Tag Archives: improving fitness

4 Ways to Be Amazing But Leave Room for Improvement

You may think I’m pandering (and using a cliché) but you are unique. Consider not one of the billions of people who have lived has the same mix of character traits, appearance, or fingerprints that you do. The spark of life within you cannot be re-created. I don’t want to swell your head but you are amazing. Have I convinced you? Read on.

4 Ways to Be Amazing But Leave Room for Improvement

A friend once told me I didn’t sound as successful as I was. Ouch! Her comment got me thinking about how much business I was losing by under-promoting myself. Don’t you think we walk a fine line between acknowledging how accomplished we are and bragging? Claiming expertise and achievements you don’t have is dishonest. Humility is admirable. But it can go too far.

You may not think about it this way. But downplaying your skills and accomplishments is also a kind of dishonesty. People get a false picture of who you are. As well, it means fewer resources for you and your family.

Aside from the risk of becoming a braggart, playing yourself up may hold back personal growth and development of new or better skills. Heck, if I’m so great why do I need to change?

So how can you balance being amazing (without being an egotist) while continuing to get better? Here are four recommendations:

  1. Couple a goal you’ve achieved with an even bigger one. Promoting yourself on the basis of concrete accomplishments isn’t showing off. By the same token, if you aren't content to rest on your laurels you will find room for improvement.
  2. Give yourself an honest hotwash. One of the hallmarks of a military exercise is a critique after it’s done called a hotwash. While all the events are fresh in the participants’ memories they review what went well and what could have been done better and how. Even your biggest victory probably could have been done better. Look for small, incremental advancement.
  3. Keep your brag sheet and self-improvement task list on the same piece of paper. Also from the military, a brag sheet lists your accomplishments from the previous year so an accurate Fitness Report or Evaluation can be written. Have it on one side of the page with the skills, character traits, and goals you’re working on opposite side.  That way you’ll keep a balanced image of yourself.
  4. No one is more amazing at being you than you but someone is better than you at any particular trait or ability. You display your personality and abilities more amazingly than anyone else. From this, I hope you will take a solid sense of self-esteem. However, though you may possess one trait superior to most, even all, people, there are other people whose singularly outstanding quality is better than that one in you. While I discourage comparing yourself to other people, knowing that you are not the greatest in every facet of your being gives you room for growth.

A positive self-image is crucial for success. Boasting about how great you are will retard advancement. You will make the most progress in all facets of your life: Financial, relationships, spiritual growth, by being candid about the areas where you can improve. Having the desire and a plan for personal development will ensure you continue to become more amazing. Such is the essence of becoming intentional.

How do you present an honest picture of yourself? Please comment below.

When You Should Prioritize Self-Care

One of the first things I learned in navy Officer Indoctrination School was “Ship – Shipmate – Self.”

Ship:  Take care of the ship. It is the mission.

Shipmate:  Take care of each other. Be vigilant to the needs and actions of your shipmates and watch out for one another.

Self:  Take care of yourself. You cannot care for others if you are not caring for yourself.

When You Should Prioritize Self-Care

The selflessness of this principle resonated with me. After all, I had joined the navy to serve.

Recently I was visiting my squadron in San Diego. The Providers of VRC-30 supply COD (Carrier Onboard Delivery), moving people and cargo between an aircraft carrier and the shore. Notwithstanding this service-oriented mission, their command philosophy is:

Self/Family:  The men and women of VRC-30 are our most valuable resource.

Team:  We succeed as a team. We fail as a team.

Mission:  YOUR contribution as an individual is critical for our mission.

Both philosophies are sound and reasonable. And despite setting forth opposite views they’re both true. But how can this be? Should we look after ourselves first or make the ship/mission our top priority?

After pondering this conflict I think the answer lies in the circumstances.

During daily life you need to look after yourself and your family first so you don’t unduly burden your teammates and hinder meeting the mission.

But at critical points: a fire, a traumatic event in a friend's life, or defense against an enemy, the mission has to reign supreme. When the stakes approach all or nothing, the personal and familial resilience you built everyday now has to carry you through while you focus on driving the mission to safety in the face of catastrophe or victory.

I’ve written about life balance and self-care before. I never thought about this balance point until now. But it has strengthened my commitment to building resilience.

How do you decide when to focus on yourself verses others? Please comment below.

How You Can Resolve Your Past

Remember the movie Back to the Future? Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) invents a time machine in the form of a DeLorean that takes Marty (Michael J. Fox) into the past, where he inadvertently changes the time continuum. The movie gets its title from Marty having to correct the changes in the past to get back to the future he wants. On an historical note, it was the most popular movie of 1985 and critically acclaimed. I highly recommend it!

No, I’m not turning this into a movie review blog, though admittedly watching old movies is easier and often more fun than pursuing personal development. Back to the Future provides a metaphor for overcoming challenges in your past that still hold you back today. Did you:

  1. Develop bad easting habits?
  2. Avoided exercising?
  3. Spend money unwisely?
  4. Never make time for play?
  5. Form a flawed self-image?
  6. Avoid creating solid friendships or business relationships?
  7. Not take getting an education seriously enough?
  8. Abandon G-d?
  9. Have a lousy relationship with one or both of your parents?
  10. Adopt values that are not in concert with how you want to live?

Or any of a number of issues that make your life other than what you want it to be?

Like Marty, you can change your future.

It only affects your future to the extent that you believe it has too. Whether it’s a bad habit, an emotional trauma, or a deficiency in some aspect of your life, you can go forward to conquer your past by committing to change.

In some cases you may be able to do so on your own. In other cases you may need professional help, a coach or therapist, to help guide you through the steps that will lead you to a future free of impediments from the past. But even in the latter case, you have control over your destiny by engaging that person to work with you.

Unlike Marty, you don’t have a time machine to take you back to the past were you can alter events. But you don’t need one. The future is the ultimate time machine, each day, hour, minute gives you the opportunity to correct the shortfalls of your past and realize the future you want.

What step do you need to take to free you from a past impediment? Please comment below.

I Bet Your Life is Nothing Like a Marathon

Popular as it is in personal development circles to equate life to a marathon (I’ve done so in the past), the comparison falls apart when you look more closely. Consider, where else in life do you have three to five months to prepare for an event that will last for five to eight hours after which you take one to four weeks off? In your work, marriage, raising children? Not even close.

Useless goals take you to places you don't want to go

A Marathon Isn't Real Life

I’ve been souring on the metaphor of life being a marathon for a while. During the lead up to the Los Angeles marathon, several people asked me if I would be running it. I jokingly said no, my wife won’t let me (well, I did promise her I wouldn’t take up ultra marathons as a result of reading Born to Run). But I watched a couple colleagues prepare for the race.

One had recently come through a life-threatening health challenge and used the goal of running a marathon to get back into shape and prove to herself she had completely recovered. The other confessed he had no idea why he was running it. Both trained for months, racking up tens of miles a week.

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They both finished the race with respectable times. Yet the race took such a heavy toll neither made it to work the following day. Pain from racing troubled them for days afterward. As you might guess, the first felt it was worth it since she had reached her goal. The second still wasn’t sure why he had bothered.

Plan and Train < 50%, Execute > 50%

In a corollary to Peter Drucker’s famous saying, “There is Nothing Quite So Useless as Doing with Great Efficiency Something that Should Not Be Done at All,” I would add:

If you’re going to spend four to six months attaining a goal, be sure it aligns with your life’s purpose. Otherwise, drop it and focus on one that does.

Recognize life is not a marathon. If you want a running metaphor, it’s like being a sprinter: Series of wind sprints for training interspersed with race days. Rarely do you have the luxury of months of preparation. Yet you can be called on virtually at a moment’s notice to give absolutely peak performance.

As well, taking so much time to plan and practice without using the skills in a real situation puts too much emphasis on those few race days. You’re better off consistently putting into practice what you are working to develop so you can pinpoint your training toward areas that most need improvement.

My advice. Forget running a marathon. Don’t practice living 70% to 80% of the time. Plan and prepare when you can. But place your focus firmly on living life now.

What goal should you jettison to pursue something more meaningful? 

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The Blogs I Love

Sometimes I feel like Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof. If I were rich I’d have the time that I like to pray and study. There are so many wonderfully incisive and thought-provoking bloggers and writers. I could spend all day reading, thinking, and responding to their writing. Here are six I highly recommend:

The Blogs I Love

Brett and Kate McKay’s The Art of Manliness – Much to the detriment of society, many males do not know what it means to be a man. The McKays combine history, wit, common sense, and candor to reintroduce men and women to the virtues of manliness. And their website design is superb.

Lori Cofsky Tessel’s The Solution Room – If you are living in your second half-century or wonder what life will be like then, my friend Lori’s blog is the right destination for you. Insightful and spiritual, you will find no better guide to the mysterious journey of life after 50.

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Donald Miller’s Storyline – New York Times bestselling author Donald Miller (his current book, Scary Close, is #2 on Amazon in Christian marriage) has brought together a delightful collection of writers well-versed in the emotional and spiritual sides of life. Need food for introspection or ideas for building relationships? Read Storyline.

Leo Babauta’s zenhabits – If you want calm and a solid dose of essentialism, you will not find a better source than zenhabits. I find a lot of merit in the minimalist movement propounded by Leo Babauta and others like Courtney Carver’s be more with less. Accumulation for its own sake is hollow. Leo, Courtney, and their fellow minimalists make a strong case for filling life with meaning rather than stuff.

Farnoosh Brock’s Prolific Living – If I had a female alter ego I think she might be Farnoosh. (I know her only through her writing so she may disagree with my assessment!) While I don’t recall her using the term, she knows what it means to be an Intentionalist.

These are among the crown jewels. If you don’t have time to read them on a regular basis, follow me on Twitter where I curate them and over 80 others blogs and online publications.

Truer words have ne’er been spoken. All the folks above have devoted their lives to helping you do so. I salute them and thank them.

What are your favorite blogs? 

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