What I Learned From Hanging Out With 30 Men For Three Days
To properly frame what you’re about to read, you need to grab your clock, and rewind it back to September 16th, 2016.
Otherwise known as the day I touched down in Austin, Texas for the inaugural Man Camp.
Helmed by two of the finest gentlemen in the land, John Romaniello and David Dellanave, Man Camp is best described as being exactly what it sounds like. Which happens to be precisely how I explained it to everyone who asked why I was going to Austin.
If the first thoughts that jumped to your head at the words “Man Camp” included a group of men rolling 30 deep lifting weights, devouring BBQ, sampling some of the finest bourbons and whiskeys, shooting guns, exploring our relationships, discussing empathy, and coming to understand as presentee, best-selling author and (self-professed) semi-retired asshole Tucker Max stated; what’s your fucking problem?
First of all, I’d be damn impressed at your intuition. Second, you’d be bang on the money.
Man Camp came at a curious time in my life
Man Camp fell upon the weekend preceding my 23rd birthday (happy birthday to me).
I also happened to be three weeks removed from parting ways with my girlfriend of the prior two and a half years, whom I’d been living with for nearly two of those years, and in another three weeks I was due to embark upon a three month long solo adventure to Greece.
At the time, MASSthetics was slowly and steadily growing, I had a strong circle of friends I could turn to (even though they’re scattered across North America and various parts of the globe), I had no ties to any one person or place, and I was preparing to spend three months in the country where half of my bloodline flows from. Despite lacking any semblance of stability (financial, emotional, location), I considered my life to be “pretty good.”
Yet, I knew I wanted more, could achieve more, and to say I was close to satisfied with where my life was at would be a massive understatement.
Despite the momentus mental shifts that Man Camp catalyzed in me, it wasn’t until the time of writing that I came to realize how impactful those three days were.
Thanks to the ever-helpful gift of hindsight, attending Man Camp set the stage for a cascade of changes that were to soon occur in my way of thinking, approach to relationships, and outlook on life itself.
The story I’d been telling myself for years is that I lack depth and breadth of experience, and don’t have a place in conversation
Curiously enough, I had little hesitation about attending Man Camp itself. None. Zip. Zero.
After becoming friends with Roman and Dave over the preceding year, there was no doubt that any event those two cooked up together would be worth my time, money, and attention.
However, I did face a mountain of hesitation and resistance when it came to engaging in many of the conversations and topics that surfaced over the course of the weekend.
Here’s what I mean:
I’d be remiss not to admit that this article is coming approximately 8 months past when I intended to publish a piece on the subject of Man Camp. But for whatever reason, every time I sat down and put pen to paper, I would encounter a massive, looming wall of mental resistance that kept me from opening my heart, and spilling my soul onto the page.
Yet, as I’m finally hitting publish on this tale, I’m able to clearly see where the resistance that stonewalled me time and time again came from.
My hesitancy and struggle to pen my thoughts on the special world that was Man Camp seeped from the same place that held me back from engaging deeply in some of the most meaningful conversation that I’ve ever been involved in.
When Dr. Jade Teta took to the front of the room to discuss the connection between your mindset, testosterone levels, and the landscape of your life, he unearthed a subject of which I’d previously read some of his writing on.
The stories that you tell yourself about who and what you are will quite literally shape your life to fit that story arc.
As I reminisce and muse upon the catalyst that Man Camp was, I can clearly see the falsehood of the story arc I was hell-bent on telling to myself, and following.
The true value of attending events, being a part of Mastermind groups, and travelling doesn't lie in the information learned. # It's the experiences had and relationships you're able to forge that make it all worth the price of admission. # @joeypercia and I stumbled upon this #speakeasy bar tucked away in one of Austin's parkades. And aside from being one of the best drinks I've ever had, it's the truthful conversations, ideas hatched, and bonds forged that come together to create a unique, unforgettable experience. #Austin, until next time. #garage #indiansummer #braingains #allofthetacos #bbq
Age is but a number
While I don’t know the exact ages of each man in attendance, I can safely bet that I was the youngest by at least 4 or 5 years.
By all accounts, I did not have a rough childhood. Not that everything was handed to me on a platter or that I didn’t have to work for what I had, but in comparison to the upbringings of the men around me, my childhood and teenage years were a walk in the park.
In contrast to the men I flew across the country to surround myself with, I realized that I’m but a child.
And therein lies the problem.
It’s the same problem that occurs when you scroll through social media, see all your friends *seemingly* living incredible, exciting, fulfilling lives, while you’re stuck stocking shelves at 7-11. You compare your day-to-day life to the highlight reels of every single person you’ve ever connected with.
Call it jealousy, comparison bias, or whatever you believe fits the bill. It’s a pervasive problem in today’s current social media landscape of likes, shares, and endless emojis.
Amidst the conversations held at Man Camp, I found myself comparing the relative ease of my youth to the emotional and physical abuse, broken homes, addiction, debt, and business failures that nearly everyone around me seemed to have struggled through.
As a result, this false self-comparison that had me holding my tongue, and feeling out of place.
With a dose of irony, I now see the fact that I’m able to reconcile with how I felt about myself, understand where that false narrative came from, and now finding the will to write this very post speaks to the impact and lasting changes that Man Camp impressed upon me.
In truth, I’ve travelled, more than many will in their lifetime, and lived abroad in 3 unique countries, all vastly different from the Great Land of Canadia, from which I hail.
- I’ve built a fully mobile business that allows me to live life on my own terms.
- I’ve competed in bodybuilding competitions twice (soon to be 3).
- I’ve been in relationships spanning from 1 month to over 2.5 years of all different levels.
- I’ve dropped out out of college to chase what many would call a crazy dream.
- I’ve had the world hand me my ass, forcing me back to live with my parents while I sorted my shit out multiple times.
- I’ve been miserable with my day-to-day life, and I’ve been incomparably happy with the same.
That’s all happened in the past 4 years.
The story I should have been telling myself is that everyone has a unique perspective to share, and can be of benefit to others.
While it’s taken nigh on 8 months for this lesson to sink in, it has not only altered the landscape of my life, but it’s helped me help others as well, on a deeper level that I could have ever imagined.
Come now; step into a new world
At the end of the weekend, buried amongst the piles of BBQ, muttered between sips of bourbon, and plucked from the car ride conversations between activities, there was one sentence, one phrase, one nugget of utter gold I wrote down that stood above all the rest.
Even though I’d heard it many times over. When it comes to changing your life, achieving a goal, or simply taking one step forward…
Everything comes back to taking fucking action.
Talk is cheap, action is rare.
If you aren’t happy with any facet of your life, begin by chipping away at writing yourself a new story about who and what you are. The more feverishly and assuredly you tell yourself that story, the more your actions will begin to align with the direction you want to head, and who you want to become.
You’ll tell yourself that there is always more time.
But the thing with time is that it never stops moving.
Suddenly, you turn around and the time you thought would always be there, is gone.
Because time waits for no man.
And, get your ass to Man Camp 2017 (it’s in Philly, and there’s no website for it, yet) – because if it has even half the impact on you that it did on my life, that’s well worth it.
I hope to see you there.
PS. 4 out of 5 lifters will let their rationalization hamster run wild. Convincing themselves they’re making progress…yet you build no muscle, and burn no fat. The 5th lifter joined the MASSthetics Clan and put the information within the (free) Hypertrophy Handbook to good use. He no longer has to rationalize his progress. It simply happens. Click here to become the 5th lifter, and let me know where to send the prestigious Hypertrophy Handbook.