I spend a lot of time at the white board during my workshops trying to get people to see the connections. All too often, I feel that people want me to tell them to do “Five Sets of Eight” versus “Eight sets of Five.” I want something more, of course, I want you and yours to realize that a decision made “here” and a choice there impacts you health, fitness and longevity.
My favorite workshop remains the “Work-Rest-Play-Pray” diagram that I learned in the Second Grade. Not long ago, I gave a presentation where I referenced this, just for a second, and a woman came up after and said that I always talk about the same thing and she had heard this at Charles Staley’s bootcamp years ago.
Well, good for you. You should have listened the first time. Yes, it upset my frail ego to hear that as, to be honest, there is NOTHING more important in this field of strength, fitness and conditioning than the connections between your training and your life.
Certainly, on Goal Setting, it is always going to be about Point A to Point B. I have been writing about this recently on this blog and I worry, in hindsight, that many of you will think I am just about the goal. At the end of this blog, I will include the selection from “From Dad to Grad” where I address this in more detail, but actually I believe that true goal setting is more like a tapestry.
Years ago, sitting through FOUR YEARS of four hours of class EVERY Sunday, my good friend, Deacon Joe Courmier leaned over during our discussion and said to me: “Life is more like a tapestry.” A thread here and a thread there and when they all come together, you see something beautiful. Each of one’s goals is like one of the threads: if all you have is a single thread, it is going to be hard for you to keep the sun out or the warmth in. If your goals don’t connect at some level, your tapestry, your life, is going to be a jumble.
And, a jumbled life can be fine. I have several friends who have told me that they “don’t need a lot of friends” and then go on to talk about how this guy was a loser and that guy a jerk. They don’t need friends, reunions, community, or time wasters. Then, they wonder why no one visits or invites them to things. Like your health, relationships are only missed when you don’t have them.
After rereading (rererereading) Steve Ilg’s amazing book, Total Body Transformation: A 3-Month Personal Fitness Prescription For a Strong, Lean Body and a Calmer Mind, a little point popped up that I can’t believe I missed. The word “Fit” comes from the Old Norse word for “Knit” or “Knit together.” Yoga comes from the word “yoke” or “union” or “tie together,” so I thought that was interesting. But, then I remembered that “religion” means “to link back,” from the same tree as the word ligament means connective tissue.
It all connects. (Pun intended) True fitness, true yoga and true religion should all enhance your life…in all of its pathways. The fitter I become, the more knitted I become, the more beautiful my tapestry. I should strive for knitted, linked and united in my training principles and my life vision.
When I tell people that correct training should make you a better parent or spouse, I am not joking. As I grow in strength, I should also grow in compassion. Many have spoken about the strength needed to be kind and I can only applaud along side of this statement.
As I work and think about “Managing Compromises” versus “Managing Options,” I have a greater and greater clarity about the need for things like “true” fitness, a fitness that reflects a person being fit in all areas of life. Certainly, there are going to be those in certain times of life, and certain occupations, that there is going to be a short term choice where you let one area of life get out of balance.
Now, I have often argued that when you can see an area of life getting out of balance, it is not necessary to cut it back like the green grass on the lawn. Rather, you can do like I did back when I took on another job years ago as a college instructor: I decided to deal with my increase in work, but increasing my rest and play. I bought a hot tub! It turned out to be one of the wisest investments of my life. Tiffini and I had long conversations with a glass of wine in the tub discussing life, the universe and everything.
The harder I worked, the more time I put into the hot tub! Maybe for you it is not a hot tub or not a hot tub decision. If it is simply a case of “Managing Options,” find the one that works for you. If you are in Quadrant Two, ( If you don’t understand this, read the book!, you need to optimize every aspect of life for as long as you can.
So, fitness and religion are intertwined. It shouldn’t be a shock for some of you as a quick read of some internet sites gives the flavor of a cult. There are believers and heretics, the elite and the vanquished. Sadly, these sites often also tend to believe their own crap at a level that makes the oddest of religious beliefs seem pretty tame in comparison.
So, take some time to map out your strategies in every thread of your life. Yes, a big bench press is noble and good, but what about all those other aspects of this big event we call “life?”
I keep promising SteveO that I am going to talk about Etching in this blog…next time!!!
On Successful Failure and Failing Success
Most people are going to miss the point here, so let me start off by reminding myself that most people miss the point of anything related to success anyway, so I shouldn’t worry too much about most people missing the point.
The point? Well, you will have to bear with me a little bit, but the basic idea is
this: sometimes, NOT getting a goal or a dream spurs people into making a greater
impact on the world in general than fulfilling that goal or dream. And, the reverse is true,
too: getting that dream can just flatten a person out for years to come.
I have known a lot of College English Majors who spend four years writing their
own work in Creative Writing and poetry classes and never write another essay as long as
they live. They may spend hours red penning in semi-colons and the words “transitive
verb” above a student’s paper, but never again write a composition. They attained the
degree…and stopped writing.
Many athletes sweat and fight for four years of high school to get a scholarship to
college, then quit the first weeks of college practice often because “it doesn’t mean
anything” to them.
Mark Twight, the author of “Kiss or Kill,” and one of the world’s foremost
mountain climbers, noted the same thing at my dinner table not long ago. Faced with a
decision to keep climbing and probably die on Mount Everest or to come back to base
camp, he came back down. But, he noted, he learned far more from this failure than
would have from succeeding.
In a sense, success can dilute the lessons of life. No, I am not telling you to fail; it
is just that success seems to prod most people into rethinking their attempts, their
journey, their path.
Joseph Campbell commented on this several times regarding the fact that the most
renowned person in Comparative Religion never got his doctorate. No, Joseph Campbell
chose not to do it and often encouraged his students to not go on either. He also warned
them of getting buttonholed in a job that stopped them from exploring all the directions
that life presented them. He noted that people who earned their terminal degree and were
next appointed to their dream job often “flattened” out. Much like Earl Nightingale
warned us: “A rut is a grave with the ends kicked out.”
Every four years, the world turns it attention for a few weeks to the Olympic
sports. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that one of the worst kept secrets of
Olympic sports is how many of the athletes quit…in fact, they can barely stomach to
think about it…their sport after the Olympics. Even gold medalists abandon the pool,
track, field, and court. After all the sacrifice and pain, “here is your medal, thank you
very much, next!” just doesn’t seem to fulfill the athlete as much as the dreams of victory
Those who fail to make their goals turn to coaching, writing or other forms to
continue expressing their goals in other mediums. Or, they take those lessons learned and
parlay them into a successful life…but, they don’t just drop them and walk away.
Now, I’m not encouraging failure, nor the initiating of a “culture of failure.” I
coached football at Judge Memorial Catholic High School for a long time and I realized a
very unsettling thing: when we began losing games, my athletes were getting more out of
losing than winners did from winning.
When you win a game, as I had the good fortune to win many playing for South
San Francisco High School, the team goes into the locker room and before you untie your
shoes, the coach is talking about next week. The total amount of celebration in a winning
locker room…for true winners…is often not very much!
But, the losers, the losers have hugs, tears, kisses, long speeches…usually from
the prettiest girls. While the victors are thinking of yet another week on the grindstone,
the losers are being cuddled and caressed back to a smile. Okay, I exaggerated, but not a
Don’t let success flatten you nor let failure let you join the “Loser’s Club.” Learn
from failure, enjoy it if you can, but plug along