I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself.
When I was young I had no sense of myself. All I was, was a product of all the fear and humiliation I suffered. Fear of my parents. The humiliation of teachers calling me “garbage can” and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a living. And the very real terror of my fellow students. I was threatened and beaten up for the color of my skin and my size. I was skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me I didn’t run home crying, wondering why.
I knew all too well. I was there to be antagonized. In sports I was laughed at. A spaz. I was pretty good at boxing but only because the rage that filled my every waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I fought with some strange fury. The other boys thought I was crazy.
I hated myself all the time.
As stupid at it seems now, I wanted to talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of knowing that I wasn’t going to get pounded in the hallway between classes. Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only talked to a few boys in my grade. Other losers. Some of them are to this day the greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a guy who has had his head flushed down a toilet a few times, treat him with respect, and you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But even with friends, school sucked. Teachers gave me a hard time. I didn’t think much of them either.
Then came Mr. Pepperman, my advisor. He was a powerfully built Vietnam veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn in his class. Once one kid did and Mr. P. lifted him off the ground and pinned him to the blackboard. Mr. P. could see that I was in bad shape, and one Friday in October he asked me if I had ever worked out with weights. I told him no. He told me that I was going to take some of the money that I had saved and buy a hundred-pound set of weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started to think of things I would say to him on Monday when he asked about the weights that I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special. My father never really got that close to caring. On Saturday I bought the weights, but I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An attendant laughed at me as he put them on a dolly.
Monday came and I was called into Mr. P.‘s office after school. He said that he was going to show me how to work out. He was going to put me on a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the hallway when I wasn’t looking. When I could take the punch we would know that we were getting somewhere. At no time was I to look at myself in the mirror or tell anyone at school what I was doing. In the gym he showed me ten basic exercises. I paid more attention than I ever did in any of my classes. I didn’t want to blow it. I went home that night and started right in.
Weeks passed, and every once in a while Mr. P. would give me a shot and drop me in the hallway, sending my books flying. The other students didn’t know what to think. More weeks passed, and I was steadily adding new weights to the bar. I could sense the power inside my body growing. I could feel it.
Right before Christmas break I was walking to class, and from out of nowhere Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest. I laughed and kept going. He said I could look at myself now. I got home and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body, not just the shell that housed my stomach and my heart. My biceps bulged. My chest had definition. I felt strong. It was the first time I can remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one could ever take it away. You couldn’t say s—t to me.
It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against will always work against you.
It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.
I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.
I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character. It is the difference between bouncers who get off strong-arming people and Mr. Pepperman.
Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.
Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance if he was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming passion, a weakened body cannot sustain it for long. I have some of my most romantic thoughts when I am with the Iron. Once I was in love with a woman. I thought about her the most when the pain from a workout was racing through my body.
Everything in me wanted her. So much so that sex was only a fraction of my total desire. It was the single most intense love I have ever felt, but she lived far away and I didn’t see her very often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the loneliness. To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads.
I prefer to work out alone.
It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me how to live. Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole.
I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron Mind.
Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind.
The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back.
The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs.
Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.Read More
The November 14, 2014, Inc. article, “22 Top CEOs Reveal Their Favorite Books,” shares CEO’s favorite books, but it reinforces an idea that English teachers have been saying for years, to succeed you need to read.
As an English teacher for the last 15 years I have found that reading is important for three reasons.
In our fast paced culture, where most information comes in small chunks and from people who think just like us, getting a fresh perspective is a challenge. Books provide that challenge because the content cannot be consumed in seconds. Reading takes time, time to think and feel. Even if the book is from an author we like, the story or idea is developed so that we can digest it deeply. Sometimes the idea challenges our thinking, other times it confirms our views but that gives us confidence that we are on the right track.
I have already mentioned the idea that books make us slow down, and slowing down helps reduce our stress. There is a joy to reading that we lose when we succumb to the hectic pace of life. Do you remember reading something and you just had to share what you just read? I have laughed out loud. I have cried because of a book. Going through these emotions, or connecting with a friend over a book brings us back to our selves, thus reducing the stress our faced-paced life can inflict on us.
This benefit has been hinted at, too. Reading leads us to action. Yes, sometimes it is the simple action of contacting a friend to talk about the book, but many times the action enriches our lives. Books generate new ideas. Books give us courage to change aspects of our life or work and lead us to live a better life than before.
So, have you read any good books lately? Share your reading list with us in the comment section.
Bio: Jamey Boelhower is a husband and a father of six, TIS, coach, and teacher for Sandy Creek high school in Nebraska. He is also an adjunct professor for CCC Hastings. You can read his regular blog “It Is All Connected” by clicking here. And you can follow him on twitter at @jdog90Read More
Laughter is a good thing. Scientists tell us that laughter, humor and joy are an important part of life. Laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, and increases muscle flexion. It increases the circulation of antibodies in the blood stream and makes us more resistant to infection.
Laughter is good for us physically, but that is just the beginning. Laughter is good for the soul. There is a holiness in laughter. Laughter brings us closer to each other – and there is something holy about people coming together. Laughter provides us a moment of grace. It occurs spontaneously and unexpectedly. It catches us by surprise and we respond with laughter. We never expect to laugh, just as we never expect grace or good fortune when it arrives. And in that grace, we are able to recognize the folly of our own pursuits.
Laughter helps us to transcend ourselves, and I need that help. Too often I take myself far too seriously. There is a danger of taking ourselves, our beliefs and our life too seriously. Fanatics, it seems to me, see nothing as funny. Here’s a suggestion. The next time you’re in the middle of an argument, start laughing – not in a derogatory tone, but in the jovial sense of being in on a good joke. Then see if the anger begins to melt away and if you can find a more creative way to handle things. I’ve done this with my kids and it actually works. And you know what else? Now I know that when I think about doing it and don’t, that I have lost my perspective.
Laughter can be an important tool for keeping our troubles in proportion, for realizing that things aren’t always as bad as we think they are. But even when things are as bad as we think they are, laughter helps create positive emotions and helps us find a frame of mind in which we can more easily cope with the struggles of life. Laughter eases tension and sharpens our ability to concentrate. Laughter is a lot like changing a baby’s diaper. It doesn’t permanently solve any problems, but it makes things a lot more acceptable for a while.
If I am able to laugh with you in my mistakes as well as with you in yours, it suggests we are all flawed and imperfect. Embracing good natured humor, we find the humility to see the foolishness of trying to be perfect and the gift of enjoying the smiles and laughter of love.
Children laugh on average 200 times a day and adults only 26 times a day. How many times a day do you experience the rich joy of laughter? If we want to be happier, healthier, and more productive we seriously need to make time to laugh. Because when we laugh, when we really laugh, deep from the belly… we feel alive! Start looking for more reasons to laugh today.
Barbara Lee, the Sex Minister, is an international author, award winning speaker and accomplished group facilitator and trainer.She has committed her vocational journey to the non-profit sector and ministry where she is an advocate for diverse populations, particularly the marginalized and voiceless in our society. Barbara has an MBA in Leadership Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration. She is an ordained interfaith minister who has led pilgrimages to the Five Holy Peaks of Taoism in China. Barbara, a resident of Grand Haven, was a presenter at TEDxMuskegon 2013. Her books include Sacred Sex: Replacing the Marriage Ethic with a Sexual Ethic and Tension in the Tank: Embracing Interfaith Mysticism Without Leaving the Church. More information is available at thesexminister.com or barbaraleeauthor.com
Richard Branson sure is a cool dude. And he’s done some incredible stuff in his life.
He’s also had some stupid, massive failures.
Have you ever heard of Virgin Cola? Their bottles were called “The Pammy” because they were shaped like Pamela Anderson.
Really, Richard? You are the same guy that started Virgin Airlines?
How about Virgin Brides? Yikes. (Yes, that’s him in the picture dressed up as a bride.)
It’s easy to laugh at when he swung and missed, though we all know he’s the man. And a big reason is that he doesn’t let a few whiffs stop him from going balls in the next time. And the next time. And the next time.
How can you have the same go-for-it attitude that he does? Simple. The next time you want to make a change in your life—want to start something new—you Experiment.
Simple: we procrastinate because we don’t want to mess up. We are afraid of not being perfect.
(Want to know the psychological reasons why you procrastinate? Watch the video here.)
See, the purpose of an experiment is to learn. The great thing about it is that the only way you fail in an Experiment is not to conduct it. Because I don’t know about you, but I learn best by doing. There is no substitute for experience.
When someone learns to fly, he reads. Then he Experiments in a flight simulator. Then he Experiments by flying with someone else. Then he is ready to go solo.
Our brain gets freaked out when we want to make a change or try something new—especially if it’s something big.
When you want to make a change, how can you break that change down into the smallest experiment you can?
If you decide you want to run your first marathon, you might then become paralyzed with fear: Do I have the right shoes? Do I run before or after work? Am I ready to commit to running five times a week for the next fifteen weeks?
You don’t have to answer any of these questions. All you have to do is perform an Experiment this next week. Try two Experiments: run once, for 15 minutes before work, and run again for 15 minutes after work. See which one fits best in your schedule. See if you need better shoes. Is it easier to commit to running almost every day for the next four months, or twice over the next week?
This concept works so well that I’ve written a whole book about it, which has become a #1 bestseller in both the Creativity and Business Leadership Training categories. It is a modern business fable, where a business owner—who wants to make changes in his personal and work life—meets a coach, who walks him through these changes through a variety of Experiments.
Take the next project you have. Is it a book? Starting a business? Getting healthy? What is the tiniest step you can take? Do that step. Then evaluate; what worked? What didn’t? What is your next step from there?
What do you think Richard Branson’s next Experiment will be? Virgin Butter? Virgin Flypaper?
Doesn’t really matter, because he’s still the coolest guy in the world. And he’s going to keep Experimenting until he dies. And his Experiments change the world.
I don’t understand people that get that runner’s high. It’s never happened to me. On my best days with my best times, I still can’t wait until I’m done with the entire course. That is exactly how I felt when I made this quick video after running recently. I hate running. But I still encourage people to do it because there is no better test of health than how your body reacts right after a run. Check it out.
(Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel after watching. You don’t want to miss another chance to see me out of breath and sweaty)
We love to overcomplicate success sometimes. But one of the most successful habits that has helped me over the years is so simple that people can’t believe it possibly works.
It comes down to one word: Movement.
Successful people don’t sit around much . They are always moving or standing or generating motion in some way. Movement has the magical quality of generating more movement and more energy. Whenever you sit down everything in your body wants to relax. Body parts want to fall asleep. When you stand and work your body has no choice but to pump more blood throughout your system to keep you upright. Sitting has always made me more sluggish – especially when I am already tired. But once I stand (like I am right now) my brain starts to go into overdrive with ideas. I’ve even learned that I can get a great Facebook or blog post out faster when I am standing. Whenever I visit spaces where people have to be highly creative, I’m seeing standing desks all over the place. And let’s not even get into the extra calories that you are burning when you are standing and generating even the smallest amount of movement.
About nines months ago I posted a blog post about my obsession with lifting weights. Click here to read it. That addiction has not gone away, and I’m still at the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday doing my best to improve my body by lifting things up and putting them down.
If you were a hardcore professional competing bodybuilder, you would split up your workouts by body part. However I am not planning to compete so I do my best to get a full body workout in during a single gym visit . Since I get bored easily I am constantly trying new and different exercises to challenge my body. I am also working hard to get my arms, shoulders and back in shape so I can easily manage the upcoming Conquer The Gauntlet four mile obstacle course that I will be running on June 21st.
Here is the simple routine that I am doing every visit to the gym. It gives me a full body workout in less than sixty minutes. I run through this set of exercises four or five times with a very small rest period in between :
The x10 means perform the repetition 10 times. Use weights that make the exercises challenging, but not impossible. If you are reading this blog you are probably not working out to compete for any records (but if you are let me know. That would make me feel like a badass if a competitive bodybuilder or weightlifter was reading this website)
That is it! It is simple, it works your major body parts, and if done right you will feel exhausted when you have completed five sets.
Note: This routine does not account for any aerobic activity that you need. But if you limit the rest time between sets, the high repetition count will keep your heart rate high.
Disclaimer: I am not a fitness instructor in any way shape or form. If you are new to exercise please start slow and work your way into more advanced routines. If you have any questions or concern about exercise please consult a licensed physician or a personal trainer.
Even after the disclaimer – this routine is still giving me one hell of a workout. If you follow it you will burn some serious calories and gain strength.
If you want to read my other posts on workouts, click here.
Your friend in success – Patrick Allmond
The title above was one of many gems that came out of this university commencement speech by Jim Carrey.
It is not uncommon to have celebrities speak at commencement ceremonies. This one was special and has some very deep words that you should listen to and put into practice in your own life.
What did you think? Come over to the Facebook Page and let me know what you took away.Read More
It’s YabbaDabbaDoo time. Time to stand up and get the heck away from the desk. Do not do ‘one more thing’. It will be there tomm. and it will be there Monday. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit and go do something for yourself.
Me? I’m headed to the gym. For an hour I can immerse myself in doing what it takes to improve me health. I don’t have to care about marketing. Or LIKEs. Or the weather. Or CNN. Or the cost of gas. When I am in the gym and focused it is ME time.
Go find you some ME time. You don’t have to look hard. Just take a little bit of time away from other people that are not YOU and give it back to YOU. Your ME time should be a high priority for you. If you don’t take care of yourself first, everything else suffers.
Go get you some.Read More