The Secret to Achieve Anything You Want . . . and the Surprising Way I Discovered it.

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It’s funny how seemingly small incidents can turn into huge revelations. This is a story about how one such incident forever changed my perspective. It created ripples that continue to affect how I make decisions, who I am, and who I am becoming.


How it Started


I had recently gotten into doing pull-ups as a result of a contest my friend had challenged me to at work. It was a simple contest: who could do the most pull-ups?


Well, he could. He was younger, stronger and fitter. I was past 30, out of shape, and quickly packing on the pounds. It really was no contest – I never had a chance. But one thing I noticed was that he usually failed at the point when his grip gave out, whereas my grip was a non-issue . . . just my pudgy belly and weak arms.


That sparked my interest in grip strength. Obsession, really. I don’t know why, but the idea of having super strong hands fascinated me. It spoke of true strength. Hands capable of hard work. Hands that would never fail.


Hands Tell the Tale


So I started spending time on a forum dedicated to grip strength. Yes, there is such a thing. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one infatuated with having strong hands. There’s an entire community devoted to the idea. And it’s diverse. You’ll find strongmen, powerlifters, rock climbers, martial artists, gymnasts, bodybuilders, and more.


I spent hours reading about exercises for developing grip strength. I bought Captains of Crush grippers, started pinch lifting, and added an extra day of pull-ups to my routine.


I knew that by doing pull-ups 3 days a week and training grip on the other days, I would develop hands of steel in no time.


It didn’t quite work out that way.


While my grip was getting stronger, it wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted it to be. Even though I was dedicating hours to my hand training, I still couldn’t close the CoC #1 gripper. I still couldn’t tear a phone book in half.


The Secret


One of the funny things about the grip strength forum is that you would find a lot of people who weren’t interested in strength training whatsoever, but were still looking to develop strong hands. With the exception of training pull-ups, I fell into that group.


So this one day, I was reading a thread started by some kid who was complaining that he couldn’t develop his hand strength. No matter what he tried, he just couldn’t surpass the meager level of strength he’d already managed to achieve.


People were giving him varying advice: “Try this exercise . . .” and “No, try this one instead . . . “


I studied every suggestion with keen interest since I was suffering the same problem. But this kid just wasn’t listening to any of it. He’d tried it all, or so he said.


He wanted to know the secret.


Finally, someone stepped up and gave it to him. The guy was one of those big ‘ol scary powerlifter types. Huge muscles. Shaved head. Literally able to bend steel with his bare hands.


He was a tough-talkin’ sonofabitch. He’d earned that right, but his advice was always genuine and bullshit-free.


And he handed us the secret . . .


“If you want strong hands, then get strong.”




That single little sentence hit me like a fucking ton of bricks. I’ve never been the same since.


It spoke profound truth. Profound.


The kid thought the guy was just being an asshole. What the hell kind of answer is that? The secret went into one ear, passed through his empty little head, and came right out the other. Gone forever. He missed it entirely.


But I didn’t. I caught that secret and never let go.


It changed my worldview forever. Not just about strength training, but in all areas of life. Of course, my first application of the secret was to begin training for strength — not just grip strength.


Squats. Deadlifts. Bench press. Farmer’s walks.


Lifting. Eating. Lifting. Eating.


I got bigger. I got stronger. And the stronger I got, the stronger my hands got. I could finally even tear phone books in half. But the secret taught me so much more than just party tricks.


What Does the Secret Mean?


The secret dispels the myth that we can get what we want simply by taking things step by step in some sort of logical progression. While that seems to make sense, and may even be true, there’s a flaw to this way of thinking. The problem is that which steps we can accomplish will always be limited by who we are when we attempt to accomplish them.


You can perform hand exercises all day long, but if you’re fundamentally a weak person you will have only limited success at best. Your hands may get a bit stronger, but they will still be weak hands.


The secret spells out the truth of what it takes to achieve anything of worth. Simply put, if you want to achieve something meaningful, you must become the kind of person that achieves such things.


Want to be rich? Start thinking and acting like a rich person. Build something significant. Take a chance. Create and deliver value. Embrace the opportunities that come to you and build upon them. Create momentum.


Want to be fit? Get more active. Create a workout routine. Adjust it as necessary, but stick with it. Find and start eating the corrective foods that allow you to lose weight. Don’t cheat until you’ve earned the right to cheat.


The steps to achieving these things may seem plainly obvious, but until you change yourself there will always be that one big fucking invisible wall right in front of you blocking your way. Preventing you from taking that next step.


Keeping you stuck.


How to Use the Secret to Reach Your Goals


“If you want strong hands, then get strong.”


Such simple advice, but how do you get strong? You start living like those who are strong. That’s the only way to build strength. What do they do day in and day out? How do they think? How do they look at the world? What are their habits?


You learn by doing. You screw up a hundred times for every success you have. You keep at it for years. Eventually, you will calibrate to this new way of life. What seemed so challenging in the beginning; like consistently lifting 5 days a week, giving it your all, and eating a shit-ton of protein, becomes nothing more than routine.


Think about that.


What seems like the greatest challenge now, when performed consistently day in and day out, will someday just become routine. You won’t even think about it. Making money can become routine. Keeping fit can become routine.


But only if you become the kind of person that keeps those routines.


That’s the level of growth true achievement requires. When you apply yourself, as the new and improved person that you are, your results will be exponentially greater than they would have been had you been doing the same things as your old self.


Only when I trained grip strength as a strong person, did my hands truly become strong. And with far less effort than I was putting into it when I was a weak person. My hands responded.


The secret reveals the truth of achievement. The bigger the goal, the more we need to change in order to achieve it. It all starts with changing ourselves first. Instead of trying to achieve a result, become the kind of person that gets those results.


Because if you’re not that kind of person, you will only be spinning wheels in all your efforts . . . just like I was spinning wheels exercising my hands while still only a weak person.



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  1. Great post Travis. I can do a pull-up. Heck, I need to get back into a regular strength-building program. But I was thinking about your post in regard to my creative endeavors. So if I want to make movies, I need to write books and music that will become movies. That’s my attitude. I’m already planning on a movie deal, it’s just a matter of time. I don’t want to make movies to get rich (although I do want to live more comfortably, get away from academic politics, and make a better life for my 7-year old daughter), but I want to help others work through their anger, hate, and promote love, non judgment and forgiveness. I’m already there, man. I’m just waiting on the call.

    • Sorry, for some reason I keep thinking your a Travis. It’s Trevor. I just realized I’ve been using Travis. Forgive me, man?

    • You should read the non-fiction of Steven Pressfield if you haven’t already. He writes a lot about his struggles to become a successful screenplay writer. It took him 10 years before he got his first movie, which ended up being an embarrassing flop. But he stuck with it and now he’s a famous screenwriter and author of both fiction and non-fiction. He has a very cool perspective on the Resistance that we face in life. Worth checking out.


  2. I really like that epiphany, Trevor. It is very true. You can focus only on one area, hoping to improve, but you need to take a look at the big picture.

    It’s not a good thing to develop that tunnel vision and lose sight of everything else because more often than not, there are many more things that tie into the big picture. It’s all about seeing it and having that “A-ha!” moment like you have.

    • Exactly. We are far more than just the sum of our parts. That’s all good, but it does mean that in order for us to do more, to achieve more, we have to be more. It means a lot of work, but the reward will always be returned to the whole as well. The character I developed as a result of my quest for strength has carried over into every other part of my life. We must always focus on the whole self, not just specific goals.


  3. That’s a great way to put it – to get strong hands, become strong. Although I’ve carried with me the idea that in order to have more, you must become more – it’s brought a slightly different angle to that perspective. I like the way Dan put it (kind of, maybe my twist) – don’t write a movie-script, write a movie.

    I can’t say I’ve tried to focus on one thing solely with no regard for anything else, but I just thought about this in terms of my studies. Don’t study physics – become a physicist, I’ve yet to somehow apply that to how I work, but it’s got me thinking.

    Thank you for the thought-provoking article, I’ll give that a ponder for a while! Have a good day 🙂

    • Thanks Nick! It’s a powerful way to look at things when it sinks in. It means we are capable of anything, so long as we are willing to put in the self-work. If Nike’s slogan is “Just do it,” mine would be “Just be it.” Kinda lame, but that’s how I look at things. Glad I was able to get your mind pondering.


  4. That’s a very specific forum you mentioned, I’m amazed haha.

    I used to have rather weak grip due to my bad habit of clicking my fingers (yes, it does weaken your grip). I’ve been doing pull-ups, lat-pulldowns, and especially deadlifts for over a year now. It’s insane. Grip strength has improved a lot, my hands are always rough as hell, but I’m a man right *grunt grunt*

    Awesome post!

    • Thanks Sam. As I said, hands tell the tale. And well worn hands tell of strength, hard work, and reliability.

      And Deads are by far one of the best grip builders. Heavy pullers ALWAYS have incredibly strong hands. It goes with the territory.


  5. I’ve got a captains of crush gripper. I like the “get stronger” theory for weightlifting. Makes sense.

    Excellent lesson, by the way. I’m taking the same sort of “core building” approach by focusing on discipline and habits.

    • Which one do you have? Even their damn trainer is ridiculously hard to close. I couldn’t do it the first time I tried. I love those things, but I can’t use them anymore — they, along with all my other over zealous grip training, gave me some pretty serious tendinitis in in my elbows and wrists. Another lesson learned . . . train smarter.

      You really can’t beat discipline and habits for self-improvement and setting things in motion. They’re the deadly duo of personal development.


  6. Funny where and how we get wisdom a? What is not funny is that many pass such moments by without realizing that what they just heard was so important. I am glad you were wise enough to embrace the thought and build on it. With such strong hands you have now I am not sure I would like to have a handshake 🙂

    • Ha! Thanks Ani. I’d be gentle, I promise.

      There’s definitely wisdom to be found almost everyday in almost any little thing we experience. Sometimes it’s small and sometimes it can be profound, but life is always teaching us. And if we can get out of our own heads for just a minute and listen to what others are saying instead of just thinking about our own reply, we might be able to capture a little bit of the wisdom they provide. We all have it. We all share it.

      But we don’t always receive it too well.


  7. It seems so simple. But then again, the most simple things can be really profound.

    I agree with what you’re saying. When you do things routinely, you get good at them. Eventually you can do things you initially found difficult without even having to think about how to do it.

    That’s how I became stronger. I didn’t go to a forum on hand strength (honestly, I didn’t know there was one out there). I did read forums on bodybuilding…a lot. I just incorporated everything I read as much into my daily life as I could. That meant diet, exercises, habits, anything really. And I got really great results.

    • Exactly Steve. You started living like a bodybuilder. And so you became one . . . with all that goes along with it. The longer you live the lifestyle, the more of a bodybuilder you become. Eventually, everyone will notice. It’s who you are.

      If you want the perks of a certain lifestyle, you have to become the kind of person that earns those perks. You gotta pay your dues.


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