Fitness Wisdom From Outer Space [Part 1]

Tue, Apr 7, 2009


How Lessons from Space Flight Can Help You Achieve Your Absolute Best Body and LIFE!

When was the last time you stood breathless, in awe?

                       …stunned by a triumph of the human spirit?

Every once in a while we humans do something so truly extraordinary; so far beyond belief of the possible that the entire planet halts to stand in reverence.

July 20, 1969 was one of those moments when the earth stood in collective awe, as a man took “one small step” and mankind “a giant leap” into the impossible.
If for only a moment, anything was possible as we stood more united in our common experience of life than separate by circumstance or geography.

awe_2At the risk of dating myself, along with hundreds of millions of people around the world, I too was glued to the TV as Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon although my memory of it is less than vivid. I came of age in the golden era of space flight and the celebrated Apollo space missions. Yet, I don’t believe that to be a prerequisite for finding man’s explorations to space from impressive to inspiring.

Listen to the Audio Version of SSM [5 min.]

“One need not be a fan of rocket fuel to get just how damned amazing an inspired group of people with a clear mission, some wrenches, a mastery of physics and a couple million gallons of liquid hydrogen can be.”


I, for one, find an inspired group of people working together on a single vision to achieve the impossible not just logically impressive but viscerally moving.

Even as I’ve come to resemble a grown man, when I witness the tremendous controlled explosion of the space shuttle launching, propelling astronauts at speeds exceeding 17,000 miles per hour, I get choked up.

Why? It’s not as simple as power and force or even the technological feat.

What resonates with me is the extraordinary achievement by a committed, inspired team of people. As flawed and faulty as we humans are, as bumbling as systems—especially government ones—can be, people coming together to accomplish such an amazing result is truly the most impressive feat.

liftoffOn a deep, soul level I’m inspired by such an amazing achievement—not strictly because of the success but by the rocket fuel that propels it. For while, at a glance, putting man on the moon looks to be a purely logical endeavor, let’s be clear that any such achievement can only be powered my the raw fuel of emotion—of people on purpose.

Logic is necessary but is as insufficient for getting man to the moon as it is for getting you into your best physical shape. Knowing the “what” to do, having a blueprint is not likely to deliver you, me or anyone of us to our chosen destination.

What began in 1961 with President Kennedy’s inspiring vision propelled man from ground-zero to the moon in 8 short years. (read that again and think about it, please)

Whether we were as driven by fear as compelled by national pride doesn’t really matter. The lesson is that it’s not enough to know the moon is there nor even to know you could do it if you wanted but that you’ve got to go after it like you’d go for a bucket of water if your hair is on fire.

Getting fit or transforming your body is not a logical endeavor; climbing Everest is not a logical endeavor; landing man on the moon was not a logical endeavor—nor is getting the US, and the world, back to financial full strength.

Volumes have been written on the “how” to do each but it’s through the “what”—the vision—that we reveal the “why” and tap our internal reserve—the “liquid hydrogen” of inspiration and purpose that is capable of propelling you to any elevation.

On a Mission for Greatness awe_5
If you’ve been “thinking about” or “wanting” to get into top shape for summer—or make any significant life change—begin today with a sound, proven Vision setting exercise like the one you’ll find on page 54, Strength for Life.

Don’t get trapped thinking you have to find the perfect “why” before you set your sights on a destination. It need not be the “right” vision. Many a great thing has been produced in pursuit of visions and goals that eventually change. That doesn’t make them wrong but rather temporary steps on the ladder up.

Want to be unstoppable in your quest for living leaner, fitter, stronger or building wealth, giving more, whatever “it” is? It’s vision first—for defining your inspiring vision for life releases tremendous emotional energy.

Next step is to bring that vision to life with a daily “success ritual” like the morning inner-strength ritual in Chapter 6. This will get you being pulled towards the light of vision rather than leaving the leverage of emotion to chance.

Fail to define and embrace an inspiring life vision and you’re likely to find anger, disgust and frustration to be your most powerful emotions. Some even rely on these for motivation—certainly not a success strategy.

Embracing the higher view of vision you’ll experience energy enthusiasm, passion and the impossible quickly becomes possible you feel lighter, freer and more able.

Please Avoid These Common Mistakes
Don’t allow yourself to be seduced by better plans, more sexy mousetraps or the latest gizmo, gadget or potion. An average plan executed with consistency and passion will exceed the perfect plan every time.

And whatever you do, please don’t make the two devastating mistakes: Trying to get to the moon on goals alone, without an inspiring vision or mistaking a 10 year life vision for 12 week goal. Either of these are assured to result in ample frustration and likely failure.

With your inspiring life and / or fitness vision clear and firmly in place, then and only then set the goals—the rungs on the ladder that willget you there.

I leave you today with a quote from Chapter 6 of Strength for Life:

“Together, an inspiring vision and crystal clear goals serve as a blueprint for your lasting success—your choice to live a strong life, however you define it. It’s the life you’re most drawn to live into, a brilliant future that pulls you forward each day with great force.

Your vision empowers your training and your training empowers your vision.” - Page 57

May all your dreams be true. moonflag2

Until Next Week…

Stay Strong,

"Shawn" :-)

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This post was written by:

- who has written 190 posts on Shawn Phillips | Start Strong Monday.

Author, speaker, sprinter, trainer, fitness guru and Integral philosopher...Shawn Phillips

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7 Responses to “Fitness Wisdom From Outer Space [Part 1]”

    • Shawn Phillips Says:

      Bri, I owe you and Joe Campbell a credit for “like your is hair on fire…” — meant to get that credit in and will revise. Thanks! I am always following the and you, the Philo-King!

      With Appreciation,


  1. Scott Tousignant Says:

    Amazing post Shawn! You definitely have a great gift for expressing your thoughts on paper/blog.

    You really have me thinking about the last time that I stood in awe at an achievement where most people thought it was impossible.

    Your message is fantastic and there certainly needs to much more encouragement for people to dream big and follow up that dream with action that is stirred up by purpose and passion.

    You and I both know that for many people the small goals can seem just as large or as impossible as landing on the moon. And when a person achieves even those small goals, in that very moment that feeling of awe is magical. I wish we could bottle that feeling.

    I love that look on a persons face when they achieve a goal that they thought was impossible. But at some point along the journey they start to believe in themselves and the impossible now becomes possible.

    You are an incredible inspiration Shawn. Thanks for sharing your passion.

    Scott Tousignant


  2. John Eames Irivn Says:

    So often I tell friends “Don’t kill the good for the great.” Your statement “An average plan executed with consistency and passion will exceed the perfect plan every time.” hit home as I have been trying to “get” the perfect plan…killing the good for the great. I just need to bang it out each morning. How simple is that?!



  3. Roland Vanzant Says:


    Your beautifully written analogy in which you relate fitness to the achievements of our space program rang a bell of memory out of my past. I, as a Pastor, was serving a church in the area of the space launch. It was exciting to be close and see each space launch as history and the changing or our world was taking place. Many of my congregants were directly involved in that endeavor. It was a high privilege to be able to preach to them on Sundays. I learned very much from them and the experiences of those days. It was an exciting time to be there.

    Thank you for remarkable book. In 2008 I added my health to my other priorities and your book gave much needed advice and guidance. I followed it faithfully in my exercise program which enabled me to lose 40 pounds. Everything was going well until I had an accident in October which resulted in a chest contusion and another in December which resulted in a broken and then hip replacement. The needed hospitalization and rehab has set me back–gaining back 10 pounds and not being sure just what I can do now in my exercising with my new hip and the sore joints in my shoulders which I am sure has come from pushing myself up because of the hip. The hip is doing great, much greater than the old one which was giving me problems.

    Do you have any suggestions or know of a book I could purchase that could be useful for persons like myself who have to be cautious as they get back gradually into the swing of things? My surgeon said I could do anything but I am not yet comfortable with that advice.

    Thank you for the good you do with your writing and your sharing. When I read the preface to your book I said to myself: “Here is a man who knows himself and his priorities.” Your remarks and admissions regarding your father’s death spoke to me since I have had similar experiences across the years in hundreds of services I have conducted. Your commitment is making a difference in the lives of others.

    I apologize for the length of these words. I have kept them as brief as possible.



    • Shawn Phillips Says:

      Dear Roland,

      Thank you for your thoughtful contribution. Wow! What a great story and memory of the Apollo mission days. And to think I thought it was an exciting time. What a period of change… no Transformation for our world.

      I’m honored that you embraced my book. Thank you for the kind words. I’m sure, from your perspective, you witnessed the unique depth of it. Not just another fitness book. :-)

      I’m sorry to hear you’ve had these challenges. As a man, in the middle 3rd of life, I am well aware of the increasing challenges that injuries can bring. Myself, I decided to lay my Harley down on a shoulder some years ago and there’s little good to say about that.

      When it comes to dealing with challenges like this, I think it’s a little like the healthy-tension I advise in weight-loss. That being that it’s not healthy and helpful to want the “new you” so bad that you can’t stand yourself now–nor is it healthy to just hate where you are, nor sit in resignation of it. I tell people that the magic is in loving you as you are and still wanting what you can be. It’s the healthy tension that pulls us forward without ripping us to shreds.

      What to do? That’s a darn good question. Books that deal with injury and recovery, I am sure there are some. Not that pop for me. What came up and hence what I will share is Ken Wilber’s (and co.) recent book, Integral Practice. It’s an amazing work embracing the full spectrum of body, mind and spirit. I’d go on but that’s what really hit for me.

      I’d also look for insurance to pick up a great PT… some of the PT’s I know are the most brilliant exercise minds I’ve ever known. They know how to make it personal and deal with the limitations. If you don’t know the body at this level, one could easily muss something up.

      I hope that helps…

      In Strength, Shawn


  4. Roland Vanzant Says:

    Dear Shawn:
    Forgive me for being long in responding but my other priorities got pushed aside with one that was immediate. I needed to respond to an urgent situation in which a dear friend, a member of my last church before my retirement, was dying in our local hospital. You communicated with me on the 14th of April and he died on the 15th. This set me to trying to minister, keep faith with his family, and spend several days preparing remarks to give at his commital service. Everthing else went on hold. He was a very special man whose life fits very well into our discussions. His name was Dr. Phillip Drash, a psychologist who used behavioral techniques to treat children with development disabilities. He was one of the early pioneers and behavorists who recognized the importance of communication skills for young persons with autism and helping young children develop their ability to communicate. As a doctoral student in the late 50’s at Texas Tech University he worked with a team of behavioral psychologists and graduate students helping NASA train chimpanzees to go into space. I did not know him at the time.
    The efforts paid off during a 16-minute flight Jan.31, 1961 when a chimp named Ham pressed a lever whenever a blue light came on inside the capsule. America’s first astronaut, Alan Shepard, launched into space shortly afterwards on May 5, 1961. Phil went to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and then to the University of South Florida in Tampa. In his wonderful work with children with autism, Downs Syndrone, and cerebral palsy he really became the hope for such children. In 1991, he left USF to found the Autism Early Intervention and Prevention Center in the Tampa area which was the same area where I was serving at the time. That is where we connected. For the past 10 years he has had to battle leukemia which he has done bravely. I was with him, his wife, and children when he died on the 15th at the age of 79. The next day, the 16th., I also became 79. There is much more but I will close. I am just a great admirer of those who do good for people in the world and you fit into that category.
    Shawn, I want to thank you for your response. It is on target and helpful. Thanks for referring the book to me. It fits right into my approach to life and I feel confident it will bring reinforcement to my commitment to be as healthy as possible at my age. Thanks again for your kindness and thoughtfulness.


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