Sandow, Caesar, and Success

Success is an interesting metric. A bit like love, it is difficult to define as the meaning is subjectively derived. In a digital age, we are subjected to montages of monumental purchases, of disproportionate monetary value.

Leaving humans — that are currently chasing down their demons and dreams — left to feel less than enough. The luxuries of life are just that — luxuries. They are to be appreciated from afar — unless you fit the ticket. A bourgeois brownie badge of esteem entitled to an empire.

Julius Caesar is one of the most infamous rulers in history. An authoritarian — once proclaimed “dictator for life,” — known for his extravagance. Bronze cast statues, elaborate palaces, and parties with hefty price tags, left him relatively unpopular with taxpayers of Rome.

Though he successfully made citizenship available to those on the outskirts of the empire, and made an effort for social/political reform, he was a populist whose policies irked the upper class and elites  

In theory he had it all.  Money, fame, blindly adoring subjects, beautiful women, and an empire. As a result of Caesar’s outrageous spending, and political leanings, his empire eventually crumbled.

On the Ides of March, a group of rebellious insiders — led by his confidant, Brutus — stabbed Caesar to death on the steps of his palace and left him for dead. Perhaps not surprisingly, Brutus fled Rome, but was later apprehended.

Shakespeare, historians and authors have immortalized Caesar’s saga; to this day, he remains on of the most well known — albeit controversial — rulers in Roman history.

Moving forward to the turn of the twentieth century we get another self-made man, Eugen Sandow. At 5’8” and never weighing more than 175 lbs, he was not massive, but his impact was.

A German immigrant, he built an empire of his own as the father of modern day bodybuilding, and the original modern-day strong man.

He toured around the world, appearing Vaudeville shows where he performed his awe inspiring feats of strength. His acts included overhead pressing ponies, and holding strong as “Hercules bridge.”  He also utilized his charisma and revolutionary physique, which had audiences on their feet.

The Sandow name, derived from his mother’s German maiden name “Sandov,” became a brand of its own. One that was heavily sought after, and rarely sold.

Sandow held steadfast to his belief in the power of physical fitness, health, wellness, and the betterment of an individual human. As his muscles marveled the maidens in the crowd, he reminded himself — and viewers — that they too could achieve their own level of perfection.

Sandow introduced the original workout guides, mainstream fitness accessories, and the concept of pursuing an entrepreneurial empire in the world of health and fitness. Sandow was asked to cast his impeccable physique in bronze — similar to Caesar — which can still be seen in Brussels.

He was wildly successful and admired unwaveringly by those he inspired.

A bad investment, and a worse marriage, coupled with the war and bankruptcy, Sandow lost nearly everything. Legend has it that he died lifting a car. Though it wasn’t actually the lift that did it — it was an aneurysm — he would have preferred a more grandiose grand finale.  

His wife, left bitter and broke, buried Sandow in an unmarked grave. Shortly thereafter, Sandow was essentially scrapped from conscious existence. His empire, crushed under the weight of expectation, and demand. 80 years later, his grandson erected a immovable structure that resembles the superhuman — one of a kind — strength, that Sandow possessed.

Sandow is now immortalized in a miniature bronze sculpture, better known as The Sandow Trophy at Mr. Olympia, as a tribute to his irreplaceable impact on the fitness industry.

Both Sandow and Caesar ruled empires of their own in ways that could not be more different.

 With two such successful empire builders, we are left with the question: what is success? Is it the size of the empire, longevity, or material wealth? Is success having the ability to inspire, lead, or make an impact? When have you achieved it?

By dedicating yourself to your truth, relentlessness, and passion, success is yours to experience many times over. It is not about tyrannical tactics or monuments, it is about a lasting impact. That does not come with an account balance, or Aston Martin. Success is rooting down into your passion with ruthless resilience, action, and love.

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