Would You Believe This?
Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a lot of discussion on the faculty of belief.
In any undertaking in any area of life, belief, confidence, and above all, application, are the means to achievement.
We may or may not achieve exactly what we set out to do, but we’ll be in a much better place and will have travelled some distance onto new terrain, with new and beckoning horizons.
This is one of the reasons why we need to ask ourselves about the depth, quality, and personal attachment of our beliefs.
Beliefs need to be explored.
The quality and depth of your belief is a determining factor in everything you do.
If your belief in your purpose is shaky, uncertain and fragile, then it urgently needs your attention. This is one of the reasons why I counsel people at the beginning of a programme to keep their goals to themselves.
At that stage, their goals are often indistinct, unclear, and fragile. It only takes a raised eyebrow, a hint of doubt, to undermine them.
When we set goals initially, our experience of success may be small, or in the case of a new venture, even non-existent. So, we need to establish and clarify the goals so that we are very clear about what it is we want to achieve.
This gives us time to consider and build the picture in our minds. Day by day, week by week, the picture grows and becomes more clear.
It can take a bit of time. Time well spent.
The initial idea we have, when we write a goal, or an idea that we’d like to develop, is only the tip, of the tip, of the iceberg. It needs care, attention, nourishment, clarification.
That’s when it grows. That’s when it begins to come from a stuttering idea, a vague notion, to a belief that it could become a reality. All you have to do is think about it. And keep thinking about it.
The more you think about it, the more it becomes.
So many people dismiss a perfectly valid idea in the early stages because a solution to its achievement isn’t instantly apparent. Then they make the mistake of asking for the advice of someone who has no idea, get that, no idea, of what they're talking about. And then listen to them.
It takes a bit of time for a goal to become clear. It could be five minutes, or five days, or five months.
But once the idea takes hold of the mind, and the belief in its possibility is founded, is when the idea can become a factor in your life that changes everything.
When we take that bit of time, the goal becomes such a force in our minds that we know it can be made a reality.
That’s when the goals become powers in our lives. That's when they become attainable, reinforced by the emotion attached to them.
Then they have a power that pervades our thinking, directs our minds to the activities that bring them about, sets us on a path that will lead to those activities.
Which brings us back to belief.
This isn’t new. We’ve all experienced a time, some instance in our lives, when we did something that surprised us in a way that hinted at further potential.
And then we promptly forgot about it, relegated it to a flash-in-the-pan that was probably beyond us, and not something to think about as a new beginning.
What we’ve overlooked is that the event took place, is now a reality, and therefore a credible fact in our existence.
And we’ve sold ourselves short, focused on what we don’t or haven’t done, and trained our minds to practise that direction of thinking.
Which becomes our habitual thinking. Which then becomes our reality.
We can give reign to an idea, grow it and nourish it and develop it into a distinct possibility, and let THAT become our guide, our belief, our driving force.
Trust Your Gut
Do you trust your gut feeling?
Some responses to this morning's email centred around instinct in relation to decision making.
It was said that instinct is preferable to what can appear as logic.
I've seen and heard this argument.
That's because a well of experience usually informs the apparent instinct.
Experience can suggest a move that seems illogical. But experience sometimes sees what inexperience doesn't.
Experience sees the projected consequence of an apparently sound project. And on the basis of that experience, take a different decision.
It's not always the case, but it's frequent.
Two cases where experience is the same for everyone is when we ask ourselves 'what if'?'
And have to tell ourselves 'if only'.
'What if this idea isn't as good as it seems?'
'What if I start and find it doesn't work?'
'What if I start and lose interest?'
'What if I start and it does work?'
'Does that mean I have to keep on doing it?'
'Will I be able for it?'
'Will I have the energy and drive to keep it going?'
What if we get to ninety five years of age and have to tell ourselves, 'If only I'd have...'
Here's an opportunity to avoid all that.
And it's really simple.
Especially if you've been thinking about getting yourself back on the track of being Fit, Healthy and Well.
And you can achieve this simply, and maintain it easily.
And you'll never have to ask yourself 'What if?', or say to yourself 'If only'.
April 20th, 2023
Every day, yes, every single day, there is a wanton, inappropriate and relentless waste of PRECIOUS physical and nervous energy.
It gets squandered mainly because the waste isn't measured in euros, dollars or pounds.
But there's a higher and far more insidious toll.
There's a price in fatigue, anxiety, nervousness, tension, stress, distress, and overall Health and Happiness.
Make no mistake.
That's absolutely right.
And it's unnecessary.
I know this because I've seen that when people take the time, that little bit of time, a small bit of trouble, not trouble really, more and enjoyable and worthwhile mental exercise, they transform their lives.
The Loudest Voice
No one else hears it.
We're scarcely aware of it ourselves.
Yet, we listen to it far too closely.
Especially when we get an idea.
Or when we want to achieve something.
Or when we wish to improve something in our lives.
Or when we want to make a change.
It’s that cunning, whispering, never-ending muttering that undermines us, robs us of our vitality, rattles our confidence.
The Inner Voice.
From here to America, and all around the globe, and back, it prevails. There isn’t a human who escapes the nagging suggestions of self doubt and hesitation.
Over 400 years ago, William Shakespeare chronicled it with his well chosen words “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose to good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt“.
It’s a universal complaint.
So, what can we do about it?
We can change the record.
We weren’t born with it.
And we need to remember that.
We learned how to hear it.
Even when we weren't listening.
We learned how to sabotage our aims, our dreams, our hopes.
And we got very good at it.
We not only undermined our efforts, but we reinforced it with ideas of being “realistic“, “not losing the run of ourselves“, “being sensible“, "getting real".
And so, we learned to condition ourselves out of the youthful, energetic and unlimited imaginings we once entertained.
And applauded our sensible surrender.
But we never lose them entirely, do we?
We never relinquish those fiery kaleidoscopic, picturesque images that colour our lives and tug at the heartstrings.
And that’s good.
Perhaps, maybe, someday, sometime, we’ll get round to them.
They’ll still be there.
So, perhaps one day we'll hark back to those flashes of inspiration, take another look and do one of those things, or more, that meant then, and mean now, so much to ourselves and our lives.
We never really let the dream die. And because of that, we often find that the expression we sought to display in one way, has been expressed and kept alive in another.
The routes may differ, the vehicles may change.
But we can alter the destination.
We can change direction.
We can rekindle the flame.
The Price of Indecision
In conversation with a man last week, I was told that a recent post had struck a voluble chord with him.
He’s well aware that his life, his business, his personal well-being and happiness, all depend on the decisions he takes.
He was lamenting the fact that he had not taken steps to get himself into better shape, mentally, physically and emotionally, much sooner than he had.
I was pleased to reassure him that a decision taken even later, rather than sooner, is fine.
It is still a decisive move on his part and one that will stand him in good stead for the rest of his life.
We’ve all done it at times, haven’t we?
We’ve put off, procrastinated, dithered, sat on the fence, and delayed our decision to commit ourselves to a direction in our lives.
And to this day, I am convinced that most people, myself included, put things off, not because we are afraid of failing.
We put it off because we fear succeeding.
Success means maintenance.
It means we’ll have to work, apply ourselves, to sustaining the new level at which we have arrived. It means we’ll have to think in a way that we may not always like.
It means we may have to make unpopular but necessary decisions.
It means taking responsibility for what we have achieved and honouring it with the responsibility it deserves.
Ask any politician.
Ask any business builder.
Ask any full-time artist, sports person, any one who has chased the dream and established him/her self.
Ask the successful weight loser, figure toner, bodybuilder, spiritual leader.
Everything has its price.
How do we see the price?
Is it a cost? Or a privilege?
Where from Here?
Friend, good morning.
What's your aim in life?
How do you feel about what you do?
About what you want to do?
About what you can do?
About your potential? How do you feel about that? Your own potential?
When you don't come up with an instant answer, don't worry. Neither does any of us.
These aren't facile questions.
What we aim for and what we do, are Life Directional activities. Truly.
Frequently people can only think of what they might like to own materially, or what they want to possess, or get, or have access to as an amenity in their lives.
But these are means to an end. They're things that get collected along the way.
And they're useful in that context.
They can be a measurement of choices available. Or of an affluence. Or influence. Or of a status.
And they can be used like that, reflecting where you are in a social setting, or business achievement, or of personal ability.
It depends on how you choose to interpret them.
But there's another aspect to your aims and goals, your aspirations.
Who do you believe you are? What image have you of yourself as a Human Being?
When I was asked this in the 1960's, I thought the question was irrelevant.
So much so, that I nearly dismissed it.
Of course, then, when I'd thought about it for all of five minutes, I saw that what I was being asked was what I believed, really believed, my life was about.
What was my purpose?
Was I conscious of one?
Did I believe in it?
Was I up to it?
What was I doing about it?
How was my life going in relation to it?
These questions came to me over weeks, not minutes. They set me on another road to thinking about what I was, and in my own case, largely wasn't, doing about it.
They questioned basic thoughts, actions, activities which I'd taken for granted. A lot of what I was doing was because 'that's the way things were'.
That was what we did in life. And mostly because I hadn't questioned why we did it this way, or that way.
So when these questions began to bring up answers I'd never before considered, there was a strong element of surprise, wonder, and mainly of a kind of quiet excitement at the possibilities that began to surface. It didn't mean that life turned upside down and instantly changed into raging success and rabid achievement.
The transformation was more subtle, much more subtle. And much more real.
The fact that we even consider an alternative to what we see as the current existence, opens the mind.
We don't have to do anything. There's no obligation.
However, the fact that we know we can do something about where we are, or where we want to go, brings choice into our lives.
Then we make our own decisions.
And stand or fall by them.
As a matter of interest, in my own case it meant a complete change of life; giving up what was considered a safe, secure and pensionable career, and one at which I was competent, at age 25, to go into an area of work that wasn't even a recognised industry at the time.
My friends tried earnestly, and sincerely, to dissuade me.
My family nearly disowned me; they thought I was getting into the 'Massage Parlour' business.
And frankly, I'd no idea on how it'd turn out.
Was it worth it?
That depends on your definition of success. It's a different criterion for everyone.
But more on this later. Stay posted.
Quality not Quantity
Not so much quantity.
People are becoming more aware of this in their exercise activities now.
A few of years ago, I was training a couple of hurlers, county players, who were spending one and a half, to two and a half hours in the gym.
They were tired.
They weren't just physically tired, they were mentally tired from the boredom of pressing a weight in a desultory manner through the movements they were doing. They'd been taught that to get benefit from weight training, you had to spend time in the gym'.
To a point, that was true.
But the problem was that they weren't training. They pushed a few weights, took a break, chatted, talked about the weight they were using and added another bit, or did another couple of repetitions in the hope that they'd get stronger, faster, bigger, more muscular, more powerful, and achieve indomitable strength on the hurling pitch.
Now, in one regard they were on the right track. If they kept on doing that, there would likely be an increase in muscle strength, size, and eventually, efficiency.
However, physical training is a skill. And to exert an effective result on the body, the skill needs to be learned, practised and developed. So it isn't so much what you're doing, as it is how you're doing it.
What's important to remember when training is what goes on underneath the skin. it doesn't matter what you've got in your hand.
You can get as much from a concrete brick as you can from a Solid Gold, Designer Dumb-Bell.
So, every now and again, it's vital to go back to basics, ask yourself what you're seeking as you train, and tailor your programme accordingly.
But whatever you do, you need to learn the skill of thoughtful training. That's learning to focus on the movement you're performing. You need to think about the stance, the positioning of feet and hands, the element of balance, the tempo, the style of action, that suits you. You're the one doing the exercise and when you take these things into account you can alter the effects of the movement dramatically.
And it doesn't mean that you have to become encyclopedic about physiology or anatomy. It means that you try small adjustments as you train. You can shift a foot forward, or alter the angle of your body, or grip a bar or rope a bit tighter, or looser, or alter the tempo, or experiment with your breathing, shorten or lengthen the range of movement, or any number of other small changes that can make a big difference.
i've seen this hundreds of times over the years; where a body has made some small change in technique that doubles the value of a movement.
Never forget, training is a skill. It has fundamentals. They can be learned, and then adapted, modified to suit the style or the shape or the temperament of the person doing it.
this is what turns the activity into a developed skill, sometimes even to reach the level of artistry.
I often describe physical training as a type of muscular choreography. It can be a form of dance, with the same thought, focus and rhythm brought into it that blends the mind and the body and the spirit into a movement in which the entire Being becomes the doer of the act, and the recipient of the benefits.
It makes for efficiency, for effectiveness and a developed interest in application and progress.
Try this on your next exercise session. Think of it as an exercise in Concentration and Personal Development.
April 20th, 2023
This calm and tranquil sea holds the power and ferocity of overwhelming and devastating storm weather.
While drifting quietly in this calm, we need to be mindful and prepared for when the changes begin to come
Friend, good morning.
'Easy choices, hard life.
Hard choices, easy life.”
– Jerzy Gregorek
Somebody was talking about Tony Robbins the other day.
I've heard some of his tapes, read two of his books.
To my mind the content of his work is inspiring.
i just have an issue with his delivery.
He's toned it down a bit over the years, but I do remember years ago, when a nephew living in California very kindly sent me a box of his tapes. The enthusiasm with which he spoke was off the Richter scale, so that by the time I'd finished listening to the first tape, I was in a state something close to exhaustion. His emotional investment was total. And it infected listeners. It was hard to listen and not get caught up in the breakneck pace and hysterical rhetoric.
The material was solid. For me, this was particularly so as I had completed a course in Sports Psychology a couple of years previously and was able to identify precisely with what he was saying. He was translating the material I'd studied, and loved, and believed in totally, into a practical, everyday useful language. He transformed the principles of Human Performance on a playing pitch, a race course, a boxing ring, a tennis court, into the principles of Human Performance in Life.
And one of the things he always emphasised was that you had to take action on anything. You had to stop the thinking, curtail the planning, lessen the talking, and just shut up and get on with it.
He also told us that Life wasn't fair. That that's the way it was. We had to make our opportunities and make the most of who we were, where we were, and with what we'd got.
No argument with that.
He also spoke of the biggest problem that most of us had.
And that was that we believed that there was a life without problems.
And that, to me, made sense.
Dealing with problems is what life is about, isn't it?
It's about seeking solutions to difficulties or situations that arise which may be causing us concern.
And every circumstance in the world is fraught with immediate or potential problems. And we have to deal with them.
That's easy, though.
It's easy if you accept it and work hard at it. Then you either obviate the problem or you're prepared for it when it hits.
Life was never easy. Not if you've a smidgeon of ambition or desire and want to achieve something, whether it's making a business or some other thing you want to accomplish. There will arise things to foil your efforts, undermine your confidence, steal your energy, divert your attention.
I read an enlightening paragraph recently in which someone said the he didn't pray for a miracle, but prayed for the strength, the courage, the intelligence, the resilience, to deal with whatever arose, so that the outcome might well appear to be miraculous.
And so long as we accept that that's what we've got to deal with, and we're willing, as my dear mentor and long-gone friend told me, to 'Take a decision. Do it with a will. And see it through.', we'll find life relatively easy.
And sleep at night.
The Power of Habit
The habit of exercising routinely has more than just a physical effect.
It influences all aspects of our lives.
When we discipline ourselves into the habit of physical training, we also exercise the neural pathways that support the habit. We reinforce it mentally.
Thus, our training is not only for the body, it's for the mind and the spirit too. We all know how we feel when we do a session that we didn't want to do. We feel better in ourselves, that we've overcome an obstacle, made a choice that reflects well, gives us a feeling of achievement, lifts our self-esteem, our self-image.
And that feeling pervades every other aspect of our lives.
So, training isn't just about being able to sprint for the bus or lug the heavy suitcase up the stairs; it's about influencing how we think and feel about ourselves.
And that's priceless.
It creates miraculous changes in our minds and bodies.
It increases our energy, invigorates all our systems, sharpens our minds, helps stabilise emotions, rest, relax and revitalise our very existence.
It primes us to get the best of ourselves.
It helps us become more efficient, and effective, in everything we do.
But there is more.
Regular training also creates a pattern of activity that washes over into every other area of our lives.
When we discipline ourselves into doing it regularly, we also train our minds to the practice of discipline, regular activity and the habit of committing to what needs to be done.
Just a note about making choices, and how those choices affect our lives.
It was said to me the other day that we are free to choose whatever we want to do.
But there are consequences to those choices.
And we've no choice as to what they might be.
So, start your day well.
May you have the wisdom, courage and insight to make the choices that serve you well.
A Basic Need
When we’re fit, we’re much more likely to live longer, be well, have sound mental health, physical well-being and emotional stability.
And most significantly, we’ll help ourselves to avoid serious illness.
This is what Dr James Rippe, a renowned physician in the USA, and a great proponent of preventative measures for healthy living, wrote a couple of years ago.
Since then, the need to be well, not just fit, has emerged as a vital element in the field of Human Performance, in any aspect of life.
If you’re tired rundown, off form, life can be tough. Even small chores are hard work.
But when you’re fit, well, and optimistic, you’ll give yourself a real edge and a true advantage. The energy levels of mind and body are a constant.
More and more, the Human Element is being seen as the major part it plays in the scheme of things.
Sound mental health has a huge influence on emotional stability. And emotional energy is the lifeblood of creativity.
A research company in Toronto recently concluded the following; The value in business success of IQ was around 6%, the value of EQ (emotional intelligence) was up to 40%.
We need to value our fitness. Treasure it. Keep it.
But first of all, we need to have it.
Life today is probably faster than it has ever been in the history of Man.
It's not hard in the traditional sense, for most of us in the Western World.
But it's really fast, isn't it?
We've probably better standards of living than ever before. But there's a question over the quality of life.
In business, careers, sport, politics and even war, our speed of living has accelerated to that to which we have yet to adapt.
Like the high-performance athlete, the thoroughbred horse, the driven artist or performer, we're in top gear, high performance mode, all the time. We all seem to have little time other than to work, commute and live our social lives.
These events are part of our everyday lives.
And they all need to be done.
It matters not that what we love doing is our work. It matters not how good we are at it either.
Every human being has his/her break point.
We all need to stop, every now and again. We need to be able to stop, rest and relax, both the mind and the body.
But most of us have forgotten how to do that. That's if we ever knew how in the first place.
The alternative consequence is burnout. Breakdown. Disintegration. Look at that last word.
It's the opposite to being integrated, where mind, body and our spirit are at one.
Now, here's a bit of good news.
We can learn integration. We can learn how to quiet the mind, calm the emotions, rest the flagging spirit..
It's a skill. Like all skills, it has its fundamentals, and they can be learned.
That's one of the effects of regular practised breathing. It exerts that effect.
If we do it.
If we practise it.
That's a start. So, start.
For many, the word 'creative' is thought to be the preserve of painters, playwrights, musicians, composers and other artistic practitioners.
Four Mondays ago, a young and inexperienced businessman, not long at his job, and new to the urgencies of keeping payments, loans and other demands up to date, wondered how he was going to pay the wages to his staff of five on the following Friday.
By Thursday afternoon he had the wages sorted for the next three months, rent, rates and looming electricity bill, all due in the very near future, covered, and enough money to live on as well.
Now, there's creativity for you.
His next immediate plan was to organise himself and his activities into a cohesive force that used the same urgency, the same focus, and the same continuous application to refine what he'd done in the crisis. His focus was on the activity, not just the planning.
While aware of the necessity to plan, he was now aware of the equal necessity to act on the plan. That's where he'd fallen behind before; he'd planned meticulously, thought his way through the possible challenges, figured out strategies in the face of obstacles, and then sat on the plan as it gathered the dust of inaction in his memory.
Creativity isn't always about divine inspiration, flashes of insight, inspired motivation. Mostly, it's about doing. It's about starting to act on an idea, a hunch, a detailed plan. But it's the starting that matters. Once the plan of action is in place, it's a matter of doing it. Once we start doing it, we deal with the obstacles and diversions just as we do on any journey. And even though the route can be sometimes diversified, we get there eventually. Which is better any day than waiting for the plan of perfection to express itself into our lives.
If we don't start, we can end up waiting for the right time, the right feeling, the right day of the week. And of course all these things can be relevant. But once they have been reasonably assessed, then it's time to move, to do, to get started.
In the realm of people getting fit, preserving their health, helping themselves become the best version of themselves, I see this a lot. Some people will examine their options, decide what they need to do, what they should be doing, for themselves and their lives, and immediately come up with the most persuasive of reasons why the time isn't right, why the course won't work for them, why they will do it sometime.
But not now.
And the moment is gone. The opportunity to begin the journey, start the process, slips by.
The ideas, the incredible benefits, the unquestionable advantages of a more fit body, a more alert mind, and a more sound sense of being well, not just physically fit, but universally well, get lost in the tide of good intentions.
"What You Can Do, or Dream You Can, Begin It; Boldness Has Genius, Power, and Magic in It".
Wolfgang Von Goethe, German playwright.
When Nothing is Happening
Performance in any field is down to the individual. We can make all the excuses we like, even call them reasons, but when it comes to getting it done, the only thing to do is to do it.
Very basic. Even simplistic.
Yet, it's amazing how many of us
It's addictive. We castigate ourselves for being remiss in our duties and then dive wholeheartedly into it on the following occasion, when faced with a routine but necessary duty, the kind of activity that doesn't excite us, isn't colourful or highly profitable, and yet if it isn't done and in place, the rest of our efforts are rendered useless.
This kind of repetitive procrastination can become compulsive. Like most humans in the world, I've done it myself. For instance, when it's time to prepare some figures at that time of the year, we can get out the books, gather receipts and invoices and other relevant documents and just as we're about to start, find the really important things to do, like give the dog a bone, check that there's water in the kettle in case someone calls, run out and check the car's tyre pressures, sweep the front hall, straighten all the pictures, don't want to appear sloppy in the Art Department of meticulously hung pictures, count the pens we have in the office and start rummaging for a long-lost fountain pen that could be anywhere between here and the last three houses through which we've moved.
But look anyway.
Just in case.
And you never know.
Finally, having run out of desperately important jobs to do, we reluctantly shuffle into our core chore. To our relief we find it isn't as bad as we thought it'd be, and we get through it uninjured and in one piece.
Now, what I've found over the years, and so have many with whom I've shared this, is that when we sketch out our agenda for the following day on the night before, commit to a Morning Ritual of Stretch 'n' Tone, Breathing, and reinforced with a Statement of Intent, things get done like clockwork.
Even the constant activity of performing the Ritual creates it's own direction and sense of purpose. It gives us the impetus to search for worthwhile directed attention. Over time, a deep sense of that purpose begins to pervade our language and our thoughts, and becomes part of who we are. Those thoughts and words begin to seep into that mysterious mind that we call the subconscious. At which point they begin to guide behaviours and actions; which are now chosen as supports to our aims and aspirations.
It may take a little bit of time, and a lot of persistence and patience.
But when it happens, it hits the life of the individual like a benevolent tornado.
And that's when true transformation can be said to have taken place.
Had a wonderful conversation with a very interesting man the other day.
He’s been a musician all his life, and in the 60s and 70s played with a couple of show bands as well as doing work with pit orchestras for shows.
We were speaking on the motivational power of music.
Among his favourites, were the themes from “Rocky” and a little heard version of “Clare to Here“ by Red Hurley.
In the realm of training for fitness, there is a great case for music to train to; the “Rocky” theme is a universal favourite, as is “I will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor.
They’re songs of triumph over adversity, and of course that’s what hard training is about; overcoming the mental persuasion to resist the seduction of the easy option.
Both songs have an up-tempo rhythm too, which, along with the lyrics of self assertion and wilfulness, are great motivators for training.
This isn’t some new discovery. In the 60s, in a gym in Southeast London, to which I went on Saturday afternoons, the recording of Duke Ellington‘s “Night Train“ was played over and over again. This was alternated with up-tempo Chuck Berry numbers.
It was in an old fashioned gym of those times.
The premises had been a storeroom, of about 2000 ft.². It had a wooden floor and punch bags hung from the high ceiling at various points.
The main exercises done were skipping, bag punching, and training with an assortment of fairly light barbells and dumbbells, which lay in a corner for those who wanted to use them
The showers were just off the main floor, a smallish room with concrete floor and a huge outlet for the waste water at one corner.
The source of water came from the mains, through a 4 inch flexible pipe bent into two large covered buckets, which overhung the middle of the small room. When you wanted to shower, you went in, turned on the mains, and stood under one of the buckets, which had small punched holes in the bottom. As the stone cold water pelted onto you with a force that would nearly peel the skin from your body, it made the whole process an exhilarating experience.
The other musical number played in that premises was a rousing version of ‘Woodchoppers’ Ball’, by the Woody Herman Band.
I paid two shillings and sixpence for the use of the gym’ on Saturday afternoons. I stopped using it after about three months. The owner was a forward-thinking man and refurbished the place with a carpet, chrome equipment and six shower cubicles, along with a designated changing area.
Up to then we’d changed wherever there was a space, usually somewhere around the edge of the premises, never taking your eye off your gear, and bringing valuables to the owner, who’d put them in a box with a padlock, and give you the key, which you then brought back to him when you were leaving, to retrieve your goods and go.
The advent of the chrome and carpets, not to mention the real tank-fed showers, changed the place. The bags were done away with, and with a carpet only floor, there was no place for any skipping.
When I stopped going, I was able to replace it with a kind of gym’ of my own.
I was living in a ground-floor bed-sit at the time. I had access to the back yard and a small well-kept garden, kept green and tidy by my very elderly land-lady. She had no objection to my skipping in the yard, and using my ‘Bullworker’ ( remember them?) in the garden.
And being a generation or two older than me, was fully tolerant of my vinyl discs from the Big Band Swing era of the thirties and forties and fifties, played at full volume.
The styles of music and the fashions have changed, but the principle is unshakeable.
Long may it continue.
The New Speed
Today, the world changes more quickly in a year than it did previously in fifty years.
Talking with a man who writes books for a living a few days ago, here's what transpired in the conversation. He was telling me that he submitted his manuscript to the publisher and was waiting for the interminable delay that's associated with that process.
I remember this well, as the process I experienced in 1983 was what follows.
The manuscript was submitted. It was usually sent to one, perhaps two, at most, publishers, at a time. It was considered unethical to send to many publishers at once. You can see how authors spent, lost, years of their lives in the process. This was my fifteenth submission, as the previous fourteen were rejected. Some of the rejections were hairsbreadth, the publisher saying that they loved it, but their quota was full at the time, so, if it wasn't taken up in the next 12 months, to come back to them.
That was what we might call an encouraging rejection. Anyway, this fifteenth submission went out, and two months later, after the usual morning vigilance around the letterbox, day in, day out, I got the notice of acceptance in the form of a phone call.
The manuscript had been first sent out just three years previously. It took anything from two months to three months to get a final decision. So, the average send-out and return was about two to two and a half months. Fifteen submissions represented thirty seven and a half months. That's three years and a bit.
When the book was accepted, it was scheduled for publication in hardback.
Twelve months later.
If the book sold well over the next 6 to 12 months, the paperback edition might then be offered to a paperback publisher, or done by the original hardback publisher. Either way there was another 8 to 12 months wait for the paperback edition. This was my experience In 1983.
Consider the difference 40 years later.
Today, an author sends her completed manuscript by BCC email to 40 publishers at one time and can expect replies within 3 to 10 weeks.
When the book is accepted, and the deal done, it can be available in hardback, paperback, digitally, large print, and even in braille, to the world, that is, globally, within another six weeks.
I say this to indicate the speed at which we live today. That’s only one tiny indication.
Everything is changing so quickly that we find ourselves adapting, or trying to, not only physically , but mentally to the New Speed.
And in spite of the New Generation being born into it, the pace of life today is something to which we haven't yet adapted.
And it may take a while. And that's why we need to make our own pace, and keep it. Otherwise the world and it's accelerated tempo will batter us into a burnt-out, frenzied wreckage in which we end up serving technology rather than the other way round.
Let the body relax and deliver.
Let the mind go quiet and calm.
With the power of a free flowing river
And the peace of a Sunday-time psalm.
Common Sense and Truth
Click heQuick tips to make the most of your practice sessions:
i) If you want to get rid of body fat cut out alcohol for four weeks. If that's a problem, address it.
ii) The majority of your nutrition should come from real food. Supplements are very useful, but the bulk and vitality of live food is what we were designed to digest..
iii) Endless crunches don't shred your abs––you need a good, honest diet and frequent activity.
iv) 2-3 tough, rigorous workouts will net you better results, and more lasting results, than hours of desultory visits to the gym'. Intensity is important. It's not meant to be easy.
v) Always have a plan when you go to train.re to edit.
Ageing Starts in Younger Years
Some people grow old when they're still very young. And that's a shame. It puts a man or a woman into a defeatist frame of mind before they even start to live. Others enjoy their vivacious youth, energetic maturity and then begin to age gradually as they advance in chronological years.
There are definite factors that make the difference between ageing and growing old.
We all age.
Years take their toll. Chemistry changes, the mechanics aren't as quick as they once were, and attitudes shift.
That doesn't mean we have to capitulate. Energy levels can be preserved. Digestion, flexibility, reasonable strength, can all be preserved. It depends on how we use what's available to us.
The first thing I would suggest to anyone who's beleaguered by the prospect of ageing would be to make sure that lung capacity is maintained.
This is the life line for anyone.
Most people according to the most recent research, (American Lung Association) begin to have reduced lung capacity as early as 35-40 years of age. This can accelerate dramatically as the years pass and activity declines.
So concerned are the authorities in the National Institute of Health in the USA that they have a campaign in place to promote simple breathing exercises.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is now the fourth biggest cause pf premature death in the United States, and is probably somewhere near the same level here.
Many, by the time they're in their fiftieth year, are existing on 50-60% of their lung capacity.
That means low energy, poor digestion, inefficient elimination, low resistance to colds, infections, tiredness, and a diminished capacity to think, concentrate, use our cognitive ability.
Our mental processes of remembering, perceiving, understanding and reasoning are diminished.
Articles in papers and TV shows focus on the disadvantages of ageing. And with good reason. That's because a good deal of the afflictions can be offset, delayed, and very much diminished.
An active lifestyle, a sense of purpose, some attention to what we eat, and adequate rest, can change the whole concept of life.
The solutions are simple, available and useable by anyone.
The time to begin protecting yourself for when you're older is now.
The first thing to know is that it's never too late.
Simple steps done with a bit of will can not only arrest symptoms, but even reverse them.
The second thing to know is that it's never too early.
Patterns of activity learned and applied in younger years, and continued into the farthest of age, will establish effects that will, literally, last you a lifetime. And that's a lifetime not only longer, but more vigorous, more lively, more likely free of the illnesses normally associated with age, and a hell of a lot more acceptable than the alternative.
I'll be going into what to do about these in the next few posts. Let me know if you've special interests or queries.
Get to it.
That Precious Human Quality
To find and fight a way from being miserable, tired, stressed, being the butt of cruel ridicule, to the point of being called a 'useless fat lump', to one's face, takes courage, determination, and a big portion of the Heart, the Human Spirit, that so many of us have, but not all of us use.
I had a revealing talk recently with a successful and accomplished client with whom I’ve been working for over 20 years. Those who know him now, would be surprised at the events from his past
Presently in his early 50s, he’s admired as a leading figure in his area of business. But just over 20 years ago, it wasn’t thought by anyone, himself included, that he might ever get to do anything more than he was doing at that time.
He wasn’t a happy man then. Far from it.
His life was one of apathy, disinterest, boredom.
He wondered why he lived.
At 30, he saw himself as a washed-up human being, a has-been, a lump of flotsam on a broad and lonely windswept beach.
Such was his view of the world, and his life.
His job had possibilities, good prospects, for anyone that is, who might apply himself. But he didn’t have the ambition to stir himself. And that was a big source of misery and disappointment to him. At one time he would have been keen to drive himself and his abilities forward.
He knew he had plenty of them.
But at 30, he was thinking and feeling, like a tired old man. Because of his potential, he knew he was selling himself short. And that saddened and irritated him. Because of what he saw as his losses, misery, and simmering self pity, he sought comfort in the numbing and easily-got refuge of food, drink and fantasies of what might-have-been.
If circumstances had been different.
Things hadn’t worked out as he had hoped. He had always thought that his life would have been one of endeavor, accomplishment and reasonable success, in whatever field of activity he played.
But, he thought, circumstances had conspired against him. He had been flattened and ground into an existence of self perpetuating, wretchedness and unhappiness that he had never planned.
His mind, body, and indeed, the spirit that exists in all humans, had been swamped and suppressed by the growing and worsening situation that was then his life. He was getting to the stage of deeper and more dangerous conditioning. He was adapting to, nearly accepting, his life and himself, as it then was.
Close to the stage of capitulation, he stood at the edge of despair. He was seeing his future, what there might be of it, holding all the excitement of a burst, torn and ragged balloon. This was not only apparent to him, but to others too.
In his workplace, he had been called a “fat, useless lump“.
None of this was what he had planned, he thought. And as he thought some more about it, he realised that that could be the real problem. He had let circumstances blow him about like a leaf in the wind. He had twisted and tossed and fluttered on the currents in the wind, and let them dictate his life and decisions .
“Decisions?“, he heard himself ask, “what decisions?“.
He hadn’t made any.
He had let himself be shifted and shunted by outside decisions that others had made, and not for him either, but about him.
He had let himself settle into a meaningless, aimless apathetic direction that had all the misery and pain in it, equal in weight and power to the happiness, self-respect, and sense of purpose that a life of effort and will and determination might bring.
And, he realised, there was only one person who could do anything about that.
And that was a good thing; that he had the wit to see it.
So, in spite of his low opinion of where he was at that time, he took heart. If his negligence had got him into that position, he reasoned, his decisive attention, some application of courage, and a bit of seasoned determination, just might do something for him in the opposite direction.
With this realisation gaining hold in his mind, he began to imagine what he might do about his life. Whether it was possible to change, to become who he needed to be, to do what he still vaguely believed, might be possible.
He wondered if it might just be possible to transform his existence from what he saw as abject failure, into one of even moderate quality.
And the more he thought about it, the more the idea began to appeal to him. He wondered where to start, how he could go about bringing what he thought was a remote possibility into reality. That was when he called in to the little gym that my wife and myself had in Dublin‘s city centre.
I recall the day we met. I was struck by the determination and force that he exuded. I was pleasantly surprised. In my experience, people who carried a lot of weight could be diffident and hesitant about their prospects. Not this boy though.
His decision and will were pouring into his words. And when he started his program, with an open mind and a spirit ablaze with enthusiasm, I remember being fired up about his prospects. To me, this fella had the attitude and mindset of someone who was on a personal mission.
With an open mind and a willingness to apply himself with extraordinary vigour, he moved into his course of action with a quietly relentless and ferocious consistency.
He was voracious in his learning, and committed to the doing of it.
In those days, no other gyms taught breathing techniques as a specific exercise, posture points as a foundation, nor the importance of belief and attitude in any undertaking.
But with his open, mind, his ability to listen, and his willingness to practice, this man achieved spectacular results, naturally. And quickly.
Because of his total involvement, and especially how he saw the psychological effects of what beliefs he held, and how he could shape his attitude, his success washed over into other areas of his life. He soon equaled anything that was being done in work by colleagues, those who had mocked and ridiculed him previously.
In another short while he outgrew them and forged ahead of them, and what levels they had set themselves as standards.
At that point, a senior manager approached him with the offer of a partnership in a new company. The manager had the capital and administrative experience to run the business. My friend had the drive, the know-how, the newfound energy and belief, and the marketing and sales expertise to promote it.
That’s exactly what he did, to become the man he could be, to do what was needed, to get where he wanted to go, and to have the attitude and drive to sustain what they had created.
There are many stories like this in which I’ve been privileged to have played some part.
It’s an exhilarating experience to be acquainted, however remotely, in that kind of accomplishment.
It’s one of those events that reinforces the belief in the spirit of the human being, and what becomes possible, when this great quality is invoked.
How to Start Your Day.
Our mornings, every single one of them, start the night before.
His wonderful book, “the biology of belief”, Professor Bruce Lipton speaks of the force of thinking on our bodies.
Every one of the 50,000,000,000,000+ cells in our existence is affected directly by how we are thinking. We interpret that physical reaction as a feeling. An emotion.
More simply, HOW we are thinking affects how we are feeling.
Professor Lipton concluded this many, many years ago. his initial conclusions were not readily accepted by his peers, colleagues or the medical profession.
He endured ridicule, dismissal and hubristic condescension; a frequent reaction to original thinking, or as Dr Edward Bono called it, lateral thinking.
Professor Lipton's research, development and conclusions are now utilised in the system of thinking known as Neuroplasticity; a whole new development of how we can change, modify, or influence our thinking consciously.
Which gives strength to the practice of a Morning Ritual, in which we choose a thought, an idea, or a project (goal), to direct or redirect our thinking.
It's back to decisions, isn't it? We can pretty well decide how we're going to think, which will affect how we feel, which will influence how we, act, react, or respond in any situation in life.
Any situation at all.
Proudly powered by Weebly