The title to this blog post is specifically vague to detract most people from actually reading it. It's too powerful for the masses. The Iron Mind is for doers and action takers not for hopers and wishers. In other words, The Iron Mind is for Ridiculously Extraordinary People. Tangent (those are getting common, huh?): Sitting on this couch, with an oversized mug of green tea at my side and a little bit of Creedence Clearwater Revival blasting through my headphones, I have an ear-to-ear smile on my face while simply thinking about writing The Iron Mind. My hope is that it positively affects you as much as it positively affected me. Several months ago my friend Nick IMed me with a link to an article. I was busy at the time and told him I'd try to read it later. You know, because sometimes I'm an asshole. An hour went by, I finished what I'd been doing, and I remembered the article. I read it and, to put it lightly, freaked out. I IMed Nick with something that boiled down to "holy shit!" This article turned out to be one of the most life affirming pieces of non-fiction I'd ever read. I became obsessed with it. I talked about it with anyone who would listen. I Tweeted about it regularly. I couldn't get enough. I read it daily, absorbing it to its very core and 6 months later I still can't get enough. Has anything ever made you want to scream, smile, cry, fuck, fight, and say thank you all at once? This article does that to me. It's like a hit of heroin coursing through my veins. I get a little, then I want just a little more. But a little more is never enough. I fiend for it like a junkie in line at the methadone clinic. Thankfully, I can't overdose on this drug. This drug can't kill me. This drug can only make me stronger and wiser. This drug is The Iron. The Iron was written by Henry Rollins, former Black Flag vocalist, current spoken word bad ass, prolific author, actor, radio host, TV host, and documentarian. The article in question is from a 1994 Details magazine but it's posted all over the Web. You can read it here: In The Iron, Henry describes himself in his formative years as being a weak kid who was constantly picked on. Then a phys ed teacher took Henry under his wing and told him he was going to get whipped into shape. Reluctantly, for fear of having to deal with his teacher's repercussions, Henry purchased a weight set and meticulously followed his teacher's instructions. Working out not only sculpted Henry's physique but sculpted his formerly weak confidence. Specifically, he gained the confidence to be himself, and to form his own thoughts and opinions instead of striving to be like one of the herd. In the article Henry discusses The Iron in mostly literal terms as far as what working out did for him.
It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against will always work against you. - Henry Rollins
While I take The Iron literally when working out, I also took The Iron metaphorically, as a symbol for the road blocks I run into when striving to reach my goals. There will always be something trying to hold you back. You can either take care of it or not. You always have a choice. The easy choice is not always the right choice. The difficult choice might be the best choice you ever make.
Lift the fucking weight off the floor or drop it. It's all there for you to do or not do. - Henry Rollins; page 32, paragraph 2 in "Smile, You're Traveling"
If you're having trouble sticking to a healthy diet, use The Iron Mind. If you respect The Iron, The Iron will teach you what you need to know and inspire you to keep going in the face of adversity. The more you lift The Iron (literally and figuratively), the easier it will be for you to lift The Iron. If you tell yourself you're going to eat healthy and then go out to eat fast food, The Iron wins. But The Iron will be happy to give you a rematch. Lift it or don't. The choice is always up to you. The Iron doesn't judge. The more you drop The Iron, the more difficult The Iron will be to lift. Eat fast food once, okay, everybody slips up. Eat fast food every day and the momentum of eating healthy will be all but gone. If you're trying to start a business and keep hitting walls and setbacks, use The Iron Mind. Did you lose your ass on some PPC ads? What did you learn from it? Pick The Iron back up off the floor and get back at it. Do more reps, place more ads, acquire more knowledge. Or quit. Have you launched a blog and maybe aren't getting as many readers as you thought? (*Ahem*) Too bad. Get to work and keep at it. Or quit. Want to travel but don't have the money right now? Don't tell yourself you can't afford it, ask yourself how you can afford it. Make it happen. Or quit. The most important thing to remember is The Iron wants you to succeed. The Iron wants to work with you, to help you, to talk you through it. If you fail The Iron, it's because you let The Iron beat you. If you beat The Iron, it's because you worked your ass off and proved to The Iron you deserved to win. To this day Nick and I regularly quote pieces of The Iron to each other. It was so influential Nick named a song on the new Swellers record The Iron:
"We either do this now, or we don't. We need to do this right now, or we won't." - The Iron by The Swellers
We use The Iron as motivation. As inspiration. It's a way to let ourselves know that whatever success we want is ours for the taking. Nobody will hand us a thing and we don't expect them to. We can't blame anybody for our failures except ourselves. What's holding you back? Where can you use The Iron Mind to make drastic leaps forward in your own life? Are you going to lift the fucking weight off the floor or drop it? The choice will always be yours.