Friday, January 30, 2009

Magic

Scarcity is a confrontation between human needs and wants, in a world of limited resources. Because of this, not all of our goals can be pursued congruently and in order, so to obtain that which is scarce we must make trade-offs and sacrifices through prioritization.

Part of our problem in our quest for excellence is that we think that we live in a world abundant in resources and somewhere our salvation will appear if we just search hard enough. We confuse searching for resources with creating resources, and because of this we waste precious personal energy trying to find something that might not exist outside of ourselves.


This is a world of limited resources when we look outside of ourselves for answers. While the world might have limited resources; we do not. We are a species that is abundantly rich in resources that reside within, yet are rarely tapped into. In lieu of taking from within we expunge what is external and then are forced to make unnecessary sacrifices by prioritizing our wants and needs. There is no unnecessary sacrifice internally since we have all we need properly stored and waiting to be correctly utilized.


In order to tap into our personal resources we must understand the need to find the link between our traditions and our present life experiences. In doing this we connect our wisdom of the past with the present and create nowness. Creating the power of now allows us to not search for resources, but to maximize the resources that are both at our call and are necessary to excel. These resources, when acted upon now, are not limited nor are they prioritized; they are created and abundant.


Every resource we need to achieve lives in the magic of who we are today based off the knowledge of who we were yesterday. If we can create this link, if we can truly understand why we are in the situation we are in, we can then generate the answers we have been hopelessly wishing others would answer for us. We can finally become powerful enough to create the resources we need instead of searching for the same resources everyone else is taking from.


In creating now we can pursue our goals congruently and in order while not worrying if we will ever run out of our precious resources.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"D" for Done!



New Team Average Jo Member - Vaudene Moulton

Here's a little story about Vaudene Moulton. She just joined Team Average Jo and is a person that started not knowing if she could run to not giving up when she ran into adversity. Now she celebrates many victories! You can do the same, The key here is just to give yourself a chance to start.


Well here it goes......

Not really athletic growing up...skied, tennis and that was pretty much it.  Never really challenged myself at all physically.  When I turned 40 I decided I had better do something somewhat remarkable. I had always wanted to do but never did. So I decided to get some formal English Riding lessons and learn how to ride a horse the 'proper way'. Loved it until 1yr or so later I got thrown and suffered a concussion. With two young children to care for I decided perhaps riding a 2000 pound animal was  not the route to go. At the time, my workaholic husband ,had a personal trainer to help him battle high blood pressure. He mentioned to me now that I was not riding, to try running. I quickly responded that people who run are' bloody nuts'. Why would anyone want to pound the pavement. But as this appeared to be somewhat of a challenge...I pursued. I gave myself three weeks. At the end of the three weeks, if I did not like running I would head back to the barn and start riding again. Well within one week I was hooked and have never looked back. I started running casually three times a week and shortly after was running five to six times per week. I did this and shed a few pounds. For the first time in my life I could actually see muscles. I was now a runner...go figure!

Well I kept running...kinda like Forest Gump I guess, until low and behold I was hit with plantar faciaitis(Aug 08). I thought I could rehab on my own but went crazy not running. I spoke with some people who said they went to this place called Innovative Fitness. Hmm, I became interested. So I made an appointment with Kevin at IF White Rock and BAM! I was committed to four days of training to get back into running injury free. Well that was last August 08 and now Jan 09 I have successfully returned to running injury free. I even have run a 10k trail run on the North Shore, 10k Run for Hope in Maui, 8k Resolution Run and am gearing up for my first 1/2 Marathon.  Which in it self is amazing for me as I am absolutely petrified of running in crowds. When I begin these races I honestly feel like 'upchucking' but some how some way I am encouraged by those who  are running next me, if they can do this, so can I!  I would rather say I did the run, pushed myself than say I didn't.  So who knows what is up for me past this 1/2 marathon. I know for sure though, that I do like the motto 'D' for done!!

V:)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Perspective


This is a view from the top of Cypress Mountain on Vancouver's north shore at 6:30am last Wednesday. Besides being a beautiful picture, it's a great metaphor in itself for what we can see vs what is actually there.

If we look closely, we can see the tops of or lights from 18 skyscrapers, a few lights in front of them (Lion's Gate Bridge), and a mass of something- buildings or houses to the right and above them in the picture. In short, we see a bit of light making it's way through the cloud.

Many people focus on the beautiful orange that welcomes the sunrise and a new day. Others may focus on the gloom brought on by the clouds that so often accompanies a winter day on the west coast. Others still may marvel at the height of human achievement constructing buildings that reach above the clouds and whose inhabitants seem to be busy 24 hours a day as evidenced by the number of lights on at daybreak.

What most people will miss is the dynamic that is played out on the city's streets every day.
The homeless at Hastings and Main streets.
The traffic jams through the Burnaby light stretch approaching downtown.
The early risers getting a run in before work.
The kids that are about to wake and play, oblivious to the same clouds that might depress others.

Vancouver is one of the most dynamic cities in the world- and yet as depicted in one photo- everyone sees something different, and everybody misses something as well. The facts remain the same, but the way they are represented can dramatically affect the views and opinions we embrace.

The use of a city so many Canadians are familiar with serves to prove the point I hope to relate to other people and dynamic situations. We have to be careful with how married we are to our own views and opinions, because the world is always changing yet we view them with the same eyes and interpret things with the same brain.

Just as we may have missed how many layers there are behind a great photo - we often miss a lot of depth behind people who say something we don't agree with at first glance.

The only reason you took more out of a single photograph was because you read the whole blog today... just like the only way we move past our own bias' in many conversations- is to have the patience to allow the speaker to continue. If we leave a photo or a conversation after simply forming a first impression- we can become naive, and even flat out wrong- in our views, opinions, and how we interact with the world around us.

It's no mystery that in times of conflict within a group, the last person to speak often brings new insight. Many times it's because while others were bickering their points, they were observing and gaining perspective from all sides instead of trying to win people over to their view. Even if you are right, the patience to fully understand someone else's view can aid in complex negotiations or arguments a lot more than jumping in too early on one point to 'educate' (ie try and convince) someone.

Let's all try and condition our mind to think past 'snapshots' in terms of our perspective, and move closer to deeper views that come with the intent to understand.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

If I knew


If you can only put one thing on your to do list today.... go hug someone you love and let them know how much you care.



If I knew it would be the last time
that I'd see you fall asleep,
I would tuck you in more tightly
and pray the Lord, your soul to keep.

If I knew it would be the last time
that I see you walk out the door,
I would give you a hug and kiss
and call you back for one more.

If I knew it would be the last time
I'd hear your voice lifted up in praise,
I would video tape each action and word,
so I could play them back day after day.

If I knew it would be the last time,
I could spare an extra minute
to stop and say "I love you,"
instead of assuming you would know I do.

If I knew it would be the last time
I would be there to share your day,
Well I'm sure you'll have so many more,
so I can let just this one slip away.

For surely there's always tomorrow
to make up for an oversight,
And we always get a second chance
to make everything just right.

There will always be another day
to say "I love you,"
And certainly there's another chance
to say our "Anything I can do?"

But just in case I might be wrong,
and today is all I get,
I'd like to say how much I love you
and I hope we never forget.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone,
young or old alike,
And today may be the last chance
you get to hold your loved one tight.

So if you're waiting for tomorrow,
why not do it today?
For if tomorrow never comes,
you'll surely regret the day,

That you didn't take that extra time
for a smile, a hug, or a kiss
And you were too busy to grant someone,
what turned out to be their one last wish.

So hold your loved ones close today,
and whisper in their ear,
Tell them how much you love them
and that you'll always hold them dear

Take time to say "I'm sorry," "Thank you," 
"Please forgive me," or "It's okay."
And if tomorrow never comes,
you'll have no regrets about today.
George Michael Grossman

Friday, January 23, 2009

Strategy

There are three faces to strategy; 1) carefully devising a plan of action to achieve a goal, or the art of developing or carrying out such a plan, 2) the military science or art of planning and conducting a war or military campaign, and 3) in biological evolutionary theory, a behavior, structure, or other adaptation that improves vitality. The importance of knowing this is that nowhere in strategy is the word hope.

Therefore hope is not a strategy.

There is a population shift where thinkers are abundant, and because of this abundance, doers are in high demand. The proof of this is all around us, every day and in every facet of life. Everywhere we go we hear of people talking about what they would do if they were in charge, we listen to their thoughts and hopes, yet never see any action. We hear the strategies of our own and of others, yet wait as it all becomes background noise because it is not attached to movement. As our ability to think of new ways expands, we bank on those thoughts, hopes, and ideas but forget that action is the only way strategy will work.

Therefore action is a strategy.

None of the three faces of strategy will work without action because without action they are just a dream. When we look to enhance our lives we can have the greatest strategy in the world, but without an action plan there is no way we will ever achieve.

Hope is a combination of imagination and desire; imagination being our ability to think outside of the norm to achieve greater results, desire being our ability to want or wish. Neither aspect of hope is empowering nor physically tangible, so when we pin our strategy on this, we have nothing to hold onto as we move forward.

On the other hand, action is a combination of discipline and faith; discipline being order and control, faith being belief and trust. Both aspects of action are not only internally based, but are within our locus of control. Because of this, when we place our strategy within the sphere of action we make the transition from thinker to doer. It is our ability to make this transition that separates us from the pack and makes us desirable both to ourselves and others.

As we make the transition from thinker to doer, we must also create strategy that allows us to find out what works within our objective. If we can figure this out then we can take what works and do it over and over again, therefore creating massive action.

Thinking is an essential component of strategy, but without action we become the armchair quarterback that is in every sphere of all of our lives. If we plan to escape the proverbial “water cooler” mentality, then we must have an action plan that will support our thoughts and enhance our strategy. In failing to do so, we remain ordinary at a time where it takes extraordinary to succeed.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's all up to you.


Are you going to finish strong? is what 26 years old Nick Vujicic is asking us. We are faced with challenges everyday. Some are bigger than others, some are giving to us at birth and some on a daily basis. At the end of the day, it is up to us to decide if we are going to finish strong with the cards we are dealt.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Confidence To Lead Transparantly


Today I had a great conversation with a person I consider to possess great leadership skills, yet who ultimately finds herself often at work not in control of her own destiny. That is, she is an effective, organized, and hard working leader, who is very frustrated by those above her head with how they (fail to) lead the overall organization.

Her and I discuss plans, strategies, accountabilities, etc - and to my astonishment, she is working for a nationwide company without a) a discernible vision b) a plan that is communicated to every level of the organization let alone to it's leaders c) any sort of candid conversation or feedback amongst the 'company brass'. From what I get told- it's basically 1 visionary at the top who is surrounded by ass-kissing 'yes-men'. Has anyone every heard of a corporate structure like this? I'd be shocked to meet someone who could say 'no'.

The interesting thing is, sooner or later, amidst the pats on the back, lighting cigars, and congratulating each other for how good they are (or complaining about the subordinate working classes) these 'leaders' are going to lose real talent such as the girl in question here, and probably a lot more like her.

On the heels of all the 'OBAMANIA' that is going on- what we see Obama doing well is a) having a plan b) executing the plan (new website up day after inauguration) c) sharing the plan and d) being transparent with the current situation. No sugar-coating or dodging questions.

While George Bush used the 'war on terror' as a means to fund oil acquisition and arms development and war, the home front was busy trying to shop like the Hilton's on a Super 8 budget. Obama, on the other hand- is getting the celebrities noses dirty and ushering them, as well as the nation's wealthy - to ACT and he is being transparent hat this is the only way to bring about change. Change, by the way, being both what the nation (and world) needs, but also the theme of his campaign.

What Bush, and the leaders of today's company in question, lacked - well, to keep it short - was the competence to lead well, thus they inevitably lacked the confidence to lead with transparency.

A leader who is not confident tells half-truths and doesn't delegate as much for fear of people leaving the company or demanding more money.
A leader who is confident shares the hard facts no matter what the truth as a way of mobilizing more bodies to the cause.

And what does each type of leader leave in their wake?

George Bush - a nation in near ruin
People (we hope) like Barack Obama - results and a lasting legacy of inspiration and change.

People are smarter than 'leaders' like George Bush give them credit for- as such, the only way to lead is by good enough that you can be honest enough to affect enough change.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

You just never know...

Here’s a little story on how things can fall in to place when you least expect it! It can be at the grocery store, at the bank or like this story, at the bar. This is the story of how Lorraine Frier started at Innovative Fitness and decided to turn her life around…

 Exercise has always been a part of my life.  In 2006, after over 7 years with the same personal trainer, we parted ways.  I was also going through a difficult time as I lost my husband in 2004, then my mother in 2006.  Personally, I lost my confidence, self worth & myself in the grief.  I was in this dark place for 13 months, until one evening in April 2007, I was at the Cactus Club with a girlfriend waiting for a table in the Dining Room.  The manager came over & said that the 2 guys that had just come in wanted our table as it had the perfect view for the hockey game on TV.  Well since we had extra chairs and they were good looking young guys, we called them over to join us.  As the conversation continued, we discussed how the area had grown with businesses, etc..  Matt, the one fellow, said that his brother had opened a Personal Training gym (not realizing how desperate I was for one).  I quickly asked which one (as I had checked out a few and was not interested at all) he informed me that it was Innovative Fitness. In fact, I shopped at Choices on many occasions and had looked over at IF. One day I even walked by the front door, read the sign but didn’t have the courage to walk in.  There was no way in hell that I was going to humiliate myself in front of all those people. 

Then, I asked what the brother’s name was, well he said Curtis Christopherson.

I now had this lead and was definitely going to follow up on it.  A few days later, I got my courage up & walked into IF.  The minute I saw Curtis, I called him over. He was surprised & wondered how I knew his name.  I didn’t know he was a twin until I saw him. Isabelle & a few others came by, said Hi, the music was blaring, I knew instantly that this place was for me.

The following week I had arranged my consultation with Curtis.  I was so impressed what a unique, mature individual he was for his age.   Curtis & Isabelle made me feel so WELCOME & believed in me more then I believed in myself.  I started training the following day.  Since I was in such a negative place mentally about myself, they had me doing a number of extra push-ups for that negativity.  I realized quickly that I had better start changing my attitude to a more positive one.

Well, I have been at IF for over 1 ½ yrs. & have never looked back.  It has changed me immensely in the way I feel mentally about myself.  The physical is an ongoing process. My friends have made comments on how much happier I am.

I have found a great group of individuals who truly CARE.

I will always be grateful for meeting Matt Christopherson that evening.

Lorraine Frier.

So, Lorraine is now one of the most well known customers in White Rock and has changed the life of many individuals around her including myself. Every day she gives a chance to everyone she comes across, whether she is warming up on the bike or sitting in the Cactus Club…. Just like Lorraine, be open the next time you meet someone new…because you just never know!

Monday, January 19, 2009

A New Hope?




Barack Obama, will become the president of The United States of America tomorrow. He may bring a lot of change to the world - though, not convinced that he will be able to single handedly turn the world’s economy around, nor gain world peace. Nevertheless, for now, most are happy to be brainwashed with the media's portrayal of the man, who is the world’s biggest celebrity right now. And yes, he is Superman, right?
Because American's need someone to blame for the mess they have gotten themselves into - President Bush is being looked at as the worst president in the history of America. And although we may well laugh at George Bush, American's did put him into power. But, as with many organizations - governments, companies, families, etc - you often are as strong as your leader. In memory of the US leader for the past 8 years here are the 'top 20 gaffes by outgoing president George Bush,' as collected by yesterday's Sunday times. It's no wonder America is where they are right now..

1. "Will the highways on the internet become more few?"
2. "It’s a time of sorrow and sadness when we lose a loss of life"
3. "I appreciate the fact that you really snatched defeat out of the jaws of those who are trying to defeat us in Iraq"
4. "I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office"
5. "We’re concerned about Aids inside our White House – make no mistake about it"
6. "I’m honoured to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein"
7. "I’ve coined new words, like “misunderstanding”
8. "I recently met with the finance minister of the Palestinian Authority, was very impressed by his grasp of finances"
9. "It’s in our country’s interests to find those who would do harm to us and get them out of harm's way"
10. "One year ago today, the time for excuse-making has come to an end"
11. "I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn’t here"
12. "You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test"
13. "I don’t particularly like it when people put words in my mouth, either, by the way, unless I say it
14. "[The Taliban] have no disregard for human life"
15. "When the governor calls, I answer his phone"
16. "Those who enter the country illegally violate the law"
17. "I think we agree, the past is over"
18. "America stands for liberty, for the pursuit of happiness and for the unalienalienable right of life"
19. "My job is a decision-making job, and as a result, I make a lot of decisions"
20. "One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures"

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tragedy

In the early 19th century a young boy, whose father was a master leather shaper and carver, was playing with an awl and accidentally poked one of his eyes. Initially the injury was harmless, but infection set in and the curious three year old became blind. Committed to not letting his disability affect his quality of life this child focused on education and music as his way of enhancing his life.

While in school music became his first love, but the boy wanted nothing more than to read, yet all that was available to him were four large print books with raised letters for him to run his fingers over. The tediousness of such a task did not satisfy his need to read literature and he set out to make a more simple form for the unsighted to have access to all writings.


Upon returning home from his studies, Louis Braille, using the same awl that took his sight, created a six dot pattern alphabet that to this day allows the blind to read.


In our lives we distance ourselves from those things that inflict the greatest harm to us, when our greatest strength will potentially grow from creating the insight and courage necessary to face our demons. For the large majority of us our demons will not render us “disabled”, but are scenarios that we must face on a daily basis which prevent us from living our best lives.


Louis Braille faced everyday without vision, but not without sight. His sight came in the form of imagination, the necessary personal imagination to understand what he wanted vs. what his limitation were, therefore turning limitation into opportunity. Like Luis Braille, we too have the ability to create opportunity from limitation, but we first must understand and accept our limitations in order to overcome them. Through understanding and acceptance, we allow ourselves to see reality and how it disrupts our goals so that we can then transcend our current state and transform it from what we wish into what we have.


Our greatest obstacle in this process is in looking at what has hurt us in the past and thinking that we need to go in another direction so that we don’t face the same fate as the first time. This defeatist attitude empowers that which harmed us and continually creates new walls in which we must go around, when the transformational process demands we break through.


If we are ever going to live the life we deserve, we must become smarter from being hurt. We must take the worst thing that ever happened to us and make it our greatest strength through knowledge, understanding, and courage. If we are going to make the impact that we all have the ability to make in this world it is our obligation to take that which took from us and turn it into something for our surrounding community to benefit from.


Ignoring or denying what has hurt us in the past will only keep us in the past. Grabbing the same awl that took our sight and creating life is our step in defining our future.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I did...

In 1999, while playing basketball, for the Langara Falcons Men’s College team in Vancouver, our team was able to have a record of 40 wins and 2 loses. That year we went on to win the CCAA National Championships for the second year in a row.

Now, 10yrs later I still shape my life around the principals that made us such a successful team that year. I strive for them with my family, in my relationships and at my job. It is that constant reminder that to be truly motivated and victorious, each moment of each day, we have to continuously struggle to be “better”. We have to be better for those around us that support us and challenge us. We have to be better for those who sacrifice their time so guide us. We have to be better for those who truly love and care about us. Lastly, we have to want to be better for ourselves.

In practices our team fought / puked / ran / fell down / got hurt / got yelled at / missed shots / etc…at the end of practice, in the locker room, you were happy you had the opportunity to go through those experiences with your “brothers” and it made us stronger as a team.

At the same time, outside of the gym, you are lending each other money for rent or groceries without the thought of getting the money back. We helped each other move with whatever means we had to offer. We were there to talk or hangout whenever a teammate needed you, and the list goes on.

 

I know for a fact, I would not have a National Championship Tattoo on my back (along with all the other guys on that team) if it had not been for our attitude toward each other regarding OUR team.

 

I did what it took to be apart of that winning team and the results, in the end, are still paying off…10yrs down the road!

Jeff Dallin

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fans and Critics


This weekend is probably my favorite sporting weekend of the entire year as a sports fan. The NFL Division Championship games, to decide who plays in the Super Bowl, are usually better games than the big one, with teams who know each other and one has a clear home-field advantage (The Super Bowl is played in different cities decided on in advance and there is only a 1 in 16 chance one of the teams involved will be in their home city). I've even sworn a verbal agreement with my wife to clean as much as she wants so long as there will be zero distraction during the game.

It's interesting because as a fan- I get very passionate about these affairs (my wife has put the kibosh on ever watching Buffalo Bills games with me again). As an athlete, you get such a charge out of a cheering crowd - it really does have the potential to lift your performance to the next level. On the flip side- professional athletes must learn to separate themselves from too much hype (and buying into that) or too much criticism on the other side. It's an interesting conundrum, and one that actually affects us all.

Success as we know, brings attention. Strike a million dollar deal for your employer, and chances are you have fans (your boss, potential other employers, industry analysts, etc) as well as critics (jealous co-workers, etc).

It's interesting to note that in many cases, the more responsibility you take on; that is, the harder you work - the fewer fans you have and the more critics you gain. Think back to the NFL example.

How many people will be cheering for the underdog Philadelphia Eagles this weekend? millions.
How many people will cheer their do-it-all running back Brian Westbrook? millions.
How many people will be cheering for their head coach Andy Reed? hundreds.
How many people will be cheering for their owner Jeff Lurie? hundreds? tens? anyone?

The same example rings true in customer service. A great leader will put others in the spotlight. Those people, if they do a great job - deserve a lot of credit.They usually get all of it. In many cases, even if they do not do a great job - they are not held responsible. The best example would be the waiter/ service rep/ etc who may be personable but complains of their wage. How many people out there feel sorry for them and assume their employer is cheap, and how many people realize that this is a disgruntled employee and wage should never be discussed with customers?

The point of the above example is not to have people feel sorry for the boss. They usually do make more money, in many cases they do less of the front line work, and they accept a greater level of responsibility with that title.

No instead of being directed at customers to get them to lighten up judgement, this message goes out to leaders. The cheering will go the way of the front line worker and that's actually a good thing - it serves as a source of motivation and job satisfaction. What the leader must remember is that they started their role as a leader with vision. A vision for themselves and a vision for the company.

It is that vision, and not other people's opinions, that must be the guiding light; the barometer, of how you are doing. If you base your decisions and your job satisfaction on other's approval- you'll never be successful and you'll never have fans.

Stick to your vision. Collect advice from others you see as successful, not the popular opinion. Get second opinions. Collect feedback in meaningful constructive ways (not just approval ratings). And then relentlessly execute your vision until your achievements silence even the loudest critics. It's the only way to pack the seats, and believe me - the NFL teams this weekend get that.

If they listened to the fans - they'd air it out every down going for the big play. While that's nice to see - it's short term thinking and planning. By instead committing to win, the coaches pack the seats through their vision. Because whether they like the coach or not - everybody likes a winner and that's why the seats will be full this weekend, Hail Mary pass or not.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Terry Fox Marathon of Hope... 143 marathons in 143 days


We are please to welcome our newest Team Average Jo member…

Fergus (‘Ferg’) Hawke: born on November 16 1957 in New Westminster, British Colombia. Ferg is now a leading international ultra-distance runner, who resides in South Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. You probably know him if you live in White Rock, BC or have seen him on his long training runs around town or at a local race.

Ferg is going for something pretty impressive to raise money for cancer research. He just applied for the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope 2009.

Some of you might remember, on April 12, 1980, Terry Fox began an epic cross-country journey to raise money for cancer research. On April 12th, 2009, a team of twelve runners will start the marathon in St. John's, NFLD. Each participant will attempt to run 3,339 miles in 143 days (a marathon per day!) - matching Terry's daily mileage - arriving in Thunder Bay, ON on Labour Day weekend. CBC television will document the journey from the first day of training through to the end of the run, providing viewers with updates on the participants and their fundraising efforts.   Ferg had to create a YouTube video on why he should be chosen for this incredible journey and raise money for cancer research. go take a look.

You can also go see Ferg's accomplishment on Wikipedia, Yes that's correct, if you type in his name, a definition comes up on Wikipidea.

Post a comment to wish him luck!



Monday, January 12, 2009

Hammer or Nail?


The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
-George Bernard Shaw

Imagine for a moment the life of a nail. A nail is fearful of what's to come. It knows that at some point in its life a hammer will come along and pound it into a piece of wood. Not only is the pounding a painful experience, but after the beating it will spend its remaining days in one lonely position. Unable to grasp a full breath of air with only its head barely flush with the wooden surface the nail will also have no room at all in which to move. A life sentence with the only hope being that something will come along and free him.

The life of a nail is an unfortunate life to live yet many people end up being nails in their own way. There are two types of nails. There are those who allow themselves to be a nail that is stuck in one position year after year. These are the ones who are truly unhappy with the cards they were dealt thinking that there is nothing that can be done - that fate has given them a life sentence. Then there are those that allow themselves to become a nail in daily life with circumstance and environment pounding on them resulting in stress, anxiety, anger or worse, violence.

Life is one big hammer that will beat on us relentlessly if we allow ourselves to fall into a 'nail' type mindset such as victim mentality, negative attitude and attention to problem versus solution. And I write 'allow' because it is a choice we all have. We, as humans have been given the ability to make choice in our lives. We must be conscious of the choices we make and the attitude we allow ourselves to possess. It is simple: permit yourself to think like a nail or agree to think like a hammer.

'Hammer' type mentality is visible in those who take responsibility over their own lives. They truly believe that they have control over what emotions they experience and what ultimately happens to them. They focus on the positive things in life, on solutions when they are presented with problems and they are quick to adapt themselves to challenges that others use as an excuse for being the nail. Life, like a hammer pounds us with continuous challenges and problems yet it is up to us to adapt to the ever-changing environments we experience. It is then dependent on us to have an attitude that turns our thinking into being one like a hammer that will solve problems as opposed to being the nail who is stuck and unable to breath.

The reasonable man is quick to adapt and become a hammer. This reasonable man has the freedom to move and craft a life in his likeness. It is a choice. Do you want to be a hammer or do you want to be a nail? I don't know about you but I am going to be a hammer in life.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Tea

“The visionary denies the truth to himself, the liar only to others”~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Aside from water, tea is the most popular beverage in the world and has been enjoyed since Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung took the first sip in 2737 B.C. As legend goes the Emperor was drinking a bowl of boiling water when the wind blew a few leaves from a tree into his water which began to change the color of the hot water. An inquisitive Emperor, Shen-Nung took a sip of the bowl and was pleasantly surprised by the flavor, and tea was invented.

New York coffee maker Thomas Sullivan was a struggling businessman who was looking to cut costs while trying to promote his tea products. In an effort to cut costs, Thomas sent out small sample sized silk packets of his teas for people to cut open and use to taste. Not knowing that they were supposed to cut the silk bags open, his customers dipped the silk bags into their hot cups of water as a means to brew the tea. This is how the tea bag was invented.

Presently in America, tea is a $6.8 billion enterprise.

Multiple times a day we either are misunderstood or are faced with an accident and spend countless hours trying to explain ourselves or brush the accident aside and give it no further thought. Our mistake is not in others interpretation or accidental chance; it is in not recognizing opportunity within every action that surrounds us. Our focus is so narrow and in front of us that we don’t allow ourselves to see the possibility that in many cases falls in our hot bowl of water.

Focus is our ability to create concentrated effort or attention on a particular thing. We are trained in focus at a young age until it becomes ingrained in us that what is important lie ahead of us. We are told to focus on the teacher at school, focus on the ball in sports, focus on the road while driving, and focus on our work in our place of employment. Essentially we are trained to focus on opportunities that are directly in our line of sight.

What we are not taught is vision. Vision is our ability to anticipate possible future events and developments, meaning that opportunity comes from all angles and we must have the necessary awareness of our surroundings to see opportunity from wherever it is derived. Our vision allows us to not be misunderstood, but to see how others understand us and then benefit from it. Vision allows mistakes to happen so we can gain power from the mistake and reap from it.

We do not need to throw out the water because a leaf fell in our cup, we need to look at the cup and let our curiosity create opportunity. We also do not have to explain to others that they have misunderstood our purpose; we need to see that they dip the tea bag in the water and created something new.

Creating great focus without vision only allows us to become better liars. We can look at the teacher and not listen, we see the ball and not act, we can stare at the road and put our attention elsewhere, and we can stare at our desk and not work. In any case we can appear focused on what we are not. With vision we do not have such luxuries because we must constantly be aware of everything that surrounds us. We must constantly be present in ourselves. Because of this, our lexicon has the word visionary and not focusary.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I did it! I'm registered!



"I've always thought that risk-taking is an important part of what it means to be human." 

- Donald C. Johanson

Today, I wanted to share a little bit of my own experience about registering for my biggest race to date. I hope it inspires you do go for something big!

Hello Athlete-Adventurer! Thank you for submitting your application to compete in the 2009 Badwater Ultramarathon. This is a bold step you have taken and we salute you for the commitment it implies!” Is the email I received Monday after completing the long application process of the Death Valley Cup, a combination of 2 events in Death Valley California.

135miles run in July

&

508 miles bike race in October.

-Number of people that have completed the Death Valley cup since 1996: 15

-Crossing the finishing line in September would make me the second Canadian to ever complete this epic adventure!

With those stats, a lot of people have been asking me why? Why would you put your body through such pain? Well for me it is simple… I don’t want to wake up the next day and say  “damn! I wish I had ”

Think about the sense of accomplishment and personal growth you get from knowing you did something out of the ordinary, that you took a risk, or that you pushed your body and your mind further than you did the day before. Each day, we push our kids to accomplish something better in school or in sports and for some reason we think it’s ok for us to sit back and not do the same.

For me, I still remember the first time I ran my first 1km race. The feeling was like no other! I didn’t know if I could finish, I thought maybe I would get lost, finish last or I wouldn’t be fit enough and have to quit. I thought it was going to be the most difficult thing I would ever do and almost didn’t go. But I went, finished and succeeded. So, here I am 20 years later, a small town French girl that couldn’t speak English, had never run more than 1km, writing an essay to the race director of the toughest race out there on why he should let me participate in the Death Valley Cup! I started with not knowing if I could finish a 1km run to running 100mile + races. To be honest I am very proud of how far I have come and hope I can inspire others to want the same feeling for themselves.

Going big doesn't mean running across Canada, runing in the Sahara for days or go for the biggest race out there. What I meant is go for something that’s big for you. If you have never ran 5 km, Go for it! If you have never been on a plane, go fly! You’ll hit your pillow that night having done more, taken a risk that you didn’t do the day before and being proud of yourself for doing it… 

Isabelle Julien


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Reserve

This week I was brought back about 2 years, ironically and frustratingly- to my own advice.

My son slept through the night for the first time this week- 14 weeks after his birth and not a moment too soon for his parents, including his dad who is still exercising and trying to run a business and maintain relationships; or his mom who handles 90% of those middle-of-the-night feedings and then has to deal with her husband.

The advice came into play as a busy year wrapped 1 milisecond before another busy year began and the candle was being burned at both ends as the expression goes. My workouts were suffering and I had not called a few very clsoe friends in a little while, which has me feeling angry at myself for not being more on top of things or being able to execute and rise above no matter what the situation.

The advice- given to a team of high level rugby players while they were puking or near puking from a gruelling workout, was simply this...

"what you conserve now in the face of your greatest adversity is exactly what you will lack during your time of greatest need".

Basically- if those guys took it easy through the workout, during some of the many tough matches they had that year- their fitness and their mental endurance to push- would not have been there. With respect to fitness, whether you play a competitive sport or not- this advice is nearly if not always a universal truth.

The same advice though, pertains to planning, task execution, time management, and being able to multi-task as well as align the different roles of your life. If I was good at managing my time before I had a son - now I have to be great (if I want to be any kind of father while still being a half way decent husband and business leader).

It's times like these that I'm thankful for the routines I do stick to successfully, but also kick myself for any weeks I come into Monday a little less prepared.

The morale of the story - the skill, strength, and success you reach for during times of feast will serve you well during times of famine... the harder you work now the easier it will be in the future- if for no other reason than you have conditioned yourself to work hard.

Want to last a little longer when life throws you 1,2,3,10 challenges at once - put a little reserve in your mind and your body by pushing past what you need at minimum during the good times.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Two Wolves



An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

This is an old cherokee legend and is featured in a book by one of my personal favorite authors - Pauulo Coelho. Each of his books has an underlying 'life lesson' and exposes the truth of human nature from the highest high and lowest low - his most popular book being the Alchemist. The recent book I just finished is called The Devil and Miss Prym and as I read through it I came across many good quotes to ponder upon including the following:

“when we least expect it, life set us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change”

“good and evil have the same face; it only depends on when how it crosses the path of each individual human being.”

The book is really about tackling certain issues of struggling within our hearts as to who should come out as the winner - good or evil? It brings to light the reality of good and evil within, and the difficulties of choosing between them. Each of us has our own demons to battle with and not a single soul on earth has not embarked or goes through a situation that does not require courage to surface. At some point in our lives, we may experience darkness enveloping around us and the necessity for the light to shine is out of reach. When a person is in these situations, there are only two paths that can be taken - either drown in misery and let the devil take the lead or choose the lesser evil and from there pull themselves up. It all boils down to a matter of control and of choice . We are all given such alternatives and it is up to us take a stand and be firm with whatever choice or decision we will make. Life can be very short or long indeed, it depends on how you live with it.

A final quote to ponder:

'Man needs what's worst in him in order to achieve what's best in him.'
We all have both sides of the battle inside of us. Feed the good, but realize by fighting during the evil times and the rough patches, you are enabling your very best to come through. If not for prevailing and surving these times, you would not be the better person you are today.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Lightning

With the coming of a new year brings the optimism that this is the year we will catch lightning in a bottle and completely change our lives. While reality dictates that we will fail in our attempt, we try, none the less, with noble optimism.

Lightning is a phenomenon that really isn’t understood how it exactly happens, but scientists have come up with a theory as to how lightning forms. Initially an electronic charge is formed within a cloud although it is unknown exactly how this happens. This electronic charge within a cloud is then divided into a negatively charged bottom and a positively charged upper area. The negatively charged bottom of the cloud is mainly the formation of ice, while the positively charged upper area is predominantly in the form of water. Somewhere within their separation and buildup, the electricity becomes strong enough to create an electrical discharge, or lightning.

Our ability to see a New Year’s resolution through to completion is somewhat of a phenomenon as well, considering most will not last even three months, so in comparing phenomenon to phenomenon hopefully we can gain some insight as to how we can achieve success.

Our physical and mental body is our cloud that will form the necessary electric charge to begin the process of creating a resolution. Our resolutions are formed from our understanding that we are not satisfied with where we are in life and we now recognize that we need to do something about it. For whatever reason we wait until late December to come to this realization, but that is beside the point. In our recognition to make changes in our lives we create the necessary motivation required to act on our thoughts, therefore creating electricity.

Through our resolutions we separate the negative aspects of our lives and form new positive ideas. This separation happens with the intent of suppressing our negative actions by elevating our positive actions. In essence we are freezing our negative actions, therefore immobilizing them, while moving our mobile actions above as our new primary response. Exactly like a lightning cloud, we separate liquid from solid and positive from negative in order to create energy.

Our hope is like that of a lightning cloud; that we will create enough energy to discharge our built up power and create something new and beautiful. Unfortunately for us our resolve is like that of a lightning cloud and after a few bursts of energy we slowly go back to our original form. It is our ability to create a sustainable amount of energy over a long period of time that will allow us to see enough lightning to eventually catch it in a bottle, therefore redefining ourselves and our reality in the process.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Re-invention vs Resolution

Happy New Year swimupstreamers! Here's hoping you had a great Christmas, and spent last night with people you love and cherish.

Speaking of last night - 2 questions for you...

1) What is your new year's resolution?
2) How often do you hit your new year's resolutions 100%

New year's resolutions often fall flat because people are in a 'review & renew' mindset to close out one year and begin the next, and they feel as though they are in for a 'rebirth' of sorts. The new year will bring change and with it all of my old habits will fade away and I'll finally be able to make progress... or not. By Jan 10th- most people find themselves in the same skin, doing the same things as they did last year.

The term 're-invention' gets tossed around a lot, but this is really a time of year that people should be considering what it means to them. If you want new results (ie new year's resolution) then the new year must be met with new strategies, approaches, or even new ways of thinking and executing your plans. Hence- re-inventing how you go about your day/week/month/year/life.

Personally I advocate not making any new year's resolutions. Last year I made zero resolutions on Dec 31st, but on Dec 15th I had my 2008 goals set- and looking back, have knocked 14 goals off of my 'goals before I die' list last year. This year- the re-invented approach revolves around looking at the goals I did not achieve, and identifying strategies to get closer to 100% achievement for all the goals I/we (family/ work/ etc) set.

Perhaps this is the year you re-invent the way you set goals. Instead of thinking "If only I could..." or "I really hope we..." thinking "here's how we'll ensure we...". By changing the fundamental approach to setting goals and knocking them off- we move past trying to lose 15 pounds again this year and we move our life and those around us forward.

The new year will not bring sweeping change by itself - but you can usher in that change any day of the year and today is about as good a day as any to start.