There are countless, legendary women and men who have modeled persistence and success throughout history; we're not focusing on them here, because most of them have gotten their shine already. One of the more unlikely models of persistent character and true success comes from the classic Nintendo plumber, Mario.
If you're on the side of the world who hasn't played any of the classic Mario Bros. Games, Mario is a videogame character with a sewage pipe and a dream, and these are some of training tips we can learn from the lovable figurehead of Nintendo:
1. Dream BIG
There are few people who are willing to shoot for as big a goal as Mario did. 1000 lb squat? That's only for legends among humanity, not for average ol' me to reach any time soon. Mario would laugh at this notion. Why? He was a plumber. Mario was a plumber who appeared to live in the sewers that he supposedly fixed. Maybe Mario could take his average plumber salary and go down to the local dive searching for potential mates, but no; Mario had his eye on Peach, the Princess of Mushroom Kingdom. He did shy away because the princess was out of his league, he charged with confidence toward his goals. Whatever it took Mario, he was going to earn the love of Princess Peach.
Please don't skip that operative word, because I use it for a reason: EARN. Mario wasn't an any means necessary kind of guy, trying to wile or defile the princess by forcing himself on her. If this is your strategy, stop; just like a girl who rejects your advances, your goals will elude you if you try to approach them too aggressively. But no matter what, Mario never lost sight of his goals. You must never lose sight of yours, whether losing 15 lbs of fat or adding 15 lbs of muscle. Set your aims high, and slow and steady wins the race, heading evermore toward earning your goals.
2. Persistence, Persistence, Persistence
If I could pick one word to describe Mario, besides plumber, Italian, or Nintendo, it would be persistent. I mean, imagine that you want to bench press 500 lbs. You begin with a 110 lb bench press, and with tearful difficulty and conquered pain, you work your bench press to 450 lbs. Then, with your goals ever so close, you get into a car accident that results in your breaking your arms, or cutting your arm tendons. Not a pretty image at all, but it happens (ask Matti Marzel).
This is psychologically what Mario goes through; he works constantly toward his goal and is finally invited to a party with Princess Peach, and puts on his best and brightest red overalls to arrive at an empty palace. Not only does he not have a party to go to, but the princess has been kidnapped, get this, by a giant fire-breathing turtle.
How do you even respond to something like that? Well, if you're Mario, you don't even waste a single second on your decision; you go save the Princess (you didn't don those overalls for nothing!). Oh, how easy it'd be to collapse in woe over being unable to see the princess after being so close, and then not taking action because he's only a plumber. But Mario only sees his goals, and he is dedicated to them.
You've suffered an injury? I'm honestly sure that's painful. You contracted an illness? The pain for you and your family is undoubtedly near unbearable. If it's chronic, it could just get harder with each passing day. But who and what are you in this for? Seriously ask yourself this question. Mario knew deep down where his dreams pointed, and instead of trying to change his dreams, he wasted no time changing up his action plan so that he could still reach his dreams, albeit after a much longer and more arduous journey.
You have to go to that place deep inside yourself and find reconciliation with your innermost dreams. Then go for them. With serious injuries, illness, or interruption by giant turtle, you will definitely have to switch up your original action plan, but if your dream is true, you shouldn't waste a heartbeat deciding that you will persevere.
Even when you journey to realize that your goals are in a different castle, change up the route and march on. After all, what've you got to lose, other than another day feeling pained and unsatisfied?
3. Life Will Prepare You For Your Passion
As much as I doubt that anyone is really equipped to battle a giant fire-breathing turtle, I couldn't imagine the best choice being Mario. I mean, he's a short, potbellied sewer dweller, so he's out of the question, right? Maybe at the beginning, but Mario's passion made him different. If you have a dream that you wish to pursue earnestly, it's great to be as prepared as you can at the start, but sometimes if you just have the drive and the discipline necessary to do whatever work is ahead of you, you'll learn as you go along. You might eat a mushroom and become giant or throw fireballs as Mario did at different points in his journey, but you'll adapt as he did. Few things make you adapt like necessity, and when you believe deep in your heart that you NEED to achieve your dreams, you'll become more prepared for your passion with every step you take.
This is beyond fitness, this is life and career-wise. You want to become an internationally renowned painter? You might not yet have the credentials, finances, or proper state of mind to receive the success of your future. If Mario had simply left Mushroom Kingdom and fought Bowser, we can guess that he'd get the very short end of that stick.
It's the tedious, arduous journey to Bowser's castle that prepares him for the daunting task of defeating this final boss. When you travel down the struggling path of hundreds and thousands of paintings, thousands of conversations, and exhibits at every opportunity, you'll become much more skilled at what you do, and more equipped to handle the larger difficulties that separate you from your goals.
4. Success Is How You Define It
So after the arduous joruney, traversing the lands, fighting spiked beasts, cannons, and brimstone, Mario finally...gets a cake. That's the game. Congratulations, you saved the princess of an entire kingdom, you get a cake.
Nevertheless, Mario seemed to be positively excited at the idea. You know who's opinion matters here? MARIO'S. While any one of us may look at the scenario expecting to own all of Mushroom Kingdom or getting more than a kiss on the cheek from the princess, Mario is as successful as he could be. He reached his goal, saved the princess, and became a better, stronger man in the process. Did the journey get Mario six pack abs? Hardly, his pot belly was as prominent as ever. Did he rise in job status? No, Mario knows the sewers best and eventually goes right back. But none of this matters to Mario because he reached his main objective.
This is important to realize. Others might have told us their ideas of success, trying to impose those ideas on us. Or we ourselves may have more than one objective. But you've got to prioritize; if nothing else, Mario has his eyes on the prize for 100% of his journey, knowing what his number one goal is. Once he's reached that goal, he can put his best efforts to other goals, if he so chooses. With that one major accomplishment, Mario gets what he wants, even if not what every game player wants for him. If you try to develop your future by trying to go for many goals at once, you'll lose your ground and the foundation of your dreams can begin to collapse. This is different from saying you can't have more than one goal; what you should do is put 100% of your energy into one task at a time, so that each task is done to the best of your ability, even if you can only afford a short amount of your time to focus on the task.
From the tallest castle to the lowest sewer, everyone's got dreams. Take it from this little plumber, and go for them with all you've got.