Step Up To The Bar

Yesterday, I talked about our need to get over our fear of failure (or rather our fear of succeeding).  As I continue this week of posts, I want to turn that one post into a stepping stone for this one and the next three.  Everyday, I will throw out one more mindset trick or challenge for you.  I hope that they encourage you to take the chances that are necessary to succeed in life, business, and lifting heavy things!

Once you are done wrestling with the challenge in front of you it is time to step up to the bar.  It is time to clear your mind from all the distractions that keep you from focusing on the task at hand and grab success.  Clear our how heavy that last lift was and clear out the idea that by succeeding now, you will have a new best.  Get your mind wrapped around the task at hand.

Step up, get your feet set right, grip that bar and get ready to work.  Prepare yourself to not give up, to keep going even when it gets hard.  Know that starting to lift is the hardest part.  Take the slack out of the bar, and strap in for the ride.

Let life pull against you just a little bit and feel the battle start to rage.  Then stand firm and get locked into place.  The struggle is real, the battle is about to take place and you are going to have to fight.  Physically, emotionally and mentally.  Are you ready?

Have you cleared your mind of all distractions except the task at hand?  If you know what music is playing, you are not focused.  If you hear the other bars hitting that ground and see others celebrating victory or defeat, then you are not focused.  Get focused…the heavy lifting is about to begin!

Tribes by Seth Godin – Book Review 3 of 2015

Alright, the third book that I have a review ready for this year is Tribes by Seth Godin.

If you know anything about Seth Godin, then you have probably already read this one and will be able to skip right past this review.  If you have only read his blog and never picked up one of his books, then this is a great one to start with.

I especially recommend this book for anyone that views themselves as a leader.  This does not have to mean that you lead a company or anything specific.  It simply means that if you want to be an instrument of change, then you are more than likely a leader.  If you are not afraid to step up and take charge of a group, then you are probably a leader.

I thought the book was a great and quick read.  I would not recommend reading it before you go to bed or your brain will be thinking about how to implement many of the strategies and ideas presented.  You will have a hard time sleeping due to all the lightbulbs that might have gone off as you were reading.

The primary reason that I recommend a book like this, is it encourage people to think about things differently.  It encourages you to think about being different and different models than what everyone else is doing.  If you read my last blog post, then you will be able to see where some of it came from.  A portion of this book talks about not trying to bring someone from another “tribe” into your “tribe”.  That is to say, if you are leading a group of people on a specific issue way of doing things, then do not try to convince someone who is entrenched in a different way of thinking or doing things into your tribe.  Spend more time attracting more like-minded people.

The power of any leader is in the tribe that he or she is leading.  They are the biggest advocates, so take care of them first and foremost.

Overall this is one of the better books I have read in a long time.  So far this year has gotten off to a solid start in the book selections.  Have any recommendations for me as I go through this year.

Up next is my review for “Think and Grow Rich”.

Be True To Yourself and Your Business

I love communicating with other people in my field.  That might mean that they are in the fitness world, or maybe it is a little bit broader…I enjoy talking with people who are business managers.  I enjoy speaking with people who are not afraid to put a load on their shoulders and try to carry it.

I admire those people who have made something out of nothing and made it look simple.  I also admire when they are willing to admit that it is not easy, but they keep on pushing and keep on grinding away to make something better for the rest of the world.

Now that all the pats on the backs have been handed out, I am going to say that the one thing that bothers me about anyone running a business is this notion of thinking you have to change who you are and what your business is because of someone else.  If you want to be successful you have to be true to yourself.  You have to remain true to your own identity and stop worrying about what everyone else in your field is doing.

I see all the comments and concerns about someone opening a similar business across the street, a block away, a mile away and they simply want to be mad.  Why?  What good does it do?  Will your anger with them get them to move?  No!

Be true to yourself and look at it as an opportunity.  While, I would not welcome someone to open the same business a mile from me, I am not going to get uptight.  I am going to look at them and say “Good Luck” and then see how I can use it to my advantage.  They are going to have to advertise and advertise hard as the new kid in town.  So they are going to increase traffic to my area, so how can I capitalize on that new traffic.

Simply put, I am going to highlight my strengths and remain true to myself.  I am going to focus on what I do better than anyone else and what I offer that no one can touch.  I am going to remain true to myself.  And some times, that means emphasizing what I do not do.  There is something to be said about knowing what you are good at and what you are not so good at and removing the not so good items.

In the fitness world, especially the growing market of CrossFit, it seems like every weekend someone is starting an olympic lifting program.  Good luck…I hope you have a quality coach on staff and are not just looking to add one more thing to your ever growing list of programs.  I hope that you are able to keep your customers from drowning in the long list of programs that you offer as you try to offer more than the next guy.

My recommendation for everyone is not to try and one-up everyone but try being the best at a few things so that people seek you out for those items.  Please avoid having a laundry list of classes that people can attend that all have a different focus and make people’s head spin.  Be an expert in the area and emphasize that.

If you have an Olympic medal winning coach on your staff, then emphasize that you have that and use it to your advantage, but then do you really need to also be trying to run separate classes on endurance, gymnastics, strongman, and mobility.  Would it not serve you better to learn how to fold these items into your area of expertise so that the value of that class goes up?  Would you not rather see reviews of your class emphasize the extra topics they got to learn as opposed to a bunch of reviews that said class x was lacking.

As I look at the landscape out there, I do not spend a lot of time worrying about what everyone else is doing.  I do not waste my time looking over my shoulder for everyone else…for two reasons.

1) Why look behind me, there is nothing back there for me?  My focus has to be on moving forward.

2)  Looking back is for the scared and weak.  Looking back is for someone who is afraid they are going to lose their place or someone who doubts their training and methods.

Looking around at everyone else and trying to emulate how they are successful only works when you are the same type of person as they are.  Your success will come to you through being yourself and owning who you are.  That is it.

So, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is keep focused moving forward and look at how to keep building your business so that it is true to who you are and represents you.  Stop worrying about everyone else and what they are doing.  Make a genuine product that represents the genuine you.  Then get out there and share it with the world.

The rest will take care of itself.

The Experiment – Book #2 of 2015

Alright, so here we go with book review number two of the new year.  I have already completed several books but have to get their reviews posted.  I hope that I can get 1 or more done a week.  I will try to save them when I do not have something more beneficial to share.

The Experiment by R. Michael Anderson

As you read this book, you might feel that magically everything works out for the protagonist.  But suspend your want to critique the author for having everything work out and think about what you need to take away from this one.  This is a short and sweet read, so whether you like it or not, you can fly through it and take something away.

There are even some basic worksheets for you to work with in order to help you evaluate where you are at in your journey to balance your work and personal life.

But the biggest lesson to take away from this book is to only try to control those things that you actually can control.  That is to say, you can only control you.  You have no control over the situations that you face in life.  You have no control over other people.  All you have is wishes and desires for how situations play out and how others will treat you, but ultimately you have zero…yes zero control over them.  If they work out well for you, great.

The reason that they work out well for you is because you probably managed your responses appropriately.  The premise of this book is to make subtle changes to your behavior and each one of these changes is an “experiment”.  It might work out well for you and it might not.

The books asks you to look at how you react to situations and see if you are setting yourself up for the stress you are facing by not being able to react in a manner that sets you up for success.  It discusses having the discussions that you are afraid of and tacking obstacles instead of hiding from them and letting them weigh on your mind.

It also deals with starting to look within ourselves and seeing if we are really hearing what people are saying.  Are we responding to people in a manner that lets them know we hear what their needs are or are we responding in a manner that pushes them farther and farther away.

In this article, particularly the section on partners making “bids” for attention, there is some good information about why some relationships are successful and others aren’t.  It has to do with responding to what is really being asked for.

I give this book a “worth a read” recommendation partly because of the content and partly because I read it at a time when the information presented is something that I needed to be reminded of.  It helped me to remember that I control how I react and I can influence others by having the right reactions at the right time.  This means leading when it is necessary and stepping back when that too must happen.

It is a quick, quality read!

Rich Dad, Poor Dad…Business Book Review #1

Alright world, so I have the goal of reading over 50 books this year. If there is anything in any of them that I find useful or worth sharing, I will share it with you.

So, I start with the first book…Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.

I thought that books best point was to help people understand that they need to change their point of view. The central focus is based in not working for money, but making money work for you. This book was really just a foundation for several of the other books written by Kiyosaki and the Rich Dad company.

That being said, there are several great pieces of truth in this book. Among them are tidbits that emphasize “paying yourself first” no matter what. And from the hard times that might come, you will tap into new ways of thinking that will help us generate income. It points out that when our back gets pushed against the wall, we get creative and find ways to be successful and make ends meet.

For me, after finishing the book, I was curious how many small businesses actually make their money work for them. I am not talking about setting yourself up as a company so that the tax burden is reduced (a topic touched on in the book), but rather how many businesses actually put their money to work for them.

I am a member of several groups of people that own small businesses and I always see the same comments and questions. How do I get more people in the door? Should I sell this product in my gym? And after reading this book, I want to encourage people not to go with the big name company, but rather find a smaller company that you can actually invest in and not just buy their product. Is there a company that you align with that will do the work and help return a larger profit to you. Instead of buying the best selling sports recovery drink, is there a smaller company looking to break into the market or a different supplement company or product that you can actually put money in to and not have to continue to re-order in order to make a profit. Just throwing an idea out there.

If you think about it, it has worked out pretty well for Reebok…they put a ton of money into this movement known as CrossFit. CrossFit was growing and they got in on the ground floor. The money they put into CrossFit helped it to grow, but there was no clothing company involved with them. They invested in the movement and look what CrossFit did for them. CrossFit grew and Reebok did not have to do anything…they just put their money on this growing trend. And next month Nike will be trying to break into the market.

Just something to think about…

The biggest thing that I would encourage any individual or business to take away from this is look for opportunities to take some chances and start having your money work for you. Find ways to encourage your staff to bring money into your business and give them opportunities to reap some of the benefits.

In the Garage with the Barbell Poet…Episode 1

Here we go…the first episode of the podcast.  Just getting started, so the next one will be better.  Onward and upward.  Thanks for supporting me on this adventure!



A Little Business Advice…A Basic Step!

I am a member of several groups that deal with running a gym and ways to do that effectively.  The thing that amazes me, is that most people that chose this path are generally not interested in business.  For many it was a matter of wanting to train people but not work for someone else or a belief that “I can do this better than them…”

The problem is that trainers train.  If you are not in any shape, form, or fashion interested in business, then just be a damn good trainer.  Be the best trainer there is and have people come from miles and miles away to train with you.  Charge a large amount for your private training and grow a reputation for yourself.

That is the truth if you do not want to invest in learning business for yourself.  If you do not want to learn business tactics, sales, marketing, etc, but still want to work for yourself then your first hire had better be someone that is passionate about those very things.  You will want this person to help you set up procedures and processes that will make life easier as you grow.  Bringing someone in that can help you market and has a passion for sales at the beginning can save you a lot of stress and headaches.

When you look at some of the names out there that would be considered to have made it big, you will find that they either busted their butts to learn business tactics or are a part of a team with at least one person that is passionate about the challenge that is actually running a business.  These are the people with the ideas and develop the “product” that is sold.  They find ways to get in front of people and draw them in.

As someone who is growing more and more passionate about the business side of things, it can be a little frustrating to see how many people out in the world want everything handed to them.  They want all the shortcuts they can find, but are not willing to invest the time to find their own path.

Sadly, that is the only way to find true success.  It really matters little where you rank on Google, Yahoo, or Yelp because you just have to work hard at your business.  Just as each person that decides to open their gym is probably putting in the time on the weights and developing their training program, the same energy, passion and time must be devoted to developing the business program.

This is not like the movies…just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come!

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!

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!