How to Use And Benefit From Inspirational Stories Instead of Archiving Them in the Depths of Your Brain to be Lost Forever

Note: Yesterday, I published an article about how a 54-year old man just broke the world record for holding the abdominal plank for over 1 hour and 20 minutes. I know, I know. It’s really impressive, and I talked all about this incredible feat in the other article, so I’m not going to rehash anything here.

But when I published that article, I knew something was missing, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I clicked “Publish” anyways, for fear of allowing this story to slip into the dreaded archives of Physical Living drafts, which is fast approaching nearly 100 unfinished blogposts. So, I published it in it’s not-yet-perfect condition because I wanted to ship it regardless.

Well, lucky for you and I, the “missing element” just hit me a few minutes ago. This is a brain fart that actually smells good, and here it is…

How to Use and Benefit From Inspirational Stories

I hear about remarkable people all the time: people who dare greatly, defy the odds, break rules, and achieve success that most “normal” people only dream of. In fact, I’ve read hundreds of very inspiring stories over the years. By now, you’d think my inspiration meter would be maxed out and that I would be ultra-successful in everything I do as a result. Of course, this isn’t the case. Somehow, the inspiration always seems to run dry eventually. Maybe you can relate.

Fortunately, all you have to do is look around to be inspired these days, and the hard truth is that there are lots of people who are undergoing much harder circumstances than I am and still finding a way to succeed. While there is certainly no shortage of inspiration to be had, the problem is that when we hear about these remarkable people, we automatically assume that they are somehow superhuman and their accomplishments are nowhere within our own reach. How could we possibly compare ourselves to super-athletes and world record holders anyways? They’re just on a completely different level, right?

I mean, come on, how can a former Marine who is now a personal trainer who exercises for 5-7 hours a day and just did a plank for an hour and 20 minutes possibly supposed to inspire us mere mortals who don’t strive for world records and eternal glory?

I’ll tell you what I do. You see, I can’t imagine in my wildest dreams ever trying to do a plank for an hour and 20 minutes or longer. It’s not that feeling like a rock star isn’t cool or anything. It’s just that earth-shattering performance is not my cup of tea – doesn’t interest me in the least. And that’s a fact. But that doesn’t mean I will simply dismiss this story, archive it in the depths of my mind, and never again use it to inspire myself or others.

The fact of the matter is that if this old Geezer can hold a plank for an hour and 20 minutes, then I most certainly will not settle for mediocrity, and I will, so help me God, be able to nail at least a 5 minute plank for the rest of my life. Even though that’s considered an above average performance in fitness circles, it should be a cakewalk compared to what that guy went through. He probably hadn’t even broken a sweat after five minutes, and that’s why he’s inspiring to me. He has shown the world that he can do a plank for an hour and 20 minutes, so why can’t we hold a plank for a little longer than we thought we could? Why can’t we do a little better?

I mean seriously, a five minute plank is about 1/16th the amount of time that this guy did it for, and that doesn’t seem all that outrageous now, does it? Said another way, you’d have to do a 5 minute plank over 16 times in a row to match his performance. Surely, you and I can do just ONE five minute set!

So, next time you hear about some person doing something remarkable – something larger than life – don’t dismiss it immediately because you don’t think you could match their performance. Use it by modeling their success strategies yourself.

A Secret Perspective For Long-Term Success

Here’s a little fun fact, that actually came from a 58-year old lady who coincidentally just nailed a 30 minute plank last Friday. Janice Smith said in an article on the Burn The Fat Inner Circle about successfully losing weight over the long term…

“What I didn’t know was that the changes one makes to lose a single pound and keep it off are the very same changes one makes to lose a hundred pounds. The skills required to lose a single pound and keep it off are the same skills to lose forty pounds and keep it off.”

There’s a lot of wisdom in those two sentences. Similarly, the changes you need to make to achieve any small, seemingly insignificant goal, are oftentimes the exact same changes you need to make to achieve a very large goal. So, if you have a goal of doing an abdominal plank and hear about a guy who can do a plank for longer than you could ever imagine, then decide immediately that you will model his success anyways. The action steps are exactly the same whether you want to build up to 5 minutes or 50 minutes.

Unless you’re looking for everlasting glory, settle with a challenging, yet realistic goal that will inspire you to succeed instead of scare you into inaction. Hint: it doesn’t have to be a plank. Make this personal! Go for that 5k race or your first marathon, set a PR next time you lift, or say no to a second serving of dessert at the next holiday party. Know that the strategies you’re using to accomplish your personal goal are very likely the same exact strategies that the pros use to break world records and expand the scope of human potential.


Sadly, I’ve only reported on a few inspiring stories over the years, and I will try to do better because there are so many stories that need to be heard.

The world needs to know about how new world records are set, and how Nate Damm walked across America, how Josh Hanagarne cured himself of Tourette’s syndrome with strength training, how a kid who was sent to a mental institution grew up to become a world champion martial artist and develop a cuting-edge fitness system, how a guy who can make riding a bike a work of art, how dudes who make playgrounds look like gymnasiums and make cities look like playgrounds, that defying gravity is possible (with a little rope), that biceps are good for more than just flexing, that you don’t have to live like Tarzan to move like him, how Jack LaLanne lived his life to inspire others by exercising every day well into his 90’s, and about a few kids who do more trekking than most hardcore backpackers.

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot

“20 years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the one’s you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover” – Mark Twain

“At first dreams seem impossible, then improbable, then inevitable.” – Christopher Reeve

And with that, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Enjoy the holidays and make 2012 the best year yet. I’ll be taking a brief hiatus from the blog for awhile, but I’ll be back soon, and I’ve got big plans for 2012!

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Health-First Fitness Coach

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4 Responses

  1. Thank you once again for sharing your wisdom and inspiring me! I’m going to work hard to achieve my goals!
    I also wish you a merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and health to you and your family!

  2. My pleasure, and merry Christmas to you, too. Make 2012 awesome!

  3. John, I know what you mean about not needing earth-shattering performance to know that you matter. My greater desire is to postively impact as many people as I can. I am a big sap when it comes to inspirational stories. I just love them, especially the underdog succeeding against all odds. I use inspirational stories to help me see where I can be of service.

    Keep inspiring and Happy New Year!

  4. Thanks for this post. I have studied the three quotes at the end for years. Mark Twain’s quote is posted on my About section on Facebook. Find the inspiration. Create it within. Five minutes on a plank is outstanding. Stay beautiful!

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