Wednesday, April 30, 2008

promise less - DELIVER more!

We have all either been or known that individual who continually over promises and under delivers. Although this person (and it might be ourselves) might be good hearted and friendly, after a while this characteristic can get VERY tiresome.

So that begs me to ask the question, so why do we make so many promises?

Some of us feel that if we don't or can't promise, we won't have the motivation or structure to deliver consistently. This turns promises into deadlines so that keeping our word becomes necessary. Of course, we should keep our word, but most of us give it too readily. Therefore, the result is the failure at keeping our initial promise.

If this is the case, don't promise...just DELIVER

Rather than telling people what you can do for them, rather than getting people interested enough to say yes, just be spontaneous and do something for them, without even offering to do it first. Most people enjoy surprises and there's no delay or performance anxiety because there was no promise, just delivery. can never OVER deliver!

MORE means we can create a bigger solution / product instead of just delivering what a person is asking for, looking for, or expecting. When we under-promise and over-deliver, the gap between these two is pure profit - not financially, but in good reputation and self-esteem. People think more of us when we deliver far more than they were expecting (as opposed to continually coming up short). And that gap starts people talking. If we deliver even the same amount, but had promised or over-promised it at the outset, the recipients would equally benefit, but they wouldn't be as impressed and will not have a lasting positive impression.

Credibility is key in business & in relationships. And this characteristic of following through is a key distinction for progress in a relationship or friendship and anyone in business who wants to build a strong reputation quickly.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Have you improved from where you were a month or two ago?

A lot?

How did you get better? What did you read? What courses did you take? Did you fail at something and learn from it? Did you spend too much time on the stuff that keeps the day going but gets YOU nowhere? You know, the meetings, the blackberry, the emails...does that make you better or just pass the time?

If you improved at a faster rate, would that be a good thing? What would you do to make that happen?

Serious questions but the truth is that the world now rewards calculated risk, continued improvement and those that aren't afraid to fail. It didn't used to. It used to reward stability. Corn Flakes are Corn Flakes and always will be. We just don't care anymore.

What are you willing to do to improve and how fast are you wiling to do it?

Is it true?

The wise often say:

Less is more.

Do you agree?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Relax and Recharge

If you want to stay consistent with your personal and professional growth and effectiveness, regular relaxation and reflection is a key to success. This is something I personally work on and struggle with daily. I currently read some literature from Brian Tracy on some techniques for relaxing physically that are used by some of the most successful and highest paid people in America. I would like to share with this group these points that may shed some light on others who get caught up in the fast paced world we live in.

Take Time Off Every Week:

First of all, work only five or six days per week, and rest completely on the seventh day. Every single study in this area shows that you will be far more productive in the five or six days that you work if you take one or two days off completely than you ever would be if you worked straight through for seven days.

Get Your Mind Busy Elsewhere:

During this time off, do not catch up on reports, organize your desk, prepare proposals, or do anything else that requires mental effort. Simply let your mind relax completely, and get busy doing things with your family and friends. Maybe work around the house, go for a walk, engage in physical exercise, watch television, go to a movie, or play with your children. Whatever you do, discipline yourself to shut your mental gears off completely for at least one 24-hour period every seven days.

Get Away on Mini-Vacations:

Second, take one three-day vacation every three months, and during that time, refrain from doing any work. This is easy based on our stat holiday schedule. Do not attempt to catch up on even a few small things. If you do, you keep your mental gears in motion, and you end up neither resting nor properly doing work of any quality.

Take Big Chunks of Down Time:

Third, take at least two full weeks off each year during which you do nothing that is work-related. You can either work or relax; you cannot do both. If you attempt to do a little work while you are on vacation, you never give your mental and emotional batteries a chance to recharge. You'll come back from your vacation just as tired as you were when you left.

Give Yourself a Break Today:

If you are involved in a difficult relationship, or situation at work that is emotionally draining, discipline yourself to take a complete break from it at least one day per week. Put the concern out of your mind. Refuse to think about it. Don't continually discuss it, make telephone calls about it or mull it over in your mind. You cannot perform at your best mentally if you are emotionally preoccupied with a person or situation. You have to give yourself a break.

Go For a Walk in Nature:

Since a change is as good as a rest, going for a nice long walk is a wonderful way to relax emotionally and mentally. As you put your physical body into motion, your thoughts and feelings seem to relax all by themselves.

Eat Lighter Foods:

Also, remember that the process of digestion consumes an enormous amount of physical energy. Therefore, if you eat lighter foods, you will feel better and more refreshed afterward. If you eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain products, your digestive system will require far less energy to process them.

Be Good to Yourself:

Since your diet has such an impact on your level of physical energy, and through it your levels of mental and emotional energy, the more fastidious you are about what you put into your mouth, the better you will feel and the more productive you will be. We know now that foods high in fat, sugar, or salt are not good for your body. The lighter the foods you eat, the more energy you have.

I hope some of this advice was helpful. Now the next question is now you know all this information, what are you going to do with what you know?

Here are the first steps I suggest you do after reading this:

  1. Take the time to find out what will really allow you to unwind. Ask yourself what do you really enjoy that has nothing to do with work? Is it reading, writing, exercise, catching up on sleep, having a steam, a hobby, etc, etc?
  2. Plan your week in advance (weekly plan on Thursdays for upcoming week). Build into the plan actual relaxation chunks that you enjoy for at least one day/afternoon/evening per week. The key is to discipline yourself to make this happen when it is scheduled.
  3. Take the time to plan out your year for vacation time several months in advance. Ask for the time off work, book the vacation and once you've paid the money, you will be much more likely to make it happen!

Good luck and enjoy the feeling of of being recharged!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dim the lights to see clearly.

To be completely honest, the only anti [insert title here] I am is anti-victim / lazy & apathetic. Other than that, I think 99% of everything has a place in this world in some way shape or form. It’s a qualifier in the sense that if we look hard and long enough we’ll see a little good in almost anything and everything we stand for if we objectively dissect it down the middle. Eg: the internet is not so great when people are learning to build bombs or preying on children but it’s a great source of non censored information and historical fact. We can find the right things, the good things, the important things if we want.

That is.... if we’re looking.

If we don’t look, by in large we subscribe to what’s put in front of us. Problem is we take that information as gospel. There’s a lot of clout in the media and I suspect there’s a lot of lobbying, money & power behind messages that are delivered to us. It probably didn’t take governments very long to stumble upon the two more powerful sources of motivation; greed and fear. I say this, because it’s what we are fed pretty much 24 / 7. In fact, so much so – it ultimately becomes what we are looking for. eg: “did YOU see...?”

“America is the best entertained and least informed society in the world”

A quote I heard last week that didn’t take long to make sense, which is not what we want, or need, or should be proud of. There are plenty of people & resources out there who are educating, empowering and bettering us all who’ve been picked up by mainstream eg. Oprah / 60 minutes etc. So it’s safe to say the appetite for information (useful information) exists. Lets focus on providing more education and less mindless, pointless, tasteless bullshit aka entertainment.

Actors , we heard you were threatening to strike soon too. Good. Give us 9 months to provide needed education and then come back with your 10 mile wide / 1 inch deep platform for us to stand on. No wonder we’re falling down.

You want to see what’s really happening in the world – dim the lights... and listen. It's not always what you see.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I came across a study where people were given the choice between receiving five dollars in cash or a complement, and the majority of the people asked accepted the complement. The intrigue of this study is not that people declined the money, because five dollars amounts to just over a gallon of gasoline, but the power of a complement.

The theory behind the study is that the striatum area of the brain reacts the same way no matter the stimulus. Without getting into a detailed anatomy lesson, the striatum is the area of the brain which is activated by stimuli associated with reward. This stimulus activates the release of dopamine which is responsible for sending messages through the brain which allow us to acquire new behaviors. Simply put, we do something well, receive a reward, and do that action again so that we can be rewarded.

If you think about the development of a human being, we use complements on our youth frequently and usually without thought. We attach “good job” to just about anything a child does or shows you they can do. For some of us this is because we want to recognize the child for attempting new skills, and other times it is just out of habit. During our childhood we will do just about anything to get a complement because it means, 1) we are being noticed and our ego is fed, and 2) we are gaining approval from those we wish to impress.

As we enter adulthood we have the same need for our ego to be fed and to gain the approval from those we wish to impress, but a simple complement without meaning overtime does not resonate the same as it did when we were children. The obligatory “good job” feeds our ego to a certain point, but a specific complement detailing what was done to receive the accolades is far more satisfying.

As we seek to empower those we associate with we need to understand that a complement, while powerful in its generic form, will never facilitate behavior change in the same manner as a sincere complement. In sincerity we are able to genuinely pinpoint what we are recognizing, therefore creating a greater anatomical response and a greater desire to achieve the behavior recognized.

In one of the many areas where childhood and adulthood share common bonds is in our need to be recognized. Recognition validates our efforts no matter what age we are, and as anatomy dictates our behavior patterns through such recognition, we have to be specific in what behaviors we are recognizing and rewarding no matter what age the beneficiary of our complements.

“Good job” is the equivalent of a complement amounting to five dollars. If this study was offering $100 or a complement, then I’m sure more people would have taken the money. The goal in using complements is to place the value of the recognition we give so high that money is not a part of the question.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Learn to LISTEN!

i always thought i was a good listener
i always thought i was attentive
i always put other people's needs ahead of my own
i always reiterated what i heard to ensure i had listened the best way possible
i am a small part of the dynamics of communication among MANY people; hence why i is small and COMMUNITY is so big.

What i learned last week was to take my ego and thought processes out of the equation. If i had an idea that was supposed to work, and stuck to it too long; inevitably the high minded ideals of helping people would be overshadowed by my stubbornness and rigidity as 'a leader'.

What matters at all times is the outcome. Leaders are not called as such because they have good intentions... they are called as such because they have the uncanny ability to mobilize people towards a collective purpose; a common vision.

The days of the totalitarian dictating what that purpose is are fading, because young people are coming into the work force with a purpose and a vision of their own, and this is great. Sure, some young workers need a healthy dose of guidance and a reality check based on the amount of work their aspirations of success will take...

but just as they need coaching, leaders of all ages need to be able to find the pulse of the public and direct it towards a commonly accepted purpose. That is, they need to constantly find dynamic ways of matching the purpose of their people to the purpose of the company; and adjusting either if a better purpose can be discovered.

So how can the old school rough around the edges militaristic boss and the new-wave millennial college grad find common ground?

Simple. We all have 2 ears and 1 mouth. When we use them in the opposite proportion, we set off a neuro-physiological fight or flight response from the amygdala region of the brain.

The employee wants more vacation time. Their boss won't hear of it. The employer gets their back against the wall, while the employee feels under-valued and quits. How can this have been avoided? Well if the employee is willing to work overtime or weekends in lieu of their excess holiday days; this shows the employer they are willing to work towards solutions instead of barging into their office and saying "I have a problem and so ipso facto- you have a problem".

Conversely in the example above, the employer can refrain from making value judgements based on the vacation request. Asking for more time off may not mean that the employee does not have a relationship with 'the bottom line'... it just may mean that they have commitments outside of work over and above what a 'normal year 'should dictate (like getting married or volunteering overseas). This new generation work force is full of professionals who are just as adamant about their personal or philanthropic lives as they are about their professional ones.

Is one side right? As an employer, i'd love to say that the new workforce demographic has unrealistic expectations and that they'll change... but i also know that i was that age once too, and the only way i can hope to improve as 'a leader' is to

a) LISTEN, and
b) implement better strategies based on what i hear and not based on how i feel about what i hear

so even as someone who aspires to be a great leader- i am constantly learning to listen and thus communicate better. What a COMMUNITY we would all have if you and i all could do this on a consistent basis...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Alfred Nobel

For those that don’t know who this is, Alfred Nobel was a Swedish Industrialist who went on to invent the Nobel patent detonator (Dynamite).

In one of his many biographies, there is a story of how a newspaper mistakenly assumed that Alfred had passed away (when in actuality it was his brother). The newspaper went on to publish an obituary of Nobel that focused on the fact that he was the one responsible behind the creation of the most destructive power of the century playing a significant factor in several deaths.

After reading his own obituary, Nobel decided that he did not want to be remembered in a negative light, therefore he committed to improving humanity by creating the Nobel Peace Prize that annually awards achievements in physics, literature, physiology, medicine, international piece and chemistry. It has been for some time considered the world’s most prestigious and scholarly of awards.

After stumbling upon this story, it made me want to ask the question: If you were to read your own obituary, how do you think it would make you feel?

Would you feel like you have accomplished some or all that you have set out to do?
Would you be happy?
Would you be sad?
Would you be angry?
Would you wish you had done things differently?
Would you feel regret?

If you were to have access to your obituary, would you change your current approach to life and how you operate on a daily basis with regards to work, relationships, family, finances, health?...If you say yes, how would you go about it?

We as individuals are the one’s making the decisions and performing the actions that will eventually lay the foundation and dictate what is to be written in our own obituary at some point in time.

If we want to be remembered in a positive light, leave a lasting legacy and make a positive impact on life, it starts with making the necessary changes along the process to make all of our goals, objectives and visions come to fruition.

Alfred Nobel had to opportunity to change his legacy. We can learn from his experience and do the same.

Written by Jason Sarai.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


The Japanese have some awesome and truly useful words. One of those words is otaku. Otaku describes something that is more than a hobby but a little less than an obsession. People that are really into coffee, or basketball, nail polish or Star Trek have an otaku. They really feel strongly towards their passion but unlike the very, very few they would never stalk a celebrity. That's obsession and not an otaku. From the outside we may feel those Trekkies are obsessed just like they would feel our love of pure dark chocolate or basketball is the same. But truly they are a form of otaku [I actually like saying this word].

The world is a changing place and the Internet has allowed us to expand our network so we can find others that have our same otaku. Businesses that are smart maximize this gathering or like minded people. However, the Internet hasn't quite been used to its highest possible potential...yet. People with hot sauce fetishes will scour the planet looking for the next great thing. They find other hot sauce people, go to hot sauce festivals and generally push the word of the hot sauce. Truly the idea behind otaku.

These people use the Internet to talk, discover and embrace on another.

Why are most charities and organizations just putting up billboards as if they were taking an advertisement out in the Wall Street Journal? How can someone with a debilitating illness or physical problem, which ultimately begins to define their being, spread their otaku for healing, supporting and trying to find a solution if they are not given the tools. Expecting all with this kind of passion to know how to technically create a portal is insane. In fact the main job of charities should be to provide a place where support, information and community are built. communities of people with an otaku will create great waves of solutions. It is proven time and time again. Instead, like poor businesses, the board or president thinks they can do it themselves. General Electric gets 80% of their new products from people that work out of their houses as "garage scientists". No wages, no benefits, no huge labs and happy, well paid scientists. Maximizing people's otaku.

Charities unfortunately are the worst offenders. They single-handedly stymie the collective otaku of their constituents by acting like a business. Protect our people's information, have a board meeting, organize an event where everyone can come once a year...

Otaku is daily. Are you going to drink great coffee once and then remain ambivalent until next year? And this is why, more often than not, it is the passionate that start support groups and become rouge information suppliers. If organizations around the world would help these people that have a serious otaku, the real and necessary information would spread like wildfire. Charities would massively increase their donations because greater ideas would come from the communication and those ideas would be mimicked all over the world. Just by using the Internet and embracing the otaku.

People with an otaku always win in the end because you cannot hold back passion. Making it easier for that passion to travel would benefit all those in charge.

Do you have an otaku? Are you holding back those with one? Find yours, discover theirs. Enjoyment will soon follow.

Monday, April 21, 2008

It's not all about winning...

This past weekend was the 24th annual Vancouver Sun Run (a beautiful 10km run through the streets of downtown Vancouver). A record 59,179 people registered for this year's run and took on the challenge of braving the cold, the massive crowds, not to mention the race itself. It was the biggest turnout the city of Vancouver has ever experienced for an organized race.

This year saw 158 customers and coaches from Innovative Fitness train for and participate in this race. It was by far the largest showing by IF in our 12 year history. The past 5 years straight we have prided ourselves on winning the Temporarily Yours, Corporate Team Challenge in the health and fitness division for having the top 10 individual times but this year was uniquely different.

Now, when I woke up this morning and read the Vancouver Sun and it stated we finished 2nd, I can't lie, I was taken back. "What happened?" I thought. Then I sat there and reflected on all the IF coaches I saw during the race wearing our team gear proudly, running with and leading our customers to the finishline (most who were running the event for the first time).

That is what it is all about and that is why we do what we do; to help others accomplish extraordinary things. That is why we pride ourselves on being the best at what we do and why we see, year after year, our corporate team number grow to such heights. It is not about having all our coaches run the race for themselves so that we can win the challenge, it is so we can inspire and lead our customers to enhance the quality of their lives through such amazing destinations.

Congratulations Team IF!

Friday, April 18, 2008


“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom”. Francis Bacon

Erick Erickson’s eighth and final stage of psychological development is wisdom, yet many of us have conflicting ideas about exactly what wisdom is. According to Erikson in the last stage of human development, from approximately 65 years to death, individuals must resolve a psychological conflict between integrity and despair, which leads to wisdom.

In the US, the average life expectancy is 77.8 years, which means that we only have 12.8 years to really utilize whatever wisdom we have spent 65 years obtaining. What this means for the large majority of us is that we might be intelligent, we might be smart, but we are not wise.

Erickson’s theory does not guarantee us that with age we will become wise, because wisdom is a process not a right. So how do we become wise? According to Confucius, "By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest."

Reflection is a process of careful thought where we act on situations by reconsidering the results from our previous actions, events, and decisions. Through our ability to reflect we gain clarity in our motives and can expect certain results, which are hopefully more favorable than the previous time we were in similar situations. This is considered the noblest method because it potentially creates high ideals and excellent moral character internally.

Imitation is our ability to use someone else as a model. This is something we are hopefully looking to do on a daily basis; see someone act in a way that we would like to and then copy their methods of operation until we can personalize the actions and make them our own. We all have mentors and role models, and by acting out the traits that we admire in these people, we allow ourselves to gain wisdom by walking in someone else’s shoes. This is the easiest of the three methods because it requires no skill, just observation put into action.

Experience is where we gain knowledge by being exposed to certain situations over time and creating automatic favorable responses through our actions. This involvement over time is where Erickson theorizes that wisdom will not appear until the age of 65. Why is this the bitterest method? Because experience also means that we will have to fail many times in order to see success. Bitterness means that we will have to accept becoming angry and resentful, and bitterness means that we will have to confront hostilities both external and internal.

We become wise because we learn over time, not through just living, but because we ask questions that create awareness. These questions we ask ourselves are what creates the conflict between integrity and despair because if we are asking the right questions we will have to decide between completeness and hopelessness. In some cases we will have to accept hopelessness with the intention of making our hopes complete. In wisdom we will have to eventually choose the difficult path towards enlightenment because the light will not come to us unannounced. Half of wisdom is the prudent question the other half is the prudent action.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What kind of friend are you?

One cannot overlook the importance of having friends. We have all heard "he who has 1 true friend is truly blessed", and even in the Holy Bible we read "he who has 1000 friends has not 1 friend to spare". Even more important than having friends (and certainly the means to this end) is being a good friend first. Want a thousand friends? Follow Gandhi's advice "you must be the change you wish to see in the world" and be a good friend first.

I am nothing without my friends. Pictured above is my adventurously dressed brother, who is one of my best friends (this picture found it's way into the Calgary Herald by the way and was one of the few bright spots after the Flames loss this week). I was inspired to write about friends this week after the feelings I had deep down after;

1. A great friend said "I'm in" after I asked him to be in x city and wait y long to do z favor for me- no hesitation and he is busier than I am.
2. Another friend rounds up 4 tickets to a Lacrosse game plus dinner invites this weekend and invites both myself and the better half as a means of getting to know us better and deepen the friendship
3. Friends I grew up with continuously are patient and understanding despite a busy schedule that often necessitates long periods between gatherings. I get to see some of them this Saturday and I'm pumped!

The point is- I feel supported and validated in what I do because of friends. I feel a greater sense of identity through association with such great people. I have friends that make me a better business leader, a better coach, a better mentor. Others make me a better athlete, sports fan, and beer enthusiast. ALL of them make me a better person.

This entry today however- is in no way about me... it is about the fact that I have a lot of people to thank; and it is about a condition of give and take.

There are 2 things we really hope come out of reading about friends...
1) there are people that pop into your brain when you read this and hopefully they get a call, email or better yet an in person visit from you after reading this
2) you evaluate the state of your friendships, and come to the conclusion that YOU are the common denominator. The quality and quantity of your friends is directly related to the quality of yourself as a friend and the quantity of effort to be a friend (not necessarily the quantity of time spent as we are all busy).

Have great friendships? Pick up a phone.
Want better friendships? Look in the mirror.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Stop the Whining.

Whiners - People that enjoy to complain about every aspect of their lives & find themselves in a state of dissatisfaction all of the time...and in North America, we have A LOT of them. In fact, we have probably become the whiniest people on earth.

You hear it everywhere.

“My boss is a jerk. The soup is too cold. How can traffic be so slow? This movie sucks.”

It is around all of us. And even worse, we accept it, both in ourselves and in others. Nowhere else in the world do people complain so continually about such a huge variety of things. Why? Because nowhere else in the world do people have it so good.

If you had to stand on line for two hours every morning to get drinking water, do you think you’d really be complaining that the lettuce in your salad is slightly wilted? I think not. If the floors in your house were made of mud, would you complain that the air conditioning was too cold? Ummm, no!

It’s not that we’ve got too much. You can never have too much. It’s that we’ve simply gotten in the HABIT of complaint. It’s not only socially acceptable, it’s a form of communication. The Jerry Seinfeld show was built on the concept of complaint and despair about silly meaningless problems. It held the perfect mirror up to us, of ourselves. Jerry’s girlfriend wears the same dress two nights in a row. George’s girlfriend is too loving. Kramer is not satisfied with the food that he mooches from his friends.

Don't get me wrong, it is a different story if you are providing feedback & advice on a situation or requesting something - but present yourself in more of a mature manner instead of a whining 2 year old. And to top it off, when you actually receive what you are looking for & whining about - ACCEPT it. The worst is when you watch someone complain & whine about something, and then they turn around and don't take what they are finally given.

Straight up - Incessant whining belittles YOUR life - so quit whining - change it, leave it or accept it...but shut the hell up!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Seven Wonders

A few weeks ago some friends returned from the Great Wall of China. Their incredible experience was discussed at my house over dinner which lead to my son asking what the seven wonders of the world actually were.

After supper we sat down to teach him of these grandiose spectacles. After much discussion and curios exploration we settled on the following seven for that nights learning:
  1. The Pyramids of Egypt
  2. The Great Wall of China
  3. The Taj Mahal
  4. The Panama Canal
  5. The Leaning Tower of Pisa
  6. Stonehenge
  7. The Colosseum
Keeping the lessons quick and simple we thought we had made an impact on our son as he remained both quiet and inquisitive throughout. His puzzled expression left us interested in what he was thinking so I asked him what was on his mind.

He paused and looked up. Then he said he had a new list. His seven wonders were as follows:
  1. To touch
  2. To taste
  3. To see
  4. To hear
  5. To run
  6. To laugh
  7. To love
It is very easy to look at what humans have created as wonders while we look at what God has created as ordinary. Explore the true wonders of the world. Maybe your lists are slightly different yet equally wondrous.

God bless.

Monday, April 14, 2008

When you think you are down and out, NEVER give up and when you are up and think you are untouchable, NEVER get complacent!

Playoff Hockey - You can't ask for a better time of year! This is when the men are separated from the boys and when the concept of "all or nothing" is taken to a whole new level...

This would have been a good topic for Stan to write about but I couldn't help myself...

2 glaring lessons stuck out from last nights 1st round playoff game between the San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames at the Saddledome:

1. When you think you are down and out, NEVER give up!

After being down 3-0 in the first 3:33 minutes of the game last night, Mike Keenan pulled his star goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and forced his Calgary Flames to re-group, re-focus and start playing their game. Low and behold, they ended up coming back to beat the San Jose Sharks in dramatic fashion in overtime by a score of 4-3!

How did it happen?

They found a way to dig deep, believe in themselves, put the first 3 goals behind them and started to execute the systems that they know work (hit hard and often!) After a thunderous hit on the Sharks captain Patrick Marleau by Cory Sarich, the Flames (and their fans) were suddenly re-ignited and gained momentum they needed while not looking back scoring 4 unanswered goals.

2. When you are up and think you are untouchable, NEVER get complacent!

Take away:

When you are in the lead, or at the top, you can not stay stagnant. By doing this, you become complacent and vulnerable to people who are more hungry, more passionate and driven to see you fall. That is exactly what happened to the San Jose Sharks last night. The interesting thing is that now the underdog Flames have home ice advantage, a 2-1 lead in the series and all the momentum.

Leads change in hockey (and in the game of life) so quickly and an entire season (or year) of hard work and perseverance can be lost due to taking your foot off the gas for one second. It is an important lesson in realizing the value of not sitting back and always continuing to push ahead.

The next game should be very interesting to see which teams come out to play. Will Calgary keep the pressure on or will San Jose learn from this lesson mount a come back?

Stay tuned...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wayne didn't play it all.

It’s interesting being an old school ideology trapped in a modern clique. I especially notice the differences through coaching children across different sports.

Awhile back, I was sitting in the hockey dressing room listening to a parent boast about how their son had to quickly change gear to get to his soccer tournament. Seemed as though both were running simultaneously and it was necessary for his son to attend 2 games of each. Not surprisingly, there were three more parents in the room stressing over the same situation. As one could imagine, by the end of the day and the last hockey game – the kid was fried. Although he was a great little skater – it was CLEARLY TOO MUCH and he turned in a below par performance based on his skill.

I just have to ask? Do you actually believe you are acting in the best interest of your child here – or are you just that stupid? Yes my son too was enrolled in both soccer and hockey and since soccer ran for 3 times as long as hockey, it was determined that he would not attend the soccer tournament for that weekend. If he were to ask why, which he did not – we would have said something to the effect of – you either focus 100% on 1 thing or 50% on 2. Which case do you think is going to benefit you more?

Across a different example, we are now into baseball season and the 3rd year of baseball for many of the kids. What’s fantastic are the parents who clearly take the time out to practice and show their kids a thing or two about baseball before they just sign them up because Molly is. These kids come (after 3 years) with an understanding of the game, it’s elements and ultimately have an enjoyable time. What’s annoying are the parents who are dropping their kids off to play with zero knowledge of the game or it’s elements, very little time spent practicing and expecting us to make their kids have fun & be great across two hours a week.


You see, to be that very Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods, Cal Ripken or Air Jordan your kid is on their way to being (in your mind), they actually have to focus A LOT more on A LOT less.

And while right now It’s about exposing your kids to a variety of sports, music and interests to determine what they like the best, that doesn’t look like a smorgasbord of finger food samplers consumed as fast as possible and chased with a cold bevy.

To enjoy a sport doesn’t require being the best or going all the way to the big leagues, but it does require being IN the game as opposed to just being AT it. Remember, Wayne never had an X-Box, 99% averages, a cell phone (in case of emergency!), 4 other sports / quarter, play dates, or vicarious parents trying to relive their glory days through their kids to contend with. If you took your head out of your ass, we wouldn’t likely have to yell at your kid to do the same thing on the field, rink, diamond or pitch.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I came across some information that defined efficiency as a comparison of the useful work energy provided by a system to the work energy applied to the system. In order to find out how efficient the system is you simply divide energy output into energy input and multiply it by 100. How we can all understand this simply is to think about caloric intake. Take in 2000 calories (energy input) and burn 2500 calories (energy output) and you will lose weight due to a caloric deficit, therefore receiving a positive benefit from your work.

What intrigued me about this information is not its relation to diet and exercise, but how it relates to us in life. We are all searching for balance in our lives between what we have to do and what we want to do, and for the most part the have to do’s receive much more time than the want to do’s. In essence our energy input far exceeds our energy output, and we constantly remind everyone how busy we are and how we don’t have the time to do XY&Z right now even though we would like to.

Two other facts that I came across will allow us to better understand why we continue to work harder and receive less are 1) the parts of a system and how they are connected together will affect the systems efficiency, and 2) other forces such as friction will affect an objects movement.

The first fact directly relates to our ability to lead ourselves, others, or both. When our connections are unbalanced or disconnected we are forced to put more effort into areas we have either neglected or ignored and therefore are not as efficient as we can be. When we put too much effort into our work and neglect our social, familial, or personal spheres we will be faced with situations where we will have to make up time in a schedule that we have already maxed out in our professional sphere. Relationships with friends, family, and ourselves will suffer and our ability to efficiently lead our lives will diminish.

Fact two is directly related to fact one because by neglecting certain spheres in our lives we are creating friction with people who are in those spheres therefore negatively affecting our ability to create efficient movement. Returning late from work every night will only upset the people in our social and familial spheres while causing us to neglect the personal activities that help balance us out. The friction caused by our inability to efficiently lead one sphere in our lives will have a negative effect on the other spheres.

If we are to be truly efficient, we must work in a way where our energy output is equal to or greater than our energy input. When we can do this we will have the time to balance out the many spheres we rely on to keep us grounded and have time to do what we want to do because we have efficiently taken care of what we had to do.

If we are to reach true efficiency we need to make sure that we understand that life is about relationships and people first so that we can make sure we are giving people the amount of attention we need to thrive. Secondly, we must understand that we are all leaders and leadership is defined by our ability to make decisions that will ultimately positively affect our bottom line. The bottom line for all of us is quality of life, and if we are to gain the greatest quality then we must be willing to efficiently balance out the many spheres that make up us. We must be able to be the efficient system that usefully provides the same amount of energy it applies.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

People are catching on...

This past weekend, a select group of swimupstreamers, led by Swim Upstream member Curtis Christopherson- took to one of the 7 wonders of the world and hiked the Grand Canyon down (right to the Colorado River) and up in just one day. The great take away from this event was not just that ordinary people completed an extra-ordinary accomplishment (signs advise against attempting the entire canyon in 1 day), and not just that some of us were able to call hiking one of the 7 wonders while helping others a "work day"...

No the great take away is what happens when someone with VISION does not give up.

This was not the first time some members of this group tackled this extra-ordinary hike.
In 2005 a combined 4 people took in the adventure
In 2006 those 4 transformed into 13
By 2007 4 had morphed into 34 brave souls!

Well April 5th 2008, over 70 people hiked the grand canyon up and down without 1 serious incident or injury. Of course there were various challenges faced, but by all accounts during the de-brief, they would do it again and it was one of their top experiences in their lives!

Do you have an idea that you believe in with your heart and soul, yet have trouble finding others who share your vision? You're not alone. If everyone felt the same way, the Grand Canyon trail would be a theme park with a Starbucks at the bottom. Because that is not the case, it is worth doing; and it required VISIONARIES to bring this idea from 4 people to over 70 (who knows how many people will be there next year?)

What people forget is that it took a LOT of work to get the first 4, and then a LOT more to get to 13. By 70 participants, the VISION it took to get the ball rolling in the first place, plus the consistency of spreading the same message (how great it was, the scenery plus the reward from the challenge, etc) led the participants themselves to become the spokespeople.

Taking a group of 70 to the grand canyon for a 7 to 9 hour hike in temperatures ranging from 5 to 30C is a major accomplishment... more importantly, it provides a great tangible example of how through VISION, consistent hard work, and aligning with like-minded people...

NO idea is too far-fetched, and there must be some way you can bring YOUR dream to reality. But you gotta work for it!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

In Loving Memory.

Just tonight, I found out that the younger brother of an old friend of mine, was killed this last Friday while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan.

Private Terry John Street, 24, was killed when the armoured vehicle he was riding in struck an improvised explosive device in the Panjwaii district southwest of Kandahar City, Afghanistan. Terry had joined the Canadian Forces in February of 2006 but was just recently sent to Afghanistan in late February of this year (6 weeks ago) which was his first overseas deployment. With his death, the number of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan rose to 82 since the military mission began in 2002.

For me, it's the first time the war in Afghanistan has hit close to home. It is just another reminder that we must not forget those friends & families that have loved ones serving our country in the war on terrorism. Not to mention, forget people like Terry that give their lives to move our country ahead.

Terry was only 24 years old...he was young & passionate about life...athletic & well-liked. And although he was like me or you...there is and was only one Terry John Street.

Just want to send our thoughts & condolences on behalf of the swim upstream team to the Street family, as well as, to all of those families & friends that have been directly impacted by tragedies that have occurred during the fight in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

It' All In Your Mind

"If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you like to win, but you think you can't,
I is almost certain you won't.

"If you think you'll lose, you're lost,
For out in the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow's will----
It's all in the state of mind.

"If you think you are outclassed, you are,
You've got to think high to rise,
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

"Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!"

Excerpted from Napolean Hill

Monday, April 07, 2008

What is your priority?

The very worst use of your time is to do well what need not be done at all. The way I always look at it is that you need to spend 80% of your time on the top 20% of your daily activities (or in leadership terms, people). For example, if you have a list of ten items to accomplish, 2 of those items will be worth more than the other 8 items altogether.

To achieve great things, you must always be concentrating on the top 20% activities that contribute the greatest value to your life and your work.

What you need to do is determine the consequences of spending your time on a certain task. The value of anything in your order of priorities can be measured by assessing the potential consequences of doing it or not doing it. Something that is important has significant consequences to your life and your career. Something that is unimportant has few or no consequences of significance to your life or career. The mark of the superior thinker is your ability to consider possible consequences before you begin.

Become a high achiever by getting more done in less time. Wouldn't you like to have more success? When you separate the urgent from the important, you can plan every day in advance.

Too many times we spend valuable time on the computer surfing the internet for meaningless sites, staying up late watching a tv show that we will forget in the morning or talking about what someone did on the weekend when that time could be spent focusing on what really needs to get done. For example, instead of surfing the web, use that time to write an email to a loved one; instead of watching tv late, go to bed earlier and get up earlier to get more done before the rest of the world starts their day; instead of talking about what someone did on the weekend, spend that time getting to know them better in real time.

This is a area that we all can improve on. If we do in fact want to take our games to the next level in urgency and organization, so we can ultimately put more on our plate, we need to live by this 20/80 rule.

Friday, April 04, 2008


Out of difficulties grow miracles. - Jean De La Bruyere

In our quest for finding purpose in our lives we are met with many challenges, some which are brought on to us, but many which we initiate ourselves. As we work towards our goals we tend to hit sections in life where we become satisfied with where we are and let complacency sit in.

Reaching a state of complacency is not all together such a bad thing, it means we have reached a point where we are comfortable with who we are and where we are in life. The human species is driven by ego, and with comfort we are able to feed our egos to the point of creating the sense of ultimate satisfaction. This satisfaction is our way of externally showing others how great our lives are and internally reminding ourselves that all the time and effort we have made has finally paid off.

When we allow complacency to set in too deep, we begin to think that we are untouchable and we lose the ability to see the potential difficulties that reality has in store for us. Our egos reach a point where it is more important for others to see what we have accomplished than it is for us to understand the selfless acts it took us to become even slightly complacent. Eventually we reach a point where we go from complete perceived satisfaction to complete real chaos in no time flat. The comfort we built, the advantages we took for granted, and the pedestal we put ourselves on crash down on our inflated egos and we are forced to start building all over again.

Through this we are able to recreate ourselves into something more powerful than we ever were before. In order to do so we must always remember that 1) we are not as good as we think we are, 2) inflated complacency will always be overmatched by reality, and 3) internal strength will always supersede external perception.

Our ability to create miracles lies within our ability to feed our ego but remain humble, to create complacency and still be aware of hidden dangers, and to make ourselves happy before we show the world how happy we are. When we are able to accomplish this, we allow ourselves to take hits from reality and still have the strength to not just carry on with our lives, but to create purpose with our lives.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

En Masse or On Top?

Each day and each week the story or lesson on swimupstream will change... and each week we invariably come back to the same conclusion - avoid the mentality of the herd and do what you decide is best for you using the right tools and information at your disposal.

Today will be no different- in fact, today is not even so much a lesson as it is a snapshot of how scary our world has become when we as a society forget our rights as consumers and free people and buy into the corporate giant and what 'they' tell us to do.

Let's try a little association...
1. By 2005 statistics, nearly half of every food dollar in the USA was spent away from home. The majority of this- fast food restaurants.
2. Other huge sectors of the economy??? The weight loss industry (pills, diet books, Jenny Craig, etc), the pharmaceutical industry (drugs to cure us of our terrible diets), and the cosmetic and fashion industries.

Do we see the connection here? Anyone else feel like a pawn while one hand of the corporate machine feeds the other? It is downright embarrassing that as the most intelligent beings on the planet, we allow marketing gurus to dictate our behaviour like sheep by;

A) Making things easier, faster, and more convenient to appeal to our sense of laziness or on the other side of the spectrum our drive to jam more into already over-packed lives
B) Appealing to our need for approval by marketing things as cool, sexy, needed, or "don't be the only one to not have one of these..."
C) Appealing to our over-the-counter approach to our health. We want treatment (after something is already wrong). Smart people (like many of our friends in Asia) want prevention (so that nothing goes wrong in the first place).

Have you had enough of being had? Take a step back and see what being in the "in crowd" is really all about... lining us up like sheep to make a profit. Then inventing new ways to do this over and over and over...

You are an intelligent, independant person capable of choice. Take the time to evaluate your health, emotional wealth, and the direction you are headed in life (as well as who is driving you there) and decide whether you want to be part of the crowd because it makes you easier to sell to...

...or whether you want to be an individual on your own terms- something we were all trying to do in the first place only now we don't have to drive the same car on the way to the same mall to buy the same shirt in the name of being "unique".

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

swallow your FEAR : take a RISK

Whether you're piloting a single-engine plane, careening through rapids, making changes in your marriage, taking the next step in business, or dangling from a cliff, successfully navigating risky situations teaches you about yourself, increases your self-confidence, and helps you better manage life's inevitable uncertainties. 

Taking RISKS is good for you. 

Risk taking is similar to weight lifting - when you shock your muscles, you make them grow stronger; confronting your fears makes you realize you can live with stress.

Let's look at the most successful people. Not only are they committed to their own success, have a passion for what they are working towards, have clear & specific goals BUT they are uniformly more comfortable taking risks than the rest of the pack. This specific ability to take intelligent risks is the differentiating ingredient in their success and a huge determinant in anyone's level of achievement. 

All in all, taking risks is a reminder that nothing in life is certain. NOTHING. People often create these little illusions of safety, but when the veil is pulled back you realize how uncertain the world really is. So, instead of living in fear that one day the curtain will be pulled aside...

take the RISK and learn the skills you need to combat uncertainty. 

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Power of Three

Three is a crowd.
Three leaves on odd one out.
Three is unbalanced.

Three is CHAOS……

Chaos in its most stereotypical form is a negative term. Uncontrollable, unfathomable, and unpredictable are thoughts that spring to mind when the word chaos is uttered. It is perhaps for these reasons that chaos is so attractive. The unfathomable attracts like no other.
People will sit mesmerized for hours by the rhythmic movements and unpredictable flow of clouds in the sky or waves as they ritually crash into shore. Why?

These precious units of nature are the true meaning of chaos. They are systems so big that they are incapable of being mapped by our tiny little brains. Chaos is defined loosely as incredibly large systems that affect the universe. Parts of chaotic systems are tangible but they fascinate our curious minds because the entire system is never quite capable of being figured out.

Our brains are so small and slow that we struggle with just three tiny items thrown into one mix.

Try concentrating on the lyrics of a song, the guitar riff, and the drum beat, all individually……
You cannot do it. It is impossible. Our brains are only capable of deciphering two out of the three at one time. (Psychology backs me up so don’t think I’m crazy just research it yourself.) Take this concept one step further and look at any popular movie, radio song, excellent meal, or best selling novel and you will invariably see a chaotic system revolving around three or more (if they are really good) concepts. Your favourite sushi establishment has mastered this chaotic system with their chef’s special – rice, salmon, avocado, and raspberries, all rolled into one unit – unfathomable but darn tasty! Raspberries with salmon – only the genius of an artist could make it work, yet they cannot explain how they made it work.

People are attracted to chaotic scenes because they are bored with easily predicted events, easily considered outcomes, and boring brainless moments.

The power and curiosity of three events in one will make people need to try. Chaos is too extreme for anyone to ignore.

Chaos, in actual fact, is positive and life affirming. Real chaos is what keeps our brains ticking. When properly tapped into chaotic systems can and do create the greatest inventions, ideas and outcomes of our civilization.

Have you spent enough time looking at the clouds or gandering at the waves or are you too busy dealing with "TWO" many things. Invest your mind in the power of three.

Unfathomable yet pure bliss….three is a very powerful number indeed.