Hero Training 101: 4 Steps to Save the Galaxy

I’ll never forget the first time I watched the original Star Wars: A New Hope.

To this day, watching Luke walk out of his home on Tatooine with the binary sunset (listening to John Williams’s epic score) still sends chills down my spine.  I imagined I was Luke, and it was destined that I would bring peace and balance to the Galaxy.

Advancing a few years, I discovered Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and became enchanted with the walk from the comfy confines of the Shire to the Lonely Mountain and Mordor.  I imagined myself hiking up magnificent mountains, through cavernous halls, and living out the life of an adventurous Hobbit.

Then came high school, and lost myself in the world of Neo and the Matrix – this was an easy dream.  A guy that spends wayyyy too much time on the computer discovers that he is “The One,” and will soon possess the skills necessary to defeat the machines and free humanity from prison? I’m in.

No matter if you’re young or old, male, female, or droid, you probably had dreams growing up that took you from your suburban life and implanted you into a life of destiny, adventure, and magic.

It’s easy to become infatuated with the path of the Hero, for we can envision that it’s us.

But I am NOT the Hero.

Here’s why that’s amazing.

Why heroes are important

Buzz Lightyear

We need hero stories in our lives.  

After all, it’s always more fun to believe in magic, the power of prophecies, and the idea that we were in fact destined for greatness and incredible adventure. You know, rather than just being that skinny/fat/shy wallflower in suburbia who struggled to make friends at school, dealt with bullies, and had self-esteem issues.

These stories gave us hope:  

  • “Luke worked on a farm and then went on to save the Galaxy!”
  • “Bilbo was scared of everything, and went on to see dragons, fight orcs, and kill giant spiders!”
  • “Neo spent all night on his computer, and it turned out he was THE ONE.”
  • “Mulan was an ordinary woman who went on to lead a victory over the invading Huns!”

And we all know how important hope is: “Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things, for no good thing ever dies.” This was a lesson I learned from one of my favorite stories, The Shawshank Redemption.

Belief in this epic journey gives us the hope we need in order to struggle and persevere through the low points – being overweight or struggling to find success. The low points must happen in order for us to become the Jedi, to become the One.

The death of the hero

Darth Vader Storm Troopers

Now, believing in these things as children is encouraged by our parents; we’re told it’s good to have an active imagination.

However, as we get older, it becomes easier and easier to accept mediocrity, to accept our place in the world, to accept expanding waistline, to accept heavy breathing after walking up a flight of steps, or to accept a life that leaves us unfulfilled.

After all, that’s just the way things are, right?

If things don’t work out, it’s because life isn’t fair. If we’re overweight, unhappy, and going nowhere, that’s tough luck. We’re told to suck it up and deal with it. Be realistic.

This is a bullshit attitude to have.  

You can choose to think life isn’t fair, or you can choose to view each setback as a challenge needing to be dominated.

We are getting knocked down to see if we can get back up. We are being tested. If we’re struggling to lose weight, it’s because it’s not supposed to be easy.  If we’re struggling to kick a bad habit or an addiction, it’s because adversity is necessary for growth.

There’s a reason this isn’t easy.

Luke needed to struggle and face his fears on Dagobah.  Neo had to spend night after night digging and digging to find out if there was more to his existence (not to mention getting beat up by Morpheus).  Bilbo had to get knocked down and ridiculed repeatedly before finding his path to save the day.

This is the journey of the Hero…the path I thought I was on.

After a great conversation with my friend Chase Reeves, I realized that I had it all wrong.

I’m not the Hero.

I’m the guy that gets to help the Hero find his way.

I am Obi Wan. Gandalf. Morpheus.

YOU are the Hero.

And your training starts now.

Hero Training 101: Step One

Wonder Woman

Believe, but take it one day at a time.

Neo didn’t truly believe he was the One until he started to see zeroes and ones.  Bilbo and Frodo never believed they had any part to play in the fate of Middle Earth…until they changed the fate of Middle Earth.  Luke dreamed of leaving Tatooine, but never thought it would actually happen…and then it happened.

They knew something better was out there, but never got overwhelmed with that “fate of the world” stuff.  Instead, they did the best they could with the situation in front of them.  To borrow from Gandalf, all they had to do was decide what to do with the time that was given to them.

So decide what to do with the time that was given to you.  

If you are in a crappy situation, struggling with weight loss, or struggling to change your diet, believe that the Hero version of you is waiting to develop. You’re in the ‘challenge’ part of the story right now. Without that, the Hero part will have no meaning.

Who wants to read the story about the awesome guy that got more awesome? Nobody!

“But Steve, I’m no hero, and I’m certainly not going to change the world. I just want to lose weight and feel better about myself.”

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, my friend. Can you be a hero to your son or daughter?  Can you be a hero to your friends?  Can you be a hero to yourself?

I bet Joe, Saint, and Staci  never expected to become inspiring heroes to THOUSANDS of people all over the world either.

Step Two: Take the red pill.

Red Pill

You know what I love about these stories? The heroes didn’t wait for greatness to find them, they made that decision to go find it.

  • Like Gandalf tells Frodo: “If you’re referring to the incident with the dragon, I was barely involved. All I did was give your uncle [Bilbo] a little nudge out of the door.”
  • Or like Morpheus tells Neo: “I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.”

If Bilbo had stayed home, he never would have gone on to live the life he did, and Middle Earth might have fallen into darkness.  Had Neo taken the blue pill instead of the red pill, he never would have discovered his true potential, and spent the rest of his days as a lonely hacker.  Sure, the death of Luke’s aunt and uncle forced him to make a decision, but he very easily could have stayed on Tatooine and lived out a rather peaceful existence (until the Empire took over EVERYTHING).

Luckily for all of us watching and reading, these humble people from humble beginnings knew there was something better out there, and then took definitive action to make it happen.

I can write inspiring article after inspiring article, and I can open the door for you…but if you’re not willing to walk through it, to take the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes, you’ll never get anywhere.

You need to be willing to try something new. You need to be okay with uncomfortable, scary, different. You need to expect there to be some crappy days when you don’t feel like doing anything.

But you also need to know that it’s all done for a reason.

Step Three: Struggle with purpose.

Luke Swamp

Nobody’s path to an inspiring life is nice and easy; it wouldn’t be nearly as awesome without that struggle.

It’s your personal responsibility to grind through the low points to get to the heroic stuff – the more dire your situation now, the more epic your trip to Hero will be.

When you stop doing things because you HAVE to, and instead start doing them because they serve a purpose, the path gets a little less hazy.  You stop giving up at the first sign of adversity, and instead power through to success.

Each and every action takes you one step closer to your future life as a hero, and you need to keep that thought at the front of your mind every day. Remind yourself daily why you are doing what you’re doing:

  • You stop dreading exercise because it’s a miserable experience, and you start to enjoy it because it makes you stronger.
  • You stop worrying about not being able to eat ‘delicious’ junk food and instead realize healthy food fuels your body more efficiently and will allow you to reach your goals a little bit faster.
  • You stop worrying about the things you don’t have and the things you can’t do, and instead focus on the things you CAN do or the things you will soon be able to do.

Expect to fail at some stuff - just make sure you are failing differently each time so you are making progress. Failing is not a reflection on your character – giving up after failure is. And that’s not what heroes do.

Last but not least, it’s okay to be afraid: “The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, fear.”…it’s what they do with that fear that separates them.

Step Four: Ask for help.

Nick Fury

If you’ve been reading this site for longer than today, you know I’m a big fan of Ramit Sethi.  He shared a thought that I found to be absolutely correct: the people who are at the top of their field, who have had the most success, and who made the most positive changes to their lives, weren’t afraid to ask for help.

The same holds true in our heroic stories:

  • Luke needed Yoda and Obi Wan to reach his potential.
  • Bilbo needed Gandalf to give him that nudge out the door.
  • Neo needed Morpheus to discover that he, in fact, was the One.

This is true in the real world as well - Take a look at the best athletes in the world – they all have coaches and trainers guiding them at every step.

When was the last time you sat down with a mentor or somebody you admire and flat out asked them how they became healthy, happy, or successful?

Try this: “I really admire you, and I hope to some day have the success that you’ve achieved.  I’d love to buy you a beer/coffee and hear how you did it.”

Who is your Yoda? Who’s your Morpheus?

  • If you need to lose three hundred pounds – find somebody that has DONE it and learn from them. They will jump at the chance to help and be flattered that you asked them.
  • If you are struggling with food addiction, can you find somebody that has kicked the habit and find out specifically how they did?
  • If you want to climb a mountain and you are stuck on the couch, find somebody that went from “couch to mountaintop.”

But Steve, where do I find these people.  Ask for help. Join the Nerd Fitness Message Board and ask…you’ll be surprised who is willing to help.  But you won’t get help unless you ask for it!

Every padawan has a master.  And every master has a master! I turn to many different Yodas depending on the subject: Baker and Derek Halpern for business, Vic Magary for fitness, Jim from BeastSkills and Ryan from GMB for gymnastics training.

Where’s your Gandalf?  When was the last time you asked him for help?  When did you last ask him for a nudge out the door?

You are the One

neo matrix

When I see somebody who’s overweight and unhappy, I see untapped potential. 

I see Luke on the farm.

I see Bilbo in Bag End.  

I’m hoping this article is the “nudge out the door” that you need to start realizing your potential; there’s a heroic version of you waiting to explode if you’re willing to work for it. The struggle is worth it.  Your friends, family, and children need you to be a hero for them.

The world needs you.

You have a community of heroes who can’t wait to help you out.

The door is open.

Will you walk through?

-SteveEmily NF Hoodie

PS – Today’s Rebel Hero: My sister, Emily, rockin’ the NF hoodie while snowboarding!  Thanks to the power of the hoodie, Emily landed a 1260 double mctwist (demonstrated here by Shaun White), and then rescued orphaned puppies from a burning building.  Not bad for a Saturday!  Although this particular hoodie style is sold out, we have zip ups and thermal gear that are damn comfy too.

Want to be the next Rebel Hero? Email us with your NF photo doing something epic at [email protected] so we can get you on the site!

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photo source: binary sunsetfury, wonderwoman, buzz, ironman, superman, darth, pill, luke, the matrix

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=634065823 Kathryn Fox

    Thank you, I needed this!

  • Shelley Meyers

    I tried the community lol

    Thank you!!!

  • nonLethal

    Cheers Yoda *cough*, I mean Steve! Always the advice/article I need, when I’m in the mindset to need to hear it!

  • ZhannaShvorak

     ”Can you be a hero to yourself?” I love this because most times people get insecure trying to find their identity in others but to be your own hero is a beautiful thing. The post left my heart smiling. Thanks steve.

  • nyteshades

    Thank you Steve! I needed that article, at that moment….it sums up a lot of what I have been feeling lately. You’re the man!

  • Back10Space

    Great article!!

  • Back10Space

     Did it work?

  • http://profiles.google.com/museredux dm conner

    You are amazing, thanks for this. 

    Another hero to learn ya: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-BxeHQY1NuM

  • Michael Laidler

    Thanks for this article Steve. I’ve been out of work for almost 5 months now and it was really starting to get me down. I’ve been looking for work, had a few interviews and almost got a job here and there. But changing industries is harder than what I thought(even more so since I’m still studying).
    This definitely made me get up out of my chair and say to myself, “get back out there and push harder!”

  • Brandon Scriver

    Yet another great article Steve! Thanks for posting! I loved the part about walking through the door, it reminded me of one of the keys I found when teaching. You can’t do your student’s learning for them. They need the experience so that they have something to attach the understanding to. The article also reminded me of something my first karate instructor would say about teaching children “think of them as superheros in training.”

  • rich

    Awesome!

  • Suzanne Turman

     Michael, coming from someone who changed industries herself (math teacher to actuarial/financial industry), you will get there. Just keep putting your best foot forward. Good luck!

  • Luis

    This has been one of the most inspiring articles I have read. I am currently going through a breakup while training to get into the USCG. When you said “the more dire your situation now, the more epic your trip to Hero will be.” this resonated with me because I am still focused on acheiveing my goal although I am struggling emotionally. That one quote has really helped me push through another day and for many more days to come.

  • Keith

    Awesome post, as usual.

    I think the first point, ‘believe’, is so often overlooked, but so critical!

    Henry Ford said it: ‘whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.’

  • Cookieandlucky02

    All I can say is WOW!! Reading this article was extremely motivating and inspirational. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a great motivational piece with all the nerdy references! I think we all tend to forget the struggles our heroes go through before they become great. We all just remember them being great. Thank you for reminding me and I am going to share this article with everyone I know!!

  • Savy

    Definitely the boost I needed today!!

  • http://thebalancedlife.co.uk/ Nick

    Haha, yes I’m ‘in’ too! Epic tales are epic, although waking up to find yourself as the hero may be a bit naive, in my opinion anyway…

    Make the decision to go and find greatness – That’s stuck with me for a while, albeit phrased slightly differently. Heroism is truly in the hand of the people who try and fail, but then carry on trying.
    Very thought-provoking stuff, thanks Steve!

  • Rc

    Steve, stop stealing my diary!!!! The part about struggles with a purpose was really helpful. I am facing a few struggles of my own (getting better, but not gone yet) You write such great articles!!!! Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.soccerdrillsdaily.com/ Justin G

    Hey Steve -

    It’s amazing how many of my favorite movies you managed to pack into one post! I’ll bet it came as a shock to you when you realized what your role was in so many people’s stories, mine included. Just remember, without the teacher/mentor, there can be no hero. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=22924808 Katie Thomas

    Love this! I use the matrix pill reference a lot. Usually when I am throwing a pity party about not being able to eat certain foods. Had I taken the blue pill and not learned that I was intolerant to just about every food on the planet, I’d be bloated, sick and overweight still but sometimes I just want a damn oreo and not feel like I have ninjas on the inside because of it!!! 

    But I find I am at the end of my hero days and am now turning into the mentor for others. I still have more work to do on my own story but I am at a point where I am helping others more and more find their way in their own stories. I think that’s the best part about turning your life around, is getting to then pass on the spark to others!! 

  • http://www.goldmedalbodies.com/ Andy Fossett

    Thanks for the mention, Steve! The NF community kicks ass.

  • http://twitter.com/TheHealthMonk AlexanderH

    Or like Morpheus tells Neo: “I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.”I also love the other Morpheus quote where he says “There is a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path.” Badass.

    Solid + 1 to the idea of being your own hero, being your own Neo. I think sometimes people get caught up in the “living vicariously through others” and their lives start to suck.
     

  • http://www.facebook.com/yoovie Bri Hansen

    <3

  • http://pullupszone.com/ johnn

    I totally agree about the “crappy days to glory” part. What’s the point of achieving anything that is easy. Tough things are done by less people because few are willing to get their hands dirty, really dirty.

    One should be a hero to themselves by doing something that you thought you could not.

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