In a practical book on mindset, you want to know why these mindset techniques will work for you and, quite frankly, who the heck am I to tell you anything? Those are legitimate concerns. The techniques in Gorilla Mindset, while being research-backed, were first applied to my own life.
I grew up as a child on welfare. I had holes in my clothes. My parents were well-meaning and good people, but they had no conception of how to make or save money. They made mistakes and did the best they could, which is all you can expect. Besides, whining about your parents is about the most pathetic thing an adult can do.
Not only was I usually the poorest kid in school, I was also the fattest. I was “naturally” chubby and was picked on, ridiculed, and beaten up. I was afraid to walk home from school, as more often than not people would follow me. I’d either be called names or beat up.
My dad told me to start taking martial arts, and he even started taking classes with me. I was not naturally athletic. I was clumsy and out of shape. I couldn’t even do a single push-up. I hated martial arts classes and would have quit had my dad not been there taking classes with me.
I went through the motions, but I had no natural talent or belief in myself.
One day a bully beat me up badly and in humiliating fashion. My sister had to pull my attacker off of me. I felt demoralized and powerless.
We had a mattress in our garage. I went to the garage, lied down, and cried myself to sleep.
When my dad came home from work, he opened the garage door, looked down at me with part pity, part contempt, and asked me one question that changed my life.
“When are you going to get serious?”
Those words coupled with the expression his face were a wake-up call for me. I decided to get serious, and in some ways fanatical.
I would train until my body was exhausted and would hit the heavy bag until my knuckles would bleed. When I read in a martial arts magazine Thai fighters do 10 rounds on the heavy bag, I would do 10 rounds. When I learned Thai boxers would roll up magazines and hit their shins and legs to toughen themselves up, that’s what I did.
I learned when you systematically put in work, you will make progress. You might have terrible genetics, you might not have potential to be in the Olympics or win a UFC title, but you will improve.
I earned my black belt in Tae Kwon Do, boxed, and began beating up the bullies who had bullied me. I had a hair-trigger and would look for reasons to fight.
But I was never happy, and my social skills were poor. I was awkward and weird. My mindset was based on vengeance rather than normal things like going to parties.
In fact, I was once invited to attend a school “lock-in” at the YMCA with a bunch of other classmates. I put on Tiger Balm to keep my joints warm, lest someone decided to start a fight with me.
I also didn’t perform well in school, with every teacher having the same line for my parents at PTA meetings, “Michael is so smart. He does not live up to his potential.”
It wasn’t I enjoyed getting into trouble, but I grew up in a poor neighborhood. Where I came from, getting good grades and doing homework wasn’t the norm. I’d get into fights, steal sandwiches from the local grocery store, and shoot out car windows with a BB gun (which was also stolen).
When one of my acts of vandalism made the local newspaper, I clipped out the picture with pride.
To change my life, I had to change my own mindset. The need to “do hood rat things” and this anger inside me had to be focused into something more productive.
It took a lot of work, but I ended up going from a poor bullied fat kid without any money to a well-known lawyer, writer, and podcaster who travels the world. In most ways my success makes me laugh, as my life story is unbelievable.
It took a lot of work, and indeed I’m still working. Sometimes when people say they like me or ask me for advice, it’s hard to understand why. There are days I still feel like the fat kid who was afraid to walk home from school.
But here I am, successes, failures, and flaws in all their shame and glory, and now I ask you, “Isn’t it time to get serious?”
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