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.

Change and Growth

I have written about change before. Relating change and how often we fear it and how to combat the fear by coming up with our worst-case scenario and then deconstructing it. Fear-setting as described by Tim Ferris. I pretty much wanted to share with people something I had found to be useful. However, this post will be more personal as I will recount how I have been able to utilize change and take on the challenge of loving change.

Like I have said before change is inevitable, life is always constantly changing. You may hear news of a family member having their first child, you may hear an old acquaintance just passed away, you may have been fired from your job, your sister or brother may have just started playing gigs with their band. All of these things are changes, some the people have little to zero say in them, other times they have all the power in their hands to make the decision to change. However, in both cases, It is still up to the individual on how they perceive their current reality. Take for instance the person who just lost their job, they have multiple options on how they react and the ultimate decision they take. They could turn to the bottle and begin the downward spiral into depression, or they could use the lack of a job as a sign to look into other careers. Ultimately it is up to them what path they take. This in itself is the scariest part of change, knowing that no one else can make the choice for you, which is why often to avoid the decision people tend to walk the wrong path. Not because they chose it, but because they didn’t choose to take a different one.

In change, this is where we can find growth. Growth does not come from sitting idle, it comes from overcoming obstacles. Through my teen years, I did not understand this fully, I didn’t understand that being idle and sitting on the bus of life, so to speak, will not allow me to grow or where I want to be in life. The bus will take me to a destination that I may not necessarily like, to the wrong side of town that I will be more likely to drown in than to flourish. My dad often used this bus analogy to explain life, if you don’t like the bus your on, get off and get on the one you want, you may even have to go back to a previous destination to get to the one you do want to go to. Once I realized that a science degree was not for me, I got off that bus and worked for a bit, then I went back to school and have now arrived at a destination that I like a fair bit better.

I strongly believe that the times that we grow the most are in times of challenge and change. One, you can use those hurdles as an example that you can overcome the trials now before you, and two, that you can use them as stepping stones to take on more of life. Of course, you are not the only one overcoming things, and people before you have already overcome your current challenge. A big part of my growth has been seeking out people who have already walked the path I want to walk down and talking to, listening or reading about them, and see how I could incorporate the knowledge gained to my own experiences. If you find the task of choosing the first/next person you read about, my advice is: pick the two you want to read about the most, flip a coin, if you don’t like the outcome initially pick the other.

What do I do when my life changes and I don’t like the new situation I’m in? From my experience, it depends on the situation. When I was having tests done to see if they could find more tumors, the only thing I could control was my attitude toward everything. I would make my best effort to always smile while in hospital, always try to either make someone laugh or laugh at my circumstances. The key was making the situation a positive one. After all, I wouldn’t have a say in the results, the only thing I could have a say in was to go through with the precautionary surgery. In terms of not enjoying my new job initially, I once again took control of how I perceived the situation, I looked at the good things and found a way to make it enjoyable. So, overall, I would say, that no matter the situation you find yourself in. Find something in it to make it enjoyable or rewarding, focus on the small positives that you may find and amplify them. You can control the perspective you use to look at the world. My recommendation, choose the positive one.

Thanks for reading.

Cya on the mats.

~Carlos

5-takeaways: Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

EO

I know the title is a bit ‘extreme’ (sorry had to), however, the book lives up to the words on the front cover. The authors Willink and Babin are former US Navy SEALS that lead the most highly decorated task units in one of the most violent and deadliest battlefields in Iraq. A notable operator that served under them was Chris Kyle whose life story during and after the war was made into a movie, “American Sniper”. In Ramadi, Iraq Willink and Babin learned that a vital part of the success or failure on the battlefield was – at every level – leadership. Once they returned home they would go into SEAL leadership training as instructors, where they would further develop their ideas on leadership. With a lot of things learned and how leadership can bring about the success on the battlefield, the authors launched a company that specializes in teaching leadership principles to businesses and organizations. With a plethora of testing their principles in the business world and experience in the field, Willink and Babin have put together a great book that I have drawn a lot of knowledge from. Here are my takeaways from Extreme Ownership.

  1. Take Ownership and be Responsible.

I used to think that I took ownership, I realized while reading this book that I was terribly wrong. I would blame a lot of my aggression and the outcome of certain aspects of my environment on other people. When I started to own my mistakes and not blame others for things in my control I noticed a greater shift in my confidence and my ability to focus in on the task at hand. I wouldn’t let myself blame outside influences or other people for my situation. I used to blame my dad for my habitual procrastination, that inhibited my performance at school and university. Now looking back on it this was just a way for me to excuse my laziness. Willink recounts one operation that had gone pear-shaped, two elements were heavily engaged, however, not with the enemy but with each other.

“At that moment, it all became clear. In the chaos and confusion, somehow a rogue element of Iraqi soldiers had strayed outside the boundaries to which they had been confined and attempted to enter the building occupied by our SEAL sniper team.” – Jocko Willink

This situation is not uncommon during times of war, and fratricide is one of the worst things that can happen in war. Now, most people would say, “it’s clearly the Iraqi’s fault, they should’ve stayed in the boundary.” However, when Willink was putting a debrief together for his Commanding Officer(CO), Command Master Chief(CMC) and an investigating officer, even though many individuals made serious mistakes. What transpired during the debrief was as the leader of the operation, Willink took full responsibility for the outcome, as he puts it, he was the senior man and as the commander, he is ultimately responsible for every action that takes place on the battlefield.

In taking ownership and responsibility for the blue-on-blue, Willink actually increased the trust his CO and CMC had in him. I think a lot of people think the opposite will happen if they take ownership, that others will see them as failures or weak for owning up to a mistake. More often than not, trust is gained by speaking the truth and being responsible for yourself and your situation.

  1. Prioritize and Execute.

Babin describes a hairy situation he and his team found themselves in. An identified IED(improvised explosive device) threat that they had rigged to blow, out on an unsheltered rooftop, with a man down who had fallen 20-feet. Babin had to tackle multiple problems at once, if you have read my review on The One Thing, by Gary Keller then you would know that multitasking is a great way to decrease the chance of success. Babin knows that he has to keep calm and not become overwhelmed and risk failing at all the challenges in front of him. By focusing on the most important thing at one given time, he could effectively get his team out without casualties and calmly move through each obstacle.

“Even the most competent of leaders can be overwhelmed if they try to tackle multiple problems or a number of tasks simultaneously. The team will likely fail at each of those tasks. Instead, leaders must determine the highest priority task and execute. When overwhelmed, fall back upon this principle: Prioritize and Execute.” – Lief Babin

  1. Decentralized Command.

“Pushing the decision making down to the subordinate, frontline leaders within the task unit was critical to our success. This Decentralized Command structure allowed me, as commander, to maintain focus on the bigger picture: coordinate friendly assets and monitor enemy activity. Were I to get embroiled in the details of a tactical problem, there would be no one else to fill my role and manage the strategic mission.” – Jocko Willink

This is one of the most useful of the principles in business, as it means the more senior leaders can concentrate on the bigger picture elements or facets of the business while lower-level managers can deal with the more detailed things. I have found that I do things better when I am given a task and left to figure out how to take on the challenge. The manager trusts me enough to not hover over me and tell me what to do. On the flip side, however, if I had someone telling me how to take it on, I then find it hard to overcome a problem that both myself and my micromanager did not foresee as I am not thinking like them and would feel more obliged to ask them for help. If I am trusted to come up with a solution, then I know that I can take on the challenge and as long as I can explain my process to them I don’t need to bother them until the task is completed.

This principle can be hard for people to grasp, as I know in certain situations I have had to let others think and do for themselves. Being able to trust in others and let them come up with their own solutions and giving them tips when they ask for it is a massive part of how I have stopped myself trying to control the situation. When the subordinate or new student at BJJ is just starting out, I will be a bit more hands-on with them, since they haven’t got a clue to what they are doing, however, as they start to get the technique or move I back off and only give any input when needed, like if they forget a big step.

  1. Keep it Simple.

When things are simple they are easier to understand and convey, when things are simple they can change with fewer pieces to move, when things a simple they can be remembered even when in difficult or challenging situations, the list goes on. You can see, there are a few reasons to keep things simple. On the flip side, if you over complicate things, they are harder to grasp, and complexities can be misinterpreted, unless every nuance is perfect then failure is usually the outcome. For instance, one of the businesses that Babin and Willink worked with had just brought in a new bonus plan, where the workers in the warehouse would receive bonuses for how many of each unit they would assemble based on the complexity of the model. However, none of the workers knew how each unit was scored and could not understand why some weeks they would be paid more than other weeks.

After noting the complexity of the plan, the authors suggested that the manager and chief engineer simplify the plan so ‘the lowest common denominator’ could understand the process and would be able to work in more efficient manner. After creating a plan with only two parts to it, the employees were able to understand this new simplified plan, efficiency went up along with productivity and success.

“Simple: this principle isn’t limited to the battlefield. In the business world, and life, there are inherent complexities. It is critical to keep plans and communication simple. Following this rule is crucial to the success of any team in any combat, business or life.” – Jocko Willink

  1. Discipline Equals Freedom.

This has to be my favorite takeaway from this book. Three words can convey so much. I will acknowledge that it is a bit of a backwards statement. How in what world does discipline equal freedom. This would have to do with the fact that so many people relate discipline to being super strict on your diet or on workouts or the wooden spoon. So, discipline is anything but freedom. However, it is through discipline that freedom can be achieved.

If you are disciplined in what you eat, how you exercise, how you treat other, how you operate in business. For instance, in my line of work, I need to be disciplined in my methods, the mark that I setout has to be spot on, as a pre-cast panel will be fitted on my mark. If my mark is out, then the panel won’t fit and the construction will stall. Through being disciplined with my accuracy I know that the panel will fit and if questions are asked about my marks I know they are solid. It gives me the freedom to say in confidence that the panel sits there.

“But with our new, disciplined method, we could execute raids and complete our searches so quickly that we could now hit two and sometimes even three targets in a single night, all while keeping evidence separate and organized. Our freedom to operate and maneuver had increased substantially through disciplined procedures. Discipline equals freedom.” – Jocko Willink

Overall this book conveys principles and effective ways of leading in a way that you don’t often see, with the principle being used in combat and then translated to business. Not only can these principles be applied to business but life, anyone looking for a quick and easy read with lots of action but also lessons, or for anyone wanting to lead I highly recommend this book. Jocko Willink also has a podcast where he breaks down books on war and has other military vets on, for those who are not inclined to reading. This is one of my favorite passages from the book:

“Discipline starts every day when the first alarm clock goes off in the morning. I say “first alarm clock” because I have three… one electric, one battery powered, one windup. That way, there is no excuse for not getting out of bed, especially with all that rests on that decisive moment. The moment the alarm goes off is the first test; it sets the tone for the rest of the day. The test is not a complex one: when the alarm goes off, do you get up out of bed, or do you lie in comfort and fall back to sleep? If you have the discipline to get out of bed, you win – you pass the test.”

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

Link to Jocko Podcast: Here

Video of Discipline Equals Freedom: Here

Why the change?

I have recently changed the name of the site to carlosygoa.com since I felt that readnroll.blog limited me in what I could and could not post about, I am in no way shape or form moving away from what I have been doing. This is just an update about the change. I Hope that you all understand.

Thanks

Carlos

Fixing yourself does more than you think it does.

I have been thinking about this a lot recently, I know this idea is not new and I have been reading books and listening to people who share this view a lot. However, I have started to really understand why improving on yourself is more important than I first thought. So, have you ever been in a situation where you can see the answer for someone else’s problem but no matter what you do you will never be able to get them to fix it or change? I have a lot, and I expect to be in more of these situations the older I get. But having learned from past experiences I know there is nothing I can do to directly make them change or make them do something. Yet, there is one thing I can do that will affect them. I can keep on improving myself because as I get better, I then become an example of how improving yourself is the best way forward.

If you don’t improve that’s fine too but know this, no-one is holding you back but yourself. So, no use pointing blame at others (which gives them the power). And that is a hard pill to swallow, knowing that you have to take the outcome of your life into your own hands, that you are directly at fault for how your future pans out. Now I know that you could come from a fractured home, or you could have had cancer, or you were in a car crash but all of that is in the past and you can’t change it. What you can change however is where you are going and how you choose to react to things. I could have the view that the world sucks and why did I have to get one-third of my bowels removed? why couldn’t someone else have had cancer? But then I lost the battle. I have to look at my experience with positive eyes and realize I had to endure that to understand something. Life is a gift, it can be taken at any moment.

As you start to put yourself together into who you want to be, then you can help others, but more importantly, others will see that it is possible. So, by taking responsibility for your part of the world, no matter how small, others may do the same with their part and together you will both help improve the world.

These are just some late night ramblings.

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

 

~~Carlos

5-takeaways: How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie

This book is a classic of the self-help/self-improvement/relationship advice genre, the author Dale Carnegie has influenced many leaders, like Warren Buffet and Tony Robbins. Dale Carnegie made it by tapping into the average American’s desire to become more self-confident, where he taught classes on the topics of public speaking, sales, relationships, and leadership among others. These classes became the basis for his best-selling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. The book is well regarded as one of the top books on creating success in both business and personal life. I actually read this book at the start of my journey of improving myself and still try my best to use what I have learnt from it. Here are my 5-takeaways from this classic.

  1. Do not criticise, condemn or complain. Give honest appreciation for all improvement, no matter how small.

When someone starts critiquing you on your job, or on something you hold dear to your heart, how often do you try to defend your actions, no matter how ‘in the wrong’ you are. You see others do this just the same when you offer up your judgment on their action, they will adamantly explain how they are not at fault. “Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself… it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.” When you are told you are wrong most times out of ten you will hold a feeling of resentment towards that person, I know I do it a lot and have to check myself and remember that they might be right.

On the flip side when someone is making gains in an area it is imperative that you compliment them, no matter how small the improvement. Carnegie references the experiments conducted by B.F. Skinner who tested the learning methods of reward vs punishment in animals, noting that the rate and effectiveness that rewarding good behavior had over punishing bad behavior. “By criticizing we do not make lasting changes and often incur resentment.”

  1. If you want a change in others, first start by changing yourself.

Pointing blame at others is the easy thing to do in most situations, it is harder to take a good look at yourself, your actions and how you react to what other people do. Of course, most people think this is the harder path and it would be easier for the other person to change, which would be a false assumption. Like my dad always says, ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.’ This is true of people, no matter what you try to do or how much time and effort you put in, a person will only change of their own accord.

“Do you know someone you would like to change and regulate and improve? Good! That is fine. I am all in favour of it. But why not begin on yourself? From a purely selfish standpoint, that is a lot more profitable than trying to improve others – yes, and a lot less dangerous. ‘Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbour’s roof.’ Said Confucious, ‘when your own doorstep is unclean.’”

  1. Make someone feel important/needed if you want them to do something. Make it their Idea.

If you do want someone to change or you want them to complete a task the best thing to do in any given situation is to get them involved in the planning process. Make them feel needed and an integral part of the success of the project. Carnegie references American philosopher John Dewey who said “that the deepest urge in human nature is ‘the desire to be important.’” Everyone wants to be the hero of their movie. Carnegie includes multiple stories about students reporting back to him of their endeavors, all relating his teachings and how well they have worked. By being interested in the other person’s hobbies or making workers feel important in some fashion, they have gained something that they would not have otherwise. From a puppy for a child to a better relationship with the subordinates who outperform their previous efforts.

“No one likes to feel that he or she is being sold something or told to do a thing. We much prefer to feel that we are buying of our own accord or acting on our own ideas. We like to be consulted about our wishes, our wants, our thought.”

Instead of trying to force an idea on someone, or forcing them to buy a product, get them involved. Like most of the points that Carnegie makes he includes a plethora of stories and anecdotes one that jumped out was a story of an X-ray equipment manufacturer. He sent a letter to the local hospital who had a number of other sales reps selling their equipment. The letter as follows:

                “Our factory has recently completed a new line of X-ray equipment. The first shipment of these machines has just arrived at our office, They are not perfect. We know that, and we want to improve them. So we should be deeply obligated to you if you could find the time to look them over and give us your ideas about how they can be made more serviceable to your profession. Knowing how occupied you are, I shall be glad to send my car for you at any hour you specify.”

The letter made the leading doctor feel important, and upon reviewing the equipment he ordered that it be installed. The manufacturer didn’t have to sell the doctor their product, he discovered the superior qualities himself.

  1. Listen and show interest in others.

People often want to become better at conversing with others and think their answer lies in getting better at speaking, However, Carnegie explains that it’s the complete opposite. Listening is the key to becoming a better conversationalist. Most, if not all, people want to feed their ego and talk about themselves. And that fine. Let them, they will love you for it.  Carnegie relays a story from a dinner party he attended, where he struck up a conversation with a botanist, he made the point to listen and show a great deal of interest in the man’s work. At the end of the night, the botanist told the host that Carnegie was ‘most stimulating’ and that he was a ‘most interesting conversationalist’ of course Carnegie barely talked.

“To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.”

Since reading this I have found this to be true, show a genuine interest in them and they will appreciate it like nothing else.

  1. Admit when you are wrong.

This is something I had a lot of trouble with before reading this book, I still have my moments but I try my hardest to take on board others criticism and admit when I have fucked up. At first, this point didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, why would I admit I am wrong, even if I was not totally at fault. This thought came from my ego, came from a place that didn’t want my pride to be damaged.

“If we know we are going to be rebuked anyhow, isn’t it far better to beat the other person to it and do it ourselves? Isn’t it much easier to listen to self-criticism than to bear condemnation from alien lips?”

I now, instead of defending my position, do try to hold true to this principle put forth by Carnegie. It helps in all situations, the workplace, with my girlfriend, family and friends alike. So, drop the attitude, don’t let your ego be your amigo, really check yourself. You will be wrong more times than you are right. This, however, WILL NOT WORK if you don’t truly take it upon yourself to see that you are at fault and you don’t mean to correct the problem or situation.

These are only 5 points from this book, which is jam-packed full of goodies on not only how to win friends and influence people, but to become a better leader, one that can inspire and help others grow. This classic will always be one of my recommended books for all to read, even if it takes you a while to get through it, Carnegie’s lessons and principles last a lifetime of use. I know that it will be a book I go back to regularly. Here is one of my favourite quotes (one of many):

“That is what every successful person loves: the game. The chance for self-expression. The chance to prove his or her worth, to excel, to win. That is what makes foot-races, and hog-calling, and pie-eating contests. The desire to excel. The desire for a feeling of importance.”

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

5-takeaways: The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi

Musashi

Miyamoto Musashi is regarded as the best Japanese swordsman/Samurai holding an undefeated record in his 61 duels. He not only was a wandering swordsman (ronin), but a writer and philosopher. He was the founder of the Niten-Ichi-Ryu-School, a style of swordsmanship where two swords are used. In his later years he wrote The Book of Five Rings, in which he “defends his thesis: a man who conquers himself is ready to take on the world, should the need arise.” (from the blurb on the back). The Book of Five Rings is considered alongside The Art of War, by Sun-Tzu, as one of the few books that cover the laws combat and more than that cover the laws of life. Here are my 5 takeaways from this classic.

  1. Know not only your abilities and limitations, but those of others.

Knowing your limitations means you can also know your strengths. So, you know when to ask for help or speak up when you don’t know how to do something. Musashi relates carpentry to the way of the sword, “The foreman should take into account the abilities and limitations of his men, circulating among them and asking nothing unreasonable. He should know their morale and spirit, and encourage them when necessary.” However, this can be applied across life. When you ask for the help of others, or when you are in a leadership role, you can organize people into roles in which they will thrive. This can also work in going against someone else. They will be defiant in their beliefs and will hold strong in opposition to them, so to know their limitations or weaknesses that will allow you to come at them from a different angle.

  1. Have the ability to view both the details and the big picture, be able to switch between the two.

Being able to detach and look at the big picture enables you to take stock of what you have done, what you are currently doing, and what you have to do. Giving you the overall picture, not only that but letting you really think about what you are doing and how to make it easier to achieve your next task or overall goal.

“What is big is easy to perceive: what is small is difficult to perceive. In short, it is difficult for large numbers of men to change position so their movements can be easily predicted. An individual can easily change his mind, so his movements are difficult to predict.”

Look at big goals, they are easy to understand, but the smaller you go the harder you must think about how it pieces together with other goals and tasks. However, when you can focus on the task at hand you are able to complete it quickly, whereas the larger goals need to be done over a longer period of time.

  1. Winning or success requires constant small improvements.

Throughout the whole book, Miyamoto finishes a lot of his paragraphs with lines like this:

“You must learn this through repetitive practice.” Or “You must study this well.” Or “With detailed practice you should understand it.” or “You must train constantly.”

So, it’s fair to say that he believes in constant and detailed practice, it might be a technique or strategy, but he really harps on this point. To get the desired results, you must put in the constant hard work. “Men must polish their particular way.” This can be applied in all aspects of life, you want to be better at your job, or you want to build a successful stock portfolio, or you want to lose 10kgs. Constant small improvements will determine if you succeed in achieving your goal.

  1. Live life fully. Don’t hesitate.

“This is a truth: when you sacrifice your life, you must make fullest use of your weaponry. It is false not to do so, and to die with a weapon yet drawn.” Miyamoto is talking about when in a swordfight you want to use everything you can at your disposal, however, life could be viewed as a swordfight. You could look at your potential as your weapon in life, and why wouldn’t you want to see yourself using your highest potential. Giving all you have to whatever task is in front of you.

Of course, not unlocking your potential or waiting for the opportune time is not good either. “Waiting is bad.” As above, you need to work on it constantly, “step by step walk the thousand-mile road.”

  1. Train your body, mind, and spirit.

Keep your mind sharp so you can perform in stressful environments, keep your body strong to be able to move how you want, and the spirit or heart must be able to push through the challenges you will face. Go to the gym, read books, study philosophy, write out your goals, listen to podcasts, meditate, whatever you have to do to improve yourself. Back to the constant improvement, just a little at a time.

“Both in fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm.”

Of course, if you lack training in one of these three, you will not be able to perform at a higher standard. You could be strong and have a large spirit or will, however, you could be bested by a person with a sharper mind. Conversely, if you are smart and strong you could be bested by a person with more will. It is like in jiu-jitsu, you want to have both strong defense and strong offense, if you lack in one, you will not be able to transition to your stronger aspect.

Hope you enjoyed my 5 takeaways from Miyamoto Musashi, like always I left a lot out, even though this book is less than 60 pages. I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from this classic.

“Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.”

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

5-takeaways: The Essence of Happiness: A Guidebook for Living, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

I thought I would try something new and use a new format of review, where I break down my top 5 takeaways from a book. Hopefully reducing your reading time, let me know how you find it. While I was reading The One Thing, by Gary Keller, I was also plodding along on the tiny 120-page book, The Essence of Happiness. The book is an already summarized version of The Art of Happiness, which is based on the conversations held between The Dalai Lama and Dr. Howard C. Cutler. Cutler wanted to understand the qualities and practices that the Dalai Lama uses throughout his day that allow him to live a rich and fulfilling life. Deconstructing and forming them so that they could be used by non-Buddhists to pursue happier lives. So here are my top 5 takeaways from The Essence of Happiness.

  1. That no matter where you come from or what has happened to you, you can find happiness or fulfillment.

How do you find fulfillment if you come from a broken home, or you are a recovering addict how does one find happiness? Well as His Holiness says “generally speaking, one begins by identifying those factors which lead to happiness and those factors which lead to suffering. Having done this, one then sets about gradually eliminating those factors which lead to suffering and cultivating those which lead to happiness.” Now, I believe that you can never truly eliminate suffering, as it is a part of life, whereby you can truly appreciate the highs when you pull through the lows. However, using your positives in ways to help others this contributes to a more fulfilling life. “Achieving genuine happiness may require bringing about a transformation in your outlook, your way of thinking, and this is not a simple matter.” It is not going to be easy, as your way of thinking is brought about by your experiences, however, you can change your future experiences to be positive ones.

  1. Having a clear and calm mind needs discipline.

The correct mental attitude towards anything is paramount in its success and your happiness, so when a greater level of calmness is achieved it allows you to enjoy life, that little bit more. If however your mind is clouded with negative emotions, everything will seem to be against you. “For example, if you harbor hateful thoughts or intense anger somewhere deep down within yourself, then it ruins your health; thus it destroys one of the factors.” Having a calm state of mind should not be confused with an insensitive state of mind. “a calm state of mind is rooted in affection and compassion. There is a very high level of sensitivity and feeling there.” without a calm mind you can be easily influenced by outside forces, however, with a little bit of discipline, you will be able to have some stability and therefore even in dire straits you will be able to navigate your ship. Discipline in the sense that you must train yourself to bring about positive thoughts.

  1. Change takes time.

These words are the only words on one page (page 29, if you have it), and I think that a lot of people forget that. If you go for the quick fix, it will be just that, quick. Then the problem will rise again. For a long-term problem a long-term solution must be used, “at the beginning, the implementation of the positive practices is very small, so the negative influences are still very powerful. However, eventually, as you gradually build up the positive practices, the negative behaviors are automatically diminished.” Do not get discouraged if you take a backward step, it is important to know that eventually, a negative situation won’t have an effect on your overall state of mind.

  1. Take the initiative to connect with people.

A lot of people often wait for others to respond to them in a positive way first, this creates a feeling of remorse and promotes a feeling of isolation away from others. Take the initiative and approach “others with the thought of compassion in your mind” meaning that you will be able to connect with them limiting the possibility that both of you involved will hold any ill will and negative feelings towards each other. “Whenever I meet people I always approach them from the standpoint of the most basic things we have in common. We each have a physical structure, a mind, emotions. We are all born in the same way, and we all die.” Using these underlying beliefs, you can more effectively and easily “exchange and communicate with one another.”

  1. The attitude you hold will determine the overall outcome of your life.

If you think the world is against you then it will seem that way. If you think that life is amazing and it should be cherished then that’s how you will see it. Experiencing suffering is inevitable, that is just how life is. A death in the family, finding out you have cancer, losing money on the stock market, all levels of suffering is sure to happen. “Our attitude towards suffering becomes very important because it can affect how we cope with suffering when it arises. Now our usual attitude consists of an intense aversion and intolerance of our pain and suffering. However, if we can transform our attitude towards suffering, adopt an attitude that allows us greater tolerance of it, then this can do much to help counteract feelings of mental unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and discontent.”  The Dalia Lama talks about people who can often allow feelings of loss, anxiety, and grief to overwhelm them if they go unchecked, pulling them into a deep hole of self-absorption. A few ways to combat such feelings is to think of others that have been or are in similar or worse off situations, allowing you to not “feel isolated, as if you (had) been single-pointedly picked out.”

These are my 5 main takeaways from His Holiness, however, the following passage is one that resonated with me the most.

“Trying to avoid our problems or simply not thinking about them may provide temporary relief, but I think that there is a better approach. If you directly confront your suffering, you will be in a better position to appreciate the depth and nature of the problem. If you are in a battle, as long as you remain ignorant of the status and combat capability of your enemy, you will be totally unprepared and paralyzed by fear. But if you know the fighting capability of your opponents, what sort of weapons they have and so on, then you’re in a much better position when you engage in the war.”

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

Book Review: The One Thing, Gary Keller with Jay Papasan

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Having recently found an interest in extraordinary successes and results I decided to pick up The One Thing, by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan, as my next book review. Gary Keller is an American entrepreneur and best-selling author, he is most known for his work as the founder of Keller Williams which is the largest real estate company in the world, with over 180000 agents, and franchises in North America, South Africa, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK, and Dubai. He has co-authored two previous books, The Millionaire Real Estate Agent and The Millionaire Real Estate Investor, the latter becoming a New York Times best-seller. So, it’s fair to say that Keller knows a bit about extraordinary success.

A Russian proverb starts the book, “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” This sets up the book which holds the view that as Humans we can only focus on one thing at a time if we want that one thing to be successful. He backs this up with a passage from the movie City Slickers, where the following conversations take place between two characters:

Curly: “Do you know what the secret of life is?”

Mitch: “No. What?”

Curly: “This.” [He holds up one finger]

Mitch: “Your Finger?”

Curly: “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean shit.”

Mitch: “That’s great, but what’s the “one thing”?”

Curly: “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.”

Keller goes on to say that at the time he didn’t realize the importance of this conversation. His company had run into some problems, after almost a decade of successfully building it from the ground up they had hit a wall. After going to a coach who helped him through his predicament they had come to the conclusion that Keller needed to fill 14 positions that needed new faces. Keller seeing that the most important thing to keep the business going was to find the people to fill those roles, he fired himself as the CEO. He made it his mission to focus on his one thing. Once the roles started being filled, the company grew year on year by an average of 40 percent for almost a decade. After looking back on his successes and failures he noticed a pattern, one that he would base this book on.

Keller goes on to reference the Domino Effect, whereby a single domino can set in motion a series of dominoes, not only that, but a domino can bring down another domino that is 50 percent larger. This can be used in the same way for goals and actions. For instance, what single action will set up another action that will ultimately end in achieving a goal. Keller notes that highly successful people find the lead domino every day and keep setting things in motion until they reach their goal or target. Keller has already underlined things of importance for readers, one being the following sentence:

“The key is over time. Success is built sequentially. It’s one thing at a time.”

I used to struggle with this concept, I would want that instant gratification and success. This is something I learned through starting Jiu-jitsu, and I have to thank my instructor Robbie for drilling it into my head for the past couple of months. I know that a lot of people think that success happens overnight, but having read books and really delved deep into how success occurs I have come to the realization that this is far from the truth. Constant work at a skill, on a task, or on a project in a big part determines its success.

Moving on to part one, where Keller breaks down the lies of success that mislead us and derail our efforts. Keller notes that there are six lies that society deems are true in creating success:

  1. Everything matters equally
  2. Multitasking
  3. A disciplined life
  4. Willpower is always on will-call
  5. A balanced life
  6. Big is bad

Now a few of these I already knew to be lies of success, such as multitasking, where you try to get multiple things done and you seem like you complete them both but ultimately you actually waste time in hopping between the two. Your mind has to adjust to the new task each time. That’s why you notice that your productivity goes down when a co-worker asks you to do something, as you then have to turn your mind to the new task to receive information, then go back to the one you were just working on.  However, I would have thought that discipline would be a key of success. But how Keller puts it changed my mind, how you can use discipline to create habits that lead to success. So, in the sense where self-discipline breaks down after a while unless the habit is made.

Never really thinking about if everything mattered equally I just assumed that everything was equal. Keller though would say that nothing is equal, in a contest one team is always going to be better, no matter how fair the official is, a person will always be more talented in one skill over another. Keller notes that when it comes to decision making, on what task to complete first we tend to trade the best decision for any decision. When everything seems important, then everything seems equal, we then try to complete everything at once, or value something that is not as important over something else as it seems more urgent. Making us busy and active, even though it doesn’t correlate with producing any results.

I am a sucker for to-do lists, I always make them and try to tick off the tasks on the list. Keller explains how they can become a trap of time wasting, as everything on the list seems important, even if it is a trivial task, it still sits on the same list as something more important. Keller referencing Australian prime minister Bob Hawke: “The things which are most important don’t always scream the loudest.” How to combat this lack of purpose in a to-do list, make a success list using the 80/20 principle, otherwise known as the Pareto principle. Take 20% of the list that would give you 80% of the productivity, and make a new list with that new 20%. Keller says to go even further, make a list that ultimately gives you only one thing to focus on.

Throughout the book there are many quotes by famous thinkers, writers and successful people from all walks of life, each giving a little bit of insight on the topic of the chapter. Not only has Keller underlined and included quotes, he has also summarized each chapter in a “Big Ideas” section at the end, meaning that instead of re-reading the book, you can just go back over each summary. The book is littered with figures and diagrams that help the reader visualize the concepts that Keller talks about.

Part two of The One thing starts with Keller telling his story of how got tired of “playing success” and ditched the lies of success that he talked about in the previous part and embraced the simple tactics that produce results. Starting with asking the hard question on what to focus on, what task are you going to focus on that will help you the most in working towards your goals, be it business, be it personal life, relationships whatever it is. Asking what Keller calls the focusing questions will allow you to break the task into smaller, more easily completed tasks. “The quality of any answer is directly determined by the quality of the question.” Keller includes a poem by J.B. Rittenhouse called My Wage that I will share with you below:

I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening when
I counted my scanty store.

For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid.

Noting especially the last two lines. When you ask for it, life will give it. However, you must take on the task of achieving it.

As covered in my review of Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, Life is about searching and giving it meaning. Keller agrees and states that Life is a question, that is up to the individual to answer with their actions. Everyone will be different. Another benefit of asking the focusing question is that when you add on to that question “what is the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” meaning that you can still have a big picture view of your current situation yet still focus on the one thing at that time and place that would make the next domino fall with less effort.

Keller talks about creating habits of success, habits that keep you asking the main question that he pushes: “What’s the one thing I can do today for______ such that by doing it everything else will be easier or even unnecessary?” and you use discipline for the habit to stick. Keller notes that research says that for a person to form a habit it takes 66 days. To help you in establishing this habit, it is imperative that you give yourself reminders to ask the question. Part of the ritual of asking questions is to break the question down, into small, big, broad and specific. So, you might ask yourself “what is something I can do to double my sales?”, this would be a big and broad question, too broad, and it doesn’t have any urgency to it. “What can I do to increase sales by 5% this year?”, this is a small and specific question, gives a goal date, but the sales increase is achievable. This is where you would have to ask a big and specific question to maximize your results. The question might look more like this: “What can I do to double sales in six months?” making it a habit to ask the questions in this way, gives you a large and challenging goal that you will have to work harder to achieve, while giving you a strict timeline whereby it creates a sense of urgency to complete it.

Moving onto part three, where Keller sums up how to get extraordinary results, where your productivity can be derived from the priority you give yourself at any given time, that works towards completing your purpose. “Live with Purpose”, how do you find your purpose? Well, you have to take on a task that you choose, it might be that you want to create a business, or that you want to grow your own produce and help reduce your pollution, whatever the case maybe it is up to you to decide on a purpose. As Keller puts it, “Who we are and where we want to go determine what we do and what we accomplish.” However, I will state that if you are struggling with a purpose and you are not sure were to aim. My advice, pick a direction and shoot, as long as you learn something from it, even if it is that you learn you don’t want to do it, then there is no harm done by it. Just don’t get discouraged and pick another thing to aim at.

With many repeating concepts such as goal setting, such that it gives you a clear big-picture direction that you can focus down on to what to do right at that moment of your day, where that action tips the next domino. Blocking time, not only time dedicated to your one thing, or big project but more importantly, a time where you can relax and time where you plan for the next week or month. The idea of making yourself accountable, where you actively seek and acknowledge reality and therefore find a solution to the problem you are faced with. Keller has written a great book, where most, if not all, of the concepts of The One Thing can be applied across all aspects of life. And Keller recognizes this, including a chapter all about putting The One Thing to work, including personal, family, job and a few others, all with examples of questions that you could ask of yourself.

The One Thing is another book to recommend to all of you, as I have only covered a fraction of the material. Keller and Papasan have written a great book, with a lot of new and old ideas that are actionable and backed by studies and research that was compiled over the four years before the book’s release. I buy most of the books I get through booktopia.com, I like the hard copy feel. However, if it is easier for you to get a PDF and chuck it on your Kindle or listen to an audiobook then I can highly recommend that you do so. What’s your One Thing? The thing you want to complete today, next month, next year? Let us know below.

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See you on the mats.

 

 

 

Top 10 habits that have changed my life

Here are 10 habits that have changed my life. My favorite would have to be either 1 or 4.

  1. Reading more

Getting back into reading was one of the best things I could’ve done. There is so much knowledge and life experience available in the pages of books. Experiences that I could learn from. My girlfriend and I are building quite the library from having only a handful to now almost 50. I try to read at least 10 pages or 20 min a day, all ways of learning something new.

  1. Journaling

I made it a point to start this year, and I have only missed a handful of days. Journaling is one of those things that I thought I would never do, however, it has been quite therapeutic. Putting thoughts on paper allows me to clear up the headspace and gives me the ability to focus on the daily goals. I have used 5-minute journaling for over a month and have not gone back. It’s an easy 5-minute task at the start and end of the day. Usually while eating breakfast and before bed.

  1. Listening to/watching interesting people

Listening and watching podcasts has become a staple of my routine. I listen to a podcast while I work out, Jocko podcast has been the main voice in my ear. And when my day is winding down I try to watch the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. Both offer many different views from many different interesting people, Jocko reads military books and will provide his own view, and well, Joe is Joe and brings on a plethora of interesting and exciting people, some with views that challenge my own, others that provide motivation and some that just provide a laugh.

  1. Undertaking tasks that are challenging

I think this is one of the biggest changes I have done. I would’ve usually been fine in doing the bare minimum, I cruised through high school and most of my university. I often felt like I should do more. So, I decided to bite the bullet and take on challenging tasks, not ones that have been placed on me, but ones I have set for myself. Taking up new hobbies, different things that I would’ve otherwise never done only showed a little interest in. I have completed two blacksmithing courses, started BJJ and started this blog. It isn’t easy but I enjoy every moment of it.

  1. Waking up early

I wake up at 5 most mornings and get gym out of the way early, I feel that I can complete more during the day with those extra morning hours when most people are still asleep. Some will say I’m crazy, but then those people probably don’t want the things I want. I will say that it is not for everyone, some may find that they work better in the midnight hours and that is fine. Not everyone is wired the same, I just happen to be a morning person.

  1. Exercising daily

I have always been active, however, the past year I have really tried to get the body moving daily. At least an hour at gym or BJJ training. Studies have shown that physical activity can improve quality of life and health outcomes, like reduced chances of cardiovascular disease and improved mental-health, amongst other benefits. When I have a lot on my mind I tend to try to get out of my head and into my body, pushing weight around a room I find it somewhat therapeutic.

  1. Doing a martial art

The physical adversity that comes with martial arts is something that will test all people, be it boxing or wrestling, Muay Thai or judo. Any martial will bring challenges that help the mind and body grow. Martial arts teaches discipline through training a technique over and over, confidence in your own ability to defend yourself, helps form new friendships and teaches you to be resilient under stress. I have to say that doing any martial art will benefit anyone, however, I reckon that BJJ is the way to go for many reasons which I lay out in this article.

  1. Sorting out my finances

It’s something that not a lot of people want to think about, however, if you don’t then when you need to think about it, it’s already too late. This is something that I think all should do, or at least attempt to as it gives you a peace of mind. I personally use the barefoot investor method, which I cover here. So far having implemented it for a month together with my girlfriend we have saved a weeks worth of wages while going on a holiday and still living our lives. So, the method allows you to still live your life by allocating spending money, whilst you save for the future.

  1. Taking control of my attitude

Attitude is something that only you can control, no one has any power over what kind of attitude you have. I used to be a bit of a hot head, still can be, but I have learned that my attitude can dictate how I react to something or someone. When reading Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, I began to understand that my attitude has really helped me navigate through life’s triumphs and tribulations. Not letting something or someone get the best of you all starts with your attitude and how you choose to react to it.

  1. Fear and goal setting

I wrote about this in a previous post. I never used to do either, but with the use of both, I am able to aim at my goals and strive to reach them, whilst also working away from my fears. Effectively it means that I have to modes of motivation, something pulling me and something pushing me. When setting goals, it is important to dream of the biggest goal, so for me it is to be financially free one day, then I have a five-year goal that will help me achieve that, then a one-year to a five-year, then a six month to reach that one year, and so on until it’s the goal for today. Which will help me reach the ultimate big picture goal that I first set. I will be covering The One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan, where goal setting is talked about at length.

 

So, these are my top ten things that I have done or used that have changed my life, they might work for you they may not (5am wake-ups can be a killer…. if you hate them). If you have any questions about anything I have covered, do not hesitate to ask. What habits have changed your life?

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See you on the mats.