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A Few Thoughts On Becoming The Most Interesting Man In The World

A short essay from S2B Coach Craig Weller on expanding your vocabulary and escaping the average.

Chuck NorrisChuck Norris, interesting man. Photo by JD Hancock

What does a burn feel like?

Here’s something to try: define the word “burn” as if you’re describing the feeling to someone who has never actually felt it.

You’ll probably come up with something like this:

“To be suddenly taken aback with pain.”

“A sudden sharp sting. A stabbing feeling.”

But are those accurate definitions? I don’t know about you, but to me they just as easily describe being stung by a bee or stepping on a Lego.

The point? You can read all the words you want, but your mind will not truly know what “burn” means until your fingers accidentally slip off the hot-pad and onto the dish you just pulled out of the oven.

Before that happens, “burn” is simply a collection of letters used to represent a concept. You won’t fully understand what it means until you’ve experienced it.

The Most INteresting Man In the World

Ever notice some of the phrases people throw out in conversation?

“I’m starving.”

“I’m exhausted.”

“I’ve had a rough week.”

We all do it, of course.

But have you ever met someone who doesn’t talk like that? Someone who seems unshakeable, like nothing that comes up really throws them off balance?

They’re the “World’s Most Interesting Man” types. And they got that way by doing lots of stuff.

You see, human experience exists on a continuum.

The degree to which you’ve experienced something will determine your frame of reference when you’re using that word.

By way of example, let’s say there’s an “experience scale” where everything exists with 1 being the minmum level of experience and 10 being the maximum level of experience.

For a guy who’s been living a fairly uneventful existence in a first-world country, a week of staying up late studying for college finals will be pretty exhausting. Perhaps a 9 out of 10 on his scale.

Now, take someone like the mountaineer Joe Simpson.

Joe fell off a cliff and shattered his leg during a storm near the summit of an Andean mountain. Then he fell another 150 feet into a crevasse where he was left for dead. Despite severe frostbite and hypothermia, he eventually climbed out of the crevasse and crawled for three days down the mountain in agonizing pain.

Joe pretty much maxed out the definition of “exhaustion” and “I’ve had a rough week.”

So on a scale of 1 – 10, how would he rate college finals week?

Joe’s frame of reference is so vastly different from that of the average person that perhaps he knows the truer meaning of the word “exhaustion”.


“I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”

Richard Feynman, Nobel Prize-winning physicist

Consider some of the most intense experiences you’ve had in your life, the moments that make up your highlight reel.

You can try to explain all of these little moments in words if you care to. But just like someone who actually ate the meal instead of stared at the menu, you know what those moments were really like because you lived them.

There’s a great scene in the movie Good Will Hunting that illustrates this difference:

The Bottom Line: Stop Talking. Start Doing. 

All of the misfortunes and struggles you’ve had in your life? This is where they become valuable. They expand your vocabulary and increase the degree of discomfort you’re capable of confidently facing in the future.

What was once a 10 is now a 6 on the scale of difficulty. This is growth. 

None of this is to say that conventional education is unnecessary or without value, of course. There are many things that we can never understand without studying, reading and learning in the traditional sense.

Yet many of the things that bring color, beauty and depth to our lives don’t really fall into that category. Things like love, fear, sadness, joy, struggle, triumph and loss all have to be tasted and fully experienced to be understood.

Until then, you can use the words but you’ll never know what they truly mean.

So what does it feel like to “build an awesome body?” Or “live life to the fullest?” Or “escape average”?

There’s only one way to find out. And the clock is ticking.


15 Responses to A Few Thoughts On Becoming The Most Interesting Man In The World

  1. Raul Felix says:

    Wonderful post. It’s completely true. Experience is the best teacher. I didn’t realize how rewarding the art of writing was until I finally got the discipline to sit down and write. No one can really tell you how it’s like. It’s something you have to experience.

  2. Tony Rodriguez Larkin says:

    Great, inspirational post – thank you!

  3. Craig Weller says:

    Thanks guys. Wanted to add this here, a quote from Nassim Nicholas Taleb in The Black Swan that really applies well to this concept:

    “Have you ever wondered why so many of these straight A students end up going nowhere in life while someone who lagged behind is now getting the shekels, buying the diamonds, and even getting his phone calls returned?… Some of this may have to do with luck in outcomes, but there is a sterile and obscurantist quality that is often associated with classroom knowledge that may get in the way of understanding what’s going on in real life.”

    • I think competition is one thing that drives man to succeed.

      Came from Bill Phillips (author of Body for Life) and his film Body of Work.

      Bill said he built EAS from the ground up. Hard work, dedication and competition. It’s the same way you build a better body.

  4. Tim says:

    Why do I feel like I want to fight someone/thing after reading this?

  5. Sean Duffy says:

    Your post — and some of the comments to it — bring to mind some of the conceptual puzzle-solving about meaning and experience at the heart of some very old and foundational philosophical traditions: phenomenology ( and even philosophy of language ( — see particularly early (pre-analytic) thinkers like Mill. Thanks, Craig — I enjoyed it!

  6. Aaron Legare says:

    Wow, this really got me thinking… A constant sufferer of “analysis paralysis” just got bitch slapped.

    Thank you.

  7. Powerful article, Craig. I’ve been rereading Seneca and a lot of this resonates with his work. Great read.

  8. Robert Lopez says:

    This post reminds me of Bear Grylls. That guy is always doing the most amazing things imaginable. Eating puss filled worms, diving into subzero waters, drinking his own pee, purposely entering tiny claustrophobic air ducts, giving himself an enema just to prove a point.

    That guy can do all of that while maintaining his composure. He’s definitely a guy with superb “experiential vocabulary” in my opinion.

  9. Mike Samuels says:

    Awesome post Craig. I think too often we get caught up in our own world, and think we have things much tougher than we actually do. I’ve found that being positive has lead to massive gains in my personal and professional life. Nobody likes someone who bitches and moans all the time.

  10. Scott Ward says:

    I don’t think we even initially have to go to extremes. Taking seemingly minor actions over time can change your life. This can lead to bigger and better experiences.

  11. Love the post Craig, well said. Agree wholeheartedly