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Getting Stronger

Are you stronger today than you were a year ago?

A month ago?


It’s not even the end of March, and already 2009 has been a year of significant challenges. It seems that everyone I know is facing a sizable “test” of some sort – physical, emotional, or economic threats. These trials can certainly shake our foundations, ignite our fears, and inflict pain and hardship on our daily lives.

Yet there is a “Gift to the Grind,” if we are willing to allow and recognize it. Individually and together, we are becoming stronger.

Getting Stronger

Increasing your strength – physically, mentally, emotionally, morally, or spiritually – is a predictable process. Sure, the “tests” will be different for all of us, and may arise unexpected (or even unwelcomed). But, we can count on the fact that we will always face struggles, experience set backs, be humbled, recover, and be strengthened as a result.

“Getting stronger” is about growth. Over time and through deliberate effort, we develop the ability to withstand greater demands and handle them with more certainty and ease.

How do you build muscles? It’s a simple, two step process. You must first use the muscle beyond its current capacity. Then, give it some time to recover. Both steps, training and recovery, are essential to growth. In fact, it is a fool proof plan. Once the muscle is pushed beyond its current limits and given the opportunity to recover, it will regain its previous capacity … and then some. It will be better, stronger, and more resilient than it was before the work out.

This phenomenon is called super-compensation. Not only will the muscle compensate for the increased workload, but it will super-compensate, going beyond the previous mark. The reason for this is that your body, in order to protect itself, is anticipating the likelihood of another test. It wants to be ready for that challenge, so it recovers beyond the previous level of capability.

This approach to training works to increase not only your physical strength, but also your mental, emotional, and spiritual capabilities. In order to grow in any of these areas you must deliberately expend a taxing, beyond-the-limit effort. You must be off balance in a direction you choose and exert yourself fully – often to the point of failure. Then, once you have “broken down” your muscle (or your belief of what is possible), you need to experience a “recovery period” to rest, rebuild strength, and allow new patterns of thinking and action to take hold.

Training (fatigue), Recovery,  and Supercompensation –

All three phases are necessary.


Adding resistance

As I look at the snapshot of today’s circumstances, I see a lot of fatigue and considerable pain. Many of our systems are broken – physical systems, environmental systems, economic systems, and cognitive systems (systems of thought). These personal and universal systemic challenges require a new commitment to understand them and transform our approach so that we can handle them successfully.

By consistently taxing our physical or mental powers to the point of failure, we tell the body (or the mind) that there is a requirement for more resources – strength, stamina, or capability. Then, through the required period of recovery, we experience growth beyond our former ability. We will become better, day by day, if we accept the challenges, apply ourselves, and grow.

If you feel as though you have reached a “plateau” in your ability, and that you are not getting stronger, you need to add some resistance. Try something harder. Tackle more difficult challenges – or more complicated concepts. Stretch your thinking. Stretch you body. Stretch your talents to their breaking point.

Then, allow the time to recover and grow.

We’ve become a “quick fix” culture, so I realize the approach I am advocating may be unpopular. Many of us want instant gratification and the postponement of discipline, hardship, and pain. But the approach that has proven most successful (and will ultimately allow us to transcend these circumstances) is one of daily discipline. Ultimately, gratification results from consistent and persistent effort.

Into Action

Make the tough choices. Apply yourself to the challenges by giving all your physical and mental effort. It is only when those resources are exhausted, and you take the time to rest and recover, that you will become stronger, smarter, and more capable. And that’s a true satisfaction that is far superior to the false promise of a quick fix.

What is the thing that you desperately need to do? Do it now. Do it with all your strength. Spend yourself completely, and prepare to be super-compensated.

Wishing you strength,


  • Waldo says:

    Well put Dan. I like the ‘supercompensation’ theory…very applicable to business.

    Rather than pulling back, now is the time for all of us to stretch beyond our limitations!

    Push it up!

  • Gloria Ernest says:

    Hi Dan! I forward your web address to friends and family all the time and this post is definitely going to many!!!! What perfect timing to hear your concept! I sometimes take the easy way out and then get nowhere fast! Your comments let me know that I need to WORK harder in all areas and then step back before going full force again. There are so many things I want to do with my life and I sure won’t get them done if I don’t “step it up” a bit!!! Thank you for your unending inspiration!! I am always thrilled when your name pops up in my email!!!!
    Gloria Ernest

  • Lisa Lewis says:

    Dan… as always… you are inspirational and leave me nodding my head with a smile on my face and saying to myself… “Yeah- I can do that.” Thanks!

  • Don Jones says:

    You are absolutely correct. We are a world of quick fixes and instant gratification. I have fallen into that very mindset. Your newsletter reinforces the efforts that I am now making to add resistance to my daily life. As always, your insight and motivation is on the mark.

  • Bill Barnette says:

    Volume 35 (10-07) only seems like last yesterday.

    Stretching, strectching has been the solution !!

    I am still at Duluth High School, but my future does not look bright with all the cutbacks in employment.If it happens then I will face another challenge…find another job…can not stop learning.

    Enjoying your messages.

    Best regards,


  • Katie says:

    This is coming to me at a very good time. I am about to graduate with my associates degree, and then I am going to take some time off school to persue a semi-carreer in entertainment. i think this time off school is just the “resting period” I need to continue to push myself academically. I appreciate this newsletter, and I am going to try to apply it more often. Thak you so much!

  • M.J.J.Alexis says:

    I am a 71 year old man. I never knew of the theory you say, but by my personal experience I know you are absolutely right. I’ll give you two instances – one physical and the other one mental.

    When I had a problem of pain on my shoulder, my doctor told me to make 20 push-ups by leaning on a wall. It increased my pain in the beginning, but I went on doing it and within about a week I found I was completely relieved from the pain.

    Next. I wanted to help my nephew to file his insurance claim arising out of a road accident when he almost lost his life. The cost was heavy and though my eyesight is poor I took up the task of building a file to be presented to the lawyer. It was quite a difficult task because I wanted a fool proof claim duly supported by all the expense vouchers which had to be neatly pasted individually on plain sheets so that these are not lost when added to the case file.I thought I could never do it completely but as you said I took my own time, resting awhile and continuing the task till I built up a file which was very much appreciated by the lawyer.



    Thanks for taking the time to challenge us to bigger and better things to help ourselves and others. Discipline is in short supply in today’s world and we could all use more of it.

  • Becky Donohue says:

    Howdy Dan and Family!
    At the beginning of the year I “stepped up” my training. I now get up at 4:00am to be at the gym by 5:00am. I have a super trainer and work with 5 other girls. This is not personal training it is a new method called “Team Training”. The results have been outstanding. I like the phenomenon called supercompensation. You are on it! Increased strength– phsically, mentally, emotionally, morally, and especially spiritually!! WOW, it does work.

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