What is your YOLO?

A great perspective on taking risks in life from Martin Rooney, founder of Training for Warriors.

Training For Warriors was developed not only to deliver physical training, but also to impart my personal philosophy in hopes to strengthen my students’ mental fortitude.  Sometimes, however, my students can become the teacher.

While preaching about the Three Most Important Medicines of TFW (Sleep, Nutrition and Exercise) at the beginning of a session, a student called out in protest, “But what about YOLO?”  Since I was unfamiliar with the abbreviation, I was informed YOLO stands for “You Only Live Once.”  When I heard this in the instigating context he used it, instead of getting frustrated, I got fascinated.  I have that challenging statement to thank for the inspiration to write this entry.

I am not sure when or why YOLO became a good excuse to do bad things.  It seems as though this concept only applies to reckless behavior like eating or drink too much, staying out much later than necessary, wasting hard earned money or doing something that is harmful to the body or mind.  Perhaps the brainchild behind this slogan also created “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas” and “No Pain, No Gain.”

YOLO is an interesting concept.  In one case, it is an excuse to do something you know you shouldn’t and in another drive you to become more than you ever dreamed.  How could such a statement have two totally different interpretations?  Perhaps the ancient concept of Yin and Yang can offer a modern explanation.  The Yin and Yang demonstrates opposite and contrary aspects of life are interdependent and interconnected.  If you have seen the symbol, you are familiar with the intermingling colors of black and white.  This is to symbolize the duality of life.  There is good and evil, light and dark, and both are necessary to form the whole.   Just like there can be no shadow if there is no light, I couldn’t not develop my interpretation of YOLO if I could not see the opposite side offered by my student.

YOLO, therefore, can be a negative or a positive “risk” for change.  Why not risk to eat as well as you could and get daily exercise?  Why not improve your skills and become one of the best in your industry?  My challenge for you will be to see which direction the concept drives you.  Are you going to have another drink, or perform a random act of kindness.  Are you going to waste your hard earned money on something you don’t need, or invest your time in someone who desperately needs it?  Will you sit on the couch or study the famous landmarks of the world?