Book Review: The Barefoot Investor, Scott Pape

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The only finance book you need to read? Maybe. Its good place to start.

Scott Pape has labeled The Barefoot Investor as the only finance book you will ever need. I have to agree with the statement to a degree, it helps you get out of debt, save, invest and look ahead to the future. However, you should use it as a base upon where you build your knowledge from. However, it only works if you do the work.

The book is a step-by-step guide, where Scott runs you through all the little things you should do to clear your debt, save and invest your money in and why. He has done a brilliant job of simplifying finance so a single mum can clear her debt and start saving for an initial down payment on a home. The book is littered with feel-good stories of people like you and me showing you that the principles Pape employs himself work, and you don’t have to be a financial wizard to become financially stable.

The book, however, revolves around couples who go out on date nights, and that between the two of you, you have to be making at least 1000 and month. Of course, this is great for those that can achieve that. However, if you are a struggling uni student who is single it’s a bit harder. Yes, that is only a very small minority of people, but none the less I believe that everyone should at least read the first 6 steps of the book as they will set you up quite well. For everyone else who can make the collective $1000/month, this book is a must.

Pape also lets you know you don’t have to be a tight-arse to do all these things, he doesn’t even want you to budget. He gets you setting up an autonomous banking system each account with different names like ‘splurge’ and ‘daily expenses’ also the names that you write on your bank cards to make sure that you don’t mistake the cards.

I will say that the book will help you get out of debt, save money, and invest your savings, however, you must implement the strategies put forth by Pape, as he won’t be setting up your bank accounts. Well, he might if you ask him nice enough. Furthermore, you should read other books that will broaden your understanding of finances. I enjoyed ‘The Richest Man in Babylon’ which follows a similar outline of Pape’s book, but more Laws that you should abide by regarding money.

Overall ‘The Barefoot Investor’ is a great finance book that is easy to follow and understand, Scott Pape lays it all out in layman terms in a step-by-step format. However, the process will only work if you put it in place! I will post an update on how my finances are going once I have implemented the content for a longer period of time.

The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need

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See you on the mats.

Book Review: Start with Why, Simon Sinek

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Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

I started reading to try and find how I could put my why for a business project I am currently working on into words. Not only did I find a why for the project, but I found the why to many more aspects of my life. This book is a global bestseller for good reason, Simon Sinek references many great leaders, ones that inspire and all ones that started with why. You can often see people or companies that want to push a product or service and you can see right through them, all they are after is either more money, more followers or something from you. When you have an honest and clear why, people tend to see that, good leaders are able to communicate their why, and people follow. Having a why is more than explaining to people how or what you are trying to achieve. What you offer is easily understood, the metrics are measurable. How you produce/market/design/etc it can be shown. But WHY can inspire more than someone to buy the service or good, it can inspire them to action. All aspiring leaders should read this book, anyone that wants to inspire should read this book. If you start with why you can change more than a decision, you can change an attitude.

Sinek starts with his why for writing the book, explaining that he wants to point out a ‘naturally occurring pattern,’ that anyone can learn it, and ‘with a little discipline,’ anyone can inspire others around them. Following this are three stories, stories that everyone knows. The Wright brothers successfully flying for the first time in human history. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak with the birth of the Apple computer. Dr. Martin Luther King leading the civil rights movement with thousands massing to hear the famous “I have a dream” speech. All leaders who lead, all starting with why. It is not like others didn’t want to fly, or bring the computer to the masses, or bring about change. Others had more funding, more support, more knowledge, yet they didn’t succeed in achieving their goals. Sinek points out that, the ability to motivate others is not difficult, motivation can be in the form of incentives or punishment, these are external forces. When one can inspire, not motivate, that is when the force is internal and the person may act on their own accord. You see this when a consumer will pay a premium for an Apple product over a competitor, whose product may, in fact, be similar or better and with a lower price tag. That is because Apple’s why is clearly understood by the buyer. Sinek goes on to say that over 80 percent of Americans do not have their dream job, and I am sure Australia would have a similar percentage. He hopes that the book can inspire more people to follow their dreams and give readers the cause of action. Sinek is a person that truly believes his vision, often guest speaking and spreading his cause, you can watch his now famous millennials in the workplace speech here.

As a kid growing up, you or some other kid would offer the other something in return for being friends. For example, Kid 1: “hey wanna be my friend? I’ll give you a cookie.” Kid 2: “sure I’ll be your friend. (eats the cookie)” Next day, however, Kid 2 is expecting a cookie. This is manipulation when Kid 1 wanted that loyal friend and only used a cookie as a form of swaying kid 2. Kid 2 now expected that he would get something in return for friendship. When kid 1 can’t offer anything in return for friendship kid 2 doesn’t want to play. Of course, this is something everybody learns, you can’t buy friends, well you can, they just won’t be there for you when you need true friends. Sinek describes customers/workers in a similar fashion, if you want people to be loyal you can’t win them over with manipulations. You have to inspire them. Had Kid 1 offered friendship for friendship, Kid 2 might have wanted to stay friends. You might keep employees for a little while with bonuses and promotions, but as soon as a better proposition comes up they will leave in an instant. However, if your company has a good work environment, and is fair and just in their treatment of all employees then they are more likely to stay. The same thing with customers, if you can provide a better experience or you can provide a statement instead of providing the best and/or cheapest product then they are more likely to stay. Sinek goes back to the example of Apple throughout the book, people will pay a higher premium for an Apple product over a, let’s say Samsung, due to the statement that the Apple product provides. The Samsung might even have better measurables, better camera, bigger and brighter screen, there might even be a sale on, but it cannot provide the Apple branding. People know the why of Apple and want to make the statement, “I’m different, I want to challenge the status quo.”

I personally don’t subscribe to Apple, however, I can see the allure of the products, they do have a lot of pulling power in the industry. In the Phone and computer industries their why is evident, and their products(or What) hold true to their vision(or Why). Sinek brings in one of Apple’s advertisements that ran a few years ago:

“Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.

The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly.

And we happen to make great computers.

Wanna buy one?”

You can feel their why clearly, If you look at a Samsung ad, it would first state the product’s features and how they were able to fit all those features in. The viewer, unless they know all about comparable features of other products, they can’t really get behind the product. It’s just another phone. Well, that’s what I think when I see a new ad (including apple).

Human beings are creatures that have the need to belong to something, a group. I can say that I am a martial artist, or I can say that I am an avid book reader, or I can say that I am a Marvel fan. We can belong to many groups, and that is how we often interact with others, we find a similarity and then we have a friend, or we may even trust a person more because they share some of the same morals and values. For instance, my girlfriend as soon as she figures out that someone else is from the country, or near where she grew up, she strikes up a friendship and will instantly like them. This is why companies can have such loyal fans because customers/fans want to belong to that group. Recently we have witnessed the explosion of Marvel fans, with good reason, Marvel has been producing these epic movies that have been breaking the mold of sorts. Superhero movies where multiple big names are teaming up against a big bad that alone each could not beat. Marvel does such a great job of appealing to the fans and taking them on massive rollercoaster rides of emotions that DC cannot compete. So, when a company can express it’s why authentically, the people will feel that they want to belong to it.

Sinek references the anatomy of the brain, the reason as to why us as humans are drawn to things. Whenever you get that gut feeling that something is right, or that you feel someone is more trustworthy, that is your old brain (or limbic brain). This is where your why comes from, for example, when someone asks you why you love something or someone, you can express things like: because it is fun, or because they are smart and pretty, or because it’s interesting. These are all what’s, there are lots of fun things that you could do, there are lots of pretty and smart people out there, there are lots of other interesting things. You struggle to actually express the why, you can describe it with what’s, but it comes from the old part of the brain which doesn’t have the capacity for language. The new part, or neocortex, is where all rational and analytical thoughts come from, or what’s. The neocortex is the part of the brain that we use for language, hence why it is easier for us to describe the what’s. When you or a company describe it’s what though, we have a harder time connecting with it. We go back to our gut feeling, the feeling we get from our limbic brain, why something is the right decision. So, my take from with bit from Sinek, Follow your gut (or limbic).

I have felt it and asked myself and I’m sure most of you have to, “Why the fuck am I doing this?” And it can get you good sometimes, you just don’t know why you are doing something, might be at work or it might be at school or university. You have to remind yourself of the why, so why would it be different for others that might be helping you or under you in the workplace? The answer: It’s not. Sometimes you have to give people the reason. Sinek uses the example of the first person to sustain flight and create the new technology of the time, the airplane. Samuel Pierpont Langley was at the front of the pack with a lot of backing from investors, government and businessmen alike. He was a professor of mathematics at the United States Naval Academy, had a team of the some of best minds of the time, and money was not object. The newspapers followed them everywhere, he knew what he was doing, building the first plane, he also knew what he would get from it, fame and money. Yet he did not have a clear sense of why he was doing it. Not far away was a less than dream team, that had no funding, no press coverage, none of the people in the team had a college education, but they had a why. They knew that it would change the world, they did it for a higher cause than themselves. We all know now that the Wright brothers, not Langley built the first plane, even though the odds were stacked against them. This situation happens more than you would think, that the underdog without any backing comes up with a breakthrough, when a why is involved, then the how and what can follow. Why provides inspiration, and inspiration provides drive and purpose, how is the implementation, and a product is what is created.

Simon Sinek produced has produced a well thought out book, one that inspires the reader to start with why and set out after their goals. I enjoyed the message that he shares, start with why and stick to it, do not split from the path and follow the what and how. I will say that a few passages of the book can be repetitive, however, I see that he is proving a point and wants to make sure that the information is passed across effectively. I only uncovered the surface of what this book has to offer in this post, I suggest that everyone read it, even if you don’t wish to inspire or be inspired. All of the pieces of information in this book can be applied all through life. Ask yourself your why, for me, one of my why’s is to spread the knowledge that I gain from experiences in my life, from books I read and little thoughts I get whilst training. My how is through this blog, and my what is the content I produce. Tell me your why, and how you want to implement it.

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See you on the mats.

Becoming responsible for my thoughts and actions, and the tools I use daily.

Taking on responsibility, this is something that I have been getting better at. I have taken on the things that I can control, I have started doing the things that I want to do. I have stopped blaming things on people, when it is really on me, my actions and emotions that would otherwise rule my life. Being positive even around negative people is incredibly difficult, yet I try to be as positive as I can. People will always try to bring you into their state, one of misery and suffering, instead of trying to come up to your level. Either they see it as you aren’t being realistic, they don’t want to change out of their ways, even if they know it will be of some benefit or they see it as too tough. I thought that this way of thinking was mostly limited to the older generations, but I see this at every age. By not listening to outside influences that promote thoughts and behaviors that I don’t want a part of, has made it easier. I now don’t watch the news/tv or listen to the radio or read the newspaper, as it gives me information that I see as wasting my brain’s storage. Don’t get me wrong I still think that knowing the gist of a little news is good, but by limiting the amount of information received you can turn your attention towards things that you want to do. Like projects, hobbies and seeking information that you want to know. So, instead I listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos on topics that interest me, and I read books that I know I will be able to take something from. Of course, there is the rabbit hole of YouTube, and I have gotten better at combating it by becoming more disciplined in my time management.

Through controlling what I have around me, the information I receive and take in, I have started to emulate a feedback loop of sorts. By reconfirming things that I listen to, read and watch, I then start doing. By doing the thing, I then get back positive results, further affirming my thoughts and therefore actions. What I do is something that anyone can do. Anyone can listen to the podcasts I listen to, anyone can read the books I read, anyone can watch the videos I watch. However, not everyone will think like me, not everyone will get the results like me. I’m not saying that everyone should think my thoughts and do what I do, I’m stating that they will not get the results they desire because they do not put in the work, they do not turn thoughts into actions. This is the critical component, this is the catalyst for what everyone wants in their lives.

Fear is usually the obstacle that catches many (covered in my book review: Feel the fear). Sometimes I think it is more, sometimes I look back on the person I used to be. One that blamed procrastination on genetics, I used to leave my homework until the night before it was due. One that would say I couldn’t do something because I wasn’t good at it. I never thought I could write, and my results proved it to me. Until I stopped blaming my circumstances on things other than myself, I would never be able to do the things I wanted to do. So, along with confronting my fears, I had to take full responsibility for my thoughts, actions, emotions, the information I was taking in from the people I wanted to.

I know I have previously written about positivity being bullshit, which is true, however, if you are continently taking in the right amount and applying yourself to maximize your output, then positivity is good. However, like everything it must be regulated, staying up and watching video after video with no action on your end will not do you any good. The feedback loop I talked about before can do an amazing job here, you get a thought, you act on that thought, you get results, the results affirm your thought. I use this process for writing, on projects, in jiu-jitsu, pretty much in most aspects of my life. Of course, I don’t let others dictate if my results are good or bad, because of the values I have set up, most of my results are good. If one person reads and likes my blog post then that’s a win for me. Now you say, well you will always win then, but if it creates a good feedback loop in my head, then why not? If I take it step by step and keep moving forward then I will slowly be able to change more and more people. This is my one of the bigger goals that I have for this blog, I want to change the way people feel about themselves, and I hope to inspire those around me, to inspire those around them. I see it that as inspiring in itself, people changing their attitudes and putting thoughts into actions inspires me. So, whenever someone tells me that I have given them a kick up the arse, it reminds me that what I write has power and drives me further.

So, what is it that you can take from this post? Well for starters, face your fears. I use an exercise, which I forget where I found it. It is the task of asking yourself why you won’t do something, or why you find something difficult. (It can really be used for anything.) However, it is not about asking yourself why just once, it’s about asking why until you get to the root cause of whatever seems to be bothering you. For instance: Problem might be, starting a project that I have been wanting to start for a while.

Why have I not started this project?

Because I am scared/unsure about how to start it.

Why are you scared?

Because it is something new that I have never faced before, and I don’t know anyone that would be able to help me.

Why do you need to get help from someone? Have you looked for some guidance?

            I know of people but I am scared to ask them.

This leads me to not only the root of the cause but allows me to determine what I should do. It almost makes it so obvious that it removes the fear that I had in the first place. Of course, the exercise will not work if you do not answer the question of why with some clarity and thought. You do not what to give broad and open-ended answers, like “because I don’t feel like it.” Usually, there is more than just not feeling like it, as that too can be asked why you don’t feel like it.

Another exercise I do, especially with goals, is I set ones that are attainable. For instance, read for 20 minutes a day, instead of setting it so that I aim to read for an hour. Usually, you will read for more than 20 minutes. Then the next week aim to read for a little longer per day. There is no rush to try and get up to your end goal of 2 hours a day, step by step. This can be used for everything, study, writing, spending time with loved ones, meditating. It is all about making the mindset switch of hitting goals, if you set out these unrealistic goals right away, not reaching them will deter you from ever setting them again. So, conditioning yourself into reaching goals, and even overachieving will help in changing your inner workings where achieving goals becomes a 70% hit rate. Instead of never hitting them.

Journaling is probably one of the best exercises I do, it is the one I first started with, it was part of my new year’s resolution. Benjamin Franklin said, “either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.” So, keeping this in mind I try and do things throughout my day worth writing about, obviously not in the history books just yet, but things that I am proud to write about. Once again I never scrutinize myself if I have not completed a task, however, I use the magic of positive reinforcement when I complete tasks and goals.

Another is fear setting, in which I go into more detail in a post that can be found here. Fear setting is much like goal setting, however, you set out your fears, enabling you to deconstruct any obstacles and negative thoughts that might be inhibiting you. For instance, I was not feeling like I would give my all if I continued at university this year, I was fearful of what would happen if I differed this year. Fearful of what Friends and family would think of me, fearful of not knowing what I would do for the year and many other fears that I won’t get in to. However, I can say that fear setting brought me out of stasis, giving me a better understanding of how insignificant my fears really were and gave me a clear direction that was aligned with the goals I had set for myself.

Now I don’t expect anyone one to use any of these tools, they are just the ones that I have found to work, they may work for you and I hope that you give them a try. If you need anything cleared up with any of the tools I have provided please email me or shoot me a message. Also, don’t read this and tell yourself that you don’t have time, because a lot of them can be used and completed in less than 30 minutes, and if you don’t have time then you are poor at managing it. Hopefully, you can take something from this post and maybe give one of the tools I have set out a try. Ultimately it is up to you to take on the responsibility of your life and be accountable for how it plays out and what path you take.

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See you on the mats.

Book Review: Feel the fear and do it anyway, by Susan Jeffers

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Feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

It seems I have been reading great books as of late. This is no exception, with easy to understand concepts that anyone could integrate into their lives ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ is another one for the list. With a feel-good attitude and many relevant stories and student testimonials at the end of each chapter, it is a phenomenal classic. Susan Jeffers states something in the introduction that I knew but did not think about till I read the words on the page. “Fear seems to be an epidemic in our society.” Everyone is so fearful of doing anything these days, me included, others and myself would say I can’t do that because of X, Y or Z. Of course, we would use excuses as reasons to hide behind. I won’t start Jiu-jitsu because I am not sure if I will like it, or I won’t defer my studies because I might upset my father. When really those excuses are just fears that can be overcome, like any obstacle in life fear can be turned into fuel. Jeffers gives readers tools and insights into fear and will improve the ability to fight and triumph over fear. Transitioning readers from a place of pain, suffering, and paralysis to one of power, love, and excitement.

Jeffers opens by asking ‘what are you afraid of.. and why?’ She relays the events of a new class of people wanting to learn from her in her now well-established course, Feel the fear and do it anyway, Asking each person the same question. ‘What are you afraid of.. and why?’ They answer each in situations different from the last but sound all too familiar. I want to leave my husband of 15 years, I want to leave my job and pursue my passion, I want to take the leap to the next step in growing my business. All are stories that can be related to, and every person is looking for the same thing that You and I picked up this book. We want to overcome something and grow. Jeffers breaks fear down into 3 levels, from ones that are the surface story ones like fear of change, death, illness, and others that happen to us. And ones like fear of making decisions, ending or beginning a relationship, public speaking, and others that require action from us. These are level one fears. Level 2 fears are fears that are feelings from the person, not exterior situations like those in level 1. Level 2 fears are fears of, rejection, helplessness, failure. These are more general, fears that affect multiple areas of your life. Level 3 would seem that it will be something massive in terms of fear, but Jeffers simply puts it as the fear of not being able to handle it. That you can’t handle what is going on around you, that you can’t handle the world as you are viewing it. As she puts it:

“The truth is:

If you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you possibly have to fear?

                The answer is: NOTHING!”

Knowing that you can handle anything that comes your way is a big deal, it isn’t about tricking yourself into thinking anything. It’s about knowing that life is a journey that will have ups and downs and that it is up to us to develop trust in our own ability to handle each situation. Take on the responsibility of handling it and not backing down from fear.

Jeffers gives readers her five truths of fear as described below:

  1. The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.
  2. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.
  3. The only way to feel better about myself is to go out… and do it.
  4. Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.
  5. Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness. (My favorite)

With each truth, she gives her reasoning, which I found solidified what I already knew from other books and material I have digested. No matter how much you grow and progress, there will always be obstacles, be it from outside forces or those imposed by oneself. However, to get over those obstacles, action with a clear purpose of overcoming adversity will allow you to progress to the next challenge life has laid out in front of you. Usually, when I am having a shit day I try to complete an easy task on my to-do list. Might be water the garden or walk the dog, but the process of completing something allows me to get the ball rolling. Of course, knowing that someone has been, is and will be in the position that you find yourself in, fearing action, is comforting. Of course, knowing that those before you have pushed forward gives you confidence that you will too. In most cases someone has written or talked about your position, you might feel lost, you might be afraid of changing careers or dumping that pyscho boyfriend. Someone probably has done it. My favorite truth is that the fear of inaction is far greater than action. Using fear to help push you is one of the greatest things I have learnt recently. I would always fear doing something, talking to that girl, asking for help, whatever it might’ve been. However, instead of having fear block my move, I turn it into a positive and take action.

Jeffers goes on to point out that currently in society the word ‘power’ has negative connotations, often being used in terms of control over others and the miss use of it. But she talks about power in the sense of oneself, the power of how you view the world, the actions you take, the power of growth, to create joy, satisfaction, and love in one’s life. When one lacks power, they feel helpless to the world, they are more likely to suffer and to fear change and growth. Not having power in one’s life results in manipulating others around them and playing the victim in most circumstances. Since they have no power of their own they try to take it from everyone else. You can often see this when someone starts succeeding in life, others try to cut them down, showing their jealousy and lack of power over their emotions. Power is the ability to overcome adversity and obstacles that life sets up for you, knowing that the task at hand is hard but pushing through and completing it anyway. So, instead of using words and phrases like: I can’t, it’s not my fault, life’s a struggle, and if only. Which are phrases of the victim mentality, use phrases of the powerful mentality like I won’t, I’m totally responsible, life’s an adventure, and next time. Changing the attitude and values are difficult, but it becomes easier when using words of power and becoming responsible for what you say and do.

A trap that I would often fall into would be thoughts of self-doubt and negativity, I would beat myself up over things I did or said. I would fear outcomes of action so I would then just not do them, I wouldn’t ask that girl out, or I wouldn’t stand up to people who were having a go at me or my mates. I would feel helpless whenever these thoughts crept into my head, Jeffers touched on the effects of negative and positive thought and how powerful they really are. However, you cannot stop thinking positively even when you have reached or goal or achievement, likening it to exercise. You wouldn’t stop going to the gym after you have gotten your body in shape. She gives readers some exercises and tips for turning negative to positive. And, keeping it positive. All reinforcing positive attitudes. From listening to audio tapes and reading books, writing positive quotes and recording and listening to affirmations. She leaves out a very important detail, however. None of these things will work if you don’t put them into action, and even then, if you put them into action, you have to really draw from them and become positive. If you keep a negative mindset, you could read as many books on positivity as possible, and you would still be negative. The change MUST come from within. No outside force will make the transformation for you.

Once this shift in mindset has begun, often other people in your life find dealing with the change difficult and do things, most of the time unconsciously, to discourage the change. I have found this in a lot of my own relationships. I say I want to do something, and already people start telling me “Aww, nah man you don’t want to do that.” Or “I’ve heard that it already been done.” Or “I tried that, and it didn’t work for me.” So, I have found myself not telling anyone anything and just doing it. Obviously, this is not everyone, and sometimes they can be all for one idea but then reject another the next week.  Jeffers talks about making some changes, however, these changes aren’t difficult to make. Over time your “moan-and-groan” friends will either see the example you are setting and join you in growing, or they will find other “moaners-and-groaners” to complain about their lot in life. In each circumstance, Jeffers explains that you the reader should not feel guilty for not keeping toxic relationships, obviously the former is more preferred. However, you can only be an example for them, it is up for them to decide if they wish to take life on and leave negativity behind. Jeffers includes anecdotes from students that have participated in her courses that have had their partners resist their growth. She gives an insight into why their partners are dragging them down, often they need help too in growing and changing their mindset. Often the partners are able to see what they are doing wrong and start to change themselves, others do not. If you stop your growth and choose to stay in the relationship for the reason of not upsetting your partner, you more often than not become resentful of them for not allowing you to grow. A break usually occurs after this point.

Jeffers closes the book with the reminder that there is plenty of time, time for you to grow, time to change your mindset, time to do the things you want to. Being impatient creates feelings of fear, stress, and frustration. This rings true especially in today’s world of instant gratification when everyone wants to feel good now, to have the latest phone, the best this, that and the other thing. Just take a deep breath, and trust in your own abilities and trust that whatever life throws at you, you can handle it. Either we think about experiences as a victim and not learn from it or we take responsibility and learn from it. Jeffers has produced a book full of little tips that can be applied all throughout life, the title says it all. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

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See you on the mats.

Podcast 001 – Robbie Singh

This originally wasn’t going to be a podcast of sorts, but it went so well that I thought may as well release the interview. Robbie works as a Senior Behavioral Analysist, specializing in working with children with autism, teaching and giving them skills to improve their lives and to allow them to become more independent. and is an instructor at Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Burwood, he has a black belt under 3rd Degree Black Belt Professor David Krstic. We cover:

  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu vs Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
  • How he got into Jiu-Jitsu.
  • The difference between most martial arts and Jiu-Jitsu, the effectiveness of each against more athletic or stronger opponents.
  • How Jiu-Jitsu has not only helped him lose weight but also changed his mentality.
  • How JJ checks your ego.
  • The common mistakes he sees students do.
  • His role models that have helped shape his life.
  • The humble beginnings of his family.
  • His connection with Rener Gracie and the contagious (R)energy he brings.
  • His ‘a-ha’ realization of the effectiveness of Jiu-Jitsu.
  • His long-term goals for the club and himself.
  • Turning negative events into positive outcomes.
  • The importance of culture in clubs.
  • Increasing awareness of Jiu-Jitsu to Australia.
  • Books he read before using Gracie University to learn techniques and the Gracie philosophy.
  • His favourite techniques, to show when demonstrating, to use and most used.
  • Not listening to negativity and learning to listen to constructive criticism.
  • Loving Jiu-jitsu even when you are getting submitted.
  • The mindset change once you start jiu-jitsu. And the contagious positive effects of it.
  • Getting parents down to the academy, and how his mum was his first women empowered student.
  • The effect of advertising the culture of the club on social media.
  • And a little gift from Robbie to the listeners.

Unfortunately being a rookie in the audio world the sound quality is not the best, I am open to suggestions as to how to improve the quality of the podcasts. I am also looking for others to interview. 

Shout out and thank you to Robbie for taking time out of his day to come on and share his knowledge and experiences. You can follow him at:

Facebook: Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Burwood

Instagram: Gracieburwood

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Take the advice, but don’t listen to them

I have recently applied for an intermission from my course, I suppose to try something different other than being a student, but not only that, to experience other things. Other jobs, places, cultures, languages, to try my hand at building something I can be proud of. By doing something that I was not told to do, rather something I wanted to do. During this process of thinking about what I should do, fear setting and talking with friends, family and work colleagues, a large portion of them have told me that I should attempt to finish my studies. “It’s only two more years, you could do that.” I can see where they are coming from, give myself better options down the track, more options for work, for career goals, more money. I understand that they all want to help, however, if I am not putting in my best work, why should I continue? If I am not giving it my all, my 100% at something I feel as though I am cheating myself. Yes, I could try to give my all, but having been “trying” last year I know myself and I would not give it this year. I would fail subjects that I would normally easily pass, I learnt from my mistakes of my first tertiary course out of high school. If I continued and failed or barely passed I would have shown that I learnt nothing from my year and a half at Monash. Do not continue with something if you cannot give your all. I am not sure if I will find the drive again from taking this year off, or if I try my hand at something else altogether. However, I know that I have zero drive as of now for studying. I will not preach something that I myself do not follow.

If you too are thinking of changing something in your life, I recommend tuning out the white noise of 99% of people that will give you their input on how you should live your life. It is your life, if you do not want to stay in something you do not enjoy or like, the simple answer is don’t. There will be a plethora of people in your life telling you that you have made the wrong decision, that you should do this or that, it’s only two years. It is surprising how little that is, in the grand scheme of things, it’s nothing. But a year is even less, if you feel that you need a year off. Take it. It is only one year, it is not like a year is going to make a big impact if you do go back to studying. Who knows, you may find something that you enjoy, even more, you may find someone that will change your life, you may experience something that you never would have experienced if you didn’t take the year off. There are pros and cons of every decision you make. If you look at each choice in the light that it is a win, then all decisions you make are wins, as long as you make some form of gain, which you will, because there are always takeaways from everything.

When I was younger, I really cared about what people said about me, what I should do and how I should do it. I would often listen to my fathers every word, now this is no fault of his and I love him all the same. I understand that he tried to guide my lost soul to something that would bring me some form of success. He knew that I could be good at whatever I wanted to be good at. However, no matter how hard he tried to lead me to what he felt was right for me, subconsciously I must’ve known that whatever it was just wasn’t for me. Many others have pointed me in directions that I felt weren’t what I truly wanted to become, even now many tell me I should do this and that. I don’t even know what I want to do, but I do know what I don’t want to do. That is enough for me to make a decision. I know that I have a lot of time to find what I want to do, and I have experienced a lot of things that have taught me, I am grateful for having the chance to do what I have. But, now having the consciousness of knowing what I don’t want to do has given me some form of guidance, not from someone else, but from myself.

Being able to drown out the noise is difficult at first, everyone making you unsure of yourself. I second guessed myself, and I am not going to blame anyone for it since it is ultimately me who makes the decision. I will say that if people are giving you second thoughts, do not listen to them. They may say that they made the same mistake you did (which doesn’t make sense because you haven’t made their mistake), but really, they don’t know you. If you find it hard, reach out to friends and family who will say yes go you, carve your own journey and path. I really do feel that anyone can follow their dreams, the current world we live in allows for it. You can do anything now with the internet, having so much information out there. If you really want to learn something or do something there is not a whole lot stopping you. I look up to people that have carved their own path, and many others have before them and others will after you.

On that, there is always someone who has done something similar to what you want to achieve. Others have walked in front of you, and if you can find them, learn from them, take as much as you can from their experiences and add their tools to your belt. Don’t feel like you can or have to go it alone, it is not only more difficult and draining, but it’s stupid. Why would you put all the pressure of learning how to do something on you, when you could learn tricks or skills that would further your progress that much smoother and quicker. I will say though that some things cannot be taught, mistakes and experiences that you have to go through and stumble on your own. The others, however, learn them. Like in BJJ, you have to sometimes have a higher belt see what you are doing incorrect and inform you of a better or more precise way to perform the technique.

Stumbling is a part of learning, BJJ, and life. To become what you envision for yourself, you have to keep correcting course and learning from your own mistakes. So, people may tell you that they have to lead you to water, but they ultimately cannot make you drink. And they are correct, your life should only be governed by you and your values, you have to tune outside noise out, and continue on the path that you want to take. Do not let people make decisions for you, because you are not them, and they are not you. Let them sort themselves out first before instructing you what to do. Use it as a chip on your shoulder to make sure that you prove them wrong, you will not make the same mistakes they made, you will succeed under your own metrics, not theirs. Who knows, by following your metrics you might find the thing you are looking for. Take the chance, make your path.

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See you on the mats.

Change, Fear setting and how to apply it

Change, Why do we fear it? I am currently going through some changes in my life, new values and new ways of thinking, I have recently been thinking about following a dream and doing things that I feel like I need to do. However, I am over thinking what might happen, what terrible things could come of my decision. I remembered from a book a read last year, The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, about fear setting, so I searched it up. I reread the chapter where he talks about how he came across it and how he utilizes it quarterly. So, I thought I would give it a shot, why not see if I can come to some conclusion about how I should think about the current situation I am in. I set out my fears, all of them, the most horrible and the ones that will impact me the least. From friends and family disowning me, to me getting injured or killed. Then I put in place steps on how I would repair any “damage” that might occur, for instance, I would have to wait a year till I could go back to what I was doing, essentially what would I have to do to revert the changes.

Next outlining the possible outcomes and benefits on each path that I could take at this current decision point. How much happiness could I possibly get from staying? Doing fulfilling work, like writing more for this blog, what would I get or achieve for staying or leaving? Next outlining what would happen if I got fired from my current job. Laying out possible other sources of income, how many weeks could I survive without income? Would I be able to find another job? Would I be able to use savings for a little trip? Setting out possible outcomes and benefits helps you understand that your decisions, either path you choose has upsides, making both win possibilities. Helps in choosing the better win scenario for you. A big fear for everyone is getting fired, so laying out what if options for yourself puts into perspective that getting fired isn’t that big of a deal in the long run. Looking at the negative and turning it into a positive. You get fired, cool I now have more reason to chase my dreams and succeed with this chip on my shoulder. (chip on shoulder not necessary)

What am I putting off because of fear? This is one of the most important questions to answer when fear setting, as you have to really dig down into your reasoning and the excuses you are setting up for yourself. I can’t leave her/him because I don’t know how I will survive without them, I can’t ask for a raise because what if they say no, I can’t do this because of that. You get the picture. Once you lay out the illogical reasons behind your excuses, you can comprehend just how stupid your excuses are. That you can do those things that you want to. Ultimately only you are stopping you. Once you have seen the stupidity in your fear ask yourself what is it costing me? My lack of action against my fear, how is it affecting me and my life at the moment? I am I as happy or fulfilled as I could be? This helps in highlighting the fear of inactivity, What do you stand to lose if you don’t make a decision? What will you regret not doing? As they say, you regret the thing you didn’t do.

Once putting your situation into context and labeling and setting out all your fears, the final question to ask yourself is: What am I waiting for? Once having deconstructed the fears that would usually seem overbearing and too big to overcome, they now seem easily avoidable or non-threatening. The fears become only excuses that you set for yourself, having the ability to look at the big picture and step back from your situation, allows you to clearly think about what to do next and how you plan on achieving whatever outcome you choose to follow.

Fear setting is a tool that I will continue to use going forward, helping me make clear decisions and giving me the capability to deconstruct my situation and reduce my fear to excuses. I will include the layout and questions below for you to copy and paste if you wish to try it for yourself. I do hope you try it just once to see its effects. However, this tool will only work if YOU put in the work and make it actionable, no one will do the work for you. Remember this can be used for any situation, hopefully, it will help you out to come to a more informed decision.

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See you on the mats.

 

FEAR SETTING:

Write out the situation that you are currently in:

Where are you currently? What are you doing? And What are you planning/wanting to do?

  • Define your nightmare:
  • Repair the damage:
  • Outcomes and benefits:
  • What if I get fired?
  • What am I putting off out of fear?
  • What is it costing me?
  • What am I waiting for?

 

What to take from ‘My battle’, You are Valued.

I sit here at my computer the day after I posted my account of my battle with cancer, absolutely gobsmacked by the response. Just over 450 total views of the article, a few Facebook shares and over one hundred likes, multiple comments from friends and family on just my FB post, not to mention the others. I never, in my wildest dreams, would have thought that I would be able to produce such an impact. So, I sit here wondering, why do we devalue/undervalue ourselves? Why don’t we think that we can make some form of good change in our own communities? We live in an age where we are so well connected, but no one truly is connected. I mean it in the sense where we all look at our screens wherever we go, we share photos of holidays but don’t share experiences, Maybe I am just not listening as well as I should be. Maybe I have only just realized that, Yes, the world is in a bad shape, but really, we live in the best time to be alive. Yes, there are bad things happening, we choose to listen and be angry at the world. Maybe because it is so much easier to be angry and blame others for what is happening, that we have forgotten that we have the power. The power to listen, the power to choose how we react, the power to change what we can to make life a bit more bearable, as Buddha said, “Life is suffering.”

I know that everyone reading this has, is or will suffer at some point in their lives, be it abuse, losing a loved one, financial crisis, whatever it is everyone will experience some form of suffering. So, it is no good to get into a pissing match arguing who suffers more, we should understand that everyone has their own trials and tribulations and we should be sympathetic. However, we must not focus on other people’s problems before our own. I have my problems that I am striving to work out, and I know I am and will never be perfect in any sense of the word, but I will do my best to achieve that. There is no reason as to why you can’t too. I fear the spotlight, I do not like getting told that I “I am courageous” don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the compliments, and know that it is to do with opening up about a very vulnerable period of my life. But I will always feel that there are many more brave and courageous people who are more deserving of the title. Military, Police, Doctors, Nurses, Firefighters and many other people, who are in the profession of saving lives. But maybe I am courageous, but if I can be, then so can you. Don’t devalue yourself because you don’t think that you have nothing to offer because I am sure I could learn something from everyone I meet. I can learn to become better at your specialty, you can teach me about something you love, even my enemies will have something that can teach me.

To continue from Buddha, Friedrich Nietzsche said, “if to live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” So, find that reason. It might be for your kids, maybe it’s for a hobby, maybe you want to help people, maybe you have a story to tell that may inspire others, maybe you can help those going through something and not expect anything in return. Tell your story! I didn’t post my battle for the likes, follows, or admiration, I posted that to let people know that they can push through hard times, that life is hard, but you have to create something of it. I have found, that writing and sharing my experiences has helped me grow and give some meaning to why I had to go through that, who knows, I could learn and be inspired by something you post. We can and should learn from each other, I thought that I could go it by myself in a lot of circumstances, however, I have recently come to realize that I don’t have all the answers, but they are out there. When a student is ready, a teacher will show up. Well for me that has been podcasts and books. I listen to podcasts of people I admire, I read books by people who have a greater insight than I do, I do things out of my comfort zone. All these things help me grow and teach me. I hope that one day I can become the person I have envisioned for myself. One that helps those in need and one that never stops wanting to learn. So, put value to your name, share your experiences and help yourself out first. I know it sounds stupid coming from someone who still hasn’t gotten their own shit together, but it’s as much for you as it is for me. YOU ARE VALUED!

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See you on the mats.

My Battle

You often hear of massive negative events being the inspiration for change in one’s life. Which sounds backward, why would, and how can someone create a positive out of a negative? I have been wondering lately, why do people do that? Why is it that some terrible, or horrific situation makes or breaks someone? But just as a bushfire is a catalyst for seed pods to burst and the soil to become more fertile so that new trees may grow, maybe that is what one of these experiences is meant to do. Maybe it is supposed to wake our true selves up out of our slumber and take on the world with a new mindset and some new values and metrics to live our lives by.

I don’t like talking about my brief touch with cancer as I see it as me being a victim and me, to put it bluntly, being a little bitch. But I can truly state that I was one of those experiences that changed my life for the better, fuck it was hard and I am thankful it was. Making me more aware of myself, and how precious life is, and understanding that I had the real possibility of dying and that death is something that will eventually happen to all of us. Understanding that I, as much as everyone in this world, has the ability to overcome any obstacle in our way. Also came to the realization that I have to pursue the things I want in my life, the people I interact with, the jobs and hobbies I have a passion for, read and listen to the people that inspire me, never stop wanting to learn and most of all to help out those who are going through rough times, and to bring everyone I possibly can up in life from dark places. I do want all of you reading this to succeed in life, however, you want to measure success by. You have to command yourself to get it, it will not come to you if you sit idle.

In February of 2016, I woke my Mum up in the middle of the night to let her know that the pain from my stomach was not going away. She had me call up nurse on call, the lovely lady on the other side of the line told me to get to emergency quick. So, we rushed off to the hospital, where I got diagnosed and the next day I was operated on. Appendectomies seem to run in the family, my father and his father had them done around the same age (21). I get out and everything is all well and good, I go on with my life, work, study, hang out with mates, plan for the next ski trip. A couple of months later I get a call while I’m at work. To give you some perspective, I’m in the middle of this soon to be estate on the northern outskirts of Melbourne. The next paddock over is this beautiful green field and small hills were in view, the skies were an ominous dark grey. In that moment I had never felt so small. When the words “We found a tumor in your appendix Carlos – Blank,” hit my ears, it felt like a scene from a movie, the hills kept getting further away and I felt how insignificant I was in the big schemes of the universe. I asked if he could repeat what he said like there was static, but I knew what he said. My workmate asked if I had seen a ghost, I told him that it was my surgeon, he joked if he was calling because I had cancer, he knew how to lighten the mood. I told him that he was bang on the money. I thank him for being a stand-up guy and taking the edge off a bit. I called my mum to break the news I am sure she never wanted to hear. The possibility that her son had cancer.

I count my blessings that I come from I unbelievably strong family, where there is so much love, power and ability to not falter. One where we really pull around those coming down on hard times, I thank my friends that were there when I needed them most, and to my bosses for not treating me any different thank you. So, began the long weeks of not knowing what the fuck was going to happen to me, all I knew was that I was going to win. For the first couple of weeks, I was fucked around by the public health system, from one surgeon to the next, all not giving me a clear answer or direction on what to do next. Thankfully my current surgeon took the situation on and set me straight. The long weeks of going in and out of waiting rooms for blood tests and scans and other procedures were hard, but being around my friends and family, working, studying and training, all helped me keep my mind off the grim situation at hand.

The results came in, no further tumors, however, since the tumor in my appendix was larger than the threshold, the collective of doctors decided to perform a precautionary surgery. I would lose the right third of my large intestines. What would be the life-changing event was booked in. I was upbeat leading up to the date, with the snow season around the corner, and if all goes well I might be able to hit the slopes at the tail end of the season. My surgeon rings me up the week before surgery and says she has come down with horrible flu-like symptoms and will have to push the surgery back a few weeks. The news bums me out for a bit since I won’t be making it to the mountains this season. But hey, I’m still alive and well. So, three weeks later I’m getting ready for surgery, got enough clothes for what will hopefully be a short three to four-night stay. All the procedures before surgery go well, and now I’m surrounded by doctors and nurses and I slowly fall asleep.

I wake up to pure white and an indescribable pain, I take a breath but get nothing, I cough to try to clear my throat. More pain, some red splatters the white background. Is that my blood I’m coughing up? I can’t stop coughing, more red. I hear someone yell “hold on to this as tight as you can.” I grip on to what I assume was a pillow, I hold on for dear life, coughing and blood and pain. All I could think was not today motherfucker, not today. I must’ve passed out because the next thing I know I wake up in the intensive care unit. My lovely mother and father greet me, as I started to come to. I am hooked up to a lot of machines and there are tubes in and out of me. A nurse lets me know that I am hooked up to morphine and I can press a button when the light goes green if I am in a lot of pain. I don’t think I stopped pressing that button for the first couple of days. I had trouble breathing, every movement hurt and all I wanted was to go home. I get a visit from my surgeon, she tells me that the surgery went well, however, there were complications at the end when they were removing the tube from my throat, she told me that I had inhaled a lot of blood and that I would be monitored before being allowed to leave. Two days later I was moved to a normal recovery room, where I could have visitors.

I am thankful that some of my friends came to see me and keep me from going insane. If you are reading this you do not know how much it meant to me. All the ones that didn’t go but sent best wishes do not feel bad, it is life, things come up and I know that everyone has their own problems that need sorting out. I do not view you any less and love you all the same.

I could not eat until my digestive system had rebooted, and I could not leave until I had shown that I had stabilized and the pain had subsided a bit. I can’t remember much of the first couple of days due to the morphine removing not only the pain but my ability to process what was going on. After a few days of rehab and exercises to open up the lungs and get me walking, the tubes and machines slowly disappeared to other patients more in need of them. I made it my mission to get out of there as soon as I possibly could. If they wanted me to be able to walk one loop around the small rectangular complex I would try to walk twice around. If they wanted me to do a few exercises I was going to do them to the best of my ability, whatever it was I was going to smash this. Once I stopped using the morphine as much I became more of myself, I tried to make the situation as light as possible, Yeah, I almost asphyxiated myself, but I was going to press on. After seven days I finally got out. My parents said that they were not too far away from picking me up, so I signed myself out after getting all my stuff together and headed down to the lobby. I was so ready to leave that I was waiting for them, but it didn’t matter, I was out.

The first meal outside of the hospital will forever stick in my mind. It was probably the biggest burger I have ever eaten along with a creamy milkshake, I paid for it later but it tasted so good. It’s the little things in life that create happiness, I try my best to not take them for granted. Shout out to one of my best mates who swung by and picked me up. Love you man. After two weeks of sitting at home not really doing anything productive, I told work that I wanted to start. I said that I will need to be on light duties, and they made it so I was needed. It was the best thing for me to do, it kept my mind off the pain, and allowed me to feel valued. Get on with life, because it won’t slow down for you. A month later I was cleared to start working out again, building back the strength was challenging but the experience made me really appreciate gym more, not being able to work out sucked balls, and whenever I catch myself whining about it I remember that specific feeling of pushing out that first rep since surgery and how good it felt.

Through the process I did not tell many people, I felt like I would burden them with my problems, or I would seem like I wanted some pity love. From the few people I told, word spread and many would come up to me and ask how I was going, many would send me well wishes and often would ask me why I didn’t tell them. I suppose in a world where everyone posts what is going on in their lives, I felt like I didn’t want to place my problems out there. I felt as though I could press on through the suffering by myself since it was only me who was experiencing it. I also hate being in the spotlight. I had many great chats with people who had been through similar circumstances, it was an uplifting feeling, that so many people cared and shared stories with me. It made me realize that I was a little bitch for thinking that only I was suffering. I often feel that most people put into these situations feel the same and tend to bottle up emotions. I know I did. It was a few months later when all the pain really came out, to the only person who I could really show how hard it was. I had to be strong for everyone except dad, he has been one of my greatest role models and best mates. On that day I let my walls down for a brief minute. It felt good, I guess I never spent the time to really address my pain. From then on, I would try my utmost to check in with myself and I started to become more aware of myself.

Like everyone I had good days and bad days, I would catch myself thinking why me, why did this happen to me. After putting it into perspective, I am still alive, my life is not that bad, I have a place to sleep, food to eat and things to do. Others are not so fortunate. All you can do in these situations is to push through. No one is going to make you feel better, you have to push yourself and break through the uncomfortable pain and suffering to get to the other side. The mindset I had through the whole process was to make sure that I never let it get the best of me, some days were harder than others, but I would do my best to rise above the situation and learn from it. It has taken me almost two years to put all this into words. And really start living my life by my own values, do the things that interest me, understanding and overcoming my fears, and changing my life. Asking out the girl of my dreams, starting BJJ, reading more, listening to the things I like, spending time with close friends and family, starting this blog, putting myself in uncomfortable positions that will eventually help me grow as a person. I know this is a long read and if you have made it this far thank you. I hope you all reading this can take something from my experiences and apply it to your life, remember it starts with the mindset. Create good out of the bad, use it as fuel, live your life your way and push through the uncomfortable. Life is a journey, make it your own.

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Thank you again, and see you on the mats.

 

Edit – Follow-up post of what I learned in posting up this story of my battle.

I got my first stripe! So did she!

This past week I received my first stripe, my partner joined the one stripe club not long after, the first of many. It has been nice going in as much as we possibly can, and the hard work has paid off, both of us only starting just over a month ago. The journey so far has been unending fun, with taking every class as it comes and trying to make the most out of the time there, learning asking questions, getting tips from our rolling partners. It has been great seeing her grow and prosper, she listens intensely and is always asking questions, more than me, funny enough! The process of learning BJJ has been fun and you can always pick something up when you are repeating a class. I have made a few friends and using my own tips have connected with them well and have maximized my learning, asking questions and focusing on the little things. My training partners have been amazing at helping me learn and have been able to answer most of my questions when I have needed a better understanding of the move. Obviously, when they can’t, Robbie has been there to help.

Since I had a few double up classes, I was able to train and help teach my SO(significant other), it was a new experience which was fun and challenging. I want her to be the best that she can, however at times had to pull myself up on going too fast and slowing it down for her. I still need to work on being clear and concise in teaching, as I would often rush the explanation on the topic and my SO would not fully understand the move or section of the technique. Luckily, she learns in a similar way to me, which is by doing it and then drilling it, so I don’t have to change my teaching style too much. I know I have a long way to go but I thought I would give an update and put my thoughts out. Thanks for reading.

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See you on the mats.