A 101-year-old changed my plan for today’s newsletter.
I was planning to write about something else until a week ago when I came upon the curious case of retired Navy commander V. Sriramulu.
At 101, Commander Sriramulu walks and runs 18 kilometers. He has won many world athletic championships and is now preparing for the World Masters Athletic Championship (WMAC) in Sweden in 2024.
What can explain this unbelievable fitness at this age, and one day, how can we have fitness like him? One might be tempted to chalk it up to his navy training and fitness. But are all Navy retirees this healthy in their 70s or 80s? Hardly so.
Alternatively, one could attribute it to biology and genetics, which surely play a role. But is biology destiny? What about Maradona, once one of the fittest players on the planet? Just a few years after his retirement he was obese, addicted, and sickly.
Here is the core idea I want to share today: Fitness is not a one-time thing. Nor is high performance or any kind of exceptional ability.
The human mind and body require daily maintenance. This is the key – daily maintenance. You can’t put in a one-time effort and reap dividends for the rest of your life.
No matter how fit, strong, or fast you are – if you stop running, playing, or working out, all it takes is 3-5 years to become flabby and unhealthy. And God forbid, if you start eating unhealthy, drinking, and abusing your body, the decline will be exponential.
Sharing my own personal experience – when I graduated from the National Police Academy in 1998, I was so fit that I could have run virtually indefinitely. But just 5 years of ignoring my health and working day and night landed me in the hospital with back problems and chronic ill health.
In fact, I want to extend this idea from fitness to any area of life, be it your career, artistic abilities, or cognitive capabilities. Whatever abilities you invest in time every day, will flourish. Others will atrophy.
Daily maintenance is the secret to exceptional ability.
In the case of Commander Sriramulu, he does regular strength training and 18 km walks. He eats healthy, sleeps at 7:30 pm, and starts his fitness routine at 3:15 am.
It is not what he did 50 years back in the Navy or the preparation he did for the world championship last year that matters – it is what he will do today. He doesn’t sit on yesterday’s laurels – every morning, he gets up and starts again.
So if you want to build an incredible life, which area of your life can you start investing daily? Where is daily maintenance missing?
So pick one area of your life you want to be exceptional at, and instead of doing something spectacular on one given day, nurture your capabilities day after day – do the daily maintenance.
And one day, you will be exceptional.
PS: One area I have picked is storytelling. Over the next few years, I want to invest time regularly to hone that skill – that will be my daily maintenance.
Picture below: Commander Sriramulu putting us all to shame 🙂