping, gasping, trying to securely plant my next foothold. But I never stopped moving the feet.

All of those bricks, and all of those cracks, and every dark little section, contributed to my current position. They brought me here. And there’s no going back.

His lifestyle and character is perhaps more debated than any other top-tier athlete in the world. You’ve heard the claims, “They’ll never let him be Mr. Olympia because of his past”.

Because his path had some cracks, and didn’t always run straight.

Some hate him for this past. Some can’t wrap their head around his decisions, claiming they were inexcusable. Others love him for his checkered history, and the fact that he arrived at the top regardless, come hell or high water.

Every experience that I had had prior to that moment was working to help me be the star that I dreamed to be. Everything was building me up—even the stuff that I thought was uncomfortable, or shameful, or probably didn’t really want to talk about—it was all something that was helping you. As long as you’re focused, you’re committed, you’re working honestly and you’re working towards your dream, even the bad stuff, even the stuff you may think is negative and don’t often talk about, can be something that is going to be a catalyst to help you and spring you into that moment of great opportunity.

So what to do of the cracks?

Some go back and try to pave over them. Some pretend the cracks aren’t there. They feverishly sweep away at the bricks, trying to rub out a stain that will always leave its imprint. They try to shellac the blemishes, create an illusion of perma-perfection, sprung from the womb like Minverva, fully formed and beautiful.

Some of us, however, love those cracks, and everything they represent.

I love my scars, as reminders of what didn’t work. I love my calluses, as reminders of the effort I put into life. I love my pain, and my success. I love my triumphs, and my failures.

The failures paved the way for the triumphs. The calluses protected me for the next round. Every bit of pain, every bit of dirt, every tarnished moment, is MINE, no one else’s, and I will wear it proudly on my sleeve for all days to come.

There is no moving backwards on this path. One direction only. And it’s why you are right here, right now.

Thank the heavens my path is not perfect, and thank them more for my scars.

-David A. Johnston

This article originally appeared on . In addition to running TEAM Warrior Within, David is a co-host on a weekly bodybuilding podcast called “GEARD Up”. He regularly contributes articles such as this one to the website.