WHEN, NOT IF

Among all the clutter of end of the year “best of” and top ten lists, I came upon an interview with 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Michael Strahan, who was named by Barbara Walters as one of the Most Fascinating People of 2020.

In their sit-down, she brings up his father’s life philosophy. Strahan explains, “When, not if… He never told me if you do something.

It was never, ‘If you make it to the pros’ or ‘If you…’ It was always when. And for me, I never developed the attitude that something couldn’t be done.”

Complementing this thought process, I also read back in Novemember an online interview Anson Mount, star of Hell on Wheels, did with Entertainment Weekly.

[Remind me to tell you sometime my story about going apple picking with Anson Mount, my ex-girlfriend and her roommate.]

In response to the question of what great advice he has received in Hollywood, Mount recalled the following anecdote:

“My first Emmys party, I was introduced to Jon Hamm. I had just started doing Hell on Wheels, and I said, “Hey, man, do you mind if we talk?” “About working with AMC?” “

No, just kinda about the whole thing.” He said, “Oh, okay.” So we go and bum a couple of cigarettes from Aaron Paul, and Jon says, “So, what I keep saying to myself is, ‘Why not me?’” I was like, “What do you mean?”

He said, “Well, I grew up with this guy whose father was a professional baseball player, and then he got really into golf, and we would go golf with him sometimes.

We were on this one hole, and I’m like an 8-iron shot away from the hole, and his father’s up on the green and says, ‘Put the ball right here,’ and points to this exact spot on the green.

And I said, ‘Yeah, right.’ And he got really mad. And he said, ‘Why not you? Why not you? If not you? Somebody else.

Why not you?’” So Jon said to himself, “Why not me?” And he hit the ball exactly where the guy had been pointing.”

Two great ideas – “When, not if” and “Why not me?”

I bring these both up as the New Year quickly approaches and I find myself in that annual tradition of contemplating resolutions, as I am sure you are too.

We resolve ourselves to do better, but too often they are weighed down by our own rules and devices.

They are meant to help us live healthier, happier lives, but often become daunting tasks that feel like a chore rather than a natural extension of who we are.

So in 2021, rather than resolve to do something, which always takes on a negative tone, I am going to evolve my thinking and make this two ideas part of my everyday thinking.

It’s not if I hit a new PR in the deadlift, it’s when I hit that PR in the deadlift. It’s not if I do fifteen strict pull-ups in a row, it’s when I do fifteen in a row.

Building upon this, is the second – why, not me? Winning a CrossFit competition – why not me? Completing an Ironman – why not me? Getting that promotion at work – why not me?

They extend past sports and winning TV roles. They are clear ways to approach life. Both are about attitude and self-confidence.

Both are a mindset to live your best life, rather than just any life. In 2021, think differently.

Are you Active or Reactive?

I work in a transaction based business. My former boss always liked to say that in the world of commercial real estate everyone likes to think they take an active approach to the market, meaning they are strategic in their decisions and that they are prepared for any fluctuations.

But the reality is that most brokers and developers are reactive. They have best intentions, but their attention is quickly diverted by the latest and greatest deal that comes across their desk because it sounds more exciting than the tried and true.

Most of us function the same way in our personal lives. We want to be active and get out ahead of changes in the tide.

We want to be fiscally responsible and plan for big changes, like purchasing a house or kids’ college tuition or retirement.

We want to maintain our car with regular oil changes or tire rotations and check-ups. And we want our health to be good and stable by regularly exercising and eating a balanced diet.

If you are active, things are constant. You have a routine. You make consistent choices. You are like steady waters:

The truth though is most of us are reactive. Disaster happens – the refrigerator breaks and we have to scramble to figure out how to pay for it; the doctor tells us we are overweight and now we have to change our diet and find a gym; or we lose our job and now we are trying to figure out whose in our network and what happened to that old copy of our resume.

The tidal wave appears and now we are swimming for dear life to get to safety.

I bring this all up because it is really hard to be active. I’m finding this to really be the case for myself in 2021.

I tend to be an extremely organized person and I always have a plan in mind. Yet this year my plan keeps changing.

It’s easy to come up with a plan but difficult to execute and stick to it. Saving away money or making sure we go to the gym three times per week.

Regularly going for checkups with our doctors or committing to story time with the kids before bed each night. It takes discipline and it sometimes feels restrictive.

Yet the benefits are clear. Getting out ahead of the tidal wave helps us avoid the impending dangers in life.

Our daily decisions don’t guarantee safety, but they will help us be prepared.

The stress caused by this new position I took on at work over the last six months has the potential to overwhelm.

I already seeing it here and there leading to bad habits – skipping the gym because I feel like I need to just veg out or grabbing that pastry on the way into my office because I think its going to be comforting.

In my own life, being active means:

  • Scheduling my workouts each week on my calendar so that they are a priority and not decided on a whim.
  • Bringing a healthy lunch to work so that I don’t default to the quick and easy sandwich, chips and cookie at the nearby deli.
  • Going to bed at a consistent hour each night so that I am well rested and more mentally sound.
  • Organizing my to-do list for work using calendar reminders and other tools so that I can better manage my workflow.
  • Making sure I go in for a bi-annual physical check-up so that I can better monitor my personal health and detect unhealthy trends before they become risk factors.

To overdo it on the metaphor, I don’t want the waves to come crashing down on me and find out that I don’t have a life vest or even some floaties.

Life is unpredictable and that’s okay because it would be boring otherwise. But when it brings surprises that are not welcome, like stress and sickness, our strongest defense will be an active life.

Monday: Today’s Workout

4-5 rounds w/ 2 minutes Rest in between:

  • 12-15 Close Grip Bench Pres  @30X1 + 30 seconds Rest
  • 12-15 Single Arm Bent Over Row @ 30X1 + 30 seconds Rest
  • 10 Burpees AFAP (as fast as possible)

EMOM / 15 Minutes:

  • Minute 1 – FLR (45 seconds)
  • Minute 2 – Sorens0n Hold (0:45 seconds)
  • Minute 3 – 8 Sprawl Box Jumps

Just Listen

Last Monday, I gathered in a circle with my fellow athletes for the 7pm class at CrossFit Kingfield. The 6pm class was still finishing the WOD and so Coach Caitlin welcomed us amid a cacophony of clanging barbells, thumping beats and strained grunts.

She was asking us how our day was and truthfully mine had not been great. I was standing next to her but was distracted by all the surrounding activity.

I asked, “Can you speak a little louder?”

She quickly replied, “I can speak as loud as I need to, but I also need you to be a better listener.”

Well, good day to you too!

I was a bit taken aback by her blunt response and it sat with me for throughout the warm-up. It had rubbed me the wrong way but I ultimately grinned and moved on and had put it out of my head by the time we got to the main workout.

The next morning, after my boss and I had just finished a property tour with an important, he stopped me in the parking lot to talk.

Recently at work some mistakes that I had made over the last few weeks bubbled up to the surface. He wanted to take a step back and discuss what was going on.

He said, “I really appreciate your passion and your excitement for the job, but I need you to start listening more.

I feel like when I am telling you things you are thinking ahead to your response or the next action. You have a superior intellect to most and I can see that you are just in your head about stuff, going quick, but you still need to learn.

So I need you to just listen and take a breathe and make sure that when I am telling you something that it is sinking in.”

I am not going to lie, it was difficult to be standing there in the middle of a parking lot getting this feedback. I don’t like being told that I’m not doing a good job and that I need to improve.

I have an ego about these things and am a perfectionist. I get immediately defensive when I hear negative comments.

However, in this case I just took it all in. When someone is telling you to be a better listener, the appropriate reaction is to make it clear that you are listening. Especially when it is your boss.

That evening I went to my first yoga class in probably two months. I had been running around with work and the Granite Games and social events and I wanted to be back on a mat in a calm setting for an hour or so.

I decided to try out Yess Yoga as it is right around the corner from my house. My friends Jake and Chelsea met me there and it seemed so did everyone else from the studio. The room was packed.

I wasn’t sure what to expect and was a bit out of habit. And now, not only did I not know the instructor, but I didn’t have a clear sightline. Suddenly the yoga class was going to be exactly what I needed – a lesson in listening.

In the countless yoga sessions I have done with my friend Wendy as an instructor she has always spoken about how in yoga we have to listen to our bodies.

We must be mindful of our breathe and we must be must mindful of our body and make sure we respond in kind.

If our hips or our shoulders or even our head is saying that where we are is where we are supposed to be or that we need to take a break and go into child’s pose, then we are advised to listen and act accordingly. We must listen to the internal dialogue.

But I realized that evening that yoga also tasks everyone with being a strong listener to the external.

The instructor goes through the flow and as he or she tells you to transition from downward dog to a forward lunge to a small twist we often can’t see them or necessarily any of the other students.

We have to listen carefully for where to move our feet and our arms. You quickly ruin the flow if you think ahead and assume what’s next.

So for the hour I worked on waiting for each instruction and listening to the clear direction of the yoga instructor but it was hard. I had so much in my head that I was trying to work through.

Life is weird. I’m not sure why Coach Caitlin decided to make such a strong statement about my listening skills or why her comment was so loudly echoing the feedback that I was getting at work.

I’m not sure why I then found myself at yoga connecting all the dots. But the message was clear and it was honest and it was true. I need to be a better listener.

Any of my coaches who have taken the time to work closely with me have identified that I think too much.

I am in my head going through ever bit and piece of information they have given me, ripping it apart and putting it back together and trying to place it in some larger context.

Instead, I should just quiet myself and take in the valuable advice that is being given.

As my other senior teammate at work said to me this week, “I am giving you advice for a reason and I assume that if I am taking the time to help you and point out these things that you are listening and following through on them.

If not, then why I am bothering. It doesn’t bode well for our relationship and our success.”

I’m not purposefully ignoring what she or my boss are saying to me with any ill intent. They advise me and for some reason, some flutter of activity, some misguided reasoning, I make a decision that steers me in the other direction.

I think about what they say and then think about twenty other reasons why to act differently. It leads to mistakes and they are biting me in the ass.

And I don’t progress like I want to. I want to be great at my job and for my clients and peers to see great execution, not hiccups and flaws.

I have had the same downfall in the gym. My coaches give me clear advice about my lifts or workout schedule or nutrition.

I take it all in but am not truly listening because then I go and read a whole bunch of articles that contradict and I make assumptions and ultimately don’t see the progress that I want. I sputter in the same gear rather than progressing in my lifts and achieving the results that I keep aspiring to have.

My boss said it best yesterday morning as a follow-up to our conversation about listening. He told me on an early morning phone call, “You need to be humble.

You need to be a soldier before you become a general. You’ll get there but for now listen and execute and learn.”

YEAR OF TRANSITION

“The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you’ve come.”

As 2015 comes to an end, I can summarize the year in one word – transition. While 2014 was a year of building towards change, 2015 was about handling all of that change.

It was my first full year as a homeowner – handling a mortgage, shoveling the walkways, mowing the lawn and becoming President of the HOA.

It was also my first full year as a commercial real estate broker – the security blanket of a salary was gone and now I was working on commission and making cold calls, giving property tours, selling properties and leasing office space. It was a sharp learning curve with many bumps along the way as I learned my new role.

It was also a transition from a predictable 9 to 5 job into one where I worked a minimum of 60+ hours per week, never knowing if I would have to attend a school board meeting, speak in front of a City Council or meet the Archbishop.

I was extremely busy and it was very challenging, but also rewarding as I received a promotion and have found myself part of a successful, winning team.

It was also a year in which I started off having just left my CrossFit gym. I became a gym nomad for the first six months trying out classes at Alchemy, [solidcore] and Pelicano Endurance Coaching.

I also returned to UpperCut Boxing Gym and paddleboarding with Flow Fitness. But it wasn’t until I met Danny, the head coach and owner of CrossFit Kingfield, that I finally found a new home.

Over the last six months, Danny, Amanda, Chris, Tony and Caitlin have greatly improved my form and technique, identified mobility issues and helped me set clear goals for 2016. I have grown to fully embrace their motto, “No crowns. Just courage.”

In looking back, I realize that the highlights of the year are many:

  • Interviewing Jen Sinkler, Abby Hoeschler and Miles Dombrovski about their training and nutrition.
  • Attending the Strong Man Seminar at CrossFit Uffda with Jake and Nate.
  • Traveling to Nicaragua with Paleo Nick and an amazing group of 25 strangers where I learned how to surf, learned how to play Bananagrams and Cribbage, and rediscovered my love for CrossFit.
  • Completing “Murph” on Memorial Day side-by-side with my buddies Josh and Ryan at Solcana CrossFit.
  • Getting back on the horse at the Twin City Throwdown in July.
  • Competing in the Granite Games with Nick and Chris, where I proved to myself that I have the capacity to go beyond my perceived limits when I have the focus and the drive.
  • Tying for first in the Twin City Throwdown on Halloween with my teammate Tom.
  • Completing the 21-day sugar detox, which helped me sleep better, eat better, think better and feel best both mentally and physically than I have ever felt in years.

I’m ready for the new year. I don’t anticipate there to be more changes; rather, I believe it will be a time to focus on constantly improving at my job and at work.

I’m going to minimize distractions for the year and I’m going to find ways to better handle the “new normal”.