Several months ago I took my daughter to a motivational seminar who featured, among several other celebrity speakers, Lou Ferrigno. While I’d never seen him speak in person before, I had seen several interviews with him and read numerous articles. I knew he was a pretty energetic guy who really believed in the message of self improvement. What really caught me off guard was how passionately and openly he spoke about his own challenges growing up and how he appreciated how they made him the person he is.

Lou’s speech was full of story after story of his challenges and victories and about half way through I noticed a reoccurring theme to his life. I made a few notes and spent some time later that evening thinking about what he said. Here’s my list of 3.5 things that I’ve learned from the Hulk.

1. You can change who you are – he turned himself into the Hulk.

Lou lost an estimated 75% of his hearing after an ear infection as a young child. As a result he suffered from severe shyness and low self esteem because of his unhealthy skinny physique and difficulty making friends. He began fantasizing about bodybuilding while reading comic books and admiring the superheroes. At age 12 he picked up hid first barbell and as the cliche goes, the rest is history. It was Lou’s vision for what he wanted to look like that sparked the transformation. He literally rebuilt his physical body to look and act the way he wanted by sheer determination. One of the most impressive aspects of the transformation was that he turned himself into the Hulk, a massive character of pure strength and he didn’t need anything other than green paint and a wig. What CGI recreates now on the screen, he was able to come close to with his mindset.

2. Never, never, never give up – he overcame challenges that would have held back others.

Lou didn’t grow up in a family with much money, so while the challenge of being unable to hear well, a small physique and not much confidence he had to work through the challenge of exercising and bodybuilding without the help of a gym or even a weight set. Lou set his mind to overcome one challenge at a time, starting with his body. He began with chin-ups because he could do them for free, then he moved onto making his own weight set by filling buckets with cement and broom handles. He continued to read magazines about bodybuilding and eventually he began putting on bulk. By the time he was around 16 he was regularly working out with neighbourhood friends, his confidence in himself helped overcome introverted personality and shyness about his hearing issues.

3. Love what you do – at age 65 he is still passionate about his life and work and is in far better shape then most people 1/3 his age.

Lou didn’t sit down at his desk and write a 20-year plan that involved generating significant revenue from bodybuilding and films. While putting goals on paper is vital at some point, Lou took the passion he felt from flipping through comics looking at confident, strong and respected heroes and turned it on himself. With a single-minded determination, he built his life around what he loved and what made him happy. What he does isn’t a job to him, it’s a way of living that conveniently pays him well. It wasn’t the projected dollar revenue or celebrity status that pushed him to where he is, it’s pursuing his love that led him to where he is.

3.5. Jump high and get what you want – the Hulk character is well known for his leaping almost as a form of flying. Once Lou began to get traction with his bodybuilding he quickly set high goals for himself to be the strongest man in the world. While he didn’t win the World’s Strongest Man competition, he did consistently perform by winning several Mr. America and Mr. Universe titles over a career that began in 1969. It was by setting his aim so high that he was able to maintain the height he did for so long. Special thank you to Devon for pointing out this great lesson that I almost missed.

Has Lou Ferrigno or the Hulk character influenced you or your life at all? Share your experiences in the comments below.