Spartan Up - By Joe De Sena

Date read: 
January 12, 2015
See My Collection of 50+ Book Notes

My Thoughts

Some interesting parables and tales about insane endurance events. Can be summarized as: Add voluntary hardship into your life, since it'll make the rest of your life easier. Feels like an ad for Spartan Race.

Summary Notes

Any one should be able to jump off the couch and complete three to four miles

The easiest way to convince your body that sitting in traffic is not worthy of a stress-induced freak-out is by showing your body what real stress feels like, in the controlled setting of your daily workout

Kung-Fu students have to overcome the obstacle of fatigue. So the master has his students carry railroad ties to the top of the mountain and then carry them back down the mountain. There is no productive accomplishment, but the student will no longer find it challenging to run up the mountain carrying only his own body weight.

Michael Phelps’s coach identified the greatest obstacle as unknown challenges that might cause his athlete to lose focus. So he prepared Phelps for the Olympics by picking him up late before a meet, so he’d have to skip a meal; or by breaking his goggles before practice, so that they ’d fill up with water while he swam. When Phelps’s goggles broke during the 2012 Olympics, he was able to push through it to win gold.

So Death Race is kind of rough, right? It’s a little scary. Yet you commit, and then you persevere, and somehow you survive. And everything else in life is kind of insignificant. You were wearing a nice suit or dress to work and it rained. Not a big deal. Or your coffee is too cold, or your car didn’t start in the morning, or the kids are screaming. All not a big deal anymore, because you’ve built obstacle immunity. You start to feel a lot better about yourself. You’ve got some confidence. It becomes contagious. It’s a life-changing event.

A body in motion tends to stay in motion. My mother used to say it’s easy to exercise if you’re exercising

When you sign up for something, you’re forced to train for it. Just like in a business: you’re forced to work. Just like having a kid: you’re forced to take care of it. All of a sudden, you become accountable.

It’s okay to respond to emotional pain from childhood with positive addictions and a keen sense of self-improvement. As adults we are too often paralyzed by such antiquated anguish, and we find ourselves repeating the same mistakes hundreds of times because we are ruminating over that which we have no power.

We’ve been conditioned to think that we as a society should spend tremendous resources eliminating obstacles from our lives, rather than teaching people how to surmount them. “Easy” is the greatest marketing hook of all time. Six-pack abs? Easy, buy this gizmo. Great physique? Easy, take this pill. Want people to notice you? Easy, plastic surgery. the most difficult obstacle that you encounter in everyday life is finding the will to get up off the couch and walk to the fridge, then that is the level of difficulty you are prepared to survive. When you are confronted with the life-equivalent of a twelve-foot greased wall (getting laid off, getting divorced, losing a loved one), you’ll be squashed like a bug on a windshield.

Without rituals of endurance, transcendence of nature, physical tests, and the mysteries and rites of man- and womanhood, we are becoming far more cerebral, insulated, and fearful of the outside world.

“Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina.”

To use a gym analogy, if you hate squats more than any other exercise, enter the gym and head straight to the squat rack, almost embracing the discomfort. If you go to work and have a to-do list twenty items deep, you tackle the most unappealing line item first—say, a call with a dissatisfied customer that you know will be difficult.

Preparing for the unexpected is easy. You just need to do the unexpected. Break out of your routine. Go for a run at night. Swim in the open water. Stop and climb a hill in the distance. Go farther during that bike ride. When you stay within your own guardrails you are not preparing for the unexpected

Compare the satisfaction of eating a banana after Thanksgiving dinner to eating a banana after a weeklong fast. When not eating, we gradually grow accustomed to being hungry; we recalibrate our frame of reference. After not eating for a week, you would think anything that’s edible tastes like a gourmet meal. The reverse holds true

Happiness = What I Have Now – What I Had Before

Creatures of habit get used to everything, including the greatest pleasures. What was once a luxury becomes a convenience, and what was once a convenience becomes a need. Eventually, everything in our lives starts to “suck,” because we are continuously bored or dissatisfied with what we have.

Epictetus, the great Stoic, defined wealth not as having numerous and extravagant possessions, but as having few wants.

The key to staying motivated is the prospect of either a reward or a consequence.

“If your great grandparents didn’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t eat it.”

“The only good part of a doughnut is the hole in the middle.”

Poor genetics are a mountain. School is a mountain. Heartbreak is a mountain. Divorce is a mountain. Obesity is a mountain. Lay-offs are a mountain. A blown disc in your spine is a mountain. The death of parents is a mountain. Chemotherapy is a mountain. Multiple sclerosis is a mountain. They come at us one after the other. Some seduce us slowly , some scare the shit out of us immediately, but they never stop coming. That’s why every Spartan race demands that you climb hills and overcome obstacles—because life does this to each of us.

To understand why some people succeed and why some people don’t, you have to look at their assumptions of what is normal. These assumptions will drive their motivation. To achieve more, people must change their outlook. They must change their frame of reference.
Think of the teenager who wants to get better grades. At night, he thinks it’s normal to do homework for one hour and play video games for two hours. What would happen if suddenly he thought it was normal to study four hours a night?
The kid who wants to make the basketball team—he thought it was normal to practice for one hour per day after school, including one hundred practice free throws. What would happen if suddenly he thought it was normal to practice for three hours per day and to shoot five hundred practice free throws

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