On day one, Seal shows up at Jessie’s Manhattan apartment on the upper west side at 7 a.m. sharp. It’s December in New york and it’s 14 degrees. Lesson one is “The temperature is what you think it is. Learn to control your mind Jessie”. They head outside for a six mile run. The pace suits Jessie, he thinks “I can do this”.
After a shower, returning some emails and a quick tour of the apartment, Jessie tells one of my favorite and impactful stories in the book. The head down to the gym. Seal says to Jessie “Let’s see where your pull up game is at”. Jessie does eight and drops. He is made to wait 45 seconds and goes again, he does six. Forty five seconds later he goes again and does three. Seventeen pullups, pretty good Jessie thinks. I don’t think I’ve ever done 17. That’s my baseline. Let’s head back upstairs. Seal gives him a blank stare and says “We’re going to stay here until you do a hundred”.
“I can’t do a hundred. That’s impossible”.
“You better find a way, you have a shitty attitude”
Ninety minutes later…Jessie gets to 100. Literally, one by one.
This story to me was so powerful giving us a glimpse of what the month will be like. But more importantly, it’s an example of what I think is the most important message in the book. And that is, your mind wants to stop before you actually have to. Your subconscious mind wants to protect you from pain. And if you’re tired it tells you to stop. But here’s the thing…So much data has been collected now since the industrial revolution about people who created remarkable achievements and success. And so often, these people had to endure. Endure pain. Endure suffering. Endure self doubt. But they had to find a way to push through it. They had to find a way to believe that they could accomplish things they didn’t think possible. That they could push past their limits. That obstacles in your mind in the form of limiting beliefs are just like obstacles in the road while driving. You don’t turn around and go home. You take another route and go around. But you continue driving toward your destination.
Human beings grow when they push past their limits. When they challenge themselves and do things they haven’t done. By continuing on a task or mission filled with obstacles strengthens your resolve. It strengthens your mind. It builds self esteem and confidence. If you can push a little further today, it gives you the belief that you can push a little further the next day, and the next, and the next. Pretty soon you’re miles away from where you started. You’ve raised your baseline of when to be tired or when to stop. That the limits of what you can do, what you are capable of is totally in your mind.
At the end of each chapter, Jessie recounts the workout totals from each day. I’ve altered my workouts with the knowledge I’ve learned from this book. Both in knowing I can push myself harder and further than I thought, and also the types of workouts I do. One of the exercises he explains is “On the minute”. You can use this technique on just about any exercise. Pushups, situps pullups. It goes like this. Pick a number of pushups you want to do, say 200. You start a stopwatch and go. Lets say your first set you do 30. Then you rest until the stopwatch hits the next minute, then you start again, decreasing the number you do, say 20 and then rest. Until the stopwatch hits the next minute. Then go again. It’s amazing how you can actually increase the number you can do using this technique. By the end of 30 days Jessie did 1000 pushups in one day! This to me was amazing!
Recently I was at the gym and saw someone using this technique and struck up a conversation. Turns out this guy owned a carpet cleaning company. He needed to stay in shape for all the physical work he did for his business. He said he learned the technique from a personal trainer. I told him about this book and I can’t wait to see him again and see what he thinks about the book.
My biggest takeaway from the book is this: Our mind wants to protect us from suffering. To protect us from pain so it tells us to stop. But we know that human beings, just like muscles grow when we push past out limits. It makes us stronger. Enduring pain is a skill Seal swears by and it has made a difference in me growing as a human being and increased my fitness level by quite a lot. I loved this book and recommend it for anyone who wants to get out of a rut and push their own limits.