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?

-Steve

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