Lessons in Badassery from Batman

Batman rules.

Characters like Superman, the Incredible Hulk, Wolverine, and Spider-Man are all awesome…but it’s tough to step into their shoes because they’re not realistic.  Sure, it’s fun to pretend like we have super powers (or even create our own), but at the end of the day we don’t expect to get bitten by a radioactive spider or injected with Adamantium and be able to do things like flying over buildings or shooting webs out of our hands.

That’s why Batman is the superhero above all others that we can look up to. He was never bitten by a fancy bug, wasn’t injected with a super serum, and wasn’t born on a distant planet or anything of that nature.  He made a decision that the world in which he lived sucked, so he turned himself into a bad ass in order to do his part to fix it.

Today, I want to look at Batman as he’s been portrayed in the excellent films directed by Christopher Nolan: a dark, intense, hard-working, REALISTIC human being with an unhealthy obsession with fighting crime and his own moral code to live up to.

Build a better YOU

Batman wasn’t born with super powers; he was born Bruce Wayne, a man who created his alter-ego Batman to fight injustice and crime in Gotham. Sure, he was born into wealth; beyond that however, everything Bruce has been able to accomplish is because of his intense desire to make himself better.  He trains with incredible conviction so that his body is in peak physical shape.  He uses his mind to create gadgets that aid him in his effort to take down bad guys.  He is like a man possessed; doing whatever he can to get an edge – more efficient training routines, a lighter material for his uniform to move faster, night vision goggles, better wings for the bat suit, etc.

Some people are overweight, underweight, drop-dead gorgeous, ugly as sin, rich, poor – that’s life. Nobody is going to come and inject you with a super serum; no insect bite will make you super strong.  Nobody will hand a you a better life on a silver platter.  Reading fitness sites all day long will not make you thinner and have bigger muscles – you actually need to take the things you’ve learned and DO THEM.  Like Bruce Wayne and his gadgets, you need to invent a better life for yourself…and then you need to BUST YOUR ASS to make it happen.

Find what drives you

They told me there was nothing out there, nothing to fear. But the night my parents were murdered I caught a glimpse of something. I’ve looked for it ever since. I went around the world, searched in all the shadows. And there is something out there in the darkness, something terrifying, something that will not stop until it gets revenge… Me.

I don’t know about you, but reading that quote gives me the chills. I read that and I think, “holy crap, there is no way in hell I am betting against this man in ANYTHING, and I really hope he’s on my side.”  No matter how difficult the path may be, Bruce Wayne will run through walls to get what he wants (much like the guy in this incredible video).  Batman is driven to rid the world of scumbags, murders, rapists, and criminals – it’s an obsession that keeps him studying, learning, improving, training, and fighting.

What drives you?

It doesn’t need to be revenge, and it doesn’t need to become an unhealthy obsession.  But it does need to be the driving force behind why you’re improving your life – maybe it’s the birth of your child that reminds you how precious life is.  Maybe it’s the loss of a parent or friend that really puts things into perspective.  Maybe it’s just an intense desire to see if you can reach your genetic potential.   Whatever it is, find the reason that will make you run through walls to succeed, and remind yourself of it daily.

The night is darkest before the dawn

I know these words came from Harvey Dent, a.k.a. Twoface, and I know that they’re not actually true – however, it’s still a hell of a quote and one that certainly has a home in the “level up your life” business.  Seth Godin calls it “the dip” and it applies to new projects, blogs, businesses, weight loss plans, new fitness routines, etc….pretty much every aspect of life.

When trying to level up your life, you will hit a point along the way where things start to suck:

  • If you’re trying to lose weight the scale suddenly stops changing.
  • If you’re trying to build muscle you get stuck at the same weight for squats for a month and can’t figure out why.
  • Maybe you’re a blogger and after a few months of growth things start to slow down and you begin to question if it’s worth all of the time and effort.

The night is the darkest before the dawn, my friend. If you can get through that tough time, if you can push through when most others give up, you’ll find success in whatever it is you’re chasing.  This is usually what happens when somebody switches to the Paleo Diet – the first few weeks are brutally tough as the cravings for grains and sugar make your body feel sluggish…and then the dawn shows up and you suddenly feel a million times better and never look back.

Be the “hero we needed”

At the end of The Dark Knight, Batman takes the rap for a crime he didn’t commit in order to continue giving hope to the Gotham people. Essentially, he had to make a completely selfless decision so that the community was protected from the truth.  Of course, it certainly would have been easier to take the “I’m innocent” path and keep himself clean, but that’s not what’s needed to be done.

Which is why Batman rules.  He does what’s right and what’s necessary.

Your life is no different – sometimes you will have to do crappy stuff because its in your best interest or that of those you hold closest.  And it doesn’t need to be incredibly dramatic stuff that the caped crusader had to deal with.  Sometimes, you’re going to have to give up certain things that you “love” in order to succeed.  It’s not what you want to do, but it’s what you NEED to do – so you do it.  Referencing the previous section – those darkest hours before dawn are often the hours that need to happen.

Put on your cape, brave the darkness, and the light will come.

(Wow that sounded way too philosophical)

“It’s not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you”

Bruce’s love interest, Rachel Dawes, is unaware that her childhood friend is Batman. She only sees the false exterior he’s created to hide his identity – that of an aloof billionaire playboy.  When he tries to explain to her that deep down inside he’s the same person she used to know, she tells him, “It’s not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.”

This is how I want to be defined:

A man who busts his ass in fitness, business, and in life.  A man that knows he needs to create his own future and success because nobody is going to hand it to him.  A man that never complains, boasts, or brags –  a man that simply lets his actions speak instead. A man whom his future sons can look up to. A man that stands up for what he believes in.  Most importantly, a man that practices what he preaches.

In order to become that definition, I know I need to build a successful business, get in peak physical condition, hold myself to a high moral standard, and continue to only write about things that I truly believe in.  I need to be an inspiration for those around me, and whenever I have kids I need to make sure that I’m a great role model for them.  I need to live more in the moment, complain less, and be thankful for every day.

For the sake of today’s article, I don’t care who you are underneath (though your mom agrees with me that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. I want to hear about how you’d like to be defined and what you’re doing to get there.  In honor of the Rebel Strength Guide launch, I’m gonna give away a free NF t-shirt to my favorite response.

So, how do you want to be defined?  And what are you doing to become that definition?




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35 thoughts on “Lessons in Badassery from Batman

  1. I just want to be the very best I can be. This encompasses physical capability (the one at which I’ve always lacked motivation to progress) and mental ability – to push as many boundaries I find within myself as possible.

    I do not want to become anyone else, even if they’re better, I just want to be the best possible version of myself.

  2. I want to be defined as a leader with passion for helping youth move past despair and understand the transformative abilities they possess. For me, this means always finding hope amidst the chaos of life and maintaining a positive outlook, which isn’t easy. But, I am working on it.

    Also, Congrats on the success of the Rebel Strength Guide!!!

  3. I’d like to be defined as: “A man who truly enables others. A man who lives his life in an optimal way to ensure maximum impact on everyone he touches. A man who has built great financial wealth, not for expensive toys, but for the increased ability to enable more people in more ways.”

    To get there, I’m preparing to launch a new site at InstructWeb.com that will serve as an in-depth online web design school to help teach people the art + technical side of web development. After doing the NF redesign the question I’ve received most is “how did you do this? I want to learn how”.

  4. I want to be known as the man who never said no. Tried everything once, and gave it all. Never backed down, and did what was right. A man who always pressed forward, who was selfless, and honest. A man who pushed to his full potential, in all aspects of life. A man who was confident yet modest.

    I know that to get there, I need to push myself out of my comfort zone, I need to commit fully to my endeavors, and to make sure my moral compass doesn’t falter. I need to build the confidence in myself, and realize that I am more capable than I give myself credit for.

  5. I want to be known as a hardworker – for my career, my health and my sons. I want to be known as no-nonsense, truthful, emotionally and mentally strong woman. I want to be known as a woman who lives her life with abandon and love. A woman who raises her sons to be strong men, to have a sense of their own morality, to embrace diversity and who will fight the powers-that-be when necessary. A woman who is full of creativity and expression. I want to be someone others would be proud to know and who my sons will be proud to have as a mother. A beautiful, athletic, gritty, outspoken woman.

  6. I want to be defined as a man who is self created. Who decided that he wasn’t going to listen to what the present market, friends, or even genetics said. That became his vision of “striving for perfection”.

    In order to get there, I’ve used home workouts to get me to the point where I can hit the gym five days a week. I’ve started my own web design firm, and i’m living the healthy and entertaining life that I want for myself.

  7. I want to be defined as someone who selflessly gives of herself to help a group of high school girls through the most trying years of their young lives. Someone who has the discernment to know when to be tough on them or show compassion. I spend four hours every week volunteering with the girls and strive to meet them as often as possible throughout the rest of the week. Investing in the lives of the next generation is crucial and I want those girls to think back on their time in high school and to never have a doubt that at least one person loved and cared for them.

    I constantly strive to better myself by evaluating my career, fitness, and life goals to make sure they are in line with what I believe in. During Vietnam, my father served with the 1st Infantry Division and it was through his example that I became more passionate about bettering myself through physical fitness. He gave me a “never quit” mentality and it’s with that same mentality that I pursued a career in law enforcement amidst the claims that I was too small because I’m 5’6″ and weigh 125 lbs. They stopped saying that when I flipped my 160 lbs. supervisor during defensive tactics training.

  8. I want to be defined as a gentleman, someone who people wanted to be around. Someone who always took the high road and always found the best in a situation. A man that never settled and always pushed to be better, in any and every aspect of life. A man who lived for the moment, in the moment. A man who was inspiring, because he was the best man he could be.

    To achieve this I’m going to stop complaining and take responsibility for my life. I’m going to work harder and spend less of my life wanting and more of my life being grateful. I’m going to keep fighting, because (like neo said) I choose to. I’m not going to sell myself short, I’m going to be the best I can be by doing more and trying harder every day. I’m fed up with life as it is and I’m ready for more so I’m going to find it. I’m going to find a better job, I’m going to use the rebel strength guide to find a better body, I’m going to devote more time to my wife and son to find a better family. After writing this I feel like I’m going to charge into battle, so I’m going to find a way to stay this pumped, this motivated!

  9. I want to sharpen my mind, in many facets, so that no task or pursuit is out of reach. I want to sharpen my body, so that physically, there is no mountain too high, no boulder too difficult, no challenge that is beyond my grasp. I want to be defined by adventures, intellect and morals, to be viewed as hard working, determined and capable.

    As of right now, I’m sharpening my mind with grad-school and I’m sharpening my body by following the diet and exercise of the rebel strength guide.

  10. I would like to be known as a man of focus, discipline, and integrity with the enthusiasm of a child. A guy who would never allow himself to become bored with day to day life. The highest compliment, in my mind, that I could ever receive would to one day hear my sons say “Dad I want to be just like you when I grow up”. I wouldn’t mind if people said “Man.. That guy’s built like Bruce Lee” either.

    I plan to acheive this by treating each day as a new opportunity to be great. To treat past acheivements and/or failures as lessons learned and nothing more. To treat everyone and everything as if a member of my own family. An absolute refusal for a sedentary lifesyle and 100 percent devotion to the present.

    Lastly, I will study the pages of the Rebel Strength Guide (ahem.. Deluxe Version) and Nerdfitness.com as if a Buddhist monk trying to attain enlightenment.

  11. I can only hope that when I die, my gravestone is not covered in froo-froo sayings about life or death. I sincerely hope it says: Here lies Brian Bigelow. He took care of business.

  12. I am Hennagrrl. My theme song is from the Matrix. My super strength is re-invention. When something isn’t going well, I figure out what isn’t working, and change it. I am never too old to learn new things or adjust to new situations. My mental agility and physical stamina give me the edge in learning new technology and concepts.

    Oh, and I have titanium hips.

  13. When people stop making excuses-complaining about what they don’t have, lamenting over their neighbor’s better fortune, telling their family they don’t have the time to spend-they start making progress in life. Excuses are a trap the mind uses to trick itself into settling for less.

    Nevertheless, not making excuses opens people up to true failure, which can be harsh. Still, without opening oneself up to true failure, one cannot experience true success.

  14. I want to be a succesful person who doesn’t care what people think and just cuts to the shit in every aspect of my life

  15. I want to be known for my courage and for being resourceful. For staring into the face of fear and taking the initiative instead of hiding from it. For living his life his own way and for doing the impossible. To inspire others and to be inspired by others. For never holding back who I am and letting go of my inhibitions. A man that lived a fufilled life with few regrets because without those regrets he would have never learned to change his life for the better.  A man with the soul of a genius as well as a beast, a free man. A wildman. A successful man that left a positive mark on the world and the people he loved.

  16. I want to be the guy who wants to succeed more than he wants to breath. The guy who will be cold, wet, tired, hungry, an still crack on. The guy who doesn’t need to be given a dime to do what he does, to the best he can. The guy who can look his friends in the eye, and tell them honestly that there wasn’t one more thing he could’ve done. The guy that inspires others, and determines his own fate.

  17. I don’t want to be defined at all. I don’t ever want that; instead I want to be able to always redefine myself.

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