The 5 Ws & the H

Who What Why When Where & How

Inspire is a Verb – Michael Anderson

As a storyteller, I draw strength and learning from the world around me so I can share it with you. Longtime Ninja Michael J. Anderson speaks here to the duty of doing:

Michael goes the distance to train with the best, so he can be better. Here he is, going the distance in the parking lot of CrossFit South Metro.

“So I make it into the gym today for my session with Robert McKeeman only to discover that I am not the only special snowflake in the place. As I prepare myself to do some featherweight box squats, I look over into the corner where the real lifting happens, and I see Eric under a bar full of heaviness. To my horror, I look down and see that he is an amputee. There he is doing beautiful, heavy squats oblivious to the fact that he has just destroyed my next excuse.

I have been special. I got the E for Effort just for showing up. I made progress and got the “Attaboy!” just for walking into the place. I made the appropriate faces to indicate that I am trying and that it hurts. I even grunt like the big boys sometimes so it sounds like I am trying.

Then Eric screws it all up for me. See, he actually DOES it. He shows up and lifts heavy stuff. Like, man-heavy stuff. He does it like everyone else does it because he put in the effort.

Here’s the kicker. He walks over and gives me a tip that changes the way I isolate my core while squatting. It helps. He gives me a tip that he earned the hard way when he was learning how to squat with a prosthetic leg and carbon fiber foot. That nuance is really hard for the able-bodied to figure out. Rob and Aaron ‘Nichol’ Jannetti soak up that information and continue to coach me for the rest of the session.

So here is my takeaway. If you have a disability, weakness, defect of character, or any other excuse – you have a duty to overcome it. You have a duty to fix yourself so that you are able to help someone else to overcome that same issue. If you are a drunk, you have a duty to sober up and help a drunk get clean. If you are morbidly obese, you have a duty to get healthy and help someone get fit. If you are a failure, you have a duty to succeed and help someone else to be successful. And yes, if you are missing body parts, figure it out and help the next person to adapt and overcome.

Not everyone wants to be free of their excuses. There is a lot of comfort and safety in lowered expectations. Pity feels pretty good once you relinquish your dignity. Some folks are quite content sitting around talking about their feelings. If you lack self respect, do something respectable. If you need self esteem, do something estimable. I promise you that if you stop worrying about how you feel long enough to DO something, there will be someone waiting for you to show them how you did it.

I don’t have all of the answers. I have a few. I know how to sober up. I know how to lose 60 pounds – now I have to figure out the next 25. I am learning how to squat like a big boy. I have a duty to teach those who want to overcome the things I have. Eric took a couple of my excuses away today. He performed his duty. Thanks, brother! And thanks to my friends at Endeavor. I love this gym!”

by Michael J. Anderson, teacher, trainer, coach, dad, and amputee.


  • Teja on Dec 03, 2015

    When I am having a bad day, I come here and read this. I have done this dozens of times. Thank you both for sharing this story <3