Mark Rippetoe wrote one of the most revered texts in strength training, a book called Starting Strength. One of my favorite quotes from Mark is, “Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general”. I couldn’t agree more. Strength is by far the most important attribute in life. In fact, I would go so far as saying becoming Strong is the goal of life.
In this world there is only Strong and Weak. Weak is plentiful, entails no growth, and is the default state for many. Left unchecked Weak shall remain so. Strong disrupts the world-view of Weak. Strong does the very things Weak believes impossible.
So what is Strong? Is it pure brute strength? A big squat? A heavy deadlift?
All and none of the above actually. Yes strength is most readily apparent in the physical, but Strong transcends the physical, it is the mind, body and spirit. Strong is a choice, made over and over again.
Here are what I think are the virtues of Strong:
In this age of instant gratification, patience with oneself is a lost cause. Who wants to spend hours a day, for years refining something you never really believed in the first place? Strong knows what it has within, and so has the strength to be patient with itself. Strong relishes the challenges of the journey, knowing it is in fact the journey that creates the destination.
To begin, we have to know what we’re worth. The journey starts when we say it does, and we have the freedom to start it at any time, any place.
Of all our fears, fear of failure is perhaps the most debilitating and the most ironic, mostly because failure is almost a certainty. Almost no one goes through life without having seen failure at least once. What defines Strong is the ability to bounce back from failure. No failure is ever final, failure on one goal brings teaches about success, and quickly replaces the old goal with a new one. Knowing so lends Strong an infectious enthusiasm in the pursuit of its goals.
We are born Strong, but then something terrible happens, we grow up. Slowly we start to believe the world’s view of us. Start believing we are too fat, or too slow, too weak. It becomes our truth. Discipline is the tool for Strong to shine. Once we decide we are Strong, discipline silences Weak within by pure focus and effort on the goal. The inner critic can’t help but marvel at Strong shaping up within. Discipline makes us believe.
Truth and Courage
Lies are easy to believe, because the truth is hard to find, and harder to face. Truth requires work, to constantly question what you know and what you believe, more than anything else, truth requires courage. No one knows what we will find on the other side when seeking the truth, or sometimes it is knowing what awaits on the other side that scares us. Strong has the desire to know the truth, and more importantly the courage to uncover it.
There is nothing novel in the list above, nor is the list complete. These virtues represent where I am on my journey to be Strong. I feel our desire to be fit only represents our desire to be Strong. Physical fitness is probably the most tangible way of becoming Strong.
Perhaps we have been looking at fitness wrong, rather than getting losing weight, or getting fit, we should be focusing on becoming Strong. Physical fitness is only the beginning, it is the easiest first step we can take on the journey to be Strong, and it is by far the most tangible.
What is Strong to you? Are there strong people you know who have these qualities? Tag them with this post. Are there virtues I missed that you have on your list? Please leave a comment and let me know.