How to Create Your Own Jedi Council

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, the Jedi helped keep the peace.

Today, they’re going to help you level up your life.

How? By teaching you to surround yourself with the right people!  If you spend your days sitting around listening to lazy bums who eat poorly and make fun of you for exercising, you’re going to struggle in your quest to a healthier life.  Conversely, if you surround yourself with positive people who are constantly doing things to better themselves while encouraging you to do the same, you’ll be influenced and far more likely to actually make changes in your life.

Alrighty, let’s build you a council!

Why have a  Jedi council?

Having your own Jedi council will put you in the right frame of mind. The people on your council can offer advice when you are confused, support you when you’re down, encourage you when you need encouragement, and provide you with a constant source of motivation, inspiration, and education.

In fitness, finances, business, and life, having a Jedi council has pushed me to become a better person.  On days when I feel like sleeping in, on afternoons when I feel like skipping the gym, on weekends when I feel like stuffing my face with terrible food, my mind always reverts back to the lessons and words of wisdom I’ve learned from my “council.”  Even when they’re not there to inspire me directly, I can always feel their presence.

The Force is strong with them.

How to pick your council

It’s time to start assembling your own personal Jedi council. You want to pick people that have already had the type of success that you’re after and have shared or are willing to share their wisdom on how they did it.    These can be authors of how-to books, bloggers, TV stars, your local gym trainer, a friend of yours, whoever.  You don’t need to personally know the people on your council; they can still be a mentor to you.  Here’s what you’re looking for in a potential Jedi council member:

1) They are true masters of their craft. The 12 members of the Jedi council put in the work, did their time, and worked incredibly hard to rise to the highest level of the order.  People looked to them for advice and guidance because they were truly the best of the best.

You need to pick people who are masters of their respective craft too, whatever that may be.

If you need to lose a lot of weight, choose people like Tyler over at 344 pounds to be on your council, because he’s BEEN there and DONE that, while writing about it the entire way.  If you are trying to pack on muscle, pick guys like Jason Ferruggia who has made a living from transforming people into athletic powerhouses.  Select people who have already traveled the path that you’re beginning to walk, and follow where they lead.  You’ll soon have a chance to venture on your own path, but when starting out why not learn from the best?

2) They are honest and just. Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of crap information, false advertising, and useless products out there (I’d guess 90% of fitness stuff you see on TV/read on the internet is effing useless or dangerous).  Don’t pick people that have sites loaded up with ads for diet pills and/or achieved success through questionable means.  If a fitness guru makes an outlandish statement or promises incredibly results in a short period of time, he better back it up with scientific evidence and personal proof.

It’s okay to be skeptical. Unless you have a medical condition, the only things you need to get in shape are diet, exercise, and willpower.  That’s it.  Anybody who tells you otherwise is probably a Sith lord in disguise.  Booooo Dark Side.

3) They are constantly vigilant, always learning, always improving. Jedi never stop training and never stop learning.  Even Jedi Grand Master Yoda continued to train, mediate, and learn new things until he died at the age of 900.  You need to learn from people that never want to stop learning and improving themselves.  The fitness industry is constantly evolving as new discoveries are made and studies are concluded – you need people who are excited to learn about all this new stuff and share their theories and opinions with you.

4) The force is strong with them. Everybody learns at a different pace, has different starting points, and different goals.  Do you need to be yelled at to work harder, or do you need to be encouraged?   Do you like a straight forward approach or do you need your fitness information disguised as something else before you’ll actually read it?  Are you a self-starter or do you need constant sources of inspiration to stay on target?

I can’t tell you what will work for you; you need to figure that out for yourself. Find what works for you, and find council members who resonate with your beliefs and training styles.  Determine if you need daily reminders, weekly reports, humor, etc. whatever to be successful.  The internet is a big place, which allows you to be incredibly selective on who gets to give you advice.

Your attention is the most important currency of all – spend it wisely.

My advice - subscribe to the websites of authors you enjoy, and sign up for email updates from authors that you never miss.  Instead of skimming 100 fitness blogs a day, pick a dozen that you really truly love and concentrate on learning as much as possible from them.

Who’s on MY Jedi Council?

Below are the people who have qualified to be on my Jedi Council. These are people who have earned my trust and thus get my undivided attention.  I’ve haven’t met most of them (yet), but that doesn’t diminish the impact they’ve had on my life.  They all do things differently, but one thing is certain – the Force is strong with all of them:

  • Craig Ballantyne – I consider Craig to be the Yoda of the online fitness industry. He’s one hell of a guy and gives away a RIDICULOUS amount of free workouts and instructional videos.  Don’t let the infomercial-style approach of some of his products fool you, this guy knows what he’s doing and gets results.
  • Jason Ferruggia – I’m a huge fan of Jason’s site and his training philosophy. Sometimes foul-mouthed, often politically incorrect, Jason tells it like it is with a no-BS approach to packing on muscle and improving athletic performance.  He’s one of the strongest dudes I know, and he’s a vegan!
  • VIc Magary- Vic runs  GymJunkies.com and puts himself through Hell with each workout. This dude pushes his body harder and farther than most would even dream, which is why he’s a constant source of inspiration to me.  Vic’s also a former US soldier; I have the utmost respect for him and the the other members of our armed forces.  Thanks for your service Vic.
  • Mike Rickett - Mike is my personal Yoda, and actually the only guy on my list that I’ve actually met. Mike was the teacher of my personal trainer certification class a year and a half ago, and since then I’ve gotten a chance to really get to know him.  He’s easily the most knowledgeable fitness expert I’ve ever crossed paths with, which is why I’m so excited to work with him on creating the Nerd Fitness Rebel Guide (like the Death Star, it’s not fully operational…yet).
  • Mark Rippetoe – If you want to get really strong, you need to be doing squats, deadlifts, presses, pull ups, and chin ups. If you want to do those things well, you need to read Starting Strength (affiliate link) by Mark Rippetoe.  I completely restructured my workouts and my form on almost all exercises after reading this book.   If you’re serious about lifting weights, I can’t recommend Starting Strength enough.
  • Mark Sisson – Mark runs Mark’s Daily Apple, a site dedicated to living a primal lifestyle. After reading a few books on the Paleo Diet, I stumbled across Mark’s site and I’ve been reading it ever since.  As far as a diet is concerned, the Primal/Paleo diet makes complete sense to me, which is why I endorse it and try to abide by it when possible.  Mark’s site is a daily reminder to improve the quality of food that I’m shoveling into my mouth on a regular basis.  Thanks Mark!
  • Mark Twight – Mark is the man who trained all the actors for the movie 300. Mark’s also the guy who said “appearance is a consequence of fitness,”  something I repeat to myself daily.  I’m trying to pack on some muscle (going for the Ryan Reynolds in Blade 3 look), but I’m not doing it with iso-dumbbell curls and calf raises.  I’m just concentrating on becoming stronger by lifting heavy weights and letting nature do the rest.

Because I’m trying to pack on muscle, get strong as hell, and improve athletic performance, my Jedi Council is composed of people who are really good at doing those things. If you’re more like Jabba the Hutt and you want to slim down, your Jedi Council should have at least a few people who have had specific success doing exactly that.

Who’s on your council?

I’ve showed you mine, now show me yours.  Where do you get your inspiration and motivation from?  Who am I not learning from that I should be?  Share in the comments below and we can put together a resource of great books, guides, sites, and sources for people getting started in the whole level-life journey.

If you’re forming your Jedi Council now, hop on over to the Nerd Fitness Rebellion message board and share your findings with your fellow rebels.  This is a battle we’re all fighting as a group, and the more we can work together and inspire each other to level up, the better chance we’ll have at success.

Hopefully I’ve earned the right to be part of your council. If I haven’t yet, let me know what I need to do and I’ll make it happen.

-Steve

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photo source: Manga Monkey

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  • http://inthelimelight.net/2010/06/01/are-you-considering-giving-up/ Jonathan Timar

    Can I just have Yoda on my council? Yoda knows everything.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/shauncy Shauna Stacy

    This is such a timely post. I was just venting to a friend how frustrating it is to be so surrounded by people who don't “get it” and opt to come down on me for my choices rather than looking at their own. The last few weeks, I have actively been looking for a new council… I just didn't think it put me in the same boat as a Jedi. ;)

    And yes, Steve, of course you are on my council!

  • http://www.geekintoshape.com George Titsworth

    Great post Steve!

    I think it is critical to have at least one person you know in “real life” on your council, like Mike Rickett for you. I love the information I get from books, television, or online from blogs, but there's nothing quite like a face to face with someone that meets the four requirements for being on my Jedi council.

    Also, is it OK to have you and the entire NF rebellion on my council?

  • http://www.stevekamb.com Steve Kamb

    Ha, hey Jonathan…I think you need a Samuel L. Jackson on your council as well, you know…to throw in quotable catch-phrases and wield purple lighstabers.

    -Steve

  • http://www.stevekamb.com Steve Kamb

    Aw, thanks Shauna!

    I'm honored :)

    -S

  • http://www.stevekamb.com Steve Kamb

    Great point George.

    Having a 'real life' yoda, somebody you can call up, email, exercise with, etc. is a great asset.

    And yes, of course, we'll all project ourselves in, holograph-style.

    -Steve

  • JFreedom

    With work draining my life force daily, and trying to keep up with side projects and conquering the latest videogames :), I don't have a lot of time to seek out words of wisdom and motivation from too many sources. What I do have though is Steve Kamb, and with your site and friendship over the years, I'd say you sit firmly at the head of my council :D Thanks for keeping me in line and motivated to continually level up my life man!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarah-Hill/100000028397999 Sarah Hill

    Awesome! I want a council of strong girls! Do you mind pointing me in the direction of some of your favorite female authors?

  • http://www.stevekamb.com Steve Kamb

    Thanks Joe,

    I'm glad I had a Gamecube in college when we met so that we could bond. Hahaha, good times!

    -Steve

  • http://www.stevekamb.com Steve Kamb

    Hey Sarah!

    Great question, and one I'll certainly have to do some research for. I'll see what I can find. Any other NF female rebel army soldiers wanna chime in?

    -steve

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  • http://www.halfofjess.com Jess

    Strong girls that pop into my head: Caitlin from Healthy Tipping Point (she might not be a lifter but the girl runs marathons and cycles 100 miles) and MizFit (who is definitely into lifting).

    My council…
    MizFit from http://mizfitonline.com/ for strong women lifters.
    Barefoot Ted from http://www.barefootted.com/ for barefoot running.
    Jamie Donaldson from http://altitudeultrarunner.blogspot.com/ for ultrarunning and being bad ass. The woman has won Badwater twice.
    Brendan Brazier from http://www.brendanbrazier.com is a vegan professional triathlete.

    I don't so much put people who have lost a lot of weight on my council, not because I don't respect them, but because I think it's an individual thing. You need to find what works for you and fix whatever is wrong on the inside first, which is different for everybody. I like stalking athletes because I believe they train with a purpose. They strive to be better, stronger and faster every single day and their goals are fitness/health related and not specifically weight-related.

    Yes Steve. You have a spot on my council too, but you know this already since you know I stalk you. You're on my council because you write about fitness in a very creative manner, making it actually fun to read and think about. Plus you converted me to barefoot running. Enough said.

  • http://twitter.com/hillarief hillarie furman

    Women Jedis:
    Krista at stumptuous.com
    Gubernatris at All round strength training http://gubernatrix.co.uk

  • Dawsy

    I've only got a small council at the moment, but am always looking to add to it. So far I've got 3 council members:

    1. Steve Kamb – we all know this guy :)
    2. Brett McKay at artofmanliness.com – This is a great site with a thriving community of men looking to learn from the core values imparted to us from previous generations. He was the guy that pointed me towards the NF site in the first place
    3. Barefoot Ken Bob – from barefootrunning.org BKB is the Yoda of barefoot running – even Barefoot Ted got his start from reading this blog

  • Dobner

    great post. I also think that having people that will be willing to test your blind spots is also very valuable.

  • http://www.theintelligentworkout.com Dave Ridarelli

    Your Council List is Spot On – I'd add Mark Verstegen to my list. He's one of the top athletic trainers & wrote the book Core Performance which helped pull my defintion of fitness in a smarter direction…

  • Lobby101

    you're really funny.

  • Ryan

    the girl that posted above me is hot @lobby101

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  • ManWithBlackHat

    My Council is:
    My friend Jeremy (he’s five four, and 180 pounds of lean muscle), my go-to for a strength buddy. Also my first exercise mentor. 
    My friend Jordan (about five seven, and about 130 pounds of wire), my ‘cardio companion’, he helps me run further, faster
    Art of Manliness, for masculinity tips and so forth,
    And of course, you, Steve. I have at least a hundred posts bookmarked, and your advice has jumpstarted my diet and exercise regimen all over again. 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.owens.5621 Dan Owens

    Wow, its been a year since anyone commented. Im a bit late but here goes, Paul Wade, Al Kavadlo, Jim Bathurst and im looking for someone who has been skinny but managed to put on muscle to help me with my diet (Ovo-laco vegitarian) and who has som experience with bodyweight strength training.

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