Stop Looking For Gimmicks and Quick Fixes

Put the pills down, step away from the phone as you consider buying that latest fitness gadget from the late night infomercial.  Please just walk away from the latest get rich quick scheme or trying to figure out a way to get around hard work!

There are very few universal truths that transcend all areas of life, but hard work is one of those truths.  Hard work gets you places.  Pure and simple.  Hard work is a cure for many root problems and does not simple treat the symptoms.

Need to lean up, it’s hard to get away from sugar and the like, but it has to be done.  Put in the work.  Want to get stronger, hard work helps here too.  That includes how hard it can be to take a day off.  Want to get a new business up and running, or keep one going…you guessed it…hard work!

Most people know this already.  Most people know that the only way to get somewhere and feel good about things is to put in the work.  Even if you fail, you look back and can say that you did everything you could.  When you take shortcuts, you usually end up right where you started, staring face to face with square one again and having to once again decided if you are going to try a different shortcut or actually put in the hard work and be in it for the long haul.

On the business side of things that I work with, I see far too many people wanting to figure out all the things everyone else is doing and are not willing to put in the work themselves.  They ask for samples of classes run, advertising used, or tricks used to get people to find them that they never gain an understanding of what does or does not work.  They don’t put in the work and then are confounded when they might have to close their doors.

I am not saying do not seek out guidance.  But it is just that, get a mentor to help motivate you to do the work yourself.  Put your voice out there.  Let people know you and hear you in everything that you do!  Don’t be afraid to let your guard down and try something that no one else is doing.

And outside of all the gimmicks that are out there…the thing about hard work is it makes each and every one of us better.  That is the key to your success.  Be better!  Do Better.  Focus on the customers, clients, business contacts that you already have and blow them away.  Give them your best each and every day.  And then get better.  Give more.

I recently recorded a podcast on this very topic.  If you are so inclined…give it a listen!

Hard work is about making yourself better, not staying busy!

 

 

The Squat

Kendrick-Farris-front-squat1

We all squat.  Most of us even love to squat.  We try to squat several times a week.  We goblet squat, back squat, front squat, speed squat, air squat.  We pause squat…ah…yes, we get in the hole and we sit there for a count.  We sit in the bottom of our squat for a 2, 3 or 5 count.  We hold the air squat for 20 seconds and then we rise out of the hole.

We squat, and add weight to the bar until we cannot rise again.  We put on one plate, then another and we find get in the hole, and rise out of it.  We celebrate the successful rise to a standing position.  On the way up, we occasionally let out a primal scream to remind ourselves that we will rise victorious.

The squat is basic to life, it is essential to moving well.  The squat is today, and tomorrow.  The squat is the test and reminder that we must always fight to stand.

We are reminded of all the weight that we carry on our shoulders and the burdens we bear.  Our struggle is not in loading the bar and standing tall with it.  It is getting into the struggle of life, finding the hole with all the weight and choosing to stand up again.  Life is not about getting in the hole, but fighting to get out of it.

How long can you fight against the weight wanting to keep you down?  How long can you push against the weight of your commitments and concerns and stand tall?  How much can you handle before the primal scream comes out of you and you stand tall.  Accepting the weight that is on your shoulders that you must squat?

And what if you fail?  What happens if you cannot stand?

Do you simply quit?  Give up?  Try again?  What happens when you cannot get out of the hole?

You re-rack the bar and slowly start putting the plates back on.  You load up the large one’s first.  Your priorities…like faith, family, work, then you add on the smaller one’s until you get to the point where you see you have a few things sitting on the floor that you just cannot carry right now.  You leave them there.  They are not going anywhere.  They will be there when you are stronger.  So you let them rest.  You learn over time what must be on the bar and what MUST be left on the floor so that you can squat again.

You learn what must be left behind so that when you are sitting in the hole, you fight, you stand and you conquer.

Then you look at those smaller weights…maybe once you are out of the hole and the bar feels a light, you can try adding it back on!

What are your biggest weights, smallest?  What do you need to leave on the floor so that you can rise out of the hole?

Dealing with Frustration…

I talked about frustration and truthfully this week, it seems to be about all that I have been fighting.  Problems each and every day.  Every time I turn around something else is breaking, needing to be done, or not being done right.  It has been a constant fight.  From family and friends being sick, to the every bi-polar weather that we are having in Texas right now, everything is a burden and stressor leading to frustration!

So what helps with frustration, what helps me push through?

Giving!

Just give more of yourself.  I know that it sounds like the hardest thing in the world to do, but I have to do is learn to give more of myself.  I realize that the joy that giving produces its own rewards.  I can put those burdens and those stressors on a hook and pick them up later.

It’s that simple.  When I am frustrated, it usually means that I am questioning my own value.  I question whether the work that I am doing is valued or even witnessed.  The frustration comes from feeling that I am working my tail off and no one sees it.  And when I feel that, I need to throw all those feelings and weight out the window and just do what I do.  I just have to give all that I can to those people that walk into the front door wanting to train with me.  They trust me, they know me, and they push themselves for me.  Giving to them is its own reward.

So when I am frustrated, I give…and I give all that I can!

Tarzan, Peanut Butter and a Bendy Straw

This past week was full of heartbreaking news around me.  I had friends lose their homes, lose their beloved pets and a couple families lost their babies due to complications.  There has been a flurry of bad news that makes you reflect on your life and what is truly important.  You take stock in where you are placing value.  You start to realize that life is less and less about bank accounts and stuff.  It is about moments in time and memories that you can create.  It is about a bedtime ritual that you hope your children pass along to their kids.

For me, it is about Tarzan, a Peanut Butter Sandwich and a Bendy Straw.

I have two daughters and an amazing wife.  They are what drive me and push me to be bigger than I think I can be.  But they do not want a whole lot.  It does not take the stars and mood to make them happy.  It takes some very simple things.

Over the past couple days one of my little girls has been battling a stomach bug, throwing up every couple of hours.  It tears a parents heart out to see them suffer and not completely grasp what illness is.  They just know that it sucks!

One night I was tucking her in for her afternoon nap.  I went to give her a drink and told her that the next time I went to the grocery store, I would get her a bendy straw for her drink.  Who knew how powerful a bendy straw would be.  For the next 24 hours, every so often, she would ask from laying down, “Have you gone to the store and gotten a bendy straw yet?”

I went Monday morning.  I spent 1.99 on a pack of straws and brought them home.  Her face lit up and she was on cloud 9.  She was beaming when she realized that I had gotten the straw.  It was just a straw, but it wasn’t to her.  It was something more.

Lunch rolled around and my other daughter saw me eating a sandwich…she wanted one.  I made her one and she got so excited to be having it.  She practically danced with joy right out of her chair.  I wish I could describe her face and excitement about getting that sandwich.  All I can say was that before she started to eat it with reckless abandon, she acted like she was holding a gold brick.  A delicious gold brick.  Her world was made.

And then there is Tarzan.  The movie that gets both of my kids going crazy when they realize that they are about to watch it.  They dance to the music, they mimic the gorillas and know it from the first note of the opening credits.  It has been there movie of choice for the past couple of weeks.  It makes their day!

So there you have it, Tarzan, a sandwich and a bendy straw.  It does not take much to make someone’s day. It does not take a lot of work to change someone from feeling down to feeling like they are the most important person in your world.

But many of us only know how to think bigger and better.  We think about the next big thing that we want to do for someone.  We focus on the project or the plan to make that happen and we put what we can do in the here and now on the back-burner.

Life is not built around the big moments. It is built around the small consistent moments that are filled with love and compassion.  We all want to do big things for others, but we all have to remember that caring, has more value than anything we could by.  It is a little moment here or there where we reveal to someone that we see their pain and want to enter into it with them.

It’s time that we all start paying attention a little more to what people really want and need from us.  We all might be surprised at how easily we can change a life…all it takes is a movie, a sandwich and a bendy straw!

Less Attitude, More Gratitude

I am not afraid to speak my mind, or write my mind.  And there is a lot that needs to change in this day and time of #firstWorldProblems (yes, I used a hashtag).  I look around the world and I just see that everyone has something to complain about.  And honestly a lot of it, provides absolutely no value to anything whatsoever.

I am sorry, but we are far too selfish.  We complain because something inconveniences us, and bigger than that, we demand that our needs take precedence.  We want our voice to be heard, but only if others are going to see thing our way.

I am kind of tired of it.  I am tired of people losing sight of genuinely caring about other people and how we can actually help them.  I am tired of people not being grateful for the things that they have in the here and now.  It is frustrating to walk around and miss seeing all the good we can and should be doing in the world because we are so focused on the little petty things that keep us from getting what we want or think we deserve.

I believe in giving until it hurts almost.  I believe that we are called to help our fellow man, woman, and child if we are able to.  AND we need to take a long hard look at how much we really are able to do.  Can we give up Starbucks for a week, a month, a year to help someone else out?  Can we get up a little earlier to help our spouse out?  Can we stop focusing on ourselves long enough to actually care about someone else and really see their needs as opposed to seeing them as an inconvenience or burden?

If this mentality was a crime, I would be guilty.  I get mad, frustrated, and irritated when something keeps me from getting where I feel I need to be.  But do I need to react this way?  Do I need to get angry?  Do I need to react…most times, nope!  Most of the time, I am just a selfish person that wants what I want and think everyone else should fall in line.

I do not want to call that human nature, but I cannot think of a different term.  I want to leave my office at the time I choose so that I can get to the gym and you better not stop me.  I do not care if you have a “serious problem”…I want to leave and you SHOULD KNOW this already.  Yes, I just rolled my eyes at you because you are keeping ME from where I want to BE.

You want to talk about the weather…sorry I want to go and lift heavy things and throw a 20 pound ball at a 10 foot target 150 freaking times.  Get out of my way.

And I hate myself for having this attitude.  I hate myself for not being able to put myself on the back burner.  So I work on it.  So I challenge myself to not react and when I do, evaluate it.  If I snap at my kids and they did not do anything…I apologize to them.  If I do not focus and listen when a co-worker is talking to me, I try to go back and apologize for not showing them the respect that I expect them to show me.

I fail.  I learn.  I try again.  I will fail again!

But we all need to have a little less attitude and a little more gratitude.  We need to be thankful for the gifts that we have been given, this includes our job, even on the bad days.  We need to be thankful for the friends we have and the family that we deal with.  We need to show a little more gratitude for the freedoms that we have here and a little less attitude when the dominoes don’t quite fall the way that we want them to.

We need to be thankful for the situations that we are faced with because there is a lesson for us to learn.  There is a challenge for us to overcome…even if it is simply telling that little voice in our head that gives us permission to react…to shut up!

So as we enter this new week, I offer you a different hashtag #lessAttitudeMoreGratitude

Change the World – Dreaming Big

Inspired by:

lifeofaking01

This post is not about CrossFit or lifting weights.  It is not about Thrusters, Wall Balls or lifting heavy.  It is about changing the world.  It is about being something bigger and starting to do more for our youth.  And I do mean actually doing something.

Think long and hard about your life and where we are at today.  When was the last time that you remember a school celebrating an academic achievement?  When was there a pep rally for all those that had straight A’s?

I am cyber-friends with several people that want to see our kids be more, do more and see that change that is necessary in this world.  How do we do it?

I read there posts and comments and read that articles that they post that deal with our youth dreaming about being athletes and singers.  They believe that their best chance at life is to be in the 1% that makes it big.  Somehow everyone wants to be a millionaire but they think that the only way to succeed in life is to somehow break out by being really good with a ball in their hand.

They want to be Jay-Z, Beyonce, Russell Wilson, or whoever is out there in front of the public.  They will even accept being another sex symbol that uses their body to “make it”.  It saddens me, but I don’t blame them.  It is all that they see all that they know.  It is what success looks like and the only thing that is celebrated.

High school football is on ESPN, athletes are made gods at an early age and those kids with brains are made outcasts.  It is not cool to follow the path of knowledge.  Get really good with a ball or get street cred…then you might make it.

I am not knocking Jay-Z or any of those people.  Many of them are brilliant, but it is not what is celebrated about them.  Their business acumen is pushed to the background of their sick flow and rhyme skills.  Only those people looking find the articles about them turning themselves into a brand and not just someone who likes the spotlight.

I want to change my community and the youth that are growing up here.  I have two daughters that I want to go after their dreams, but I also want them to see how hard it is to make it big.  I want the schools here to remind kids that while having the money of a Jay-Z and Beyonce is good, but having the skills of Markus “Notch” Persson might be better.

I want to see a program start that doesn’t just bring in a guest speaker to talk to kids about the business world, but helps put them right in the middle of the action.  They mentor these kids of all “at risk” levels and help them to learn the skills to start a business, to run a business, to create a product and see it grow.  I want successful business owners to give back to the community and give something better than computers and stuff.  Give these kids access to them.

Let these kids know that there are heroes in society that have more than a sick crossover or amazing lyrical abilities.  Show these kids that you can control your own destiny with hard work and a little luck.  If we want kids to change the future, then we have to give them a better path and better examples.

We all love a good movie about someone who made it out or changed their life around.  We marvel at the kid who was at-risk and is now living large, but I want to see more kids get that drive.  We have to do better as a society if we really want the change to happen.

I am not looking for everything to be given to them, I am asking for us to set a better example.  I am calling on all of us to stop talking and throwing money at this problem (even though we don’t really do a lot of that) and start caring about what is happening all around us.

I am willing to throw my hat in the ring.  I will work with a local school or local youth group to help kids see how to build something real from the ground up.  I will work with a kid to help teach them that failing is not an ending, but a beginning.  I will take a group of youth and try to help make their ideas a reality and then when they succeed or when they fail.  I will celebrate the work that they put in and the lessons they learned.

Then maybe, some day after I am dead and gone…they will make a movie about those kids who made it out.  Maybe I can be a footnote in that story…

It’s not about whether you can or you can’t…it’s about whether you will or you won’t!

Karen is Life…Life is Karen

Saturday morning, I had all my coaches in the gym early.  We were there to do a workout as a group.  During that time, the conversation turned to some of “The Girls” of CrossFit.  We talked about Fran, Grace, Diane and then we ended up on Karen.  Oh, how we love Karen…let me count the ways.

After we did our lifts and rowing (Ironic that we did not even touch one of the girls…), we hosted our bring-a-friend workout, and then I gave a mini-nutrition seminar for some of our curious members.  I headed home.  It was on the drive home, I had this internal conversation, we will call it…Karen is life!

Karen_Life

Karen for those that may not know is 150 wall balls.  That is 150 times you take a weighted medicine ball into the bottom of a squat, accelerate it up and let it go to hit a target 9 or 10 feet tall.  That’s it.  It is brutal in its simplicity and the mind games that it can play.

So as I made the drive home to my family, I began to think in metaphor and reflect.  I do that on drives from time to time.

Our life is built on doing the same things day in and day out.  Every year we have 365 reps that we complete and for the most part there is not a whole lot of variation between each and every day.  Some days we are ready for the workout that we call life and other days we just have to survive.  That at times is the essence of what I think about when I see Karen on the whiteboard.

That is the beginning, but then we have our day to day lives and we all know the obvious truth that life is full of ups and downs.  But there is a deeper truth to our battle with Karen.  That is that some days we have the ability to throw our burdens into the air and watch them fly.  We throw our voice out into the world with a blog post, or we send out our resumé  looking for that new challenge.  We click send on the email asking to be published.  We do it with confidence and we watch as the ball hits that lofty target.

And we brace ourselves for the new challenge that we have accepted.  We receive the ball that somehow seems to weigh a lot more than 6, 12, 14, or 20 pounds.  We catch the weight of our burdens and life and we get to the bottom.  We hit the bottom and we have to choose…drop the ball or start going up in order to release the burden and hit another target.  It is a constant battle of accepting challenges, absorbing the blow, and fighting to reach our targets.  It wears on us.  Our shoulders burn from carrying the weight…our legs hurt from absorbing the blow…and then we succeed.

We finish all 150 reps (or 365) and we evaluate.  We find that some times we did not hit the target and had to redo that rep.  There will be times that we have to put the ball down and there will be times when we get through all the challenges and find ourselves standing victorious.

And in the end, we acknowledge that in the heat of the battle, the pain hurts, but we learn our lessons.

That is life…and we accept the challenge each and every day.

 

Don’t Lose the Song in the Production

Last night, my wife and I were watching a movie.  There was a scene in the movie where two musicians were comparing their new albums and receiving feedback.  During the exchange, one of them wanted honest, real, possibly harsh feedback based on the reaction of the other artist (the fact that the two had previously been in a relationship probably did not help the situation) but she delivered this line:

I think your song got lost in the production

That thought resonated with me.  I grabbed my phone and made a little note with just those words.  It was a thought for this very post and a look at life and business all rolled into one.

In the movie they went on to briefly discuss that notion that sometimes you do not need all the bells and whistles to make something great.  There are times when what you need the most is just the simplicity of the lyrics and it really is in the delivery.

I think that the same holds true for each one of us, on a personal level.  We must constantly remain true to who we are.  We cannot try to be “larger than life” just because we think that is what someone else thinks we need to be.  We are not a production.  We are who we are.  We do not need to change that for people to like us, follow us, or be around us.  We can never let who we are get lost in trying to please someone else or be someone that is untrue to our core.

Don’t let your song get lost in the production we call life.  It is not a fake it until you make it lifestyle.  It is a lifestyle of I am me…I might be flawed, imperfect, but I am me.  The more and more that we let our true song come out, the more and more we will find that right people coming into our lives and wanting to be a part of that.  The more we will be able to have people we trust talk to us about areas we need to grow and improve, but we will be open to it and accept it because we know that they genuinely care and are not trying to manipulate us into some image they want us to be.

The same holds true for any business.  It must always remain true to itself.  It is not about keeping up with every other business in the same market.  If the business tries to be bigger and have more than the next guy, but all that (as Winnie the Pooh would say) stuff and fluff is not true to the core values of the business, those things will fail.  If you keep adding features and new programs but they drown out what is truly important to you, you will lose.

There is beauty in simplicity.  There is beauty in your story that people need to hear and know that it is 100% you.

So I leave you with the following question:

What can you do, to make sure you do not lose your song in the production?

The Changing Face of Social Media

I follow several people that work in social media.  I listen to people as they explain how to use social media to grow your business and at the end of the day, as you take it all in, you head will be spinning.  Boosted posts, organic reach vs. paid reach.  Post links, don’t post links, post pictures.

It is a miracle that I still have any hair.

I pose the following question for everyone here:

How do you use social media?  What are your goals with Facebook or Twitter or Instagram?  Are you using Snapchat for your business?

As you ponder that and even write your answer down, I want to post a second question:

Do your social media accounts reflect the values of your company?  reflect your values?

I am a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk and his “Thank You Economy”  (book review coming soon!).  The biggest thing that runs through my mind as I read the books or listen to various podcasts, is that at some point you are going to have to change your mindset on social media to actually be a place you are SOCIAL with your customers and consumers.   Your social media channels must become a place your customers are willing to travel to and check out (Facebook, I am talking to you here).

If you build your social environment to be one that actually promotes engagement and conversation, you will have people traveling to engage in the conversations.  It has started a little with advertised hosted Q and A sessions on some Facebook pages or Twitter chats at specific times.  But that is not enough.

Our social media channels must be a place that people want to travel to daily to engage with us and hopefully share what we have to say.  And more importantly, they need to feel like we are listening to them and not just selling to them.  We must be diligent with responding to comments and messages.  We must remember to respond to our visitors and embrace the opportunity communicate with them.

Too many times we treat our pages and various social media channels as mere showrooms for our products, trying to make a sell without even talking to the audience.  This mindset and attitude must change to one where we all reveal who we are and reveals the identity of our company.  It needs to be more of a lounge where questions are answered, philosophy discussed and ideas are shared.  It is a chance for us to show our willingness to change and accept customer feedback.

What are your thoughts on how to best utilize social media?

Episode 1 – In The Garage with the Barbell Poet

Here it is, the first official episode of In The Garage with the Barbell Poet!