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Houston Spartan 2016 aka Mud Fest,Friends, and Fun

Hard to believe that this is the first post that I have made for the month of March.  The month is halfway over.  I apologize for having an off month.  Wish I could blame it on the weather or something, but I just have not put fingers to keys or pen to paper as much as I would have liked.  (Although, I did get a children’s book written and started work on a novel…)


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This past weekend, my family and some friends loaded up and headed to Houston to tackle the Spartan Sprint, 2016 edition.  For me, this was my third Spartan race to take on.  It was the second Sprint that I have done and it was a unique experience for me.  The race was about an hour from my home, so we knew that the weather had already done it’s part to make sure this event was going to be special.  It had poured down rain during the week leading up to the event.

The night before we were set to run the email was received stating that parking was a “no-go” and we would all be bussed to the site of the race.  The inner sadist in me was actually excited about the challenges that were being presented.  The father in me was cursing about having to somehow maneuver a 2-year-old through what would be more than just a little bit of mud.  (Thank the Lord for amazing wives…desperate housewife she is NOT!).

We parked at the stadium, loaded the bus, stroller and all and were headed to the venue.  We were ready to rock and roll.  My friend and I would be tackling the Sprint (he was probably better prepared for it than I was, but I did make him run a couple times).  My daughter, 6, was going to take on the Spartan Kids race…she snuck in and took on the full mile (proud daddy moment)!

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The race itself was full of 24 obstacles (25 if you count the mud itself), but it was a lot of fun.  It had all the old favorites there – bucket brigade (only you couldn’t put the bucket down many places or it would sink), over-under-thru, walls and pyramids a plenty, cargo net, atlas stone carry and the like.  Some of the obstacles had a new twist to them.  The sandbell carry with the crawl station was new to me.  I liked it, even if my wrists did not like me burying them in the crawl.

It was my understanding that they did have to take down the barbed wire crawl, but I am not going to complain about that.  I believe that was the only modification that was made.  We finished the race right at the 2-hour mark.  It was a little slower than I had hoped for, but I was content after seeing the course conditions.

With the conditions of the course and everything else, this course was an upper body thrashing.  This is true of most of them, though.  I am a fan of Spartan and have read and enjoyed Spartan Up.  This course lived up to the goals that Joe De Sena sets out and that was to still find a way to test you physically and mentally.  This course did that.  The biggest challenge for me came right at the end.  The back-to-back challenge of the rope climb and then the odd object monkey bars proved to be too much on the forearms and I did a set of 30 burpees.  I have now decided to create the baseball/ softball pullup implements so that this obstacle will not stop me again.

Overall, I thought that this was a well laid out course.  It was not one that took you so far away from Spartan Village that you felt all alone on the course.  With it weaving back and forth, you would be reminded that there is, in fact, a finish line and you just had to keep going.  I am looking forward to tackling the Spartan Super in April in Austin.  This year, I will complete the trifecta.

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“What If” Never Entered the Arena

Today, I needed that extra little shot in the arm that we call motivation.  There was a video that had been passed along to me, so I went ahead and gave it a watch…If you are so inclined you can watch it here:

I hope you stuck around to read a little more…if not, I understand.  I was motivated after watching it.  As I watched it there was a single line that struck a chord with me:

What if never entered the arena

That phrase…”What if?” gets us nowhere.  It only leads to regrets.  It seldom leads us to a truth.  It leads to a lot of false beliefs about ourselves and who we could have been.

Entering the ring, succeeding or failing, reveals the truth.  Entering the ring and trying teaches us the sometimes harsh and often times rewarding reality about what exactly we are capable of.

The fight is the lesson.

Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but we always learn about who we are.  We learn about the pain we can endure, the challenges we can overcome and the areas that we must improve.

What if I go up in weight on the barbell?  Forget the what if…Go up in weight on the barbell!

What if I start a new business?  Forget that…start it!

What if I fail as a writer?  Fail as a writer, put yourself out there.  Someone, even in your failure, needs to hear what you have to say.  Someone needs to know that they are not the only one scared but enter the arena anyway.

Stop waiting for the perfect time.  If you have the dream, take a chance…risk failure, and stop being afraid of your own success!

So please, do me a favor…starting Monday…live a week with no what if’s.  Decide and commit!  No what if’s…succeed, fail…learn…grow!

You’re Never Too Out of Shape To Move!

Some call me a coach, some a trainer, some a fitness enthusiast, others just an all around good guy…well maybe not always that last one, but I try.

People will come by the garage gym and see the barbells, weights, box jumps, bike, rower, atlas stones and other tools, and I can immediately see it on their faces…this is scary!  They see a pull-up bar and some gymnastic rings and want to ask if those are for hanging my laundry on when it needs to dry.  There is this intimidation factor about seeing many of these things.

Maybe it’s the fact that most of the time that a company advertises fitness or fitness products, it looks as if the person using them is a Greek god or goddess.  The person using them looks like they don’t need them anymore.  They look as if they have become the perpetual after picture and the “before” picture has been wiped from the planet.

They are too afraid to even enter into a discussion on fitness and goals.  They are already scared and believe that they will never get there.

That is exactly why you need to talk to me (or any other coach for that matter).  Our job is not, despite the rumors, to kill you.  It is not our job to make you throw up and turn you into a pile of fitness hatred on the floor.

It is our job to get you from point A to point B…to C…etc.

And so I sit and wait for you to say it…”I need to get in shape before I start this…give me a month, 6 weeks, 6 months, a year.”

You are never too out of shape to move.

And that’s all you need to do in order to start.

Can you walk 20m?  Great…we are going to do just that for a week.  Maybe if you are feeling good, we will do it 3 times.

Can you walk 200m?  Good deal…let’s do that as well.

What about sitting in a chair and getting out of it?  We have a starting point.

The truth is that if you wait until you feel “fit enough” to start, you will not start.

The truth is that you need someone that believes in you…because right now, you just don’t know what the first step is.

You need someone who is not just a friend that will let you say, how about tomorrow…what you need is someone who says…I’m going to be there…you better show up to.

You are never too out of shape to take that first step…then we will worry about the second!

Coaches Are Everywhere! Are You Coachable?

This might turn into a rant, but I will try to keep it pretty low key.  Everyone out there that has found this blog or any other blog out there that they use for motivation wants to be better.  They want to get better in all areas of life.  They are seeking out some sort of motivation or lessons that click with them and help them to grow.

That is cool.  I get it.  I am glad you stumbled onto this site and hope that in some way, I can help you out.  I am a pretty open book.  With that being said, we all have to be better about being coachable.  We all have to stop thinking that we know everything there is to know about life.  I watch my various feeds on social media, people watch, and look around with an open mind as often as I can…and fail a lot to keep it that way…and see that we all are really good at giving advice, but really bad at taking good, quality, corrective criticism.

We will look around and acknowledge that the world needs to be more accepting, grow up, change, but we seldom look in  the mirror and really accept the truth that some of that change has to start with us.  We have to be open to being wrong.  We have to be open up to the truth that we all have dark spots and skeletons in closets that we want to ignore.  We have to be willing to ask those closest to us for advice on what we need to work on and not react when they are honest.  If they are speaking the truth, and we usually know when they are, we have to accept that.

We do not get bent out of shape when our trainer or coach in the gym tells us we are not keeping our back tight on a deadlift, or makes us watch a video or our bad technique on the clean.  Truth be told, we get mad when they let us continue to lift without saying something, but when it comes to who we are as people, that is a no-fly zone.  It is a zone that we protect and guard and wonder why relationships start to falter and live gets chaotic.

I know this reality all too well.  I am one of the best at building walls around my life.  I am one of the best with the excuse “I’m doing the best I can”…and that is an excuse for me a lot.  It is another way of saying, “leave me alone…accept me for who I am.”  And I get that, but I have recently learned that trusting someone to be real with me is about them not accepting anything less than what I CAN be.  The advice and criticism they give me are not because they do not love me, but rather it is about the reality that they do love me and know that I can be more.  When I open myself up to the critique, like with my lifts, I am only setting myself up to be better and get better.

So my challenge in the new year is to accept the criticism as they come…listen, learn and grow. Here’s to making this world a better place, starting with me.

The Motivation to Change

I was doing ok.

I coached my 4 nights a week of classes.

I managed a gym.

I tucked my kids in at night.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

I walked away.

Why?

What motivates us to make changes in our lives?  What is “motivation”?

Motivation is the drive and belief that we can do better!

It is the notion that we have more to give, whether it is in something as simple as a workout or in life.  I love seeking out motivators.  I love going on a quest for people that aren’t afraid to get in your face and scream “You’re holding back!  Stop it!  You have more in you!”  And more importantly, they believe that whatever more you have to give benefits the world.

And so what motivated me, was that little voice that said you are being held back, you love it, but you can give more.

Give more to your wife.

Give more to your daughters.

Give more to your readers.

Give more to the world.

If you just let go…so I did.

It hurt and still hurts on days when I drive by the gym.  I think of it as MY gym, but it isn’t.  I did not own it, I managed it as best as I could for years.  I poured my heart and soul into running the classes I did.  I was the every-man coach.  No athletic background, but an eye for detail and a quest for knowledge and wanting to get better.  But at the end of the day, it still wasn’t mine, it was just a part of me.

It still motivates me to know that it is out there and think about the athletes there.  I love them…and they better know it!

But with the change, I was given the opportunity to give more to those I train as well.  I got smaller.  I train out of my garage with a simple philosophy…

One Athlete, One Goal, One Success

I have been able to truly focus on the different things that every athlete is looking for and wanting out of their training.  Want general health…I can do that.  Want to get bigger numbers on the lifts…got you covered too.  Just want to work on those Olympic lifts…Let’s get it.

So I am motivated by the dream of helping someone change in the ways that they want to.  I get to be the voice in their head that says “You can do more!  You have more in the tank!”

And that voice hopefully pushes them to make the hard decisions, knowing it will make them better, and able to give more!

Start with a Clean Slate…Goals in the New Year

I write something about goals every year.  Like most people, I see the start of the new year as one of those rare chances to have a clean slate.  That is to say, when the year ticks over to read 2016, I can safely say…

I haven’t messed up this year

And it’s not a lie.  It is not a false statement but rather a challenge to see how long I can maintain that status.  I have learned over the past year one big thing, and that is, that in order to have a strong and successful 2016, I need to prepare for it starting now.  I actually need to start cleaning the slate now.

So how are you going to get prepared for the changes that you want to make in the new year?

First and foremost, I recommend that you go out and buy a journal that is devoted specifically to your goals and the process you are taking to achieve them.  In fact, I recommend you buy a nice journal for this purpose, think of it as investing in your own success.

New journal = New Opportunities.

The second thing that I will recommend is to take a little time getting to know how you tick.  What motivates you, what leads you on a path to success and what doesn’t?  If you are someone like me, then you are going to need to figure out how to build accountability into your goals.  Based on the work of Gretchen Rubin, I am probably a pretty solid “Obliger”.  That simply means that I am more likely to succeed when someone else is counting on me.  I work best with deadlines and clear expectations. If you want to know more about her Four Tendencies, take the quiz or buy the book. (I bought the book on iTunes and listened to it.)

For example, knowing that I am an Obliger, I now post my workouts to my followers in the morning with a statement that I will post my results after I complete it.  I have created a system when I am accountable to them.  If I did not do this, I probably would not work out or I am more prone to allow someone else’s problem cause me to push back my workout.  You can get this same accountability simply by joining a gym with a friend and committing to meet there at the same time.

The biggest thing though is to start taking a little time to know what will most likely make you successful.  Once you know a little bit about how you tick and how you react in situations, you can move into the next phase of breaking the goals down.

I recommend that you take the time to break your goals down into short term, medium term and long term goals. It is a simple method to measure success and accept that changes and accept that success does not happen overnight.  That is a really good start to your goal writing process.  There are several more steps that I recommend, but I will save those until tomorrow.  For now…take the time to:

  • Buy a new Journal
  • Figure out how you tick (what do you need to make successful habits)
  • Write out your goals
  • Break them down into three categories (short-term, medium-term, long-term)

And if you need help…ask!

When Letting Go is Good…Business Basic

It has been a while since I wrote something that is 100% solely focused on running a business.  This tidbit of advice is like many things, powerful, simple but not easy.  It is my attempt to pull in the advice of several of my mentors, Zach Even-Esh, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Bob Burg and John David Mann.  

This piece of advice is simple.

If you want to succeed you have to help people find the right product, even if it is not yours!

The first part of that is pretty straight forward.  And most people would stand up and say…I do that.  I help people find the right product.  Most people chase customers and try to find new and creative ways to get them into their doors.  But most of us tend to live in the delusion that our product is the best and that it meets the needs of all people.  That if we can “sell” them on us, then we are good to go.  We live in the world that a sale is a sale is a sale and we need lots of sales.  But do we really?

All of the people listed above will talk about things such as finding your niche, finding your tribe, building your brand and identity, and providing more value to your customers experience and they all fit together into a nice, neat package that includes being willing to direct your customer to someone else.

Why would anyone say no to a sale?

That is the ultimate question, right?  We all have bills to pay, employees to pay and lights to keep on.  Why in the world would I want to turn someone away?  The answer is that by simply selling to them, you are not selling your true product and they are not getting what they are looking for.  As Seth Godin would say, you are trying to pull someone from another tribe into yours.  This will not end well for you.

If you promise a product that does X, Y, and Z and cannot deliver, guess what your reviews will look like?  What do you think that customer is going to tell their friends about your product or services?  How many people will you lose because you tried to fit that square peg into your round hole?

And from the other angle?

Let’s say you direct that customer to a product that is exactly what they are looking for, how are you viewed?  If you asked that customer for a simple review, don’t you think that they would give you glowing praise because you cared?  What do you think happens when their friends ask them about your business?

Their response, hopefully, transitions from one of, “they told me they did this; but lied” to one of “they were honest with me that their product wasn’t the best for my needs, but cared enough to help me out.  They might be a good fit for you.”  You are still getting positive feedback in spite of not making a sale.  The image and perception of your business is one of caring and not one of making the sell at any cost.

It is hard, though.  It is hard to not get caught up in the quest to make the sell because we all see the looming bills and challenges, but I challenge you to make sure you are growing your tribe the right way.  I encourage you to be willing to say no and help people find the best product for their needs.  I encourage you not to change your standards in order to make a sell.

Care about the customer and sometimes, that means letting the sale go.

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You Just Don’t Know…Until You Do!

I have worked with hundreds of athletes.  I have watched tens of thousands of lifts, successful and unsuccessful.  I have helped people trudge through their personal struggles and fears and have loved every minute of it.

I have watched as people have stared at me with that look in their eyes, telling me that they are going to fail and they are right.  They fail because they have told themselves that they will.  They do not believe that they can accomplish the lift, the task, or conquer the problem.

They look at it and say that it is just too much.

And I ask them, constantly, why are you afraid?

“Because I might fail.”

And there is that word.  That word that I am growing to hate more and more each day…might.  Might is five-letter word that defeats all of us far too often.

I might fail…but I might not.

And so we accept it.  We accept the failing, we accept the missed lift, the lost opportunity and the not so perfect day…all because of what might have happened.

Cue the Yoda memes and the Batman slapping Robin meme backup.  Might is not a result.  For my fellow Yoda fans, try is not a result.

I tried…is a cop out.  If you say you tried, you are probably really saying, I didn’t succeed.  The bigger question is not about success and failure, but did you stop?  Did you learn?  Did you grow?  Are you willing to fail again?  Is failure what is really holding you back?

What if success really has that grip of terror on you?  What if when I asked why are you afraid you answered me honestly…Because I might succeed.  Then the expectations go up.  Then people want to see me do it again.  If I get a PR, then the next time, I better at least match it.  I got a pull-up, a muscle-up, a handstand walk for 30 feet, a best selling book, a platinum record, start and sell a multi-million dollar company…and what happens that next time you try?

Will people expect more of you?  Want to see you fall from grace?  Will you let it get to you?  Will you get out of your own head and give yourself the right to succeed again?

So I ask again, “Why are you afraid?”

You’ll never know until you…do!

It’s Not Always Them…Sometimes It’s Your Fault

Is it the barbell’s fault?  Is it the barbell’s fault that you cannot lift it?  I am being serious, who is to blame for the simple fact that there are some loads that you or I cannot lift.  Is it the barbells fault that it is heavy, annoying, frustrating?

We don’t blame the barbell for being heavy, we don’t blame the barbell for failing to lift it…it is what it is.  It is a bar with some weights on it.  We have a choice when it comes to adjusting those weights, but we cannot change what it is at its core.  It will always be the same.  And for most of us, we will always like it heavy and challenging.

But the people in our lives do not get that same consideration.  The people in our lives are just that, people.  More than likely they will not change over time, but somehow we allow them to cause frustration and chaos in our lives.  Maybe, just maybe the problem is within us.  Maybe we should know ourselves a little bit better.  (***DISCLAIMER – some people are jerks…cut those people out of your life and move on…back to the lesson)

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I learned this the hard way this week.  I was sitting in my office working on a project…focused…charging along…breaking through barriers and making progress.  Then it happened.  That magical moment when my phone starting blowing up. Texts, phone calls, emails, messages…everythhing.  And every person that was trying to get a hold of me, I felt myself getting angry with.  I wanted to scream…you know I am at work…can’t you just save this for a time you know I am free and not working.  Don’t you know that I work too…just because you finally have time to ask these questions…you want me to drop everything and respond.  *DANGER* *DANGER* *DANGER*

Then I started driving home…angry, upset, day ruined!  But then I took a couple deep breathes and looked inward for a moment and replayed that moment in my day.  I realized one simple truth.  I am not a multi-tasker and in fact multi-taskers can annoy me (because I am not one and it is not my style).  I am a focus on one task, complete it, then move on and those interruptions pulled me from that.  The person calling, texting, messaging did not intentionally interrupt me (and if they did…well, I will give you the benefit of the doubt).  They were not trying to upset me with the questions and requests.

We all need to take these moments in life and look and answer the question “who am I?” We have to be able to answer about what makes us tick and who are we really.  We all get frustrated when others try and change us, but we expect people to change for us.  If we step back and accept who we are and how we operate then we can make the allowances and changes that we need to in our own lives to be successful and have healthy relationships.

Just like we cannot change the barbell, we cannot change people.  BUT we all control the effort we put into bettering ourselves.  We can train to get stronger, leaner, smarter, better writers, better readers, better artists, have better relationships and someday we will move that barbell.  Why?  Because we changed and became the person that we needed to be in order to succeed…not because the barbell changed!

Own Your Successes!

I recently wrapped up a 6 week program on leadership.  It was an intense time of paradigms being broken and minds being expanded.  As we reached the conclusion of the training there was a graduation and chance to invite a couple people to celebrate.

I did not want to invite anyone.  I shy away from praise, spotlight, and more importantly success.  I feel guilty when I accomplish something.  I constantly feel like I need to hide the fact that I am growing, making progress and being successful.  Somehow, I feel like celebrating my success diminishes or limits someone else’s.

This happens in many areas of life as well as in the gym.  It happens.  It seems like when you make progress or get better, we can pull ourselves into a shell of silence or downplay the growth out of fear that someone else will feel inferior.  We downplay that we have lost 5 pounds because someone else might be struggling in that area.  We downplay a new personal best in our lifts because they are not as good as someone else’s or because we do not want to make someone else feel bad.

It’s time to stop!

We worked hard to be successful and we have a right to own that success and be proud of it.  We made decisions that allowed us to succeed and that might mean sacrifices were made (I’m looking at you cookie cake).  We deserve to be proud of ourselves and we should invite people into that moment.  Not because we are egotistical or gloating, but because we have accomplished something and we deserve to share that with people that want to celebrate us!

We are always told to learn from our failures and our faults.  It’s time to do the same thing from our successes.  Learn something, share what you learned and keep learning.  Share the sacrifices made to be successful and learn that you can continue on the path to success.  Learn how hard growth really is, and share the challenges with others, so they can know they are not alone.  Celebrate your success and share your success to others know that it is possible.

And once you have celebrated, file it away, set a new goal and repeat the process.  In the world, people want to be happy, they want to be asked to enter joyous moments just as much as they want to support you in the challenges and struggles.  Give them the opportunity and allow yourself to be happy with your own success…celebrate those moments…use them to motivate you for bigger and better things!