[Premium Content] Adventures In Strength: An Interview With Dan John
Dan John shares more of his infinite wisdom with Dan Frantz
With each person I speak to, I am mapping out the type of strength it takes to lift life, align the will and skill to build resilience, and explore the art of inner strength. Most of us have childhood heroes; Dan John is a manhood hero. Dan embodies holistic strength at a supreme level.
As a Fulbright scholar, he toured the Middle East exploring the foundations of religious education systems. As an athlete, he has competed at the highest levels of Olympic lifting, Highland Games and Weight Pentathlon (an event in which he holds the American record).
He is the author of Intervention: Course Corrections for the Athlete and Trainer, Never Let Go, Mass Made Simple and Easy Strength (written with Pavel Tsatsouline), among others. When he’s not teaching religious studies, giving workshops and lectures, wearing black polo shirts or writing books (usually multiple at one time), he is most certainly in his garage teaching someone to do Bulgarian goat bag swings. If you read nothing else about strength training, check out Dan’s work.
Dan, you’ve done an exquisite job of outlining precisely how to take care of the physical aspect of strength. How do you keep a strong mind and spirit?
There is an absolute integration between body, mind, soul, and spirit. You can’t separate them. I have a lot of friends who were elite performers 20 or 30 years ago but ended up failing miserably at life because they only focused on themselves. They compartmentalized too much. For me, it’s simple. I try to be proactive with everything I can. I’m constantly trying to set up space in my life where I can take care of the four quadrants: work, rest, play and pray. You need some time alone, time in the community, time sitting around having a beverage with a friend and some time training hard.
With all the access we have to technology, a lot of people have forgotten the fourth quadrant, quiet time. This isn’t me saying, “Oh, you kids with your computers and your iPads.” But ask yourself, when are you alone? When are you just letting things pass without having to press a “like” or “dislike” button? Not reading or watching TV, just some time alone.There is an absolute integration between body, mind, soul, and spirit. You can’t separate them. Click To Tweet
Give that noise chamber between your ears a chance to do a little clarifying. People sometimes ask me how am I such a prolific writer and I tell them all the things I’m sharing with you. And they ask, “But what about the writing part?” They’re missing the point. The writing comes from sitting in the hot tub with a cup of coffee, taking the dog for a walk, not having 10,000 thoughts racing through my head when I sit down at the computer. You have to have balance.
What is personal strength?
It would depend on the context. That said, I always want to be the person you can call on day or night. I can be there to help move the couch, babysit the kids or speak at a funeral. For me, it’s about being someone you can count on. To be able to be there for a friend means you have to have a full tank of gas, know where your keys are and be ready to step up when needed. So personal strength is me being able to help you out with my time, treasure and talents. And being able to move a couch until I’m old and broken.
Please help our community define the Fundamental Movements of the Self.
There’s only one word: integrity. The way my mother explained it, it means being the same person in every single instance. I’ve been with cardinals of the Catholic Church, famous generals, and well-known athletes, and I always try to be this guy who’s talking with you right now. Integrity is the key. In Hamlet, Polonius said, “This above all: to thine own self-be true.” Are you true to your family values? Your communal values? Are you willing to go against what you do not accept? If you’re a person who really believes in integrity, it means you have that great western civilization skill of understanding gray.
I was at a talk one time and these two lunatics were on stage conversing. One was “anti” this thing and the other was “pro” that. By the time they were done, they’d said the most disgusting things until finally a third person came up and said something that changed my life. He said, “These two each represent one percent of the people. One percent on this side and one percent on that side. I represent the radical middle that never gets heard. The 98% of us.”
Don’t get me wrong—there are bad and good people in the world. Most of us are a stew of good and bad, and we work to make the most of it. We have a mission statement in our family: Make a Difference. It’s very big to our daughters. One of the things I’d like to hear people say when I’m gone is that I made a difference in this short time on earth.
Who helped you shape your sense of integrity?
Firstly, my mother. I’m the youngest of six. My mom was the youngest of 13. I grew up in a rich environment of quality people. People who’d struggled through the Great Depression, fought in World War II, came back with horrible physical and emotional issues and, yet, all they wanted was a better world. My mother was raised in abject poverty, and all of her kids are college graduates. She made the world a better place. And Dick Notmeyer, of course. My coach Ralph Maughan who played for the Detroit Lions made an Olympic team and got three medals at the Battle of the Bulge. My father-in-law Lynn Hemingway works for people who get stepped on, and God bless him for that.
To have the type of strength it takes to lift others up, please fill in the blank:-
Generate More passion
Consume Less shit
Until next time, I leave you with the primary Adventures in Strength fitness assessment question: Are you strong enough to lift people up? #LIFTLIFE
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