Then Die – Stories of Inspiration From Justice Gray

I want to apologize for yesterday’s post, as I know that finding out about your hero struggling with *anything* probably led a lot of you to shred your tear-stained, lipstick-ridden “Potential Friend of Justice Gray” certificates.  Alas, if you were foolish enough to do this, you will have to find some other token to pass along to your children one day in order to show them that their parent was capable of potentially befriending a force of nature.    I also want to apologize for *today’s* post, because if you thought that was shocking information you need to close your browser down immediately. I’m not responsible for the aneurysm you’re about to suffer.  For those brave, manly souls who think they are capable of reading onwards, here goes.

Hard as it is to believe, even your role model has role models.

Yes, it is true, I actually have people in my life that I look up to.    There are not *many*, but there are some.  One in particular I’m going to get into a future post as he deserves a post all of his own, but today I’m going to talk about two others and give you a glimpse as to how I pulled myself out of the physical abattoir I found myself in.

Ages ago I read the “Four Hour Body” by Tim Ferriss (actually *not* one of my role models, though I like the guy).  It’s a terrible book.  Don’t read it.  We’ll get into why at a later date, but I *am* grateful for reading it as I came across this anecdote from Richard Branson, who with his fantastic hair, killer smile, and rugged entrepreneurialism is pretty much the Justice Gray of Virgin Records.

I rest my case
I rest my case

At a function he was asked:

“Richard, how can I be more productive?”

His answer:

“Work out”

When Richard says work out, he means work out.  He doesn’t mean “hack your life, do the bare minimum you can, and get some abs”.  He said work out.  When he is at home, he does not mix cinnamon, garlic, do some air squats and inhale 55 pastries.  When he is at home he swims for an hour and a half a *day*.  Every day.

A second hero of mine is a man who was pretty much the *pinnacle* of physical perfection, Bruce Lee.

This is one classy gentleman
This is one classy gentleman

Now, I may be a supremely confident individual but even I know that a comparison between Bruce Lee and myself is *ridiculous*.  I mean, he’s a Chinese American and I am Canadian!!  As a result, we couldn’t be more different.  If you’ve worked out at all in your life, you’re familar with the story below.  And if you *aren’t* familiar with this story, then I need to apologize for a *third time* because

  1. whatever you call “working out” is not *real* working out
  2. you’ve probably never really worked out in your life.   

“Bruce had me up to three miles a day, really at a good pace. We’d run the three miles in twenty-one or twenty-two minutes. Just under eight minutes a mile [Note: when running on his own in 1968, Lee would get his time down to six-and-a half minutes per mile]. So this morning he said to me “We’re going to go five.” I said, “Bruce, I can’t go five. I’m a helluva lot older than you are, and I can’t do five.” He said, “When we get to three, we’ll shift gears and it’s only two more and you’ll do it.” I said “Okay, hell, I’ll go for it.” So we get to three, we go into the fourth mile and I’m okay for three or four minutes, and then I really begin to give out. I’m tired, my heart’s pounding, I can’t go any more and so I say to him, “Bruce if I run any more,” –and we’re still running-”if I run any more I’m liable to have a heart attack and die.” He said, “Then die.” It made me so mad that I went the full five miles. Afterward I went to the shower and then I wanted to talk to him about it. I said, you know, “Why did you say that?” He said, “Because you might as well be dead. Seriously, if you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”

-John Little

“A man must constantly exceed his level.”


A man must constantly exceed his level.

That is the kind of working out that your hero does, the kind of working out that is good enough for everyone who actually gives a rats’ @$$ about being fit.  That is actually the kind of *everything* I do, and that is the kind of everything *you* should be doing, not your one pushup a day or your 5 minutes of walking or your 20 minutes of sipping a latte and getting in touch with your freaking inner swamp.

If you’re reading this, tears in your eyes, donut crumbs on your chin, I’m here to tell you that it’s time to stop doing nothing and start doing that everything.  Tomorrow’s a new day.  But the next hour is a new hour.  Don’t push off getting started.

Otherwise, my advice is the same as Bruce’s.

Next: Limited Edition Doritos!!