Wednesday, February 29, 2012

We all Crave Alignment and Authenticity


"It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied"
- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

Sometimes, as much as I agree that the capacity for reason and understanding separate humans from animals, I disagree with John Stuart Mill. Primarily because our capacity for intellect creates our capacity for self-destruction, self-sabatoge, and depression.

For a smart species, there are many individual human beings who can act quite stupid. A great many of us drive ourselves crazy making very avoidable mistakes. And it all stems from Mr. Mill's above quote.

A pig is happy because a pig is happy being a pig. A pig may not know any better, and to that end a pig may not aspire to be anything but a pig; but a pig still can derive happiness because their motives, intents, and therefore actions - are aligned.

Recall that we are all energy. According to the Law of Conservation of Energy, 'energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only be converted from one form to another.' Living things still abide by this law. From a metaphysical point of view then, pigs are happy because their cells; their very energy; are in alignment - purposed to act like, eat like, think like, and live like a pig.

So with all of our smarts where do we as humans go wrong?

1. Some of us aspire to be famous, but we don't work tirelessly to bring all-star talent to the table. Why do we want to be famous after all? Is being famous for the sake of being famous really a goal, or do we crave something deeper that we think fame will bring us? If we crave some intrinsic reward, why do so many people sell their souls for their 15 minutes of fleeting fame?

2. We want to be thin, good looking, and enjoy robust health; yet 2/3 of the North American population is overweight because most restaurants (by % of total number) are fast food, low quality excuses for fuel. We spend money and stress over crash & fad diets and the newest fitness craze celebrities (see above) endorse, but do we just stick to what we know works - eating real food for energy and burning more calories than we consume? We can psychologically impair physiologic weight loss through our thoughts. Any time our internal image of ourselves is disconnected from what we actually look like on the outside - it creates friction. Our thoughts and our actions don't match, so one will have to change - improve actions & habits or succumb to accepting yourself as obese, not the person you know you can be and used to be.

3. We want to have money for ourselves & we selflessly want to give to charity every time a foster parent ad comes on; yet how many of us invest, budget, save, or use a financial planner/ advisor?

4. We want to be taken seriously as a person of intrinsic worth and something valuable to say, and yet some of us do that by wearing $400 jeans, $500 sunglasses and a $3000 handbag while driving a $50,000 car we cannot afford. See a disconnect here?

There are countless other examples, but the take home message is this...

If you want to get anywhere worthwhile and you'd like to get there sooner rather than later than all of your intent (mentally, physically, and even in terms of the energy of your cells) needs to be pointed in that direction.

If you wanted to game plan on how to bring as much misery as possible to your life - keep wishing without acting. Keep using the opinions of others to determine your own success. Keep waiting for Hollywood to tell you what's cool and morph yourself into that after every red carpet event.

If you want to be happy, use your human brain to envision the best life possible for you, and then act like a pig with all your faculties aligned to get there.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Words of Wisdom

Motivational quotes, motivational facebook posts, motivational blogs and the like are all the rage these days.

It seems to me that most people fall into one of two camps:

- Love them
- Hate them

Special Note: The most puzzling people are the ones that: on one hand joke about or knock others' consumption of motivational content while, on the other hand, are actually writing it, and/or (more often) regurgita... ahemm.. quoting it...

Nevermind those folks... where was I? Oh, yes... I am in the camp that enjoys motivational writing, photography, videos... you name it. I like to keep my motivational motor humming, and if you've got something for me to read or look at that stokes the fire then bring it on!

Assuming (based on our content) that most of our readers fall into the same category, I offer you a favourite of mine that I was reminded of at the movies tonight:

Words of Wisdom by Chief Tecumseh

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion;
respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled
with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep
and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

~MJ

Monday, February 27, 2012

Who's Benchmarks Are You Using?

Recently we ran our "Nutrition Challenge" to kick off the year. In my eyes, it was one of the most successful to date:
  • The logs I was reviewing were incredible - people were truly embracing the modifications to their eating that allowed them to be healthier.
  • Our Conditioning Circuit Class, which allowed people to gain extra points, doubled as people came in... and stayed that way even after the challenge was over.
  • Most importantly, we could visibly see the changes in the participants that were the most focused - with one telling me her jeans were too loose, another saying that he had dropped two pants sizes and, most dramatically, a women who was already buying a new wardrobe.

The kicker? None of these people were overly happy - because the scale had only gone down 2-4 pounds, and they were disappointed with the results.

Really?

I'm sorry, but who gives a **** what the scale says? I mean, how are you picking the number that you want the scale to read in the first place?

Believe me, I'm not someone who doesn't think that weight loss is a valid goal for training, and in fact, believe that in many cases this is where it should start - since activities like running are actually detrimental if you're carrying too many excess pounds. But when you're seeing changes, when you're feeling the difference - why are you letting some randomly chosen numbers on a machine dictate your happiness?

I have a challenge for you. Consult a professional, and find a recommended training and nutritional program - but stay off the scale. Find ways to measure your progress (that are tailored for you) that DO NOT include your weight.

You know what I think? I think you're going to have a harder time not stepping on a scale than you will following your program... which, frankly, means you need to re-evaluate your reasons for training.

Are you doing it to improve your physical capabilities, health and general lifestyle? Or are you doing it for a random set of numbers put out by an (often inaccurate) inanimate object?

Something to think about.

~Guy

Friday, February 24, 2012

Standard of Care


In the fitness industry things are constantly evolving (as they should be) and always changing. Which is part of the reason why I think as Strength and Conditioning Professionals it is so important to have sound principles but to understand, and be open to changing your methods (as long as they fit within said principles).


This is also why I think it is so important for continuing education in this field. However, that being said I think it's easy to get overwhelmed with all of the new information that is out there, and sometimes I think we forget to appreciate, and apply what we know, and become too focused on what we don't. A paralysis by analysis, of sorts.


Here's a secret, the best in the industry don't know it all, and they are the first ones to admit it. Personally, I think if you meet someone that "knows it all" that just goes to show how little they actually do know.


Maybe we should start to think like first responders. Almost everyone has taken their first aid certification at some point or another, and part of the course is understanding that you can only deliver to your standard of care, meaning, you're not going to try to save someones life with surgery if all you've ever been trained with is CPR.


So, lets deliver what we know to the best of our ability now, with the understanding that things may change in the future as the industry, and we (therefore, our standard of care) evolve.
~ Sasha

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Recipe for Success

Yes... those are magicians...

If I haven't lost you yet (simply based on starting with magicians) let me break a few more rules:

I'll ask you to follow a link: TO AN AMAZING READ

You're still here?

OK, not convinced hey? I hate following links too... here's why you should follow that link (and wade through the reading when you get there...)

1 - This written exchange between a rookie magician and one of the world's most successful was recommended by an Olympic Champion (Simon Whitfield) to an up and coming athlete (who in turn became an Ironman champion.)

2 - Simon was able to relate it to his career and success in sport. It inspired him so it can probably inspire you.

3 - The read is about magicians but was easy for me to relate to a career in health and business.

4 - Teller's letter is almost like a stream of consciousness recipe for success - and his show is widely respected as one of the best in the world.

5 - It is elegantly written and worth a few minutes of your time.

New respect for magicians...

~MJ

Monday, February 20, 2012

"For Fun" is a Valid Reason


To begin with - there is a difference between "training" and "exercise".

"Training" is purposeful, progressive and structured. Training can be fun, particularly if you are a goal driven person who enjoys a focused plan - but it isn't always. Sometimes its a chore - but like chores, it needs to be done.

"Exercise" is simply moving and being active. It can be a pick up basketball game, a 5km fun run, or even a round of golf - but it is usually (and should be) fun.

The two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, you should often "train" so that you can "exercise" - meaning, if you want to be able to head on the court or out for the run, hopefully your training has you in the physical condition to be able to do them without over-exerting or hurting yourself.

The problems happen when people begin to blur the lines - when they try to use "exercise" as "training" (like a step class) or when they are ALWAYS training, but never having any fun.

Life is not about absolutes. I'm a firm believer that because of our lifestyles, training is important to ensure that we're safely challenging ourselves and staying strong, staying healthy - but I'm also a believer that it should always be done to allow us to find enjoyment in activity.

If you're not enjoying your training anymore - get out and exercise. Rediscover what Peter Twist has called "The Joy of Movement".

Go and have fun.

~Guy

Friday, February 17, 2012

When Did Eating Become Optional?


When did eating become optional?

As a member of the health and fitness industry I hear this all the time, "I'm too busy to eat". What I would like to know is when did it become an option, because to me, this seems as ridiculous as saying I was too busy to breathe. You need to do both to live, right?

So why is it okay not to eat? I'm not going to get into what you need to eat, or even when you need to eat it, to me it's just important that you eat. Yes, food tastes good, but it's more than that, we need food to fuel our bodies. Think of your body like a car, you need to put gas in the car otherwise eventually you're going to be running on empty. And, guess what that means, that means that no matter how busy you think you are, you're going nowhere until you fill the tank. It's simple, you need to eat to live.

So please, stop telling me that you're too busy to eat. You need to make time for what's important and as far I'm concerned something that's as necessary as breathing deserves the time.

~ Sasha

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

5 Best Reasons to Overperform

Today I'd like to examine a fundamental feature of modern employment situations. For lack of a better term call it the:
Argument for "Overperformance"

Many of the authors of this blog are leaders of a business where one of the core values is "Excellence". There are many phrases that capture the spirit of this value – the one we use is "the extra mile" but others like "above and beyond", "110%", "aim to exceed expectations" and lots more are common in the modern workplace…

Since it is fairly obvious why an employer would want employees to go beyond the call of duty, we probably don't need to spend much time on that. What is far more interesting to consider is why an employee would want to work harder than "necessary" for an employer.

Firstly let's consider how the deck is stacked against the employer getting "110%" from employed individuals and teams:
  • The employer is likely only able to afford to pay 100% of the employee's salary
  • The employee likely has plenty of things he or she would rather be doing – i.e. stuff that is a lot more "fun" and isn't work
  • Time is pretty much everyone's most valuable asset these days and let's face it – the "extra mile" involves investing a lot of time
So why would an employee want to do more than the minimum job expectations? I can hear the cries... What's in it for me? Where's my reward? How do I get ahead? How is working hard for YOU going to get ME ahead?

If you think your employees aren't asking these questions you are wrong. So, what then are the answers? Why should people essentially "overperform" at their jobs?

Top 5 Reasons

Reputation: Reputation building starts long before one steps into their first job - and it never stops. Everyone knows a slacker, everyone knows a self–centred, 'all about me' buddy, and everyone knows the guy who works his ass off. Who do you want on your team? Who do you respect the most? Salaries change, job descriptions change, and people change careers but your reputation follows you everywhere you go. When it comes to our reputation we are the sole architects…

Opportunity: In employment situations there will always be opportunities – a chance to lead a new project, a chance to work with a prominent customer, a chance to manage a new product, a chance to fill a new role with more responsibility, a chance to buy the company when old bossman retires… These opportunities aren't tangible right now (because they are over the horizon), but you can bet that, just as the tide comes in and goes out again, these opportunities will be arriving with regularity. Who do you think gets the nod? It's not coincidence that the "lucky" people who get the great opportunities at work are usually the ones working their asses off when there is no one watching and no prize to be won.

Pride: The best don't "mail it in"… They are working hard to be the best or to remain among the best. The reward is the satisfaction they get in knowing that there is no better than them. If you are in a job where you really don't care about being 'the best' you should consider finding a new job where you feel driven to put forth your best effort. Your pride in the work you do will be your ticket to the top, or, if you are looking for a better role or a different role, the pride you show (by your effort) will be your ticket to the job you ultimately want. Of course not everyone will be the "best" on paper – but everyone knows if they are giving their best effort. If you are not giving your best effort at work you'll never know how high you could rise or how far you could go… in this case you are the one holding yourself back.

Connections / Networking: Has there ever been a time when "who you know" is more important? These days with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and every other social media connecting agent we all 'know somebody who knows somebody'. What this means is that any bridge you burn by putting forth a less than stellar effort is 10x more likely to come back around to prevent you from seizing "the prize" a month, a year or a decade later. It all links back to reputation and how yours is your most valuable asset or your biggest limiter. Imagine a server, waiting tables… who is that person sitting in front of you? They could easily be the driving force behind your next big opportunity…

Historical Results: Head down to the local bookstore, find the business section, pull up a chair and search for a book featuring an incredible success story involving anyone who just "punched the clock" and never went above and beyond. You might find one or two but the other thousand books on the shelf will confirm the fact that hard work, and effort "beyond the call of duty", might be the single factor common to more successful people than any other.


The list could easily be expanded to 10 or 15 items if really obvious things like raises, perks and so on were included. Not surprisingly, the employees working the hardest tend to get those too...

~MJ

Monday, February 13, 2012

Avoid the Hype


Trends come and go, and in the world of health and fitness it's almost a guaranteed occurrence. With so much research coming through, and our species' innate desire to find shortcuts, it's no wonder that we don't know where to turn, or what works. Stretch or don't stretch? Will yoga help, or will it cripple you? Crossfit - revolutionary new fitness program, or dangerous over-training? Intermittent fasting? Hoodia? The Shakeweight? P90x, Get Insanity, run a marathon, don't run a marathon, Pilates, the Tracey Anderson Method... how to choose?

I'm going to help you sift through all the noise. Here are five simple to understand rules to apply to your health:

Number 1: Eat properly. Nutrition is the number one element needed to be addressed in your health. You want as few steps as possible between when it was living and when it was on your plate - so if you buy something that's prepackaged and just needs to be heated up in the microwave, you're already way off base. Same goes for restaurant food. Stop looking for the magic plan - try eating real food that you've prepared yourself first.

Number 2: Get strong. Learn how to lift heavy weights properly. It's good for your bones, it's good for your joints, and it's good for real life.

Number 3: Move really fast, move really slow, and everything in between. Climb hills. Throw things. Play. Have fun. If it's not fun, you're not going to stick with it.

Number 4: Sleep. Your health and fitness improves through cycles of breaking down and then recovering. Miss the recovery, and you're missing at least half of the equation.

Number 5: Don't look for the easy way out - there's no such thing. It takes prioritizing, it takes commitment, and it takes effort... just like anything else, it has to be earned. Take pride in the process, and enjoy the results.

There you go - doesn't matter what program, sport, race or activity you choose... just make sure it incorporates these five guidelines, and I can pretty much guarantee success.

Good luck!

~Guy

Friday, February 10, 2012

Physiology or Psychology?


I listened to a great video by John Beradi, PhD, CSCS from Precision Nutrition entitled The Compliance Solution. Below is a summary of what he spoke about in his video, and accompanying article.
He started by saying that coaching people through their struggles with compliance isn't always easy. However, it's not a challenge reserved strictly for the fitness professional.
He went on to say that doctors report embarrassingly low compliance rates when prescribing life-saving heart disease, diabetes and cancer medications. In fact, the latest data suggests that patients take these medications only half the time.
Half the time is a scary statistic, and "also a little intimidating since as fitness professionals we are asking our clients to do much more than swallow a magic pill. Exercise, nutrition and lifestyle changes; they're a bit more involved."
To be a life-changing fitness professional, he said you need to take responsibility for both the advice you offer and your client's ability to follow that advice. Yes, even those 'difficult clients'.
When faced with difficult clients, many of us throw up our hands, "it's not our fault!" we exclaim. We can only provide the education. It's our client's job to do the rest. Right?
Well, not exactly he says.
What's missing from our programs isn't a mystery nutrient or exercise protocol. What's missing is something called change psychology.
Real world coaching requires a mix of psychology and physiology. And his thought was that psychology is perhaps the more important of the two.
For most clients their biggest stumbling block is compliance, the ability to do what they know they should do. So, understanding how to help them overcome their limiting factors is the most important skill he thinks you can have as a coach.
Helping clients change, using the best practices of change psychology, is the only way to have long term success in this field. In other words, helping clients take the next positive step in their lives - and knowing what steps are right for them - is key to becoming a life-changing fitness professional.
His words, but I have to agree.
~ Sasha

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Best Excuses NOT to Exercise


There are a million and one excuses not to exercise and I would like to cover a few of my favourites. If you are too busy to read this whole blog... just read the bold text!

#1 Excuse: too busy. This is the most common and one of my favorites. I saw a great quote on-line that said “What is more inconvenient? Exercising an hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?” Certainly a hard line approach but correct regardless. You can tell people that, if they exercise, they will be more efficient during the day, have more energy, sleep better (and, therefore, they will need to sleep less if they are exercising regularly and thus will actually be able to do longer days), but none of that will matter because they are not actually too busy, they are just looking for an excuse!

#2 Excuse: too tired. This is a great one, but probably the easiest to dispute because of the well-known, proven, obvious effects of exercise. Healthy people who exercise have more energy. Fact. Saying "I'm too tired" is like saying I am too hungry to eat. Well, guess what? Eat and you won’t be hungry anymore; exercise and you won’t be tired anymore! You can tell people this, you can show them the research that proves it, but none of that will matter because they are not actually too tired, they are just looking for an excuse!!

#3 Excuse: hormones keep me from losing weight so why bother?. The short and simple answer to this is that the goal of exercise is to be HEALTHY not to be skinny. I am going to write an entire blog on this topic next week, so, for now, we will just leave it at that. There is no question that, as we age, our hormones are not our best friends. They slow down our metabolism and make it more and more difficult to lose weight. However, exercise will still make us feel better and healthier, sleep better, think better and give us a multitude of other benefits. At a certain point, weight loss becomes secondary. Of course people can read this and still it won’t matter because they are just looking for an excuse!!!

#4 Excuse: I am not totally committed yet...but once I start, etc., etc. This is an excellent excuse - for creativity! In reality, it is laughable to think that we become committed to something and then start it. No, we become committed to something by doing it...scheduling the time in our “busy” days and making it happen. We will not, through a magical happening, suddenly "get committed" one day and then start exercising (unless that day is also the day we leave the doctor who has just told us that, if we don’t start to exercise, we are going to die of a heart attack!). Of course, even knowing all of these things and being aware that not exercising can contribute to death at an early age, we can still "not be committed quite yet" because we are just looking for an excuse!!!!

#5 Excuse: I need to get my diet in check first. This is perhaps the most ridiculous of them all. Constantly my clients tell me that they are starting to watch what they eat since they are putting all this effort into exercise and it seems like a waste to eat crap. This is a very common reaction to starting a new exercise regime and is an example of the positive reinforcements that exercise gives us. Waiting until our diet is in check means it is never going to happen because it is simply another excuse!!!!!

We may be busy, tired, hormonal, lazy, and "needing" to get your diet in check, but it is still time to get our asses off the couch and start exercising. It is one of the few things in this world that works 100% of the time, so we need to stop with the excuses. It is time to stop lying to ourselves with excuses and trying to make it okay to be unhealthy. It is not okay.

At some point in our lives, we will regret the rationalizations we told ourselves and the very whimsical excuses we made, but, then, there will be no excuses as to why we are unhealthy. It will all be on us! Exercising assists us in living to be healthy, happy, relaxed people...and helps us live to great old ages to enjoy it all.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Accountable Individual



In today’s 24/7 non-stop world, accountability is becoming a more critical issue for all of us. Whether you are the business owner, the executive in an organization, the salesperson on the road, the employee looking at climbing the corporate ladder, or the juggling parent / homemaker – many of us are trying to accomplish a certain level of success & balance in all aspects of life – professional, personal, physical, social, spiritual, family, etc. which can be very very challenging at times.

Why?

Because trying to ‘have it all’, ‘do it all’, or ‘provide it all’ can be challenging in a world that is full of opportunities & endless amount of options, especially if you have the responsibility of others (business owner, parent, partner, etc). Nowadays, we have to be more efficient with our time and more accountable to our actions if we want to achieve a ‘high level’ in many areas of our lives. But the reality is this…

Being accountable to things isn't easy. If it was we would all be much further ahead in our lives than we probably are now. We wouldn't need reminders, help, support, and a host of other means to help us make sure we follow through on what we say and know we should do.

In addition, the challenge is to realize that accountability is just not a single issue, but an issue with many supporting competencies. To maintain and thrive as an accountable individual first requires overcoming the fear to embrace these elements and then a plan of action to ensure that we are accountable individuals.

Here are the top 15 elements & contributors on becoming an accountable individual not only with your physical fitness but in other aspects of your life as well.

Understanding – Do we understand ourselves? Are we aware of our own strengths and weaknesses? Do we know how to leverage those strengths? How do we deal with our feelings, emotions, weaknesses and most importantly actions? We will bring additional benefits to ourselves when we explore the keys of understanding what we want, what behaviors will help us achieve our goals, and what values are necessary to maintain our credibility.

Action – What action or actions did we & do we take or not take and why? Since many individuals have been conditioned not to take action or are stuck in “analysis/paralysis,” accountability suffers because no specific action has been taken.

Commitment – Are we truly committed to doing what it takes? North America has a multi-billion dollar diet food industry. Yet, if individuals would engage in walking 30 more minutes each day, drink 8 glasses of water, reduce their daily food intake and avoid known fatty foods, they would all lose weight. So, why is there a multi-billion dollar diet industry? The answer for most simply lies within the level of commitment of those individuals.

Choices – Are we all making good choices such as surrounding ourselves with the right people to help us get towards our goals? Whether they are professionals that provide the services & accountability we are in need of OR taking the right steps in the right direction towards our goals – our choices are critical to get us to the ‘promised land’ faster and smoother.

Alignment – Are our actions in alignment with our purpose? Do we know what our purpose is? Our purpose along with our vision, values and mission statements act as filters and help us make better decisions. For if the pending issue is not in alignment with our purpose, why are we even considering this issue?

Opportunities – Are we creating new possibilities for success?

Numbers – What are our weekly parameters or targets? The old adage goes if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. By developing our own baselines for success for every day, week, month or year – we can evaluate to see if we are on track to our goals.

Time – Are we making the most of our time? Time is a fixed commodity. By using down time we can greatly enhance your results. More often than not, we are reminded that time management is key to long-term success.

Consistency – Is our accountability a one time thing? Inconsistency derails many individuals and organizations. “Walking the talk” is critical to building a culture where we are respected for our demonstrated actions. Accountability then becomes our friend and not our foe. Success is not a sometime thing – therefore, we have to be consistent at being accountable.

Internalization – Are we working from the inside out? To be truly accountable, means that our actions are coming from our inside convictions & beliefs and not just from some recent external event, thought or person. Internalization also helps to strengthen the consistency of our actions.

Communication – Do we communicate directly with the people / person who can help us fix our problems or do we internalize, be frustrated & communicate to someone else which ends up contributing to the problem? This is a necessity to ensure that the bus continues to move in the right direction.

Learning – Do we learn from our past to ensure we don’t make the same mistakes again? Are we learning from those that have taken the steps before us to help us get to our goals faster? And are we continually educating ourselves to be better than we are today? Each day should present to us a new learning experience from which we can grow both personally and professionally – some of this will happen to us & other times we need to make it happen for us.

Integrity – Do we demonstrate our values at all times? For example, will we take action when we know a situation is wrong or will we ignore the situation because we don’t want to rock the boat & ‘create conflict’ - in other words, be uncomfortable.

Team – How can we help others be more accountable? Today, proactive teamwork is a greater part of business, family, and relationship success. Teams help achieve greater success, but sometimes team members lack some of the necessary skills. We often hear of the 20% of the team doing 80% of the work & effort. Are our behaviors helping others to be more accountable or are our behaviors allowing others to shoulder more of the workload – that is the question.

It’s all about US - Bottom line, it is all about us, no buts, no excuses! We all have the ability to shape our futures but it is dependant on what we choose to be accountable to and for.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

FEAT this weekend!


Do you love adventure?

Does your "happy place" require a headlamp and trail runners?

Do you dream about living a "life less ordinary?"

Do you look forward to sealing your iPhone into a waterproof bag and heading "out of service"?

If you answered YES to any of those you should probably buy a ticket for FEAT.

From the website:
FEAT, Fascinating Expedition & Adventure Talks, is an annual evening of time-limited presentations. Each presenter speaks for seven minutes; no more, no less. With images. Although the speakers are invited because of their achievements, presentation themes focus on an aspect of their expedition – not the entire extended expedition. With stories of adventures on land, water and in the air, you will be enthralled.
It seems obvious to me that the Swimupstream audience IS the FEAT audience. So call your buddies / girlfriend / boyfriend / dad / mom / and make a plan to be at the Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver this Sunday night...

Tickets, which are going fast, are only $15 thanks to a special promo code for swimupstream readers: FEAT3G7

I'll see you there!

~MJ


Monday, February 06, 2012

Never Forget the Journey


A man bought a large piece of land down in southern California, and he went to work getting it ready for use. The first thing he had to do was to fence the property in - so off he went in his truck with the barbwire, wooden fence posts, and a post hole digger.

He started early in the morning - driving the digger into the ground, getting it to the right depth, pouring the cement and placing the fence post in it. Then he'd run the barb wire from the last post to the current one.

It was slow going.

After a few days, he stopped for lunch and took in how far he still had to go... miles and miles of land looked back at him. Sitting in the back of the truck, his shoulders slumped - it was hot out, and the idea of spending the next few days pounding fence posts was incredibly demotivating.

He got out, and leaned against the hood of the truck, resting his chin on his crossed arms. His eyes narrowed as he looked back on where he'd already put the fence in... and saw miles and miles of completed fence. In fact, it was amazing how much was finished in only a few days' worth of work.

Standing up straight, he grabbed his tools and headed back to the task.

~Guy

Friday, February 03, 2012

Perfect Effort


You know what I just realised, doing your best is not the same thing as being perfect. You might say that I am a little slow on the uptake, but at least I figured it out.
I caught myself mentally berating myself the other day ('cause doing it for others to hear is just plain weird) for some sloppy food choices, and feeling tired during a training session. I subscribe to the thought process that every rep, of every set takes me closer to my goal (whatever that may be at the time) and if I am not giving it my best effort on each one, than I clearly don't want whatever I'm training for badly enough.
The most important word in the above paragraph, effort. Doing your best means working your hardest despite circumstances - I was tired, and hadn't been fueling my body properly. Is that an excuse, no, more a statement of fact. My best that day was not as great as some of my other days, but that doesn't mean that my effort level was any less. And, no, I wasn't perfect but that's the point.
Anytime you decide what you want, and set about working for it, you have to understand that your plan to get there is just a guideline. Some days it's going to work, and other days life is going to get in your way. That doesn't mean you're not doing your best, that means you are giving it all you have for that day. And, that's the secret, not beating yourself up when you're not perfect, instead accepting that days like that are part of the process and that you will need to dig a little deeper to find your best effort, regardless of circumstance, on those ones.
~ Sasha

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Chaos vs Madness


We often hear change is hard.
We also hear change is necessary ("change or die")
Change is part of life
Change is life
The only thing that stays the same is change
And we know leaders, if they are leaders, must manage (lead) change.

As an employee/ entrepreneur who is going through this process with a large team right now - it is fascinating to view different peoples' perspective on change.

There are those drivers who thrive in an environment of chaos.
They don't need all the details
They've been here (or somewhere close to it) before
They rise to the action, directing & creating action and ensuring follow through.
They actually see order amidst the chaos and they somehow have a bit of fun with it.
However, sometimes this group reaches the summit of the mountain only to turn back and realize their team is in a heap along the path up.

There are those 'balancers' who dread chaos because their identity, personalities, and even operational roles revolve around keeping people informed, engaged, and functioning together. They see chaos as everything getting screwed up, the ball being dropped, possibly even the end of the world.
Even if they are 3 steps from the top of the mountain, they have trouble seeing the horizon because they are extremely people focused and the pack is far more important than the pace to them. It is really hard for this group not to get caught up in, perpetuate, or lose sleep because of the inevitable drama chaos brings.

And last for the purposes of today's entry (there are certainly more than 3 types of people) are the detail police. The micro-managers, the analysts, the approval committees. These are perhaps the most flustered by chaos because during times of stress, they need more data, more time to analyze it, and they need second opinions and research into action plans before implementation can be fathomed for them. They don't thrive in chaos - they see it as madness - unproductive, reckless, irresponsible madness.
Even if they are 3 steps from the top of the mountain, they have trouble seeing the horizon because they are extremely detail focused and the plan is far more important than the pace to them.

Personally, I belong to the first group. Objectively, good businesses and good organizations need all 3 types. All three present strengths and inherent dangers if allowed to operate in silos; however all 3 working together can create a detailed, methodical plan that the majority of the group is bought into that actually moves quickly. How often do we see this in business???

I hope others can relate to today's entry at a high level - as although this is a nice to read on hypothetical terms- it can be a life-savor or absolute deal smasher in implementation.

Great leaders need to manage chaos, but they also need to assemble diverse teams, and pull from the strengths of the group vs over-using their own. As the old saying goes - if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far - go together.