Friday, February 27, 2009


George W.F. Hegel, an early 19th century philosopher, made a name for himself by developing a system of inquiry into the nature of reality called dialectic. This system recognizes the tension that exists between two conflicting or interacting forces, elements, or ideas. Commonly we know this system by three words; thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.

Hegel’s philosophy regarding dialectic embraces the concept that a conflict of opposites is a struggle between actual and potential worlds. If this sounds familiar, it is, because as we try to evolve into better humans we are bound to face a battle between our actual and our potential. Successful navigation through this process is not a one over the other system; it is a collection of understood truths within ourselves that blends the actual and potential, creating the real.

How we get to the real is through thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Without this three phase process we never really allow ourselves to enter our own personal reality. While dialectic is more commonly applied in discussion between two people, knowing that we frequently hold internal conversations regarding our own state, dialectic holds water internally as well. Think of it as the devil and angel on opposing shoulders and it will begin to make better sense.

Thesis is an intellectual proposition that we come up with regarding our present state. Considering that we are eternally seeking advancement in life, we frequently come up with ideas about how we can begin to act in a way that will facilitate advancement, which is essentially an internal proposition or our angel talking to us.

Antithesis is the negative reaction to the proposition, or a denial of our thesis. This is our internal voice that tells us we are thinking wishfully, that we don’t have the skill to accomplish our ideas, or our thoughts of past experiences saying that we are not qualified to achieve. This is the devil on our other shoulder that continually denies us our happiness by negating our ability to believe in our potential. This is the point where many good plans go to die because we convince ourselves that the antithesis is the voice of truth and fall back on what we have determined acceptable and comfortable.

The only way to overcome antithesis is through synthesis. Synthesis allows us to resolve inner conflict by reconciling the common truths between thesis and antithesis. This combination of ideas and influences allows us to create a new whole so that we can begin to form a new reality. This reality is formed through the understanding that our ideas, goals, and dreams are not as easy as we might believe them to be, nor are they as impossible as we convince ourselves they are.

Our internal conversations hold truths on both shoulders, never complete truths, but truths within the main ideas. Successful outcomes are dependant on our ability to separate our absolute truths and our perceived truths so that we can come to an understanding that will allow us to create the opportunity for new potential. Essentially in creating new dialectic we create progress through understanding reality and by creating a new thesis, antithesis, and synthesis within our lives.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

4 months to live.

Today, I wanted to share a personal story. I hope you have the time to read it and think about how much you enjoy your life right now.

Last Saturday as I was having one of my many skype conversations with my dad, the news of the day was that my 38 year old cousin was diagnose with intestinal cancer. The family, of course is devesteted. She has been healthy all of her life and this came out of the blue. After every test possible and looking at every options, the doctor announced to her that there is unfortunatly nothing they can do. They are giving her 4-5months to live. Of course she fell off of her chair just like everyone that has to go trhough this terrible news.

I wanted to take the time to call her but this was going to be the first conversation I ever had with someone who is dying. In a way we are all dying but she knows it is coming very soon. I was very nervous about the conversation but as we started to talk, I knew she just wanted to have someone she can talk to. She started to explain to me how she felt. She said, "Isabelle, I grew up in our small town, stayed in my parents house untill I had enough money to buy a house. I did not want to move very far so my house was on the same street that I grew up on. There is nothing wrong with that as I was able to be close to my parents and all my friends I grew up with. But here is what I have to wake up to every single day until I die - I wish I had."

She went on talking about how she has never seen the ocean because she thought "oh I'll drive down there one day.... She has never been on top of a mountain celabrating with friends because she didn't want to take a chance on flying there or hiking it might be too hard, she has never ran a marathon because she didn't think she could do it and the list went on and on. I let her talk and I could tell this was almost more painful than the cancer itself. She is now too sick to travel and will never have the chance to feel the pain and joy at the end of a marathon or hug her friends on top of a mountain. She kept repeating in the conversation "I can't tell you enough to go and do what you love to do, just go and do it Isabelle."

I will end this blog on the last sentence she told me on the phone and I hope it makes you go get what you want in your life,

"Don't wait until they give you your expiry date, because I just got mine and I waited too long."

Thanks to my cousin Raymonde for letting me share her story.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Don't panic: Someone's getting rich

Warren Buffett is a smart man.
When he says, "be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful", I think he must be rubbing his hands together right now.

The fact is- someone is making money in this economy;
Bankruptcy lawyers are seeing serious business growth...
People are turning to investment advisers with the remnants of their savings like they do to their doctor's with an incurable ache or illness...
Young professionals are buying houses again as they become within their reach...

Great businesses are poised to increase their market share as the unrefined/ unpolished/ unprepared go under and their customers and clients look elsewhere for their needs.

The fact is- some really poor policies (on lending) and some really poor leadership; as well as greed and the naive pursuit of the American dream - got us where we are. A return to sound fundamentals; hard, smart work, and bringing something to the table in terms of your values and skill set are what is going to turn the economy around.

One thing people have to remember is that what differentiates 'market fluctuation' from 'recession' in many cases is wide spread panic. Yes, there are a multitude of complex factors at play here- but panic cannot be ruled out, nor can it be allowed to continue.

When people get that BP oil will not be worth $1 per share, they will remember there is a value to everything, there is a floor to the value of the biggest companies in the world, and there is something that each business can do to appeal to their consumers other than raising white flags.

YOU as an employee, consumer, and investor can do something, and if you run a business you HAVE TO do something in terms of the example you show your people and the productivity and results you demand.

It may be a brutal economy right now... but as many people lick their wounds, others are busy putting the work and strategies in place that, when things correct themselves and they come out on top- everyone will be asking them what they did.

Right now you can be that person or business working relentlessly that will a) survive and b) prompt others to ask "what's your secret?" or you can be the person asking, "why me?"

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Do you have the Strength?

Sunday, February 22, 2009- People went running an 8km run in Aldergrove Park as part of a trail running series. It has been wonderful seeing everyone coming out, enjoying the friendly competition and watching some new friendship grow. Here's how the day went for Tami Mackenzie.

The Aldergrove 8 kilometre trail run. I thought “No problem”, I just ran a 10 kilometre on the road last week... the body had a different idea. Got out of bed, and to be honest, if it were not for the fact I was getting points for a contest I was in, I would have got right back into bed. So many excuses, it is raining, I do not have milk for my cerial, my legs hurt from a hike I took the day before. I pushed all these aside, and headed for the run.

Once at the run, I picked up energy from all the people around. There truely are some great people that come to these runs. Each one you do, you get to know a little bit more about the freaks that get up at 6:30 am to come out and run in the rain. You get your number, put it on, and this helps get into the zone. You feel as though you are now one of them.

The run begins, and it is not so bad, except for the fact I forgot my ipod. And yes, it is too late to turn around. No big deal it is good to be at peace with yourself on the trail. The first kilometre goes by, and I have to dig deep to try and not find a short cut to take. The next 3 kilometres go by with a different body part hurting each step. The shoulders and neck begin to hurt, the side begins to pinch with each breath, then the mental conversation begins. I tell myself, “come on what are you going to do quite, quiting is not an option (how embarrassing would that be), this is less than one hour out of my life”. I go back to last weekend and think of how fantastic i felt after my 10 kilometre run. Then the hills kick in, I swear at the hike I took the day before! I then play a game with myself, and say, ok, if you run up this big hill, I can walk up the next. The next hill comes and I push through this one as well, telling myself, I did not die on the last one, I can do this one. By the time I realize it, I have 1 mile to go according to the awesome volunteer directing me to what direction to go in. The lovely volunteer gave it to me in miles instead of kilometres because I think she saw on my face I could not take it if she told me 1.6 kilometres.

I dig deep, I begin to push harder, hearing the voice of my good friend whom I usually work out with, telling me I can do it, hearing her voice as if she is right beside me. Thinking about someone, somewhere who is pushing through to finish a marathon is a good way to think, if they can do it, I can do this! I find the strength to pass those 5 people I told myself 2 kilometres back I would pass. Then I hear people encouraging others off in the distance, as they approach the finish line. This gives me even more strength to finish strong. I get on a out of body experience, it is as though someone has lifted me up, and is carrying me across the finish line, the speed I have found is euphoric, the cheers come at me, my arms go up, and I am across the finish line...I think to myself, that was not so bad, I could have run another 5 kilometres after all!!

When you think you can not do something, you will not do it. But if you push yourself, dig deep, and find that spot to give you the extra push, the reward in the end feels so complete. Most people have that spot to find the strength to go to, but if you do not, go and create it, you will never lose it, it is yours to build on, it is yours to always go to.

Thanks for sharing Tami,

Monday, February 23, 2009

Financial Abundance

There are those who think negative, there are those who think positive and there are those that think abundance! Abundance thinking or prosperity consciousness is a mind-set that believes in a universal power that bestows upon us the positive things we wish to have in our lives. Sometime between being a child to the time we become an adult many of us loose this way of thinking and become programmed by an environment that perpetuates negative thinking. We are told things such as ‘you cannot do it’ or ‘it is too hard so don’t attempt.’ It is time for us to think different of our place in this universe by changing our attitude to one that believes we can and will have it all.

Money for example is something that most people would like to have more of. On the other hand there are those that are afraid of money and strongly believe that having more is wrong or evil. Money is not the villain but greed and self-indulgence are. There is nothing wrong with having a lot of money and why not have more? Think of the great things that you could do for the world with more of it. Still many of us fail to think of it in its abundance whether due to fear or poor thinking and we pass on opportunities to make money and ignore signs of wealth that come our way. Opportunities usually disguise themselves as work and get overlooked by many when clearly they are signs that must be regarded. When we think abundance, opportunities will be granted to us. If more money is your wish, the next time a chance comes your way do not dismiss it and think long term as it being a possible prospect to increase your earnings.

Other signs exist that demonstrate prosperity coming our way. When it comes to a penny - the smallest unit of a dollar we see it as a worthless piece of metal smug in its reddish-brown color. The same people who wish to have more money are the same ones who do not bother picking up a coin less than a quarter. It is so often seen that people will walk by money on the ground or worse, throw it away if it is too small. Even the smallest units of currency must be respected, for how can we appreciate the big if we can’t appreciate the small? Furthermore, we must adjust our mentality from one of being unfortunate to one picturing ourselves living in unlimited ways. Dr. Wayne Dyer said:
“Be open to the guidance that intention provides when we are in a state of rapport with it and then be in ecstatic gratitude and awe for the whole process as it unfolds before us.”

Abundance thinking is a state of mind that will bring us opportunities and ultimately what we wish for. Be thankful for opportunity and take advantage of it when it knocks on your door for many out there do not have the chance. More opportunity will come your way when you ask it to and the next time you see a coin as small as a penny on the street, stop, pick it up, put it into your pocket and say aloud “Thank you, God for this symbol of abundance that keeps flowing into my life”. Do not allow yourself to think differently by asking a negative question like “why only a penny, God? You know I need more than that.” Keep the flow of abundant thinking open and unblocked by expressing the gratitude for the smallest things like a penny that comes into your life. The smallest units do add up and opportunities are out there when you look for them so think abundance and see them as signs that you are living a prosperous life.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Absolute Truth

There are many things in life that interfere with our ability to obtain success, but it is our inability to define an absolute truth that is the most detrimental. Understanding truth is considering it to be universal if it is valid in all times and places, while absolute means that truth has total power and authority.

Without absolute truth we are unable to grasp reality, which is an essential piece in success. Our perceived absolute truths are actually immediate truths as we idealize and emulate others who have realities far from our own. In our efforts to copy what we see as absolute in others, we lose the most essential characteristic that we have; individuality.

While emulation is the highest form of flattery, it in no way creates reality, rather it breeds falsities and distances us further from who we really are. We buy into others absolute realities because they are marketed well and are selling something we feel can’t be obtained on our own. The danger that this presents is that we become attached to their reality and become a costumer, not an individual.

Finding motivation in others is a good thing because it gets us moving in a direction that will facilitate success; it is when we become dependant on others that our percentage for failure increases. This is where our ability to create our own personal absolute truths becomes essential to our ability to succeed.

Absolute truth is a mixture of individualized faith, ethics, trust, and commitment to purpose which allows something to be universal in our lives as valid in all times and places. Our absolute truth, when formed correctly, is as individual as we are and needs to be treated as such. This positive selfishness; where we understand that we must be a good individual before we can be a good anything else, is what will allow us to understand our realities and place us on the successful path.

Absolute truth creates our ability to believe in something tangible and real. Without it we begin to believe in hope and ideals; both of which are great for dreams but neither of which can we count on when we are most at need.

Our realization of our absolute truths opens the path for success but does not guarantee anything beyond personal enlightenment. If we are able to see enlightenment as a means to individuality, then we have started the process of empowerment where our absolute truths become more evident and powerful; therefore we become more relevant and powerful.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Well, we all have them. and to be honest, I don't need to use fancy words to describe how it feels...they suck!!

I am sure everyone has them and it affects us the most with things we are passionate about. For myself if you were to tell me I can't go to DisneyLand for another year I would say no big deal. But when I received a letter that started like this " We regret to inform you that you have not been selected to compete in the 2009 Badwater 135miles Ultramarathon." I felt like i had just been crushed by a bus. When a challenge is in your head that demands so much work, you think about it all the time, it seems like the world is over when it is taken from you. Meyrick Jones received the same kind of setback a while ago when he wasn't named to the World Cup Team for the races in March. Think about how frustrating it would be to plan something for so long and miss it by not much, 0.4% off to be precise. Imagine being the top swimmer in Canada on your way to Olympic Qualifier and you are hit with the flu and you miss your once in a lifetime opportunity because of 1 100th of a second. There are no words to describe the pain. 

So, This is when setbacks can crush us or just make us stronger. For Meyrick and I we had to make a decision just like everyone else that are dealt with setbacks in their lives. Are we going to give up or are we going to work harder? 

We will push, We will not be crushed. With all the love and endless support surrounding our passions and endeavors, we have found the will to take on the next challenge. There is no end. We made the decision to not be crushed. How will you handle your next setback?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What if you were honest?

In the spirit of the title of today's entry- I'll be honest- today's entry will piss a few people off. The reason it will piss some people off, is because we (as a group/society/nation/world) often kid ourselves and avoid some harsh realities. We hide from the truth, and we hide the truth from others.

I'll get right to it - I have defined (thus far) the purpose of my life as, "helping other people realize and work towards their potential by always striving towards my own". Sounds great but there are times when I don't strive towards my potential.There are times when I lie. There were times up until a couple of years ago that I would sabotage myself. I have been working in the same industry for 11 years, and have been on this planet for 32. I feel as though; were I 100% honest with myself and others; I could have achieved the same things I have in my life long ago.

I am not writing a letter of regret here. Rather, I am using myself as an example of what it really takes to be honest with yourself and what a look in the mirror really entails. Maybe it's the economic downturn that is forcing us all to get better. Maybe it's a promise I made to myself and a good friend to 'reinvent' for 2009. Whatever it is- the blinders are off and it's amazing what you see with eyes that are trying to see!

What was "I'm trying" is now "I need to get better"
What was "I'm following systems and doing my job" is now "am I doing the best job I can?"
What was "I'm too busy" is now "I have a son of nearly 5 months and run a business... NOW I'm busy"

And so it is that I have less patience for excuses that stand in the way of people realizing and working towards their true potential. As a father there is little that pisses me off more than when people use their kids as an excuse for NOT doing something. Making personal changes should never be a higher priority that your kids (unless we are talking about harmful habits that need to change like addictions), but it should be on your radar.

I can't think of how many people have told me "you don't have time anymore when you have kids" and then upon further inspection have no system of time management, planning, or personal goal setting. This is not your kids fault.

How many times do we see "balance is important to me- I don't live to work" followed by no plan for long term balance? These are the kind of people who travel in their twenties only to work 3 jobs in their 40s while the people they didn't want to be (who worked their ass of in their 20s and 30s) are traveling 4 weeks of the year in their 40s.

And how nice is it to see the auto industry ask for another billion plus in government funding, coupled with the fact that they plan (GM and Chrysler) to axe another 50,000 jobs, and it will still take 2 years (according to them) to reach sustainable profitability? No commentary on how the disgruntled labor union has crippled their business by costing nearly 10% of the retail price tag in wages that can't be negotiated as people lose their jobs?

There are so many other examples of how we kid ourselves and each other every day, that moving forward becomes very tough. You have to be an expert communicator to even be a mediocre people manager these days because you only get half the story. Sometimes business fail because managers only tell their teams half the story!

What if we admitted our imperfections and sought the wisdom of others instead of assuming the defensive right away? Wouldn't that progress each individual and each conversation a lot faster? Wouldn't focusing on what you need instead of what pop culture tells you to buy create longer term economic sustainability for families?

That is my challenge to everyone who reads swim upstream today. Catch yourself in a lie, and adjust it more times today than you did yesterday. you will move past surface conversations to real interactions - and you will get closer to what you want because you'll have the confidence to SAY what you want. Isn't that moving all of us closer to our potential and our purpose while we're here?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

you're right!

We come across challenges in our lives everyday. It can be going for a run and you don't feel like it or you're scared of meeting new people and not sure if you should go for it. Whatever the challenge is, it's your choice to say I can take this on or I can't. As you will read below, Steve Stew said to himself I CAN make the best out of this opportunity.


Well it’s been just under a year since I tore a leg muscle last year during my first ever trail run. I had some shin splints left over from the Sun Run but instead of taking it easy on the 8k race I pushed myself further than I should have. Spending a couple weeks on crutches & weeks in physio after the race it would take me several months & +35 lbs later before I would have fate land me in the lap of Curtis Christopherson & his awesome staff @ IF.  I had been on my new red wine & pasta diet when I met Curtis & had ballooned up to 235lbs on my 5’ 8” frame. Curtis gave me his card & we exchanged emails. At that moment I could of said I can't do this there's no way I will be able to get back at it. But I decided to believe in myself and the rest is history. I went in and met Curtis a few days later & had my evaluation, as soon as I walked in I knew this was the place I could get back on track. We set some goals & got to work. The goals I had set where pretty hefty but that’s my type “A” personality all or nothing. So I set my target of 184 lbs by April 28th, 2009. The trainers Megan, Kevin & Isabelle set out a kick ass plan for me, which included 2 full body workouts at IF a week,  2 spin classes & 1 circuit class per week. Well even at 51 years old the results have been amazing as I’ve lost an astonashing 24.6 lbs during the month of January & am already ½ way to my goal weight.


IF also added a nutritional challenge for the month of February which is being overseen by Nadine & includes points for food logs, trail runs  & weight loss percentage ,another great challenge that wanted to take on. My wife & I just completed our 1st  5k trail run with the IF gang as part of the Nutritional Challenge & have signed up for 2 more for the month of February. Even though we where both a little nervous going into our 1st trail run since last year the training we have received @ IF had us both feeling inspired & motivated. 

With the support of the IF Team and all the great people  we have met at IF the run was our 1st IF event with many more planned. I am a true believer in fate & meeting Curtis that night & all his amazing staff have changed my life and have got me back on the road to fitness & balance. I said to myself I can! And so now I am doing!

Thanks for sharing your story Steve, at the end of the day it doesn't matter if you have the best support in the world, so... "wether you think you can or think you can't... you're right." 

thanks again Steve 

Monday, February 16, 2009


I consider myself lucky to have 2 amazing sisters. Today’s entry is not specifically about them, but more about realizing our ties in this world and being aware of those you influence the most along the way.. sometimes those you least expect, yet should be the most obvious.

Over the past 6 months I’ve really begun to grasp this concept. A sister yes, always – but a role model and someone that others look up too; and have been for quite some time – this is a new concept. Helping and influencing others is a great and rewarding feeling in general. When you see someone making positive changes in their life and becoming a better person because of your indirect or direct influence. If you haven’t had the opportunity to do this I suggest going out and finding someone you can inspire to be better.. you’ll be amazed at what comes back to you.

But it’s a rewarding feeling on a completely different level when you influence or help someone change who is that much more connected to you – someone who has had the same frustrations and issues as you. Someone you’ve at times hated, loved, shared your deepest secrets with, etc. We can actively go out to try and help and change others, but then to realize this has been happening all along is a very powerful awareness. Watching the two of them become adults over the past several years and moving beyond the thing s holding them back has been incredible. Now learning that I had a role in that is even more incredible. I’m not sure what it’s like to be a parent, but I’m sure if I were to multiply this by ten thousand and taken to the power of infinity I would have only a slight comprehension. Hearing my sister say to me ‘I’ve always looked up to you’ has defiantly been a defining moment for me – one I hope that many people get to experience.

And how do you get to experience that with those closest to you? Well first realizing your ties and how you have the ability to influence at every opportunity. I urge everyone to take a look at those in their life that are close to them, and realize how closely they are watching. We are not just sister, parents, brothers, friends, etc. We are role models to everyone in our lives – with the potential to change and direct every single person we come across in a positive way. I’m sure there are numerous people you can think of who selflessly put efforts towards helping you achieve your goals. Now it’s time to do it in return to others. Think, if the whole world acted like this, how much better off we would be? Don’t just aimlessly go through your day and conversations with others – inspire and influence at every opportunity; get as many as you can heading in the same direction as you. I assure you that it’s challenging, but it’s also very rewarding when the realization comes back that you’ve made a difference.
Here’s to being a role model – all the time; you never know who’s watching... often those you least expect to influence.

Friday, February 13, 2009


It is interesting how things line up in life, where one act is followed by another, yet unrecognized until the process of reflection takes place. Post reflection you are able to see how there are no accidents in life and that every step, no matter how small, has purpose and always leads towards the direction your mind takes you.

Eleven days ago I was reading about some of the essential concepts of Tao. Tao is the philosophy of order and wisdom of individual life, that universal energy makes and maintains everything that exists, and is the ultimate reality in which all things happen. In looking inward, Tao allows you to connect with your personal rhythms and pace as a means to bring satisfaction, joy, and fulfillment to your existence.

Now, I am not a Taoist nor am I an expert on the philosophy of Tao, I just enjoy reading about the subject and I find it hard to argue with its teachings. What particularly caught me eye when I was reading was the concept of Te (“deh”); personal power. Te is the idea of turning failure into strength, maintaining in the moment and not focusing on the outcome, exhibiting integrity when it means you will be different, and most importantly gaining power by not seeking it because it will only create fatigue. I read the same two pages on Te a dozen times for no other reason than I really enjoyed the words I read, only to see its principle in action two days later.

Nine days ago I witnessed the birth of my first child, a healthy baby girl, only to be woken in the middle of the night reflecting on the words I repeatedly read two nights earlier. A baby is the purest form of the most powerful species on the planet; untainted with what they will soon see in the world and the closest form of perfection that exists on earth.

Starting as a zygote, then a blastocyst, embryo, and then a fetus, a baby has all of its functioning organs by the time it is twelve weeks old. The brain is continually forming, fingers and toes are complete with nails, the heart is functioning, and its gender is apparent; all without trying to gain the form it has already achieved. By the time the baby is born, it has achieved its miraculous status without ever forcing the process to happen, it just let it happen.

This was my learning moment, laying in a cot half my size, realizing that for this miracle to happen it took no external effort from the baby, it just took the idea that ultimate reality, birth, takes nothing more that allowing the process to unfold. By putting herself in the right situation, trusting those who would nourish and support her growth, and allowing the spiritual aspect of life take control, she was able to enter this world successfully.

Our success and personal power is not a mystery; we all have already achieved it once. If we are to regain that power we need to look no further than what we learned before we took our first breath and understand that our personal rhythms, ultimate reality, and power will come when stop trying to force what is not there. As we tire ourselves through the pursuit of something we think we should be, we lose the energy necessary to remain still and find our power within our calm.

Our ability to achieve Te is not in our ability to out work those around us, it is in our ability to work smarter than those around us. Te will not come from allowing external circumstances to dictate our reality; rather it will come when we accept our reality and internally decide to mold it. Our Te will not appear through material items and perception; it will come when we allow ourselves to reconnect with our most pure state when we were as close to perfection as we will ever be.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Remember to enjoy the journey

How many times do you drive to work in a rush or walk your kids to school as fast as they can walk or register for a race and just think about not being late or the finish line? The following story might compel you think about enjoying the journey you're on and not just the final destination.

A man sat at a Metro station in Washington, D.C. and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried on to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.  

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition. 

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars. 

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito 

in the Metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour. Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

enjoy your day

washington post article

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Habits add up.

It never ceases to amaze me how often people attend a seminar by Tony Robbins, or anyone else famous or successful, and the same scenario plays out.

(hand wavering, outstretched among the crowd to get the speaker's attention)
"Tony, excuse me Tony..." "What is your secret to success?", followed by an answer they've probably already heard but that didn't blow their mind followed by an "oh... thanks." response.

What a lot of people like this don't get is that success/winning/money/championships are sexy... but what it takes to get there often is not.

Hard work is not sexy but it can be it's own reward... and people that win in life don't wear a different color of jeans... they just do things better than those who don't win consistently.

Put another way, winning is a habit. Winning is the summation of many habits in fact...

- making your lunch or breakfast the night before
- brewing coffee at home instead of stopping at Starbucks or Tim Hortons
- going to bed on time every night
- waking up at the same time or close to it rather than a radically different weekend schedule
- planning your week in advance (ie wednesday or thursday of the previous week)
- planning every night minor adjustments or revisions for the next day
- planning the major events and goals of your year in advance
- planning family time and social time and not just work to achieve balance
- having goals in all areas of your life including the most important people in your life with those goals
- exercising
- eating right
- brushing your teeth
- watching your spending
- budgeting
- investing
- reading new books and taking new courses
- having a place for everything at work and at home
- effective communication strategies with your spouse
- scheduling/ to do list/ daily items systems even as minute as a grocery list
- not shopping on an empty stomach
- planning your errands in advance with strategy instead of having to go to the mall twice in the same day

these are just a few habits that, when learned, applied, and practiced consistently over the long term, add up to success. A healthy, wealthy, fit, active person who is on the ball, has less stress, and can achieve more in 8 hours than many people can in 12.

There are those people who seem to 'have it all', and for a lot of them- I bet they planned it that way and made it happen.

so can you. Make 'kicking ass' at life a habit of yours.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

2008 – From couch to finish line with my family!

Here's the story of Paul Burger, someone that decided to get off the couch and take family time to another level! Thank you for sharing your story. 

My 2008 year really started in 2007. I had recently moved to Los Angeles in search of a career, the sun, and the California life. What that meant was that I left behind my friends, and more importantly my family.

One weekend, when I was up visiting, I found myself at the finish line of the UBC triathlon, as an unmotivated, out of shape spectator. However, something happened when I saw my Dad, followed by my sister cross the finish line that day. The determination, the courage and the shear joy of completing something like a triathlon, was something I wanted to experience. I saw it as not only an opportunity for personal growth, but a chance to spend some time with my family and find some much needed common ground. So I promised my Dad, my sister and myself, that my days of sitting on the couch talking about it were over. I promised to compete in the 2008 UBC triathlon.  For me, a very big deal.

I should stop here and say that I am not an athlete! In fact, the sight of me trying to do anything athletic brings forth imagery of say, that of a monkey humping a coconut. It ain’t pretty!

Never-the-less on March 9th, 2008, sure enough there I was. Standing at the edge of the pool in a ridiculously tight bathing suit, amongst 30 or so other athletes. My stomach was nothing but nerves. The gun went off and so I went, up and down the pool. Then out on the bike in the freezing cold wind and rain, and just when I thought maybe I could throw my bike into the ocean, rip off my number, waltz into a coffee shop and forget about this silly endeavor, there was my Dad, screaming words of encouragement from the other side of the out and back bike course. And I remembered why I was there.

I crossed the finish line and waited for my Dad and sister to come through. I didn’t have to wait long before that rush of accomplishment hit me full force. My first Olympic triathlon, and a great excuse to be able to share the pride with my family. I had spent my life mostly getting attention for the things I had done wrong, and all of a sudden I was getting it for something I had done right. I was hooked.

As most people that cross the finish line at these kinds of things, the question arose, “What’s next?” How about a half marathon? Maybe Half-Ironman? Ironman? A marathon? What the hell was wrong with me? I mean, I had seen these things on TV, and never once did I think to myself, I would love to do something that would put that look of shear terror and pain on my face. Looks like a blast!!! And now, here I stood, staring at my computer screen with my Dad and sister about to hit “submit registration” for the Oliver Half Ironman 2008!!


The year continued, and so did our training. Five, Six, sometimes seven days a week, we would meet at 5:00am in the morning for a run, or a swim, or an early morning ride. And you would think it gets easier, but it doesn’t. But somehow, when one of us would try and bail, the others be there waiting in the cold morning air. We gained momentum as a family, running, swimming and biking further and further. We started raising money for charities and received tremendous support. People loved the idea of a family doing all these things together, and so did we.

So as 2008 came to a close, I ran through my checklist. It looked something like this:


1.    My first Olympic Triathlon (UBC)

2.    My first 17km race (Khatsalano)

3.    My first Half Marathon (Vancouver)

4.    My first Half Ironman (Oliver)

5.    My first Marathon with my wife (New York)

6.    A 5 day cycle tour through the south of France with my Mom, Dad, sister and wife

7.    A cheque to Covenant House for almost $30,000 raised for Oliver Half Iroman by our family

8.    My second half marathon (Cambodia)

9.    $6000 raised for the Angkor Childrens Hospital in Cambodia for the Angkor Wat Half Marathon by my Dad and I

10. Countless hours along side my Dad, sister and wife running, swimming, biking.

So that was my year, from the comfy couch to finish line all with my family. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!!

Here’s to 2009!!

Monday, February 09, 2009


We possess more knowledge about our world today than ever before and we have unlimited access to this information. In this world we place much value on knowledge. We spend money and years in the pursuit of degrees, diplomas and certificates to give us knowledge that society says is essential for our success.

Without a doubt, knowledge gained serves to benefit us but what about wisdom, how does it compare to knowledge and is there a difference? Such high worth has been put on the attainment of knowledge that we sometimes find ourselves in a mindset seeking more and more information above anything else. More information will not hurt us but consider the quality of information we get. Too often we care more about “did you hear about the latest?” than “what insight can you share that is truth?” The truth is that we know more than what we understand. That is the difference about wisdom – it gives us good judgment, perspective, insight and understanding of what is real.

Knowledge is communicable but wisdom must be gained from experience. Moreover, wisdom is gained from a lifelong experience. Knowledge acts as a messenger and a precursor to call on wisdom, but this by no means can be regarded as equivalent to wisdom. Wisdom is experiential; it is a truth one recognizes in the external world that already exists in the internal self (ie: values we live by). Wisdom teaches us what works and what does not while knowledge teaches us to use our senses, to observe and evaluate things or events around us. Consider both to be of importance and when the two are balanced this makes for a better life.

Wisdom in this writers opinion comes from not just experience but listening to ones internal self. It is something that cannot be taught and therefore is of high importance because it connects us to the heart of our emotional and spiritual being. Being wise implies, ‘having or showing experience, knowledge and good judgment’. Without embracing wisdom and just living to gain more information and knowledge we fall in love with our ambitions, desires and of course deadlines. Living life to the fullest, enjoying what we feel and respecting our emotions should not be forgotten along the way. A life with meaning, complete with values and a certain level of wisdom should be sought after along with knowledge. It is not about what you know but what you do with what you know. Go into your lives today and tomorrow, use your knowledge to create good judgment and set yourself up to experience more that life has to give and you will gain wisdom. Wisdom comes from a higher level of thinking, embracing your internal self and by experiencing what life has to offer. Like a rock, this is a solid foundation in which to build a life upon.

"Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."
-Jesus (Matthew 7:24-27)

Friday, February 06, 2009


It is a privilege to fill in for Scott Boyle who yesterday welcomed his first child into the world. Congratulations Scott and best to both you and your wife.

Fittingly today’s post is about winners. Have you ever migrated towards a person who you just thought ‘wow they really have their ‘stuff’ together?’. I have. In fact this year I made a pledge to only surround myself with those type of people.

Understand, this isn’t a delineation between winners and losers. There are no losers on the other side of the conversation. The focus is on surrounding ourselves with winners.

So what makes a winner (by my definition).

1. attitude. winners aren’t archiving or perpetuating drama, victim mentality or problems. They are diligently working towards can do… glass half full & solutions.

2. commitment. when a winner says they will do something. you don’t have to follow up with them. it’s done. winners get ‘$@#^’ done.

3. confidence. winners aren’t worried about what others think, if they did well, did they sound harsh, do they look good etc. winners can stand in a crowded room and not have to make small talk or feel awkward.

4. flow. winners are moving in almost the exact opposite as the mainstream crowd. that’s why they stand out. they have the ability to make their own decisions and not rely on social norms.

5. true to themselves. winners aren’t spending time trying to be everything to everyone. instead, they are being true to themselves, which has a much more positive impact on those around them.

6. busy. winners are busy. sound silly, but winning is leadership and true leaders never stop leading. it’s not a light switch, it’s a habit.

Again, this isn’t a commentary on whether you are a winner or not, this is a testament to how much more fulfilling your life can & will be if you include / surround yourself with & by people who have some of the traits mentioned above.

One key to success is surrounding yourself with people who take you where you want to go!

Thursday, February 05, 2009


In yesterday's blog they talked about having a vision. If you didn't have the chance to read it, go now and come back to this one! As you'll see below, John Roebling had a vision. Now that he had a vision, it was about not giving up on that vision and make it happen!

In 1883, a creative engineer named John Roebling was inspired by an idea to build a spectacular bridge connecting New York with the Long Island. However bridge building experts throughout the world thought that this was an impossible feat and told Roebling to forget the idea. It just could not be done. It was not practical. It had never been done before.

Roebling could not ignore the vision he had in his mind of this bridge. He thought about it all the time and he knew deep in his heart that it could be done. He just had to share the dream with someone else. After much discussion and persuasion he managed to convince his son Washington, an up and coming engineer, that the bridge in fact could be built.

Working together for the first time, the father and son developed concepts of how it could be accomplished and how the obstacles could be overcome. With great excitement and inspiration, they hired their crew and began to build their dream bridge.

The project started well, but when it was only a few months underway a tragic accident on the site took the life of John Roebling. Washington was injured and left with a certain amount of brain damage, which resulted in him not being able to walk or talk or even move.

"We told them so."
"Crazy men and their crazy dreams."
"It`s foolish to chase wild visions."

Everyone had a negative comment to make and felt that the project should be scrapped since the Roeblings were the only ones who knew how the bridge could be built. In spite of his handicap Washington was never discouraged and still had a burning desire to complete the bridge and his mind was still as sharp as ever.

He tried to inspire and pass on his enthusiasm to some of his friends, but they were too daunted by the task. As he lay on his bed in his hospital room, with the sunlight streaming through the windows, a gentle breeze blew the flimsy white curtains apart and he was able to see the sky and the tops of the trees outside for just a moment.

It seemed that there was a message for him not to give up. Suddenly an idea hit him. All he could do was move one finger and he decided to make the best use of it. By moving this, he slowly developed a code of communication with his wife.

He touched his wife's arm with that finger, indicating to her that he wanted her to call the engineers again. Then he used the same method of tapping her arm to tell the engineers what to do. It seemed foolish but the project was under way again.

For 13 years Washington tapped out his instructions with his finger on his wife's arm, until the bridge was finally completed. Today the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge stands in all its glory as a tribute to the triumph of one man's indomitable spirit and his determination not to be defeated by circumstances. It is also a tribute to the engineers and their team work, and to their faith in a man who was considered mad by half the world. It stands too as a tangible monument to the love and devotion of his wife who for 13 long years patiently decoded the messages of her husband and told the engineers what to do.

Everything is possible, NEVER EVER GIVE UP on your VISION

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

We all need a vision

Take a deep breath
Close the door to your room or office
close your eyes and think about what's going on in your life right now

eyes open?

what did you think about?
For many of us, we'd answer "bills" "my kids" "the economic uncertainty" or even the laundry/garbage/cooking dinner/other household tasks

It is very important, especially in stressful times like today, that we have a defined vision of what we want out of life; and that we are taking active steps to get there. What does this mean?

let's start with "vision". 'Vision' refers to an ideal or goal towards which one aspires. According to Mickey Connolly and Dr. Richard Rianoshek in their book, "The Communication Catalyst", a vision is something big you shoot for but can never truly achieve. Mother Theresa, for example, held as her vision "love the poor". She could not, in her lifetime, love all the poor (in a direct sense). She did, however, love and help enough poor people that we hold her example as superhuman.

Business giant Microsoft held as it's vision for some time a computer in every home in the United States. While some homes lack a PC, you get the point- and so do many businesses that try to emulate the success of Microsoft.

The lesson here is for all of us to hold a vision - what does our ideal life look like? What people are in your life and in what capacity? What job do you have? Where do you live? What lifestyle do you enjoy? What legacy do you want to be remembered for? All those questions and more help to identify what your life would look like if you had your way.

When we narrow in on the goal, the action steps we must take become a lot more clear. This is so key right now in a tough economy because (smart) employers are demanding more. They have to. Hopefully they are also providing more guidance or more creative benefits and incentivization packages, but the fact is to turn the economy around, people must bring more to the table and companies must be more efficient.

If you don't have a clear vision, your boss will demand more and pay less proportionate to your output, and this will lead you to enjoy your job and even your life less. It is even more important now than ever to focus on what you are getting besides a paycheck and ensure passion, skillset, and long term goals align between your vision and what you have to do at work. Once these are in check, we all need to work harder than ever both to weather the current economic storm, and to make progress towards our vision not just punch a clock every day.

The reality is, some people are losing their jobs, and some people (regardless of economic status) are still living out their dreams. Some that are losing their jobs are dead weight because they aren't passionate and thus not contributing and only there to do the minimum, while some are downright tragedies. Some people are living out their dreams by applying the principles of success, while others were lucky enough to be born rich.

You can't get anywhere by worrying about others and what's fair or not fair. You can decide what's exciting for you, and then take steps (and plan) to set it up, and then work relentlessly towards your goals with the progress and mini-victories along the way providing your fuel.

Remember that you don't have to (and shouldn't) go it alone, but you do have to take ownership over your life and where it is going if you're going to have even a hope of getting what you want.

so - close your door, take a deep breath, and then close your eyes again and picture what that life looks like... make sure you have a pen and paper ready- you might surprise yourself with what your life could look like!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


is the perfect example that ordinary people CAN in fact, achieve the EXTRAordinary.

 The goal was simple. Get as many people as safely to the summit of one of the worlds 7 summits; Mt. Kilimanjaro. We would start our journey with over 17 hours of flying (almost 32 hours including layovers). This set the tempo for what was to come pole pole! [slow slow]

January 17th. We arrived in Moshi. This was the end of the travel and the beginning of the journey. As our transport weaved through the small village we sat back in amazement at what we were seeing. The poverty, the living conditions and the happiness all in one great big melding pot. We would check into our rooms and quickly check into the pool & shower to cool off and get clean. After a brief pre hike meeting with Salomon (Baboo), we would set the criterion for how the hike would go down.

Monday, February 02, 2009

100% To Be The Best

If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would likely astound ourselves

-Thomas A. Edison

So you want to be the best, you want to be great, you want to create and leave a legacy...

Step 1: find what you are passionate about and what you are good at
Step 2: Learn and absorb as much as you possibly can from those you surround yourself with
Step 3: Position yourself to take on as many opportunities as possible
Step 4: Pursue with every ounce of what you’ve got at nothing less than 100%
Step 5: fight to the very end, be relentless, and never, ever give up

Steps 1- 3 most people have no problem with, but often at step 4 is where the setbacks begin. But why? Why should we expect anything but 100% ? Why do we sell ourselves short? And I’m not talking from necessary experience – personally at steps 4&5 to do what I want to do, but I assure you I will not be stopping anytime soon. But what I am seeing around me is many in our culture, in general, stopping at step 3. Then whining about when’s it going to be their turn and their time?

One of the biggest myths in American Culture is that we are entitled to a great life – that somehow, somewhere, someone (certainly not ourselves) is responsible for filling our lives with a continual happiness, exciting career options, nurturing family time, and blissful personal relationships simply because we exist. But the real truth is that there is only one person responsible for the quality of life you live and that is YOU.

There is no magic formula or fairy godmother of success. If you want to be the best, be great, be successful you have to take 100% responsibility. Give 100%, 100% of the time. You have to fight, kick and scream with every ounce of your being, you have to refuse to fail. This includes the level of your achievements, the results you produce, the quality of your relationships, the state of your health and physical fitness, your income, your debts, your feelings – everything!! It ‘s ALL on you!

And this is not easy – especially in a society that likes to play the blame game for their lack of success. We blame our parents, our bosses, our friends, the media, our coworkers, our clients, our spouse, the weather, the economy, or lack of money. It’s time we all stopped with the blame and excuses and just get to work.

Micheal Phelps – 7 days a week; every practice, every day – 100% and nothing but; Starting when he was very young all the way until the Olympics. He had a goal and pursued it and was not letting anyone stand in his way.

Elected President Obama – same thing. This didn’t start when the campaign started.. it started many many years ago when the idea of President was not even a thought..100% effort into everything.

6 superbowls – that’s not a once in a while 100% practice.. that’s every single one, and every single player

Can you imagine if we all put as much dedication, passion, and hard work towards what we wanted to accomplish as the above 3 examples did? We’d all be laughing.. think of what a great state the world would be in versus the mess we are in right now? The above, and many others who have reached their own level of success , found out very early what they wanted to do, and practiced, practiced, practiced. And not just show up to be there – they showed up to kick ass every day at an all out or go home level. They had no excuses, in fact they had no reason to make them, because they were to busy practicing being great. While others were sleeping they were practicing, while others were out partying, they practiced, when others were taking vacations, they practiced.

Hard work – 100% of the time . Not once in a while, not a few times a week, not from 9-5. Every.Single.Day. That’s what creates success. That’s how you will become the best. And that’s why success is hard and many people will not achieve it.

Steps 1-5. Follow it, stick to it, and before you know it you will not just WANT to be the best, you will BE the best.