Fictional case study #2 (Good guy Gary)

‘the path to success is to take massive, determined actions’ – Tony Robbins

 

It is interesting that we often look outside of ourselves for direction and advice.  We ask others what they would do. We actually value that advice more than we consider our very own.  Most people are just built that way. And with today’s social media world, it’s all on display. We’re constantly evaluating our choices, actions, posts…by the amount of likes or type of comments we get.  It’s harder to go truly insular these days, and stay discipline with your own feelings and opinions. But for the select few that can go there…and that can keep returning there…the payoff will be insane!

Take this fictional story as an example of that:  Gary is a 41 year old good guy. He works for an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) company.  He has a 5 year old daughter named Madison. Gary is divorced and has his own place.

He’s recently noticed that he’s about 30 pounds overweight.  He feels strong from the work he does, but he hasn’t seen his own muscle definition since two years out of high school.  He has that trendy new shape that’s now a popular hashtag on instagram…#dadbod. And even though that trend has made it seem more acceptable to wear the extra layer of blubber, he knows how much more attractive he’d be…how healthier he’d feel…if he lost the weight, or better yet…turned most if that weight into muscle!

Another thought that Gary has been having lately, is that he recognizes that he is modeling behavior for his daughter Madison.  She soaks up everything at this young age, and is watching his every move. As she’s growing up, he’s having more and more conversations with her about healthy eating and exercise…but when Madison is at Mom’s house, Gary is eating chips on the couch.  He isn’t practicing what he’s preaching. And deep down, he knows that he’s influencing his daughter. In some way, she’s going to inherently take on some of his practices. We are all ‘products of our environment’. Sure, there is the nature vs. nurture debate.  But either way, we are shaped by what we come from. The apple still falls from the tree, regardless of how far it rolls away.

Gary hasn’t done much research on exercise.  Like most of us, he hasn’t majored in exercise science…but he understands that some cardio, some strength training, and a lot of eating healthy is what will transform his body.  And he wants to get to the gym…he just doesn’t know which one to go to.  There’s Planet Fitness over here, Bikram Yoga over there, a power-lifting gym, a place that coaches olympic lifting…not to mention the 3 new crossfit gyms in town! bHe told himself (and his daughter) that one of his New Year’s resolutions was to get into better shape.  But it’s mid March now, and he figures it’s too late to have a beach body ready for the summer. He might as well wait until Fall to start really making a push for the next summer.

As Gary starts thinking about it too much, you can see how he starts getting into trouble.

He’s also feeling a little insecure…not that he would come out and say that to anyone! When he was a kid, his dad taught him that men don’t show emotions or feelings like that. Most of Gary’s buddies though, belong to one of these local gyms, or at least play men’s league basketball once a week.  Gary runs out of breath just going up a flight of stairs. He doesn’t want to have to start at square one at the gym, when everyone else is killing it. He’d be ‘that guy’…the one that can’t bench-press the big 45 pound weight plates…the one that’s sweating all over the elliptical machine after 5 minutes of use.  He doesn’t want to be that guy. Actually, he doesn’t want others to see him as that guy. This is again, an example of how some of us let others control how we live (or don’t live) our lives.

And even though this isn’t something Gary would discuss with Madison, it’s somehow passed down to her anyway.  Gary thinks he puts off an ‘I live on my terms’ vibe to his daughter…but the subconscious nuance to that is out of his control.  The subtleties of his actions, of his reactions, of his initial responses to everyday occurrences…are unfortunately telling Madison, ‘our family doesn’t crush it.  We worry some…about how we come across to others. We think and talk, more than we actually do.’  Gary could tell Madison how important it is to not worry about what others think, but his actions are creating 10x the results in the opposite direction.  It isn’t even a contest.

/nuᐧance/ – a subtle difference in;  shade of meaning, expression, or sound.

Another thought Gary has been having is about his gear.  His running shoes are so old and dirty. He only has 2 or 3 pair of athletic shorts.  His ipod is big and clunky and old and doesn’t hold a charge. He sees that everyone else has cool stuff!  New compression shorts and pants, bright sneakers and socks, and that cool armband thing that conveniently holds a new ipod out of the way.  And everyone pretty much only wears dryfit materials now, which Gary has none of. He thinks he’s going to look stupid…no matter what he does.  He thinks he should probably stock up on some of this gear over time…then he’ll be ready for the gym.  

On top of that, he knows the potato chips and chillaxing on the couch needs to change. He actually has some good ideas about eating healthy, but he thinks that he should finish up eating all of the junk in the house, as not to waste, then start getting healthier with his diet.  Once he gets his diet right, then he’ll feel more ready to approach the gym.

Boy…some of us can see that Gary is soft…physically and mentally.  He should just go! Who cares about all that stuff he’s worrying about?  

On the other hand, some of us can truly identify with Gary.  Sometimes it feels that we need to first take care of A, in order to feel comfortable trying B.  And sometimes it seems that other people have all the right stuff. And we don’t. But that’s just a losing mentality.  

By thinking too much…by wondering what ‘most others’ are doing…by giving energy to what other people might feel…Gary has already lost.  

If he focused on doing, and just starting somehow…he’d be well on his way to ‘healthy Gary’, who would be (by the way), the absolute best role model for Madison.  

At the first hint of a feeling that Gary had about being out of shape (that very day!), he should have laced up the old running shoes and gone out for a 5k run…no ipod necessary.  Leaving from his house, taking it nice and slow, he could easily complete the 3.1 miles. Imagine the pride and sense of accomplishment after that! Then, he could have made stir fry vegetables and rice for dinner…with some yogurt (instead of ice-cream) for dessert.  

Now picture Gary’s mindset the following morning…as opposed to all of that negative thinking he was doing in the other model.  Imagine the effect and influence on Madison that next morning as they approach the day together. I wonder what different experiences they’d have.  I wonder how much more she’d be exposed to in her childhood, going this route. And I wonder how much further Madison would reach into her own potential, living with a dad who creates action, instead of one who sits and worries.  

I don’t think we understand this effect as well as we should.  I know that I don’t myself. And I’m trying to be more aware of it every single day.  It is very obvious that the far majority of us have wonderful intentions. We all, of course, want the best for our children.  Gary wants Madison to be healthy…and wants her to know how to achieve and maintain that lifestyle.  And deep down, we all believe that we’re teaching our children all about what is right and wrong.  It’s worth considering though, that within that teaching, it’s much more effective to focus on doing…not on lecturing or thinking.  

 

Thank you for reading!

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1%

‘i want to be different.  If everyone is wearing black, I want to be wearing red’ –

Maria Sharapova

 

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A couple of months ago, I came to the realization that doing something you’ve never done…as consistently and often as possible…can be really healthy for you.  It’s similar to my thinking around living ‘on the edge of comfort’.  And it’s all about continually challenging ourselves, and putting ourselves in positions to earn grit, to try, to do…to learn.

As I was reading yesterday, I came to another realization.  Yes, you can call it an ‘epiphany’ if that’s how you roll.  The people that are getting the most out of life…that are the most fulfilled and content…are doing what most other people won’t do, or aren’t doing.  The folks who are trendy, or first to the party.  The ones that are different, but intriguing nonetheless (first time using ‘nonetheless’…nailed it!).  There seems to be success and fulfillment in practicing the actions that most other people simply don’t.  We should all be trying to be part of the 1% crowd!

e•piph•a•ny – a sudden, intuitive perception of, or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

Being a 1 percenter (financially) has it’s own inherent connotations.  Some of us believe that those folks make too much money, and that they owe more of their fair share.  Others of us think that they create opportunities for the 99 percenters, and that their trickle down effect is truly beneficial to us bottom dwellers.

But I’m not speaking on financial earnings.  I’m talking about our actions…our choices and our experiences.

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So many people I know have had the same haircut since high school!  Switch it up a bit.  Try a different you!  Be the 1%

There isn’t much interest for me in playing in the middle…in doing what everyone else is doing…in doing ‘what I’m supposed to be doing’.  It suffices to say that there is much more intrigue in living on the outer edges…the fringes. And I’d go as far to say that better health, contentment, ‘success’, fulfillment, and overall happiness are found in living in the 1%

Here is an image, full of generalities, that should help illustrate my feelings here:

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Considering all of that, a 1%’er is a person who chooses to live life on their own terms.  They will live and die on their own sword.  Instead of life happening to them…they are making their life happen.

I challenge you to create your own 99% and 1% column chart.  Right now…write down 5-10 things you do that most of the population does.  Then, write down the things you do that only 1% does.  Use it as your journal entry for the day.  What can you take from your chart?  What can you learn about yourself?  Are you playing in the middle too much…where everyone else is?  Or, are you hanging out within that extraordinary population enough of the time?  And…what do you feel about your actions, considering what side their on?  Do your 1% actions bring you joy, vibrancy, passion, and love?  Do they put you around people that are good for you?  I bet they do!

Please share your chart with me, or any feedback from this in the comments, or on my Facebook page.  I’d love to hear some results, and learn more about this!  Here are some of my own results:

Some of My 99% actions

  • watching too much tv – March Madness, Celtics basketball, and I’m currently binge watching Breaking Bad for the 3rd time…oops.
  • consuming way too much sugar
  • not hanging with my guy friends enough
  • procrastination

 

Some of my 1% actions

  • I keep bees (and harvest my own honey)
  • cycling (road biking)
  • have my own business
  • work when I want
  • sing, and play guitar
  • eat a vegetarian diet
  • Write in a Blog
  • Have my own podcast
  • follow an ‘advanced athlete’ training program

 

Some 1% actions I want to pursue

  • swim (for fitness/health)
  • write books
  • start a wine club
  • start a dad/daughter club

 

All love!

emailsig

 

always be closing

‘thoughts are great…but action leads to closing’         emailsig


A.B.C.


I must admit it…my house is a mess!  And…I just cleaned up that area.  How does it already look like a storm hit it?  


I have to confess…I’ve started a thousand projects around here, and about 999 of them still seem ‘under construction’.  


I should accept it.  I have a problem.  Actually many, but I’ll start with this one and see if I can find closure with it.

I peg myself as really good at coming up with ideas.  I have journals and sheets and post it notes collected with a bunch of random ideas.  These can be related to business, the house, relationships, professional development, investments, blah blah blah.  Most of my ideas are bad.  However, I believe that while coming up with many poor ideas…and documenting them…I’m bound to come up with a good one here and there.  It’s almost like I come up with 99 bad ideas for every one diamond in the rough.  It’s a low shooting percentage but hey, if you don’t shoot you can’t score.  

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Matilda comes up with the best ideas!


I do feel strongly about documenting by the way.  If you don’t put your thoughts and ideas and goals down on paper, or somewhere digitally, they’ll just float around in your head, and possible float out of your head for good.  Once you put them somewhere, you can make space in your head for developing that idea or adding interest to it…or coming up with another one.  Find yourself a cool journal, even a good expensive one.  It’s investing in your own brain/goals/ideas.  And it will encourage you to put good use to it, and hold value in your own beliefs.  

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Closing the deal


So I’m good with all that stuff.  My interests are many.  I’m quick to jump into things and just try something.  I love learning anything new.  However…I’m not good with following the practice of the phrase, ‘Always Be Closing’.  This phrase is from the 1992 drama film called Glengarry Glen Ross, in which the character played by Alec Baldwin encourages some of the other characters to close deals within their sales work.  Watch out for bad language, but here is a great clip from the movie.  Look…it’s a very shallow message in regards to simply making more money above all else, and disregarding things like being a good dad, or being kind. However, it struck a chord with me in how it can relate to the idea of completing something. And this is what I have trouble with.  As I said, I can start a bunch of projects.  But I never seem to finish many of them.  

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Finishing touches


This weekend, I had a task that I wanted to complete.  The ramps in my landscape trailer have to be lifted in and mounted to the inside walls for transportation.  Well, I’ve always had this crap system of a cheap eye-hook and bungee chords to hold them in place.  Boring I know…bear with me.  This system has bothered me for about 5 years.  I can’t believe that! I’ve spoken about it, wrote down ideas, sworn at it many times…but never really done anything about it.  Well on Saturday night and into Sunday morning, I came up with a plan, went to the hardware store for materials, and put in a new ramp mounting system.  It was actually pretty easy!  On Sunday, I found myself putting all of my tools back in their proper place, sweeping up the garage floor of all debris, and wiping down my workbench with a cleaner and paper towels.  I suddenly thought, ‘Oh my…I’ve actually completed something, and I’m in the very final stage of cleaning up the mess associated with it.  I never do this!’  I’m telling you…it felt so good.   I immediately thought about ‘Always Be Closing’, and the benefits related to that.  I thought about Casey Neistat, and how he has those words tattooed on his arm.  He actually dedicated an entire Vlog to this idea.  Watch it here! 

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harvesting is closing

Neistat says that if you start a bunch of things and don’t finish them, you’re a loser.  That’s me…how sad.  Someone who starts something and always finishes it is a closer.  That’s not me.  My new focus is to become more of a closer.  I must bring my ideas to fruition…see them through to their fullest potential.  I’m on it.  By closing, and completing something, we are able to reap the rewards related to our project.  After dealing with annoyance of the ramp system in my trailer for 5 years, and halfheartedly poking at it here and there with temporary repairs, no wonder I felt so good about putting smart and hard work to it and having it completed.  

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Finished a dance season…proud Dad!



Closing leads to you feeling much more productive.  

Closing frees up space in your head for other, more important ideas. 

Closing encourages intellect and hard work over complaining and hoping.

Closing leads to more appreciation instead of expectation.  

Don’t be a loser…be a closer!

 



Organization


A.B.C. totally relates to keeping our lives organized too.  This is an area that I struggle with, and one that I’ll be putting some more focus into.  When you come home…with a bunch of things in your hands…maybe a bag or two…and pockets full of receipts and change and hair clips (for some reason, I always find myself here)…do you put everything away in it’s designated spot?  What I usually do is pile it onto my dining room table.  It’s flat, easy to access, and I won’t need the table until about 5:30pm.  That’s not closing.  That’s losing!  The worst is when I’ve put together a nice dinner and I go to bring plates to the table for Matilda and I, to find my loser pile in the way.  Worst!


I do have all of the designated places for things.  I have a file cabinet with nicely labeled folders, a piggy bank in the living room, a cup in the bathroom for Matilda’s hair clips.  I just don’t follow that step of putting things directly into their proper place.  And this is key.  If you hired someone to come ‘organize your house’ or your life, a main thread would be to immediately place things into their position.  Put them in their home.  Look at your computer desk, your kitchen counters, the desktop on your computer…even your email inbox.  Are you organized?  I’ve started trying to get to a totally empty email inbox as often as possible.  This entails creating simple folders, unsubscribing from all of the crap, deleting as soon as possible, and once a day, taking care of pertinent messages.  It relieves so much stress for me to have a clean slate.  But I need to work on the more ‘physical’ areas of my life…and organize those.  I want to finish more projects on my to do list…not just start them.  I don’t want to be a loser anymore…I want to be a closer!  Please comment if you’ve found effective ways of ‘closing’ in your own life.   

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thoughts are great…but action leads to closing!


Music:  Blind Pilot is an Oregon based band.  They use interesting instruments like a mountain dulcimer, vibraphone, and a harmonium.  Here’s a great one called New York.




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you snooze you lose

‘good morning to you, fair and gracious daughter’ – Shakespeare

The morning is a part of the day when we’re usually following routines and habits that have been ingrained over a long period of time.  When this occurs, we can easily just breeze through tasks, attempting to get up and go quickly.  The significance of time and place can go unrecognized, and we can set ourselves on a course that reflects that lack of investment.  I think often about ‘investing’ in ourselves as individuals.  It can be within our diet or health, experiences we have, or simply by reading.  The beginning of the day though, is such a fitting time to invest, as we can set ourselves off on a path filled with great returns. 


At the 2014 University of Texas at Austin commencement speech, Admiral William H. McRaven advised students to make their bed upon waking, and to do it well.  You can be proud of completing this simple task, and it can be a reflection of the work you do further on throughout your day.  Click here for the speech.  The make-your-bed advice starts at about 4:40.


I usually can’t make my bed right after waking…because Matilda and my dog Jackson are still sleeping there.  But I do appreciate the idea, and I come back a little later in the morning to complete this.  It also reveals to me that we are all very different in how we do things at home…so there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to mornings.  Some enjoy coffee while others take tea.  We can all find our own habits that lead us to a successful day, and employ them upon waking.  


Here are some ideas that have been working for me:


You Snooze You Lose – I’ve battle with the snooze button for years, and whenever I press it, I feel guilty, like I’m losing, and that I’m not supposed to be doing it.  Instead of smashing that snooze, I turn the alarm off and take a deep, cleansing, mindful breath.  It’s like a soft signal to the rest of my body that I’m going to get up now.  I also feel and think

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she’s totally snoozing!

about appreciation during that breath.  I might be considering how fortunate I am to get another day, or cherishing the fact that Matilda and I will somehow grow today, or simply smiling and coveting the first moment that is only mine…this breath is all happiness, all love.  Part of my ability to find this happiness, is the fact that I really love my mornings now.  So I’m looking forward to getting downstairs and starting with my day.  It used to be grumpiness and negativity and why so early and 10 more minutes.  It took some searching and practice to get to where I am now, but I’m actually surprised at how making a few small changes has led to such an awesome awakening.

 

 

Early Bird Gets the Worm – Wake up earlier.  It’s that simple.  This is somewhat related to not smashing the snoozer button, but it’s also about just setting an earlier wake time goal. Sleeping a little bit longer and then waking up to rush through tasks mindlessly, leaves you feeling chaotic…and success within whatever you do will be fleeting.  It’s similar to driving fast.  You’re more stressed, under more pressure, and not being mindful of all of your moves. I’m currently waking at 4:45am, and I’m working toward 4:30am.  For a while, I would sleep as long as I possible could, and hope that Matilda would also sleep late…waking when she would get up.  But I found that I could rise early, and have about an hour to just invest in myself.  I can’t stress enough how beneficial this has been.  Waking up early, and feeling that you’re up before most others can give you a sense of accomplishment, regardless of what you actually accomplish.  You’re already ahead!


The Elixir of Life – Before you go straight to the coffee pot, hydrate yourself a little.  You’re body has gone without food or water since bedtime.  Don’t immediately take in coffee, which is a diuretic. Gulp down a half glass of water or so.  Similar to the deep breath I take upon waking, I like to think of this bit of water as another signal to my body to start up again…also as a lubricant to all of the systems in the body…or a swell to the river that delivers nutrients throughout.  Then I go to the coffee.  I make and set up my coffee maker the night before, and have it brew at the same time as my alarm clock will go off.  That way, it’s one more sound to help wake me, and I can actually smell the coffee from my bedroom…which is just the best!   Sometimes between the water and coffee, I take a shot of what I call the Elixir of Life.  A tumbler glass is best for this.  Squeeze the juice from half of an organic lemon in. Add a spoon full of honey (from your zip code is best…or from your own bees!).  Then add cinnamon.  This drink has many benefits.  I’m not sure what any of those benefits are, other than the fact that it is ‘invigorating’.  By the way, when did you last do something that was truly invigorating? 


Breathe – Find some sort of mindfulness or meditation practice that works best for you.  I have a large window that faces east…and that faces a large corn field, allowing me to take in a far off horizon.  It feels great to sit on the floor near this window, with the sun on my face. Depending on the time of year, and when I actually decide to sit, I can be present during a sunrise.  It feels like the sun strengthens me for the day.  I haven’t done the research on this either, but I know some that struggle with depression can be prescribed more sun.  I think it raises levels of serotonin.  Whatever it does, it feels good.  I spend 10-15 minutes just focusing on my breath here.  I have two analogies for meditation.  One, is that it is like doing a cleanse on the mind.  It removes cancerous deposits, distractions, junk, filler, useless stuff, and allows all systems to function in harmony.  My other analogy is more techy.  Meditation is like a disc clean up and defragmentation of the mind.  That works right?  


Lead and Paper – Write in a journal.  There are many methods for this that can be helpful. I’ve been simply writing the date and then a few sentences about how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking about.  I also use it to wish happiness on someone else for the day (See a previous post here for more on this).  You never know…you might be the one I’m wishing for!  Then I write down 2 or 3 things I want to get done or focus on that day.  I took this from Leo Babauta.  He calls them M.I.T’s, or Most Important Tasks.  By connecting these M.I.T.’s to goals that you have, you’ll make sure to complete objectives along your journey.  Use a real pencil. Find some extraordinary stationary (can those two words go together?).  And just write.


Move – Run, do yoga, pushups and situps, cleans and presses, handstands, ride your bike. Find something fun that get’s your juices flowing. When training or exercising in the early morning, a great motivating factor is the feeling that you’ve completed a workout and showered before anyone is even awake.  Do it!


Cold – I’ve taken hot hot showers for almost all of my life.  From time to time, I would cool it off at the end just a bit.  This winter though, I came to love COLD showers.  I don’t mean a little cool.  I call it 9 o’clocking because my shower control is at it’s absolute coldest when it’s in the 9 o’clock position.  If you haven’t tried this…you have to.  Shower as you would regularly, but about halfway through, shift your faucet to about half cold – half hot.  This will feel pretty cold.  But that’s nothing.  When you’re all rinsed of soap and conditioner, turn your faucet to the absolute coldest setting.  Just commit to it.  You’ll thank me later.  Put your head directly under the water and start there.  Once your head is almost frozen, make sure your entire body gets sprayed with the icy stuff.  No joke, the first time I tried this, I laughed out loud uncontrollably.  After doing this?  You’ll feel like a beast, and that there is nothing you can’t do that day.  And…it will be the second invigorating thing you’ll have done before other’s have started their day!  


Try some of these and comment on your experience below!  And by the way, thanks so much for reading this far!



Music:  The band Amber Run put their instruments down for this great collaboration with the London Contemporary Voices choral group.  It’s majestic.  Click here for it!


All Love!

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