The World’s Strongest Man Lessons for Success
“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney
But you’ve got to be relentless.
Eddie Hall, if you don’t know, is a guy who is passionate about becoming the strongest man in the world. With nearly 4 billion blokes in the world, it’s not a small feet by any means. I’ve just watched him deadlift 462Kg, for context a baby elephant weights about a quarter of that. Aside from being blown away by the sheer scale of the sort of weight lifting he was attempting, which obviously is catastrophic. What is more impressive is his mindset. To be more impressive that lifting four baby elephants off the floor is saying something. He seems like the type of guy that once he sets his mind on something, nothing would shake him from his focus. Like a dog with a bone, you won’t move him from his way of thinking.
I watched as he talked about wanting to become he world’s strongest man. At the time he lived in a three bed semi, not too dissimilar from the one I’m writing this article in. No fancy car, no fancy house, no fancy things. Just him, his family and a huge expectation of himself.
He gets in his truck every morning and drives to work. Yep, he was strongman by night and on the weekends but during the week he was a mechanic. I was blown away. How can this guy who stands at about twenty seven stone do a day job and then exercise in his down time. He’s a man on a mission. During the documentary he depicts his daily routine. Up and out the door, twelve hour shift at the garage and then to the gym. He tries to hit the gym four times a week. Reasonable. Until he tells you he stays there for three to four hours at a time. Doing the math, it’s probably reasonable to suggest he doesn’t see his wife and kids until the weekend.
And he doesn’t.
He tells you that pretty openly. It’s the sacrifice he makes.
The documentary rewinds into his past where we find out he was once into swimming. When I say ‘into’ it makes it sounds like he dabbled a bit. I don’t think Eddie would know how to dabble a bit if he tried. He was national champion and then found the gym. The gym became his second home and then he was set on becoming the strongest man in the world.
I love that. Going from being in the gym to deciding to become the world’s strongest man. And I think it really is that simple.
Love something? Cool, aim for as high as the mind can think.
What is abundantly clear is his focus. The way he talks about attaining the title (at which point he hadn’t got) is almost god like. In his eyes you can see that his passion for what he’s doing is overwhelming. He even says at one point that he’ll die trying if he doesn’t get the strongman title. How is it that someone gets so fixated on a goal? How do we, as humans, get so locked into achieving huge things? It struck me that Eddie needed the sport, it was something he could put all his energy into and strive towards. It wasn’t for the fame or the money. There is notoriously no money in strongman competitions. That was evidence from the fact he was competing for UK’s Strongest Man and still working at the garage. At that level, it’s the equivalent of David Beckham, at the height of his career, taking leave from stacking shelves at Tesco, to play in the champions league final. It’s absolute madness. But as Eddie tells us, whilst it’s not what he wants to be doing, there is no money in competing in the World’s Strongest Man. There is just no other way to do things.
So there he is. Slogging away. Mechanic by day, UK’s strongest man by night. You get the sense that if he didn’t have the competition in his life he wouldn’t feel whole. As if the way he lives is to achieve this higher goal. Almost like a religious in some senses.
And we see him fail.
He steps up to the matt to lift the 461kg deadlift bar. This weight, at the time, had never been lifted before. The crowd is pulsating as he grips his hands around the bar. His veins pierce his skin as his bends into his knees. His legs straighten and so does his back. He’s done it, he’s lifted the weight. He’s the world record holder. He’s just lifted the heaviest weight in deadlift history. He smiles and nods at the crowd, clearly elated with what he’s just achieved.
And then he drops the bar.
The ref disqualifies the lift and that’s it. No world record.
You can see the pain in his eyes. You can see the happiness drain from his face. Proper, unadulterated failure.
Fast forward the next year, three flights, barely any sleep and he’s attempting to pull 462kg.
I’ll save you the suspense. He pulls it and becomes the world record holder. All in front of his childhood hero Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The documentary is testamant to the thought that we can all achieve whatever we want, we just have to want it enough.
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
— Thomas Edison
So lessons from Eddie?
Show up and do the work, no-one is going to do it for you.
Focus, for that ninety seconds nothing else matters but lifting the bar.
Attitude is key, you’ve got to want it more than anything else and everybody else.
Do what it takes. Mechanic by day, World’s Strongest Man by night.
Have audacious goals and work towards them every single day.
Don’t half arse it. You need to eat, sleep and breath your focus.
Set small goals inside your huge ones. Step one? Lose the day job. Step two become the strongest man in the world.
You’re going to drop the bar. You’ve only really dropped it if you never pick it back up.
What I learnt more than anything else is that hard work, passion and determination is a combination that causes success. You’ve got to be relentless.
Oh, and what’s Eddie up to now? Well in 2017 he won World’s strongest man. He’s just started a business with Arnold and he’s just hit one million subscribers on YouTube.
Needless to say, he’s no longer a mechanic.