Wednesday, October 31, 2007

We're Not Invincible.


Halloween

A holiday and tradition that people celebrate by dressing up and participating in trick-or-treating while looking like scary things such as goblins & ghosts, like movie characters such as Cinderalla & Darth Vader, and superheroes like Spiderman & Superman.

Putting on that mask and wearing that cape is another feeling. Kids do it and they instantly feel like their hero’s. Adults do it and they instantly feel like a kid again. It brings back memories and takes people to another place - a place of enjoyment, fun, and adventure. And second to the candy…that is why so many kids love it!

However, it also reminds me that as human beings we are never invincible like our favorite superhero’s when we were growing up. Just like Superman we have our own kryptonite and it is fact. In life, we will face challenges and come across many things that we don’t enjoy, expect, or wish upon. However, we have to deal with them.

What we can do first – is make a choice. Make the choice to reduce the chances of injury, pain, or discomfort (emotionally & physically). We can make a choice to remove us from the risks that some of us bring on ourselves. We can make the choices to be better than we were the day before. And we can make a choice to be GREAT not good.

And when we make those choices, the outcome of our life changes. It changes for the better. It satisfies our inner-self and allows us to experience what we believe in and what we truly want (not the material things but the personal things – such as Willie’s blog yesterday). This is when we are truly satisfied.

When we choose to go down a path that increases our chances for failure, disappointment, injury, risk, or even death we must understand that we made the choices to get us there. Although there are some things you can’t control there is one thing you can – your attitude. You have to sleep in the bed that you make. Similarly, you have to live the life that you choose to live. So don’t be disappointed if you are in a position that could have been prevented or that you would have known better…because ultimately YOU had the choice not to go down that path.

We are not invincible. We are humans and just like superhero's have things that can bring us down. We must learn from our mistakes, make choices and decisions that will prevent us from experiencing pain & discomfort, understand that we are accountable for our OWN actions, and most importantly that we have the option to get back on the horse after we have been kicked off.

It is up to you.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Value

Inventory.

It is the retail employee's worst nightmare. The bike shop is full to the rafters with prehistoric parts, accessories and new products that change faster than computer technologies. What is this and how much is it worth?

Part after part of incredible value or a high price that has plummeted due to product extinction. The cheers and following "oohs and aaahs" when we discover an item that we haven't needed or seen in years is incredible. The dollar amount is staggering when added up at the end of a section.

The ultimate consumer question. How much do we have?

Which begs the question, how much are you worth and how do you value your life?

In today's world we have begun to take our inventory by counting what we have. Seven bathrooms, 5 bedrooms, four flat screens, three cars over $30,000 each, the "perfect" family of two kids [one of each], a boat, a cabin at the lake, a time share and the list goes on.

The priorities are askew.
I have two significant inventories to do each year. One is for me and one is for my business.

This is what we have this year:
Business:
  • lots of stuff worth a cash value
  • 17 staff that can all read and write = priceless
  • 3 owners that all still have their health = priceless
  • 2 owners that took 15 friends to ride from Seattle to Portland = leadership, which = priceless
  • staff members that value their jobs, the environment that they want to live in and the lifestyle they want to have = priceless
  • employees that know they can implement new ideas = priceless
  • employees that value their fellow man and give to charities even though they are not cash wealthy = priceless
  • employees that smile more often than not = priceless
  • people that care = priceless
Personally:
  • a healthy family
  • two children that teach me more about living for the moment in one day than a lifetime of collecting stuff could = priceless
  • awareness of who and what I am = priceless
  • friends that care about me and not my net worth = priceless
These are but a few things that I have in my inventory. There is so much more that each day I now take an inventory. An inventory I say thank you for.

So......looking at your life, what do you have of value?

Are you counting the right things?

Monday, October 29, 2007

And the word will be ravaged by flood, famine and fire.

There is a religious exert that follows something along these lines and although I would not consider myself to devout anything, I’m starting to connect the dots.



Last night, during 60 minutes, a segment aired on the honey bees disappearance from vast regions of the United States. If you didn’t know that the honey bee is responsible for almost all of our fruit, grain and vegetable sustenance through the process of pollination, don’t feel silly – I had conveniently forgot too. Of course until I learned they honey bees had just left the buildings.

At the end of all the hypothesis, the one that made the most sense to everyone was the theory that we were stressing the bee’s with all of our pesticides, by products of those pesticides and overproduction of crops. Literally, everybody loses if the bee’s don’t come back. They were simply not coming back to their hives to continue the cycle. They were not dying in the fields, rather they were flying away to new places that didn’t have the same damage.

First thought that came to mind was “well, I’ve never seen many healthy fruits and vegetables consumed in the US anyways, until I remembered…. it was probably for export” (that was a direct blow by the way). The second thought was on a larger scale. Follow me here.

With the massive expansion of population, we are taxing literally every one of the earths ecosystems. Harvesting the rain forests, clearing vast regions of land for real estate, ‘juicing’ our foods so we can produce more / bigger / faster products (at a fraction of the nutritional value), popping up plants and industry to process & transport these foods, emitting greenhouse emissions which adversely affect our atmosphere, displacing plants and animals who are required to complete the cycle of life and the list goes on.
Point here is, I shouldn’t be surprised by the fact our environment is quickly going to hell in a handcart as everyone is trying to ‘get theirs’.

As for the wise prophet who proclaimed this would happen, well, it isn’t that much of an epiphany or revelation – he / she simply had to watch the behavior of his greedy fellow man to understand that eventually our universal god (money), would reign supreme. He / she knew regardless of how much money ruled the earth, the earth is one entity that cannot be paid off.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I hope they never see this.

On almost ¾’s the worlds continents there are hundreds of millions of people on the brink of death via starvation. We’re talking emaciated, weak, and unable to fight disease or move because they are so malnourished. I think to myself, what would these people give to have a fraction of what the western worlds population has. A fraction.



This, is Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti. Last week Patrick skinned champion Joey Chestnut and staved off a comeback by Takeru Kobayashi to win the chicken wing "Chowdown" for Spike TV. Joey and Takeru are the US’s defending hot dog eating championships. If you’ve seen one of these contests, you already know it ranks in the top 10 most obscene things you will see, [below jackass and just above kids filming themselves vandalizing vacant houses]. I have not watched one, nor can I bring myself to stomach the highlights, I guess I just let my imagination run wild.

Yet I do take the time to think….. Imagine, sitting ¾’s of the world down in front of a television set and letting them watch one of these contests. People stuffing food in their faces to see how much they can shove down in a minute, or 5 minutes for the grand prize of a giant rubber chicken, $2500.00 and bragging rights, regurgitation disqualifying them from continuing on. Picture MILLIONS of people. What do you think their response would be?

I’m not hopping on the cross here or saying we are all equal and hence should live the same existence, what I am pointing to to is awareness and the fact that annual acts like this indicate one thing.Too many of us more than just 'lack awarenesss' in the big scheme of things, we are actually ignorant in our behaviors.

Great job Patrick! If I’m looking for a level 5 leader, new best friend, or a mentor for my children I know where to find you… every year.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thinking & Acting

If I have the belief that I can do it, I will surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning.
- Mahatma Gandhi

We have all had that enlightening moment where we came up with the solution as to how we were going to change our lives for the better. These plans were going to make us richer, more popular, healthier, better looking, and a person others look at and envy. Unfortunately for us these plans lost steam not long after the idea was originated and we had to revert back to our unfulfilled lives.

There are two reasons why we never allow ourselves to reap the rewards of our forward thinking; 1) we think we need capacity and power in numbers to start, and 2) we limit our thinking to try and control our environment.

There are many misnomers with starting a project that will in the end enhance our lives. Because of the high stakes involved, mostly our lives and our pride, these misnomers frequently prevent many great ideas from getting off the ground. The main misnomer is that we need outside help to make our idea a reality, that there is success in numbers. Sheer capacity does not equal success, it does not increase motivation, and it does not lighten the load you must carry. Sheer capacity will never equal personal sweat equity. Sweat equity is what we bring to the table individually; it is our commitment to our idea. This means that you can have as many people on board as you want, but success will not happen until you are completely committed to the end result as an individual first. The amount of sweat equity you put into your idea will create the leadership you need to then bring the right people on board with you at the right time that will help you get the results you originally sought.

To be able to lead others, a man must be willing to go forward alone.
- Harry Truman

When we look to make change we frequently try and control every aspect of our surrounding environment when what we need to look to do is understand what we can control and then exert that control. By trying to control all of our surroundings we limit our thinking because we in essence are micromanaging every little aspect of our being. When we get caught up trying to control what we have no control over we never allow ourselves to see beyond our immediate needs, we never see the big picture. When we have the big picture in mind we free up our ability to make the important/relevant decisions and free up the brain space that leads to creativity thinking. Our creativity is our greatest tool to success and when we limit our ability to think we limit our ability to succeed.
Nothing limits achievement like small thinking. Nothing equals possibilities like unleashed thinking.
- William Arthur Ward

If we are to see an idea from inception to fruition we need to walk into our idea with the knowledge that we will need to act alone before we bring others in, for the original decision is ours, and we must always think beyond what is immediately possible. When we convince ourselves that our possibilities are endless then we enable ourselves to see our worth as greater than we originally imagined.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lessons From Las Vegas

The other day a colleague and I were having a discussion which reminded me of a great lesson in how we are perceived by others. Frank Butterfield is a very popular and successful personal trainer and public speaker out of Las Vegas, Nevada. His message; which in no way was limited to personal training; was that "you're selling even when you're not selling".

What he was referring to was what we already know about communication: you communicate way more than just what you say. His speech was about presentation, professionalism, and advocacy, but it can easily be extended to our attitudes, and living what we say.

In effect; if we say one thing, and do another, we are not 'selling' what we want to through our actions. Take parenting: we can tell our kids about the dangers of smoking, but if you light up around friends; why should they buy what you're selling?
If you read swim upstream, and talk about what attitude you want to embrace, but then act like a victim at the first sign of adversity; your actions are not selling the same image to those around you that your speech does.

The real crux of Frank's message was that you can never know who is watching or when; but you can know what YOU are doing. If you are always (or at least, as consistently as possible) acting in accordance with what you say; then people will buy what you are selling... they will know that you mean what you say, and they will be far more open to hear it because they see you do it.

The real take home message here is that it is not about 'selling' anything; if you want to get more out of life; you can't just talk a lot about having a better attitude - you just have to live that attitude through your actions because it is what you truly believe. Do this, and more positive results will follow, and as an added bonus, people you didn't know were watching will 'buy' what you have been 'selling' without even knowing it and more opportunity and acceptance to a better way of thinking will open up to you.

So what are your actions selling right now? Would you buy it?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Taking Charge


To follow up on yesterday's blog by Willie, today I want to share a story of someone that is in fact taking charge and making changes in her life. Her name is Kim Hexter - a fellow swimupstream follower and she is an example of someone that is making use of her time to make the necessary changes & taking the necessary actions in her life, to live the BEST life possible.

In hopes that other swimupstream subscribers make use of what we try to provide everyday - perspective, advice, thoughts, etc., Kim wants to share her story to HELP & SUPPORT any of you in making the change to start living life TODAY and not tomorrow.

Kim writes:

I call myself a faithful Swim Up Streamer.

I have undergone many changes this past year, and, can honestly say, that I am finally striving to live my best life.

On some occasions, I have been asked to share my “Before” and “After” photos. Well, I definitely have a “Before” photo…before I learned that weight loss is a byproduct, before I found Innovative Fitness and the wonderful people there, before I was introduced to Swim Up Stream…before I learned that I am a Work In Progress.

I am a Work in Progress, therefore, I have no “After” photo. I have many “During” photos…which include any photos that I have appeared in since November 2006, and will appear in for the rest of my life. This is because, other than the afterlife, there is no “After” for me. There can be no “After” if I truly want to live my best life.

Through Swim Up Stream, I had an “A-HA” moment last winter when I learned that only 2% of the population truly changes. At the time I heard / read that statistic, I felt alarmed. Alarmed because I was undergoing so many changes for the better and never wanted to imagine going back. It didn’t take me long to start thinking about how I would remain in that 2%. My “A-HA” moment occurred when I realized that, as long as I view myself, and my life, as a work in progress, with the continuing goal to be better, and to live by the principles and theories of Swim Up Stream, I will be in that 2%.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to read volume one of the “Swim Up Stream” collection, which has led to this self reflection.

During this reflection, I have realized how much Matt, Willie, Curtis, Stan and Scott are contributing to my work in progress.

Some of what I have learned / realized …

• My door is wide open to opportunities, and I’m just inside that door ready to grab them – hell, I’m busting through that door!!
• The Law of Attraction exists, and is wonderfully powerful
• I C.H.A.L.L.E.N.G.E. myself to S.U.C.C.E.E.D.
• I know what my pillars are and I aim to nurture and appreciate every one
• Money does not bring happiness…but, passion, enthusiasm and courage to live your best life do. Recognize your passion, pursue that passion, and then enjoy the happiness that ensues…
• Surround yourself with great people who enhance your life and challenge you to be better. You’ll never waste another minute.
• I will not live in fear of living, failing or succeeding
• Volunteer, give of yourself completely, and you will know greater awards than you could ever imagine
• I know that, as long as I strive to live my best life, and be my best self, it doesn’t matter that we are not equals. What do I care if I’m not your equal as long as I’m the best that I can be? Go be your best self, too.

The points above simply skim the surface of the depth that is within me since choosing to Swim Up Stream…jumping in to live my BEST LIFE.

Thanks for sharing Kim...you truly are an inspiration for all of us to learn from!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tomorrow May Never Come

There is a prevailing attitude amongst all of us that we have forever to catch up with old friends, that we can wait to say the things we want to tell our love ones or even that we can start tomorrow working on our dreams.

This is an attitude that is the norm. It is also lazy and filled with the idea that as humans we are invincible.

We all agree that thinking that we are invincible is crazy but the thinking doesn't often translate to the actions we display. Most of us harbour baggage from past experiences and rarely do any of us ever change or deal with this baggage. As stated here in the swimupstream blogs only 2% of people actually ever move from one state to the next and completely change. We are creatures of habit and even when we know that something will hurt us, like smoking or drinking excessively, we are prone to stay the course. Arrogance.

We are happy to stay in our safe place because it is easier than stepping out, embracing our fears and seeing what we could become.

This is a challenge. This is a statement of intent.

Call your Mum, your Dad, your family, your friends. Jump out of a plane, rock climb, ride a mountain bike downhill, run a marathon, climb a mountain, do a cleanse, write a book, lead a parade, but please just do something...

Live now. Tomorrow doesn't come for so many people. While we sit on our couch contemplating life and think that we are safe from death's trap others are out actually living knowing that on your couch you are actually dead anyways.

Live now. Live completely. Live for something.
Live for you.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Same message, different example.



Good morning. For those who are regular subscribers we havea special something for you today. It's a final cut of our epic Halifax to Vancouver ride put to video. We are very proud to share these special moments with like minded people and want you to take away the fact that with the right people in your life, the right gameplan and the right attitude, you can accomplish anything.

Cheers

http://web.mac.com/rickwelter/stingray/Welcome.html

(copy into your browser to preview if it's not lit up on your computer and click on H2V).

Friday, October 19, 2007

Stunting Our Youth

If you are looking for your children to become successful individuals who will become positive adult citizens, then make sure that they understand one simple rule; ignore almost everything that adults tell them. Why you might ask? Because adults spend more time telling children what not to do and what they can’t do more often then telling them what they are capable of.

Let’s look at how we parent children. One of the first words every child will learn is “no” because we as adults look to protect our child by letting them know what they can’t do. As children get older we adults then move on to the word “don’t” and use all of our parenting energy telling children all the things they shouldn’t do. Finally when our children near adulthood and are getting ready to make their own adult decisions, we remind them of what we wouldn’t do if we were in their situation.

Education is no different. Children spend 7 hours a day with adults who are looking to catch them doing something wrong. This way the educator knows that they are doing their job; child makes mistake + adult corrects mistake = teaching. Behavioral management in the classroom is focused on what the children can’t do, “no talking in class”, “do not use X Y & Z without permission”, etc., and not on ways that they can use the whole classroom to enhance their learning. By using this approach we are trying to program our children into what we think is in their best interest.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know that children need structure and to some extent a controlled environment, but to what extent is the question? If we control the environment of a child through “no”, “don’t”, and “can’t”, what are they really learning on their own? When we have our children focus on all the things they can’t do, then when do they get to figure out what they are capable of? When children aren’t given the chance to make mistakes, or their mistakes are constantly corrected by adults, when do they learn how to problem solve on their own?

We stunt the growth of our children through simply not giving them the tools to focus on what is possible because we are constantly telling them what is not possible. If we put an equal amount of effort catching children doing something right as we do wrong, think of the growth possibilities through learned experience as opposed to taught experience.

When we constantly focus on what our children can’t do, or shouldn’t do, we put their focus away from what they think that they can do. When children focus on things they supposedly can’t do then we stunt their greatest ability which is to use their imagination. As we look to create responsible and successful adults out of our children look no further than your own workplace and ask yourself; where are the people who follow directions the best and where are the people who use their vision the best? Tell yourself who you would like your child to best represent and go forward from there.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hard-Wired For Failure

If you are a regular reader of swimupstream (which we hope you are and thank you our loyal readers), then you have heard about the 2 polar mentalities: victim and victorious. In other words, we often report that it is not what happens to you, but how you react - what you do to improve your lot in life, rather than 'what you get'. I stand by this 100%, but Tuesday this week at a seminar featuring Tony Robbins, I got a fresh perspective (which is of course what we try to offer daily)...

In addition to your attitude, and your aptitude to reacxt to what life gives you, we must also consider your view of the world. That is, sometimes choosing the right attitude is impossible given the expectations we have on ourselves, and what we expect from the world. I am referring to the way we are "hard-wired" or as the famous Tony Robbins says, our 'blueprint'.

Sometimes men are 'hard-wired' to believe that they must be able to support a family, and if they do not do this, then they are a monumental failure. Some women believe that if they do not get married by a certain age, or if they never have children, that they are not fulfilling their purpose in life. The point is, in addition to managing our attitudes in every given situation, we must also examine our attitude about our life; that is, what we define as success for ourselves and what we expect out of life.

If you define success by comparing yourself to others, you may be 'hard-wiring' yourself for failure... because success for that person may not be the same for you; and you may or may not be able to do the same things as them because you may not have the same skill set or the same interstes (passion).

The real take home message is: focus on you. What are you good at? What makes you happy? Other than financial (which only comes as an extension of success in other areas) how do you define success? Who do you want to be?

The sooner we get away from herding towards pre-defined models of success, and the sooner we ignore 'norms' set for us (not by us) in society, the sooner we get in touch with what we really want, and what would make us truly happy.

When we feel happy, it is only because our life situation is aligned with our goals/ wants/ needs/ desires. When we are unhappy, it is only because we are not measuring up to what we want/ what we said we would do/ how we think we should act or feel.

So stop 'hard-wiring' yourself for failure. If we stick with a computer analogy, YOU get to write the operations manual- you get to write the program. YOU get to define what YOU should do based on your goals and the legacy you wish to leave.

Time to crash the network, and re-wire it. Time to 'hard-wire' yourself for success by aligning your goals with who you want to be... and then it is time to act consistently with what you lay out and continue to choose a victorious attitude and a successful operating system (how you are 'hard-wired') every day.

Time to log on to your life they way YOU should live it!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wherever Focus Goes, Energy Flows!

In life, we are surrounded by a variety of individuals and are unfortunately categorized by many different characteristics, whether it be their height, size, ethnic background, skin color, gender, age, religion, abilities, etc. Yet we are rarely categorized by our values, our contributions to society, our outlook and perspectives, and most importantly our moods and presence. The reality is, we live in a society that judges. And if only we lived in a society that judged people on their moods and outlook as it might actually impact people's thoughts and their desire to change.

Let me explain.

When we look at children, we see young human beings that conduct themselves in an effortless, careless, fearless, and enjoyable manner. We watch them kick their heels as they run down the road, jump in puddles that they come across, ask the exact questions that are on their minds, and say what they honestly feel and think. And then we are slowly are taught (directly and indirectly through a variety of messages) to change our physiological state and focus. We are taught to fear; fear of being judged, fear of being accepted, fear of what failure brings. So, we instantly hold back from what we do, say, and think.

It doesn't have to be this way. Re-read previous blogs on fear, blogs the impact we have on our children ('yes, we, and can' and 'how we cripple our children'), and blogs on change...and you will find answers to prevent (or at least reduce) the likelihood of this happening.

We can also begin to understand items that we can change instantly. One thing is our STATES.

We all know the people that look at life like a glass 1/2 full and are the 'downers' of the group BUT conversely have most likely been in contact with people that are ALWAYS happy and are the life of the party. These people brighten up the room and are enjoyable to be around. WHY?

Because where your focus goes - energy flows.

If you think positively, you will have a positive presence. If you think negatively, you will bring a negative presence. It is that simple. Both your focus and your physiology have an impact on your STATE. And this state (whether be positive or negative) impacts yourself AND the people you are surrounded by.

So train yourself to direct your state in a positive manner and conduct yourself fearlessly like a child. Remember you will NEVER need an excuse or a reason to be happy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Change

"If you keep on doing what you've always done, you’ll keep on getting what you've always got."

You need to change if this is the case. Change is the most annoying of facts. On the one hand it is easy to talk about but on the other hand only 2% of people ever actually are able to make a total and lasting adjustment to their daily lives. We are, in short, creatures of habit to a fault.

Rarely will you meet someone that doesn't know what they should change or why. The problem lies in the how to change realm and more importantly how to maintain that change so it becomes life long.

You may have even heard that it takes 21 days to make a new habit. Simple but probably true but not because of the timeline. The truth lies in the making of a new habit. Simply put change requires creating new habits. It is the habits that continually fail us when we want to change because we revert to our normal state. Eating after 8pm, not exercising regularly, being late for dinner or in the case of many, causing bodily harm by smoking, salty foods, or highly stressed environments. Each of these situations on their own are not that hard to change but combined with the events that lead up to a smoke or a bad meal are ingrained incredibly heavily.

To change we need to evolve every part of our lives. This is difficult because humans hate change. So when it comes down to altering our entire lifestyle we just turn a blind eye and in many cases slowly kill ourselves.

How do you make the necessary adjustments?

  1. Know yourself. Know what you are like and understand truly why you must change. In most cases you will realize that change will make you happier and more of an asset to yourself and the people you love. In some cases it is because you want to stay alive.
  2. Look through your day and discover what triggers your normal habits. Start altering your daily habits and creating new ones from the second you get up in the morning. It is difficult to have lasting change if you still buy the same groceries or go to the same restaurants but expect to eat differently.
  3. Take those daily habits you want out of your life and get rid of them on paper. make your day plan full of what you do want and then follow it. Make sure to write it down.
  4. Start now. don't put off making small adjustments but ideally make wholesale changes to your rituals.
  5. Use a spark and do something absolutely out of the ordinary. Get up at 5am and shock yourself into adjustment. You'll actually have to think about what to do next.
  6. Stick with your plan and fight through the adversity. You'll begin to revert. By writing down weeks in advance what you should be doing you'll at least have a written guideline to be accountable to.
  7. find a mentor or coach that will keep you accountable. This person is your change liaison and they will make a difference in your life so you can make a difference in the lives of others.
Change is difficult but if approached with a true belief and by following a plan it is possible...and better yet it can be easy.

Change your behaviours to change your results.

Monday, October 15, 2007

24/7

Last week there was a feature on 60 minutes entitled 24/7 detailing the fact American’s work longer hours than literally anyone else in the world. In it, they featured what appeared to be a very successful husband and wife multi-tasking their way to success in their main jobs and side jobs. Further, they featured a successful entrepreneur who point blank said “sure we miss those special moments with the family” like it was as routine as picking up the morning paper.

Each time I watch one of these segments decreeing our ability to go the long haul, I think about a few ironic facts.

#1. Of all the “developed” countries, we are the least productive per hour. [Actually stated on the 60 minute show].

#2. Of all the “developed” countries, we have the highest incidence of stress leave, and litigation around working conditions.

#3. In most regions of the country our economy is in the toilet.

So, my natural inclination is to think, perhaps it’s time to par down how ‘hard’ we work and starting thinking or way’s we can work ‘smart’. And the Nobel Prize goes to……

Let’s rip a page from the Europeans, who for all intensive purposes have a much higher quality of life than we do. Unlike North American’s, they shut down businesses mid day for family and self time – and ironically are more productive / hour than we are.

I think one of the main reasons this phenomena exists is because the simpler way of life doesn’t yield way to the amount of distractions we have here. Organizations scrambling to shut down things like MSN, Facebook etc, may prove that all that long work – is interspersed with all that long play – yet not delineated as such. That’s right, it seems to be wrapped up amongst the work banner. If we were to truly study hours on task vs hour off task, we may get our 64 million dollar answer, but until then, stop telling us we are 24/7 when the undisputed facts support we are not.

Nothing is forever.

It always amazes me how many people think they are going to laugh / love & live forever. This isn’t metaphorically speaking it is literally speaking. All things in life have a beginning and an end. We will all one day... perish.

Why the discussion of this reality is deemed morbid / or a downer and why it’s brushed under the carpet left, deemed taboo or is 'better left unspoken' is something I have never understood.

Do we think if we don’t recognize and address it, it may not happen? Is it simply another reality we pretend isn’t real? Is there something that wrong with changing our minds or switching gears ¼ - ½ - ¾’s of the way through life? Are we breaking all the rules by locking ourselves into till death do part, 'things', friendships, prosperity, health & happiness or are these ideals just that – ideal, yet not reality. Conditionsal elements that should have no conditions.

Fact is life is dynamic and as we embrace new technologies that make decisions and tasks easier and effortless, so to comes the ability to ‘move off’ of one thing onto the next. Locking into ‘forever’ in this day and age may be settting ourselves up for great disappointment whereas living in the moment (responsibly) seems like a pretty good option.

If we understand nothing is forever, we may decrease the distance of our fall. we may have less anger around finding one person / thing to blame or fear less of the inevitable. We may be able to enjoy the present in the present and make damn sure we thank our lucky stars we made it through the night to enjoy the next day. What next week, month and year look like are great targets – however we should not feel we are ‘locked into them’. When we get locked in, our want to’s become have to’s and we lose our zest for life.

So while its great to dream / want / and follow what’s often a pre described path in life, remember the reality that nothing is forever… and there’s nothing that wrong with that.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Success = passion + skillset

Unsure how many times this has been detailed, reviewed or commented on through the swimupstream history, yet this was yet another fantastic example of success from a layperson who many counted out before they gave him the chance. We recieved this about 3 weeks ago, and juts last week learned his first cd had been released in Wallmart to the tune of a whopping 1/2 million copies sold.

Normally, we cringe at these types of contests, feeling to much time is spent berating peoples self esteem instead of simply saying ‘not for you – thanks for giving it your all’, however in this case, we (and the judges) were surprised.

....without further adieu, the case in point of today’s blog, really it speaks for itself. Success is all about matching what you are passionate about with what you are skilled at.

click here

If this link does not work, cut and paste this link into your google browser.
http://www.maniacworld.com/Phone-Salseman-Amazes-Crowd.html and find Paul Potts.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Crossroads

In West African folklore there is a dynamic God named Esu who is above the bounds of ethical judgment. Esu is the lord of the crossroads, where he can carry messages and sacrifices to and from the gods. Esu guides people to the afterlife through the decisions they have made in this life, and based on the roads they took to get to their destinations; hence “at a crossroads”.

It is told that legendary Blues musician Robert Johnson met up with Esu at the crossroads and sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his musical talents. As a young musician, Robert Johnson was frequently ridiculed during and after his performances. This ridicule got to Robert and he eventually disappeared for some time, many thought that he had quit music all together. After a year’s time Robert Johnson resurfaced playing Blues music that was instantly a hit and the legend was that his new talents came from his meeting with Esu.

The story of Robert Johnson, where folklore and real life come together to form legend, is a story that each of us will face multiple times in our lifespan. We will all come to a crossroads in life where a tough decision will need to be made and we have a metaphysical choice; do you sell your soul or not?

When we come to a crossroads in life the decisions we make will speak loudly of our character. We will decide to take a road that will have a consequence attached to it and it is our responsibility to accept that decisions result, positive or negative. We do not have the benefit of being a God such as Esu, where we are above the bounds of ethical judgment. Our decisions need to be calculated because in most cases the will affect not only ourselves, but others that we hold close to ourselves. In essence, we will be judged by the choices that we make.

To sell our soul is to take the easy way out. It is our compromise for making the wrong choice and not wanting to live up to the negative consequences we created through our decision. When we reach a crossroads in life we need to understand that there is no easy way out, that we must work our way through the tough decision making process and fight until the road becomes unobstructed. This is the only way for us to keep our character intact while still enhancing our lives.

Robert Johnson did not sell his soul to the devil when he met Esu. He took a year off and perfected the craft that he was passionate about. Robert Johnson failed, rose above fear, and decided to make himself a legend.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Life without fear... is no life at all.


This is a photo of SlickRock Trail in Moab, Utah. It was originally used by motorcyclists as a way to get away from the herd and see new sights, locales, and basically, escape the rat race. I will be the first to admit I know next to zero about motorcycles and motorcyclists. What I do know - they play by their own rules.

It was in this spirit that another subculture, namely extreme mountain bikers, have all but claimed this epic trail as their own. Today I am on my way to Moab to tackle this new challenge; armed by 7 other people who live by their own rules looking to escape the rat race and tackle new locales.



Above is a photo of the war wounds I incurred on a training ride for the journey. There are 2 reasons I share the photo. First, it is with both a sense of excitement as well as a sense of trepidation that I enter the upcoming weekend. Moab's trails are 90% slickrock; which is like sandpaper to the skin upon wipeouts. This leads us to the second reason...

When we tread unchartered waters... fear is not only natural, it is a certainty. In fact, the fear and excitement I feel right now is a surefire sign that what we are about to do is worth it.

We all have fear - the million dollar question is why and what type. If we live every day in fear (of bills, our children's welfare, etc) then we are owned by fear. If we were not about to take a risk in Moab, we would instead go about a normal weekend - safe. One of my favorite quotes regarding fear - the brave are not those who live without fear: they are simply brave 5 minutes longer than the meek.

So this weekend my 7 friends and I get to tackle our fear, and grow as people while enjoying the company of great people and tick one more accomplishment off of our life lists.

My challenge to you: when was the last time you entered a fearful situation on purpose? When was the last time you looked at the routine and sprinted in the opposite direction just because you could?

This is not to say live without consequences... we still had to delegate our respective responsibilities in advance and book travel insurance. The point is: LIVE. Do something different this weekend if not today - if not this instant.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Indecisive Mind

There are certain times in life that we come across forks in our paths and it's difficult to know which way to take. Sometimes the choices sound equally appealing, or have multiple factors to take into consideration. At this point, if we lack the confidence to go with our gut or lack an automatic decision making system - we fall into the category of being indecisive.

Creating and outlining your own decision making system will allow you to overcome your indecisiveness. And the first step and probably the most important step in creating this, is to make sure to never make a decision, especially a negative one, when you are angry, hurt, depressed, or frightened. Many times your ego will try to overdrive your more rational thinking and you may very well regret whatever decision it is that you made. If you have (and usually you do), take the time to calm down and start to feel better emotionally to assure yourself that you are in a clear thinking and feeling state.

When you are able to make a rational decision (because of limited emotion attached to the situation) begin to weigh all of your options. Write every aspect of the choices down so you can see them clearly. The process of writing everything down will help you think of other options that you may not have originally seen. Writing will allow you to get all your thoughts out of your head, as opposed to staying inside where they are competing for attention and possibly causing emotional turmoil. Your goal is to be calm and clear headed to reach your best decision.

When you have all aspects of the choices listed, then focus on the goals, challenges, and opportunities that you can find with all sides of the choices you are looking at. This will help you start to further define which choice will ultimately be in your best interest. Begin to list and expand on the different goals, challenges and opportunities. Take the time to talk with peers and professionals if you believe they can offer solutions. Search out and listen to those that have walked a similar path as they will have the best advice for you. These steps are excellent ways to find out if there are any other alternatives or aspects that you may not have thought to note earlier and should give you a good understanding of the implications of the choices you are faced with.

Sometimes a lot of thinking about making your decision may be confusing the matter and keeping you away from the most important decision making tool you have - Your intuition. Many people are trained to listen to what others have to say, like parents, teachers, or bosses so when it comes to make a decision (any for that matter) they cannot seperate what should and shouldn't be made by them. They lack the confidence to go with their own intuition and make a decision on their own - because they never have had to. So, for some it can be challenging to look for themselves and make the necessary steps to make that decision and go with their own gut. However, at some point it has to happen. And people have to learn to accept and mistakes or failures that result from their own decision because ultimately that is what is going to make them learn and grow.

In summary, define your choices, add all options and brainstorm with others. When you are finished with that part of the process, let go and allow your innermost self and subconscious to work on the decision for you. And then make it...don't wait because the opportunity that is presenting itself might no longer be there when you decide to move.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Many Thanks

The things I am thankful for...

The smile on my baby and her gaze that follows me each time I sidle past in my busy state.

The welcome I get from my son when I return from a long day at work. Only he can make me feel like Superman and Spiderman put together.

I am thankful for being able to ride my bicycle with my Dad in the pouring rain.

I am blessed with the care and love my wife gives our children and our family. I am thankful that everyone in my family is healthy.

I am blessed to live in a country that is not oppressed and truly allows freedoms such as religious choice, speech and values.

I am thankful for the physical ability to be able to run, dance, ride and jump. These are true feelings of being wealthy.

To be able to read and write because these are things that allow my life to be better than millions of others in the world.

I am blessed to have people I can rely on and truly call friends. I am thankful I have been chosen to be a friend.

I am thankful for the roof over my head, food on my table, the chance to laugh, family, friends and that I have embraced life.

Thank you for my blessings.

In Memory...
The past weekend the North Shore community lost two of its most animated and fun friends as they past away in a freak adventure accident.

The Swim Up Stream family would like to extend our thoughts and condolences to their families and friends in this terrible time.

Both of these men were strong spirits with boundless energy and a passion for the outdoors. We know they moved to the next life ending this one doing what they loved and for this we are happy.

May the snow always be fresh, the ocean tides with you, the wind at your backs, the trails buff and the skies blue birds. Ride long and ride hard my friends. We will miss you.

God bless.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Opportunity begets opportunity

It’s not an urban legend and as we talk about the law of attraction, intent and the power of positive thinking, it’s important to highlight the tangible bi-product of these principles in motion.

Logic & reason would explain that the more you put yourself out there, the greater likelihood of getting noticed, but the 64 million dollar question is why so few people are able to capitalize off of this reality. Ans: they don't know what opportunity is, and how many times it presents itself each day.

Like the Hollywood dream, they are waiting for their opportunity to find them, served up an the magical silver platter like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Not to suggest this can’t won’t and doesn’t happen to a few people, emphasis is on the word few (as in 1/100000). This isn’t a 'you get out of life what you put into it' speech, its greater than that. It’s to assure you that once you begin consistently take advantage of opportunities in your current field of vision, you put yourself on notice to get noticed.

Eventually, the tipping point will come while you are stringing together opportunity after opportunity. The more you take advantage & maximize each one, the more will appear across a multitude of examples (some of which you didn’t even know existed). It’s like the saying it takes money to make money (which is also true) and all it starts with is ‘your best’ at mostly anything you do. Trust, us when we assure you that in today’s society, your consistent best day and day out will not go unnoticed, and will likely be rewarded with…. opportunity.

If you are asking what opportunity is and looks like, you are probably not going to experience a lot of it across your lifetime. It’s reserved for special people who see in life what most others don’t; the fact there is not one way do see / hear / smell / taste / feel and live it!

Friday, October 05, 2007

You Are Not A Victim

The phenomenon coming out of what is a litigious society is the amount of perceived victimization in individuals. During the average day you will listen to about one hour of complaining (and unless you don’t talk, that means you also are contributing to that hour for someone else), mostly regarding something that is contributing to holding that person back; on how they are a victim. The snowball effect of this is that the complainers are winning by creating more and more like minded individuals. We now have full conversations dedicated to “one upping” our victimization, as it is necessary to be a bigger victim than the person next to us.

With perceived victimization we continually harm our psyche, giving power to others while rendering ourselves powerless. The more we perceive ourselves as victims the more we allow ourselves to be manipulated by others, the system, society, and “the man”. In giving up our control we also give up our self esteem; we lose the fight we have in us. When our self esteem is fractured we get an unrealistic view of the situation we are in, think that everyone is out to get us, and look for people to complain to. In success we create more complainers so that we feel better; we get people to join our team. In failure we fracture relationships, become disgruntled, and lose a sense of self. Neither is a self empowering outcome to an avoidable situation.

We live in a free society where there are choices to be made. Ultimately we either make choices that empower us and make us stronger, or we make choices that lessen our value internally as well as externally. Through our decision making process we have the ability to create the life that we want, but that comes with responsibility. Our responsibility to ourselves is to make sure that we are in control over our life path, that we are making decisions that are empowering and will allow us to take on more personal responsibility. Our responsibility to others is that we will show them the way by not falling victim to their negativity. Outside of abuse in our lives, we are the ones who make the decisions that will either foster empowerment or victimization in ourselves as well as in others.

Our greatest power as free people is in our ability to choose. When we give up that ability we create an environment where we allow others to take advantage of us. You can choose to complain and to spread negativity throughout your personal network, which will never get you out of the victim mentality, or you can choose to really live, to get back the control you have lost, and to become the person you really want to be. Being a victim is a mindset, much like being in control, but it is your ability to make the choices necessary to your happiness that will ultimately separate a victim from an empowered person.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The One You Can't Fool


Life is hard. That has been said, sung, written, it is beyond cliche. What has not been said, at least enough, is WHY life is often so hard. It is going to be hard no matter what - don't get me wrong; and this is what makes life worth living. But too many times, we do less rather than more to help our own cause.

And why do we otherwise intelligent creatures do this? Because we get so caught up in roles and responsibilities, and in the 'white-picket fence' model of how to live our lives; we don't stop to question whether or not trying to live by those sets of rules is the very reason we are driving ourselves crazy!

Not only do we not stop and ask the questions - akin to Willie's blog yesterday re: the rat race; no- we do something much worse than fail to ask: we actually hide from the answers!

We often go through life trying to "keep it together" on the surface: for our boss, our spouse, our kids... we try and fool damn near everyone - except the one we can't fool... You.

The scariest thing about this charade that so many of us play - is that despite suspicions, despite the better instincts of those around you... very few accept the call to speak the truth as Matt pointed to in a previous entry (few things are better left unsaid). This means - lie to your family often enough and they will either believe you or stop vocalizing their concerns.

This leads to a very lonely place - "no one knows..." of course - you made sure of that. If you don't want to be ostracized; alone; miserable at your own hands... than don't try to fool the one you cannot, and extend that to just be honest with everyone who cares about you- it is okay to not be okay.

It is okay to need help once in a while.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Not a Solution.

If you live in Vancouver you may have heard the latest thing that nightclubs believe they are doing to prevent violence – they have begun to focus on what their customers are wearing. Downtown bars are actually turning people away because they are wearing brands of clothing that have been identified as “ganster-wear”. And we are not talking about specific gang or organized club vests, shirts, or jackets. We are talking about name brand clothing that is sold at your local shopping mall; brands such as Ed Hardy & Affliction.

I have a couple opinions on this one.

1. By banning people wearing a specifc name brand is NOT going to prevent the same people from coming into the downtown area and enjoy a night out at the nightclubs. They will simply find another brand name such as the classic Gucci or Louis Vuitton to style in. Athough certain people have a large emphasis on what they wear, there is always another wardobe that will do the trick.

2. What is next? Will parking lots start banning vehicles that are bearing Harley Davidson Tags or P.Diddy Hummers and Chrome Spinners? Possibly anytype of heavy gold or silver jewelry? People of concern will either conform to the change or continue doing the same thing but at the end of the day – who they surround themselves with, the actions that they deliver, and what they bring to society still remains the same.

3. Lastly, who the hell evaluates what & what isn’t ganster-clothing? How are you labeled a ganster and if people like Paris Hilton and Ozzy Osborne wear these brand names – you know for sure that more than just the ‘gangsters’ of the world are wearing them. It is a society that follows and needs things for a certain status but at the end of the day…let’s evaluate will the ‘gansters’ really care about switching shirts? They wouldn't have a choice if their id was scanned and they were banned if any criminal records show up...but a shirt can simply be turned inside out.

Let's change our actions and actually look at the root of the problem not the superficial fix.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Giving Will Set You Free

"It has always seemed strange to me...The things we admire in me, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success."
John Steinbeck

Many call it the "rat race". The symptoms are easy to spot but as a reminder for most it means a constant effort to keep up and stay ahead of their payments; an endless circle of work to pay, work to pay without really ever getting ahead. The clues of a society that is largely headed towards the "rat race" are everywhere; a credit based economy, sleep disorders, a me first approach, and the list goes on.

But what of our attitudes and not just our behaviors? A huge global economy of businesses has sprung up to help people realize getting out of the "rat race" is important. Many more businesses are dedicated to how people can do it. But here is a question; the attitude of consumption and getting ahead has resulted in a "rat race" society, so if we teach people, with some success, merely to change just the behaviours that are synonymous with the "rat race" will the fundamental attitudes of greed and consumption still exist? If we teach people to use their money properly and avoid the stresses related to money will we still have a society that is egocentric?

Sports heroes of today and our entertainment stars give us a glimpse of what we are headed for. Financially these normal people are able to remove themselves from the strains of living payment to payment yet fundamentally there remains very little growth to their attitude. These examples of successful people still seek out items that make them larger than life. They still work to keep up with the Jones.

I believe that to truly remove yourself from the daily toil and to get out of the "rat race" one needs to change the way they view the world. Your attitude towards life will dictate if you have removed yourself from the "rat race". It is all about attitude.

Surely the fastest way to changing the way you think is to practice giving. Give your time to those in need, give away part of your earnings and give with your heart. Charities around the world are looking for help and most people are seeking answers. Both can be satisfied when you embrace giving of yourself.

The "rat race" is a mentality and not a true reality. Remove yourself by giving away the things you most covet and you will be on the fast track to being happy and fulfilled.

Get out of the "rate race" physically and mentally.
Give and you shall receive.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Cult Default.




It’s interesting that when a group of people embrace a common belief or move towards a common goal, the movement is termed cultish? However what’s more telling are those making that distinction. Often, they are the ones reticent to be all in at 100%.

Being all in and being 100% isn’t easy. One has to let go of habits, vices and comforts and place a high degree of trust in those leading the movement. Of course that little three letter word [ego] also prevents many from buying in. after all how can someone know more than me? Isn’t that person too young too? They can’t be that interested in helping me… and the list goes on.

Ergo the cult default. If someone’s not comfortable with what’s going on around them, may as well poke holes in it to justify their own decision. The challenge for these skeptics is regardless of they may try, they can’t stop the shining. Rational or irrational, there comes a tipping point where a message gains so much power and momentum, even if you don’t like it, it’s hard to ignore.

The fact is, many of the ideologies we subscribe to these days could be defined as cultish. The media is a cult and they drive a large degree of popular opinion. How? By repeating the same message 1000’s of times through 100’s of mediums. If you hear the same message enough times, it will move from your subconscious to the conscious. That’s what marketing companies bet on.

And that’s what we at swimupstream are banking on. The messages of personal accountability, responsibility, team work, success, paying it forward and legacy are not unique messages by history – they are unique by the times we live in now. So pull up a chair, grab a glass and we’ll pour the kool aid. When people ask me if I’m a part of a cult, I answer absolutely, a cult of positivism that is essential to my personal and professional growth.

Cheers