“What am I doing with my life? Am I just going to some humdrum job that I don’t really want to be at, doing some minuscule task, getting paid to be a mindless drone? Or am I out there living life, on my terms, the way I want to live it, doing the things that I want to do?”
As modern-day philosophers go, you wouldn’t expect Kai Greene to fit the bill. He’s a professional bodybuilder who has won such prestigious titles as the 2009 and the 2010 Arnold Classic, and took 2nd place in the 2012 Mr. Olympia. He walks around with a hulking 300-pound frame of solid muscle, which is usually covered up by a red hoody. But beyond his physical prowess, Kai has an equally impressive attribute —his mind.
Kai looked at bodybuilding as a way to sculpt both his mind and his body. It began back in the 7th grade when Kai was introduced to competitive sports. His discipline and competitive drive facilitated his naturally growing physique. It wasn’t long before he had the desire to measure himself to others in competition. And so the self-fulfilling process began.
Bodybuilding was a tool that modified his behaviour toward achieving excellence. In 1999, Kai won the Team Universe competition, but was still disappointed with himself. He took a five-year break from competition and then returned to the sport to enter the 2004 Team Universe contest. Despite his hiatus, Kai came back to win that competition — a victory that rejuvenated his professional bodybuilding career.
Upon winning the Arnold Classic (his first major title) Arnold Schwarzenegger asked him what it feels like to win, and Kai replied,
“It feels amazing, and I encourage anyone out there who ever had an idea, a thought about something that they’d like to accomplish, but they know that it would demand the best of their efforts, the most of their concentration, and everything they had inside of them in order to get there and make it happen, I encourage you to do it. And when you do, you’ll know exactly how I feel right now.”
It was statements like this that elevated Kai’s stature to a new level.
Despite his success, he still remains humble and motivated. Kai doesn’t allow himself to be blinded by the spotlight and the accolades. He stays true to his roots and remembers the thousands upon thousands of hours of repetition that got him there.
“…basic fundamentals being applied over and over and over and over again: getting up at certain time, doing certain things, cooking your meals, going to do your cardio, walking through the disciplines, keeping the checklist, and staying on top of them. Those are things that when you string them together you start to create a day of efficient action. The more likely you are to string those days of efficient action together, the more likely it will be that you can set up your own success.”
One such example of Kai’s humility is that he is an expert at posing, but still goes to a two-hour posing class every week. Kai’s poses are legendary too. Just watch his routine to Michael Jackson’s ‘Dirty Diana’ from a 2007 competition, which now has over 1.4 million views on YouTube.
In many of his videos, Kai delivers valuable words of wisdom in a smooth and deliberate way of speaking that is uncharacteristic of professional athletes today. His wisdom can be applied to any endeavour in life, not just body building or athletics.