When not being the best is better

I was recently at my daughters drama class and the teacher was talking us through how they put a play together in a the 1 hour lesson that she has every week, she (the teacher) was a very animated character and dare I say exactly what I would have pictured a drama teacher to be, very pronounced without shouting and very keen on the detail of instruction she was giving, her opening line when we all arrived was that she wanted to show the parents of the attendees what it was that they do there and how they form a lesson and the goals they are trying to achieve when they do, one of the things that she said during this speech got me thinking and I wanted to share my thoughts in case anybody wished to share their view.

“It is not about being perfect or even getting the words right all the time it is about doing and learning as they go, there is so much talk about being the best version of yourself these days and always striving to be perfect that people especially children must be exhausted”

I have extolled the virtues of striving for perfection on many an occasion and it is only now that I started to think that pushing for perfection is not only futile in occasions where the result is forced to be a product of collaboration but sometimes so tiring that it becomes a very draining ethos, which could potentially be destructive, and ultimately subverting our goals as we struggle to achieve them through the brain fog of exhaustion.

Now, anybody who has read anything I have done will be familiar with the fact that I like to have proof of something before I will adopt or attempt to pass it on as information to others, and this is no exception, I watched in wonder as this teacher, without raising her voice to a shout moved 15 children aged between 6 and 12 through this play that they had seen for the first time that night, and after just 45 minutes, we had a 10 minute play where I would say 85% of timings were correct and dialogue was remembered, the children had started to add complimentary movement to their parts and had started to extend their lines all within context, it was astounding to see all these different personalities working together and learning through enjoyment.

I am not saying that there is not a place for perfection and striving to be the best, merely that we need to recognise that moment of fatigue in all of us and act on it, lighten up a bit and realise that forced progress is sometimes slower and always a lot harder than relaxed progress, Bruce Lee was famous for the 1 inch punch and always taught pupils to relax the muscles of the hand and arm while punching as a tight clenched fist cannot travel as fast as a relaxed one, he was right and this was proved in many demonstrations the same can be said for the mind, a stressed “tight” mind will never learn as quickly as a relaxed one that is open and has time to spare.

I guess what I saw was not really the play about the Russian Cave that was being performed but rather that changing from the intense method of corrective education i.e. “that was wrong” or “do it again you weren’t on time” to a more lead form where the word wrong was never used, not even once despite some initial lines being quoted wrong and a couple of missed cue’s, was that when we are all relaxed we learn quicker, we retain more information and with a greater accuracy, so I guess what I am saying is if you are struggling with a subject or a method, be it academic or entrepreneurial then instead of beating yourself up and getting stressed, essentially blocking your own progress you should stop, take a deep breath (or two depending on how stressed you are) and look at what you are doing for what it is, try and find the enjoyment in your activity, and do not berate yourself for making mistakes, every fortune and large company was built on a foundation of error, that is how we learn, approach new concepts or technical challenges as an opportunity to a burden and you will see that as cortisol levels drop your whole mental state will become less toxic and you will move along at a faster pace than you ever thought possible.

Multi-tasking is a Myth – Don’t Get Caught By It

Just a quick thought really, while trying to get a substantial amount of my affairs in order I found that while trying to do several things at once I was getting confused and tired and actually started to slow down my progress, the fact is that we are told what we have to do in this modern world, is “multi-task” , no such thing, Multi-tasking, as I have said before, is merely doing a lot of things with less focus than you would completing one task with full focus, it is only a quick post as I wanted to simply try and remind the world, or at least the 30-ish people that read my blog, to take some time to focus, and then smash the task at hand out of the park, really give it your full attention and you will find that tasks are completed quicker and with more accuracy, allowing you to move along to the next with ease and with the greater focus that is gained by the reassurance the previous one was done correctly.

I implore you to realise that the quickest way to move from point A to point B is in a linear fashion, Multi-tasking is not linear and requires a lot more effort than simply pushing forward in a straight line, hope you have a great day and achieve more by using a linear approach to tasks and completing them quickly and with precision.

Practice the Preaching ep17

So after my rant about money, the Mrs felt that I should do something a bit more lighthearted, so I thought that I would share some of the highlights from our recent holiday.

We went to Chania in Crete, Agii Apostoli to be precise and stayed at the amazing Seaqueen villa, it is a family affair and so we were with the in-laws, I know daring right? well these in-laws are cool so there was no issues and absolutely no mother in law jokes!

The place is awesome, it is huge and easily accommodates the three couples and our two girls, the pool is perfect and it has restaurants and shops in close proximity, so it is perfect for us.

As you know I have been changing my diet and working out over the last year and one of the reasons behind this was that, when we were there last year I was in such a state physically that I couldn’t join in anything with my girls and spent all my time sitting on the sidelines, I was determined not to have that issue this time.

Pictures of me a year apart

Me a year apart, the first picture was taken in Chania Bay at around 25.7 st and the second was this year at 18.4 st

As you can see above I was much more able to move this year and the heat did not get to me as much, being able to do things with the girls and play without puffing like a steam train was priceless to be honest, and made every hour of effort of the last year worthwhile.

The pool is awesome and last year was something that I could not use, partly through embarrassment at how I looked and partly because at 42 years old I still had never learned to swim, and nobody wants to try and lift a wet fat man from the villa pool, it just ruins the overall good atmos!

So we arrived on Saturday, and by Sunday night I had fashioned a swimming technique that to be fair looked more like controlled drowning but was functional, as confidence grew by Monday I had a reasonable stroke and was swimming up and down with the girls with relative ease, so fast forward to Wednesday and the private yacht that we hired between us, this was an experience like no other and has really fired me up for the financial side of my traineesuperhuman journey.

View from back of the Yacht

All was going very well until the first stop at a beautiful secluded bay to do some snorkeling, the problems I was about to encounter are best described as “Character Building”, everybody else jumped in and set off toward the shore breathing through their tubes and enjoying the view of the fish while I stayed on the yacht, after all I learned to swim one day ago and this was the sea and not a small pool with no current, but I felt bad as they all disappeared into the distance and when the Mrs came back to get me, claiming that the beach was only a short swim away I thought “why not” after all the water was very calm.

However I didn’t consider two three things, one, I had lost a lot of weight since the swimming shorts I had on had been purchased, two, the sea is salty and tidal, and lastly, three, breathing through a snorkel only really works if you stop using your nose and breathe through the tube, So I jumped in and set off with the wife, about half way across I realised that I was losing my shorts, now that would ruin everybodies holiday and I really didn’t want to have to climb back onto the boat with no shorts on, but as I say I had only just started swimming so as I put one hand down to pull the shorts up I started to swim in a circle, to correct this I would change hands and swim the other way, eventually we reached the beach and spent time in the warm lake on the other side of it, when it came time to come back I chose not to use the snorkel as I had swallowed my bodyweight in salt water already and wasn’t ready for any more, but what I hadn’t banked on was that the water had changed and was now a little choppy and the waves were against me, I am convinced I spent five minutes paddling like mad just to stay still, then the boat started to move away from me as I got close to it just to really finish me off!

It was (despite the near death experience) an amazing day, and I feel very privileged to have experienced the whole private yacht thing, as it turns out I spent most of the holiday in the water one way or another, either in the pool or at the water park that we took the “little fun train” to.

All in all an amazing time that I was able to enjoy so much more due to the hard work that I have put in over the past months, and a huge boost to me continued efforts, which will now include swimming!

Get up not stay up

So many blogs and Instagram stories centre around working as much of the day as possible in order to maximise progress, but quite a large proportion of these are either written by immortals or they are so rich that they have robot stand-ins, constantly we see posts at 4:30 in the morning and then posts claiming that they are still up at 12 midnight, whilst I accept that this can be employed as a temporary strategy it has no validity in the long term, as you become tired you will start to lose cognitive ability, concentration and physical ability will start to fade and you will eventually end up in a heap on the floor.

At which point all your plans, workouts and learning stops while you recover, as the vast majority of us will be holding down full time jobs as well as whatever other activities we are pursuing it serves us better to go to sleep a bit earlier and wake up earlier, this way all you are missing is night time activities which are largely leisure activities, these are the things to sacrifice in pursuit of goals both physical and financial anything else is going to harm you and as I said will ultimately end in stopping your progress completely for at least a couple of days.

If you go to bed at 10:00pm and get up at 4:30am you still get 6 and a half hours sleep, only losing out on half an hour of recommended sleep and you have a good 3 hours to get your goal pursuits in be that training, learning or practicing guitar (quietly of course) most of us finish work at 5:30pm so you still have 4 and a half hours to either carry on working on the future or spending time with the family, that schedule will also fit a lot closer with children so as you and the children start to sync a bit in your rhythms you could even bring some more harmony to that relationship.

Remember all sacrifice is for nothing if you become to tired and ill to keep pushing.

Dealing with Despair

The mind is a funny thing and is far more complicated than we will ever know (at the very least in my lifetime) and occasionally it can seem to be working against us, plans that are carefully laid are doubted and things we decide are true and right are questioned, and this effect is further magnified the longer our plans take to come into fruition, one of the many problems with this is that it can distract us, suddenly we start looking for alternatives to the plans we have laid, and start re-examining facts and figures that previously we were sure of.

Dealing with this is tricky, we must learn to understand the difference between doubt and intuition, many times in your life so far you will have felt that something is either good or bad in an instant, it is that innate ability that we all have, however it’s brutal honest nature often gets it ignored in favour of a path that is more to our liking, I personally have a fascination with intuition, precognition and the undeveloped abilities of the mind in general, but I will expand that later.

Doubt on the other hand tends to be the re-evaluation of known facts in the absence of any additional information, we let our minds wander in quiet times and inevitably you will start to concentrate on subjects that are of paramount importance.

The only way to deal with this is to actively fight against it and remember to do this with some considerable effort, years can be wasted allowing negative thoughts and emotions to slow us down stop us from progressing.

As a quick example of how I have learnt to deal with the darker moments, have a look at the three points below.

What am I worried about?

What are you worried about, I mean that literally, stop and ask yourself, “So what is the problem?” and list (on paper if it is easier for you to visualise) what exactly it is that is worrying you, this can be anything and you can be brutally honest with yourself at this point, no matter how you think your fears would be received by anybody else write them down, the only person reading it will be you.

Evaluate your worries

With that done to be honest you may feel slightly worse, that would be a normal response to a sudden listing of everything that is worrying us, but this is where you have to really fight, and fight as if your life depends on it, because allowing these negative internal influences can literally rob you of portions of your life, and that isn’t right even if it is you that’s doing it,

Look at each one and consider it carefully, what are the chances of it happening? what would the outcome be if it did happen? is there any mitigating action that can be taken? and one I personally use, is this happening right now? if not you can relax instantly because if it is not happening now then you have time to prepare and be ready for it even if the answers to the first questions aren’t ideal.

Crowd out the negative with positive

Now start to focus on the answers to your worries as identified by you, these are the positive actions you can take that make the worries that are plaguing you worthless, concentrating on these you can see that as each worry or problem is negated it will just diminish until it no longer exists, in fact as an exercise it may well be that the additional focus on the answers to the worries/problems actually brings stronger and more productive answers allowing you to solve problems quicker.

Depression

Depression is a serious matter however and if you start to feel that no matter what you do to cope you just can’t lift yourself out of this spiral, you should contact one of the various organisations that are there to help, starting with your GP / Doctor, we all deserve the best chance at life but unfortunately society can be cruel, peer groups, governments and their agencies, finance companies, social media can and will all take their toll, and for the most part the people involved don’t even give enough thought to their victims to consider the impact of their actions, so at least it is not personal, what you have to do is reach out to the other side of society, there is many good people around that want to help, some for money sure, but others literally because they want to help, if you ask they will answer, don’t let yourself become another statistic of the system.

Main Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels

Practice the Preaching ep6

Do Real things for Real results

So up for a run this morning and it made me think a couple of things, one the world is a beautiful place and I can’t believe sometimes how much we humans have been known to take it for granted, and two just how much harder running in real life is compared to a session on the treadmill.

Yesterday at the gym I did 45 minutes running at 7.5km/h at an incline of 7, I burned (according to the probably highly inaccurate) calories counter just over 500 calories, and afterwards I had a minute to calm down and then I happily wandered to my car to pick up my daughter from her club she attends.

Today, I ran 2.5Km at a pace of 8km/h and burned 375 calories in 21 minutes (according to strava, I am not sure about the accuracy of their metric either but that works on the same information I fed into the treadmill) and the really awkward truth about this is that in all activities, making money, bodybuilding, getting fit, and I can now add running to that list in bold and underlined, we get better results if we don’t look for the easy path in, sure you should always consult a doctor and make sure you are healthy enough to push yourself, the goal here is to live long and healthy and if possible not to die trying, but a real walk in the real world will always beat a slow jog on a treadmill, free weights are always better than machines and coming up with a method to make money is always better than trying mimic somebody who has already made it, use these easier methods to educate you and help you up to the first steps but always think and feel for yourself.

And smash it every single day.

Feeling Strong ?

Self-help and motivation has become very dear to my heart in recent years and I personally find it comforting that there a lot of people out there that do genuinely want to help, from the big names that fill auditoriums to the YouTube warriors that post incessantly, some with good intentions and morals and some with questionable motives largely found reciting industry standard rhetoric to a backdrop of a couple of piles of cash and some royalty free inspirational music, no names are required as we all have experienced these differing styles and their respective protagonists I imagine many times over.

Something happened to me specifically today, I had a moment of fear, a moment when the slow pace of progress closes round you like a cold encompassing blanket and seems to choke the energy right out of you, where all the carefully thought out plans and schemes suddenly seem unobtainable and you freeze unable to see a way forward.

Fear hits us all, I don’t care who or where you are, male or female, young or old, it is how we deal with it that counts and it is how we deal with it that will determine the pace at which you achieve your goals and in some cases if you ever do.

I have read a couple of books that are starting to suggest that we should maybe try and look for the good in what we have and not try to attain anything more, while this leaves me conflicted I do think it is a flawed and potentially harmful message, I mean people look to these places and people for inspiration and motivation, only to be told to not try to hard and look at the prospect of just being content with what you have, it must be a huge disappointment and for some difficult to recover from.

So here is a little mid-week motivation and each word is not only from my heart but it is fresh in my mind as I have gone through those emotions just today.

Feel strong, don’t question it just feel it look out into the open and just feel strong, remember that unless whatever is your main focus of concern is stood right in front of you with inevitable consequence, you have the opportunity to re-route your path, Think Slow Act Fast easy to say not easy to do when fear grips at your heart strings then climbs like an icicle up through your brain clouding your thoughts and play hide and seek with your emotion, but again stop and look around, things are almost always exactly the same as they were the moment before your fear went into overdrive, so whatever you do slow down your thoughts be methodical and then put those thoughts into action with the speed precision and purpose that only a razor sharp plan of action can command. Smash 100 percent everyday and in every action if you think slow forget fear and push your thoughts through to action with every ounce of strength you have you will move forward there is no two ways about it believe in your self and you are 80 percent there.

There is nothing wrong with being happy with the way things are, we are all searching for happiness and if you find it in getting by then that is genuinely awesome, however if that were the case I doubt you would be reading this blog.

Celebrate your husbands/wives/children and cherish them for what they are, your strength, motivation, the rock to cling to during a storm and the precious cargo you must protect as you set sail to a sunnier, happier less stressful land.

Everything else is just leverage.