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

walk the walk

-actions speak louder than words

 

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Something that I’m currently working on…is putting everything I’ve got into providing opportunities and love and lessons to my child, while also balancing it with continuing to dream and wonder and strive for my own self.  We all want the best for our children, or that’s what we say at least. What’s hard to focus on though, is the fact that they are watching what we’re doing, more than they’re hearing what we tell them.  

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Just like the best way to teach empathy to our children is to model empathy in front of them…the best way to teach doing is to actually model it.  If you want your child to try hard and give their best effort, you can tell them how you want them to do that, and the benefits that come from it…or you can get 10x the results by exposing them to areas where you give your best effort…to show them how hard you really try in certain areas.  Then, you can reflect on how maybe you were uncertain about how your work would pay off, how difficult it was at times, how you wanted to quit but didn’t for many reasons, how good you feel about yourself now, and how you can now be very proud about what you created through that hard work.  Do you see the difference?

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The modeling gives the child incredible context within the situation.  It illustrates for them that ‘this is what we do’ as a family. It becomes contagious to do, to execute.  It becomes an expectation to follow your dreams.  But not in a negative ‘you better do this or else’ way…it comes across as a message of ‘mom and dad want the best for themselves and for you.  Let’s together, try to get that for each other!’

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Consider the child that is only told that ‘the world is yours, you can do anything you set your mind to’.  It’s really meaningless and holds no weight. They need to taste it…see it in action.  They need examples, but not only from seemingly enigmatic figures like Lebron James and Taylor Swift.  Those models are awesome too. But they need it in house, smaller scale, everyday…from mom and dad.

All Love!

FinalSignature

 

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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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