Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The 6 Questions You Need to Answer to be Successful in 2012.

There are a million ways to determine a list of goals, resolutions or plans.

Some favour complex methods involving hours of effort and introspection; some like to jot a few ideas "on a napkin". Disappointingly (especially for those who devote hours) statistics show that the sum total of these efforts is a paltry 25% success rate. Call me a skeptic if you like but even that sounds high...

Don't abandon the process altogether though... statistics also reveal that those who explicitly make resolutions are ten times more likely to achieve their goals than those who do not explicitly set resolutions.

Plan: Simplify the planning process for 2012. Grab a pen and paper / keyboard and mouse / iPad and finger... whatever... and answer these 6 questions - your success plan for 2012 will be in front of you.

1. This time next year I want to be able to say that I:

__[insert ONE achievement that, by itself, would make 2012 a success for you - be realistic]_.

2. In order to achieve this I will need to commit to DAILY:

___[insert the SPECIFIC incremental (but relentless) habits you'll need to be successful]___ .

3. To give myself the best chance at success I will need to avoid:

___[List distractions, people, commitments, activities that DO NOT contribute positively]__.

4. My focus on this goal is my number one effort for 2012. The only things I cannot lose sight of in pursuit of this goal are :

___[Everyone has multiple priorities in life but make this list as SHORT as possible]______.

5. I will share this plan with three people that I trust to hold me accountable. They are:

____________and ____________and ____________.

6. Consistent effort leading to the eventual achievement of this goal will pay off because:

___[No limits! Make this list as LONG as you can!]_____________________________.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Finding the Right Trainer

Finding the right trainer can be a challenge - there are so many out there, and in an effort to stay marketable they offer any number of gimmicks, bells and whistles to entice new clients. Nevertheless, when shopping for the right person it's important not to be dazzled by the hype, and lose focus on what the product is - improving your health.

Over the next three weeks, I'm going to offer some thoughts on how to find the right individual for your needs in three stages - before you meet them, during the consultation and during the first session.

Before Meeting Them:
  1. Do your research and understand what you're looking for. Keep in mind you're trying to improve yourself, and that only comes through overcoming progressively more difficult challenges. This isn't easy, nor is it always fun - therefore, your training won't be either. If you simply want to break a sweat while having fun, invest in an air hockey table instead.
  2. That being said, it shouldn't always be a chore, either - if you can't find a goal to train or for or a method/system that keeps you engaged (if not entertained), then you're not going to stick with it.
  3. Not all entry-level certifications and degrees are created equal - but there are some of higher repute that indicate the trainer/coach has at least completed a decent level of basic education. CSEP, NSCA, ACE, NASM and ACSM are some of the bigger nationally and internationally recognized certifications, and if someone says they have a degree - make sure that it's in Kinesiology or Human Kinetics (possibly Physical Education if they earned their degree a long time ago). Be wary of people who only have "internal" certifications.
  4. Check for referrals, but look for results - doesn't matter if the trainer/coach is an "awesome person" if that's all they can offer... I've known people who have trained with the same coach for years and never changed/improved during that time. While the trainer's ability to elicit change is limited to how engaged the client is outside the training hour, I've known trainers who have "fired" clients once they feel their influence/effectiveness with the client has been lost.
Next week: What to Look for in the Consultation


Friday, November 25, 2011

Speak Up

A client comes in for a workout, you think you've delivered a great session until they casually mention at the end how their knee is really bothering them from an exercise that you had them complete. You ask which exercise, they tell you, and immediately you start thinking back to when you had them do it - it was near the top of the hour. So, not only did they not say anything, but they completed all sets and reps of the exercise that bothered them, as well as all subsequent sets and reps of exercises that you may have modified or not done at all if they had shared this with you when it was happening.

One of my professional pet peeves is when clients don't contribute to their training. Being a professional coach does not mean that I always know what's best, based on my education and field experience I know what has worked before, but every body is different. I have the ability to modify or adapt but unless a client speaks up (or is in obvious discomfort) how am I supposed to know I need to?

Clients, coaches can only help you as much you let them. If you don't share and take an active role in the pursuit of your health and wellness than we can only take you so far. If you don't provide feedback on how you're feeling, no amount of education is going to help me figure it out - I am a professional coach, not a mind reader. If you want to get the most out of your training, you need to learn how to speak up.

~ Sasha

Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Just Girls"

Participation in sports gives so much to men and women alike. From early development to adulthood, sports are a huge part of our society. Lately it has been appearing that women’s sports are slowly catching up to men’s sports in participation. Young girls are playing a host of sports in large numbers. To the general public, women's athletics may not be as popular yet as men’s sports and certainly there are not as many professional leagues or as much money invested, but we are getting the impression that the situation really is getting better. This is the impression that the media gives us and, quite frankly, what most people want to believe, but is it true? In today’s society we want to believe that sports are sports. Sports for both men and women, girls and boys. Sports allowing participation for everyone. Right? Right? Well, apparently not quite yet.

This year, 2011, for the first time since they opened, Gordie Howe Middle School (ironically named for an athlete) in Abbotsford, BC, is not going to field any girl’s sports teams. Yes, it's true. They don’t have money or coaches enough so they cut all girls' sports. All the boys' sports are still available (is anyone surprised?), but the girls apparently are just not as important. (After the school announced they were cutting girls' sports, one concerned person did step up and will donate his time to coach the girl’s grade 8 basketball team, but that will be the only sport played by girls this year.) While this is just one tiny school in one small town making a terrible decision, is it not actually a microcosm of sports in general? Yesterday on Fox Sports News, they were interviewing female boxers about the possible change in dress code for women in boxing. They were actually having a debate about whether or not women should wear skirts as their uniforms in the Olympics!

The shocking truth about both of these instances is that people are allowing it to happen. Now if you were to cut boys' sports from a school and keep girls' sports… Well, that would never even be considered so there is no debate.

Sports add amazing value to the lives of kids and adults alike. It is true that, on the whole, men are stronger and faster than women and that woman’s professional sports have not yet reached the financial and popularity level of men's. It is equally true that girls have not had, until now, the opportunity to learn and increase their skills from the same young age as boys. It is also fact that there is a huge resistance in professional sports to the idea of women in athletics. From a disparity in media coverage to an enormous inequality in pay, women's sports are still racing to increase their hold in society. There are, however, vast numbers of girls and women who are as dedicated and skilled as boys and men at their sport and they will continue to fight for the chance to do what they excel in and love. To further these dreams, the playing field, at the grass roots level, must be equal for all. When my stepmother was in high school, the only place on a playing field/court for girls was as a cheerleader. She remembers how she loved basketball, but there was no opportunity to enjoy that sport. Even today she talks about what she knows she missed, not only in terms of skill development, but also in terms of leadership, communication, and the value of working toward similar goals with a team. Interesting that the consequences of the sports void that existed way back then is still so present with her. Do we really want to return to that huge inequality and leave our girls in the back of the bus? We have made some progress and we simply can't allow girls' athletics to be set back so severely.

EVERYONE should have the same opportunity to play. Since the idea of publicly-funded sports is not realistic in most places, it is important for adults to step in and lend a hand. If you have ever had a coach or a parent who put time in to allow you to share in the fun and excitement of sports, you owe it to the youth of today to step up and donate some time!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mind Tools

Today I want to share an excellent resource for anyone hoping to improve effectiveness at work.

I found this website recently and have learnt a lot from the content. It is one of those websites where some articles are free and some only come with the membership. The free articles alone have been enough for me so far but when I run out of free ones I will sign up... (so these Mind Tools folks are good business people too!)

Here it is:

Mind Tools - Essential Skills for an Excellent Career

There are articles on a wide variety of topics - have a look at the menu:

Some of the FREE articles I found particularly interesting:

Avoiding Groupthink - Avoiding Fatal Flaws in Group Decision Making

Decision-Making Skills - Start Here!

Stepladder Technique - Making Better Group Decisions

The GROW Model - Coaching Others to Improve Performance

Have a read. I'm sure you'll find something useful - I definitely have.

One thing though... you won't have any of those "essential skills" and your career won't be any more "excellent" until you put the learning to work.

Don't let the brain training go stale - draw up a plan and start using it so that you can say you improved yourself today.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two Final Questions to the Participants of Occupy Vancouver

On the eve of Occupy Vancouver's eviction, I have only two questions:

1) You're all so unhappy with the government and society in general - how many of you voted on Saturday?

2) The whole time you've been sitting in your tent... how exactly have you been making a living and contributing to the society that you're complaining isn't giving you enough?

That is all. Don't twist your ankle on the curb as you leave.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Holiday Hold 'Em Strategy

I read a great article written by Rachel Cosgrove about battling the holiday bulge and wanted to share some of it with all of you.

How many times have you heard that the average person gains 7 to 10 pounds over the holidays? Luckily this is a myth, but there is good news and bad news.

The most recent research suggests that the average person only gains a couple of pounds over the holidays. So, why worry about it?

Because the bad news is that studies also show that they never lose those pounds. In fact, most people gain 1 to 2 pounds a year on average over their lifetimes. The research goes on to state that if you recently lost weight or are overweight you will have a harder time maintaining over the holidays and may even gain 5 pounds or more.

Again a couple of pounds may not seem like a lot. The problem is that if you gain 1 to 2 pounds over the holidays it is most likely not temporary bloat but it is instead a layer of fat that will be much harder to lose than it was to gain. And according to the studies, you will never lose it.

Have you ever heard the quote, "It isn't what you eat between Christmas and New Year's; it's what you eat between New Year's and Christmas.'

If you don't have a strategy, this quote may not stand true. Why not come up with a strategy to lose 1 to 2 pounds of fat over the holidays while most people are gaining? Challenge yourself to hold your body fat percentage and come out of the holidays in a fit, healthy way and feeling fabulous at your New Year's Eve party.

~ Sasha

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Playing Sports should be Fun

This weekend I was in Bothell, Washington, coaching basketball. I really enjoy coaching kids and I think it is something in which many more people should invest their time. For the past six years, I have worked with a club basketball program, the Junior Cascades, and it has been very rewarding. I hope also, of course, that I have had a positive impact on these young players.

There are a lot of theories about what kids should be getting out of sports; how to maximize their emotional and physical growth through competition. I would like to be clear that I am NOT in favor of inclusion games and situations where everybody wins. I think sports are meant to be competitive; there is supposed to be a winner and a loser. It is how the world works. Everyone does not win, hardly anyone wins all the time, things are not always fair, but, if you work hard and compete hard, you will have a good chance of success.

In Washington this weekend, I witnessed some things that really impressed me, but I also saw things that made me ponder. The American teams are quite amazing at a very young age. At the younger levels, their youth skill development is vastly superior to ours. They have teams of grade 4s trapping and pressing, running systems, and doing things that we don’t start doing until grade 7 or 8 at the earliest. My first reaction was to be impressed by what they are bringing to the table at such a young age. However, as I continued watching the games, I began to think… why do we need to be teaching kids this age how to do things outside of the fundamentals? And should we be doing that? When do sports stop being fun and start being serious? Certainly not at age 7 - or at least I hope not! I was watching one young team play with two coaches on the bench yelling at the top of their lungs the whole time and another standing behind the bench keeping stats. This is typical of older age level coaches (although not a style I agree with, but that is another story!), but these kids were in grade 4! Keeping stats of turnovers and missed shots at age 8? The team was playing at a very high level and they won the game easily. It did not, however, look like they were having any fun.

While I was really impressed with the skill level and the level of play, I would NEVER allow an 8-year-old daughter of mine to participate in that type environment. Some things are more important than winning. When I wrote that last statement, I surprised myself as I am hyper-competitive in all things. However, the thing that keeps me playing is not that I always win; it is that I love to play. It is fun. We should be teaching our kids that sports are fun. It is fun to play. Certainly it is fun to win and not as much fun to lose, but the fun is still there and comes from working hard, preparing, and being part of a team. The most important thing is not winning, not above everything.

So, while I reflect on what I saw this weekend, I am glad that our group of 12-15 year-olds had fun. They enjoyed playing the game. We won three games and lost five, but we competed hard and enjoyed the experience. They got positive support from their coaches. They were not yelled at or berated for mistakes; instead, they were made aware of better options, what they could do in the future to correct those mistakes, and commended for working and playing hard.

When teaching our kids about sports and competition, it is important that we ALWAYS keep perspective. Sports are meant to be fun… let’s keep it that way for as long as possible.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Having just returned from Cuba, I am even more appreciative of what we call 'a normal day' here in Canada or the United States. In fact, I am more appreciative on one hand; a little embarrassed on the other.

Given American-Cuban relations, this is not a 'save Cuba' post - rather, it's meant to help all of us appreciate what we have by considering the realities of those in other parts of the world (in some cases, within a 1/2 hour boat ride).

The couple we met let us know that as a newly graduating child psycologist, she can hope to make $15/ month. Doctors? $32 a month. There is controlled emmigration, wherein a 'lottery' is held and a maximum of 30,000 people can leave annually (on a population of 11.3 million).

On the other hand, people are generally happy.
Neighbors actually talk
Many social programs are covered,
and of those 30,000 potentials emmigrants, only 15,000 actually leave most years (according to our couple).

The truth is, the nondescript, crowded, noisy, dirty, something-out-of-a-movie town our locals took us to was just as much a trip highlight as was the gorgeous beach and plethora of activity options we normally would have soaked up without appreciating the hidden tragedy/ beauty we take for granted.

What really strikes me is the greater amount of wealth and opportunity we accumulate can actually blind us as to what reality most of the world actually faces.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nordstrom Swims Upstream!

For years the retail industry has been rushing to get Christmas decor up earlier and earlier... Some have it up before the cash register has stopped ringing from Halloween costumes and candy. Everyone I know scoffs at this practice and expresses mild disgust.

Obviously in the world of retail, where our habits have been studied and analyzed by big companies and Ivy League brains, at some point it was deemed sensible (i.e. profitable) to extend the Christmas period as much as possible even though most people don't seem to enjoy the practice.

Innovators and visionaries don't hesitate to follow their instincts though... and sometimes that means swimming upstream!

The reward for Nordstrom's corporate direction regarding Thanksgiving and Christmas?

The sign pictured above (and resulting facebook posts, tweets, youtube videos, media stories and blogs like this one) has gone viral and created a tidal wave of goodwill for the US retailer. It would be tough to imagine an ad campaign that would have worked as well and cost as little.

Beyond the goodwill, this is apparently the second year Nordstrom has posted signs like this (which is why they got the date wrong...) so it must produce positive results at the cash register or I am sure they would abandon it.

Bravo Nordstrom.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Other Side of "Occupy"

For those who may be unaware - there is a backlash towards the "Occupy (enter your city here)street" movement that isn't getting the same amount of press as it's counterpart.

They've called themselves "The 53%", in reference to the fact that, according to The Tax Policy Center in the US (a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, neither of which is a low-tax or Conservative advocacy group though they will likely be branded as such by those who disagree with them) only 53% of Americans are actually paying income tax.

I read through their stories here, and to be honest - I found them far more compelling; at times inspiring and at others, heartbreaking. More so, in fact, than the tales of woe being told by the people taking time from work (if they're working at all in the first place) to complain about capitalism while listening to their iPods and posting on Facebook and Twitter from their laptops during their "protest".

I've attached one such example in the picture - and since the print is too small, I've retyped it below. No matter what side of the fence you might be on - take a moment to get some perspective of the side less publicized.

"I was a NYC EMT. I was there when it all went down 10 years ago.

When my service was done, I moved to Arizona to pursue a dream on my own - not a guarantee or an entitlement - just a dream of what I wanted my future to be.

I met my wife and started a business. I bought my first home and a new car.

Every quarter I write a check to cover my taxes; sometimes its a big check, sometimes its a small check, but it's mine and it represents what I earn, not what is given to me.

I have never accepted government assistance, I have never taken a social handout.

Some months are good, others are terrible. Some nights I sleep well, others not so much.

These are my choices, and I fight for them everyday, good or bad, right or wrong.

Corporate greed sucks, and I agree that politicians are all shysters. But you won't see me sitting in a park participating in a drum circle - I have too much work to do, and I have people that depend on me.

I am the 53% (#Iamthe53)"


Friday, November 11, 2011

What Would You Want?

This is a rant and I apologize.

The other day a local radio station was talking about the results of a study that had been completed in the United Kingdom. In the study, they asked a random group of people one question: "If you could have anything in the world that you wanted, what would it be?" Anything in the world.

Do you know what the top three answers were?

  1. A million dollars

  2. An ipad 2

  3. Fame

It's a reflection of our culture right now that we picked such superficial and materialistic items. And, it's worrisome that so many people can't see past themselves - their wants, their desires, and their needs to contribute to the greater good.

I think it's a sad state of affairs that we as a society have become so egocentric. We were asked what we would want if we could have anything in the world and we picked things that would only benefit one person, us. Maybe a better question would have been if you could have anything in the world to better humanity, what would it be?

~ Sasha

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Deserving to be Successful

“According to (Winston) Churchill, victory comes only to those who work long and hard, who are willing to pay the price in blood, sweat, and tears. Hard work is also the basic building block of every kind of achievement: Without it, everything else is pointless. You can start with a dream or an idea or goal, but, before any of your hopes can be realized, you truly must deserve your success. This may sound old fashioned in this age of instant gratification, but, from the Sistine chapel to the first transcontinental railroad to today’s space shuttle, there is no mystery as to how these things of wonder were created. They were created by people who worked incredibly hard over a long period of time.” This quote was taken from Rick Pitino’s book, Success is a Choice: Ten Steps to Overachieving in Business and Life. Al Tuchsherer, UFV women’s basketball head coach, brought it to my attention when he sent it out to our team this week.

I have been a part of an amazing basketball team for 8 years. Basketball has given me so much that I cannot even begin to explain its importance in my life. A few highlights of things that I can attribute to basketball are: meeting my wife, getting to know and learn from one of my most inspirational mentors (Al Tuchscherer), learning about strength and conditioning, coaching, team play, hard work, communication skills, and success. And this, as I mentioned, is only a VERY brief list of a few things that basketball has helped me with and lessons it has taught me.

Recently we have been discussing success and what it means to deserve victory. Even though these discussions are usually based in the sports world, they lead me, as always, to think about how this translates into the ‘real’ world in life and business. There are some aspects to sport that allow for very objective and critical analysis that are not always available in “real” life, but the rules for success and deserving victory seem quite similar. What always surprises me in life and in basketball, however, is when people feel that they are entitled to succeed. Entitlement is the belief that, because they are special somehow or different from others in some way, they are going to be successful by putting very little thought or preparation into the process.

I tell customers of mine all the time that I can show them how to get where they say they want to go, but, unless they are willing to put in the work, it is simply not going to happen. In the world of fitness, I know how to get from A to Z, but, if people are only going to put in enough work to get from A-C, guess where they will end up!

I have a customer who has been training at IF Abbotsford for over a year now. He comes in for one session per week. One hour per week of guidance… hardly enough to make a substantial change in his overall fitness if that was all he did. This particular customer, however, has heeded the advice, accepted the guidance, and literally run with all of it. He has lost 60 pounds and is currently training for his first half marathon (to be held in Las Vegas this December). I have absolutely no doubt he will complete the race!

People say to me “Wow, you have done such a good job with him” and I always answer the same way: I did not get up early and go for runs, I did not smack the fork out of his hand when he wanted to eat a bunch of high calorie food, and I certainly did not force him commit to his program. That is all him. It’s his success, not mine. All of it.

I expressed the same thing to our basketball team this week. I told them that we cannot play the game for them. We can show them, based on our expertise, what we feel is the best way, we can offer them guidance and support, but it is up to them to go out and get their success. It is up to them to spend the time in the gym and on the court outside of our practice time. It is up to them to deserve their result. When it all comes out in the end, whether they are successful with a “win” or not, it is still on them. (Sometimes those “losses” – when you’ve played your heart and body out – can teach us as much as victories, but only if you’ve again given it all you have.) If you want to “deserve” success, then you need to earn it - one drop of blood and one drop of sweat at a time

So how do you “”deserve success? You grind it out. One minute to the next and one small step in front of the other until you have climbed that mountain. …“But that won’t happen unless you choose to make it happen. Success is not a lucky break. It is not a divine right. It is not an accident of birth. Success is a choice.” (Rick Pitino).

The question comes down to: what choice will you make?


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Think Like a Mountaineer

Of all the active things I've done I think mountaineering might provide the best metaphor for life... especially success in life - wherever you may want to create success.

Think like a mountaineer and you'll see three clear stages: Valleys, Mountainsides and Summits.

Valleys are for rest, recovery and taking time to research peaks waiting to be conquered. The problem is that the valley is comfortable and many people never leave. In the valley it is hard to develop your climbing skills… even the smallest peaks are daunting to those who never leave the valley.

Summits are life's highlight reel. They don't define us – in the end they are only a list of places we've been. Highlight reels don't feature the hard work, blood sweat and tears that go into expeditions.

Mountainsides are where we define ourselves – spend enough time on the mountainside of life and you will come face to face with mortality, fear, doubt, adversity and other extreme conditions that don't exist in the valley (and always seem to evaporate at the peak.) Not surprisingly the most successful people at anything have put in a lot of time on the mountainside fighting through terrible storms and developing the knowledge, skill, strength and resolve required to scale ever larger mountains.

A simple plan for success in life: Fear the Valley. Take pictures at the Summit. Spend most of your time on the Mountainside.

Monday, November 07, 2011

I Hate Sit Ups

There. Hopefully that title got your attention.

I actually don't hate sit ups. What I hate, is when I've worked numerous different core exercises in to an hour in the form of planks, lifts, chops, throws, anti-rotation presses... and still, at the end of the hour, the client says "When are we going to do some core?".

To which I ask why.

"Because I'm feeling soft around the middle."

At which point, I have two choices - I either become a lecturer (and watch them glaze over and ignore what I say anyway) or simply point out that we've done lots of core work, and we have run out of time... only to see them grab a mat and do 100 crunches just to get the "burn". (You'll note that at no point do I consider actually doing the sit ups...)

So, in an effort to save myself the time, perhaps by posting a blog on it I can simply refer them over if they actually care enough to find out the answer...

I don't hate sit ups. To be honest, I don't believe that there are a limited cycle of spinal flexions at which point the disc herniates... I think that everyone has different tolerances, and some could do 100 sit ups and 100 crunches every morning, noon and night and never have a problem, and someone else will lean down to tie their shoes after 20 sit ups and "pop" goes the disc (actually, if it really had a sound I think it would be more like "splooge", but that's just weird and less dramatic). I have no science to back this up - just anecdotes and experiences.

That being said, I also don't think any of us know which type of person we, or our clients, are. Are we training with a back that's 27 flexions away from a herniation, or 27,000 flexions? And how long do we want to take the risk, when there are so many other better solutions that don't run the same risk? Furthermore - when we consider that so many of us sit in the position of the model in the picture, how many are actually just maintaining that forward lumbar flexion - and putting an endless stress on the spine (discs) before they ever even sit down?

So, while there are always exceptions to the rule (people with injury, or who's rectus abdominus is so weak that they can't sit up out of bed, or the occasional sport like MMA), the sit up is pretty low on the list in terms of risk and reward. You get far better "bang for your buck" AND you get better spinal safety without the dreaded sit up.

And that's about all I have to say about that, for this time around...


P.S. As Yoshi says - if you're looking for your abs, they're in the kitchen. Stop eating like crap, don't do sit-ups.... and you'll likely still get a six-pack.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Bringing Games to Life?

For some time now, I have been watching the evolution of video games. Although I have never been a “gamer”, the technology interests me so I try to keep an eye on the latest products. What does my one eye show me, you ask? It shows me that the trend in video games is to make them ever more interactive and ‘life-like’. All the latest systems - Kinect, Wii, etc. - are trying to make games more and more like real life. At first glance, this appears to be a step in the right direction, but, upon further inspection, what the ...? The tag line for the new Kinect system is: “You are the controller. No gadgets, no gizmos, just you!” You know what else has no gadgets or gizmos? You guessed it - playing sports and doing activities with other human beings!

We have come so far in our evolution of “gaming” that we have arrived at the point where people can almost play actual sports. Amazing! Revolutionary! Getting people to play soccer and basketball! But, oh wait a minute, what we are doing is getting them to stay inside and play a video game version of sport. After all, it is easy to sit in the comfort of your own living room and read the paper while Beaver plays baseball on the other side of the room. To heck with social interaction, team play, getting outside, and experiencing real sports with real friends. All highly overrated.

What really makes me sad is that these games are being heralded as a way to get kids active and to get them moving. If this is what it has come to, we are in a sad state of affairs. If it ever gets to the point that I am excited that my child moves around the living room, I think I will have to sit down and have a good long cry.

If I. as an admitted non-parent, may be so bold as to offer parenting advice, this would be it. When your child asks you for the new Kinect baseball game, go out and buy two gloves, a ball, and a bat and then take the time to play with them. As good as technology may get, it will never replace the fun and excitement of actually playing sports, it will never replace a father or mother and son or daughter playing catch, and it will NEVER bring games to life.

~ Yoshia

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Expecting Success

Success, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder.
That's what makes life worth living, but it's also what can make living life together difficult.

We've all had someone we cared about, trusted, or love fail to live up to our expectations. The more successful you are, the more you've probably seen this happen.

When it happens in work the ball gets dropped and we lose a customer or potential profits; maybe the big bonus pool.
When it happens in relationships it leads to fights & perhaps even whittling away the foundation of mutual trust.
When it happens in sports it creates a disconnect opponents can take advantage of... instead of focusing on your job your don't trust your teammate to do theirs so you double your efforts & miss a key accountability of your own.

It all starts with transparancy & clarity.

Great leaders are transparant in their vision, their plan, their challenges, and their victories. All business leaders face the challenge of galvanizing more bodies toward the collective goal- how can you hope to do that if you don't share the goal(s), or how the company is progressing along the way to get there?

Great leaders are transparant in their feedback; neither sending generic praise (be specific), nor sugar-coating criticism (enabling should really be called disabling because a lack of candid feedback is like a lack of a correct roadmap - you need to know if you're off-course).

In terms of clarity - once you have identified a CLEAR collective goal, and been transparant with it; you now need to clarify both your performance expectations from your team, as well as your operating M.O. as a leader.

Though there's always room for a well-calculated surprise to generate a desired effect, the best leaders I know are predicatable in their behaviour, consistent in their demeanour and their methodologies, and also striving to improve. They practice what they preach; and they've practiced preaching in many different ways so their message carries mass appeal.

Do you ever find yourself expecting success (a certain type of behavior) without being transparant as to they why and clear as to the how related to said success?

As failure is the opposite of success, keep in mind you can never assume.
If clarity & transparancy lead to success, surely ambiguity and non-disclosure lead to failure.

As leaders who no doubt wants to succeed, let's ensure we keep open minds, open communication, and razor-sharp focus on the goals that matter most.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Fail Your Way to Success

"I failed my way to success." Thomas Edison.

Goal setting is not a linear process, it's riddled with failure, and the failure is necessary if you want to achieve success. It offers real time feedback on how well you are doing in the pursuit of your goals. You hear over and over again how passion combined with work ethic achieves success but what I am beginning to realise is that the people that achieve success have one more thing - the ability to fail.

Failure is part of the process and not the outcome. Figuring out what you want and developing an action plan are step one, the real work begins from step two to however long it takes for you to figure out how to get where you want to end up. And, you should keep in mind that it is going to take longer, and cost more than what you think.

So, the next time you fail on your way to success don't get discouraged, think of yourself as one step closer to figuring out how you're going to get where you want to go.

~ Sasha

Vancouver vs. Winnipeg

It's one of those compelling match-ups for a Vancouverite… a competition most of us feel our city takes hands down. Well…

On Sunday I had the opportunity to travel through the brand new terminal at Winnipeg's Richardson Airport. Even as a Vancouverite (and therefore being accustomed to what, in my opinion, is the most exceptional airport in the world) I have to admit that this new building is beautiful. (Note: it's true that modern, beautiful buildings are better with champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, as were on offer during opening day in Winnipeg.) This is not an airport review however, (ours wins - sorry Winnipeg) - it is a comment on infrastructure, and more specifically, our ability as citizens to get behind investment in it.

During the conference I attended over three days in Winnipeg I had no less than 6 locals express excitement and pride over their new airport and our fortuitous timing to be amongst the first to use it on opening day. They spoke about it like it was a renovation to the guest suite of their own home – only with more pride.

How refreshing.

Sitting in the sparkling new Air Canada Lounge on my way out of town (more champagne and strawberries) I decided to google the following terms:

"controversy over new Winnipeg airport terminal" Scroll down page 1 - Nothing. Scroll down page 2 – Nothing.

"protest over new Winnipeg airport terminal" Page 1 – Zip. Page 2 - Zero.

A 10 minute search revealed only articles that were positive! Apparently nobody in Winnipeg complained about this $560 million investment. Sure, they went over the original budget but even that was barely criticized.

This story about the Winnipeg airport brings me to Vancouver (literally and figuratively).

Why is it that in Vancouver someone, or some group, ALWAYS needs to protest, analyze (negatively), or lament the millions of things money can be spent on other than infrastructure? As Vancouverites we've grown used to this endless natter in the background – the way one grows used to static on the radio. Imagine how much controversy would ensue if a similar project were undertaken in Vancouver. Actually, nevermind, no imagination required – Whistler Highway expansion, Highway #1 expansion, SkyTrain lines, BC Place renovations, Olympic infrastructure of ANY kind – not one of these was granted a free pass by media or citizens as a good thing? Each one suffered some sort of protest or opposition.

In Winnipeg I experienced what it is like to take away that undercurrent of negativity. Sticking with the radio analogy, it was a bit like hearing that favourite song or the day's news without a distracting buzz or crackle. Or maybe it was like having chocolate-covered strawberries and bubbly at the airport, compared to not having them… In other words it's WAY BETTER.

Maybe in Vancouver we're spoilt by the perfection of our natural surroundings, or our superior hockey team - this inexplicably creating a need to complain bitterly about any project that costs money? Maybe it's the rain that makes people grumpy? Winnipeg isn't known for stellar weather so I doubt that explains it.

Vancouverites, if you have an explanation for our city's negativity click "Comment" below and share it with our readers so that we might be able to figure out how to take a page out of Winnipeg's book.

- MJ