“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain
This is a monumental week for Nerds and Rebels worldwide, as Captain America: Civil War hits theaters this Friday. Reviews are glowing, but this movie puts us nerds in a seriously awkward position. Why?
Well, in this story, Captain America and his friend Tony Stark find themselves on opposite sides of a brutal argument. And a civil war of epic proportions ensues.
Instead of taking sides, we’re going to highlight why both characters are partly right, and partly wrong. Up first, Team Captain America.
Have a Creed You Stick To
I like to consider myself an old school guy like Steve Rogers, which is probably why I have his art above my desk and his shield on my wall. And why the back of my book says I’m trying to become Captain America.
Look people in the eye. Have a firm handshake. Remember people’s names. Inspire through action. Stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves and stand alongside your brothers in arms.
And stick to your guns, even when you are not on the side of the majority.
When Captain America is on the “wrong side” of the majority (as we saw in Captain America: Winter Soldier and again in this movie), he refuses to conform, is branded an outlaw, and thus gets hunted down by the government. Despite the overwhelming consequences of his decision, Steve Rogers sticks to his guns and stands by his creed.
He stands up for what he believes in. As somebody who grew up in a different era and THEN joined the modern world, he believes he has a clearer sense of how we have slid down the slippery slope.
He’s removed emotion from the decision: there’s right, and there’s wrong. “If this, then I will do that. No matter what.”
Yes, this is a VERY simplistic and idealistic way of looking at life; but whether we’re talking about making decisions about getting healthy, or moral problems that superheores wrangle with, sometimes standing your ground is the best way to do the most good. Even if those consequences mean coming down on the other side of a conflict from a great friend of yours.
If you’re on a quest to become a superhero, you’re going to have to make tough decisions too. At every step in your journey you will have choices that aren’t black and white. You could have just one cookie or piece of candy. You could skip this workout just today. You could sleep in and not practice that skill you’re learning. You can not stand up for something you believe strongly in at work due to office politics or not wanting to offend your boss.
Captain America would say enough is enough. Draw a line and take a stand. Otherwise you might as well quit now. In more practical terms for getting healthy, it helps to have a series of rules that you’ve established for yourself that remove emotion, guilt, and second-guessing from the equation.
Nutrition: “I eat this. I don’t eat that.” Almost robotic in nature. No emotion involved. You either eat it or you don’t.
Exercise: “I work out at 10AM on these days. I don’t skip them for ANY reason, no matter the consequences.” You put fitness first.
Family: “I spend my evenings with my kids. I don’t bring work home with me after 5pm, no matter how ‘important’.”
Commitments: “I don’t flake. If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. I don’t say yes and then back out.” “It’s either a HELL YEAH, or a NO, regardless of whether it offends people.
In each of the examples above, we all have thousands of things vying for our attention and focus. We need to have things we believe in, rules that we stick to, and live by. It might mean pissed off co-workers, an angry boss, or missed gatherings. It also means you get to do the things you need to do and spend time with the people you need to spend time with.
These decisions do not come without consequences, but you have to stay strong.
Expect the World to Push Back. Stand Firm.
It’s perfectly summed up in this photo from the comic series “Civil War”:
“Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right.
This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move. Your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth and tell the world…
No. You move.”
When you have a creed, code, or motto that you live by, you are going to have TONS of people pushing back on you. This is why we have the Rules of The Rebellion that we abide by.
You might make a decision that will offend your friends, family, which is both scary and difficult.
Can you stay strong? Or will you cave to societal pressure so you don’t ruffle any feathers?
- “Come on, don’t be a prude. Come out drinking with us. It’s Tequila Tuesday!”
- “Just eat this cake. It’s only a piece and it’s Milton’s Birthday”
- “Blow off your workout, we need you for a WoW Raid.”
- “Why can’t you come to this bridal shower? You have to be there.”
- “Don’t quit this job. Be thankful you have it. And I need somebody to be miserable with!”
Everybody wants you to be like them. They want you to do what they’re doing, even if it’s unhealthy. Misery loves company, and oftentimes people will tell you to join them on something simply because they don’t have the fortitude to change themselves. They’d rather drag you back down.
Can you stay strong? Will you stick to your guns? Or do you let the desire to please everyone and avoid confrontation rule your life?
You gotta be more like Cap.
Are you familiar with the Asch Experiment?
In 1951, an experiment was conducted in which a person was presented with a simple question that had a very obvious answer. However, every other “participant” in the experiment was a planted actor, instructed to give the same wrong answer and give their choice out loud before the subject was asked!
In 75% of the examples, the subject conformed and picked the wrong answer at least once, simply because they wanted to be like everybody else (they assumed they were missing something). Or they worried about others thinking they were stupid, so they choose to pick the wrong answer and go along with them.
In short: they were fine with being wrong as long as they were wrong with everybody else, instead of facing potential ridicule even though they knew they were right.
I know I’m not alone: When I look around our world and see so many unhealthy, unhappy people uninterested in improving their lives, I feel like the world is one giant Asch Experiment oftentimes! If you’re reading this, thanks for being here and being part of the Rebellion.
Thanks for taking the time to learn and grow, and making the unpopular decisions that you need to make in order to be healthier.
At Nerd Fitness, it often feels like we have “stuck to our guns” when the conventional wisdom and popular opinion disagrees. If a friend or family member discourages you from your quest to improve your life, telling you things are “good enough” – can you be the candle in the darkness?
Just because everybody else is doing something doesn’t mean they’re right. Just because everybody else is drinking the Kool-aid doesn’t mean you need to. Besides, that’s a lot of sugar.
I’d love to hear from you. What’s one way you’ve ‘conformed’ in the past and one way you’ve stuck to your guns?
I’ll go first:
In the past, I used to say yes to nearly every obligation that came my way – I had a serious case of “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO), and I would say yes to coffee meetings, interviews, dinners, and late nights out during the week. After most of these instances, I would come home drained and defeated and ask “why do I keep saying yes?”
Lately, I’ve been saying “HELL YEAH” or “NO” (h/t Derek Sivers) to everything. I piss off some friends, people get mad when I won’t give them my time, or poke fun at me for going to bed early instead of going out drinking.
Unsurprisingly, getting my sleep, training with rigid consistency, and saying NO to most obligations, I have time to do the things I want to do, I’m in the best shape of my life, and I am happy. Thanks Cap.
Stay tuned for Thursday, where we’ll tell you why you need to be more like Iron Man.