That is totally what I would shout at a teeth-baring mountain lion, interrupting a lovely Malibu hike. Or to some crazy machete-wielding psychopath creeping through the campsite.
Okay not really. But here is the point: [Truly] getting stronger means you are also less likely to become a victim, and less likely to be defeated—whatever the challenge.
And it turns out that others can see this, too. Recently:
A friend’s husband, who insists that her going on a local hike with just one girlfriend is too dangerous to ever risk, volunteered an exception: “You can go with Nikki only. (She can handle a mountain lion.)” (Ha!)
Another girlfriend, whose husband would never approve of her going hike-in camping without a man (himself) present, suddenly had no objection when he heard it would be… me. “Oh—well sure if it’s Nikki, that’s okay. You’ll be safe. Here’s my saw, have fun!”
They gave me a good laugh, but then after the second instance, it became kind of curious. What’s that all about?
Probably this: When you start training to be strong, you become less likely to be intimidated, overwhelmed, scared, indecisive, or just beaten. These qualities are inextricably linked. Strength has a greater purpose. It really does.
Obviously, we still want to avoid going head-to-head with a vicious beast or an armed madman. The goal is not false, foolish confidence, but more like a systematic de-sissification. And poise, and the ability to handle oneself in a situation.
Get strong, and you will find you no longer fear a challenge.
In fact, you will even begin seeking new challenges, wondering what else you can do. (For example: “There’s a phone book. Hmm, I wonder if I can tear it?” or “I saw someone do [this] the other day. I wonder if I can do that?” or “That looks heavy. I’m going to pick it up and put it over my head, just because.”) Because: (1) you feel more confident in your chances of succeeding, and (2) you’re not afraid of failing, either. That’s right—there is strength in the willingness to struggle or look ridiculous; something so trivial could never break you.
Strength has a greater purpose.
The brothers and sisters of the StrongFirst family know this as truth. It is part of our Code. The revelation occurs at the SFG Level I Certification, because it is both mentally and physically challenging—on purpose. If it wasn’t so tough, this exquisite and priceless lesson would be missed.
Those who have confronted and embraced the challenge of the Certification know it changes so much more than the letters after your name and the value you present to others. It is no coincidence that the three days spent with an internal focus at StrongFirst spark an internal transformation. When you get it, it changes you, on a deep and personal level.
At the end of each Certification, we receive feedback evaluations from the participants. The (profoundly gratifying) reflection that most frequently appears:
“I had no idea all that I was capable of until now.”
“I showed up weak, and I left strong.”
“This challenged me in every possible way—mentally, physically, and emotionally—and I am a better [man] for it.”
“I discovered strength that I never knew I had.”
And after every Cert, the candidates travel back to their homes—their families, their jobs, and whatever problems or challenges that may have been waiting for them—with a different attitude. A whole new confidence. And a swagger. Well, maybe the swagger is just a bit of soreness, but that is only temporary.
“The highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets for it,
but what he becomes by it.”
And so, to the not-(yet)-initiated:
An enduring and severely awesome makeover awaits you. But this badder-ass version of yourself will not result from arbitrary, reckless reps in a weight room or fitness class. And it certainly does not happen while mindlessly pedaling an elliptical machine. (Oh, the many years I wasted on cardio machines. Once you liberate yourself from the hamster wheels, you will never look back.)
It also does not happen merely by reaching any particular number. Injuries may result, but your true potential for awesomeness will still be lying dormant.
You begin to cultivate the skill involved in the deliberate and internally-attentive quest for strength. Not a quantity—a quality.
You will learn to be mentally plugged-in, singularly focused, and you must have measurable standards and progress—and you must actually get stronger. You must get better.
You will do swings, squats, presses, snatches, deadlifts, push-ups, pistols, pull-ups—the real stuff. The really cool stuff. You will explore your ability to man-up and exert your force, your will, on an “immovable” object. You will begin to discover what you can actually do, and you will be astonished by how truly, wickedly empowering that is.
And age and circumstance are irrelevant, my friend—it is never too late to get strong, and get more awesome, and throw up your arms and growl through your teeth… …aaaand then maybe run like hell.