Process vs. Destination

I think that I will continue where I left off with my last post and continue to help you get ready for the new year.  Don’t settle for making resolutions, review those priorities.

Then after that, recognize that everything is about the process.  It is not about the destination.  It is not about the weight loss, or the increases to your maxes in the gym.  It is and has to be about the process.  You have to find a way to embrace and enjoy the process.  There is so much to learn and beauty in the process.

I am going to try and frame it a little bit for you.  If you have ever gone on a hike or climbed any sort of mountain, you might understand this.  Did you take pictures along the way?  Did you see things that amazed you as you ventured through nature and on the path?  If you did, then you know what I am talking about.  You know that when you review the pictures of your adventure, there were moments along the way that stood out to you.  They might even be one or two moments that captured you more than the final destination.

We honestly cannot say how we will feel when we reach our goal, or if we ever even make it that far.  But there is always a process that we are a part of; there is always the moment that we are in right now.  I want to write a book someday, but there will be moments in that writing that stand out, sentences or paragraphs that have far more impact and style than the last phrase I put down (I hope that is true).  It is all about being caught up in the moment and embracing the most out of each and every piece of the journey that will get us to our goals.

Goals are great and visualization of achieving those goals is highly encouraged, but do not get weighed down by not achieving those goals at a breakneck pace.  Find the beauty, the wisdom, the truth in each piece of the puzzle.

If you are learning to lift, learn to enjoy the way that bar feels from the ground, from the hang, on your back, in the front rack.  Embrace how it feels to fight to stand out of a heavy squat, and enjoy the moments when what once was heavy, lands weightless in the receiving position.  Embrace the moment when an old max is now used for reps and the pain as you have an off day and the bar just doesn’t want to move.

Celebrate the new skills you learn and that work it took to accomplish them.  Consecutive Double Unders, handstands, levers, planches, snatches…they all are moments that teach.  Dig in and remember the story behind a bloody shin or a torn callous.  They make the journey.

The view from the top really doesn’t change over time, but each person’s journey is unique!

Own yours…take action.  Start today!

Success in the New Year

This one is probably one of the most important messages that I can pass along for the new year.  I hope that in some small way these tips will help you get ready for the new year and more than anything take the necessary steps to find success throughout the upcoming year.

In the past, I have put out multiple posts trying to outline steps to success, and while I still believe in those steps, I feel that what I am about to share are steps in my own personal growth and my own gaining of knowledge (maybe wisdom) this past year.  Consider this my year in review, as I do not like to look back on past successes and failures, but rather start with some lessons learned.

In order to do this correctly, I must take a minute before sharing and thank everyone who has helped me learn these lessons.  They range from big names like Travis Mash and the Barbell Buddha (Chris Moore) to the team  that I work with day in and day out at my home gym.  Special thanks goes out to my wife, she drives me crazy and keeps me sane at the same time…anyone who is married knows what I am talking about.  But everyday that I get to spend with her is like winning the lottery. Here’s to all of you!


Success in the New Year

The biggest key to success in the new year is to focus on getting your priorities straight.  This is the key that everything else will and must resolve around.  Whether it is a stronger commitment to your family, your work, starting a new business, your training, your nutrition, or your finances…figure out where everything in your life falls.  It is not about setting resolutions, but about getting your priorities straight from the start.

It doesn’t mean that other things are not important, but you must set up your frame of reference according to your priorities.  If you don’t, then it is too easy to get off track.  It is easy to be confused as to what you want to focus on and deal with.  I am not going to tell you what your priorities need to be, just encourage you to figure them out.  Then from there see how these affect the others in your life.

That is when you must talk to them about these priorities and help them see your vision.  Joe De Sena, founder of Spartan race tells a story about how family is his number one priority.  But he says that was not always the case…he talks about when he was starting Spartan Race, he put his family on the back-burner and his life revolved around this business endeavor.  He talks about how hard that was on his family life, but that they stuck with him and saw it through.

Learn this from Joe, if you are going to take on a huge task, let people know that it is coming and that it will affect them.  This could mean going back to school and needing to be able to study so you might be distant for a while.  Maybe you are starting a business and need to focus on that.  Let others into that dream so they understand where your head will be at and that you are not neglecting them, but focusing on something else.  If you are trying to focus on your family, then they need to know that as well.

Once you have your priorities in order, then it allows you to have a frame of reference for everything that you do.  If it is a matter of choosing between something with a low priority and something with a high priority, choose the higher priority and get after it.  By doing this, you also give yourself the freedom to choose and not feel guilty for choosing.  Success can come when we give ourselves the right to choose.

Still with me?  Great!

The next key to success in the new year is going to be get accountability.  Tell someone what your goals are or what those priorities are.  You have to build in something that doesn’t allow you to stop or change them.  Find accountability somewhere.  It doesn’t have to be shouting from the rooftops and telling anyone and everyone. Just get someone to help you because if you are honest with yourself, you have not been successful to this point.

Along with being held accountable, be open to criticism.  This is a tough one for me, but it is critical.   We all have to be open to doing things differently than we “want” to or how we think will be best.  We have to be open to criticism so that growth can actually happen.  So open yourselves up to someone questioning you, or suggesting alternate ways of doing things.

From these setbacks and rough times, be open to setbacks, but don’t accept or see them as failure.  Failure is quitting or giving up.  Setbacks are just that, something that sets you back temporarily.  Accept that setbacks are a natural part of growth.  If you are an athlete training an injury is a setback…if you stop playing or pursuing athletic endeavors altogether that is accepting failure.  For a real world example of this, take a look at Kevin Ogar…huge setback but he is an example of not accepting failure!

Once you do all the above make sure that you are giving something back to this world.  Make it better, start thinking about the legacy you leave.  Give something back.  Don’t just focus on what you have or can get.  Give something back, and when you think you cannot give anymore…try!  This world has gotten so wrapped up in me, me, me, we have forgotten how to change it through giving to others and the true joy that it can bring us!

That about sums up my best tips for this upcoming year and advice to help you achieve success.  A final small tip that I will recommend is that every day give up one hour and devote it to learning something new.  Whether it is reading a book, watching a how-to video, listening to a podcast…commit to growing everyday.  Disconnect from the smartphones and social media world and grow.  By giving just an hour a day, you gain 365 hours of knowledge and skills.  Think about that!

Here’s to you and your success.  If you need help, contact me and I will be more than happy to be your accountability!

First Half Marathon Completed…Lessons Learned

I completed my first half marathon this weekend and today I am feeling the effects.  Through completing this obstacle, I think that I can check it off the bucket list.  The verdict is still out on whether or not, I will take on another half or anything like this again.  It just didn’t fit into something that I truly enjoyed.  (Although I did enjoy getting caught up on some podcasts during the run).

That brings me to the first lesson that I learned:

  • Try new things including things not in your wheelhouse.  You have to.  They are a part of fitness.   If you want to be well rounded you need to challenge yourself in areas that are not the most fun to you.  Then if you try it and don’t like it, then you can move away from it.  But everything deserves to be tested and tried.  Who knows, you might actually learn that you like something you never thought you would.
  • Motivation is key. During this half marathon, you could not go less than 100 yards without someone cheering you on.  There were kids wanting high-fives and people coming out of their houses to cheer you on.  It made you not want to stop jogging.  You just wanted to keep going.
  • Don’t focus on how far away the finish line is.  There was a point in the run when I wanted to think about how far away the finish line was.  I saw a mother slow up to talk to her daughter who was struggling to keep up.  The mother told her, “we got this”.  The daughter  told the mother to keep going because “I am holding you up”.  I realized that I needed to change my focus in their exchange.  I didn’t need to worry about the finish line, but rather focus on the next step.  I just had to keep taking one more step and the rest will take care of itself.
  • It’s more mental than physical.  The truth of the matter is that your body is going to hurt at times.  You are going to feel pain and a lot of things physically but so much of this and what we do in our daily life is mental.  We must choose to not stop and not quit.  We just have to fight through the aches and pains.  (Don’t confuse aches and pains with injuries…stop when injuries happen).
  • Some people will be better than you.  Face it.  There is someone out there that is better than you are.  I watched a man finish his 26 miles before I finished my 13.  But the kicker is, I have no desire to be a great marathon runner.  I just want to be fit.
  • Realize what your reward is.  You define success.  No one else.  Crossing the finish line was all that I needed to be happy.  For others they were qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  You define what is going to make you happy day in and day out!

And with all things in life the biggest lesson that we have to accept is….wait for it…

It’s a marathon not a sprint! 

You knew that was coming!

Only One Thing Can Define Success

This post probably applies a little more to those people running a business, but if you stretch, it might apply outside of that.

One of the things that I do constantly as a training and manager of a business, is read, read and then read some more.  I listen to podcasts of those people that have found success and see what lessons they are willing to share.

This post is not about the idea that hardwork is required to be successful, this is about how to actually define yourself as a success.  It is about being able to sleep at night knowing that you are progressing and on the right path.

The only thing in this world that can define success is you.  What I mean by that is you must define your WHY for your business.  That is to say, why are you running this business or opening it in the first place.  Is your primary reason for opening the business to make money?  Then your bank account defines success…pure and simple and you better be investing your time and energy into how to market your business, who to partner your business with and how to get your name out into the community and world.  You had better also be finding ways to generate additional revenue or additional products or plans to expand your business into new markets if money is the driving force.  When I say money as the driving force, I mean that you are wanting more than just a living.  You are wanting excess for whatever reason that might be.  Please keep that in mind.

Since I consider myself a fitness professional, I will say that another method to measure success is in changing bad lifestyle habits into good ones.  You might define success by the thank you cards and before and after pics you receive.  Your success is defined by client retention and continued progress.  You might have absolutely no desire to become the next big name in fitness or have a multi-million dollar empire of gyms.  You just want enough to put food on the table and impact the lives of those around you.  If you define success as helping people you might even fight growing too big too fast.  You might fight the urge to give up that feeling of personal investment in each person you work with.  If you define your success in this manner, then you might only bring people into your business that have the same passion that you have.

There are countless other ways for you to define your success, but you have to do that up front.  You cannot change paths in the middle.  You also have to accept the reality of your business and the work that comes with it.  It does not mean that various methods cannot work together, but you must remember that when you go to sleep at night, there will be one thing that you use to define your success.

The simple truth is that you have got to figure out why you are doing what you are doing and not lose that perspective.  You have to work and grow in the areas that breed that definition of success.

Until next time…keep on pushing!

Take Inventory…Learn Something Everyday!

Here we go another round with the Barbell Poet, another opportunity to grow and learn something.  This past week, I have spent a lot of time turning down the noise and just listening for the nuggets of wisdom that I can hopefully pass along to you.  Get you the shorthand version to get your mind right and your training progressing on a trajectory that you want it to be and something that you can be happy with.

I have a couple challenges for you today.  As usual, I will give you the easy one first.  Learn something new every day.  This can be a fact, a skill, a training method, a movement.  Just learn something new each and everyday.  Learn a new stretch or a new way to move.  Learn some new fact or word.  But take the time to get out of your own world and bring something new into it.  It is important to grow.

Often in training sessions, we try to thrown new skills at people to work on or learn.  We try to present them with at least one thing that they need to focus on in their next session and why it is important.  That is the new thing.  The “why”.  I recently read a quote from Diane Fu where she said, and I paraphrase, I want build athletes that could be coaches.  That means that she does not simply tell them how to do something, there is an element of why to do it.  There is also the ability to break things down.

Which brings me to my second challenge.  And this one should be hard for you to accomplish.  If done right, you should learn something about yourself that you might not like.  But it will help you grow.

I want you to break yourself down.  I want you to take an inventory on yourself.  Really look at yourself and decide “What am I good at?” and “What am I NOT good at?”  Then evaluate that list and determine what on that list you are content not being good at and what on that list you want to improve or change.  The biggest part of that is also taking those pieces and determining what you are willing to give up and your level of commitment to change.  If you don’t have the time or the energy to change something that you are not good at, then you better start learning to accept the reality of who you are.  Own your shortcomings…understanding yourself will lead to less stress put on yourself.

This applies to our personalities (I am not the best as a friend, but I am a solid co-worker) as much as it does our training (I am lacking in absolute strength, but am a solid in my gymnastic movements…I am terrible at recovery protocol but consistent in getting 4 workouts in a week).  You do not have to share this shortcomings list with anyone.

When it comes to your training, you might want to share it with your coach and see how they can help you address the things you want to.  They will also be able to help you figure out how that will affect your current strengths and minimize losses.

Take the time to honestly assess yourself and see what you can learn about yourself.  Then take that and see how you can grow and learn something new everyday.  Start on your journey now!

Find Your Passion, Embrace the Mundane…

This post is a mix of everything out there.  You will have to apply it however you want to, to whatever item in your life you need to.  It might be your training, it might be your business, it can be anything, but it will affect how you approach your day-to-day tasks.

It is easy to get out of bed on Christmas, our birthday, the first day of school (for some or most).  It is easy to get excited on the first day of our job and the last day before we retire (I am guessing).  It is easy to put in the work when our motivation is high or when success keeps on rolling in.  It is easy when we know that we are in our element and are doing the good that we want to do.

But what about when we look up and realize that today is just another day at the office.  We may be doing what we love, but the motivation is just not there or maybe we hit that dry spell where everything we try seems to come up snake eyes.  We throw idea after idea after idea at the wall but nothing seems to stick.  What do we do then?

We must find a way to embrace the mundane.  We must see them as an obstacle, or something to get through in order to reach our bigger goal.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are far more mundane days that all look the same, than there are days where we jump out of bed on a motivational high…unless we learn to embrace the day to day and see them as the obstacles that we must overcome in order to achieve success.

AND YOU DEFINE SUCCESS…

It is not always going to be a huge paycheck, but you define it.  Make the mundane tasks, small opportunities to be successful.  If you replying to 50 emails, gets you closer to a major sponsor for your event or your business, then find excitement in each one.  Pour yourself into those 50 emails and try to make each contact see who you are and how you can help them as much as they can help you.

Maybe success to you is helping one person to lose 30 pounds.  They are your success story and you must find joy as they work through and only change one piece of their diet a month, and only show up to work out with you when you send them a text message a day.  Start to see the sending of the text message as your small success.

Every once in a while, let go of the forest and focus on each tree.  It is always good to see the big picture, but there is also beauty and majesty and awe in each and every tree.

In order for all of us to remain riding the highs of our passions, we have to find success and embrace the mundane steps it takes to get there.

If I can help in any way, please contact me!

 

Embrace the Quiet…Embrace the Struggle

Yesterday I had a solo lifting session.  I took advantage of the quiet and the stillness.  It was just me and the barbell.

I turned off the noise inside my head and turned off the noise in the gym.  No loud music to make me “go hard or go home”.  I turned up the self-awareness for each movement.  Instead of having to block out the noise, I just eliminated it so that I was the only thing driving myself.

How often do you do this when you train?

How often do you focus and make every lift about the lift?  Feeling out your own mistakes or taking the time needed to get your mind right to feel that PR come?

In the silence a scream to get out of the hole of your squat shakes the walls and the cobwebs from your mind.  You scream fighting gravity and throwing off anything that is weighing you down in the moment.

Every once in a while, embrace the quiet, embrace the struggle and come out stronger on the other side.

Helping Success Along…

In the last post, I talked about the concept of deferred gratification (read it here.)  How can I help that process along, aside from pulling my hair out or kicking the desk until I have reached the goal.

It really comes down to setting ourselves up for success.  In that regard we have two choices.  We can either try to rely on willpower to change us, or we can start turning the object we want into the path of least resistance.  If we want success, then we have to stop making all the things that hinder that success easier than success.

This means that we have to take the steps necessary to make our goals into more than steps, but full fledged habits.  How do we do this?

For getting through a change in our nutrition, we have to clean out the pantry and fridge of things that stop of from reaching our goals.  It has to be easier to eat healthy than it is to eat for convenience.  You must take the approach mentioned in the previous post about out of site-out of mind seriously.  It might actually mean finding different roads to travel down, so that you do not feel the urge to stop into your favorite fast food (or in my case coffee shop).

When it comes to making sure you get your training in, you put your gym bag in the car and if possible you change into your workout clothes before you leave the office or you pack your work clothes in a gym bag with workout clothes on top if you are a early morning workout junkie.  If possible your path home after work needs to go by the gym so that it is easier to stop than it is to keep on going home…no matter how tired you are.

Willpower will give out and it will fail.  Trust me, I know…I have been working for years on trying to change my morning routine.  Willpower alone will not get you there, you have to find a way to make the path to success more appealing than the path of comfort that you now know.

Some other examples people have done is rearrange the fridge so the healthy foods are easily accessible and at eye level.  Same thing with pantries.  Others have rearranged the living room so that working out is more appealing that watching tv (they also have taken the batteries out of their tv remote and put those in an inconvenient place) again so that being active is more appealing than hunting and climbing to get the batteries.

I want you to succeed.  So I encourage you to start setting up your path to success so that it looks more appealing that the path you have been on.

Let’s start developing some new patterns together!

Training, Nutrition and Deferred Gratification…Keys to Success

What I am sharing today is nothing new and I am not the first person to put these words on paper.  There are several others out there that understand this concept and probably understand it better than me.  I am throwing out the short hand version so that maybe today you can be motivated to put down whatever it is that is keeping you from reaching your goals…I heard most of this from Joe De Sena.  Go read his book to dive deeper into this philosophy.

Coke, candy, beer, wine, sugar, going out with friends until the wee hours of the morning…whatever it is, I ask you now…is it worth it?  Is this little taste that feeds your craving now worth giving up the bigger thing that you truly hunger for.  Is a slice of pizza now, worth giving up all the work that you did in the gym?  Is that glass of wine every night worth meaning you have to work an extra 2 hours tomorrow?  Is staying up and writing one more email worth the cost of not feeling refreshed and alive tomorrow.

In the words of Zach Even-Esh, “That shyt can wait!”

Give up the good for now, so that you can have something great later.  It’s called deferred (or delayed) gratification.  It started with an experiment back in the 1960’s and 1970’s with some kids.  They were brought into a room and given the choice between one treat now, and two treats if they could wait for 15 minutes.  The researchers left the room for the 15 minutes and returned to see how many were able to not give in.  There was no penalty for giving in, just no reward.

Some of the kids went a little crazy in order to hold off on eating the marshmallow.  Some pulled on their pigtails, others kicked the desk and others simply turned their back from the treat…out of site, out of mind.

Those that survived got two treats and all was well.

So what, you ask…well they went back and looked at these kids 20 – 30 years later.  And much to their surprise the kids that were able to delay gratification were much more successful in life.  They had better test scores on the SAT.

What in the world does that have to do with me and my training.  It really is quite simple.  If you want to reach your lifting and nutrition goals, you have to learn to have this mentality.  You must be able to delay gratification until you have reached a goal.  You have to give up your one cookie today for two tomorrow (or maybe you will lose the taste for cookies…and keep on your healthy path).  Give up the evening beverage now, so that when you reach your goals, it tastes that much sweeter (talking to you wine lovers).

It’s not easy, you will have to pull your own hair at times, or kick the desk.  But if you want to succeed in anything you have to give up the small taste of one successful moment for the grander goal of truly being successful.  You have to keep on delaying that urge to taste what is right in front of you now, for the promise of what is possible tomorrow.

This means sticking to your nutrition plan and your training plan.  It means committing to getting enough rest and recovery every night.  It means having realistic goals and being strong enough to walk away from something good for something better down the road.  It means get out of the mindset of “gotta have it now” and into the mindset of “If I really want it, it’s going to take some work!”

Let’s get started, let’s do some work!

It Can Always be Worse…

On my drive in today, I was listening to someone speak about mindset and the frame of mind that we must have in order to be successful.  He made a very simple point, that in this modern day and time, everything is too easy.  We live in a day and age of instant information, instant access to whatever we need.  When I say that we don’t have to work for things, there is a limited need to physical exertion in order to accomplish a goal.

Need dinner, drive to the local grocery store or restaurant and it is there.  Need to know the answer to a question, break out the phone and look it up.  While these innovations have made life simpler, how has it affected our mindset or how easily we think we should be able to attain our goals.

So how do you approach your success?  Do you believe that it should come quickly and overnight or can you accept the idea that it takes work and that means sacrifice.  It means that today is not as bad as it might appear on the surface.  We all must accept that getting anywhere truly worth it takes work.

It can always get worse.  Things can always change, and obstacles will always be in your way.  How are you going to react to them in order to lead a more productive life?  How are you going to adapt to the little voice that says, “I’m having a bad day, so I am going to skip the gym, eat that piece of cake?”  How do you react to those things that keep you from your goals?

Bad weather?  Bad day?  It could always be worse.

What obstacles can we help you get over?