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Heroes vs. Cowards – Intro to the Hero Handbook

“You're so lucky.”

He took a sip of beer, sat back in his chair and sighed.

We were sitting at a bar in downtown Missoula, Montana and I'd just finished telling him about my month-long trip overseas. I told him how I met up with a few of my blog readers for great dinners, worked a couple hours per day (and sometimes per week) from my laptop in cafés, and basically just toured around and did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

“I wish I could do stuff like that,” he said.

I smiled and didn't reply. I'd already tried to help him a few times over the past couple of years. And still… here we were.

Our talk drifted back to the usual safe topics: jobs, family, girlfriends.

We joked as we finished our drinks and paid our tab. Outside, we shook hands and parted ways.

On my drive home, I thought about our conversation. Mostly, I thought about one particular sentence: “You're so lucky.”

To me, luck is buying a scratch-off lottery ticket and winning ten bucks.

Spending every day doing what you're passionate about and living how you want? Not so much.

But I know why he thinks I'm lucky.

Like a lot of guys, he's still swallowing Supposed Tos: I'm supposed to go to college and get a good job; I'm supposed to get my weekends off; I'm supposed to…whatever.

I can't blame him for thinking that way. Hell, I used to think the same.

But then I was “lucky” enough to have a few things happen.

I didn't really give a shit about school, so I skipped college and started my own business. I didn't have any money, so I took out a bank loan to fly across the country to meet writers and fitness entrepreneurs I admired. I didn't know it was out of the ordinary, so I randomly emailed magazine editors and told them I wanted their jobs.

Never mind I'd never been published or didn't have a college degree; I just knew I wanted to write and help people. I felt like I had something to say.

Now here's the interesting thing: the more I planned what I wanted my life to be like – and the more I executed that plan the luckier I became.

I got a job at a local gym and learned how to train people to get in better shape. That transitioned to opening my own studio where I worked with regular guys and girls and the occasional professional athlete or celebrity.

I started writing on my blog, then for magazines, and then sold my first book to Penguin publishing.

Fast-forward to today: I make enough money to live comfortably, I have great mentors, good relationships with my family and friends, and I've made a career out of something I'm passionate about.

Thousands of people visit my blog every day to hear what I have to say.

In other words, life is good.

Over the past few years, I've met dozens of other people who are living the life of their dreams.

They're people who had an idea of what they wanted (or at least an idea of what they didn't want), and then set out to get it.

They aren't millionaires or trust-fund babies. They're just regular people with an uncommon way of looking at life.

Sure, most own small businesses. They make custom watchstraps, run finance blogs, build websites, teach people about sex, create life-changing workout programs, run successful small clothing companies, write bestselling books, and more.

Others work as employees for awesome companies. They manage gyms, oversee advertising and marketing, write columns for magazines and newspapers, and work in restaurants.

But it's not just what they do to earn money that sets them apart. It's how they live.

They get up when they decide to get up. They spend their days doing whatever they like.  They make enough money to do the things they want. They help people. They have meaningful relationships. They have ambitious goals, but are happy with what they already have.

They're in control of their lives.

They're heroes.

Although it's tough to see them when looking into a crowd, there are a lot more heroes than people think. All you have to do is notice how they stand out.

A hero:

  • Lives by a set of rules he's spent time thinking about.
  • Builds his body his greatest asset to look good and withstand sickness and physical obstacles.
  • Seeks fun and fulfillment. (Even better if it's at the same time.)
  • Spends time doing things he wants to do.
  • Kicks ass when it's time to work.
  • Commands a room with his confidence.
  • Knows what he needs.
  • Knows how to make money, keep it, and use it to fix problems and have fun.
  • Fosters real relationships with people that are important to him.
  • Has a plan to make his life and the lives of others better than most people dream about.

A coward:

  • Doesn't know why he does what he does.
  • Treats his body like a shitty vehicle instead of something he's proud of.
  • Seeks fun at all costs, even if it's at the expense of other people (or himself).
  • Wastes time doing what other people expect him to do.
  • Puts off work, procrastinates on Facebook, or makes excuses about how “he's tired.”
  • Commands negative attention with his machismo.
  • Has no idea what he needs but wants everything.
  • Gets in debt, spends money frivolously, and calls Mom and Dad for extra cash.
  • Has fake relationships with his buddies, girls, and is generally an asshole.
  • Complains all the time.

Where Are All The Heroes?

It's like most of us are in a state developmental limbo between school and supposed responsibility.  (If you aren’t careful this “limbo” can go on until you die.)

We've never taken the time to define what our values are, and all the old credibility indicators graduating college, settling into a career, getting married, raising a family have disappeared.

What's left is a gap most of us fill with apathy, bad booze, boredom, and shitty jobs.

Consider this:

  • College is leaving us tens of thousands of dollars in debt and won't guarantee a job.
  • Since 1970, the number of young adults moving back home has increased 50 percent. Nearly one in five twenty-somethings move back in with their parents at some point.

We don't know what we're working for. We don't know what to expect. We don't know what our lives should be like.

So we blame the economy, our parents, our shitty luck, or other people.

We should blame ourselves.

Don't have the body you want? Your fault.

Working a job you don't like? Your fault.

Shitty grades in school? Your fault.

Up to your eyeballs in debt? Your fault.

It's all your fault.

But this is actually great news.

Because it's your fault, you can take responsibility for it. And if you take responsibility for it, you can change it.

Even if we have other parts of our lives figured out, most of us are likely neglecting other vital areas.

Have a great body? How's your financial situation?

Making a ton of money? How are your relationships with your friends?

Life of the party? Are you truly happy or are you just putting off the “real world”?

The goal, mind you, isn't to become complete. That's impossible.

The goal is to seek experience, fulfillment, and fun. The goal is to feel good about ourselves and the lives we lead.

So let's start there.

It's time to take control of your life and do what you want to do.

It's time to make your own luck.

It's time to become your own hero.



Coming Tuesday, February 15th: The Hero Handbook and The Hero Workout

Ever since I launched Built for Show two years ago I've wanted to write another book. So I'm incredibly proud to release The Hero Handbook and the Hero Workout next Tuesday. I know you guys will love them.

But hey, I want to give you something now. So let's do this:  Answer this question and I'll randomly pick five people to win a limited-edition HERO shirt AND The Hero Workout.

What have you learned from me or this site that has helped you become your own hero?

Got a specific blog you enjoyed? Did you read Built for Show and get great results? Did I answer an email or Facebook chat and help you out? Whatever it is, let me know in the comments. (And if I haven't helped you yet, feel free to ask a question in the comments!)

Oh, and I have a BIG suprise next Tuesday. So make sure to check back then…