***In these book reviews I will review books by Stoic authors or books that I have read containing powerful lessons on resilience, and the Stoic virtues. I try to write these spoiler free. If you like these reviews please consider supporting the authors and buy their books!
Mark Bell is another powerlifter who embodies many of the Stoic virtues. As a powerlifter I have learnt a lot from his team Kabuki Strength and all the free content they put out on Youtube on technique and biomechanics.
After listening to the interview and learning about Chris’ book I set out to buy it – I had to import it from Amazon as no one here sells it, but it was worth every penny.
This book is an incredible tale – at times heartbreaking – overcoming immense odds, from basically being homeless to graduating as an engineer, to being a successful businessman and powerlifter. He is an inventor, and multiple time world record holder powerlifter.
Chris Duffin embodies the four Stoic virtues of Wisdom, Courage, Justice, Temperance, through his choices and the actions of his behaviour. Throughout the book, though it’s not broken down by these themes, you are talked through different trials and tribulations throughout various points of the author’s life. Sharing lessons learnt and takeaways for the reader. Many of these events fall squarely within the categories of the Stoic virtues.
What I personally loved about this book was that Chris wrote it in a way where you are invited to reflect on similar topics or themes from your own life, and are guided toward acceptance of them and to align your life with your values. It’s not a one way engagement. These are done in the form of questions posed to the reader and writing prompts. I also enjoyed the photographs in the book of him and his family growing up; it was a nice personal touch.
Like all of us, Chris Duffin is not perfect and he shares his shortcomings with us – that we may learn from them.
Contrary to the popular misunderstanding of Stoicism as void of emotion (see What’s the difference between stoicism and Stoicism?), Chris Duffin is an excellent embodiment of a strong individual – physically and mentally – yet emotionally aware. He is not afraid to talk of his mental health struggles and shares his emotions throughout.
I found this a refreshing read from someone in the strength world / fitness industry, someone who is self aware and not all presenting a fake persona of bravado and invulnerability. He comes across as very genuine and relatable.
Chris Duffin is an incredible individual who multiple times challenged what was thought to be physically impossible and succeeded in many domains – and invites you to challenge your own assumptions and expectations about yourself on your own path to growth and fulfillment, and to tap into your own latent potential. There are many valuable lessons and reminders of our virtues which we can apply in our own lives.
I got more value out of this book that I initially thought I would. I would definitely recommend it.
Here are few of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Understand that some people are part of your history, but not your legacy. Letting go is okay.”
“I am convinced that many people spend 80 percent of their time doing meaningless things that add little real value to their lives. Blissfully unaware, life lives them. Discipline starts when you stop wasting your life doing stupid things. Make an honest, detailed inventory of your days over the course of a week. Is how you spend your time reflective of your values and your vision? Cut out the waste, and you’ll be amazed at how much time you have to act on your vision. It’s not easy and it takes a lot of discipline. I don’t get to follow every whim or do everything I want to. The pay-off, however, is that I go to sleep every night with full confidence that I am fully alive and doing the work required to go where I want to go. Don’t half-ass everything, whole-ass what really matters.”
― Chris Duffin, The Eagle and the Dragon: A Story of Strength and Reinvention
Here are some of his strength feats;
“The only other people pulling 1,000-plus pound deadlifts at the time were 140 pounds heavier than me. Same thing with the squat.”
- In the 220lb weight class squatting 881lb – at one point being the heaviest person in history to squat 4X his own bodyweight
- Set a Guinness World record by squatting 1000lb
- The lightest person to deadleadlift over 1000lb
- The only person to squat and deadlift 1000lb for a multiple reps
- Squatting 800lb for 30 consecutive days.
And my favorite;
Guinness World record Squat in one minute with 505lbs for 22 reps
You can read some of his strength and coaching articles on EliteFTS.
Chris Duffin’s personal site