Do you ever wonder about all the stuff you hear from fitness experts?
If you’re like me, you’re always wondering. Who is worth listening to? What do they really know?
…and why does it matter to me?
Sure, you can do what most people do. You look at professional athletes, top coaches, the sports scientists…
Do that, and you’ still be scratching your head.
The problem isn’t information. If it were just about that, you’d be happy as a hog in mud. There’s more information than anyone knows what to do with. So much information that you couldn’t begin to read it all in a single lifetime.
Your problem isn’t information.
Your problem is trust
The dirty secret… that truth that nobody wants to say out loud… is that being in shape, being strong, fast, muscular and shredded, it isn’t about knowledge.
It’s not about truth, facts, or science.
This is a field which is built around appearances. Young fitness models and gifted athletes are our gold standards. From supplement ads to Instagram influence, it’s the young, attractive models who are the currency of the kingdom.
Add in a little “chemical help” and you wind up with a totally distorted view of reality. You’re trapped in a fantasy world that isn’t even desirable, let alone attainable, for most people out there.
Appearances aren’t reliable signals. There’s almost no connection between youthful good looks and solid, practical wisdom.
That doesn’t mean there’s no facts to be found
Make no mistake about it, physics and biology have some pretty hard limits. Some things just aren’t possible. But that doesn’t mean that these things are easy to figure out.
(And you probably aren’t going to see much help here from all that low-powered exercise science research, no matter how good those p-values are looking…)
What do you do?
You need filters more than you need facts
Facts are a dime a dozen now. With all the “Big Data” tool-kit out there, facts are cheap. Facts are like labor on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.
Worth less than pennies.
The big money is in curation. Search. Filtering.
It’s not a coincidence that the biggest sites on the planet — Amazon, Google, Spotify, Uber — aren’t in the business of creating… they’re in the business of curation and connection.
You don’t need facts. You need interpretations.
You need context and comprehension.
Most of all…
You need the wisdom to organize and execute
Knowledge is meaningless if it’s not put to use.
Years ago, around the time when I wrote Squat Every Day, I had a realization.
You can argue about details all day long. People love to argue about details. It’s like sports or politics.
Don’t get me wrong, you need to be a student of human behavior mostly so you can understand all the stupid things that you do to yourself.
All your blindspots, biases, prejudices, entrenched beliefs, and screwball emotions that love nothing more than to throw you out of balance.
Make no mistake, the sciences of human action are vital. From cognitive science to developmental psychology, you need to know how that human machine operates.
Thing is… you can know every last fact about the engine in a Ferrari 458. You can have the engineer’s blueprints. You can explain the physics of internal combustion down to a mind-numbing fine grain.
And not one single bit of that is anything like getting behind the wheel and tearing ass around town in a badass sports car.
That’s all true. But there’s one more piece of the puzzle, because….
Even trustworthy knowledge plus directed action isn’t good enough for real excellence
There’s something missing.
I understand that it feels great to be strong as an ox and have the body of a sculpted Greek god or goddess. I get it.
But you’ve got to have meaning beyond the gym and that weird diet fad you’re stuck on this week.
Being physically fit is a means to something better… a better life, a better you.
It’s not something you do for its own sake.
Read that again. Heresy, you think?
I know I’m going to ruffle feathers here but…people that get hooked on this stuff for its own sake are boring. Usually weird. Anti-social. Great people, usually, but… look, the gym just isn’t that interesting. It’s a hobby.
Yeah, you look great. Yeah, you lifted a ton. Congratulations! Really. It’s impressive.
But there’s more good things in life than looking good on a stage, hitting the club all the time, or hitting a new deadlift PR.
We’ve lost sight of that. Our society doesn’t care about things like higher purpose or meaning.
I’m not talking about religion, even though that was one way we used to fill that hole.
My point is, we’ve got ourselves into a big gaping pit of nihilism. Our highest values are empty, self-negating, meaningless nonsense.
Just going through the motions because that’s what we’re told.
Trying to fill that hole with one dopamine hit after another — drugs, sex, video games, porn, scrolling the feed, blind consumerism — is not really satisfying you.
Trustworthy knowledge plus directed action aimed at the higher purpose of your life = human excellence
That’s a quick summary of what we’re up to around here.
If that’s your thing, or if you think it might be your thing, you can jump on the email list and I’ll write to you sometimes.