Thursday, July 31, 2014

Atmosphere/Game On

...the irony that it's taken me over 2 weeks to right this.

I posted -
(Not a dig at any other training facility.). 
I've never trained (myself or clients) in a facility as full or as complete as Everybodies Gym in Chardon. The people, the equipment, lay out, set up, and ATMOSPHERE is bar none the most motivational and inspiring situation I've ever been a part of. People tell me alllll damn day "I train here," "I do this at home," and it's all good, but I'm telling you, the ATMOSPHERE here is contagious, you can't stop yourself from going hard in here.
Truth, no matter happens during the day, I walk in here, the owner cranks the music, the gym starts to get moving and the place goes off. If you're within a 25-30 minute drive of Chardon, you need to be here."
And that thought has been surrounding me for a while, how important atmosphere is.  There are gyms and fitness centers all over the country.  Some are great, some are average, some are lacking.
The post/thread went on -
"Atmosphere is everything. A million gyms have similar equipment and all the above... But there's an intangible, an "x," factor that's hard to define. The IT, that this gym definitely has plenty of." 
Of what?  Whats the "x" factor?

As always, there's a common line bringing together the fitness world with our careers/jobs and home, so I started thinking about atmosphere across the board.
In the gym, there's an atmosphere that can be intense but relaxing at the same time, I think that might be what I feel at my gym.  It motivates you to work hard, really hard, and also to stay and work longer.  I've been in gyms where I just wanted to get in, get my work done and get out as fast as possible.  I did not enjoy being in these gyms.  So one thing I can see is the actual space... it helps create this particular atmosphere... we aren't all on top of each other, waiting in line for equipment or bumping into each other.  There's plenty of equipment and more than enough useful, functional space.

We all have (or hopefully have) a job or career going and atmosphere is cruuuucial, because we spend so much time there, most of us 40+ hours per week.  We're there with coworkers, we're performing our "task," following guidelines and procedures, etc.  We're eating meals there, we might be changing clothes there and we usually develop friends there.  So this is basically home #2, which means how we feel while we're there is everything.
An employer may say "Well, you get a pay check!  Don't ya?  The place is clean enough!  Isn't it?" and that could be true... but is it enough?  (If I ask "Is this enough?" or "Is that good enough?" I'm setting you up.)  Is getting a pay check enough?  For me, I see it as why be a 6 when you have the potential to be a 9 or a 10?  Why sand bag it?  Why be "just good enough?"  Why not strive to be great?
Again, I think atmosphere is a little abstract and open to interpretation.    But I also believe there are a few enormous common traits we share as human beings that ties into the last scenario.


Like the gym, the work place and home, we want to feel like we belong... we want to feel like we can grow and be ourselves... We want to feel comfortable (but not lazy).... We want freedom to grow, but at the same time, we do enjoy some structure.  We need schedules, we need a certain set of procedures, because without these procedures and rules and such, we wouldn't have a drive to push them... to expand and grow and evolve into new procedures, create new and improved rules.

I see it, us, as plants... and our atmosphere matches.  As a plant, there are things we need to grow and become strong, healthy and maximize our true potential.  If you plant your garden in the shade and never water it, never care for the dirt, if you don't protect it, your plants will fail and die.  You may get lucky and pull a few tomatoes, but you'll never reap the benefits you could have had you planted that same garden in the sunshine and watered it, put a fence up around it to protect it from animals, cared for the dirt so the plants had a strong foundation to reach down with their roots and find home.  The plants need clean, fresh air, not contaminated, polluted, toxic debris.
Same goes for us.  We need to be in environments that allow us to grow, that want us to grow, to evolve into the best possible human we can become.

For me, I like to think that's one reason why people enjoy training with me and working with me.  I'm always ready and looking for the opportunity to take us one step further down the path of development.  Doesn't matter if i'm talking to someone about going back to school, or entering a fitness competition or making even larger life choices.
Sometimes all we need is knowing someone has our back... that could be all the atmosphere we need.

Along those lines but totally different... something to think about.

I was listening to a podcast with two of my favorite podcasters, Duncan Trussell (comedian) and Aubrey Marcus (Owner of Onnit).  They were going back and forth on philosophical ideas as to what were all actually doing here... whats the goal... whats the plan... etc.
One said something like "What if this is all a game?  What if our real self is off somewhere playing this thing we're calling LIFE?  This game cost x amount of dollars are we're actually sitting in a game room... playing these characters."
They went on and eventually said "Who the F would choose to waste their game tokens watching the Kardashians?"
So on my drive home through beautiful Geauga County, I thought about that... Lets day dream for a second and think about decisions we've made, habits we have, things we currently do, and then what our plans are... If this were a game, would any of it change?
If's about control.  Its about not feeling like a slave, no?  Slave to debt, slave to money and again... freedom.   Because control would mean, absolute control of time and absolute control of time would mean we choose how and when we do what we do, the value on it.  
It would also mean control over every thought and action.  Our habits aren't really, real habits.  They're decisions that trigger "happy," chemicals, right?  We have a habit that makes us happy but we don't always know why... maybe a food or a show or a different drug, because actually food and television and anything that stimulates your brain to release particular chemicals (some of which are also found in certain plants, but are for some reason illegal) is a drug.  Crazy?

Jeez, thats off topic... point is, if this were a game... would you be playing it differently?
I had a friend who was obsessed with running off to do yoga alone in some mountain... I always thought how much he'd be missing out on.  Would he find happiness?  Maybe.  Would he be maximizing this experience?  No.
Aubrey and Duncan ended it joking about the monks saying something like "They think they're finding the meaning of life and nirvana by meditating all those hours... then the game ends and everyone back home mocks that thats how they used their game tokens... sitting in one room, breathing their life away, never really living... never getting the full gaming experience."

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fan of Greatness

"Bleh, if I hear or see another thing about LeBron James, I'm goign to puke!"

Well get the bucket ready, because here are the multiple angles you should be paying attention to.
Friday afternoon, the big announcement came.  We all saw it, heard it, heard about it, heard rumors of how it all went down, and eventually read his letter (if you didn't you absolutely should, right HERE).
Everyone immediately took to Facebook and Twitter to celebrate and post how awesome the news was!  I was at work with my friends and we all said "Downtown is going nuts!  Happy hour is going to be crazy!"
Why?  Because it IS that awesome.  Its actually underrated.
Then as the day rolled along, the haters came out... bleh.  I saw posts that read "People are dying in Africa and everyone is giving a crap about a basketball player!  Get a life!" and "Who cares?  He
just dribbles a ball!  He doesn't save lives!"
You sad little haters are so wrapped up in depressing lives, you cant see the greatness in this, so I have some questions for you.

A) Are you a fan of area businesses increasing revenue?
B) Are you a fan of seeing local servers and parking attendants making more money?
C) Are you a fan of seeing people wanting to move their business downtown again?
D) Do you have any clue how much money playoff basketball or a championship contending team will do for the downtown economy?
E) Do you know how many more jobs this creates?
F) Are you a fan of seeing people happy?
G) Are you a fan of greatness?

For me personally, WINTER SUCKS IN NE OHIO!!!! BAD.
Why?  Because our teams suck!  Flat out.  I can deal with the snow, I can deal with crappy roads, but knowing your team loses way more games than it wins just sucks.  When the Browns suck on Sunday, Monday sucks... and Tuesday.  And then you look ahead to Sunday and get depressed because you know, theyre probably going to suck again!  And then you're stuck with 17 weeks of mostly bad football.
Will Johnny Manziel be the answer?  You tell me.  Are you banking on a party kid who's more concerned with hitting the clubs than the weight room?  This kids partying like hes already made it, won the Super Bowl 6x and retired into the Hall of Fame.  So no, until he starts lighting it up on Sundays, I dont want to see him anymore unless its on the football field.

But now... We have LeBron back... our guy.  Read that letter, he brought all the giddy feelings right back and I am so looking forward to that first tip of the season!  How can people post their nasty BS hater crap when so many people are happy to watch sports again?  This NE Ohio and like it or not, this area is passionate about their sports, its in our identity.  We wear brown and orange, we wear Indians gear and we love the Cavs AND THEYRE ABOUT TO BE GREAT AGAIN!

My first few points above were all based on money and business... think about that.  When the Spurs whopped the Cavs a few years ago in the Finals, the TV commentator said something like "Every home game brings in an extra $500,000 per game."  Are you freaking kidding me?  That changes lives.  That changes business.  Thats incredible and should absolutely be celebrated.  Imagine being such an awesome employee that when you go to work, your company improves AND every company near you... you cannot relate.

When in the history of this city, has a great player chosen to come here?  Never happened.  Ever.  And we have the best in the game, possibly the best ever before he's done and even further... maybe the best athlete to ever play any sport.  Who's better?  I'd love to argue that.  In basketball, its LeBron and MJ, done.  Save the Magic, Larry, Kobe nonsense. LeBron smashes all them left handed.  And people argue that Michael might be trhe best athelte ever along with Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown, so if Michael is that conversation, LeBron must be.  And if LeBron passes Michael, LeBron must pass Ali and Brown... and why not?  AND HE'S HERE!  He's wearing a Cavs uniform!  As usual, he wont be recognized for his greatness until after he retires, when he leaves a crater of greatness behind.
This guy left, regretted how he left, regretted why he left, and came back with a letter than gave me freaking goosebumps.
He wrote - But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.
How can you hate that?  "Bleh, hes not a role model... hes done" this and this and that other rumor.  Shut up.  Are you a role model?  No ones looking for him to solve world problems, he inspires greatness, he inspires kids to dream and do more and play hard and work.  He brings hope of a better image of our beaten down city.  National media still rips the city and LeBron can change that.  Why?  How?  Pay attention to the downtown economy.
He goes on - In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.   I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.
WHAT?!?!  I'm going to buy my jersey, t-shit and Cavs pajamas right now!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Good enough yet?

I refer to this story often because I feel it truly epitomizes the essence of complacency.
I was a part of a staff that was coaching a team that happened to be ranked #1 in the state by news paper reporters.   I didn't care at all and if I had my way, there would've been zero mention of it on the practice field or I the locker room.  
On the field, I have two modes, Teaching Mode and Game Mode.  When it's teaching, it's slower, it's more thoughtful, we focus on form and footing, etc.   When it's game mode, it's everything we just learned in teaching mode but as fast as possible, as hard as possible, as intense as possible, as absolutely complete as possible, looking to explode and finish every single play, every single time, no matter what. In game mode, when the ball is snapped, I want the guys thinking one thing "Go get that f'ing ball right now." And if it doesn't happen, like a bank collecting interest, the next play we now want it 10% more than we just did, and so on.   So things get intense.
One day, I'm in Game Mode and I can see the guys are in Chill Mode... So I'm ready to explode.  Things come to a head, because their apathy is ready to make my head shoot off my shoulders and one guy says to me "coach, we're undefeated... We're number 1 in the state... We're working hard... You act like it's never good enough..."

I don't remember my response, word for word, but I told him he was right. 
Imagine being strong enough to rep 100 straight push ups, but you stop at 40 because... Well, it's good enough.
Or being able to run 10 miles but you just do 2 because... Well, that's good enough.  
Imagine running a company and you just made $15,000,000 but you could've made more, but... That's good enough, no need to improve.
Imagine having the ability and the opportunity to experience greatness, why would you settle for "good enough?"

I was working w a group of guys on a project and we had to measure some things out to get the job some right.  We'd tap pieces into place and someone would say "good enough."  I cringed.   Is it right?   When it's right, it's good to go, if it isn't, there's no "good enough."
When you have goals and you have a job to do, you have responsibilities, "good enough," is going to leave you broke or unemployed, underachieving and sitting at home wishing you'd some things differently.  
"Good enough," will give you regret. 
"Good enough," will leave you with nothing, you'll be worse than a has-been, you'll be a could've-been.   I'd rather be a has-been because at least they once had it.   Could've-beens a never had it, they just should've had it. 

Problem is, too many people are too quick to pass the buck, to lean on someone else when it gets too hard, when times are tough.  They want it easy and smooth and when it hits the fan, they want the "good enough," button and get out of there.  
Tough day?  Shoot, I'm going home and chilling... Good enough.
Didn't lose weight?  Forget it, I'm having a treat... Good enough.
Missed a goal?  Whatever... Excuses, excuses, excuses... Good enough. 

Good enough is a lazy trick your mind wants you to think so you can go home and watch television and not run, not workout, not study, not put in the extra hours.  

Without a goal list, you have no plan, no vision.  Without a vision, without a passion for success and doing things w greatness, you'll always live w "good enough," on the tip of your tongue and your dreams will never ever come true.   You have to work and work and work and work and plan and prepare and work and adjust and learn and go hard.   You can't do all that "good enough."  Full go, 100% or don't bother.

The other day, I'm training and working a leg circuit from a leg press to hammy curls to calf raise.  I wasn't even counting sets, I was just going til things felt like hell.  And every round, I had to increase the weight for every move.  I'd go through a round and think "well, that round was bullshit, add weight," and so on until I reached my goal, far surpassing "good enough."  "Good enough," happened when I was pressing 560,but I needed to fill the rack and go until my legs just shooook.  Same thing goes when I'm working w the dumbbells.  I refuse to NOT use the entire set of dumbbells, I'll use every single wright available.  Why not?  I have it in my range, so doing anything less is bullshit.

Would you want to be a fan of a "good enough," team?
Do you want to be in a "good enough," relationship?
Then start placing those same demands on yourself and live up to them.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Podcast #3 - Me and Ben

I admit, I'm a little naive when it comes to any heavy narcotics or drugs, but when my friend approached me one day, telling me he had a heroin addiction, I knew I had to start learning and work to begin his healing process.  I knew I couldn't beat anything over this head, I knew he had to see a piece of the light for himself to believe it existed, and I knew I would be able to find the right combination of words and moments to help him see what he needed to see.  
In listening to the podcast as I write this, a couple thoughts come to mind.  I asked Ben to do this with me for a couple reasons.  
1) I wanted people to hear how common heroin is or can be.  Why?  Because it can be right next door to you and you not even know it.
2) I wanted them to hear a "normal," person come clean and admit his addictions, hear the comeback and hear the possibilities.  Why?  To dissolve judgement.  To not judge someone with an addiction, to not judge someone who comes out with the addiction and to then not judge anyone for coming out.  It happens.  I know people who will think "Ya, but he..." and I want to wash that away. 
3) Don't be afraid to get involved... I know quite a few people who went through hard times, gambling issues, drug issues, drinking issues, addictions, etc, and people turned their back on them for whatever reason.  Don't doubt that you can help someone believe.  Don't be afraid to get involved. Don't turn your back on your friend.
4) I want people to hear the clean, new, optimistic version of Ben.... 

Choices surround us, 24/7.  You can choose recovery, you can choose to help or you can choose to be a victim or an observing bystander.
Get in the game.

"This past Sunday, my good friend Ben came over to discuss his into, and then out of, the world of heroin."

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