I was in the midst of a 6 mile run last summer when I heard an impressive interview on The Fat Burning Man Podcast featuring Nicolas Cole and his story of being a 90-pound, competitive gamer in his teens to a ripped, competitive body builder in his early 20's.
About a year later, I heard Cole interviewed again on the same podcast, and then, I discovered Quora, (a new obsession of mine) where Nicolas Cole's voice was heard through his written articles of advice on all sorts of topics-- from how his discipline as a gamer influenced his discipline in body building, to how to have better habits, to how not to talk to a girl.
Since he kept turning up it everywhere I looked, I decided to reach out to him and interview him. I soon realized there was much more to his story than just being really skinny and then getting super buff.
First of all, Cole fractured his spine playing hockey when he was young, which is why he started gaming. And then, he started having symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis where if he said, "if you don't keep your muscles active, they start to cramp in on themselves and it can be extremely painful." His father, who had the same condition suggested he really needed to "spend some time in the gym" in order to offset his symptoms. Finally, he found out he had Celiac Disease at 18 years old.
What's key here is the decision Cole made in the face of all the obstacles and the action that he took.
In this so-called game of life Cole was handed some pretty hefty challenges, but instead of being down and out about it, he chose to reframe the way he looked at his situation. Instead of moping about not being able to eat the All-American-Diet (as he put it, 'flour, flour, bread, bread') like a normal 18 year old, or instead of succumbing to a really painful condition, he used them to his advantage. He noticed his new diet of brown rice, chicken and vegetables was the same diet that body builders actually chose to eat to gain their physique, so that's exactly what he did.
Talk about turning a weakness into a strength.
It's not like he was 90 pounds and then bam, suddenly a competitive body builder. He said, "The hardest part's the habit. Thousands of very, very small moments - I didn't even look like I trained for 5 or 6 years. I was skin and bones."
When I asked him what his deeper motivation was to keep going he said, "I do a lot of creative stuff as well, so I'm very in my head. When I train, I treat it much like a meditation. Every time I go to hit my set, for those 30 seconds it's total silence. For me, that's a practice."
Speaking of a practice, he is not only disciplined in the gym but meditates regularly, his work has been published on TIME, Forbes and the Huffington Post (among many other publications) and he has also become a one-on-one coach for those who seek him out as a mentor.
When I asked him about his successes and how he started mentoring he said, "I just starting writing and sharing what I knew, and then things started to come back to me. I've had so many people reach out to me asking, 'Can I work with you?', so I started one-on-one coaching. I have mentors myself-- either people who I work with very closely or who I see once a week. That's how I'm learning, so if I can pass that along to someone else, I see a lot of value in that."
To top it all off, he's also a musician. He's got what he calls a "Dual Project" in the pipeline, "a music album and a book. We're shooting a short film as well, so you can watch it, listen to it and read it-- it's all different dimensions to the same story."
So, there is a lesson to be learned here from this skinny gamer turned body builder turned writer/entrepreneur/musician: Reframe your game and level up.