Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Elliott Hulse: The Meaning of Strength

If you've never heard of Elliott Hulse, it's time to listen up. It was about four years ago when I first found Elliott Hulse's YouTube channel, strengthcamp. Like most of his fans, I started watching for the exercise/nutrition/supplementation info. He had some cool stuff going on, and that's exactly what I was really into at the time. That's what drew me in. But what really hooked me was something much deeper. It was his life philosophy, which was much the same as mine, although I'd never heard it put so succinctly: Become the strongest version of yourself. It became clear very early on that Elliott was far more than just your average strength and conditioning coach... he's a philosopher, a truth-seeker, a father and husband, and a master in conveying his ideas through words.

Elliott's videos have had a profound impact on my thoughts and my experiences. I'd like to just talk about a few of my favorites and why they've meant so much to me. Hopefully, through sharing how they've affected me, I can pass this information on to others and broaden their horizons as well.

This may be the one that resonated with me the most. (My friend Sarah featured it on her blog recently.) It didn't have the greatest impact on me because I already understood the concepts, but I feel it could have the greatest impact with you. It did confirm what I was feeling though, and the way Elliott puts it all to words is just perfect. I had just come back from an overnight trip to the peak of Killington, a mountain in Vermont. I went alone and experienced the power of silence for myself. There's no feeling like being absolutely alone on the top of a 4000-foot mountain at sunset... no one to take care of you, no one to save you from falling off the edge... no one for miles. Only you. 

Elliott says it best in this video: "When you no longer have everyone speaking into you, you have no choice but to speak to yourself. And you might find some crazy shit down there." When you go within, you're forced to deal with the cobwebs. "If you don't go within, then you will go without. You will go without joy, you will go without peace, you will go without pleasure. Because all those things are found when we deal with what's inside." In a society like our modern one with cell phones, computers, TVs, people everywhere... we don't often get an opportunity for silence unless we actively seek it. But without it, there is no real peace.

Elliott discusses the difference between niceness and kindness. Being nice is "something we do, regardless of who we're being". Kindness, however, is who we are. Kindness is who we are to the core. We can be nice regardless of who we are. This is something we tell our kids to do when they act out in public... we say "be nice", and they put on a good show to appease us. But in reality, the core of their being is not in that "niceness"; it lies in running amok like every kid wants to. 

The reason we're nice is to appease the norms of society. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said (and I first heard this quote from Elliott, no surprise), "Every action is measured by the depth of the sentiment from which it proceeds." Being nice isn't necessarily rooted in a sentiment of kindness, in fact it often isn't. Niceness has a time and place, but striving to be kind is a much more worthy endeavor.

Don't let the title confuse you; the issues in this video go far beyond just getting a girlfriend back. In this video, Elliott talks about the penis and the vagina as metaphors for how we behave as men or women. "Women are like vaginas in their behavior, and men are like penises in their behavior." A woman brings in, while a man goes out. Women are stimulated by their environment... the area around them that they can bring in... which is why they are more likely to decorate. Men don't decorate, because we don't value our immediate environment. Just as a penis, in sexual terms, reaches out toward the woman, men reach out in life. Men don't require a stimulating living environment because our nature is to go out and insert ourselves into an environment. 

Most interesting to me in all this is how this manifests itself in attraction between men and women. As a man, according to this theory, I should be attracted to a woman who brings in... in other words, I'm attracted to a woman who can soften and let me in physically and emotionally, who takes care of her environment, who cares for herself and those around her. And it turns out, this is exactly what I'm attracted to. I can't even tell you how accurate this idea applies to my life and what I see in other people's lives. And of course, having a serious conversation in which you make the statement, "She's a little penis", always lightens the mood.

I can't tell for sure if Elliott's channel has shaped my growth, or if I've kept watching because my it so closely parallels my inner evolution. Either way, the information he's putting out is incredible stuff. As Elliott would say, "these are just ideas". But as I would say... what else is there??


  1. Thanks for sharing. Elliott has been a great inspiration and serves as a voice for many, regardless of which walk of life they may be upon.
    I was searching for some of his quotes and found this page. Ideas are what make the world. And creativity seems to be the essence of everything. So if you're not creating and bettering yourself then you are lazy and content with letting the world live for you.
    Maybe not so black and white but along those lines!
    Thanks again,


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