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!

FinalSignature

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:

1percent.jpg

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

 

sandwiches and kids

Jimmy 12

 

modeling good behavior has 10x the influence of all that talking, the kids are watching’   emailsig

 

How do we make good behaviors stick with our children?  I’ve been ‘head down’ focused on this a lot lately.  I have a 4 year old.  There are constantly new behaviors bubbling up…good and bad.  I’m doing my best to be really aware…noticing what’s working, and what’s not on the parenting front.

 

Model.  First and foremost, I’ll say that I continue to be amazed at how much my daughter notices my behavior…and how important it is for me to model the good stuff.  All the research backs this up as well.  Your child is watching what you do more than listening to what you say.

To me, it seems that modeling good behavior has 10x the influence of all that talking.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m communicating and explaining and clarifying all the time.  It’s just that the old adage, ‘actions speak louder than words’ is the truth.  We can’t tell our child to walk away from a fight if they watch us bump chests and instigate.

Honey over Vinegar. When we do talk, it’s so important to focus on our children’s strengths…not their weaknesses.  All too often, parents are hounding on the mistakes, over-talking the accidents, and holding their child back from their full potential.  For the most part, once an individual knows that a mistake was made, and the message to ‘try not to do that again’ is conveyed…all the extra, negative reinforcement is just that.  Obviously, each situation is unique, and the severity of the behavior needs to be considered.  For the everyday ‘small stuff’ though, keep the glass half full.

Focusing on the good behaviors, has such a refreshing and compounding effect.  By taking the extra time to really look your child in the eyeballs, and tell them again how kind and caring that desired behavior was,  you’ll continue to invite more of it.

Last week, my daughter exhibited some really good awareness and empathy surrounding a best friend that was having some trouble.  She actually asked a separate friend to run and get something that would help the situation…then, they all figured it out together.  I was so happy and proud about this, and almost couldn’t believe that my 4 year old constructed this.  But instead of just thinking about this, or telling my peers, I’ve deliberately paused with Matilda, grabbed her attention, looked her in the eye, and explained how and why that was such a great thing for her to do.  I’ve actually done it twice to really let her know that this is the good stuff.

Sandwiching.  While focusing on the strengths and good behaviors, we can really make it stick by ‘sandwiching’ the experience with pre-teaching and reflection.  Before our child is exposed to something, it’s good to get a bug in their ear first.  This can give that little message that, ‘oh…dad told me that this might happen.’  It doesn’t necessarily mean that our child won’t make a mistake.  In fact, we actually want them to make the mistake…it will help expedite the learning process and mitigate the effect of the ego. Yes!  I used ‘expedite’ and ‘mitigate’ in the same sentence!  So rewarding.

Our pre-teaching is also a trust-building practice, illustrating to our children that we do know a little something, and have been around the block a few times.

Now, this behavior that took place with my daughter wasn’t something that I necessarily could have planned for.  I mean, I do talk about empathy and kindness with her, but the actual details of the event were too particular to pre-teach.  I have to give myself some credit though, in that I have put effort into conversations surrounding helping others, and why that matters.

I think parents are too hard on themselves.  I think they need to realize that they are much more than the sum of their parts.

With a more typical experience approaching in the future, parents can really hone in on the related behaviors.

If a best friend is coming over for a play date, we can relay the message to our child that the friend will want to use all of the toys.  Sharing is going to come up.  Let’s do that…huh?

Then, as we all know, our child will rip something from their besties’ innocent little paws.  Crying and arguing may commence…and we should really do our best to let this play out…to see what kind of results are reached…to allow problems to be solved.  This is the socialization that we’re hoping for.  And boy, will these same issues come up more and more as they age.  Let them work it out if possible!  It’s ok if feelings get hurt…we learn a lot when we find ourselves in unwanted emotional states.  Again, this is within reason.

Remember though, we have to use the ‘reflection’ piece after the experience takes place.  This can’t be while your kid is on the tablet, or watching a show  It can’t be during the actual argument that they just had with their friend either.  This is best done after some time has passed, once the friend has gone home…or during a break in the action.

Eye contact is key.  Deliberate, honest words presented with love and care.  Not judgment and belittlement.  Think support and education and growth…not placement and insults and punishment.

There can be an ‘I told you so’ aspect to this reflection piece, because you actually did tell them so in the pre-teaching phase…ugh, the nerve!  As much as you may want to use this…don’t.  The lesson will naturally come to them through your discussion of what transpired.  This reflection can build trust as well, depending on how you handle it.  Let it be positive, bucket filling, and hold good karma.  It’s not measurable, and it may return in unforeseen manifestations…but boy, does it matter.

Remember, after all this talking to your kid about the practice of letting others use their stuff, your child will be 10x more influenced by how you yourself actually share and help others.

How are you doing with that?

All love!

Jimmy Thorpe

emailsig