5 Life Lessons Learned from Indiana Jones

I love Dr. Indiana Jones.

And come on, what kind of nerd doesn’t dream of traveling the globe, going on epic adventures, discovering hidden treasures, and living a life of mystery and excitement?  Sure, Dr. Jones might be fictional, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some serious life lessons we can draw from this absolutely spectacular trilogy.

Yeah, you heard me, trilogy.  Try to tell me there’s a 4th movie and I’ll punch you in the throat.  IT NEVER HAPPENED.

Ahem.

Where was I?  Oh right, Indiana Jones and the Epic Life. 

Here’s how to find your own Holy Grail.

Believe the Unbelievable

What if the Ark of the Covenant, a container that held the remains of the ten commandments, actually existed?

What if the Holy Grail, the chalice of Jesus Christ, could actually grant eternal life?

Throughout these adventures, Indiana spent his time chasing down artifacts that nobody else believed existed – he was questioned at every turn by people telling him to grow up and get realistic – after all, these were merely folk tales and legends.

These naysayers went out of their way to tell Dr. Jones that he’s was chasing impossibility; what he wanted could not be accomplished.

Luckily, Indiana told these chumps to go to Hell and continued his search.  He believed in his heart that the stories were real.  Sure enough, they were.

Take that haters!

What we can learn: What do you want in your life right now that seems impossible?  Maybe you want to get out of debt, run a marathon, qualify for the Olympics, land a 900 on a skateboard, or climb Mt. Everest.  You probably have this ridiculous dream in your head that doesn’t actually seem real – it’s far easier to dream than to believe it’s possible.  After all, dreaming is free…believing will eventually require action, which scares the crap out of people.

Not you.

Maybe you are incredibly overweight – I bet a slim figure and healthy life seems like an absolute impossibility to you.  Well, I received an email last week from a NF reader who’s lost 100 POUNDS in the past seven months following the Rebel Strength Guide and Rebel Fitness Guide – I have honestly never seen a more drastic before/after photo.  The best part is – he’s not DONE!  I can’t wait to watch your jaw drop when I share his story with you.  I truly believe that this Rebel was successful because he actually believed that he could do it.  My friend Saint’s “holy grail” was a body that he could be proud of on his honeymoon – after years of denial and “I can’t do it,” he finally started to believe…a few months later, he found it.

Four years ago, I read the Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.  Although I had no desire to only work four hours a week, I was introduced to the idea of building an online business, traveling the world, and living life on my own terms.  Most people probably read Tim’s book and said “no effing way, that’s impossible.”  I read it and said “Yeah, I think I can do that.”  So I did.  After two years of writing articles daily while still working a full time job, more than one risky decision, another year of hustle, 65,000 miles of flying, a dozen countries visited, and one successful online business later, I am living the a life I previously didn’t think existed.  People certainly questioned my sanity along the way; but I knew I had found my life’s work, and that believing I could help change the world was the first step to actually making it happen.

Your holy grail exists.

Stop dreaming, start believing.

Research like a mofo

Once Indy started hearing stories about the Holy Grail, did he run out his front door screaming “HOLY GRAIL! WHERE THE EFF ARE YOU????”

No, but that would be pretty funny.

Instead, he voraciously read, researched, and absorbed every single piece of literature he could find on the subject: he heard every story, he read every book, he tracked down every script, he traveled to every ancient library, and cross-referenced every first-hand account of the cup of Christ.  If a piece of information existed, he found it.  For days, weeks, months, and years, Indy gathered this information, hypothesized, tested, and referenced, while separating fact from fiction, truth from legend.

By the time Indy set out to find his treasure, he already knew everything about it.

What we can learn: Do your research, my dear friend!  Once you determine what your “holy grail” is, take it from an abstract dream and turn it into a concrete goal.  Become a voracious reader and absorb as much information as possible.  Interview and learn from those who have had success before you.  Sure, you’ll come across some bad information every now and again, or you might find two sources that have conflicting ideologies that require you to do even more research.  It’s worth it.  The more information you have on your grail, the more success stories you can come across, the better educated you’ll be about the topic and the less likely you’ll be to dismiss it as a pipedream.

If you want to become a world class marathon runner…don’t just put on a pair of shoes and run out the door while hoping for the best.  Start doing your research: learn from people who know what they’re talking about, read five other books on running, subscribe to ten running blogs, and start learning from your athletic friends that are great runners.  If you want to become an expert runner, become an expert researcher on running.  Learn, absorb, qualify, repeat.

Some day I’m going to buy an island in the Caribbean – you know, for the Nerd Fitness Rebellion world headquarters and training ground.  Sounds unbelievable right?  Nope.  After reading Richard Branson’s “Losing My Virginity,” I realized it WAS possible, so I started doing my research – Little Hog Cay can actually be had for under $2 million, and other smaller islands can be had for much less!  Of course I don’t have $2 million just waiting to be spent (…yet), but I’ve already taken this crazy dream from the abstract down to the realistic.

Now, once you’ve done your research, it’s time to…

Put a plan in place

Indy wanted to track down the Holy Grail – and thanks to his research, he knew where to look for it.  As he’d tell you “X marks the spot”:

“…across the desert and through the mountain to the Canyon of the Crescent Moon, to the Temple where the cup that…holds the blood of Jesus Christ resides forever. “

Perfect!  All Indy had to do was show up and claim his door prize – one cup of everlasting life, right?

Wrong!  He had to get past three incredibly challenging obstacles in order to prove himself worthy of Holy Grail-ness (of COURSE that’s a word).  Fortunately, Indy had done his research and knew EXACTLY what steps he needed to take:

  • The Breath of God-- ‘Only the penitent man will pass.’
  • The Word of God–’Only in the footsteps of God will he proceed.’
  • The Path of God– ‘Only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth.’

I’m sure Indy was freaking terrified and unsure of himself before each obstacle.  Luckily, all he had to do was follow directions, put one foot in front of the other (okay and kneel at the right time to avoid decapitation), and succeed where thousands before him had failed.

What we can learn - At this point, you’re already believing the unbelievable, and you’ve doing your research on making your unbelievable more concrete.  It’s now time to put a specific, step-by-step, plan in place for you to accomplish it!  These steps can be absolutely miniscule – an extra phone call today, one more push up tomorrow, one less can of Mountain Dew this week, an extra book read this month. Whatever!

What’s important is that you start to understand that leveling up your life doesn’t happen overnight.

Like Optimus Prime’s dramatic transformation, a dramatic adjustment in your life isn’t instantaneous – it’s actually the result of hundreds or thousands of tiny little improvements over the course of weeks, months, years.  Its easy to give up on something that seems so distant and obscure.  However, when you can logically connect the dots from where you are to where you want to be, it’s much easier to avoid getting overwhelmed and actually GET STARTED.

One quest at a time.

One day at a time.

One step at a time. 

Get out of the classroom

Dr. Jones is an brilliant archaeologist, and judging by the faces of his students (mostly the females), he’s quite the professor as well. 

He could have lived his life in relative peace and quiet, simply researching and studying and teaching – no risky adventures, no clashes with Nazis, no freaky eye-melting supernatural phenomenons.  He’s probably tenured too and making quite the living!

Fortunately for us, Indy has always been drawn to adventure, understanding that all the planning and studying and research in the world doesn’t mean much if it’s not acted upon.  Sure, the research was necessary to get the first steps done, but without action the Ark of the Covenant would have stayed hidden and the Holy Grail would have remained a legend.

Indy was the man because he did his research, and applied it!

What we can learn: Get out of your house!  Yeah, research helps.  Yes, putting a plan in place is incredibly beneficial.  But having the best plan in place doesn’t mean **** if you aren’t willing to act on it!  So start your adventure.  You might make mistakes.  You might start heading down the wrong path.  THESE THINGS HAPPEN.  However, as long you are learning from your mistakes, every step you take – even if a few are failures – is merely a stepping stone towards  your Holy Grail.

Go. Act.

Do. Learn.

Repeat.

Deviate when necessary

Although Indiana Jones always prepared like a mofo for every quest he went on, he often found himself in a precarious positions due to Nazis, angry natives, spies, and so on.  If he freaked out as soon whenever things didn’t go his way, Indy would probably have been squished under a giant ball before his adventures really got started.

THAT WOULD HAVE SUCKED!

Luckily, Indy understood that even the best battle plans become obsolete once the battle begins – so he improvised and made adjustments on the fly.  For example, when the Nazis stole the Ark (if I had a nickel for every time that happened…), Indy had to drastically alter his plans to track it down:

Indiana: Meet me at Omar’s. Be ready for me. I’m going after that truck.
Sallah: How?
Indiana: I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go!

In Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom, Indy was heading home after an eventful adventure in Asia.  Unfortunately, his plane crashed, and after a harrowing mid-air improvisation – using a raft as his parachute – he drifted into a village looking for help.  Sure Indiana could have found a way home and gone back to the quiet life of a professor.  Instead, he decided to explore the disappearance of the town’s children over at Pankot Palace (where he almost had his heart ripped out – not cool).

Indy always had a plan, and things always generally fell apart.  Fortunately, Indy realized that sh** happens, so he sucked it up, dealt with it, and made changes when he needed to.

What we can learn - Life is going to get in the way – your kids will get sick, you will get laid off from your job, you’ll have an unexpected business trip, your training partner will move out of town, whatever.  Life happens, and your perfectly researched plan could quickly become obsolete.  If you’ve been preparing and planning and researching, then you’ll understand that these things happen and it’s an easy adjustment for you to switch mine cart tracks and continue your pursuit of your goals.

Build your body and life so that you’re prepared for everything, and you can do anything.  Your goals may change as your life changes.  You might set your goal as one thing only to discover a few months down the road that actually want something completely different.  That’s okay.  What’s important is that you recognize the need for some flexibility and adaptability in your plan, and then not freak out should things not go your way.

Especially when Nazis are involved.

Be like Indy

What’s YOUR Holy Grail – a goal in life that seems so far away and out of reach?  Have you come to the realization that it exists?  Or are you still struggling with that reality?  What’s one piece research can you find today, and what’s ONE step you can take towards that goal this afternoon?

Most importantly, how can I help you in your quest?

What other lessons can we learn from Dr. Jones?

-Steve

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photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo

 

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  • http://twitter.com/AlanPerlman Alan Perlman

    Righteous post, brother. One of my favorite trilogies of all time. BOOM.

  • Anonymous

    My favorite quote: “The difference between dreamers and believers is action.” 

    Time to stop wallowing and take action. :) 

  • http://cmgalvin.com/ Charlie Galvin

    Great post! I keep reading, and enjoying. Many of the times I wonder how I can apply your ideas to the next steps in my life. Today was different. As I was reading I realized I wasn’t saying “I should do that,” or “I could apply that to this.” No, today I was saying, “Yes, that’s been working for me!” 

    The past two years my grail has been to run a full marathon. In that time I’ve completed a half marathon, a 100 mile bike ride through the foothills of North Carolina, and two Warrior Dashes, but the big prize had still eluded me. Not after this past weekend! I finally finished my first marathon! (http://cmgalvin.com/?p=386)

    Not only that, but in the past month I’ve sold my first items from my leather shop on Etsy! Next Grail is sustainable freelance/workaway income so I can start my own epic adventure!

  • Damon

    First and foremost: I love you for this article ;) Indy was my childhood hero – and he still is my hero today! I build my whole workout routine to do him justice.

    The thing that makes Indy so great for me is… he is just an average guy. He doesn’t have any superpowers. He is like us, like me. He’s not the best fighter and yet he takes every punch. He is not the best runner, and yet he manages to be one step ahead of his enemys, or – if he falls behind – he always manages to turn up again, like a bad penny. And why? Because he’s determined, that’s why! He does what he has to do, to reach his goals, without hesistation (and he has pretty bold goals)! Even if he has to face his fears (snakes). He follows his heart (sometimes) and he uses his brain (all the time). He is an open-minded skeptic and he lives for the moment (he’s not that big of a planner, but I know what you want to say, Steve). His attitude is all about surviving and reaching his goals, but to do that, he has to stay focused on the here and now. “I’m going after that truck!” “How?” “I don’t know. I’m making this up, as I go”

    And if someone doesn’t buy into the whole Indiana Jones-thing… everyone will buy into the Harrison Ford-thing, because Ford IS Indy! ;) Ford got injured during shooting Temple of Doom and afterwards, he said he wouldn’t have recoverd that quickly and that good, if he wouldn’t have been in such a great physical condition for the film. There’s a lesson in here ;D

  • http://cmgalvin.com/ Charlie Galvin

    Nice addition about facing fears!

  • http://twitter.com/amy4leaf Amy Clover

    Indy is my favorite!  What a great way to relate such a classic character to going after your goals.

    The reason Indy is my favorite is that he’s not a perfect hero- he has faults, messes up, and is a little ridiculous sometimes.  The fact that he accomplishes what he sets out to do sets an example that our holy grail is achievable, no matter how “flawed” we all are!

    Great post, Steve!

  • http://twitter.com/FitnessReloaded Maria

    Wow, I loved that post! It’s fun to think that you are the next Indiana Jones of your own personal holy grail!

    My favorite hero though is Frodo, from the Lord of the Rings. While Indiana Jones was an average guy like everyone else, Frodo was a hobbit with no experience. Yes he was not chasing something that may have not even existed like Indy, but he was so weak that he didn’t stand a chance in Mordor.

    Indy teaches you to have faith in what you are doing, and Frodo teaches courage and to give yourself to your goal wholeheartedly.

  • Mpeas

    Great post! These posts are the reason I subscribe!

  • Anonymous

    Excellent post and inspirational. I am finding as I get older that life goes by quickly and shooting for the starts is needed to make those little steps to accomplish something big. It is vital to educate ourselves on something that we are passionate about and not to let ourselves be knocked down by the naysayers. Every time I see the progress made by Rebels when losing weight it reminds me that those individuals kept marching towards their weight loss goals and made a huge impact in their lives.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent post and inspirational. I am finding as I get older that life goes by quickly and shooting for the starts is needed to make those little steps to accomplish something big. It is vital to educate ourselves on something that we are passionate about and not to let ourselves be knocked down by the naysayers. Every time I see the progress made by Rebels when losing weight it reminds me that those individuals kept marching towards their weight loss goals and made a huge impact in their lives.

  • http://twitter.com/bowhite Belinda Thomson

    And don’t forget Bilbo - just a regular guy/hobbit, who thought ‘what the hell, I’m going to follow this crazy old Wizard’.

  • Jay

    “Yeah, you heard me, trilogy.  Try to tell me there’s a 4th movie and I’ll punch you in the throat.  IT NEVER HAPPENED.” I have been saying that ever since I didn’t watch the 4th movie that never happened! Great post; one I’m sure the esteemed Dr.Jones would agree with.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rachel.blaasch Rachel Blaasch

    Steve, Steven, I mean…Steve, how do you know what’s been on my mind?  This is maybe the 5th post this summer that’s been about what’s bothering me at that moment.  Freaky.

    I came to this site because of a post about fitness and Star Wars, but Indiana Jones is my lifetime inspiration.  Even studied and worked in archaeology.  I almost became the mousy bookish researcher, but as Indy said in the movie-that-did-not-happen, “If you want to be an archaeologist, kid, get out of the library.”

    I’ve had a rough, uninspired summer, but this week, out of nowhere, I have felt like a dream is forming and something big’s on its way.  (And in the end, it always leads to archaeology.)

    PS  He might be tenured, but i think the third movie showed that his office is in the boiler room ;p  And his artifacts are stuffed into crates and forgotten about in huge warehouses. 

  • http://www.bzemic.com/impossibleInstinct/ steve ward

    good post steve i LOVE (no ones mind go there ok……ok) the way you tie fiction with fact to create a great story of fiction and fact. the three things im focued on now are 

    1) build my hollywood body
    2) create a 5 figure business/job (most jobs can be turned into business)
    3) writing my first book

  • Owen

    Steve there’s a fou……. no I couldn’t do it!

    I’m reading four hour work week too – there’s some good stuff in there, but I’m taking some of it with a grain of salt :)

    I’m still trying to work out the quest… I seem to have lots of different ideas and chop and change on the one I’m calling the main priority

  • David Dellinger

    OMG OMG OMG!!! One of my photos is featured on Steve Kamb’s NF blog!!! I guess the Joel Runyon t-shirt goes back in the closet, and it’s the NF shirt exclusively from now on!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Webster/507401999 Tim Webster

     Future Wife is a huge fan of the Indiana Jones movies. She’d really appreciate this post (so I mentioned her in the tweet I sent).

    Beyond these 5 points, Indiana Jones was able to run off on adventure because he was totally in control of his life. While these 5 lessons are still applicable, truly deviating and getting out of the classroom (which, for some (most?) of us would mean getting out of the office) would only be successful if someone has crafted a life that can be put on hold and taken anywhere.

    If I got out of the classroom (my office) and off on a 10 day adventure in Bhutan I would probably return to strange gazes and several dozen voicemails asking where the hell I was. hahahah

    This is not to say I don’t appreciate your perspective. I absolutely do, and I try to fold in as much bad-ass-ness into my daily life as I can (and I feel like I do a pretty good job!) but while I am very happy with the current state of existence, I do still desire to have a more Indiana Jones type life!

  • Anonymous

    Although I don’t have goals to buy an island (yet), I do have some pretty big goals! Never thought of following the plan’s of the great Indiana Jones. Now it makes obtaining these goals 1,000x’s easier! :) lol Only question I have……are you planning on having a little kid follow you around in your excursion Mr. Jones? 

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  • http://ectofit.blogspot.com HI, MY NAME IS…

    Indiana Jones is an icon, and a great fucking saga (including young indiana jones) but we must remember that this is FICTION. I don’t think we should try to embody or learn from FICTIONAL CHARACTERS. It’s important to be grounded in reality, and be inspired by REAL PEOPLE who did REAL THINGS. It’s cool to try to live up to the IDEALS of something out of hollywood, but we should focus on the REALITY of things as they are and as they happen. 

    You (and I) were inspired by Tim Ferris to create a “muse” that made it possible for us to do the things that are important to us. I don’t think transformers or even the great Doctor Jones can be credited with our inspiration and creativity. Just some thoughts there.

    One of my websites is kinda like this one in that it is focused on educating skinny guys on how to build muscular physiques despite having “bad” genetics. Of course idk if “nerds/goons” will appreciate it because it takes lifting heavy weights and a crazy diet to defeat the skinny gene. I’ll link to it anyway and you can let me know what you think =)

  • Anonymous

    You’re awesome. Inspirational.

    Little Hot Clay… it may be yours unless I buy it first! ;)

    Oh! A thought! Maybe, just maybe… people like myself would LOVE to invest some money in helping you buy it…………… if you like this idea, email me. I think you know where to find me!

  • Anonymous

    You’re awesome. Inspirational.

    Little Hot Clay… it may be yours unless I buy it first! ;)

    Oh! A thought! Maybe, just maybe… people like myself would LOVE to invest some money in helping you buy it…………… if you like this idea, email me. I think you know where to find me!

  • Anonymous

    You’re awesome. Inspirational.

    Little Hot Clay… it may be yours unless I buy it first! ;)

    Oh! A thought! Maybe, just maybe… people like myself would LOVE to invest some money in helping you buy it…………… if you like this idea, email me. I think you know where to find me!

  • Anonymous

    You’re awesome. Inspirational.

    Little Hot Clay… it may be yours unless I buy it first! ;)

    Oh! A thought! Maybe, just maybe… people like myself would LOVE to invest some money in helping you buy it…………… if you like this idea, email me. I think you know where to find me!

  • Anonymous

    You’re awesome. Inspirational.

    Little Hot Clay… it may be yours unless I buy it first! ;)

    Oh! A thought! Maybe, just maybe… people like myself would LOVE to invest some money in helping you buy it…………… if you like this idea, email me. I think you know where to find me!

  • Anonymous

    You’re awesome. Inspirational.

    Little Hot Clay… it may be yours unless I buy it first! ;)

    Oh! A thought! Maybe, just maybe… people like myself would LOVE to invest some money in helping you buy it…………… if you like this idea, email me. I think you know where to find me!

  • Mister J

    Thank you for posting this. The metaphors that can help us in real life found in sci-fi and fantasy are some pf the main reasons why I read comics and watch the Star Wars, Back to the Future and Indy trilogies over and over again. Thank you for understanding, hopefully more people will. GOD BLESS.

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  • http://www.seedsofmusic.net Kyle Williams

    No better way to relate to fellow fans and nerds than to correlate success and some Indiana.

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  • commenter

    Thank you for this article- it’s gotten me one step closer to studying archaeology in Ecuador. Very fitting. :p Now I’m off to look up the cost of airplane tickets, and how visas work.

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  • Joia

    Women’s roller derby may become an Olympic sport in 2020. I want to play for the US. At that time, I will be 39 years old. Right now, I’m not even on a team.

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  • Oramac1968

    Here’s one super-goal I’ve had for a while. Steve, you might add this to the island idea, since they go together so well.

    http://www.ussubmarines.com/

    Buy a freaking SUBMARINE! Course, the biggest ones are around $70 million, but hey, what the heck.