Category Archives: Mind

Posts related to the brain, thinking, ideas and the many beautiful sides of intelligence.

Don’t fight the future… ’cause ya ain’t gonna win

Throughout the news these days, it’s become all too common for those who bring us the news to actually be the news.  Traditional print media is taking a complete beating these days because of a fundamental failure to evolve.  Newspapers were killed by free classified sites like Craiglist’s and never figuring out a good way to make money with their web sites, where they typically gave away the same content as their hard copies for free.

But this is interesting to me:

Sports Illustrated really looks like they could be onto something.  I mean, in terms of “WOW!” factor, this has it.  Everything you love in your favorite magazine, automatically updated to a slim device you can bring everywhere?  With video?  And sharp photos and color?  Bring it my way.  I am already ridiculously in love with my Amazon Kindle (which if you know me, you know I can hardly stop talking about it at times).

But here’s why I am talking about this in the blog.  Three reasons really.  First, I am a sucker for ideas that seek to push the envelope from what we commonly accept as “the way it is” and seek to do things bigger, better, cooler and so on.  Great ideas are endlessly fascinating to me.  Second, whether or not this device ends up panning out, it’s those who seek to bring forward these ideas that I give a ton of credit to.  It’s easy to see all the questions that go along with this tablet: What will be the price point for the device?  How about for the magazine subscription?  Will I be able to get other magazines besides Sports Illustrated on it?  What kind of competition will this bring out and will the competitors do it better, cheaper or both?  But to go ahead and push forward with a product that changes the way we understand a commonly-accepted item to take them in entirely un-thought-of directions (iPods with music, the Kindle with books, Google with search, me with dead-sexy bloggers… you get the idea) is the inspirational piece to me… even if done by a gigantic media conglomerate like Time Warner/Apple/Amazon/Google.

The third reason has to do with the subject of the post.  I think we all seek to fight the future in some ways because change can be pretty scary.  I had lunch with a good friend today and we both talked about how we struggle with that at times.  I find change both scary and thrilling… it just depends on the kind of change.  For instance, when I see chances within the workplace to tear down old ways of doing things?  I am all over it.  Love it.  Gets me fired up.  But if you suddenly asked me to do the same, but uproot my life and move far away?  That’s when you would probably hear the longest “Welllll….. seeeee…. the thing is….” ya ever heard in your life.  The change might be great for me, but my appetite for it may be in the small tossed salad with a nice house dressing zone as opposed to the 32 oz. cowboy cut ribeye zone.

The moral of the story for me?  Go for the steak, baby… go for the steak.

Walking away from it all

Could you do it?  Up and walk away from everything in your life that your family and friends may associate with who you are?  Your job, money, status and prestige?  What would it take?

This is what Jonathan Fields, author of the book Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love went and did.  He up and left his huge salary, high prestige job with one of the best law firms in the country to become a personal trainer and entrepreneur.  Pretty scary eh?

Jonathan is someone I have only learned about recently and have not had the chance to read his book, but he has a great post about what caused him to make a leap most would describe as “freakin’ insane” as well as the challenges in doing so. But here is the quote that grabbed me:

I’d realized what makes me happy isn’t money, power and prestige, but rather the opportunity to:

  • Engage in activities that make me come alive,
  • Surround myself with people I can’t get enough of and
  • Earn enough to live well in the world.

Short, sweet and one pretty darn good list, wouldn’t you say?  What’s fascinating about it is I think most people would have a hard time arguing with it.  What’s not to like?  It’s practically motherhood and apple pie.

So then why do so few of us actually do this?

From my own perspective, I would say because I make it waaaay too easyfor myself  to get distracted by 1,001 other things.  Does that make it OK?  Aww hell no.  Every time I stop and reflect, I want to kick my own behind from losing sight of it… again.

One thing to keep in mind with the list above is that you don’t need to up and leave your job, move to some brand new place and make a hugely radical change at all.  While that does work for some people, that kind of sudden shift is not going to work for most.  What we can all do (me too!) is begin to figure out our end point of happiness and begin to redirect towards that goal. Maybe it’s some small changes where you work and how you interact with your boss and then making more time for those activities you love, but just seem to neglect.

But then again, you could just trade in your wingtips for flip-flops  I’m just sayin’.

January 2nd dose of perspective

Perspective
Pronunciation: \pər-ˈspek-tiv\
Function: noun

1 a : the technique or process of representing on a plane or curved surface the spatial relation of objects as they might appear to the eye; specifically : representation in a drawing or painting of parallel lines as converging in order to give the illusion of depth and distance b : a picture in perspective
2 a : the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed <places the issues in proper perspective>; also : point of view b : the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance <urge you to maintain your perspective and to view your own task in a larger framework — W. J. Cohen>

All of us will deal with some troubles in our lives – it’s a fact of life that we all must accept, face and deal with the approach of our own choosing.  What’s interesting is how events that differ wildly in terms of their severity can have identical impacts on different people.  For instance, one person who cannot find their car keys first thing in the morning before work could feel the same level of stress and anxiety as someone who just failed the bar exam and now wonders about getting a job after piling up tens of thousands of dollars of debt.  Which one is really the more severe in terms of life impact?

That’s where perspective comes in.  I could personally be completely stressed out about work or Lord only knows what else.  I am the kind of person who is probably a little too keyed-up for my own good.  But seriously… how bad do I really have it?  I live in a nice town in one one of the most prosperous and free countries in the history of the world, with a good job, my health, great friends and family.  That puts me ahead of 99.9999% of the world’s population and why perspective is so damn important… because otherwise I would miss out on valuing the good and would place undeserved importance on my own “bad”.

Tonight I got a jolt of perspective when the youth group I work with served dinner for the Immaculate Conception Shelter in Hartford, a homeless men’s shelter.  I have been to this same shelter several times before, but on this chilly New England night, the shelter was as full as I have ever seen it.  More than 100 men this particular night.  I am always moved and humbled by how appreciative the clients of the shelter are of the efforts of volunteers.  I’m just glad they had an option for a meal and a warm place to stay.

Perspective… it’s not the reason I went to the shelter, but it’s certainly what I received as a gift.

Politics, religion and resolutions

Politics. Religion. Beef-lovers vs. vegans. The notion that anyone is a better James Bond than Sean Connery.  In my life, I’ve found certain topics to always engender impassioned debate and are considered taboo in some polite circles.  The other topic?

New Year’s resolutions.

People are all over the map on these and whether they are of value.  Some love them and look forward to mapping out all of the ways they will scrub their life clean of past disappointments and be born again in a shiny new year.

A common argument against them (which I think makes a lot of sense) is that why must you pick something as arbitrary as the start of the year to make positive changes?  Isn’t any moment of any day just as good?  Why wait?

Fair points.  I’ve long liked New Year’s resolutions for myself (more on this in a moment) because it’s very easy for me to get rolling along and not find particular moments to stop and take stock of what direction I am even rolling in.  Don’t we all get like that?  Don’t we all get sucked up in work, family, friends and the general fast-pace of life in 2010 and forget to stop and ask “Why a second… is this even where I want to be headed?”  I am trying to work more of these stop-and-think moments into my life this year, but it’s always good to know that one time per year, EVERYONE seems to be talking about what they should be changing or doing better.

The reason I emphasize why I like the New Year’s resolution for myself is that I usually do a half-decent job of keeping some of my resolutions in mind.  Sure, I don’t nail all of them, but I have cleaned out old drawers and found resolution lists and was pleasantly surprised that I got about half of my resolutions taken care of.  Allow me a moment to bask in my own complete and utter awesomeness…. Ahhhh!  Refreshing!

But go to any commercial gym in America in the month of January and you will see the inevitable mob scene of people looking to start off their resolutions to get in shape and lose weight.  What happens in February?  Probably 9 out of 10 of those people give it all up.  So clearly this approach is not working for everyone out there.  Let’s just all get on the same page and collectively hope that Lindsay Lohan can meet her resolution for 2010.  I think that is a cause we can all believe in.

So my own resolutions?  This is not a completely finalized list just yet, but this is the general scope:

  1. At least one posting for Fierceandmighty.com a day.  So far, I am en fuego.
  2. Finally go snowboarding for the first time.  My GF got me a really nice full-on boarding outfit from Burton.
  3. Attend a seminar on entrepreneurship.  I just find this topic endlessly fascinating and would love to learn more, irrespective of whether I decide to up and take the plunge into my own business at some point.
  4. Attend a strength/conditioning seminar.  I went to one about 4 years ago, had a lot of fun and have been meaning to go to another ever since.
  5. Trying to figure out my weight training goals right now.  I have some general ideas on lifting figures (315 bench, 500 deadlift and 500 squat), but those need to be balanced against all of the soccer and other sports I plan on taking part in.
  6. Finally stake my rightful claim as lost heir to the Polish monarchy and begin my inevitable march towards world domination through the power of kielbasa and pierogies.  This one almost feels like a foregone conclusion.

For a nice top 10 list of suggestions on how to get your resolutions to stick, go on over to this post at Lifehacker (numbers 1, 2 and 5 are my faves).

Now go out there and get cracking on your lists… and if you hate resolutions? At least take a pause moment and assess your life’s direction. 5 minutes of honest reflection is a precious, precious thing.

Stuff I like

The world is full of cool stuff – really and truly.  As I find said stuff, I plan on sharing with you, gentle readers, because that’s just the kind of incredibly awesome guy I am.  Read on and hopefully something here will be of value to you.

Evernote

Evernote is a cross-platform program used for taking all kinds of notes.  Sounds simple, right?  Here is where it gets good: you can take the notes on:

  • the Evernote web site;
  • on a Windows or Mac version you download to your computer; or
  • on your iPhone, Blackberry or Android phone.

Then, your notes are synchronized across all of these platforms so you can access them wherever you are.

I have the Android version (and so I am guessing the iPhone version is about the same) and since I always have my Droid with me, I can pop in notes any time a moment of inspiration strikes.  These include text notes, voice notes or even taking pictures to create new notes.  The notes can then be tagged, places into a variety of notebooks and so on.  You can even upload handwritten documents or PDFs to keep everything you have all in one handy spot.

And guess what?  It’s free.  There is a premium version that gives you more storage and uploads, but a lot of people can make a ton of use of the free version (like I am doing, although I am giving a lot of thought to going premium).

Lifehacker

I’ve been reading Lifehacker for a little while now and it’s one of the better sites that focuses on a variety of “lifehacks” such as better ways to organize yourself, great computer/tech tips and basically anything else that will help make your life run a little more smoothly.  It does have a bit of a techie and computer leaning to it, but not to the point of it being so nerdy that you feel like you need “Linux rulez!” tattooed on your backside.

The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Eat and Why

I recommend this book by Jonny Bowden to everyone I know.  It’s a very easy read, well-organized by food type and with a clear explanation for why each of the 150 foods were picked for the list.  What refreshing about this book is that it’s not something with the typical agenda you find with some nutritionists (i.e. “All red meat is bad!  Just eat whole grains!”).  Also, it’s useful regardless of your eating style (vegetarian, vegan, high protein, etc.).

Absolutely Everything About This Photo:

Well, almost everything about this photo… just not the eventual tongue-lashing my girlfriend will dish out after seeing this.  Love ya honey!

The value of crazy

Looks comfy, eh?I firmly believe in the value and power of crazy.  Maybe not so much in the wearing hair shirts in public while declaring Fred Savage to be the antichrist kind of bat guano crazy… but more the kind of crazy that causes people to stop and stare a little bit while walking away shaking their heads.  The value really lies in the idea of doing something others either do not want to do or will not do because it looks hard or might be a little embarrassing.

More often than not, I have found these are exactly the kinds of activities that have a more beneficial aspect than not for your life.  Whether it’s dancing in public, acting like a complete idiot in a toy store to make your kids laugh or (in my case) doing some kind of really weird exercise… as shown in the video below.

Before I got this contraption (The Prowler in case you were wondering), I used to go out into this same parking lot and push/pull my SUV for exercise.  It’s an absolutely fantastic way to combine strength and conditioning into one efficient activity… but you need to accept the fact that (a) people will stop and stare at you; (b) people will without fail ask you if your car needs a jump (which is actually a very nice confirmation of the inherent goodness in humanity); or (c) the local police will slowly cruise by and stop to say “Look… just don’t get yourself run over.”  All 3 of these things have happened to me and I love it.

If I let the potential for embarrassment get in the way, I would have missed out on a really great exercise. Now that I have my Prowler, I am still going to get the looks… just no instances of people asking if my car needs a jump.  No police encounters yet, but give it time.  I have only gotten to use it 4 times so far.  Those will come… I just know it.

The same with this blog.  If I was worried about any negative comment someone might write on my posts, I would miss out on doing something I enjoy thoroughly and get a lot out of.  So on I write and keep hoping that each post is better than the last.  And Lord only knows I wouldn’t put up videos like the one in this post on YouTube if I was going to mire myself in what everyone else thinks because I know some people out there like or appreciate it, and that’s good enough for me.

So get out there. Be a little more wild than mild.  I’m trying to do so, although some areas are easier than others.  I feel no hesitation in doing certain athletic things that may cause an occasional raised-eyebrow, but believe me… in other areas?  I’ve got a lot of work.  And anyone who wants to join me for some Prowler pushes in the snow, just let me know…

Like a phoenix from the blog ashes

Welcome to Fierce and Mighty, my little blogging home. This is the second incarnation of this blog so if this your second go-round, thanks for coming back and if this is your first, glad to have you aboard.

My first shot through this was to detail the progress of a recent weight training and diet program I was on that took me from a strong 202 lbs. to an equally strong (and far more fit) 186 lbs.  As fine and well as all of that experience was, it was severely limiting to me from a writing perspective because every post was only about my diet, my conditioning work or strength training.  As near and dear to my heart as all of these topics are, that’s just not enough to satisfy me as a writer… or as someone who feels compelled to blurt stuff all over the Internet.  Six of one, half dozen of another.

I have been on vacation almost 2 weeks now and I have been spending a big chunk of that time just thinking.  It’s funny how I never dedicate much specific time to quiet thought, but whenever I do it, I find myself profoundly energized.  I knew with the break I had for Christmas, I needed to make good use of the time, recharge the mental batteries and figure out how I wanted to get 2010 started… and this blog is a result of all of that.

If there has been one constant theme to my contemplations of these past 2 weeks, it’s been on the notion of figuring out what my personal passions really are.  Doesn’t that sound kind of odd?  Shouldn’t you just know what your passions are?  But if you actually stop to take the time to think about your true personal passions (not just the things you kinda like), it can be a lot trickier than you would anticipate.  I found a great deal of help in reading Pamela Slim’s excellent book Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur which proved to be an excellent guide for the whole process.

And that’s when I had a moment of clarity about what I really and truly enjoy… the thing that excites me and inspires me. I truly enjoy the process and ideas involved with how people better themselves and strive to be more, whether through physical, emotional, intellectual, work-wise improvements. This has always been meaningful for myself, but it was the moment of clarity that made me realize how much I like being a part of helping others with these types of goals. I enjoy being the catalyst for others or the sounding board for those who are knee-deep in the process.  It’s great to engage with people on a personal level in trying to help them with their goals, dreams and aspirations.

What I also realized is that the idea of “bettering yourself” should never be limited to the achievement of money or status (although that is fine too) but really about achieving whatever positive goals and dreams you have.  It’s also not really meant to be some piece of the Western obsession of never being satisfied with what we have and needing to get more and more and more.  Your positive goal (and mine really to a certain degree) could be to strip away the needless and flashy to achieve a more authentic life experience that is tied less to a snazzy title, a luxury car or a premium ZIP code.

Where does this blog fit into all of this?  Fairly simple: I will use this to detail my own trials and tribulations along my own life path and to share a few nuggets I find along the way.  I am fascinated with how we, as human beings, can live a life that is a little more integrated and balances mind, body, heart and spirit into a cohesive package.  So, I will write about strength training, but it will not be concerned just with getting physically stronger, but the carry-over that strength brings to the rest of your life (still one of the most underrated aspects of strength and conditioning)… or I will write about a great book that satisfies both the mind and the spirit…  and sometimes I will just write about more singular aspects of life.  It’s all interesting to me and hopefully will be to you.

Thanks for coming along.  I am looking forward to the writing, but even more to engaging with anyone who reads all of my nonsensical ramblings along the way.  Hey, I may take the topics and thoughts seriously, but never myself.  That’s just crazy talk, right there.