Monday

THE IRONMAN ASKS A LOT OF HIMSELF

Perhaps this book is overwhelming you a bit. Work hard at your job. Keep your car clean. Take a course. Do volunteer work. 'When is this guy ever going to let up?' you may be wondering. 'What's in it for me? When do I start having some fun?'

Good questions. I'm not even sure I have the right answers. All I know for certain is that if you want to be in a position of strength in life, you have to be strong. If you want to walk into a room with that confident walk that instantly lets people know, in particular women, that you're a man of substance, you can't fake it (not for long anyway). You have to have stuff in your repertory that backs it up.

If you're a thirty-five year old guy making twenty-two thousand dollars a year who has a crummy-looking studio apartment, if you're a man who doesn't travel, doesn't read, doesn't have a particular sport or avocation which is a deep and abiding passion, if your circle of acquaintances doesn't go beyond the people in surrounding cubicles at work and the gang you drink with at your local bar, then, in truth, it's going to be awfully hard to carry yourself like an Ironman. For, in truth, you won't be one. This is not a book about faking it. It's about really becoming an Ironman.

An Ironman knows it's a competitive world in which a man's worth is measured by others in terms of his achievements or accomplishments, his wealth, his possesions, his experience, his appearance, his character, and his personality.

Now I suspect that some of you out there are bridling at this notion. 'I thought this book was going to help make it easy to be in demand with lots and lots of beautiful women without a lot of work. Don't most how-to books promise you it's not going to be a lot of work? And isn't it written in religious literature somewhere that people should love you for your inner you and isn't beauty only skin deep and I want to be inspired, not lectured to, and who the hell has the energy it would take to accomplish all this stuff and I'm not even sure if I tried I could do better at my job or excel at a sport so what's the use of trying, anyway?'

Well, let me tell you this from the bottom of my heart: I believe anyone can make more of himself. Any man can become an Ironman. Some will read this book and take to it naturally. It will be as if this is a message they've been waiting to hear all their lives...and they simply needed to see it in print. Others, however, are going to have to get rid of some baggage first. So let's get rid of some baggage — right now.

It is a beautiful, poetic, sensitive, lovely idea that all God's creatures should be loved for their inners selves. It is, however, a wish, an invention of man. Nature, unfortunately, usually works much differently.

Do you know that in the jungle there is a particularly aggressive male lion who travels in packs with other aggressive males. These males do not settle down in a pride, but, instead, are marauders, raiding other prides, driving off or killing the dominant males and then turning on the cubs.

In one particularly chilling scene from a documentary shown on Public Television a marauding male is seen driving off a female and then, systematically, killing each of her cubs. But what do you think happens when the female returns and confronts the male who has just killed all her offspring? She instantly goes into heat. It is theorized that she does so in order to repopulate the pride, this time with a litter sired by a male whose gene pool better equips the cubs for survival.

Once, when I was playing an early morning game of golf in the little town of Haworth, New Jersey, I came upon a large flock of geese. I couldn't help but notice that one goose was standing apart from the rest, perhaps fifty yards away. I soon understood why. The lone goose had an injured leg. As it hopped toward the others, several geese would break away from the flock and drive the injured goose back, honking wildly, hissing and pecking at it violently. I could barely stand to watch. And everytime the goose with the broken leg would try to approach his brethren, it would happen again. The
other geese would drive him away mercilessly.

God, I thought, at least we humans take care or our injured and maimed. And, of course, to some extent we do. But I submit we have a lot more "goose" in us that we often care to admit. Think back to high school and how squeamish you felt when a nerd would sit down at your lunch table. You wondered if others were watching. Part of you did not want to be associated with such a loser. On the other hand, think of the rush you felt if the quarterback of the football team started chatting with you in gym, or asked you to hang out with him and his crew after school.

It is not only animal but human nature as well to be less attracted to the "maimed" and more attracted to the "quarterbacks" in life. Yes, we usually do a little better than animals in working to overcome these primitive feelings. The reality is, however, that we are plenty attracted to winners...and, thus, if we are a winner ourself, others will be attracted to us. And that is why a large part of being an Ironman is being a winner.

If we can face this, and realize that it is neither bad nor good but simply a reality of the human condition, then we can put any conflict we feel about the unfairness of it all to bed and get on with the business of becoming the best we can be. For that in truth is what being an Ironman is all about. You must perform. You must try to excel.

And as for that other piece of baggage — the one that says, I'm not that smart, I'm not a great athlete, I'm not that good at my job and never will be, I'll never have the money to get a nice apartment or good clothes or a decent car, so why work hard? It's no use — I say, NONSENSE!

I can and will assure you this: if you pick one small area of your life in which to improve, and take it one small step at a time, you can become an Ironman. It's as simple and basic as that. Are you out of shape? Start walking one mile a day. Are you always late for work? Simply get in on time, starting tomorrow. Do you never read? Get the newspaper everyday, starting now, and read just two articles daily.

And keep with it. What you are going to find is that unexpectedly good things come of it. You are going to discover that you have a heretfore unknown penchant for walking, enjoy it, are good at it, and on your own, without any prodding from me, you're going to start stepping up your mileage because you actually want to.

Or, you're going to meet a pretty girl on your walking route and the two of you are going to begin walking together.

Or by getting in early you're going to meet your boss in the elevator and he's going to stop by your desk and give you an important assignment. And you're going to do a pretty good job on it. And your boss is going to come to rely on you more and more when he needs something done well. And, or course, you're going to reap the attendant rewards, raises, bonuses, stock options, that come with gaining the boss' confidence. Which in turn will lead to you living, dressing, and driving better.

Or you're going to impress a woman at a party when you happen to know an interesting tidbit about the Middle East when the subject serendipitously comes up in conversation ~ just because you've begun reading two lousy articles a day in the newspaper.

And so you're going to discover that going beyond yourself just a tad, exerting yourself 1% more than you normally do, is going to earn you some positive feedback. And that, in turn, is going to make you want to exert yourself 1% more. And that in turn will gain you more positive feedback, and a heightened sense of self-esteem, and you're going to exert yourself 1% more. And pretty soon you're going to become addicted to asking more of yourself, not because I'm asking you to but because you want to, you enjoy it, you're hooked on it.

And then what you're going to discover is now that you're mastering one area of your life — your physical conditioning, let's say — that you're going to want to replicate that success in another area — keeping your car clean, for example. And that's an easy one...something you can accomplish in a Saturday afternoon, for God's sake...and you're going to have such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment that you're going to pick another area — refurbishing your wardrobe this time. And so now you take the $250 refund you got back from the IRS and you go over to the Gap and you get yourself half a dozen pair of socks, a couple of pairs of crisp new khakis and a few nice shirts, and that has you feeling a lot better.

In fact, you look so good in your new clothes that you call up this girl you know at work, just a friend actually, no one who scares the hell out of you, and you ask if she wants to come over to dinner Sunday night. So now you roll up your sleeves and clean up your apartment, really get into it, and it looks great. In fact, you find that now that you've cleaned it you don't ever want to let it get out of control again. After all it's so much easier to take care of your clothes and pay your bills now that you know where everything is, that you've got a lot more time on your hands. And so use some of that time to do a couple of push ups and sit ups every morning, which gets you into even better shape that just the walking alone...and that in turn makes you look even better in your new clothes from the Gap.

So when your friend, the girl, shows up for dinner Sunday night, she takes one look at your cleaned up apartment, and another at the new toned up you in your crisp, clean Gap clothes, and she thinks, 'Holy cow! This guy's hot!' And before you know it she's all over you and you have a great time in bed and you go to work the next morning with a growing sense of experience and confidence with women, a little swagger in your walk, and you think, 'I'm going to get an even better woman.'

And now what you discover is that this new life in which you ask a lot of yourself really is starting to make your waking hours considerably more fun and rewarding. In fact so much so that you now have the appetite to take on more and more because the rewards are so damn satisfying. And without quite realizing it you find that you have infinitely more capactiy for hard work than you ever dreamed — that, in fact, hard work really isn't as hard as it's cracked up to be...and that by simply starting small and taking one aspect of your life at a time, you really can see vast improvements.

Finally, you'll find, that nothing scares you anymore, for you'll have learned that you can accomplish just about anything you set out to accomplish, for the effects of a little hard work at the beginning snowball, and make you a stronger and stronger person as you go along with a greater and greater capacity for attempting and conquering new things.

And with an ever mounting list of accomplishments under your belt you'll carry yourself with the dignified confidence of a true Ironman for you'll know deep down in your heart that you're good — damn good.

And people will be drawn to you.

And that is why the Ironman asks alot of himself.

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