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Recommended Reading

by Laura Hillenbrand

I recently read a story in the news over the Christmas break about how NFL coach Bill Belichick took the New England Patriots to see the film American Sniper after a personal invitation was extended to him by the film’s director, Clint Eastwood. The field trip was taken to entertain the players over the Christmas break, right? Only partially. As reported on the Patriots’ website:

"It's cool to be able to see the Navy SEALS and their team with your team," James Devlin said, according to ESPN Boston. "You can draw some comparisons between the two and it's a team-building kind of experience."

"It was a great film to see, especially this time of the year," Michael Hoomanawanui added.

Although the afternoon at the movies took the team by surprise, it was indeed a move from Belichick's own playbook; last year he did the same thing during the playoff bye week, organizing a screening of the war film "Lone Survivor."

The idea behind this outing reminded me that inspiration has to be pursued continuously. That even in the NFL, athletes still need to find ways to stay motivated. Whether the purpose is learning to work better together as a team or as an individual striving to reach his/her personal best.

But Unbroken? Why would a fitness ezine…site…what have you, review this popular memoir on their site? Stay with me.

Staying in shape is the opposite of Einstein’s definition of genius which was, “genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety nine per cent perspiration.” With regard to staying in shape, you would think nothing could be more fitting. But actually, it’s the other way around. “staying in shape, (not to be confused with getting in shape), is one per cent perspiration and ninety nine per cent inspiration.” As the pro football example demonstrates, even elite athletes have to stay inspired.

As the famous Hollywood cliché goes…what’s your motivation? I’ll tell you mine.

In case you’re unfamiliar, the book Unbroken, chronicles the life of Louis Zamperini: petty thief turned Olympic athlete, turned castaway, turned POW, turned religious devotee. Hard to imagine a life experienced with such extremes.

In case you haven’t seen the movie’s trailer, a young Louis Zamperini’s brother says to him (while training as an Olympic track and field athlete), “if you can take, you can make it.” Louis carried this with him during his Olympic training, through the horrors of his internment in a POW camp, and throughout his life. How powerful his brother’s simple affirmation was. In fact, it was life-changing or in this case, life-sustaining. Words can be incredibly powerful.

Writer Jack London once said, “You can't wait for motivation; you have to go after it with a club.” Apparently athletes, are not the only ones who need to keep searching for inspiration.

So how do you stay motivated? For me, powerful stories of real-life heroes overcoming all odds is as inspiring as it gets. That’s why I love to read biographies. I love human potential! They help me understand that anything is possible. Human beings are capable of incredible achievements, enduring incredible horrors, and overcoming incredible odds. If learning about the achievements and triumphs of others doesn’t inspire you, I suggest you do some soul searching and find out what does. And if you haven’t read Unbroken, I highly recommend it as a good place to start. Do I even need to add that it’s far better than the movie?

Life is difficult under any circumstances. Unbroken is an extreme example of one man overcoming incredible odds to prevail under the most horrific conditions.

If Louie Zamperini could endure all that, I should at least be able to get through tomorrow’s workout.