Of Course You Can.

I wrote this post with a heavy heart.

Last week, twenty minutes before heading to Angkor Wat in Cambodia to level up on my Epic Quest of Awesome, I received an email from my parents that caught me completely offguard:

My grandmother had passed away.

Ellen Durant (or Nana as she was known to us grandkids) lived life to the fullest until she passed away at the age of 86. When I last saw her around Christmastime, she was healthy as ever with a clean bill of health.  Last month, she went to the hospital due to some unknown pain – the doctors unfortnately discovered a very aggressive form of pancreatic cancer.

Two weeks after being diagnosed and four days after going into the hospital, she was gone.

If you’ve been reading Nerd Fitness since November, you’ll remember that my grandfather (my dad’s dad) passed away while I was in Peru exploring Machu Picchu, his death a very sudden occurrence as well. I’m so heartbroken that I can’t be home to be with my family right now, just as I was heartbroken when I couldn’t be home for Grampy’s funeral back in November.

However, Nana was a big Nerd Fitness fan and truly loved to hear and read about my adventures out here on the road, so I know I am making her proud by living life to the fullest while traveling the world.

I’ve learned so many lessons from my grandmother, and I hope these lessons can help you live a better life as they have helped me.

This one’s for you Nana.

Do whatever it takes

Nana was born in 1924 and went to nursing school simply because she loved helping people, a profession she ended up working for over 40 years. While looking for work as a young nurse, Nana applied for the highly coveted position of scrub nurse for Dr. Harken, the pioneer of heart valve replacement.   She really wanted this job and knew she’d do very well with it. When she was asked if she could type at x number of words per minute and take notes in medical shorthand, she responded with a resounding YES.

As it turned out, Nana had never used a typewriter nor knew how to take medical shorthand.

When she got the job, she began to teach herself medical shorthand and how to type, verrrrrrry slowly. Whenever the doctor would walk into the room, she’d quickly start typing like crazy to show that she knew what she was doing….typing absolute gibberish. As soon as the doctor left she’d throw the paper out and start all over again at the beginning.

I’m not telling you to lie on your job applications and scam your way into a position. I’m telling you that if you want something, you owe it to yourself to do whatever it takes to get it.  I’ve already linked to this INCREDIBLE video twice, but a third time still isn’t enough.  Giving up isn’t in your repertoire, failure isn’t an option.

Get it.

Adventure is Out There

Adventure is out there if you’re willing to look for it, and willing to take chances to make it happen. At one point in her young nursing career, Nana decided to pack up and move to Cheyenne, Wyoming with her friends.  Why Cheyenne?  Because they closed their eyes and picked a spot on the map of the United States; that’s where they ended up.  Nana could pack up and be ready for a trip at a moment’s notice.

What’s the trip that you’ve always wanted to take but will get to it when things settle down or when you have more time? Here’s the reality of the situation – there is never going to be a perfect time.  You will never not be busy, work will never not be hectic, and life will never calm down.  Stop planning, stop waiting, stop delaying.  Adventure is out there, waiting for you…but it won’t wait forever.

Go.  Find some fun.  And find it sooner rather than later.

Be thankful, stay positive

Although Nana was quickly diagnosed with an incredibly painful and aggressive form of cancer that she knew would claim her life, she never once complained. Rather than asking “why me?”, she gave thanks for a great life.

It’s sad that it’s usually the loss of a loved one that puts things into perspective, but it’s important to remember how lucky we are to be alive. If you’re reading this on a computer in your office or at home, be thankful that:

  1. You woke up today
  2. You have a job to go to
  3. You have a home to come to

We take so many things for granted, and complain about the smallest of inconveniences.  If you ever find yourself complaining, go spend an afternoon volunteering at your local children’s hospital and watch as kids who haven’t left the hospital in weeks/months smile and be happy about the smallest of things.

At the end of the day, we have to remember what’s truly important. Sh** happens, and we all have to deal with it. Complaining about a problem does not solve it. Spend less time feeling bad for yourself and more time finding solutions.

Be thankful for every day you have on this planet, and make the most of every minute. If you don’t like something about your life, change it – we don’t have enough time on this planet to waste on things that suck:

  • Don’t like your job? Quit. You can find another one or start your own company while busing tables on the side.
  • In a bad relationship? Leave. You can find somebody else that actually makes you happy.
  • Don’t like how you look? Eat less and exercise more. You can get the body you want if you’re willing to work for it.

Of course you can

I am very, very lucky.

I was raised by two loving parents who supported me no matter what I wanted to do. I also had four incredibly encouraging, supportive grandparents that allowed me to dream big and live bigger.

Although I was too young to remember it, one of my favorite stories I’d hear from Nana was the time I decided I wanted to go play tennis with her. I was three, had never played tennis before, and the racquet was bigger than I was. Nana hadn’t played tennis before either. When I asked “Nana, can we go play tennis?” she replied: “of course we can.” We spent that afternoon down at the tennis court, playing tennis and having a blast, even though I couldn’t really swing the racket and probably never once returned it over the net.

Throughout my life, whenever I’ve had an idea or dream to do something and shared it with my parents and grandparents, I never once got the “be realistic” comment. Last year when I told my father that I was going to quit my great day job to focus full-time on a website that hadn’t made any money yet, I received nothing but support and encouragement – they knew that I would find a way to make things work, and I did.

I realize that I am very lucky to have all of this support.

If you aren’t so lucky, and have people around who you don’t support you when you tell them about your dreams and goals, its time to evaluate those relationships. If its friends, it might be time to ask for their help or start finding new ones. If it’s family, it might be time to sit down and explain to them why you need their support.  If you have nobody at home, an online community might be the next best thing…

Life is too short to spend it with people that don’t support you and your dreams.

In honor of Nana, I’d love to hear about the great things that you hope to accomplish in your life.   I don’t care if you’re 400 pounds and want to do a pull up, $20,000 in debt without a job and want to be debt free, and/or have horrible asthma and want to run the Boston Marathon…I want to hear it, and I want to help.

Please leave a comment with what you want to do in your life, and I’ll do my best to help you get started down the path to make it happen.  As we’ve learned from Optimus Prime, big changes start with one small step.

Go take yours.

Miss you Nana.



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    61 thoughts on “Of Course You Can.

    1. I love all your stories Steve, I’ve recently made one of my video games an inspiration if you’ve heard of the Persona series particularly P3 and P4.I was a introvert before but I’m finding that living our lives to the fullest everyday is the best way to live 😀 Hope to see you around,If your in the Philippines stop by Zamboanga City, I’ll show you around 😀

    2. i was brought to this blog (Of course you can) after reading the blog you posted 4/29/13 about #1 trait that determins long term success – grit.
      Well what a great read this was. Thanks for sharing.
      Then while reading this I was taken to the you tube link for I still have a soul. This is great stuff Steve. I’m motivated! Thanks for the help.

    3. I want to win my battle with anxiety/depression and through that victory finally be able to lose the weight and keep it off for good. More than anything I want to help others win their battles as well because I know all to well the agony of letting the failures define you and the sweet daily victories of turning that around. It’s time that I restart fighting again for me because I cannot help anyone if I can’t first help myself.

      The previous thinking that this was beaten and I had won was obviously flawed, but I will not make that incorrect assumption twice! I will use the support I do have to its fullest to avoid complacency since I know now that the dark side is never far behind. Lack of intentional progress will result in a relapse of old thinking and habits.

      I will maintain intentional progress with consistent persistence. I will continue to make small changes in my activity levels and diet. I will strive to push beyond my comfort zone in other areas in order to keep moving forward. On good days I will do better and I will accept there will be harder days along the way that may not go as well and I will attempt to cut myself some slack on those days.

      I will also continue to refer back to my Yoda (Steve) for a clearer path to Optomus Primedom! One small change at a time to transform it all..

    4. Read this late, but my sincere condolences Steve. I am asthamtic and want to do parkour. I am a couple thousand dollars in debt, work independantly and want to start my own business.

    5. I had a grandmother similar to your description here- she was lovely and the best times were just when were together. I’m about 15 kilos heavier than my goal weight so I want to eventually complete a pull-up and I want to travel the world saving $10 a week currently on my student budget

    6. Just just stumbled on here, looking for motivation to get fit. I quit smoking a year ago, and since then I’ve gained like 1.5 stones 🙁 I am a member of a gym, I’ve attended a whopping TWICE! I want to change my attitude to fitness, and leave behind what i can only describe as crippling lack of self confidence. I’ve spent nights in tears whilst my beautiful girlfriend tells me I can do it, but the fear of failure stops me time and time again. I find your words inspiring and although I believe there is a long road ahead, it’s good to know that normal people, with fears and anxieties can achieve when they have support or kind strangers. I’ve no plan yet, but I will use your blog to help me get there. Thanks 🙂

    7. Hi Steve, I been reading your website on and off for almost 2 years now. I recently quit my job and almost quit school. Too much pressure and felt like I had no time. In the past 3 years I lost a total of 75 pounds and now I feel in no rush to get anywhere. I love this article because when I quit my job everyone thought I was crazy, I was going through a depression due to the amount of pressure I put myself into trying to reach too quick my goals and I forgot along the way to have fun and just trust that the universe is on my side as long as I take good care of myself and my emotional state. It seems that money is the only thing that tides people down to unhappy jobs and lack of trust in themselves at least that’s what was feeling. BUT! with that said, no more doom and gloom! Is important to trust our gut and believe that better things will come our way; nothing bad can come out of stopping to do something you don’t enjoy to the fullest!

      Again, thank you for the beautiful inspiring article!

      Greeting from Miami!


    8. I’ve been reading your blog for about a month now. It never ceases to amaze me what great and useful content is on here! Even this article. You took heart break and inspired people. Inspired me.

      A little over a week ago, a friend and I were discussing the idea of a summer camp for the gamers and geeks. The kids would come and get separated into two factions for the week. Then they would choose their race and name for the week. The next day my “specialists” (like a master-at-arms, keeper of the grove, ranger master, and all those different classes) would show the kids what they would learn throughout the week if they chose a specific class. Then they would spend the rest of the week learning those things.

      Sounds awesome, right? Well, I think so. It would get the kids out and moving. It would get them playing and having fun in a safe and nonjudgmental environment. Then at the end would either be a feast and tourney or a war. Wait what?! You read that right. What RPG is fun if there isn’t an endgame? An age appropriate story would be given. One faction had something/someone stolen from them by the other faction. The kids would have to work throughout the week to figure out what really happened to the something/someone. If they figure it out, then they get a huge feast and tourney. If they don’t, well then we have a fake “war” that ends in a feast as well.

      This is my dream. I’m not sure where to even start to make it happen, but I am at least trying to figure it out.

    9. I’m only seeing this article now, and it reminds of what my brother told me in our last conversation together the day before he died: “I don’t have any regrets with my life… Except maybe not buying a pair of pants in Cali once…”. Yes, I signed up for Nerd Fitness Academy because I was looking for a fun way to workout; but, I also knew that if I could make a commitment to change my body for the better, than maybe I could apply the same principles to getting out of debt and out of my job that I hate. Thanks, Steve, for writing and inspiring us.

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