"How to Eliminate Failure" w/ Jonathan Angelili

Recently, STOKED had the chance to sit down with Jonathan Angelili. An amazing athlete, father, full-time ninja, action sports enthusiast, and STOKED mentor, he definitely had many insightful words of advice to bring to the table. Here's what he had to say:  

Q: Who is Jonathan Angelili?

A: I am a personal trainer, father, a lover, a brother, a fighter, and a warrior. I’m someone who dedicated his life to helping other people through fitness, movement, health, empowerment, and a connection to nature.


Q: What goes into being a Ninja? Can anybody be a Ninja?

A: My understanding of it is that anyone can be a ninja. It’s not about flips, tricks, and the ability to kick ass — it’s mores about perseverance. The forefront of Ninja is indicative of skill: you can be a Ninja of anything. A big part of it is about being skillful — balancing power and grace. Also, a ninja is able to apply that skill to life: mastered through training and perseverance. Anybody who wants a better life and constantly refines himself to do better in life, particularly through movement — is a ninja.


Q: What was your biggest challenge, attempting to be on American Ninja Warrior?

A: I didn't take my first audition seriously, and the second time i failed.



Q: In your blog post Putting Failure to Work, you talk about “The Alchemy of Failure.” There’s a point in which you reference your spiritual teacher, who said that “life is like an expert archer who carries around a bucket of paint.” Can you elaborate on that a little further and how it resonates with you?

A: Thats a very important teaching for me — the fact that life is abundance. We have such an amazing ability to focus on what’s wrong without recognizing the good. What I think a lot of people focus on is the pursuit of perfection. But perfect doesn’t exist: you just have to be the best you you can be. If you miss your mark, you have to make the most of it. Sometimes I look at the bad like “what if I’m meant to do these things.” It’s about making the most of your failure.



Q: To this day, what can you say is your biggest accomplishment?

A: My daughter — having the courage to have her, and she’s the best decision I’ve ever made, the best teacher i’ve ever had…she’s the best.


Q: Describe a point where you felt at your lowest, and how you overcame it. 

A: When I was high school, I was involved with many struggles and bad decisions. I used to do drugs, and I used to scare myself and my family. My other low was when I suffered a neck injury snowboarding. These lows became the catalyst for me to elevate myself. I was able to become more in tune with nature and fitness through these drawbacks. These points became the mark of my first stage of healing, and consequently I was able to use my downfalls as a drive to help others. Previously we spoke about Alchemy, which has the ability to turn poison into antidote. This is essentially the same principle.



Q: When you get on American Ninja Warrior, what will you do differently? After everything is said and done, how will you know that you have been successful?

A: What I’ll do is I will enjoy it completely. I will enjoy every moment of it. Sometimes I try too hard, and often times when I try too hard it slows me down. Whether I’ll win or lose, I’ll enjoy my experience so much so that I’ll learn from it. If I learned a lot and enjoyed it I will be successful.




Q: If you could leave a piece of advice for an aspiring professional in any field -- what would it be?

A: First, follow your passion, then bring whatever innate skills you have to that passion, and integrate it. Finally, ask yourself: how does this unique combination of skill and passion benefit the world? Not everybody is willing to ask themselves that question. You should also understand that nothing is ever set in stone: not even your passion. But as you follow your passion they will lead you where you need to go in life.


If you would like to follow Jonathan on his journey, or if you would like to be a Ninja yourself, you can visit his website here.