Please Note: While this article refers to the comeback of a professional bodybuilder (Kevin Levrone) it’s actually about redefining personal limits and in effect doing the impossible – read on if you are interested in becoming a better version of yourself!
Kevin Levrone 2016 Mr Olympia Comeback
At age 52 Kevin Levrone (retired professional bodybuilder), after a 13 year hiatus, made an extraordinary comeback to professional bodybuilding, returning to the Mr Olympia bodybuilding competition in September 2016. Whether you like or hate bodybuilding, the Mr Olympia competition is the toughest bodybuilding competition on the planet. Yes these guys take steroids, but then again they all take steroids, so it’s an even playing field. But drugs are not enough to win or even to place high. This is a competition about perfect bodybuilding aesthetics; it’s about being huge but also symmetrical, with each muscle flowing smoothly into the next muscle and about being lean, extremely lean. It’s a hard thing to achieve at the best of times and although there have been competitors, in the past, who were over 50 years of age, when they competed, they did not compete after a long break. When Kevin Levrone announced his comeback, people laughed, because he was so small and the competition was only 5 months away; how could he possibly put on 50lbs of quality muscle in a little less than six months? Even on steroids surely it was impossible.
Yet Kevin Levrone did manage to do exactly that, he gained 50lbs of muscle in six months, while losing body fat, take a look at the photo below:
Kevin Levrone Pre Mr Olympia Return Pic – Taken around 2010
Kevin Levrone in his prime and in September 2016 aged 52, after 5 months of serious training, including dealing with various injuries, still managing to gain around 50lbs of muscle in 5 months and still determined to continue with his return even though he did not place well in the competition!
Here is a video about the Kevin Levrone’s inspirational return to the Mr Olympia competition in 2016
Now before we wrap it all up and say bravo, another wonderful story of human achievement, the story goes a little deeper than that. While Kevin Levrone astounded everybody with his chiselled physique, he did not place well in the competition. While his upper body was huge, his legs lacked size. Many people where disappointed, after all a lot of hype had been generated and many people thought that Kevin Levrone would decimate the competition, but instead, even though he had gained 50lbs of muscle, he came last!
A few days after the Mr Olympia competition, the following video was posted showing Kevin Levrone’s struggles with a chest and leg injury, which explained why he lacked leg size. The interesting thing if you watch this video, and I recommend that you do watch it, is just how motivating Mr Levrone is. If you ever watch him, it is obvious that he is a very motivational character!
This is why I wrote this article, because it’s not about bodybuilding, rather it’s about doing the impossible and redefining personal limits. Most people laughed at Kevin Levrone, when he announced his comeback, at 52 years of age, after a 13 year layoff and with only 5 months of training time to the big day!
He ignored everybody else’s objections, about what is possible, and turned up on the day, looking big but with some issues resulting in him coming last. Again the negativity started up as many people made fun of him, yet this did not deter him, with his announcement several days later, that he intended to continue and compete once more next year!
Now I don’t know if Kevin Levrone will compete next year, or even if he does that he will place well. There are many considerations, as he has to get his leg and back size up, just to be as big as the other guys, and also he still has to do a lot of work in order to redefine his physique. Yet against all criticism he is gung ho. Why so? He his gung ho because he believes in himself and that he can redefine his personal limitations.
Redefine Your Personal Limits
The world is full of people who try and tell us that we cannot do this and we cannot do that, yet some people manage to achieve the seemingly impossible. Another amazing example this year was the case of the American swimmer Michael Phelps. Michael Phelps is obviously a household name, while Kevin levrone is only well known in the small niche world of bodybuilding; so there is a good chance that you have heard of his 2 year retirement and his comeback, which resulted in him wining 5 gold medals this year in the 2016 Rio Olympics!
While amazing, at least Michael Phelps only had a 2 year hiatus (he retired in 2012 and came back in 2014) and is still a very young man at the age of 31, but still he came back after a break and apparently after dealing with a substance abuse issue. Now do you think that either Michael Phelps or Kevin levrone or a host of other great athletes, ever thought twice about what was possible or not!
I’m not actually much of a sporting person, although I do like bodybuilding, but one thing which I like about sports, is that it offers us a chance as spectators to see another human being redefining personal limits and more often than not doing the impossible. What makes us human? What is our potential as human beings? This is something which we have to test and quantify on a daily basis.
Redefining Personal Limits in Relationships
Let’s get a little mundane, for a minute:
What defines a relationship? Say between a husband and wife, for instance; if the relationship is good, is there a limit to its goodness? Can a bad relationship become a good one and if so to what degree?
The answers to these questions will always be subjective, but the point is that they are largely defined by the belief systems of the two people in question. If they feel that it is impossible to love each other, to a greater extent, then they will only love to this degree. Yet if they believe that they can get more out of their relationship they will get more out of their relationship.
We tend to limit ourselves, as human beings, to a rather low range of activity and sadly the world in which we live in is set up to cater for mediocrity. Everything in our everyday life points towards maintenance of the normal; sustaining the everyday equilibrium of just about getting by.
We can read some great self-help books and at the end of it be amazed at the people who wrote these books and how inspiring they are. But then how come our life sucks so much? Why are we bored? Why is our relationship with our significant other not so great? Why is the relationship with our children only ok-ish? Why haven’t we spoken with our brothers and sisters for months? How come we’re always a little broke and everything appears to be a struggle?
There is no one single answer to this question, but I do believe that when we see an athlete excelling; but not just excelling because they have the genetic talent and their young, but rather excelling because they have stopped listening to all the naysayers, this is a great source of genuine inspiration!
There are several things missing from most self-help books, and one of them is willingness to do the impossible, to redefine our personal limitations. While many of these books present a good overall concept, they forget to mention to the reader, just how hard it can be to stand up there on your own and just go for it, but this is what is required to make a singular success out of anything!
Regardless what business you are in, or sport or artistic endeavour, there are always lots of talented people out there who are potential competitors. So to beat them you have to stop fitting in. You have to step up and step out and gain your independence. But in our society, whenever your head pops up from the crowd, someone will always be there to give you well intentioned advice and remind you, politely at first, that you would be better of keeping your head down and getting on with things. While they might be well intentioned, however, their idea of you fitting in kills your ability to self-express. If you want to be different, if you want to be a success, you have to stick your head out, now and again.
Redefining the Limits of Societal Evolution
Secondly from the perspective of the evolution of society, as a human race, someone has to be the first at every new thing which comes along. For society to grow and develop, someone has to create something new or do something which hasn’t been done yet…otherwise as a species we stop growing and developing. Now this isn’t necessarily about money, it could be an artistic endeavour or a lifestyle choice, but the point is that for any change to occur in society, some person has to do something different and be willing to take some flack in the process.
As a species, in order to progress we have to have trend setters who go beyond the possible and redefine the limits. The 1969 Apollo space mission to the moon, for example, was deemed impossible and yet it was done. How? Because the mission team believed!
It is this unerring self-belief and willingness to let go of dated perceptions, which paves the way to a better humanity.
For example, back in the 18th and early 19th century it was normal and acceptable to have slavery in many countries. While slavery is still a problem, in some regions, generally speaking it is a dated concept. Another dated concept of course in empire…the world populace no longer likes the idea of great world powers, which are always at each other throats. Also, invading other countries and pilfering their assets and treating the locals like dogs, is now seen as politically unacceptable.
There is no question here that on the level of slavery and colonisation, the world has certainly evolved. Can we evolve beyond war and manipulation of poor countries by wealthy ones?
Well he will have to see, but certainly the seeds of hope are there. The only way that the world can become a great place, is by some people believing in the possibility and then making efforts to ignore the possible, instead a willingness to redefine limits and create new realities!
Redefining Your Personal Limitations – Personal Success
On a personal level, if your life sucks then it is possible to change, but in order to do so there must be a willingness to do the impossible and to redefine one’s self limitations. For example, unless you believe there is a possibility of a happy relationship between you and your partner, the reality can never exist. Without the belief that you can have a good career, once again it is unlikely to come along. Of course some people are lucky with jobs and others not, but generally speaking some self-belief is required.
If you need to make a big change or big changes in your life, then chances are that you will have to redefine what you feel is possible for you and also you will have to work towards doing things which presently appear impossible to you and probably your family and friends as well.
Doing the impossible isn’t about biting of more than you can chew, rather it’s about working towards something which for now may seem impossible, but if you get a little closer each day eventually it becomes a possibility.
For example, let’s say a person is a great singer and wants to become famous, well this may appear impossible. But the possibility can take place once they believe that there is a possibility and over time by working towards this goal, little bit by little bit, will it be possible to make the impossible possible… dreams can be achieved if we keep working towards realistic goals, while having the big seemingly impossible goal just sit over the horizon!
Everything begins with the mind and to achieve greatness, whether it is sport or career or relationships or lifestyle etc. you have to be a little bit blood minded and willing to pave your own path in life!
As long as you toe the line, you will only be another minion, in the great scheme of things. While the popular media likes to depict great successes in life, as if they were either purely accidental or totally inevitable, given the genius of the famous person in question, we must be willing to push ourselves out there. In reality these so call financial, sporting and artistic geniuses, are normal people who have pushed themselves out there and done well for themselves. We have to be willing to do the same, if we want that extra recognition, which goes along with great achievements!
Redefining Personal Limits – Learning from Failure
Another aspect of the Kevin Levrone story, which I like, is his emphasize on learning out of failure, for strictly speaking he failed to make a big dent in the 2016 Mr Olympia contest. Yet he has been undeterred and intends to compete again. This would be silly if he was talentless, but actually plenty of talent is there. I don’t know if Kevin Levrone will have the external success, which he so craves, and ultimately nobody who dares to do the impossible can guarantee anything, as they are pushing the limits. But he is a self-made man and it is his willingness to see, believe and act accordingly, which is determining his future.
Failure is always hanging over our heads, especially if we are taking a big risk and while I don’t condone foolish activity, such as spending your life’s savings on a business venture or walking to the north pole on your own, if you want to achieve something of significance, you have to be willing to take a chance and yes even fail in the process.
In reality the only real failure is giving up (another point highlighted in Kevin Levrone’s video). For no matter how many times we fail, if we pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, then we can progress forward.
Forget the marketing spin of cheesy self-help books promising instant gratification and banks and credit card companies trying to get you to take out loans. You can achieve greatness, but it’s not through a correspondence course or a loan or a manufactured lifestyle, where you drive a certain car and wear a certain watch. If you want a great life, then determine each part of it and work towards improvement. See it, believe it and do it…make the impossible possible and be willing to fall down and pick yourself up in the process, but do not give up on yourself or your dream (as long as it’s a viable dream rather than some hazy day dream!).
Personal Limitations are Almost Unlimited!!!
Finally the boundary of what’s possible is largely imaginary. There are certain physical limitations; such as we have to wear a spacesuit in space and no human is capable of running at 50 mph (well maybe in the future via genetic alterations!). But we can achieve not only financial, sporting and artistic success, but also there are very few limits when it comes to relationships. Actually because relationships are subjective in nature, we have our greatest potential here. For example, Kevin Levrone wants to win the Mr Olympia contest, well there can only be one winner. But let’s say in America there are 50 million husbands and wife’s, well in theory at least each couple can be a resounding success, because we are not competing with other couples for happiness, rather we are competing for our own happiness. My neighbour’s happiness will not hinder mine; rather it can only boost it if anything.
So whatever you dream of can become a reality if you are willing to redefine your limits and at times do the impossible!