The Pebbles in Your Life

When I think about living a better life, I am always thinking the question:

What can I add to make it better?

As a matter of fact, it is almost always a question of what I can add. Rarely is it what I can take away. And though I have made many reductions in my life, there is still much that can be taken away.

It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoes.

Muhammad Ali

Life is a battle. Whether you are actively pursuing the hero’s journey or just trying to survive another day, life is a battle. We all want to feel good. We all want to achieve homeostasis in our bodies, minds, and souls. What we are looking for is balance. And this is more than what we can add to our lives, it is also about what we can take away.

I don’t watch much television. But a few days ago, I watched an A&E biography of Steve Austin. Steve Austin may go down as one of the most popular wrestlers of all time.  This episode was a fascinating account of his career, but there was one segment that stood left an impression on me. At the height of his fame and popularity, he had to go to the hospital the night before a match. Why? Even though on the surface he was the epitome of health, he was out of balance. His daily routine was to wake up, drink coffee, then drink multiple energy drinks through the day, followed by enough alcohol to pass out at night. Eventually, his body could not take anymore, and he went to the hospital in a severely dehydrated state.

In Austin’s case, the default mode was to always add more. He was continually on the road and in the limelight. His body paid the price. But that wasn’t the only price he paid; his personal life also suffered. Was the fame worth it? Fame, like fortune, comes and goes. But on this earth, we only have this one body. If we are always adding and never taking away, we will eventually pay the price. We will be in a state of dis-ease.

There are many pebbles in life causing us discomfort. If we cannot remove them, then the journey to our lofty mountain peaks will be much more difficult. Learn to remove them before they completely halt your climb to the top.


Feature photo by John Matychuk on Unsplash

An Investment in Reading

Warning: This is another post about reading. It is inspired by the book, The Art of Impossible by Steven Kotler.

Look at these figures below:

Blogs: Three minutes gets you three days.

Articles: Twenty minutes gets you four months.

Books: Five hours gets you fifteen years.

Chapter 9: The ROI on Reading

What does this mean? According to the author, the average reader reads at a speed of 250 words per minute. The average blog post of 800 words takes about three days to write. To read a blog post would take about three and a half minutes. A five-thousand-word article takes the author about four months to create. For the reader, it takes about twenty minutes to read. And for books, the numbers go even higher. The author’s book, The Rise of Superman, took fifteen years to write. At 75,000 words, the average reader would be able to complete it in about five hours. Hence, five hours gets you fifteen years.

By reading, you are getting a fast-track version of what it took someone to learn, think, and write about.

To use myself as an example, so far this year I have read:

If the average time to write a book is fifteen years, then in five months I have consumed 165 years of other people’s wisdom and knowledge. Even if I only retain 10% of what I have read, that still puts me at sixteen and a half years in five months.

My quest in life is to acquire wisdom. I understand this is not everyone else’s quest, but everyone can benefit from more knowledge, more understanding, and of course, more wisdom.

Jim Rohn said, “Miss a meal, but don’t miss your reading.” Are you getting in your recommended daily allowance? Imagine what would happen if you read only ten minutes a day. That book that only takes five hours to read would be complete in one month. That is twelve books a year at ten minutes a day. For 180 years of knowledge in a year’s time, you are only giving .7% of your day. Is there any other investment you could make that has that high of a return?

In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter) who didn’t read all the time -none. Zero.

Charlie Munger

Wisdom is calling us. She freely gives her fruit to those who would seek it. Heed the call and go pick up a book.

Moreover, books pay performance dividends. Studies find that they improve long-term concentration, reduce stress, and stave off cognitive decline. Reading has also been shown to improve empathy, sleep, and intelligence. If you combine these benefits with the information density books provide, we start to see why everyone from tech titans like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk to cultural icons like Oprah Winfrey, Mark Cuban, and Warren Buffet credit their success to their incredible passion for books.

Chapter 9: The ROI on Reading

Feature photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

Who Is Thinking?

Do you have an opinion that is not the same as the generally held beliefs of the masses? Would you consider your thinking contrary or against the grain of popular belief? If yes, then: good.

Well, somewhat good. Your opinion, if voiced, could come at a significant cost. You could get publicly shamed, silenced, cancelled, or even killed. Jesus rubbed a few people wrong with His voice, and He was crucified. Many of His early believers followed Him and was on the wrong end of government-sanctioned murder. If you upset the mob, the mob will find a way to retaliate. Such is the way of the dissenting voice.

What is the alternative? To have the same beliefs and thoughts as the rest of the world? You could. You could go on autopilot, do the same as everyone else, believe what they believe, , think like they do. Isn’t this unity? A part of the collective?

If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.

Benjamin Franklin

To think like everyone else means you have shut down your own ability to think for yourself. You have taken the easy route and have done your best to remove what makes you unique. You might think there is nothing wrong with this. You might be right. But what if the world’s way of thinking is wrong? What if the direction of the mob or Big Brother does more harm than good? By not thinking differently, by not using your voice, you have made yourself complicit in the harm.

In Franklin’s time, men stood up and spoke out against a government they disagreed with. They fought for their ability to think differently. Not just for them, but for all who come after them.


Feature photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Constant State of Learning

To be successful, the hunter must be able to learn. His whole existence is an education of what works and what does not. He must be able to observe and read the signs presented to him. He must train his senses and cultivate his awareness.

Like the hunter, the prey’s existence is based on education. There is safety in numbers. Anything that dumbs the senses could result in death (i.e., deer in the headlights). Success for the prey is a long life. And to be successful, the prey must be trained by those that went before him.

Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a constant state of learning.

Bruce Lee

Should we not all be in a constant state of learning? If life is our teacher, then we should be living life to the fullest. This is the way we get experience, the greatest of teachers. The mistakes we make along the way are signposts pointing us in the direction we need to go. Like the hunter, we should observe the signs and consider what is preventing us from achieving our target. And like the prey, we cannot let anything (or substance) interfere with our senses lest we be caught by our adversaries. To learn from life, we must live life.


Feature photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

The Rules of Fools

We have entered a stage in world history where we are governed by the most ridiculous rules. Most of these rules are implemented for our own “good” by the government. But that is not all, we are also governed on the standards of what is socially acceptable.

In the old days, this determination was established by your community. Today, it is determined by corporations, i.e., tech companies. What you say and do, if it is not deemed appropriate or in accordance with the ideals of the mob, will result in your silence. Your voice could be cancelled. At the worst, depending on how inappropriate you are considered, much more could be cancelled. And it is not just what you did today or yesterday, it could go as far back as your childhood.

Any fool can make a rule -and every fool will mind it.

Henry David Thoreau

New rules come out every day. Will you blindly go along with the masses and acquiesce? Or will you use the discernment and understanding God has given you to question the validity of the rule?


Feature photo by Mindspace Studio on Unsplash

Finding Your Genius

A birthday party was coming up. If these are celebrated at home, they can be rather inexpensive. Except for one of the bigger expenses: the cake. My wife, Bethany, had it in her mind that she could make one herself. Even though there is a lot of planning and labor involved, making your own cake has its advantages. First, you save quite a bit of money. Second, if you can pull it off, you get a cake exactly the way you want it. In addition, there is the joy and satisfaction of knowing you were able to bring to life an image you had in your mind. She knew what it was she wanted to do and then she went out and did it. Genius!

My son was about five years old when he got it into his mind that he could do a cartwheel with one hand. Once he set his mind on what he wanted to do, he began the process of bringing it to reality. Every day, over and over, hundreds of attempts. He was relentless in his pursuit and was not going to stop until he could do it. His dedication was amazing. And to bring something from his mind to life, that is genius.

Alec demonstrating a one-handed cartwheel.

Genius is the ability to put into effect what is in your mind. There’s no other definition for it.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

When we think of genius, we think of the super-brains that can remember and create on a scale that seems impossible to us mere mortals. But all of us have a bit of genius within us. We all have this superpower of bringing to life the things that are in our minds. Genius then, isn’t for a select few, but for anyone willing to cultivate it within themselves.


Feature photo courtesy of BFine Designs.

From Reading to Being

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.

What you read when you don’t have to determines what you will be when you can’t help it.

Oscar Wilde

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?

To Glove or Not to Glove

A post about fitness…

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.

It’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting goal that will enable you to attain the success you seek. Mario Andretti

Mario Andretti

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.

Transformational Moments

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.


Feature photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

Discovery and Creation

The Discovery Process

The tree doesn’t ask, “Who am I.” Instead, it says, “I am.” It grows. It adds new layers and rings. It digs, deep, stands tall, and gives back to its community. In all its complexity, it simply is.

Humans, full of life like the tree, think they are different, yet they are much the same.  But rather than existing in a state of “I am,” they often prefer to linger at the question of “Who am I.” Thus, continues a process of discovery, searching for an answer they had within themselves the whole time. It was there all along.

The Creation Process…again…and every day

Each morning we wake up with the opportunity to create a new version of ourselves. A new dawn, a new day, and a new iteration of that which we once were. Like the tree, we add a new ring while still retaining the essence of who we are. As a “I am,” we are free to move forward, to create, and to exist for the sake of existence. We are free to live out our purpose in life.

Life isn’t about finding yourself.

Life is about creating yourself.

George Bernard Shaw

Feature photo by Vitor Pádua on Unsplash