Author Archive for john

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Addition by Subtraction

May 24, 2015

In January I read a book titled ‘Do Less’ – It was a random book I picked up in Urban Outfitters. Sara was looking at clothes and I was looking at all the awesomely cool, totally useless stuff they tend to have on displays there and that book caught my eye.

The main thing I took away from the book was on the concept of the 80/20 principle which says that 20% of your actions produce 80% of your results. This also applies to the clothes you wear, the websites you look at, pretty much everything.

Since then myself and Sara have gradually been getting rid of all the crap we don’t need. Coupled with me realizing more and more that I have no attachment or sentiment towards anything material has been extremely freeing.  During one of our chats Sara asked me if there was a fire in the house and I only had time to grab one thing what would it be? I said it would be my parachute as it’s the most valuable thing to me but even with that I had an accident a week later and my canopy was totaled and I simply ordered another one. Everything material is replaceable. We’ve gradually reduced our kitchen to 4 cups, plates, and bowls, donated countless bags of clothes, shoes, and the process continues.

One thing of pride for me has been my library of books. I have a really high value on self education and growing up I never considered myself very smart as I did shit in school. I later realized that it had nothing to do with my intelligence, just that I wasn’t interested in the crap they were trying to get me to memorize in school so I could ‘fit in and get a good job’ and all that.
Over the past five and a half years I’ve been building my library and it’s currently over 150 books. Being surrounded by books has been very empowering for me over the years and building my library was something I took pride in. Seeing as I rarely have guests over at my place this was something just for me. I loved just having books everywhere, looking at the piles I’ve read over the years and how they have shaped my life gave me a sense of accomplishment but I now realize that I don’t need that validation anymore.
I’ve been educating myself more and more as the years have gone on. In 2013 I had a goal of reading 1 book per month and ended up reading 13 in the year. I remember that being a real struggle for me and this year I’ve already read 17.

It’s time to let go of my attachment to these objects.

To be free from suffering, free yourself from attachments. – Buddha

In the pic below I have 65 books ready to be donated. I still have 91 on the shelf and I’m reading 4 at the moment. I’ll gradually get rid of them, or give them to people to read who I think would benefit from them.

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It’s just stuff.

You owe it to yourself

May 20, 2015

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I think you should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a mans living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. - Into The Wild

The above passage strikes a deep cord with me. The ‘quest for more‘ is something I’ve been battling with my whole life – while it used to revolve around establishing a certain status or attaining certain objects it’s now about attaining more freedom.

 

Sara recently had a conversation with a local mechanic and a simple oil change resulted in a pretty deep conversation.
He said to her at one point ‘something is missing, all I do is go to work everyday then come home and go to sleep. If it weren’t for Sunday I would never know what day of the week it was.‘ I found this surprising at first as I viewed the guy as being someone living with purpose, doing what he loved everyday but now I wonder if his smiles and helpfulness is all just a mask on how he truly feels.

 

I wonder how many other people live their lives like this. Wishing, hoping, dreaming of a day that things will be different.For most, this day may never arrive and their lives will melt away seemingly in the blink of an eye.
I cannot imagine a worse fate. To just punch the clock everyday and coast along.

 

While I was in high school all I wanted was to get to college and while I was in college all I wanted was to get to working and when I started working full time I started wanting to get to retirement. This all came from cultural conditioning. Put your head down and follow instructions, memorize this shit you don’t care about,follow the crowd, and ‘someday’ everything will be ok.Never once did someone of ‘authority’ say to me: ‘find out what makes you happy and follow your dreams’. Why is that?

 

The illusion that things will be better in the future if you keep your head down and play it safe is a travesty.
If you find something you love or embark on a quest that is ‘your life’s mission‘ so to speak that is entirely different but conforming and restraining your beliefs and dreams because you think that’s what you are supposed to do is what I’m talking about here. When you get to where you think you want to be there will just be another place in front of you and the chase begins again. Either that or you get stuck in a never ending cycle of doing the same thing day in, day out for 20 years and life passes you by.

 

Take a minute and look around you. Is what you are doing today leading you to where you would like to be in 10, 20 years? If it is then great, but if it’s not then understand that you have a choice, you can do something else.

 

That choice, and resulting decisions will upset a lot of those around you because if you are stuck you are likely around people who are also stuck, and they will project their own fears upon you.

 

You owe it to yourself to embark on the adventure you’ve been waiting for, putting off, or are afraid to pursue. It’s your life, and you are the only one that has control.

Do you already have what you are looking for?

May 2, 2015

The Fisherman and The Businessman

A very successful businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The businessman complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied with a wide grin across his face and explains that he only fishes for about three hours every day.

Dumbfounded, the businessman asked the fisherman why he didn’t stay out longer and continue catching more fish. “You aren’t going to catch many fish that way,” said the businessman, “you should be working harder and catch more fish!”

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The businessman then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time?

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos; after that I’ll relax on the beach sir.”

Now the rich businessman figures he needs to teach this fisherman a thing or two. He scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”

“But what then, sir?” asked the fisherman.

A little irritated with the fisherman’s question, the businessman replied, “Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor and eventually open your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But sir, how long will this all take?” To which the businessman replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, sir?”

Getting angrier, the businessman raised his voice, “When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”

“Millions, sir? Then what?”

Now the businessman was red with rage and yelled, “Don’t you understand that you can become so rich that you will never have to work for your living again! You would then retire and move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos. You won’t have a care in the world!”

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up, nodded and said, “And what do you think I am doing now?”

The fisherman then looked at the blue sea, with his pole in the water, without a care in the world.

This story can really hit home.

Are you doing things in your life to someday earn the life you want? Or do you already have it within your grasp?

In the quest to better ourselves we can get lost in asking ourself the question – What do I really want?

Sometimes reduction is the key to progress.

A man is rich in proportion to the things he can let alone – Thoreau

April in Review

May 1, 2015

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4 months down already – hard to believe. April was awesome for me. 3 Trips, lots of jumping, and lots of learning.
Spiritual/Mental

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Still consistent at getting up early and reading. Even while away I was able to maintain this schedule and it’s almost as consistent as eating breakfast at this point.
Finished 3 books this month bringing my total to 15 for the year so far.

->What to do when it’s your turn [and it’s always your turn] – Seth Godin
Seth has ben a source of constant inspiration to me for the past five years or so. Whenever he releases a new book I buy it immediately and usually start it right away regardless of what other books I happen to be in the middle of at the time.

His books all revolve around similar themes of: picking yourself, sharing your art, allowing yourself to fail, taking responsibility, building a following, learning a new skill, helping someone who needs you, and just being who you are.

This book is about taking your turn, not waiting for it.

I remember my dad telling me a long time ago- “The more shit you take, the more you’ll get. If you want something done go out and do it yourself!” – These words have helped me many times over the years.

While I believe that the majority of Seth’s books contain very similar content I also believe that ‘repetition is the mother of all skills‘ and if I want to keep my mind focussed on all the above ideas then the information needs to constantly be refreshed and reworded so it becomes a part of me.
If you just ‘let things happen’ the world will have its way with you. Daring to ‘make things happen’ is far more rewarding.

-> All Marketers Tell Stories – Seth Godin

I’d started and stopped this one countless times over the past few years but finally finished it. This one revolves around the stories consumers tell themselves about the products they purchase. Everything is about perceived value – not necessarily if a particular product is actually better than another. We sell things by the story we tell ourselves about them. A lot of people buy things for the way it makes them feel, not the actual performance. Driving a particular car, buying your groceries at a certain store, wearing certain clothes etc all give you a certain status externally, and a story to go along with it.

This was a cool book to put some things in perspective for me within the gym and made we think about what ‘kind of story’ we are telling and how our customers feel about it.

Going off topic and getting more personal on this level I feel that if one were to look at my gyms and their growth one could make the analogy which is similar to a client starting their journey with us. They come in not really knowing what they want, or where they want to go and gradually, rep by rep, week after week, month after month, their vision becomes clearer and their goals more specific.
We make mistakes, learn from them, and continue on the path – all with the goal of never ending improvement.

I believe our story to be one of discovery, and I’m confident that will continue.

-> Coaching for Breakthrough Success – Canfield & Chee

I picked this up right after finishing the Success Principles last month. This is an extremely valuable one for coaches and I bought an extra copy of it for my staff to read. It gives a ton of specific strategies to help clients get clear on what they want, and how to assist them in the development of their goals.

I’ve read and personally written a bunch in the past about how asking questions is the key to uncovering what people really want. It’s common for coaches to jump to a prescription too quickly and this book is an awesome manual outlining how to not do that and how to guide your clients towards what they want vs just telling them what you think they should or shouldn’t be doing.
Everyone is different – goals, current life situation, previous experience, etc – EVERYTHING
So many things need to be taken into consideration.

Even if you are not a coach or have no intention of ever becoming one I think this is a valuable read as theres a lot of things you can apply personally to your own goals.

I’ve also started to learn Italian. I was out to dinner at a mexican restaurant with some friends recently and one of my boys ordered and chatted with the waitress in Spanish which impressed me like crazy. I drilled him with questions afterwards and was shocked that he fluently speaks 4 languages and is learning 2 or 3 more. I told him that it was a life goal of mine to learn Spanish and he shared with me the programs and techniques he’s found most useful. I say it’s a life goal but I’ve really taken no action in doing it other than putting a picture on my Vision board to add to the things I’ll ‘eventually’ get to. I told him I was going to get on it right away but he swayed me to learn Italian first as he and I are going there for 2 weeks in June. I downloaded one of the programs he recommended as soon as I got home and I’ve been listening to the tapes every day on the way to and from work and while walking the dog. Living in America it’s far more useful to be able to speak Spanish but it makes sense given the trip. I’ll learn as much as I can over the next month and likely start Spanish when I get back.

BASE

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This month I had the privilege of interning for the second time as a BASE Instructor. My mentor flew me out to Twin Falls all expenses paid to help out with his Fundamentals Course. It was an awesome 5 days. I didn’t jump much myself (5 in 5 days) but that wasn’t the purpose of the trip. There is a crazy amount of things to learn when getting into the world of BASE and it involves A LOT of theory and preparation as well as physical participation. The days were long (16-20 hours on average) and filled with every emotion possible. Each time I go out there I learn a little more and I’m confident that will continue. I’m not sure on any direction I want to take being an Instructor, I have to intern at least once more before officially getting on staff but I’m going to roll with the process and allow myself to be pulled by my constant desire to learn and share with all who are interested.
In tandem with that trip I went out to Twin again with my local crew for a few days of jumps. Really fun time. I didn’t do anything too crazy or progressive skill wise, just focussed on nailing my exits and getting as consistent as possible. As I said above – repetition is the mother of all skill. I think I ended up getting 14 jumps in 4 days.

There is so much up and down in BASE and this month there were a lot of road blocks that prevented me from jumping. Over the course of two weeks week I went out 7 times  and only jumped once – Climbed several hundred feet 3 times and climbed back down because of winds, got a migraine on the way to one jump, and one morning I was driving to go jump at 3am before work and got stuck in traffic and missed my time window. Crazy to think there is traffic at 3am!
As I told my boys, its all part of the game, and if you want to be a jumper in New England you just have to deal with all that stuff as part of the game.

People think we are crazy and reckless but we are probably a lot more careful than you would imagine – It’s all about calculated risks and knowing when to walk to away – That’s key to longevity in the sport.

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Physical
My training this month revolved around a lot of hiking and bodyweight stuff. I’m gradually trying to shift my bodies make up to be a little more enduring so I can make the long days of jumping and less frequent meals a little more managable. Over the past few weeks I’ve been hiking with a weighted backpack (approx 20lbs) and wearing it every day when  I walk my dog.

I’ve also started incorporating a lot more Yoga-esque stretches and movements in my daily routines. Doing a lot of arm balancing type stuff and I’m sure I’ll have some video progress coming soon for all that.

Business
The gyms are going pretty well. As always there are ups and downs and the challenges never seem to end. We have a bunch of cool things happening over the coming months so I’ll be posting about that are more information becomes available.

Travel
3 Trips – 2 for Jumping as mentioned above and 1 for Family.
Sara and I went to Outer Banks North Carolina with her family for a weekend. Her parents rented an amazing 4 story house on the beach front for us, and her 3 sisters and significant others – Lots of eating, drinking, and relaxing. Very nice weekend.
I got to see the sun come up every morning right from my bed which was something I’d never experienced. Very cool.

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Additional – 

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Own Yourself

April 20, 2015

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The external things that you seem to ‘have’ are very valuable to some people. There is nothing wrong with wanting and striving for nice things in life but trying to push your beliefs on others is where the issues come up. One’s mans trash is another mans treasure as they say and thats the way of the world. You can replace those words with: Heaven and Hell, Dream and Nightmare, and have the same effect. It’s important to understand yourself what is important to you and not take advice from someone whom something else is important to. I’ve found that working with Coaches in this regard who have no bias one way or another is extremely helpful. Having an objective view to help you uncover whats important to you is the key, not to get injections, or advice from people who have drastically different world views than yourself.

I am confident in saying that I have no attachment to anything material in my life. Sure, I like to have nice things, but they are all replaceable.

“If something breaks you can simply replace it. However, if you break yourself by conformity and constraint can that be replaced as easily?” - John McEvoy

Society traps us into the never ending cycle of following instructions, staying quiet, and hoping for the best.
I have been unconsciously pushing back against conformity since I was a young kid and the older I get and the more I educate myself the more ownership I am taking of it. It’s been inside me since I was a kid and to be honest I don’t see it in many other people. I’ve always pushed back and done things my own way as long as I can remember. My education around the whole concept came after the behavior. This is why I think it’s so hard to teach. If you have been conforming to the game your whole life vs breaking and making your own rules you have your work cut out for you but it can be done.

What is comes down to is doing what you love to do. I have done many things in my life which contained a tremendous amount of struggle and I embraced it all with open arms because I was going after something I truly wanted. When you are inspired to do something you will welcome the long days and nights and it will feel effortless. Let yourself be pulled.

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