Monday, January 31, 2011

More Fables

"An old man, a boy and a donkey were going to town. The boy rode and the old man walked. As they went along, people remarked that it was a shame that the old man was walking. The man and the boy thought maybe the critics were right - so they changed positions.

Later, they passed more people who remarked "What a shame - he makes the little boy walk". So they both walked.

However, the next group they passed remarked how foolish they were to walk when they had a donkey. So they both got up on the donkey.

The fourth group they walked by happened to be from PETA... and they were upset about the overloaded donkey. Hearing this, the boy and the man decided that the two of them should, in fact, carry the donkey. Unfortunately, as they crossed the river, they lost their grip and dropped the donkey to it's death.

The moral? If you try to please everyone - you might as well kiss your ass goodbye."

Book Yourself Solid, by Michael Port


Friday, January 28, 2011

Which Way is Right?

This is a true story that I heard on the radio the other day. A British couple landed in the hospital after their car's global positioning system directed them to drive into a church.

While driving their Renault in the evening on a back road near the Austrian border, the navigation system instructed the couple to turn right where there was no road.

"They were confused and didn't notice that the navigation system was faulty," a police spokeswoman said.

The couple, who were travelling to France, spent the evening in hospital recuperating from minor injuries.

"What happened to them is a salutary lesson about the limits of navigation systems - don't always believe what you hear, and keep your eyes open."

I think the moral of this story is that we shouldn't blindly follow directions without ever questioning where we are being led and above all else, if there is no road, don't turn right.

~ Sasha

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Advice from the Governator

Yesterday was a great day. Any day can be a great day with a determined optimistic mind, but some days just stick out.

I had the rare privilege of not only hearing Arnold Schwarzenegger speak; I got to meet him, shake his hand and get a photo with him (still waiting for it or trust me, that would be the attached image!)

I refer to my list of Goals Before I Die a lot. It's one of the most important pieces of the vision I set for life. Meeting Arnie has been on that list 10 years before I actually wrote that list 6 years ago. It started as boyhood idolism, but grew as I watched the most famous bodybuilder of our time reinvent himself into one of the most famous actors of all time, and reinvent himself once more into an influential and successful politician.

Hearing him speak however, was the best part. As he appears on TV and film, he is as quick-witted and funny as he appears to be. Though he did take a jab at the Calgary Mayor ("you must be really busy if you had time to come here today") and at the traditional Calgary White Hat ceremony ("when you travel around the world you get a lot of gifts, but this is by far the most... recent.") - he was a pleasure to listen to.

He began his speech by saying, "people always ask me if there is a secret to my success" - how many times do speeches begin that way? As you will see below, there are none. Arnold explained he lived by 5 simple rules.

RULE 1: Have a clear personal vision you stick to relentlessly. When he was 15 years old in Austria, he picked up a copy of a body building magazine with Reg Park on the cover. Reg, who went from a successful bodybuilding career into acting, was Arnie's early idol. He had posters of bodybuilders on his wall, and knew he wanted to move to the US to become a successful bodybuilder. Later, he knew he wanted to not only become an actor, but a leading man in Hollywood blockbusters. He said he feels sorry for kids today whose parents, teachers & coaches often impose goals on them; and also because of iPads, Facebook, TV and everything else - kids are so distracted they often don't know what they want. This leads to coasting through life. You need a vision, and a key part of that vision, he said, is loving what you do. Otherwise there's no point.

RULE 2: Break the rules. As a bodybuilding goal, Schwarzenegger was told "Austrians are supposed to be skiers or cyclists", but he didn't listen. As an actor, he was told his body looked like a monster, and the trend of the day was more Dustin Hoffman or Woody Allen. Not to mention, his accent would only work as a bit part as a robot Nazi. According to the Terminator director James Cameron, Arnie was perfect as the Terminator BECAUSE he sounded like a robot. According to the director of Conan the Barbarian, "if we didn't have Arnold Schwarzenegger, we would have had to build one".

RULE 3: Don't be afraid to fail. One of his more successful bills as the 38th Governor of California passed on it's 6th attempt. He finally bench pressed 500 pounds on his 10th separate attempt at doing so. We all fail. Corny as he sounded, he said "you aren't a girlie man for failing. You aren't a girlie man for losing. You are girlie man if you are afraid to fail. What's important is that you tried"

RULE 4: Work like hell. Arnold trained for and won bodybuilding competitions as he worked as a brick layer to pay the bills as he took acting and speech classes while trying to crack the line-up of Hollywood lead actors. He used to say, when people told him they couldn't function on his 6 hours of sleep, "learn to sleep faster". He recanted there are no short cuts in life and the only way to get ahead is to work for everything you have and everything you want.

RULE 5: Give back. He mentioned as an immigrant how appreciative he was. Everything that was amazing in his life he owed to the people of and nation of America. Volunteering, donating money - everyone has something to give and we need to do so. His mother-in-law, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, started the Special Olympics. Arnold met with Nelson Mandala in South Africa to help promote the Special Olympics and they actually lit the torch in his old prison cell!

5 simple rules. Principles (each on of which) you have read about in your favorite leadership book, here on swim upstream/ Innovative Thinking, you name it. There are no secrets. There is only walking the talk instead of just talking. Consistently, over time, for your whole life. That's how you become great.

I will take these simple rules away with gratitude, but more importantly was knowing how important the 6th rule was that Arnold didn't say, but didn't have to. They aren't rules if you don't live by them. Get busy living everyone, have a great day.

Monday, January 24, 2011

One Simple Request

Can you feel it coming? There are elections on the way - not just within the province of BC but, I suspect, in the federal jurisdiction as well. You know how I can tell?
The smear campaign's already started - and I'm already tired of it.
If I have one request of our politicians during current and future campaigns, it's this - stop telling me what's wrong with all the other candidates. I don't care. You're all equally guilty of some sort of poor policy decision or implementation - no one's blameless. And you know what they say about glass houses.
Lead me - inspire me. Don't bicker and point fingers - it demeans the entire process. Just for once, I want to vote for someone based on what they plan to do, not against someone because of what they've done.
Or is that an outdated hope for politics?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Own Up To It

Yes, over 60% of our population is overweight. Yes, this is starting to show up in startling numbers with our children, and setting us in motion to see even higher numbers in future adult populations. Yes, there is an abundance of high-fructose corn syrup in our diet to pad the food and make it seem "fuller". Yes, many people have emotional issues that impact their nutritional/fitness choices, it's cheaper to eat badly, fresh food is more expensive, and schools only program 60mins of exercise per week. There's a never-ending list of obstacles to being healthy.

But when it comes right down to it - these are all just excuses and justifications.

Stop looking to place blame, and take action. Make smarter food choices. Make your first step towards wellness being counseling, to deal with the psychological obstacles. Be smarter with your budget. And for the love of Pete - turn off the television and go outside to play tag with your kids for an hour.

Stop being a victim. Instead of listing all the reasons you can't do something, start making a list of how you can. Then work your plan backwards - and take the first step.

You always have a choice, and in the end - the only person who can change your life...

... is you.


P.S. And stop enabling others to avoid responsibility. You're not doing them any favors.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What are ideas without implementation?

Ideas without implementation, are just ideas. I was watching a lecture the other day in which the presenter was discussing how the fitness industry is always evolving (as it should be) and how professionals are constantly coming up with new ways of doing things, which is great. However, the presenters point of view was that although you may have a new idea for how to do something differently, if you can't implement it, it's just an idea.

I couldn't help but think of how appropriate that statement is for most of us now. It's the beginning of a New Year and we have created a list of things that we would like to accomplish within it, however, how many of us have actually taken it to the next level - from being just a great idea to how we plan to accomplish it?

It's an important step and not half as much fun as coming up with the ideas but as stated before without the implementation you're just going to be left with a lot of great ideas still on your list in 2012. So what's your strategy?

~ Sasha

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Think Outside Your Current Reality

We all want to get ahead.
That's why we read Innovative Thinking, hell- that's we WE write it.

The fact is to get ahead, you have to earn it (not new information).
We need to earn it first, receive any rewards second (not new information).

What may be new information to some is that we will always be held back by the lowest common denominator we present, and that is usually our thoughts: that is, the level of mentality we mentally live most consistently.

For instance,

there are people that think like EMPLOYEES. When's lunch? Do I get paid overtime? When do I get a raise? I wish I had so-and-so's job, they have the life... and so on. The more we catch ourselves in this mindset, the longer we will be at entry level positions making the least amount of money we can. To be a great employee (and thus move up the ranks) we need to start thinking more often like a...

LEADER. How do I get the most out of myself? Out of those around me? How do we instill a sense of urgency in our front line employees around the company's most important objectives? How do I balance all the projects I have on the go, and who can I delegate to? Just think how different a LEADER-minded person's life is from that of an EMPLOYEE-minded person? And it gets even better. To be a great LEADER, you need to answer these questions, and then start thinking more like an...

OWNER. OWNER's ask themselves, "how can our company be great and different from the competition?", "how can I create a personal legacy through my work?", or "how do I leave the places I touched better than I found them?". It is even harder to be an OWNER (especially a good one) than it is to be a good LEADER. To be a great OWNER, in addition to having a vision for yourself, your company, and your team; do all this, plus turn a profit - you need to learn to think like a CUSTOMER.

While not always right, they are paying the bill, and they do have a choice as to where they spend their money. And quite simply put, if we'd rather spend more time shopping and vacationing than working - ascending the aforementioned mental hierarchy is the only proven way to do so.

You can't buy success and that's one key reason our economy recently crumbled.
Think different thoughts to get better results. It's not easy, but it's not rocket science.

Monday, January 10, 2011

When the Going Gets Tough - Lower Your Standards

Or, at least, that's what our esteemed government has decided.

Apparently, not enough Canadians are getting in the recommended 60mins of exercise per day, and our obesity epidemic continues to grow. Naturally, if this is the case, then it only makes sense - we have to lower the bar. Our society won't be any healthier, but at least their self-esteem will remain intact while they continue to strain the health care system with their lifestyle-related illnesses and injuries.

I'm so shocked and disgusted by this, and by the apparent apathy (or worse, support) that this ridiculous move is generating - I actually find myself at a loss for words.

Shame on you, Health Canada.


Monday, January 03, 2011

Challenge Yourself

You know, I get that there are some things that we don't enjoy doing - and life's too short to constantly be doing things that don't bring you joy.

That being said, I think that for far too many people, what they don't enjoy is hard work.

I see this all too often in fitness. "I don't enjoy running - I prefer to use the elliptical" is something I hear a lot. And while there are times that this is 100% valid (for some who have suffered a traumatic injury, the smooth and impact-free movement of the elliptical may provide them with less discomfort than a treadmill), the vast majority of people who say this to me do so for one reason, and one reason only - running is hard work, and the elliptical is easy. They can hop on and swing the legs away, zoning out on the television above or worse, reading a magazine. When I'm working with people like this, I'll put the intensity up on the elliptical, to where they actually have to push themselves and they can't tune out... and you know what? These same people don't like it. So - it's not running they don't like, it's working hard.

The next time you say "I don't like..." I want you to pause, and reflect. What is it that you don't like - the activity itself? Or how hard you find it? If it's the latter, then I offer you this challenge - draw the line in the sand, and make yourself do it. Make yourself uncomfortable - push outside of your parameters, and see how you feel when you come out the other side...

Let me know how it goes....