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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!

yoda...there is no try

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)

hardest battle

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!

 

If You Aren’t Willing to Be First…

I was sitting at my desk today looking through emails, reading some training articles and seeing the same thing over and over again.  8 ways to guarantee six pack abs, 5 ways to lean up, 10 tips to better training, and the lists go on and on and on.  I don’t have a magic list that is the “Barbell Poet Miracle Success Plan”.

Sorry, doesn’t exist.  Why?  Because my training methods put a whole lot of emphasis on one thing and one thing only.  You leading You!  If you are not willing to put yourself first then don’t expect anyone to follow you!

This is one thing that is slowly growing on my pet peeve list.  People want to follow everyone else in this world and then wonder why no one wants to follow them or help them move up in the world.  You have got to be willing to be at the front of the line.  Take some risks, make some mistakes and learn about yourself and life.

If you train with me, you better have some goals.  You better at least know why you are walking in the front door of the gym.  If it is simply a matter of being healthy, then please work on having a definition of what healthy means to you.  If you cannot come in with the mentality that “I am in charge of how far I can go…” then I really cannot help you get anywhere at all.

Why?

Because you don’t want it.  You don’t know what you want!

You have to be willing to lead yourself to the goals that you want to achieve.  Then as you reach them others will want to follow you because you have a purpose and a passion for something.  You are not just one of the crowd, or one in a long line of followers.  People seldom say, I want to know what the guy who finished fifth did or even want to know what the guy who finished second did…they want to know what the guy or girl who finished first did.

Are you willing to be first and lead?  Are you willing to step outside of the comfort and conformity that is all those in the line?  Find a goal that you want to achieve and lead yourself there…you might be surprised at who comes along on the journey!

Keeping it Real…Real Simple!

A lot of coaches and gyms out there will spend hours upon hours upon hours trying to figure out what workout they want to put you through.  There is a growing need to feed the myth that if you are not smoked wondering what happened and afraid that your left lung might just pop out and land next to you on the floor, you did not get a hard enough workout.  You were not challenged enough and therefore will be missing out on these things known as…gains.

People will tell me, that workout looks fun.  It looks like a laundry list of movements and weights.  It doesn’t look fun, it looks miserable.  And there is a time and a place for miserable, but everyday is not it.  Those workouts are there because you have to test your endurance, your mindset and some days you just want to feel that pain.  But that shouldn’t be the case everyday.

Results come from smart training, pure and simple.  Results come from time under tension, stress on the system and simple systems.  There is nothing magical about Wendler and his 5-3-1 principles, but they get results.  If you want a muscle-up…pull-ups, dips, and working the transition.  Simple movements.  Simple combinations, results will come.

The problem that we all run into is that we are impatient and unwilling to really test ourselves in these simple movements.  We are more afraid to go heavier than we previously have, than we are to do hundreds of reps at a lighter weight.  We are afraid of the struggle and afraid of failure.  Those athletes that are willing to stick to simple programs with increasing challenges in the same movements see better results in my experience.

I am a huge advocate of trying new things and learning new skills.  But that is not a direct part of your training, it is a result of your training.  It is a result of feeling stronger and more comfortable in the basics that allows you to try and conquer new challenges.  Want to walk around the gym on your hands?  How strong is your press?  Do you hold a tight core and correct posture?  How smoothly can you kick up and how is your balance throughout a basic lunge?  What about the ability to bend over and touch your toes?

I hate hearing that people are bored with their training, but I also want to see your development.  Are you tracking the progress because few people are bored with results and bigger numbers (or smaller times).  Train in couplets and triplets of movement that help you get better in your weaknesses and stay solid in your strengths.  Accept that you might lose a little in one area to be better in another and play the balancing game.  Embrace that challenge to put more weight on the bar when it is time to, and take some off, when it is time to.  Trust your coach, trust the process.

Embrace the suck, enjoy the results!

Patch Adams and Training

I am a big fan of the movie “Patch Adams”.  That is my go to, having a bad day movie.  It inspires me to think outside the box, to focus on a solution and to always focus on the person.

But there is something else that we all need to take away from this show.  That is the simple ability to break free from the molds.  We don’t, and shouldn’t look like every other coach out there.

BE YOURSELF!

GO AGAINST THE GRAIN!

I sit back and look at everyone trying to mimic or be just like someone else.  We watch as someone else has been successful or implemented some other program, and you think that the easiest path to success is to copy them.  And I am here to say, don’t.

I love Patch Adams because he was true to himself.  He desired to help people and thought that being a doctor was the best path.  He wasn’t afraid to tell the psychologist that he sucks at listening to people and helping them.

I’m not encouraging all of you strength coaches to go out into the world, telling other coaches that they suck, but rather…stay true to who you are as a person and as a coach!  Sometimes that means that you will be on the outside of the norm…who cares?

Are you getting results?  Are your athletes (clients) happy with their progress and development?  Are you able to look at yourself in the mirror and night and be proud of that person?  And more importantly:

Will you be able to be that person again tomorrow, and the next day?

I appreciate Patch Adams because he was himself, he would not change and eventually, in spite of it all, people ended up needing to learn from him and wanting to know his methods.

Be yourself…Learn the facts, learn other methods, but implement them your way and own it!

What Does Your Certification Mean?

Let me get real with you.  I want to talk about the value of certifications to me as a coach.  They are just pieces of paper for the most part.  A wall full of them means that I spent a lot of time listening to someone talk about training.  It means that I spent some money and someone gave me an attendance award.  Maybe I passed an exam; that means I understood some concepts or memorized some information.

But for the most part, a certification does not equal a quality coach!

As a coach, I display a certificate because I am proud of attending, but know that deep down each certification that I have is a starting point for growth.  If I stop there and do not put anything into practice, then it is worthless.

So how do you decide what certification to get?  There are two things to take into consideration.  First, think about is it required for you to do what you want to do.  That is the primary reason that I have several of my CrossFit certifications.  The L1 is required to be on the floor of the gym I train at.  The additional ones that I have were solid starting points for development and growth.  These are what I classify as foundational certifications.  They are there because you have to have them.  That is their primary purposeIMG_1966USC-Cert-Logo2

The second type of certification is what I would refer to a value certification.  For me these are the one’s that you hang on the wall and are proud to do so.  These certifications talk to your character as a person and as a coach.  I recently completed Zach Even-Esh’s Underground Strength certification.  This is one that I would call a value certification and that is because much of what it talked about, is about who you need to be as a coach.  What we coach and what we teach people is secondary to being better people daily.

This second type of certification is one that hangs on the wall and you say I represent this brand or I represent ZEE and his brand.  I better keep up the standards that he has set and attack life the way that he does.  And in reverse to some degree, by putting this out ZEE represents me.  That means that we are accountable to each other.  His motto of “Live the Code” is a call to lead your life in a way that makes people take notice.  Those are value certifications.

So what do I recommend when you are trying to decide which certifications to get.  First and foremost get the ones that you must have to run your business, but then start looking for the one’s that best represent who you are and who you want to be.  Get the one’s that when someone sees it on your wall, they get a sense of exactly who you are.

But above all else, remember that the certifications do not make you a great coach…you do that!

Why Are Gymnastics Important…

I originally wrote this for my home gym website…but the information is relevant and worth sharing!

 

It happens almost every week…Thursday rolls around and some people get excited and others dread it. You would think that magically Thursday became another Monday in the week. That’s right, it is gymnastics centric training day. Why is this day important? Why even have it? Why can’t we all just lift heavy things every day?

The answer is simple…gymnastics is about mastery of skill!

The beauty of gymnastics is that it is a day to focus on the perfection of movement. It is about mastering the skills necessary to do anything and everything else. It is not about max reps or even max effort, it is about self mastery and being able to maintain a standard of movement. It is the “perfectionist” component of training.

Most people grumble at gymnastics because they are not good at it. Many others because it is not nearly as sexy as picking up a weight with a couple 0’s on the end of it. BUT gymnastics is a key component to being better at your lifts and with your life in general. It promotes body awareness and understanding where you are in space at all times.

It is about developing the skills that you need to be a better all-around athlete. CrossFit was originally built around a gymnastic mindset. Somewhere that mindset tried to remain, but the focus has moved to lifting and getting stronger. Again, though, you cannot be a great lifter without great body awareness. That does not mean that everyone needs to be able to perform the perfect ring routine or even walk on their hands, but you need to know what an activated shoulder feels like or what it means to have a solid squat with no or minimal load. You need to be able to be aware of why you are pitching forward or falling backward under load.

Gymnastics work at the gym is about gaining this awareness. It engages the Central Nervous System (CNS) so that you can get into better positions over time. So that even as your muscles grow stronger, you are becoming a better lifter and your maxes continue to rise.

The other reason that we do them. They help to promote recovery and developing a better range of motion. This is critical as we all get older. No matter how much we do not want to admit it, there is a need to be able to move fluidly as we grow. Gymnastics promotes this ability.

So the short answer about why you need gymnastics and why we devote a day a week to them is that it helps to develop a mindset for your training, helps you with your lifting and forces you to take a little break from the barbell and still grow!

 

Because it’s hard – Lifting and Business

 

I quit!

I give up!

I can’t do it!

I’m done!

It’s Hard…and finally the truth comes out.  It’s hard is the real truth to all of the lies told above.  At least for 99% of the problems that we face in lifting and in business (and a lot in life as well).  It is just hard.  We could easily take all the statements above and turn them from being false, to true like this:

I quit because it’s hard!

I give up because it’s hard!

I can’t do it because it’s hard!

I’m done because it’s hard!

I am not here to argue with you about these statements of make you feel bad because you have quit on something, but be honest with yourself.  You probably walked away or gave up because somewhere you were tested and it was hard.  Putting more weight on the bar than you did the last time, is hard.  It is a mental game that you have to be ready for.  Pushing on when things are not the best and brightest in your business is hard work.  It often seems easier to shut the doors, walk away and be done with it.

But why are you really doing it?  To find out how good you are at easy things?  To run away from challenges?  Why do you train?  Why do you eat clean?  Why do you fight for your business, your kids, or your marriage?

Because success is worth it.  Because you made a commitment to being better today than you were yesterday.   That is it.

Be better today than you were yesterday.  Learn something new today that propels you into tomorrow.  Do not look too far into the future and do not dwell too long on past mistakes.  And yes, it is hard.  Success in the gym or in the board room does not happen overnight.

But growth is worth it.  Getting better is worth it.  I know you can remember the first time you had to pick up a barbell to find a max…how did it feel?  What about when you had to put that load on your back and squat with it and you did not want to get up.  But you fought, and you stood up.  Can you remember that first time…how does that weight feel today?

The physical weight on the bar has not changed…65 pounds is still 65 pounds.  95 is still 95 and 315 is still 315.  But somehow we grow with success and we learn to handle the loads with ease.  What once was our first Personal Best is now a warm-up weight.  What once terrified us, we do with ease and almost boredom.  We have grown…we are stronger and we did not quit because hard is worth it.

Hard is where we find our strength and we push forward.  Hard is the path that allows us to find and make our own way.

Hard is nothing…when we don’t quit!

giving up