Alignment.

Each of us must live in alignment with our values.

As a collection and balance of sub-personalities, all jockeying for position and relevance in different areas of our life, our decisions are what determine what happens in our reality. How we act demonstrates our values. Talk is cheap, after all.

The Golden Rule of ‘treat others as you would have them treat you,’ I think, is flawed.

A lot of us fail to treat ourselves particularly well. Whether it’s a crazy Friday beer ‘blowout’ or deciding to watch television rather than make tomorrow easier and better with meal preparing, getting an early night or moving our bodies.

Because of how scarily complex the world around us is – with all it’s technology, people, systems and organisations, what is one thing that we can exercise more control over? Us.

That’s the important point. It’s an exercise. It’s a practice, that only gets better if done. Asking “what do I feel needs work?” Then deliberately making daily changes to address this. Maybe it’s adopting a new habit, investing in an app (both time and money), joining a group, finding a mentor, putting in more time.

Only us as an individual can really answer that question – attempting to move away from family and friends expectations is perhaps the biggest challenge. I’m not sure whether it’s about going inwards and searching or trail and error in the external world.

Ryan Holiday (of The Daily Stoic, amongst other works) thinks getting to the answer comes as a result of contemplating our mortality. Personally, I think this can be a little misleading because it can lead to some short-sighted actions.

Yet the answers to “What would you want said in your obituary” and “How do you want to be remembered” generate actionable changes that reflect our what we see as important, at least for the present.

Working out how tomorrow can be more aligned with our values than today is, to me, the ultimate practice.

Question those distractions and treat yourself right.

We cannot pour from an empty glass.

Don’t Kill The Goose.

“A cottager and his wife had a Hen that laid a golden egg every day.

They supposed that the Hen must contain a great lump of gold in its inside, and in order to get the gold they killed her.

Having done so, they found to their surprise that the Hen differed in no respect from their other hens.

The foolish pair, thus hoping to become rich all at once, deprived themselves of the gain of which they were assured day by day.”

This is a traditional fable of Aesop’s, numbered 87.

We remember climbing that mountain.

Before reading on, please please PLEASE invest 8 minutes watching this video.

The more I commit to something, the more the Universe rewards me. Meeting new people, gathering knowledge and insight, feeling purposeful and directed. A part of me doesn’t want to believe it, but somehow when I really find something that inspires me, and that captivates my thought for more than a week, and I am compelled to take action on it, then I am rewarded.

I believe the things that inspire us, do so for a reason. I don’t just mean that feel-good ‘wow’-factor that comes from watching the Red Bull Cliff-diving, or maybe from a footy game or even from a video like above… Some things strike a deeper chord within us… The chord rings throughout, we perpetually think about it. When something inspires us over days, through many conversations and it might well be the last thing we think about before going to bed.

It’s a clue.

At present, I am learning about and trying to comprehend more fully our mortality. I read Stoicism, Thoreau, and others. Possibly as a reflection of the declining health of my grandparents, their thoughts on the certainty of death, and our finite time here are slow-cooking in my thoughts.

Some say this is pessimistic thinking. I’m not so sure. It’s a tool. Get some tea brewing and try this… Think about what you’d want said in your obituary. Or really consider who you’d contact, what you’d do, where you’d go if death had a time and a date.

This is liberating and empowering. It’s a reminder. “Gosh, I need to phone Mum; I need my friends to know I appreciate them; I need to thank that person.” A reminder of what’s important – and to take some action reflecting our personal values. I wonder how I’d behave differently if I was given 12 months to live, say. Or if I knew with certainty that I wouldn’t make it to 30.

It’s also a reminder to make each and every encounter, moment and hour count.

At some level, acknowledging the commitments we have and honouring our past decisions is important for who we are, but it needs balance with living a life we are proud of, whatever that means to us individually.

Regardless, if my deathbed comes sooner or in some distant future, I believe the title of this post is a truth. The driving force for becoming a Trainer was that I’d regret not trying to make it work. My inner thinking for spending thousands of dollars on education and mentorship was this ‘regret-avoidance.’

Now, being motivated out of avoidance of a negative is certainly different to being motivated to achieve self-actualisation… but in my books, it’s a start. I suppose, personally when I look back over my short time here, I remember most the times that were difficult; when some dragon of discomfort was overcome. Taking that jump towards something inspiring, stepping out of the comfort zone and into memory-making.

Learning what makes us tick, and having the self-worth to acknowledge it is a powerful force.

The Cause and Effect of Your Life

Just a short thought today…

Our mindset shapes our world, if we see the rain as ruining the day, then the day is ruined. But if we see the puddles as something to jump into and splash others, then it’s the best day ever.

A hard training session could be a gruelling slog or it could be feeling alive and strong and powerful. Same work-out, different mindset.

A negative outlook is the outlook that “the world is against me – I am a victim of fate or the universe.” Training our perception to view the scenario in a positive light actually makes the world better.

Is the world working on you or are you working on the world?

Too Much?

Setting too many goals is like having a temperamental rapid-fire rocket launcher.

Big explosions forward can happen.

More often though, outcomes are random, in spurts and uncertain.


Recently I’ve been advocating taking on more things in life, more goals, more activities – squeezing the day out of every single day. My thoughts came from the realisation that it’s not what we don’t do that we remember and take pride in, it’s what we do!

So the logical next step is to do more, to experience more and to ‘live’ more

Part of this realisation is my experience with a lot of students that I’ve met at Melbourne Uni. Don’t get me wrong, these guys and gals are amazing people, they’re often driven, ambitious, interesting and friendly. However, their reality with hard work, long hours and doing what needs to be done troubles me.

I noticed early on in my university experience that I could do more with my days than to just focus on my studies – I’d trade maybe a few percentage points overall for doing some endurance events, studying to be a personal trainer, or reading extra-curricular or irrelevant books.

Rising at 5:30 3-days a week to hit the pool for a few hours, before class, then running or cycling in the afternoon/evening is pure self-indulgence, but the alternative might have been spending countless hours at coffee shops, at bars or watching tv — or in bed. I’m not proposing that there’s anything wrong with this, rather these nebulous, undefinable ‘lifestyle’ experiences do not form amazing memories nor stories for us to share with friends and family later.

Struggling up in the morning to struggling home in the evening and crashing to bed, I propose, is fulfilled living. In times when it was going well, I felt like life needed to be ‘turned up’ in difficulty, so I’d take on more – whether that be impulse entering Melbourne marathon (again), or taking up violin lessons, or launching a second website…

Overwhelm is chunking too big.

It’s an awesome mantra (I learnt from Mark Ottobre at Enterprise Fitness) for appropriate goal-setting and perspective. I fundamentally believe that we can have what we want out of life, all of it. Just not all at the same time.

More often than not, not having enough time for something means its not a priority at present.

Acknowledge that and say that.

It might mean it never happens, if we are cool with that, then forget it.

If that’s something we aren’t okay with – get after it, sleep less, book something in, commit to discomfort and tiredness and spending some resources in getting this goal done.

Maybe do some more, maybe dial it back – either way, spending a little more time uncomfortable in the pursuit of our ‘good life’ is worthwhile.

Being Self-Critical.

 

 

Seneca advises that we should be forgiving of others and critical of ourselves.

I enjoy reading and reflecting on Stoic philosophy, because as a blueprint for thinking, and as an operating system for navigating the day-to-day, I think it’s golden.

Without getting Freudy about it, I often find myself caught in a chain of doubts and uncertainty and criticism of my position, my performance and my results. There’s so much more to learn, so much more to experience and so many more people to meet.

The problem with only have these thoughts is that it’s negative, self-defeating and doesn’t provide guidance.

I don’t know about you, but something that confuses me more than anything is when people complain about things that are totally outside their locus of control. For example, declaring its a bad day because of the weather (which is something I sometimes fall into the habit of doing).

In contrast, I’ve been practicing a different form of gratitude in the mornings when I get up.. Actively acknowledging and remembering that I have legs, and I can see, and I can move, run and jump and smell and gosh. Most of us have largely very healthy, functioning bodies. Extraordinary bodies that do some extraordinary things. Remembering this, and then being mindful of it makes every day fantastic! How can it not be? We can walk or see or talk or hear.

Occasional self-criticism is important for personal growth and moving forward into different mis(adventures) and living in whatever way compels you. But also balancing it with remembering what you’ve achieved, and of where you’ve come from is huge.

Having friends that, if you ask them, will provide an outsider’s perspective on your goals, lifestyle and strategy is important because of their detachment. Ask them to be critical. They’ll soften it by nature of being your friends, but the external view will give a different angle on life.

Likewise, cherish friends that are positive beams of light. The excited, happy and positive people are really critical to my own day-to-day. It’s easy to do either. Being positive takes some guts because people default to the negative.

Our disposition can be shaded a different colour & our behaviours are malleable. Sometimes, its helpful to criticise what we do, but sometimes, its helpful to celebrate.

Wants, Needs and Desires.

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Reactive decisions are often wrong decisions.

Sure, emotions can kick us into action which moves us forward and changes our circumstances. But emotions can also take us away from rational thinking, be short-sighted and personal.

Acting out of a place of fear, anger or jealousy can obviously create suboptimal situations.

It is for these reasons that mindfulness and acknowledgement are so powerful. The ability to recognise our emotions as they are happening is an invaluable skill. Stop. Breathe. And sigh.

As a metaprocess for decision-making, calming ourselves is critical. By remembering who we are and who we want to be, we have a powerful lighthouse to guide us where we need to go.

Effective coaching aims to get to this place, uncovering what is really needed and wanted. At some level, the reason most people do not achieve the riches they desire is that money is not really one of their core values.

So on one hand, understanding who we are and what we value need understanding and embracing. These tell us what would be an in-alignment goal and why we are where we are.

On the other hand, who we want to be should be acknowledged. Since this is a new state, it requires more cognition and effort to embrace. These wants and desires must form the basis for decision-making in order for them to materialise.

If financial wealth is a goal and financial independence is a desired new state. Is eating out every night, buying designer clothing and never reading a book about personal finances conducive to getting to financial independence? No.

Figure competitors look amazing and (hopefully) achieve pretty amazing levels of health and fitness by committing 24/7 to the goal. They train, eat, sleep, live and breathe for that 5 minutes of significance on stage. They give no option. The results must come.

What separates those that achieve their goals from those that don’t?

Obsession.

Relentless drive.

If it really is something that you want, commit to it. Give no options, obsess about the details, obsess about the everyday – what can you do right now to get you closer to your goal? Go do it.


This article happened to coincide with this one, which is definitely worth a read:

Image of Angkor Wat from BBC : http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20170309-the-mystery-of-angkor-wat

 

5 Lessons I Got from Tony Doherty

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Last weekend I attended the fourth of five seminars with the Enterprise Fitness Wolfpack mentoring program. The guest speaker for Saturday was Tony Doherty. To those in the bodybuilding and hardcore training world, Doherty is nothing short of a legend and his gyms are a sort of Mecca for bodybuilders around the world.

From taking out a loan against his parents house, to trading his car for a lat-pulldown machine, to working with Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Arnold Classic – his story and message really connected with us all.

As someone who has definitely achieved his childhood and adult dreams, he makes a fascinating talker, and provides some amazing insight into how his mind works and the shape of his worldview.

Here are my five take-aways…

  1. Obsession is a clue.

Tony was telling us about his unrelenting desire to meet his childhood hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

During my second year of university, I was thinking about the possibility of making Personal Training work – what I’d need to do, where I’d need to be, who I’d need to be. It took my step-brother saying “Mart, just go be a PT.” for me to take the action to book in Cert IV in Fitness and get the ball rolling! Tony lives the idea that we only live one life, following our dreams can work – and the regret of not trying to make it work will be huge come the end of our life.

Ever since seeing Arnie on a late night tv program as a child, Tony was obsessed with sculpting his own body and aimed to meet his idol. At this stage, Arnie and Tony are business partners with the Arnold Classic, and as Tony put it – “Arnie sometimes just calls me to chat!”

Ultimately life is short, obsessive thoughts are our psych telling us something. We do have finite time here, so spending as much of it as we can doing what we love really is important.

  1. Reactive is often wrong.

Doherty’s gym has remained unchanged and unwavering in the few decades its been around. Tony knows exactly what he stands for, who his market is and what they want and need. He pointed out that gyms and studios that jump on the latest trend or idea are often unclear in their marketing and business strategy, and ultimately fail.

Doherty’s 247 is an expression of Tony himself. He is absolutely sure of who he is.

This means that Tony gets to act on the market, rather than react to it. He accepts that it’s not for everyone – he appeals to the ‘misfits’ and the hardcore crowd. He doesn’t want to build a gym for everyone. Appealing to everybody is appealing to nobody.

In business as well as in life, knowing our values and our standards puts us on a course. Living them will alienate some people, as it should. It’s not about who doesn’t get it, it’s all about those that do.

  1. Don’t have time for illness nor jet-lag. 

“One of my mantras is ‘sleep faster.’”

… Said to a group of personal trainers and general health nuts, this advice was met with nervous laughter.

Have you ever noticed that when you are really busy and occupied, we get things done, we eat, we sleep, we work, we train and life flies by. Then when we get a weekend to chill out and relax, we get sick. The same pattern sometimes happens when going on holidays too…

Thinking about our own final days and funeral raises some interesting thoughts…

– what will people say about me and my life

– what will I think, looking back

– will spending my weekends binge watching tv be time well spent 20 years from now

And so we can ask, what could I do to make my life ‘highlights reel’ and legacy as amazing as possible? Who can I touch with my time here? How can I leave the world and the people around me better than I found them?

There is a question of balance… but consider this, if we slept an hour less per night we’d get an extra 150 days worth of time over 10 years.

Go build that business, start that blog, create that product, write that novel.

  1. Idleness and overthinking brings negativity.

This one spoke volumes to me. Being naturally introverted, reflective and developing something of a habit of writing, I can easily justify to myself the need to spend time at a cafe, nursing a long black and just enjoying my own company.

The justification is that I can acknowledge the problem on paper, and so don’t need to act. Wrong.

Action always wins. Tony talked about the idea of ‘failing forward.’ This means that movement is always positive – right or wrong, changing our circumstances either brings the result we were looking for, a lesson to move us closer or a realisation to expand elsewhere.

The lesson for me was to just make a decision. Then once made, take action.

  1. “Luck is rare. Motivation is fake. Consistency and hard-working is king.”

This was on a social media post that Tony shared with us. I think this quote best captures his philosophy and story. There’s not much more to him than this belief, expressed in all areas of his life.

It importance stems out of taking ownership and responsibility for our life – what can I do today to make my life better; what can I do in the next hour to make a positive change in my life?

By not accepting luck or fate or chance, out-working and out-lasting all challenges and competition will with certainty bring us to whatever goals we set for ourselves.

Knowing Why.

With a powerful enough why, we can endure any how.

 

I’m paraphrasing Victor Frankl, who lived through the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, writing about his experience in Man’s Search for Meaning – a must read, in my opinion.

 

Action-taking must be built on top of a sufficiently powerful drive.

 

When starting out as a personal trainer, I felt incredibly insecure giving myself ‘endurance training’ as a speciality, with only a handful of half marathons under my belt. Now sure, I am deeply curious about the outliers, about the people that achieve extraordinary, almost impossible feats of endurance. But do I have the knowledge to help people?

 

This insecurity drove me further, grinding out k’s and k’s. I entered Geelong 70.3 in Feb of 2016, at the time as a stepping stone onto a full 140.6 mile Ironman triathlon.

 

The 12-weeks up to Geelong were obsessive. I was at uni, finding time was never an issue. 3x swims, 6-to-12 hours cycling, 2x runs plus an over-the-top strength training program.

 

I was fit, don’t get me wrong. Probably the fittest I’ve ever been, in the context of doing the same things over and over for a long period of time.

 

Finally filling this role as an ‘endurance athlete,’ I felt legitimised. Being extreme gave me a sense of expertise.

 

Why?

 

Insecurity. Feeling uncertain about my self worth as a trainer, athlete, friend and person.  I believe the “more, more, more” mentality did not fill the hole of self-doubt, rather it fanned the fire.

 

On completion, 2-3 days of bragging rights felt pretty good. But overall, naturally I was disappointed. I hadn’t become a superhero rockstar triathlete. I was still Marty.

 

Rightly so.

 

Using sport or endurance or events to fill a hole in self-worth and in creating my own image was doomed to fail from go. Coming at finding myself from insecurity naturally disappoints.

 

It’s filling a hole that can only be filled internally.

 

 

 

Am I happy I did Geelong 70.3? Sure, I got to experience something not many people do. But the cost might have been too high..

 

 


Check out the book I recommended here:

 

 

 

“Everyone needs a website.”

Whether that is true or not, I cannot say. This blog will house a collection of my thoughts, musings and hopefully demonstrate an improvement of my writing skills as I undergo my Hero’s Journey.

Only time will tell.

I am honoured that anybody would take the time out of their day to read this, so this post will be pinned to the top to say to you, wherever you are, thank you.