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"The Dude" Thor, Professor Hulk, and the Mind-Body Problem in Avengers: Endgame

· mind body,avengers endgame,mind body problem,peak performance,self esteem

To highlight the role of mind-body performance in adding value and support to others and going after big personal goals, this email contains spoilers. So if you haven't yet seen Avengers: Endgame, and you intend to...well, go do that right now and then open this back up when you return.

For those who have seen it, or those who don't intend to, let's get to it.
There are countless things to acknowledge and point out about this film, but to remain on point I want to call out a very interesting dynamic at play between a couple key characters, a dynamic that could be seen as an allegory for mind-body performance for all of us.
Thor and The Hulk both went through massive transformations in this film. Thor, five years after chopping Thanos's head off had lost all direction and motivation in life, and had turned into a slovenly, beer drinking degenerate fashioned after The Dude in the The Big Labowski. When the team came to recruit him on their mission to reverse the 50% apocalypse created by Thanos's finger snap in Infinity War, Thor couldn't be bothered... unless there was beer on the flight.
Thor, the god of thunder, was reduced to a fat, lazy, indifferent version of his prior self. On the other hand, The Hulk had managed to merge the two personas within him in what has come to be known as Professor Hulk—a creature with The Hulk's brawn and brute strength and Bruce Banner's intellect. He was no longer a psycho rage monster or the nervous, shy scientist, but something in between—a balanced, intelligent, calm and collected, powerful person.
I personally can't get enough of Hulk raging out or Thor lighting up an army with lightning, but I could appreciate the risky curveball thrown with these character shifts. And most importantly, they demonstrated something I tend to blather on about in the mind-body performance domain ad nausea, and that's this: You're only as strong as your weakest link.
There came a point in the film where the infinity stones were collected by the Avengers and placed in a new Infinity Gauntlet, courtesy of Tony Stark. All that was required was a snap of someone's fingers to bring back to life all the lives that were taken five years earlier by Thanos. A snap of someone's fingers strong enough to to do so without instantly dying at first contact with the stones or screwing up the "ask".
Thor volunteered. He was desperate to be of use, to atone for his failure during the Infinity War, the loss of his people, and his overall lack of self esteem. And if one could overlook his current state, he'd be a perfect candidate as one of the most powerful, if not themost powerful, Avenger. But despite his pleadings, the entire team rejected his offer for fear of him screwing the pooch. He was in no condition to take on such a massive responsibility.
Hulk, on the other hand, who would previously have been too weak in his human form, and completely out of control in his beastly form, was now the perfect candidate to snap his fingers and responsibly save the world. He is now the poster-boy for mind-body connection, integration, and peak performance—perfectly tempered, governed by reason, and physically indestructible. And so he snapped his fingers, and all lost souls returned. And though he was injured in doing so, he did survive.
And herein lies the lesson. We don't know whether Thor could have managed the task at hand, but that isn't really the point. He certainly believed he could do it. The point is that Thor was in no condition, mentally or physically, to demonstrate competence, which he reinforced with rambling explanations that went nowhere and a massive beer belly. He didn't instill confidence in his team that he could reliably execute the most important of all tasks...because he couldn't take care of the most basic of them—take care of himself.
The Hulk, calm-tempered with a body built to perform gave complete reassurance and confidence to the team. They believed he could do it. He believed he could do it. And most importantly, he could do it. Personal belief had little to do with it. Preparation did. State of mind-body did.
Belief? Well, belief is cheap. Effective execution of any plan requires preparation.
To add value to those people we care most about, to crush our goals, pursue our dreams or serve a team or larger cause, we must first address the nature of our mind-bodies. It all starts at home. As U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven says, "If you want to change the world, start by making your bed." As we might reframe that for Weightlessness, if you want to be effective in any endeavor, start by optimizing the hardware with which you manage it—your mind and body.

Be weightless!

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