Yes, Even Parenting is a Q Activity!

As I swim deeper into the depths of the Quadrants, and if don’t know them, you can find more by viewing “Intervention,” I’m amazed to realize that these tools also carry into the real world. I have been using this simple model to work on things from teaching arousal control to athletes to understanding the impact on diet for most people.

It invites enthusiasm. Today, at breakfast, Chris Frankl, a good friend and the man who introduced me to TRX and the Rip Trainer, opened my brain about something I hadn’t even considered with the Quads: parenting. Now, don’t run off if you don’t have kids as I think the concepts here tie into just about anything in life.

I have discussed the notion of “Managing Options” versus “Managing Compromises” before here on this blog. At this site, you can also hear me talk about this in a goal setting vision. The hardest thing to get across is that something like Fat Loss is very simple. Here is my two-part formula:

Diets:
Atkins
Paleo
Maker’s Diet
Ornish
Weight Watchers
Jenny Craig
Fill in the Blank

Now: Pick ONE!

Exercise programs:
Bike
Walk
Zumba
Lift
Cross Country Ski
Fill in the blank

Now: Pick One!

Every diet works and the research is pretty clear about that. Also, every exercise program works, too. Now, I tend to recommend that you find an exercise program, for fat loss, that you are not very good at. Recently, I bought a very cool bicycle, a Panama Jack, which is basically a bottle opener with a bike attached. It has a beer holder, cushy seats, and weighs a lot. If I ride ten miles on it, it’s a workout. If I go the same distance with a million dollar racer, Lycra pants and shaved legs? I wouldn’t break a sweat. Good fat loss work is all about inefficient movements. As you master something, you have to have the courage to look elsewhere for training. I’m sure that drinking beer and riding a bike is illegal somewhere, but it is also very inefficient for both drinking beer and riding a bike.

And, I have bored everyone with my other favorite in QIII (Few Qualities at a Relatively Low Level), the discus. But, like fat loss, it comes down to two things: technique and strength.

Technique (Pick One!)
Utah State Technique (L. Jay Silvester’s wide leg, big finish)
Linear Style (John Powell’s tight start)
East German (Big and wide, but no reverse)

Strength Training (Pick One!)

Olympic Lift
Power Lift
Combine those two somehow
Strongman/Highland Games
Power Body Building

Now, get in your 10,000 throws a year and get your Bench Press over 400, Snatch over 250, Clean over 300 and Squat over 450 and you will be fine. This sounds odd, but that’s it!

QIII is all about Managing Options. I spend much of my time working with people in Quadrant II, the collision sports and collision occupations. Sadly, in a way, I also sign Non-Disclosure Agreements to do this, so I can’t give a lot of specifics, but I can talk about some things.

As you can imagine, a football player or elite Special Forces guy has to come to the party with a lot of gifts. Don’t ignore genetics either as I am too short and too slow to play in the NFL and I was usually the biggest and fastest guy at most parties in college. It takes a lot of “special” to make it at the top end of QII. Training, then, is going to be a matter of “Managing Compromises.” I have been told that this whole notion might make a good presentation to CEOs or politicians. Harry S Truman understood this with his famous desk plaque: “The buck stops here.” If you ever wish to lose your mind, be in charge of something involving money and other humans.

Years ago, I was taken to task by a woman I worked with because I was housing the speakers for an event at the Airport Hilton. I had a long list of good reasons to do this including the fact that the place had really gone the extra mile for me about several big details. But, the Hilton wasn’t “this,” “that,” and “this.” What this idiot didn’t know is that I had just hung up the phone with Tiffini, my wife, who was still stuck in New York days after 9/11 and couldn’t get home. The fact that I didn’t kill this idiot reflects my education, my patience, and my inability to find something lethal quickly enough.
Just picking a place to house speakers for an event is an exercise in managing compromises. I get frustrated dealing with people who will tag on some helpful advice at the end of a project. My phrase is “More blue.” I always imagine coming into the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo losing his vision from the paint on the top of the scaffolds and yelling up, “Hey, more blue!”

This is the frustration that hiring, firing, guiding, leading and cajoling people to do their jobs is all about.

If you don’t understand frustration here is my answer: have kids. My wife and I always joke about raising children is like “being pecked to death by ducks.” The greatest insight of my life, then…to circle back, happened at breakfast today. I think Tiff and I naturally gravitated from raising children as Managing Compromises to Managing Options.

Both of our careers exploded at the same time. Tiff was going to be on the road for up to three of four weeks a month and I was teaching at the college and had a full-time job. Our solution was NOT to become soccer moms and ballet dads for our girls. We know we couldn’t handle the stress of here, there and here each day as we shuttled our poor daughters from one overpriced club or experience to another. We did two things: one, we came up with a menu, and, two, we came up with a chores list.

The Menu:

Monday: Steak, Salad (and Champagne)
Tuesday: Viking Enchiladas
Wednesday: Irish Jambalaya
Thursday: Breakfast for Dinner
Friday: Hang and Graze with our Friends
Saturday: Open (family meal usually)
Sunday: Whatever was on sale or cool at the store.

Shopping was simple, cooking was easy, and life was even easier. When we got it right, we arrived home to the smell of dinner after a long day and nobody argued about what we were going to eat. Was it perfect? No, but we eliminated fast foods (a lot of the time), finicky eating and waiting for dinner to get cooked. God Bless crock pots, timed ovens and places that sell meat in bulk.

We also had chores list. This is something I only realized how wonderful it was in hindsight:
Monday: Dark Laundry
Tuesday: White Laundry
Wednesday: Bathrooms
Thursday: Garbage
Friday: Nothing special
Saturday: Bedroom and Living Rooms
Each day also had a “Walk through” where every member of the family was expected to put “their” stuff away. We also cleaned the kitchen and swept nightly, but that was minor.

The upside of this is that I could walk past a full hamper of clothes six of the seven days a week and shrug it off. “That’s for Monday.” Housecleaning rarely took more than a few minutes and since dinner was already ready, it was a rare night that the chore wasn’t finished, dinner eaten, and all the dishes put away by seven.

Which led us to…the million dollar answer! The school, SFX, had a nice program called “Turn off the TV Week.” Friends of ours decided that this should extend throughout the school year: No TV on school nights!

We adopted this, too. We played a lot of Yahtzee, read a lot of books, played a lot of volleyball, rode bikes, walked the dog, laughed a lot and went to bed early for years. TV was simply NOT an option. When Kelly was a sophomore she asked if her bedtime could be extended a bit. We, of course, agreed, but Tiff and I had never established one. Without TV, our girls had grown up going to bed early as they didn’t have these artificial half hour or hour-long reasons to stay up.

I think that Managing Options is the key to easing parenting. I’m not telling anyone what to do, but I think that anytime you can slide something complex and hard to sort out over into Managing Options versus Managing Compromises, life eases.

I know this is a strength blog, but this is the most undervalued skill I know. I am including a page from an old Strength and Health about Percy Cerutty (who has my copy of “Training with Cerutty?,” by the way) where he admits that his beloved Cheat Curl might not be the best, but asks for a better option. I love this point.

Great Stuff from Percy


In other words, do something now and don’t wait for perfection later.

  • http://www.kettlebellzen.com Tom Foley

    A roadmap for Easy Strength…and now for my family. With three growing boys, it’s great to have information from someone who is ahead on the path. We implemented the “No-TV,” & “other screens” during school night. Meals have been a tougher road to hoe. Need to get more discipline in that area. Great stuff DJ!

  • Brandon

    Oh, so doing a little bit of chores everyday works better then doing all of them in one miserable day. Nice to know I don’t have to hate 50% of the weekend. Also, I know what the genetic gifts are for foot ball but what about the elite Special Forces guys? Are they more predisposed towards endurance? Or is the advantage psychological? Or can you not answer that question?

  • Brian

    Great post….From knowing a few elite SF guys I would say that they exactly what Dan says they are. Quadrant 2. High levels of strength, power, endurance & mental fortitude. One of my friends could bench 2x his body weight one day and then competiviely run a 50 mile race the next day…and he did the race with a knee injury (lots of pain). I know 2x bw isn’t huge, but it’s “strong enough”.

  • http://www.trxtraining.com C Frankel

    It is always a great meal and better insights when spent with Dan. Having three girls and several acquired children ranging from 6 to 24 only confirms the fact Strength and Conditioning goes far beyond the weight room, field or court – if are living right you are training right.

  • Matthias

    I’m not sure if I read this right. Did you give said menu and chores list to your kids or was it for you?
    In other words: Were / Are they cooking / cleaning for you or not?
    If yes: What kind of age are we talking about here?

  • Maria Taylor

    Hey Dan, I love this post! Very insightful words. I recently put up a copy of the Desiderata in the downstairs bathroom (I reckon thats where I might get a few mins to myself to actually read something while hiding from my children!) – I think if you live by the advice given in that poem, you’re onto a winner. Hope you and Tiff are busy planning your next trip to Éire!

  • http://danjohn.net Dan John

    Ah, Maria:
    And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

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