National Bandanna Day

Today (October 25th 2019) is National Bandanna Day, a major awareness and fundraising campaign for cancer. Especially how it affects young people. Canteen is a service that has helped me personally. I connot recommend them enough, if you have lost a family member, have or are going through your own battle reach out to them. They have a fantastic group of councilors and programs, geared towards youth from 12-25.

Just a short one today, if you feel like you need to contact canteen you can find them at: canteen.org.au/getsupport and you can buy your bandannas to show your support at: https://www.canteen.org.au/bandanna-day/shop/

See you on the mats

Carlos

Things I wish I knew before My Japan trip.

A quick couple of tips from what we have learnt in our first week in Japan. *Please note that we are travelling around the start of March, winter is finishing up and spring is rounding the corner.*

  1. Simple phrases.

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, excuse me, sorry, thank you and Where is (insert place)? These have been our most used in our first week of travelling around Japan, all not essential since most of the time you can get your message across and people are happy to help in any way they can. Using the phone as a way to communicate has been nice, often pulling out the good-old google translate using the conversation button to assist. However, nothing brings more of a smile to the locals when you try and do your best to say hello and ask questions using Japanese. Plus learning a bit of a language always is a nice skill to have. Below I will add the translations and pronunciation.

  • Good morning: O ha yo(go zai mas).

  • Good afternoon: Kon ni chi wa.

  • Good evening: Kom ban wa.

  • Excuse me: su mi ma sen.

  • Sorry: go men na sai.

  • Thank you: a ri ga to.

  • Goodbye: sa yo na ra.

  • Where is (insert place or thing)?: (insert place or thing) wa do ko des ka?

(I recommend buying a little pocket phrase and translation book. see picture below)

2. Bring a decent rain jacket/coat.

Our first day walking around Sakura before we left Tokyo for Sapporo, it pissed down, absolutely bucketed down. Had we not packed them for our snow trip we would’ve been looking a lot like drowned rats. We both used Kathmandu 2-in-1, a shell and inner insulation, handy since for when it starts to get hotter as we move more away from winter into spring we can take out the inliner but still be on the dryer side using the shell. Of course, keep in mind we are travelling in winter and the start of spring when there is a bit more rain, this item can be omitted when travelling in summer.

3. Bring some decent walking shoes.

Like most countries, Japan has a lot to offer in terms of sightseeing and things to do, which usually means either getting some form of transport or if you want to take the more scenic (and cheaper) route, lots of walking. Which means to keep those feet happy you will need some comfortable shoes, and if you need them, some decent orthotics. Both I and my partner have been wearing our Under Armour sneakers, which have been great for the feat, lightweight and breathable… which also makes them not so waterproof. So far they have been holding up quite well otherwise.

4. Always have some cash, in notes and coins.

I was told many times by people who had been to Japan to always carry cash, I didn’t quite take it on board. Thinking “oh yeah, we should be able to use card most places.” We got caught out one night in Sapporo on a bus, we had no coins and one 10,000yen note, after spending our last couple of 1000 on dinner. The bus would only take 1000yen notes or coins luckily the driver let us off with a free fare. From then we have made sure to have enough cash. Order of things to do when you land in Japan: Go to the atm, use your notes, keep a fair amount of coins, buy something where you can store these said coins. You’ll be right after that.

5. For a cheap meal, 7/11 or other convenience stores.

You can get a decent feed for very little money. My girlfriend and I usually spend around 1500 yen ($19AUD) for a meal and a dessert each. The best part, its actually really decent Japanese food, well by Aussie standards. It’s always nice knowing that you can walk less than 10 minutes in any direction in any city and there will be a store with some goodies at any time of day. It has been a life-saver when we are pushing our daily budget.

6. Pretty much everything is bang on time.

This has been amazing, the bus rocks up when it says, and the train stops in the designated position on the platform at the designated time. No catching the wrong bus and getting lost. However, this has meant we have needed to be a bit more punctual (not always a bad thing), and we have had to run to make it a few times(not always fun).

I hope you have enjoyed reading a few of these tips, and hope they help you plan your own trip to Japan. If you have been to Japan, what are some of your tips that I’ve left off this list?

-Carlos

Annoyed? You could be the problem.

Two days into our Japanese trip and I am already kicking myself for doing the thing that I said that I would try and not do. Getting angry at my better half for petty little things. I know that usually, I would have let the annoyances build up and dictate my mood. Unfortunately, I slipped into those old habits only briefly today. Of course, the things that I find annoying are not the problem, I am. So, I am taking a good hard look at the reflection staring back at me and seeing that I still have a long way to go. This is a letter to all those in the same boat as me. If you find yourself frustrated by things that people do around you, it isn’t them, it’s you. This may be news to some, but yes you are the problem.

“But they just cut me off it’s my god-given right to be angry at this dickhead in front of me.” I hear you cry. What if they were rushing to take a loved one to the hospital, or maybe they just didn’t see you. Ultimately you can not change what has happened, you can not influence the person’s decision. Often the only thing you can control is the time it takes you to choose your response and your ensuing actions. I could have stayed mad and frustrated and let my emotions take hold, which I will confess for about an hour they did. (which would have ruined the rest of the day and possibly the trip. However, once I recognised that I was being unfair and looked at the emotions dictating my actions and deconstructed the petty reasons I was feeling them. I could then ultimately feel them, understand them and apologise to my partner for being shitty.

After an hour of stewing and a quick nap before take-off, I remembered a line from a book I read, “emotions like everything, will too pass” (or something along those lines). As with most of my writings and posts, it’s as much about me delivering to the reader as it is about reminding myself of the things I have learnt and must keep doing to be a better human. So, if you feel frustrated with someone in your life, maybe take a look at yourself and try to determine why you feel that way about them, and really try to get to the source, it is more than likely you instead of them.

Thank you for reading,

Carlos

5-takeaways: The 80/20 Principle, Richard Koch

First 5TA for the year! I will be covering this gem that has been staring at me from my bookshelf since I got it almost a year ago. The 80/20 Principle is a book that is based on the Pareto Law, first discovered by Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist. Who noticed patterns on wealth and income distributions in nineteenth-century England. Where on average the mathematical relationship between the total population and the total wealth was about 20% of the population held about 80% of the wealth. Pareto’s other finding was that the pattern of 80/20 repeated itself whenever he looked at data referring to a different time or a different country. However, He never fully realized that the principle could be applied to a lot more than just wealth and income distribution. A number of other great thinkers throughout the remaining and next centuries rediscovered and advanced the principle. Richard Koch, a former management consultant, and entrepreneur, just so happens to be the writer that brings the principle to the masses. The book is an easy read and Koch explains the principle well, using relevant examples and giving different ways to utilize the 20% of the effort that translates into 80% of the results in other aspects of business and life. The book is a great read and I hope I can provide a little insight into the principle and how you can utilize it.

  1. 20% causes provide 80% results.

A classic use of the 80/20 principle, is on business clients, 20% of whom provide 80% of the revenue. Most businesses could determine these numbers quite easily. Where are their efforts wasted or not well used on lesser clients that don’t provide enough compensation, let’s say like in terms of they have larger projects in the pipeline. So, in practice out of the remaining 80% of clients that only provide 20% of revenue, and if only half have notable future projects, you could remove 40% of total clientele and then the business would be able to free up time for new clients or double-down on current ones. This also translates into products produced or services provided. 20% of products or services generate 80% of revenue. This is very counterintuitive, you would think that having a variety of products, you would see a relative relationship directly proportional to the amount of items provided.

“The 80/20 Principle states that there is an inbuilt imbalance between causes and results, inputs and outputs, and effort and reward. Typically, causes, inputs or effort divide into two categories:

  • The majority, that have little impact.
  • A small minority, that have a major, dominant impact.”

Of course, this rule of 80/20 doesn’t just apply to business, as I will relate in other takeaways.

  1. 80/20 doesn’t have to equal 100 or is strictly 80/20

This was one of my misguided interpretations when I initially came across the principle. I thought that: a) the sets of data had to equal 100% and b) that the relationship was fixed at 80% to 20%. Koch notes that both of these aren’t integral parts of the principle. 80/20 is just an easy way to name the disproportionate relationship between the causes and the results, the relationship could be 65/35 or 90/1. One such example from the book below.

“One of the most dramatic examples of the 80/20 Principle at work is with movies. Two economists made a study of the revenues ad lifespans of 300 movies released over an 18-month period. They found that four movies – just 1.3 percent of the total – earned 80 percent of box office revenues.”

Koch notes that one limitation of the 80/20 Principle is that it is only a snapshot of the time when the data was collected. However, Koch does relate the 80/20 Principle to Chaos Theory, which states that outcomes are based on ’sensitive dependence on initial conditions’. So the chance that the first company to the market is going to be the biggest at a later date is massive compared to a new-comer. Not only will larger companies hold most of the market value, but they will also gain more and more of the market. A great example is Coca-Cola, one of the first to the market, and now holds 48.6% of the market share, imagine that one company owns almost half of the market. Let’s say that there are 100 cola companies total, that’s a 49/1, this stat is neither is 80/20, nor does it equal 100%, yet it is significantly skewed.

  1. 80/20 your Money.

Typically, 80% of your wealth will come from a small percentage of your activities. For myself, 100% of my money comes from one activity, my job. Similarly, if you look at someone like Warrant Buffett, most of his wealth comes from a small part of his investments, I would hazard a guess that’s its stocks. Speaking of stocks, we can use our new-found knowledge on it. Koch has some wise words on wealth, “You are more likely to become wealthy, or to obtain the greatest increase in wealth, from investment income rather than from employment income.” So, what should you do with most of your money? Around 20% of your money (of course this can be more or less depending on your personal & financial situations)? Save and invest.  And of that 20%, most of it should be put into long term investments, otherwise known as blue-chip shares, a good place to park the money is in an index fund. Koch describes what compound interest is, how it works and why you should use it to your advantage. I won’t go into it as it needs another post of its own, I can suggest looking it up, or playing around with some values on a compound interest calculator(which can be found here.

  1. 80/20 your Time and the rest.

Do you ever feel like you waste a lot of your day away? I know I do, whether I get sucked into social media browsing, or a youtube/Netflix binge, or doing things I don’t feel are productive or things that I don’t enjoy. Now, some things are very necessary, such as work and sleep, these will take up more of your time. But the rest of your time can be 80/20’ed. There are 168 hours in a week if we say that you work a 40hour week, and sleep for 8 hours a day, you are left with 72 hours, if you factor in travel to and from work and eating we’ll say that your left with 50 hours (being conservative). Of these 50 hours, you may only really enjoy doing 20% of the things that you do, or 20% of the people you see. So to get more out of your time break down what goals you want and, track your time and see where you are losing it. There are many ways to do this and find one that works for you, I often use a technique called time blocking, which I wrote about here. Once you’ve done that go out and achieve those goals. See more of the friends or family members you want to see, or you could optimize your time to learn a new skill, start a business or a blog, get to the gym more. Of course, all of these things will lean toward something that you enjoy. You could 80/20 your spare time for happiness if you so desire. You might even go so far as removing work altogether (not advised if you have another way to bring in money) or finding work that you enjoy (recommended).

  1. Change your mode of thinking.

Koch really does get into how effective the 80/20 principle is outside of finance and business, once the basics are understood and the reader can start thinking with the imbalanced required. This was maybe a bit easier for me as I had already been introduced to this mode of thinking by the likes of Tim Ferriss and Gary Keller. I had been meaning to get the knowledge from the source, and this is my biggest takeaway. The universe and the world is not fair and most likely never will be, things will always improve, but the balance of 80/20 will remain. Instead of worrying about how life isn’t fair and you feel downtrodden, try and make your own life 80/20, try and break out of the social norms that you have grown accustomed to. Instead of thinking about things in the standard direct cause and effect way, start to think 80/20, as Koch describes below:

“To engage in  80/20 thinking, we must constantly ask ourselves: what is the 20 percent that is leading to 80 percent? We must never assume that we automatically know what the answer is, but take some time to think creatively about it. What are the vital few inputs or causes, as opposed to the trivial many?”

Change is hard, going into the unknown is difficult, but with discipline, you can develop a habit, and with time the habit will become a lifestyle choice. I am trying to make 80/20 a lifestyle choice, I would love if you could join me.

Koch has produced a gem of a book, that has inspired many who use it for their own businesses and personal lives. The 80/20 principle teaches its readers that 50/50 is incredibly rare, often if you can figure out what the small minority that has a huge impact is, you will be able to maximize your time, money, and happiness towards achieving your goals and life visions. As usual, I will leave you with a powerful quote from the book.

“The greatest thing about the 80/20 principle is that you do not need to wait for everyone else. You can start to practice it in your professional and personal life. You can take your own small fragments of greatest achievement, happiness, and service to others and make them a much larger part of your life… You can become a better, more useful and happier human being. And you can help others to do the same.”

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

-Carlos

What is Time Blocking, and Why You Should Use It.

I have been enjoying my Christmas holidays and now as I am preparing to get back into work, I am reflecting on the year that was and Looking toward the year ahead and how I am going to prepare for the following years. One habit that I have been implementing and trailing is one I learned in the book The One Thing, by Garry Keller with Jay Papasan, which I have covered previously (can be found here). This principle came up in a recent conversation with a friend of mine, so I thought it would be good to remind everyone of its importance.

The principle is one of blocking out time, what I mean by this, is already planning well in advance when you want to do something. It could be a block of time where you want to focus on something, or a holiday, or spend time with someone. This isn’t the main part, however, protecting that block is the main part here. Saying no to things that will interfere or disrupt the hour, day, week or month that you have blocked out.

“Most people think there’s never enough time to be successful, but there is when you block it. Time blocking is a very results-oriented wat of viewing and using time. It’s a way of making sure that what has to be done gets done,” – Gary Keller.

Let’s say that you want to start learning the guitar, and you want to teach yourself. So, a success would be to learn a few songs. If this is your main focus for a few months, so three songs over 3 months sound fair. With time blocking you would set out a half an hour of practice per day. All up that is 45hours. Which really isn’t a lot, but it means that you have to really make those hours count. What happens though quite often is that people fail to protect their blocked-out time. Other things start to eat into their 30 minutes a day of practice. Which is one 48th of their total time for the day.   which is not even 3% of the day. Protecting shorter time frames like this is easy and is more of building the habit and discipline of practicing. The larger blocks can be more difficult to protect.

So, about those larger blocks, surely because they are usually singular and span a couple of days to a couple of weeks, that they are easier to protect. You would be correct if they only concerned you and they were totally under your control, however, most of the time the bigger blocks affect more than just you. Partners, kids, family, and friends can make a huge impact on the outcome of your block of time. This has been my friend’s problem. They had the Christmas holidays blocked out to work on their house for a portion of it after the main Christmas celebrations with family and friends, then spend the remainder doing nothing and having a bit of a winddown before being launched into a busy year of work ahead. They failed to block their time and committed to things they, not necessarily didn’t want to do but didn’t plan on doing. Their original hopes of a bit of relaxation didn’t eventuate.

“Take time off. Block out long weekends and long vacations, then take them. You’ll be more rested, more relaxed, and more productive afterward. Everything needs rest to function better, and you’re no different.” – Gary Keller.

A bit of care, planning and taking on the responsibility of protecting your time, is paramount if you want to use it productively. Time is one of those things that you will never be able to get back, my Dad always told me, “Time waits for no-one.”

Not usually about resolutions, but I might have to revisit this concept and start applying it more for this year to make it a habit. Test it out if you didn’t get what you want out of these Christmas holidays. You can apply it like the following:

  1. Block your time off first (vacations, long weekends, etc).
  2. Block out your time for productive parts of your day (hobbies, practicing something new, business activities, etc).
  3. Block out time for planning the next week or month.
  4. Now protect that time. Don’t commit to anything that may jeopardize your block, unless it is an emergency then it is not as important as the focus for that block of time.

I hope you all have a productive year, and let me know if you find this useful at all, I’m happy to answer any questions on how I go about blocking out my time or things I say for when I am pressured to eat into my blocked out time. (Tip: start saying “No.”)

Thanks for reading and subscribing, I’ll see you on the mats.

~Carlos

5-takeaways:12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson.

I’ll start by saying this, I do not agree with all of whatDr. Peterson says, however, A LOT, if not all, of what he has written in this book is very useful information and some of the rules are great guidelines to live by. One of the rules that makes this list is related to this topic of “because you may dislike someone’s viewpoints doesn’t mean that everything they say should now be dismissed.” (Rule 9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.) There are a lot of things he says that I disagree with, including his view of mother/father parenting being the best way to raise a child, I know a few who have been raised by single mothers, or a lesbian or gay couples who are fantastic people, and I know of horrible people who have been brought up in the more traditional mother/father parenting dynamic. Still though I like a lot of what he talks about. One of the main reasons that I was drawn to and am interested in what Dr. Peterson has to say is his point that before pointing blame others or a system that does not favor you, first focus on the things that are in your control. Don’t give something or someone else control over the outcome of your life, otherwise, you will forever be powerless in the face of any chaos. That helpless feeling can be a very taxing one, one that can be debilitating, even fatal. The following list is my 5-takeaways (or top 5 rules in this case)of 12 Rules for Life, hope you too can take something away.

1. Rule 6: Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.

Peterson uses many religious stories throughout the book, she has studied the psychology of the many archetypical stories found throughout the Bible and a few other religious texts. He also touches on a variety of literature and movies, including Disney classics and works from notable thinkers like Nietzsche, Solzhenitsyn, and Descartes. One such reference that stood out was T. S. Eliot’s explanation of a character in his play The CocktailParty, who “is not having a good time of it.” And Peterson’s take on it, as follows:

                “She speaks of her profound unhappiness to a psychiatrist. She says she hopes that all her suffering is her own fault. The psychiatrist is taken aback. He asks why. She has thought long and hard about this, she says, and has come to the following conclusion: if it’s her fault, she might be able to do something about it. If it’s God fault, however – if reality itself is flawed, hell-bent on ensuring her misery – then she is doomed. She couldn’t change the structure of reality itself. But maybe she could change her own life.”

As a human being, you have sole responsibility of your attitude towards life, and if you can take on the burden of knowing that your outcome is dictated by your actions then you can make a start of improving, not only your life but the lives of those around you. Peterson is famous for saying “clean up your room,” in his Alberta-Canadian accent. This is not meant in a “do as your told,” way, it is meant as a, “start with something small that is easily available and achievable” way. Then once you have cleaned up your room, move on to the rest of the house, and bit by bit, if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, even in the face of setbacks, slowly your life will be more in order. Leading on to the next rule.

2. Rule 4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.

This is something that I constantly struggle with, I wish that I could be traveling more, or I could own a few houses already, or be a business owner. Whatever it is I forget that the person that I desperately want to be worked hard to get to where they are now. That for my own self-esteem, the comparison does not have the desired effect. When I get reminded that I am on my own path and that I should use the person’s success as motivation for what I could become, that’s when I focus on being better than the me of yesterday, it might be in the gym, or learning something new, sorting out my life in some fashion. That is when I move forward, one step at a time. Knowing full well that I need to put in the work and have the dedication to persist in the task.

“You are discovering who you are, and what you want, and what you are willing to do. You are finding that the solutions to your particular problems have to be tailored to you, personally and precisely. You are less concerned with the actions of other people because you have plenty to do yourself.”

Of course, to improve you must see the faults that you need to work on. To not see your flaws means that you are the perfect human and that you have nothing to work on. Which would be a lie, not only do you have to make constant adjustments in yourself for your well-being but for the well-being of those around you. Of course, you can lie to yourself and those around you that everything is fine, however, your internal voice/subconscious will become louder as you keep lying, and deeper you will fall into a pit that only you will be able to drag yourself out of.

3. Rule 2: Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.

If I could write out most of this chapter I would, but then I might be up for plagiarism. Peterson uses a lot of religious and personal anecdotes of patients or clients that have come to his practice. However, if you only take one thing from this it would be the paragraph below:

“As God himself claims(so goes the story), “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”According to this philosophy, you do not simply belong to yourself. You are not simply your own possession to torture and mistreat. This is partly because your being is inexorably tied up with that of others, and your mistreatment of yourself can have catastrophic consequences for others. This is most clearly evident, perhaps, in the aftermath of suicide, when those left behind are often both bereft and traumatized. But, metaphorically speaking there is also this: you have a spark of the divine in you, which belongs not to you, but to God. Weare after all – according to Genesis – made in His image. We have the these-divine capacity for consciousness. Our consciousness participates in the speaking forth of Being. We are low-resolution (“kenotic”) versions of God. We can make order from chaos – and vice versa – in our way, with our words. So, we may not exactly be God, But we’re exactly nothing, either.”

I know it’s a lot to take in, however, the words have that kind of remembered-truth, “remembered” in the sense that deep down every human knows that they have the potential to be great or do great things. All anyone has to do is treat themselves with the respect that they would give to the person that they could become, not the person they were or are currently.

4. Rule 12: Pet a Cat When You Encounter one on the street.

Suffering is part and parcel of Being, Being in the sense of the state of existing or existence. At any point in life, either you yourself are struggling or a loved one is. Very rarely, and I would say that close to never has there been a point in my life when neither I nor a close friend or family member was dealing with some obstacle. I currently have no ailments; however, a close family friend is currently battling cancer for the third time. And yet, somehow, through all his and his families suffering, he still has the attitude he has always had, one of never giving up, one of child-like wonder and humor and a thorough love of life. He may not know it fully, but the impact that he has on many is almost as large as his personality. Peterson touches on his daughter’s life-long degenerative joint disease and how it has impacted him, how he could have cursed the world and human existence, yet faced with the limitation of being – suffering is the limitation placed on humans– Peterson understood that suffering is a part of living, much like Viktor Frankl in his classic, Man’s Search for meaning.

“If you are already everything, everywhere, always, there is nowhere to go and nothing to be. Everything that could happen already has. And it is for this reason, so the story goes, that God created man. No limitations, no story. No story, no Being.”

Make a story, despite your limitations. Always remember though, that when an opportunity arises, to pat a dog or cat, or do something to distract you from all the sorrow life has to offer, only for a little while.“Maybe you can steal ten or twenty minutes to do some little ridiculous thing that distracts you or reminds you that you can laugh at the absurdity of existence.”

5. Rule 9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.

If you remember this is the rule I mentioned in the intro, and this I reckon is one of the more important rules Peterson lays out in the book. I myself struggled with this one growing up, I still check myself sometimes especially when meeting someone new, or someone who I have heard about from friends or family. Which as awful as it sounds, a lot of people will unknowingly make biased assessments of people and will automatically either give their undivided attention or completely disregard everything they say. The chance that they know something you don’t is higher than you think. Obviously, this goes the other way too, so when mutual respect of the other person’s knowledge is achieved, the conversation can become a more productive one, the where common ground can be established.

The other point of this rule is to listen, not think about how you will retort and flatten their argument with something witty, but to actually listen. Listen with the intent of taking in what the other person is saying. Peterson includes a Carl Rodgers quote that I thought was an interesting take on this topic.

“The great majority of us cannot listen; we find ourselves compelled to evaluate, because listening is too dangerous. The first requirement is courage, and we do not always have it.”

I know what you’re thinking, how could listening be dangerous? Well, the danger hides in your own insecurities, maybe you’re not right, maybe you are completely wrong. The main danger, however, is not in being wrong, but having your outlook or views changed, and these may be views that you hold so dear and close that they hold up part of your personality. Continuing:

“some of you may be feeling that you listen well to people, and that you have never seen such results. The chances are that your listening has not been of the type I have described.”

Everyone thinks that they are good listeners, I know I did until I started really trying to pay attention when speaking to people. Oh how wrong I was, I always would try to come up with an “I’m-better-than-you” retort, or be extremely dismissive of what they had to say. Straw manning their point of view. Definitely not a great way to listen. Peterson notes that the form of listening that Rodgers suggest is one where you repeat the person’s argument back to them, at a standard that they see fit. This does two things, you listen, but you understand their point of view.

As I have said, Peterson is not everyone’s cup of tea, but he is very good at translating complex ideas for those of us who have no prior background in psychology or mythology. The life advice found throughout the book is amazing and the 12 rules can be used as great guidelines to navigate the chaos and suffering. If you have no idea who Jordan Peterson is and enjoyed this article I can definitely recommend looking him up, his lectures can bewatch on YouTube and on multiple podcasts, such as the Joe Rogan Experience and the Jocko Podcast. I hope you enjoyed my 5 takeaways of Peterson’s book, 12Rules for Life.

See ya on the mats.

~Carlos

Role models and getting shit done.

Just do it. Why is it such a compelling statement/bit of advertising? Why do people look up to those who achieve greatness or those who just get shit done? Most likely it would be for that very reason. They get shit done. A lot of people, including myself, don’t start due to some reason or obstacle that they place in front of themselves. I know personally that I fear failure and can become anxious at the thought of what people may think or even expect of me. I have found that I often fall into the ‘paralysis by analysis’ category of people. Over analyzing and planning what I am going to do, or the possible outcomes, then not choosing any or completing anything. I have learnt only recently that to overcome this ‘paralysis’ or fear I must start doing. One of my biggest role models for this has been my girlfriend.

After house-sitting for a friend, who has an amazing veggie garden, she decided to go ahead and start her own. Buying plants, a raised garden bed, sourcing some free soil on facebook marketplace and putting it all together in a matter of days. The only help she asked for was for me to help her pick up the soil, the rest was all her. Yes, it’s only a garden bed, but I take a lot of inspiration from little things. It might be a mate, who after blowing out his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), planned a hiking trip in South America and a year later was back on the mountain skiing. It could be one of my best mates having a go at his dream, and even with setbacks still pursuing it. I don’t think a lot of people realize that they will always have the ability to dream and achieve. I know I still need reminding that not everything will happen right away. However, nothing will happen if I keep planning.

So, back to the question of why people look up to or draw inspiration from high achievers, like your Mark Cubans, or Will Smiths, or Gretta Van Riels. Personally, I look up to these type of people as they have characteristics and habits that I know I can and should pursue. Hard work ethic, Self-disciplined, Honest, knowledge seeking, the list goes on. Maybe, it might be for some that they look up to them, despite knowing that they will never truly put in the work for that level of success. Maybe, they understand the amount of hard work done and that is why they admire them? Maybe it’s like how the underdog is, more often than not, the crowd favorite, the dark horse, the once great champ that has fallen from the throne yet still aims to climb back to the top.

Muhammad Ali is a great example of this. Ali was stripped of his Heavyweight belt and slapped with a three-year ban during the prime of his career, for draft evasion during the Vietnam war. After having his boxing license reinstated, Ali would take 7 years to regain the Heavyweight belt, against heavy favorite George Foreman with an 8th-round knockout. This kind of fairy-tale story, that in effect mimics parts of life is something that most can get around. Knowing that there is hope, for when we do crash, or end up in a rut, that we can get out of it and build up again. So, for those of you out there, keep grinding, and keep drawing on other’s wins to produce your own.

See you on the mats!

-Carlos

If you are struggling with depression or find yourself in a rut, please actively seek help, there are a lot of organizations that can assist, like www.headspace.org.au, www.ruok.org.au, www.lifeline.org.au, www.beyondblue.org.au.

 

Jiu-jitsu blending into everyday life

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Having started training again these past couple of weeks, two significant knowledge bombs were dropped by My instructor Robbie Singh and the great Master Pedro Sauer, who came down to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Burwood for an AMA seminar. Both BJJ Philosophies that can be readily applied to life and all its aspects. I thought they should be shared with the wider community outside of Jiu-Jitsu.

The first being “What’s hard today, will become easier tomorrow” – Master Pedro Sauer. This really struck a chord with me and my partner as we were participating in some more advanced movements at the seminar. We were both having difficulty in performing some of the techniques being taught, but we were constantly reminded by Sauer of the above. Whatever we were finding difficult at the present moment, would become easier over time. Of course, this is something that should be applied to everything in life. When starting something new, Archery, Blacksmithing, BJJ, a new position at work, etc. it is always tough at first, only with practice and exposure to it will it become easier. I myself sometimes forget that I cannot be great at everything on the first try, I must learn to love the process of failing, failing and failing again until succeeding. I think this is a big part of life, I am only just starting the journey, like a lot of others. I have seen a lot of people come into class or start something new and give up or stop showing up due to them not succeeding right away. Now, naturally sometimes, giving up on a failing business or relationship is necessary. I know I have, there has been just too much risk or toxicity to continue. There is a balance, of not giving up, but knowing when to drop the effort. However, people sometimes confuse the pain that will eventuate in them growing as the toxic pain of, let’s say, a bad relationship.  Learning this balance is something that can be only gained through experience. I have given up on a lot of things that, had I pushed through the suffering, I would have grown. So, understand that slow improvements are better than none. Which, leads on to Robbie’s comment below.

“Small movements are necessary to get to the position you want to be in.”

When performing the super base of the headlock escape 2, you have to place your shoulder into the opponents back under the shoulder blade. Often you don’t get the position on the first try since the distance you have to cover can be either too big for one solid movement, or too uncomfortable for both yourself and your partner. Since you are in a position to take your time, the small movements are advised. Once again, applying the principle to life you can take your time in most things, sometimes it is important to jump at opportunities, however, it can be more beneficial to make micro improvements. You don’t become a blue belt in a day like you don’t become a millionaire overnight. Things take time and constant effort. Together I think that both of these can be used through life, knowing that things that are difficult today will become easier tomorrow with constant small improvements.

Thank you to both of the men above for their wisdom, I continue to love learning Jiu-jitsu not just for the physical aspects but equally the mental and philosophical sides too. Good to be back training again.

Thanks for reading. I’ll see you on the mats.

-Carlos

Success Patterns Can Be Found in All Things

If some of you have been following me recently you will know that I have started up archery after getting a compound bow for my birthday. And with starting something new I will usually draw on other experiences and what I can relate it too. This characteristic is something all of us do, whether we consciously do it or not. When we find patterns we create our own models from these patterns, that could be found through exploration or from learning it from an outside source. Why do we look for patterns to add to our model? Well simply for survival, maybe we can cover that in another post. But, in this case, I’m about to talk about. It’s for the sake of becoming better at something new.

So, shooting a projectile with a string attached to a stick is something very new to me. I never made my own bow as a kid, nor have I shot a rifle or firearm before. Growing up in the suburbs of Melbourne the closest thing to a rifle I had was nerf guns. Not exactly high tech. So, I really don’t know what I’m doing, I have a small understanding of it. Pull the arrow back and let it go, but as green as you can get. So, I go in for my first lesson (down at Aim Archery Moorabbin), get taught the basics, finger placement, how to aim, the arc trajectory of a recurve bow (also known as tradition bow), anchor points, range safety, etc. If you do make the way down to the range George is a great teacher, spends his time with you and really gets you to improve over the session.

However, you won’t improve if you don’t listen and be the student. Here is one pattern that I have noticed in my performance when starting new things. If I am listening and really paying attention to what is being taught, then I will improve at a higher rate. For instance, when I was learning Spanish at university I never really paid attention, I would either be chatting with friends or on my phone. This is no way to learn something, if you want to perform and advance you have to be willing to learn. So, be open to criticism, correct your form, and try again. Someone else can’t learn it for you. When you are a good student, often the teacher will be more attentive to you, I saw this with a kid at high school, He would show interest and ask a lot of questions, he would often get a lot more attention from the teacher. Not because the teacher hated every other student, it’s just that they found the easiest mind to teach.

Anchor points are a big part of archery, especially if you want to get consistent results. Anchor points, are reference points that you use when at full draw for proper sight alignment. The most common points archer’s use and string touching the tip of the nose, the webbing between the thumb and pointer finger and a kisser button (a small loop on the string that meets the corner of the lip.) They allow you to pull the bow back, find your points, sight the target and release. Nevertheless, they will not work if you aren’t consistent with the placement of them. Which, is another pattern I have noticed for the relative success of the task or subject you are learning. Consistency will produce results, either good or bad. If you are consistently setting on your anchor points, your arrow will fly true, then it is only a matter of adjusting your sight. If your anchor points are changing constantly then you will get consistently poor results. Of course, the other part of consistency is to practice.

Often when shooting, I can sometimes throw myself off, either I get a bit too big headed after nailing the bull’s eye and punch (to stuff up) my next shot or I focus on the mistake of the previous shot and punch it again. My most recent lesson has produced a bit of wisdom from George, after two bad shots in a row, I was a bit annoyed with myself and expressed it with George, he told me, “You can only focus on the arrow you have nocked (arrow currently ready to shoot).” And this is something that carries into other disciplines, BJJ, you can only focus on the current technique or position and the escapes, sweeps, and submissions possible. Like in blacksmithing, for better results, focus on each hit, one at a time, each heat.

Just some thoughts and patterns I have noticed and experienced in multiple disciplines, that can be applied to all aspects of life, career, study, gym, martial arts, relationships, whatever else you can think of. If you want to learn quickly and get better results sooner, then try to find similarities between how you have succeeded in past pursuits and apply what you have learned there to your new career, hobby or passion. And a quote from the great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi.

If you know the Way broadly, you will see it in everything.”

Cya on the mats!

Carlos

4 things to do while injured

Well, unfortunately, I have injured myself, after having gone through the year with minimal damage my luck has run out. That leaves me only doing upper body in the gym, mostly off the mats, and shooting my bow. So, with all this extra time that would otherwise be used on either gym or BJJ, I have decided to make a list of 5 things to do when limited by an injury. I am going to assume that you have already been to a specialist for your injury, this list is more about how you go about

  1. Work with what you got.

First and for most, do what you can. If you have a pulled hammy, focus on working on your upper body, if you have an injured rotator cuff, focus on leg exercises. When drilling or rolling, use only one hand or leg. However, do not push yourself to cause further injury. If doing something has the chance of severely affecting the injured area, I would suggest to not do it until once the area starts to get closer to 100%

  1. Do as much as you can to heal.

SEE A SPECIALIST FIRST… and do the exercises they give you. This is something that a lot of people don’t do. I didn’t when I was younger, I would be given exercises or treatments by the physiotherapist. However, I wouldn’t do them as I felt that the injury wasn’t getting better after one or two days of doing them. Now, I tend to do them as recommended by the physio, and upping the difficulty as the injury heals. For my current injury, a strained/pulled hamstring, I have been rolling out my quads, calves and IT Band (Iliotibial Band) to relieve the tension that each group is placing on the hamstring. When dealing with strain injuries one of the worst things you can do it stretch. As a strain is a slight tear of the muscle when you stretch the tear will worsen as it’s the weakest point in the muscle, a critical point of failure so to speak. Stretching when not injured however is a must to help prevent injury.

  1. Spend time on another hobby.

Try to look at the positive. If your injury limits you in one aspect of a hobby the work on another hobby. With my current situation, I have been shooting my bow more and getting in some good practice. I have been able to spend more time reading books and giving more time to this blog.

Your injury may leave you not being able to do any of your hobbies. So, my answer, pick up a new one, might be origami, could be learning a new language, whatever you think you will enjoy and will be challenged by.

  1. Learn a new life skill.

You got so much time on your hands, do something productive. Sounds boring I know but could learn more about finance, or how to cook, or maybe you could look into research about your injury and on how to treat and prevent it. Learn how to write code, how to bake, or maybe how to build a business.

 

A short post today, if you are currently injured and have taken something useful from this that’s awesome and I wish you a speedy recovery. Thanks for reading.

Cya on the mats.