Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How to start

The person who this blog is for today knows who they are.
The story that can be applied to many, many others - is how to get to the start line.

If you have ever watched other people succeed and justified a lack of action on your part because of your perceived inability to do what they have done...

If you have ever withdrawn because your best effort 'wasn't good enough' for someone else...

If you are unhappy right this moment and don't know what or how to change...

this blog is for YOU.

There are some hard truths you are going to have to face, and some tough steps to take - but the good news is that we can take a seemingly overwhelming process, and break it down into bite-size steps.

1. Look around you and write down 2 lists. Be as honest as you can, and do this exercise by yourself. List 1 - what would you change about your life right now (your house, your friends, your weight, your energy levels, your bank account, your spouse or marital situation, your job, your daily routine, everything). List 2 - of the same things, what would you keep exactly as is? Take accountability for BOTH lists. One is what you need to change and the other is what you've done well, but both lists are within your control and speak to how you have exerted control over the direction of your life thus far.
2. From list 1 - write down exactly as you'd like those things to be... turn the biggest things you need to change into an initial set of goals for yourself.
3. Prioritize your goals. What do you feel is a bigger determinant of your overall happiness and well-being? This needs to be a higher priority goal. What are the obstacles to achieving these goals? Clearly identify where you think you'll struggle before the breakdowns occur.
4. Create your own scoreboard for success. Don't list your husband's goals or your bosses goals for you as your own. What is 100% within your own control that does not involve the approval of other people that is important to you? Whether you are a single young person, a leader of a family, or the Prime Minister, you need goals that are yours and yours alone. Without these, we compromise our very identity and we don't learn who we are or who we want to or could become.
5. Sticking with your prioritization, create a plan to achieve every goal you've set. It might be today, it might be next week, it might be in 35 years - but no plan = little or no chance of success.
6. As you look through your goals and your plan to achieve them, where is there alignment? Do you see a list of goals centered around one area of your life? When you look through what you hope to achieve in the next while (or the rest of your life), what sense of purpose comes to mind as a theme to all or most of these goals?
7. If you are able to gain better semblance of what you want to do (big picture = purpose or vision) and what you need to do to get there (steps; planning stages and mini-goals), you are almost there. The next step is to ask who is along for the ride? Who can help you get there? Who is holding you back? Who doesn't fit in with what you've laid out and who needs to fit in somehow or some way? Be realistic in your assessment because otherwise you compromise...
8. Spend more time with those who are like-minded, going somewhere, and can help you get where to need to go; and spend less with those who would rather see you unhappy, are holding you back, or who stifle your growth through coddling, lobster-friend behaviours, or one-up-manship. Be around who you want to be and remember right now you are around who you are right now... spend your time wisely, and let your relationships be a reflection of your growth and your potential.
9. Gauge your progress and re-evaluate the plan (steps 1 - 8) often. Don't run the marathon first and look to see if you stayed on course second. Stubbornness is rarely a virtue as I can attest firsthand.
10. Find a way to help others find their peace. Step 10 is quite simply - give back by paying it forward. One of my favorite quotes, "the purpose of life is a life of purpose" - Robin Sharma.

Step zero (the start line) is to get busy doing. Catch yourself if your mind wants to put this off until tomorrow. Today is the path to a new person and a better life. Tomorrow is the path to exactly where you have already been. The only way to be fulfilled long term, is to get a little uncomfortable right now.

Go start your lists.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Finn-tastic Adventure Challenge



by Doreen Lang

“Run, Jump, Bounce, Dance, Sing, Smile, Love.”

-       Team Finn Mantra

The story of my participation in this year’s IF Canuck Place Adventure Challenge begins with the story of Finn Sullivan.  Finn- twin brother of Baird, little brother to Sarah, and son to Pat and Samantha.   To talk about Finn is to talk about running, jumping, bouncing, dancing, singing, smiling and loving.  To talk about Finn is to also talk about getting cancer at 18 months, of enduring countless rounds of treatment, of hospital stays and a colostomy.  To talk about Finn is to remember a hero who died at age 3.  An angel who left this world in the presence and love of his family; softly, quietly and infinitely sadly, at Canuck Place.


“The obstacle is the path.”

-       Zen saying

This is actually my second Adventure Challenge.  When I first signed up to do the challenge last year, I did not know how to ride a bike.  Really had no clue. I vividly remember the training session last July when my trainer Cory said, “Okay, today, you’re riding a bike.”  Those who know IF know that there is no “out” in such a situation. So, I learned how to balance and get that first pedal stroke going.  From that day on, I attended all the event training sessions and probably walked more than half the bike course.  At that time, Finn’s health and condition were not getting better and hospital stays were more frequent.  I decided then that I would dedicate my participation in the Challenge, to Finn. 

“Finnspiration” was born and I was able to complete the challenge with the support of my amazing team. It will always mean a lot to me that I was able to share with our friends, the Sullivans, the stories and pictures from the event before Finn died in October 2008.

“And what will I be able to do tomorrow that I cannot yet do today?”

-       Elizabeth Gilbert

Coming on the heels of a successful Team Finn Ride to Conquer Cancer – Vancouver to Seattle, I decided that I would like to do the Adventure Challenge again this year.  This year, I wanted to have a team that would honour the memory of Finn.  Teammates, Ashley, Shaughn and Paula were enthusiastic from the start to be “Team Finn-tastic!”

The training sessions were again wonderful.  Only this time, something different happened.  I was not so focused on my own fear and apprehension.  Each person I met gave me an opportunity to share about Finn and why I was doing the challenge.  With each successive bike ride, I got more comfortable.  Each outing meant a few less bruises, a couple less scrapes, a touch less blood lost.  It got to the point where my husband would say to me before I left the house, “Don’t get too bloody!” and I’d go, “Okay!”

The technical tips I received from the trainers and John Henry guides were invaluable!  I only had a year’s worth of riding to go by, so I could always tell when I was making real progress.  A highlight came when I was able to do a spectacular roll-out from a fall and emerged only mildly scraped.  And finally, during my last training session, I managed to complete the ride without a single fall!

The kayaking was not so much a concern; although I still couldn’t steer straight.  The trail run was going to be a walk-run due to chronic heel, knee and SI joint concerns.

“Live in the Moment.”

I wear a pendant with the words, “Courage sans peur” (Courage without fear) whenever I do events.  I wore it the morning of the Adventure Challenge.  Only this time, I didn’t seem to have to draw on it as I normally do.  I thought of Finn and his family.  I thought of how at the end of his life, they were “given the month of August.”  A month in which to “run, jump, bounce, dance, sing, smile and love” enough for a lifetime.  Memories captured through a multitude of moments.

As I awoke that Saturday morning, I took in every detail.  I marveled at the beautiful day as I headed towards Deep Cove.  Seeing the whole team in pink “Finn-tastic” shirts simply warmed my heart!

A difference this year was the three heats for the short course.  The medium course started at 9am and we were next at 10:30.  I really appreciated this as it allowed for more room on the course as well as the opportunity to encounter other participants as they were headed in either direction of us.

As Team Finn-tastic headed towards the kayaks, we laughed and shared our excitement.  There was also a lot of, “Don’t worry about waiting for me,” “Just go and I’ll catch up,”  “I’m going to be slow,” etc.  To which every reply was a reassurance that we were a team and we’ll do it together.

The remarks at the start line by Matt Young reflected the spirit and meaning of the adventure challenge.  It was not a race; it was meant to be fun and safe for everyone.  That set a really nice tone and we started the 4k kayak amidst camaraderie and friendly competition. 

Deep Cove is so beautiful that it’s hard not to sit back and enjoy the scenery.  Thankfully, I had to focus on trying to steer straight, but again, I focused on the moment.  I paid extra attention to how the kayak reacted, how my paddle was moving through the water, but mostly, how great it felt to be doing it!

After the kayak, we headed to the transition area to get ready for the bike ride.  The first part getting out of Panorama Park towards the streets that lead up to the trail head are mostly gentle uphills.  I stayed close to one of my teammates and we gave each other encouragement as every pedal stroke brought us further onwards.  Other teams were also coming by and one team even stopped to take photos – truly, not a race, but an event to share with friends.

I was having so much fun!  I was always concerned that I would be tired from all the uphill cycling.  Yet, my new mantra, “Live in the moment,” allowed me to cover the distance one pedal stroke at a time.  It was not a matter of physical fitness, because we had all trained for the event, but rather a matter of believing that we are capable of conquering the challenge one moment at a time.  Because of that, I was also able to fully enjoy the experience.

I’d be interested to know how many times I got on and off my bike over the course of the 20k bike trail.  I was feeling tireless.  By now, my teammates had gone on ahead with the agreement that we’d all meet up at various spots along the way.  I rode every section I could and crossed almost every bridge.  On and off, on and off.  Moment by moment.  I would totally dominate in a bike walking competition.  Then we reached the speed gates before the series of steep downhills.  I don’t really care for speed.  I don’t really care for downhills.  “Courage without fear.”

Usually, I would walk about halfway then ride the rest of the way down.  This time, I considered that I only needed to focus on that moment.  I got on at the top, got going, and hey, I was riding the whole way down!  When I took my focus away from the fear of that steep hill ahead of me, and instead focused merely on the moment of getting on my bike, I was successful!

I walked all the way through the rocky switchbacks and marveled at all the riders who passed by on their bikes.  Could that be me one day?

Team Finn-tastic reunited, we headed back for the final transition.  As we were getting ready for the run, we saw more pink, then we heard pink, and we felt pink!  For you see, pink was Finn’s favourite colour and speaks to the spirit of what it means to “run, jump, bounce, dance, sing, smile and love.”  We were cheered on by Team Finn supporters.  Finn’s sister Sarah and friend Harry were doing the Kid’s course and Finn’s twin brother, Baird, was doing the under 5 Run and Stumble course.  Hugs, photos and smiles all around, we headed off for the 5k trail run up the Baden Powell.

While last year I was starting to struggle during the trail run, my team rallied behind me and kept the encouragement going all the way through.  This year, I had the opportunity to run behind one of my teammates as she set the pace and I took up the “rah, rah-ing.”  Many other racers were familiar with our team and so we were constantly met with “Go Team Finn-tastic!”  “Go Pink Team!”  Those were great moments.  

On our way back, we started to hear singing and laughter.  The Team Finn kids and their parents were completing their portion of the trail run.  We paused to say hi, admire the kids’ painted faces and cheered one another on.

As Team Finn-tastic was making its way to the finish line, we passed one more roadside cheering section complete with pink streamers, cowbells, and pink power!

Team Finn-tastic crossed the finish line together with smiles on our faces and in our hearts.  It was a day that was worthy of Finn.

When Cory asked me to write about my experience doing the Adventure Challenge and what it meant to be a part of Team Finn-tastic and Team Finn, it took me a long time to figure out what to say and how to say it.  In the end, I would have to say that this is a truly inspiring event to be a part of.  There are physical challenges to be sure, and that part I get.  We kayak, bike and run because we can.  We do it to raise money for Canuck Place.

Being a part of Team Finn-tastic allowed me the opportunity share about Finn.  It allows each of us to know that amidst illness, pain, sadness, loss and grief, there is joy, love and certainly adventure, to be found. 

Perhaps my next challenge will be to train for a race, but for now, I echo Sarah’s sentiments when she asked her mom when the next Adventure Challenge would be because, “she wished it would be tomorrow.”

“Run, jump, bounce, dance, sing, smile, love, paddle & bike!”

Friday, September 25, 2009

Eating

I came across a saying the other day that I had not heard before, and never caught the context in which it was being used, yet it made an impact on me for the day. What I heard was “if you are not at the table, you are on the menu”.

While thinking about what this meant I thought to the many board meetings, business meetings, budget meetings, etc. where it made perfect sense; you are with a group of individuals at a table deciding the fate of others who are not present. Where this saying made an impact on me is when I placed it internally and stopped thinking of it in an external context.

In life, we are either at the table or on the menu; we are either making decisions or having decisions made for us. In empowerment, to personally advance, we need to be the ones at the table looking over the menu of life and thoughtfully choosing what will fulfill us the most. By doing this we learn to live with purpose, we gain control, and we allow our best lives to take the forefront.

All too often we find ourselves driven by what others wants and needs are. Our decisions are not our decisions because they are attached to someone else’s desires of what they want us to be. We begin to act in a way that best suits our perceived position in life, but is not necessarily our best purpose in life.

To be at the table means that we are in a position to decide fate. In business that usually means the fate of others for our and their advancement, but in our personal lives we must act on what our fate, determined by us, is to be. The second we lose this philosophy is the second we become something on a menu for others to select only when they have the desire to select us. This is the exact moment when we give up the privilege of choice and respond instead of act.

Putting yourself in a position where you have earned the right to sit at the table is a collection of strength and fortitude and the challenges we face in getting there allows us the right to have power; the right to create choices. The stronger and more determined we become, the larger the menu gets and the greater life we allow ourselves to live.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

5 Peaks trail run... Get your kids out there!

The IF crew was at 5 PEaks trail run in Buntzen lake last weekend. Meyrick Jones took his son and had a great race! thanks for the Report Meyrick. 

(Mattias' 5 Peaks) : Mattias and his buddies came 1, 2, 3 in the kids 1km run. It was total domination! 1km is definitely a bit short for his age... "Daddy the run from the parking lot was longer than the race!"



(MJ's 5 Peaks): Maybe I was taking the race a bit too lightly... it was 11km (not too long), and the elevation looked "rolling" i.e. not too bad... As it turned out it was really tough.

The uphills were often too steep to run (more training on these kind of hills would help) and some of the downhills were super steep (the kind that forced me to have to be cautious). The flats were fine but there weren't many!


Myself and Guy Demong... I probably would have brought a backpack if I had known I'd be out there for so long!

I ran the first 4 or 5 km with Jayeson, part of the substantial Innovative Fitness crew in attendance, before he slowly pulled away... then it was a long, lonely, (painful) slog back to the finish line.



CHT (cold, hard truth): I couldn't really expect much given the lack of run training - I was mostly happy to come away without any leg issues - I am now ready to declare myself 100% after a summer that never really got into triple digits. Everything feels good now.

Overall: Buntzen Lake is awesome! Totally beautiful and the trail system is unbelievable. The weather started out wet but got sunny while we ran - no complaints. 5 Peaks does a great job and I even won a HUGE bag of coffee beans.

 

A few more shots:

Mattias and I watching the awards...

Mattias rounding the first corner in the kids' race...

Da boys: Sam, Nick and Mattias

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stick to Your Vision


One thing that strikes me about great achievers - they are almost always asked 'what's your secret?'

One thing about those who are about to become great achievers... they often get the feedback that they work too hard, have no balance, are sacrificing too much, or are just plain crazy.

Having the fortune I've had to work with others I've witnessed become great successes, and having achieved a level of success I have had to work past adversity to achieve... one thing resonates with me very clearly...

We must all define success for ourselves - and we owe very few people an explanation of what that definition is, or how we plan to get there. While it's true we need to define success for ourselves, and while it's true we do need a plan to get there - as long as you have taken the time to explain the above to those closest to you, and as long as your plan and roadmap make sense according to your best judgment- that's all that matters.

Once you have clearly identified your vision, and have systematically calculated a plan for it's achievement; doing anything but seeing it through (unless your passion or vision changes) is a failure at life.

As Robin Sharma has said "The purpose of life is a life of purpose". Through both the pursuit and achievement of our vision we can draw deep purpose. With no vision, we are often merely breathing.

dream it
see it
plan it
make it happen

It might be hard work but it's not complicated.
Stick to your vision.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Practice


Have you ever viewed your teacher and thought how knowledgeable they are and how creative they must be to present the learning material in a way that makes you want to pay attention? Or perhaps, you looked upon your boss in admiration for being the leader who seems to do everything right by getting multiple things done, leading meetings, being available when needed and prompt in replying to questions? No matter what stage of life we are in, we have people around us who are doing things that we doubt we would be capable of doing. Even a simple assignment like writing and posting a blog such as this is viewed by many of you as something that you couldn’t do.

Taking on new goals means taking on new challenges and starting something for the first time is never easy. Many of us end up declining challenges in life because it seems too hard to do and this often means we slow our pursuit in achieving our personal goals. If you ask anybody who considers themselves a student of life (and we all are), the two biggest things we want out of our short time on earth pretty much comes down to learning and experiencing as much as possible.

Yet without even knowing it, we often subconsciously set ourselves up to avoid situations or assignments that challenge us and provide us with the very two things we want – to learn and to experience. Our goal and ultimate reward is to become good or even great at something new. Bringing thought to fruition within our lives means overcoming many obstacles that we set up in our mind. Whether your goal is to be a teacher, get physically fit, start a business or even write thought provoking blog entries beware of the negative thoughts that hold you back. Thoughts such as: I am not smart enough, I do not have enough money, I don’t have the time, I am too tired etc all are what Dr. Wayne Dyer lists as being part of the top 18 excuses that hold people back from doing what we want in life.

The good thing to know about taking on challenges is that the more you do it the easier it becomes. It comes down to practice and even your veteran professor who presents a great class did not learn how to teach over night. In fact, when people take on teaching as their profession they sometimes spend a week preparing their next weeks classes. It is not easy, it takes time but the more it is done, the easier it gets. Each year the preparation time becomes less and the classes become better. When I started writing these blogs I would take a whole weekend to note ideas, do research and write in a way that is both compelling and grammatically sound. It sometimes frustrated me that it would take so long but without quitting and practicing I now find myself sitting down with an idea and writing in one hour.

As we all know, opportunities are disguised as hard work and it is this hard work that often leads us to our goals. Beware of the thoughts we have that tell us we can’t do something or that it will be too hard. Know that new challenges begin tough but get easier with time and with enough patience and perseverance before you know it you will be an expert in an area checking goals off that once you thought you could not do. Success in any field is directly proportional to the time you put into it. Practice makes perfect and anything is possible.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Personality

In the study of personality types there are four basic temperaments used to characterize us. While one temperament may be dominant, we do hold various aspects of each, yet many times fail to act accordingly due to the situation we are in.

The type A personality is independent, direct, and to the point. Because of this many type A personalities are placed in leadership positions, but doesn’t guarantee that they will be great leaders. Type B personalities are social, outgoing, and the life of the party. Because of this they are put into interactive positions, but doesn’t mean that they will be enjoyed by everyone they are surrounded by. Type C personalities strive with details, accuracy, and cleanliness. Type C’s are generally placed in positions where accuracy is instrumental, yet don’t necessarily have the ability to be detail oriented outside of themselves. Type D personalities are reliable, routine oriented, and into personal security. This personality type is generally placed in support positions, but their support and compassion has the ability to turn others off.

Personality types A, B, C, and D are classifications we use to label and define ourselves and others so that we can categorize personality and help explain certain behaviors within certain situations. These classifications are used to place people in positions of employment, match couples, and hypothesize situational excellence.

This labeling of who we expect ourselves and others to be not only deprives us of our ability to become original, it impedes our ability to become our best selves. The truth is that all personality types have the same ability to lead successful lives, but in order to excel it takes more of a chameleon who understands their surroundings than it does playing a preconceived identity.

The truth is that labels do work because it allows us to find and delegate comfort knowing that we are socially secure. We allow the type A to act as a type A because that is who they are. We play the role of type B because that is what others expect of us. What we fail to understand is that playing a role or acting a part is not advancing our cause on a genuine level, and once we become less than genuine we lose our identity because we can’t shake how we are identified.

Our ability to individually act how we believe is the correct way to act within our best intentions is how we will generate the greatest results. Playing a role is a dead end street that will get us to a certain point of success, but will not allow us to reach our greatest potential. When we understand that we are perceived as a B but the situation needs an A, then we need to act as an A in order to advance, otherwise we are limiting our success to situations where only B’s have the opportunity to shine.

If success is truly about making the most of the opportunities presented to us, we better have the ability to meet the needs of the opportunity. If we limit our opportunity because we have decided, or let others decide that it is beyond who we are, then we deny our ability to become anything other than a perception.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

me against my mind for 100miles







This event is one of my favorites. 100miles of trail running in Lethbridge Alberta. The course is going straight up or straight down. No trees to hide from the sun, it gets up to 37C during the day and you better be ready for the night when it gets to 5c.  It really test what you are made of. I love the fact that it brings me to such a low place. Around the 20 hour mark I hate everything and almost everyone :) I have to fight against my mind non stop to keep running, to keep drinking, not to fall alseep and to not quit. I have done this race for 7 years now, started with the 50km distance and worked my way up and have done the 100miles for the last 3 years. I learn something new about myself on the course every time. 


This year, Mary Betts was going to run the 100 miles as well and Kay Simpson would give the 100km a try. We also brought the best support crew there is out there, Barb,Debbie, Scott and Jayeson. Their job was to cheer us on at the stations and make sure we were drinking, eating putting sunscreen on.... Not an easy job! Jayeson was also going to pace me for the last 53km.

First loop 53km. Happy to be out on the trails with a bunch of old friends!

I was in Lethbridge for 5 years and it is always nice to see friends on the trails. This year, I know I am not feeling 100% from previous injury but I am going to give everything I have. I love the first loop cause I'm fresh, the downhills are fast and the uphills are not too hard! It went really good, did better than I thought even if I was hurt.

Second loop another 53km. Night time. when you know the course, great opportunity to go fast!


Feeling pretty good and I'm really happy to be around 5th place. I am eating really good and drinking lots. At each station I stay for about 2 minutes, enough to get a glass of coke, and put some food in my ziplock bag. It's starting to get dark, I feel great, my ipod is on repeat with the song "Till I collapse" by Eminem and ready for the night loop. I am passing people since I feel comfortable on the course and loving the feeling. This good feeling doesn't last all night, around 12am I start getting very sleepy, Ipod is dead and I have about 7 km to go to finish the second loop and I am starting to think my mind might win this one today!! What gets me through during these tough moments is thinking about great things in my life like my nieces and all the great people I have in my life. I get to the last station 6 km before the end of my loop and texted Jayeson. Told him I was tired but knowing that he couldn't wait to pace me kept me going. I was looking forward to seeing him since he took the time to sleep for the last 6 hours so he could be fresh for the night. I finally get there and so happy to see him. It gave me a bit of energy to start my last loop!!!! so pumped about that.

Third loop... last 53km. Survival mode. don't let your mind convince you to quit. Uphills seem longer, downhills are not fun anymore and everything hurts!

It is 3am and it is really nice to have company. I really enjoy the solitude of the trail but it is a nice change to have him around. Joking around, I make sure he is ready for the crazy pace I am going to set on the last loop!!! I am very slow I feel frustrated but I am still moving forward. I start to fall asleep on the course so it is time for a 15 minutes nap. It takes me a second to fall asleep and ready to go once J wakes me up. We get going and have a good time running together. I was so amazed by him. He has never done anything like this but was ready to help me as much as he could. We had a blast on the trail and after a few caffeine pills had a good pace going :) Again, it does not last all night. Just before the sun comes up, I feel very sleepy. I decide to take a quick 5 minutes nap right on the trail. Jayeson stays awake and keeps my legs warm. Up I go and the sun is starting to come up. New day! We are about 5 hours from the finish line. I realize now that I will win this battle. What a tough night!

Every station, the volunteers are CRAZY nice. They are ready to give you anything you need, they cheer you on at 1pm in the afternoon and just as loud at 3am at night. I ask about Mary and Kay and they seem to be rocking it. I am soooo happy for them and very proud that they took this  HUGE challenge on.

Only 6km to the finish line, We see Barb at one of the last station. She takes great care of us, feeds us and makes sure we're all good to go to push through the finish line.

I keep saying to J, I am so tired of this and will never run this far ever again. We have one more hill to do and that is it! 

33 and 27 minutes we cross the finish line. Slow but very happy to be done.

One questions that comes back all the time is WHY? Why do I put my body through this. Here' a few reasons...

  • I meet great people along the way
  • Race directors for this race are the nicest guys out there and make the race very safe and fun.
  • It takes me to a low and teaches me new ways to fight through them. I truly believe it makes me a much stronger person mentally
  • I love watching people push themselves.
  • Listening to people's story after the race and finding what was the best and worst part of the race.
  • during these 33 hours, it is like you are in the best world ever. When you think about it, If you are in a regular city, cold and hurt, the chance that someone will give you their jacket, feed you and help you for a few hours is rare. In a trail run, Everyone is nice to each other, people say hello and want to know where you are from. They are ready to help you any way they can. I like this fake race world!
I hope people get inspired to go do things that will push them out of their comfort zone. It is something that makes you stronger in your everyday life. It never has to be 100 miles!

Thank you Jayeson for your amazing support. I can't believe you ran 53km for the first time to help me, not even to race for yourself. It says a lot about the kind of person you are.

Thank you Barb for being there. Your support and organization is unreal!! Always fun to have you around.

Congrats to Mary and Kay. They both finished the race and did an amazing job at pushing their limits. It is great to have great ladies like you to enjoy crazy races like this one!! Thank you to the race directors and volunteers, you all really make the race a unique experience

Friday, September 11, 2009

Kensho

Within the confines of Zen Buddhism exists Kensho, or enlightenment. Kensho is achieved through meditation and introspection eventually leading to “seeing one’s nature or true self”. There are many different methods used to achieve Kensho, but they all lead to the same question; “Who am I”.

This is the great question that we all seek to answer through our actions. We are all trying to define who we are so that we can find meaning in our existence and ultimately define our legacy. Our reality is that we will define ourselves many times throughout our lives, not because change is necessary, but because we haven’t allowed ourselves to accept who we are. While a great question, spending absorbent amounts of time trying to figure ourselves out leads to inaction or questionable action, neither of which leads to enlightenment.


Kensho, or enlightenment, is the state attained when the cycle of reincarnation ends and human desire and suffering are transcended. This is an important idea because in order for us to create our true selves we must be able to move beyond desire and suffering so that we can create comfort within ourselves, free of any dependence. Essentially we must let go of all perceived power in order to gain ultimate power, we must understand that our desires are enslaving us to the point where we cannot simply exist in the moment for we are always trying to derive meaning from the moment. Because we always look for attachments and reasoning for why something is happening, we never allow ourselves to understand that subject and object are two separate entities.


In separating object and subject we must have ultimate trust in ourselves that our action will be moral and beyond reproach. When we are able to act in this way we no longer respond to our delusions and begin to live in a moment that is both real and meaningful. In understanding the non-duality between object and subject we don’t have to answer “Who am I” because we begin to live who we are meant to be. Through allowing this, we don’t have to define our existence; we let our existence define us because our actions within our existence were derived from purity and not through fabrication.


The purpose of Kensho is not to have a one time enlightening experience, but to live an enlightened life. Within an enlightened life we don’t have to answer “Who am I” because the question is rhetorical. There is no need to define what is already known and no need to live what has already been overcome.


There are only so many ways we can introspectively look at ourselves before we have to accept what we see. With our ability to accept ourselves through our mental mirror comes our ability to live the life of unlimited potential and opportunity, both of which are byproducts of Kensho.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Change Your Thinking


My wife sent me a great message yesterday and it's the perfect backdrop for the back to school/ back to routine shift in people's mentalities. Summer's over, cold weather and the rat race returns... or we can choose our own reality and concentrate our focus on what we want our life to look like. Today's story is called "Change Your Thinking". Thanks for sharing Maria,


Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.

His bed was next to the room's only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end.

They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation..

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.

Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every colour and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man could not hear the band - he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days, weeks and months passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.

She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.
He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'

Epilogue:

There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.

Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.

If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


As I stood on the beach front of English Bay surrounded by other people in green swim caps I starting to realize I was actually going to do this my first Olympic Triathlon.

Despite being kicked in the face and swallowing 1/2 a Liter of sea water my swim was off to a good start, however as I was near the first turn I had a wetsuit malfunction as it started to fill up front to back with water, so instead of drowning with freestyle stroke I had to switch to breast stroke and finish it off as strong as possible.

The bike was beautiful as the scenery wrapped around and through Stanley Park as it hardly felt like I was in a race. I ran into a few team mates during the bike and could here people screaming, "Go IF" every time I did a loop and passed the crowd, which pumped me up for every lap.





Starting the run I could barley extend my legs but after about a K into it I felt fine and knew I was on my way to the finish, seeing customers and teammates along the run route motivated me even more to finish strong as I yelled their names out as they passed. Just knowing people were there supporting each other made the experience that much better, whether it was significant others or teammates or random people they all made a difference in their own way.

This was one of the greatest accomplishments I have completed to date and I'm looking forward to many more with IF.

Thanks for sharing your story Scott!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Fear of Conflict

Have you ever held back from saying something that is on your mind because you were afraid of how the other person might react? If the answer is yes, you have a fear of conflict.

Fear of conflict is a subconscious thought that holds back our growth both in personal and professional relationships. At home, we develop the feeling that we are not being respected by sensing lack of compromise or being taken advantage of. Professionally, it is bad for business to fear conversations that may result in conflict and results in reducing productive output. Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team writes fear of conflict as being the number two dysfunction holding back organizations and relationships. “Developing the ability and willingness to engage in healthy conflict requires acknowledging that conflict is productive and that many teams have a tendency to avoid it.”

When we stop expressing our true feelings, opinions, needs and wants, it ultimately creates a lack of understanding which in turn will eventually result in conflict. Our fears will simply manifest themselves in the very thing we wish to avoid. Try and prevent getting to this point because the resulting conflict is more likely to be more negative where discussions have guarded comments and back-channel personal attacks.

Without expressing what we feel, we keep ourselves from ever reaching a ‘level playing field’ with another person where discussions can take place that lead to productive ideological conflict that results in solutions and growth. To have these ‘level’ discussions we must be open about our true feelings, to disagree, have the other person respect that and vice versa. Fear is something we develop over years of our lives and many times based on no rationalities. If recognized we can overcome it. Once this fear is dealt with, issues can be discussed and resolved more quickly allowing us to emerge with no residual feelings or collateral damage. Progress is made and relationships and organizations can then take on the more important or next task that takes them to their goals.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Quantum Leap

In physics, a quantum leap is a change of an electron from one quantum state to another within an atom. This leap is a quick shift from one energy level to another and contradicts theories which expect energy levels to be continuous. A quantum leap is not necessarily a large change and in many cases can be inconsequential.

Focus in the human body is a form of energy placed on a particular thing. Our ability to focus on a singular task while also being observant of, but not distracted by, our surroundings allows us to more easily succeed in all aspects of life.


It is probably a stretch, as I know little about physics, but I believe that we take many quantum leaps in focus (energy) throughout our day ultimately decreasing our chances of being as efficient as we might otherwise be. For example, our task at hand is equivalent to an atom (the basic particle of matter made of a positively charged nucleus), while our focus is an electron (a fundamental constituent of matter that orbits the nucleus of an atom). As we place our attention on basic particles of what we are doing we orbit our task at hand never fully investing our attentional focus on what is relevant and necessary to perform at our best.


Because we orbit our task at hand we become more susceptible to make quantum leaps and change our focus from one state to another without ever knowingly doing so. This is why we can be working on a document, hear about something irrelevant, investigate what we heard, and lose our place in time. These small changes in focus (energy levels) act as a quantum leap because they change us from one state to another, yet differ from a quantum leap because they are rarely inconsequential.


Focus is a combination of intensity and direction where our ability to remain truly focused depends on how intently we can place our energy in a certain area. Any leap or shift in our energy directly influences our ability to maintain either the necessary intensity or direction we need to succeed. A weightlifter needs very intense focus with little direction and a golfer needs very intense focus and direction. Because of this they handle distraction differently, but quantum leaps would produce the same result; a decrease in performance.


The majority of us live in the world more similar to the golfer where if we plan on being productive we must have high levels of intensity and direction. Subtle shifts in our focus, or minor quantum leaps, have large effects on our productivity and therefore our performance. Because we live in a world where performance does matter, the quantum leaps we make during our day potentially can differentiate excellence from ordinary.


In order to stay focused we must keep in the front of our minds the purpose of our actions. We need to understand not just what we are doing, but understand why we are doing it, for if we are unable to do this the probability of us making quantum leaps greatly increases. We also need to create a mentality where our will to achieve is greater than our will to win. When we focus on achievement we allow our focus to remain narrow while still recognizing what is going on around us. By keeping our focus narrow and external we create the ability to perform while recognizing our surroundings but not being distracted by them.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

be happy right now


Everyday, we convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, 
have a baby, then another, get a new job, get a new house. 
Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough
and we'll be more content when they are.  

The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than
right now! If not now, when? 
Your life will always be filled with challenges. 
It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. 
Happiness is the way. 
So, treasure every moment that you have and
treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, 
special enough to spend your time with... 
And remember that time waits for no one! 

So, stop waiting... 
...until your car or home is paid off 
...until you get a new car or a new job 
...until you go back to school 
...until you lose ten pounds 
...until you gain ten pounds 
...until you finish school 
...until you get married 
...until you get a divorce 
...until you have kids 
...until your kids leave the house 
...until you retire 
...until summer 
...until fall 
...until winter 
...until spring 
...until you die! 

There is no better time than right now to be happy... 


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Reflections from the crowd: Ironman Canada


This past weekend one of our team physiotherapists, Andrew completed Ironman Canada in a staggering time of 10 hours, 44 minutes. While he was unavailable for comment, 2 of our training coaches, Kaitlyn and Anna - were. Here are their thoughts from watching one of the most challenging races out there (they both signed up for next year by the way).

5 years ago if you had asked me about an Ironman I would have stared at you blankly, not knowing where to begin, let alone knowing that it involved a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42km run that can take anywhere from 8 to 17 hours to complete. Fast forward to this past weekend, where firsthand I took in Ironman Canada in Penticton after making the 10 hour journey by car, with good friend and fellow trainer, Anna Prokiw. What provoked me to drive 20 hours, watch more than 9 hours of racing in plus 30 degrees and wait in line more than 5 hours to register? Well there are many factors, but first and foremost my clients and fellow trainers sparked my interest in triathlons and then there was my first sprint triathlon that I completed three months ago, this after Stan literally taught me how to get on a bicycle after a 15 years hiatus, the day before the race. Since then I have completed 5 triathlons, Sprint to Olympic in distance, and two Half Ironmans. So, I suppose after three months of training and fun Anna and I both decided we were ready to experience the ultimate challenge when it comes to triathlons.

Ironman was unlike anything I have ever witnessed. It was an incredibly moving and inspirational experience that I can say will be with me for the rest of my life. We celebrated alongside hundreds of athletes, friends and family members, each as they came in for the final metres of the race. We watched as a world record was achieved with the oldest female competitor in the world finishing Ironman Canada at 79 years of age and crossing the finish line at 16:56 minutes. We were on course to cheer on a colleague, who happened to have one of his most difficult Ironman experiences resulting in a hospitalization and an astounding finish of 10:44, despite being short of his sub 10 hour goal. We were also present for many bitter sweat moments on the course, as athletes could not physically continue and the breakdowns and heartache that resulted from not being able to finish after months of training. Or in the case of the last finisher who crossed the finish line clutching her quads, 8 minutes short of the cut-off time. The stands had cleared out, the lights were turned off, the music had faded and all but a handful of people were left to cheer her on as she crossed the finish line. Perhaps the most touching moment came as a father crossed the finish line hand in hand with his son of about 7, both of whom were crying tears of joy.

In a year I will be coming off one of the most physically and mentally challenging experiences of my life. I know on the way to Ironman Canada, in training and in balancing my personal life, there are bound to be challenges. It will truly be an experience of a lifetime, but more than anything to see it this past weekend has put in perspective the reason we push ourselves to the limit, to challenge growth and learn just how far we can go in this life.

Kaitlyn

As soon as Kaitlyn and I drove into Penticton we got goose bumps, the streets were closed off and all you could see in front of your car was some of the 2600 people speeding past you on bikes. The atmosphere was unmatched by anything I have ever experienced.

It was great to see a familiar face running by with Andrew- even though I don't know him that well you could see his intensity & determination as he passed us by.
Watching the finish line was probably my favourite part. Andrew told me it would change my life and I didn't believe him, but he was right. It's hard to put into words the emotions you feel when you watch people who have been pushing themselves physically and more so mentally to the brink for hours and hours finally finish. We were both crying with joy on the sidelines, its weird being so proud and happy for people you don't even know, but they were all so amazing and strong.

Signing up for it was a breeze. I barely slept the night before because I was so excited to sign up and to get started with training...yes it was that inspiring. Now I just want to do it- I want to be one of those impressive people. There is no way you can watch the Ironman and not sign up!

Anna

Thanks for contributing Anna & Kaitlyn and good luck on your life changing journey the next 361 days. August 29th, 2010 I look forward to seeing you both cross the finish line!