It might have been a mess when we got here. It certainly was far from perfect. What will it look like when we leave?
How will the impact of your presence affect:
The lives of those around us
Where we work
We can’t expect to walk into a good place, but we can make it better than when we found it. We can’t expect others to do it, but we are not accountable for their actions. We are only accountable for our own.
I was walking up the stairs to my office. About halfway up, my toe hit the edge of the step. My hands shot out to grab the rails. Just in time. If I would have missed, I would have gone tumbling down the metal stairs and onto the factory floor.
Once I gathered myself and regained my balance, I did the usual “every time I stumble” move. I took the dreaded look around to see if anybody was watching. After the all-clear, I resumed my ascent up the steps and acted as if nothing had happened.
There are times I get stuck in my belief systems. The things I was told were true, I accepted. I didn’t do the research or ask the right questions. When I read or heard something contrary to my “supposed” truths, I would dismiss it as fake or too far-fetched. Occasionally, I would stumble on something that really challenged my beliefs, something not as easily dismissed. And when this happened, which lately has occurred more than a few times, I am faced with a choice. Do I, like stumbling on the stairs, move on as if nothing happened? Or do I pause and wonder? What was it that caused me to stumble? Is there a truth here that I need to discover? Do I need to do some research and evaluate those findings?
There is no doubt that I have many preconceived biases. When I see the error of one, I have a decision to make. What will I do? And the same goes for you when you cross the threshold that brings uncertainty to your belief systems, you must decide what you will do.
In the gym, if you try to look like a stud when you are not, you will embarrass yourself. You will either get hurt or look foolish. Maybe, even both. The best thing you can do is stick to the basics, overload your muscles in a slow and progressive way, and develop your strength through consistent practice.
Isn’t this the way to go in any endeavor we choose to pursue?
Imagine a soldier on the battlefield. Before ever seeing the battlefield, that soldier spent hundreds of hours in training. He did the work to perfect his skills on an individual and a team level. Before gaining competency, the soldier had to start out as a new recruit.
Studs in the workplace? It is the same concept. Knowledge must be acquired. Proficiency must be demonstrated. Trying to be something you are not would damage your reputation and put you on the slow track to advancement.
If you want to be a stud later, you have to be a pud now.
Christopher Sommer, former U.S. national team gymnastics coach and founder of Gymnasticbodies
There is nothing wrong with starting out at the bottom. You won’t be there forever. As you refine your skills and grow in experience, you can rise to the top. You could be the stud that others look up to and depend on.
After work, I enjoyed my walk to the car. It was in the upper forties and partly cloudy. Not bad for a winter’s day. On my way home, I called my little brother in Oklahoma. It didn’t take long before we started talking about the weather. He said it was cold, real cold. The high temperatures were in the single digits with a hope of getting above that sometime in the next week. The forecast for the night called for 12-16 inches of snow. This was the conservative projection as most of the models called for much more. Ouch!
In the Northern Hemisphere, it is winter. In parts of North America, it is the coldest it has been in decades. The winter is cold. It is dark. Life slows down, and in some instances, comes to a standstill. The winter doesn’t offer us much hope. Our only hope is that it will pass.
For many, the winter came in the Spring of last year (2020). A virus came and forced us into isolation. The economy slowed down, in some cases, it came to a standstill. Just like a seasonal winter, we huddled indoors separated from the ones we loved. We looked out our windows, waiting for the day we could finally reemerge from our hibernation. Some of us are still waiting.
In the depth of winter, some were able to thrive. They realized that life must still go on even in this time of darkness. And no matter how cold it got, no matter how isolated they were, there was still an incredible warmth within them. When others lost hope, they forged ahead.
Winter comes and winter goes. Eventually, even the worst winters will past. We can all find the invincible summer within us. We can cultivate the heat and the force that gives life to us and those around us.
I read Historical Fiction. I lived in a make-believe past. I read Fantasy. I went into a fairy tale world. Historical Fiction and Fantasy, with a dabbling of Science Fiction made up the bulk of my reading for over ten years. What do I have to show for it? I can sit for long periods at a time, and I have a rather decent reading comprehension level.
And then one day, about four or five years ago, I picked up some Non-Fiction. I figured with all the reading I do; I might as well learn something. My life has not been the same since. I went from leadership and psychology to health and fitness. Whatever I came across that I felt had the ability to improve my life, I read.
What has been the benefit? Almost every facet of my life has become a little bit better. In my opinion, the transformation has been amazing. I think different, feel different, and may even look a little different. There is a quality of life I imagine living and every day I get a little closer to it. All because I changed what I read about.
Nobody forces me to read. And unless you are in school, nobody is likely to force you to read. It is a choice with a myriad of benefits and very few cons. Regardless of age or ability, there is a wealth of wisdom available to us. The only thing holding us back is us. Make the choice to read. What is the worst that can happen?
A game that is too hard. An assignment that is too difficult. A task that seems impossible. I watch as my son gets frustrated. Like water, he wants to take the easy path.
The hard game. There is a value to games if they challenge you. The others are only timewasters. Too often, Alec plays the easy game. Why? It is easy and they do not challenge the brain. The hard games develop critical thinking, strategy, and cunning. The hard games are frustrating. We have all been there. We have all struggled endlessly repeating the same feedback loop that is destined to fail. But this is where practice comes in. To develop a new skill, you need repetition. To be a master:
The difficult assignment. Some of the math problems, especially the word problems, were too difficult for Alec to figure out on his own. Reading those questions and putting them into mathematical equations went beyond the young third grader’s current ability. But does he have a system for breaking down the problem? Not yet. He could wish that the homework would go away, but even he knows that is not going to happen. If he wants a passing grade, then his only solution is to figure it out. Once again, we have all been there before. All those tedious problems that never seem to go away. They will never magically disappear, but they can get easier. To make it happen:
The impossible task. [A step back into mythology] For the mighty Hercules to clean the stables of King Augeas, he had to get creative. There was no way he could complete the task in one day by getting down on his hands and knees and scrubbing. Of course, he used his strength to help him get it done, but he also used his brain. With wisdom, he created the plan. With his body, he executed the plan. We will all face seemingly insurmountable challenges in the future, but…
Over the last couple of weeks, I have seen a few disturbing posts from members of the fitness community that I respect. They were insinuating the use of weight-lifting gloves as a form of weakness.
Personally, I don’t prefer to wear gloves. I feel like I have a better connection with the weights. I have better control. My hands get tougher. Yet, I wear gloves. Maybe this makes me soft, but I have my reasons.
It all started with a two-pound jump rope. If you miss with that thing, you might get a concussion. The torque it produces strengthens the arms and shoulders, but that same torque is felt primarily in the hands. It has many great benefits except for the penny-sized blisters it puts on the inside of my thumbs. Not knowing the value of inner thumb callouses, I wear gloves when I jump rope.
The rowing machine. For shorter workouts, the gloves are not that necessary. Going into longer workouts of 30-120 minutes, I don the gloves. I didn’t wear them the first few times I went into the longer sessions, but then I started developing blisters on the middle digits of my fingers. I don’t mind having callouses, but do I want them running up the length of my fingers?
Winter weightlifting. I work out in my garage. Whatever the temperature is outside is the same temperature on the inside. And in the winter, when the mercury starts to drop, grabbing an iron bar or dumbbell is miserable. When I am lifting, I want to concentrate on the movement not the numbness in my fingertips.
In terms of fitness, what are my goals? It is to get a little better every day. It is to be a more functionable human being in my older years. Does it matter if I don’t have the latest and most fashionable clothes? Do I need the best shoes or the best gym equipment? No. What I must do is get in there and do the work. To glove or not to glove does not matter. The work matters. And if you are a trainer, glove-shaming or any shaming is not the key to success. Your message to your clients should be simple: Do the work.
I have been holding a little stress lately, and I think I can even feel it in my midsection. This stress is the culmination of many different things, mostly the things which haven’t even happened yet. It is an uncertain future, and it is affecting my mind today.
The choices of my past have led me to this. It is good that I reflect on the past in the hopes of not repeating it tomorrow. But once I give its the due measure it deserves, I must let it go and move on. It is one of the core tenets of my philosophy. It is also one of the hardest ones to adhere to.
On the way home from Parkour practice, my son asked me an interesting question. “What is Space Force,” he asked. He saw the flag during the National Anthem at the beginning of the Superbowl. I told him it was an attempt to get back to where we used to be. As a nation, we once used to be at the forefront of space exploration. But the years went by, the funding went away, and eventually so did our preeminence.
“Oh,” he said, “I thought it was to keep the asteroids from hitting the planet.”
A fair point. We then discussed our inability to stop such cataclysmic events. Our conversation ranged from asteroids, dinosaurs, ice ages, super-volcanoes, and floods. They happen every so often. And no matter how great or advanced we think we are, there are some things we cannot avoid. Seeing as how they are out of our control; we can’t worry about the possibility of them occurring in the future. We must live in the present.
It was a simple run-of-the-mill talk we had, but I wonder if he can do it. Can he live a life in the present, free of the shackles that are attached to the past and the present? I hope he will be able to. I hope there will come a time that I may be able to do it also. I am not there yet, but I think I am getting closer.
Slow. That’s what my Tuesday morning was. I woke up unrefreshed and unmotivated. It was a new day. It was supposed to be full of life, a day filled with opportunity. But on this Tuesday morning, none of it felt possible.
Why? There are a few possible culprits all beginning the day before. First was a hard leg workout, followed by a glass of bourbon, and a late dinner. I didn’t stretch before bed. And to cap it off, I was reading a PDF on my iPad, and it was not set to night mode. Nothing like a load of blue light coming into the brain via the eyeballs right before you turn in for the evening.
The result was a less-than-ideal Tuesday. The body wasn’t willing. The mind wasn’t clicking. It was Aristotle who said, “The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” I had no energy. I had no essence.
I am not guaranteed to wake up every morning full of energy and life. But if I take a good look at the day and night before, I may be able to negate some of the bad juju I woke up with. If I don’t take a hard look at the events leading up to it, I am destined to repeat more of these bad nights.
There must be a transformational moment.
Something must click within my brain. There must be an inner voice saying, “If you continue without the change, you will stay the same.” What was that insanity definition again, something about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?
Again, there must be a transformational moment. Those moments come to all of us throughout the day. They are moments of insight suggesting a minor correction in our compass bearing. Should I eat or drink this? Was my reaction appropriate in this moment? Do I really need to sit around for the next episode to auto-start on Netflix? These moments come and go all the time. Maybe it is a sign from the universe, an instinct, or a tiny little voice asking you if this is the best choice. To ignore it is foolish. To heed the warnings is to be open towards growth. To make the change is wisdom.