Tag Archives: inspiration

The Potential of Potential

Our Potential by Hugh MacLeod
Our Potential by Hugh MacLeod

I wanted to get out a quick thought this AM that was inspired by the cartoon above from the always excellent Hugh McLeod at gapingvoid.com (I own one of his prints and it hangs proudly in my home office as a little reminder to myself to fight the status quo).  If you haven’t checked out his site, you owe it to yourself to do so.

Potential is a funny thing… we all want it for ourselves, as we should.  We want to know that there is a limitless amount of possibility for ourselves and where we choose to take our lives.  However, potential has an interesting flip side to it when it comes to our own personal potential… the longer we have it without it being fulfilled, the worse it really is.  Then it becomes a reminder of what we could do, but haven’t.  Ugh.

It’s as if potential was an empty vessel of some kind and the larger it is, the more chance we have to fill it… but if it stays empty or barely filled, it just get dusty and disappointing.  It’s there to be filled.  It’s meant to be filled… or at the very least, the attempt to fulfill on its promise must always be engaged.

Before anyone thinks I am taking a good thing and looking only at its ugly side, I’m actually not being a pessimist here.  Instead, I seek to jab all of us in the side with a reminder that potential is a great thing, but a massive amount of unfulfilled potential due to lack of interest, desire or just plain hard work will always pale in comparison to someone who may have less, but dagnabbit, gets after it with fervor. And each of us never truly knows how big that vessel of potential is, do we?  Isn’t it better to put your head down, kick ass and see where the limits may be?  I’ve long had the suspicion that it’s not finite, but grows as we do…

There is also another very positive side to the concept of potential and this is less about your own personal abilities and gifts and more about what life can offer you.  In that sense, I know there is no upper limit to what can be.  The opportunities to try things, do things, see things and experience things is pretty much limitless.

So therein lies the battle cry for each of us (and definitely for me… remember people, I write this just as much to kick my own behind into action as yours): If we can each keep pushing the bounds of our own personal potential and life will always offer us limitless potential, then bringing those two things together is about as perfect a marriage as you can get.

In the words of two of the greatest poets of our time… Salt-n-Pepa, obviously… push it.  Push it real good.

Big, Fat, Looming Perspective

It's all about the perspective...

Today was another day of some audioblogging during my way into work. Today is yet another post about one of my favorite topics – perspective. Enjoy.

July 14, 2010 Fierce and Mighty Audioblog

And when you are looking for the photo of the chart used by Craig Weller I talk about in the post, you can find it right here.

The Myth of Daily Intensity

Sam... bringing it!

I’ve written a few times about my commute into work, whether from the standpoint of just sometimes enjoying the quiet of the drive or on how some people merge like borderline mental patients.  It’s always a grab bag of adventures during the 20 to 45 minutes I spend in the car heading to or home from the office.  I know I am not alone in this feeling.

This morning I decided to try something a little different and do an audio blog and load it up to the site today.  What prompted the blog (content-wise as opposed to doing it in an audio format) was an e-mail exchange I recently had with someone about my blog.  They remarked that they were surprised at the amount of intensity I am able to have on a daily basis.  That made me chuckle a bit since I have oh-so-many days where my intensity feels like a deflated balloon of pain and nothingness and ennui… umm… OK, maybe not that bad, but I do have days where I am not quite as spunky or crisp as I would prefer to be.  It’s human nature.  So I figured I would dictate a post into Evernote and put the audio file up for your listening enjoyment of my golden voice as it soothes you into a serene pool of happiness, enlightenment and a transcendent state of being.  Lucky you.

Audio Blog.mp3

And in case you are wondering what true intensity looks like… I present to you… my nephew Sam.  Fear him, people… fear him.

Got Scars?

Today I was out in the gray chilliness that is Winter in Connecticut and doing some pushes and pulls with my beloved Prowler.  I strained and struggled and fought it with all I could for a shade under 30 minutes before calling it a day.  As I completed the last push of the day, I finished and immediately dropped into a semi-kneeling position, almost like genuflecting.  However, I successfully kept my breakfast down.  But you know what I thought to myself?

“Huh… no puking yet again… maybe I’m not doing this hard enough.”

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the insanity that is my noggin.  Please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times because I really can’t be held responsible for what may happen otherwise.

Now why on earth would I think that?  Seriously.  First of all, I really hate puking.  I know that is not a penetrating insight on par with the work of Plato or Immanuel Kant, but I mean I really hate it.  Second, how can anyone rationally think that puking could be a sign of anything remotely good or positive?  It’s like those kooky powerlifters who seem to enjoy the fact they get blood shins from doing deadlifts where the bar drags along their legs.  That can’t be sane… can it?

I’ll tell you why I think this… because I often wonder, if you don’t bear scars, have you really tried hard enough?  Or put another way, have you truly found the thing you are just so passionate about that you are willing to run the risk of skinned knees or puking or falling short in the process?  Willing to run the risk of embarrassment over not coming through as a total success because you just love the process so much that winning or losing is a distant second?

I wonder this because I believe (at least in my own personal case) that for things that truly and deeply matter to me, I am willing to risk the scars or the falling short or the skinned knees or possible ridicule of polite society.  I know if my heart was not truly in whatever this “thing” may be, I wouldn’t be willing to run the risk of any of that.  Who wants any of that for something that doesn’t stir up the passion of your soul?  Not this kid right here, I’ll tell you that much.

The physical acts of which I speak and the scars that can accompany them are just one tool or expression of what any person walking this beautiful planet can be passionate about.  As you and I well know, not all scars are physical and those that are not can certainly mark you more deeply than ones etched upon your skin.  But the fact still remains… that for those things we care most about… our families, our faith, our ideals or whatever it may be… we will put ourselves out there and run the risk of the scars.

I’m still working on this all the time… the process to find my true passions for all aspects of my life.  It’s certainly not easy because it’s rare to just wake up one day and think “By Jove!  I’ve got it!” and just know what you were meant to do or who you were meant to be.  So I keep plugging away at those things I know I love and by virtue of the struggle, sweat and scars, I hope to find it.

Even if I may have to get a little sick to do it.

From Whence Shall Come Our Catalyst?

I’ve mentioned before that a lot of friends, family and co-workers will ask me variations of the question “How can I get into better shape/health?”  It’s pretty much the most popular question I get… you know, besides “Do they sell elite-level handsomeness like yours in a bottle?  Because I would totally buy that.”  The answer to the 2nd question is, sadly no.  This is just how God made me.

Truth be told, the 2nd most popular question I am asked is “How do I get started on getting healthier?”  This is a trickier and much more fundamental question than the first one entirely.  The first question assumes a level of action or momentum whereas the second question is looking for something to begin that momentum.  Essentially, the person asking the question is looking for some kind of catalyst to get things moving.

I found the following definition of a catalyst over at Chemicool:

A substance that speeds up a chemical reaction, but is not consumed by the reaction; hence the catalyst can be recovered unchanged at the end of the reaction it has been used to speed up, or catalyze.

The more detailed discussion on the definition goes on to say that a catalyst acts  to lower the amount of energy required to cause activation in a chemical reaction.

Isn’t that really what someone is asking about when they want to know what it takes to get off the couch and get going with a better lifestyle?  Some way to ease the transition from one state to yet another by lower the barriers and resistance?chemistry

I know it may seem like I am getting off into semantics here, but it’s an important point and why I think the catalyst concept is so important for people who feel like they want to change, but cannot muster up that first push.  The catalyst helps get things going by making the transition from one state to the next easier and it does not get consumed in the process.  After all is said and done, the catalyst remains.

So where does that get us for those looking to make the move?  Here are my tips and thoughts on that.

  1. Get pissed off.  No really.  There is a substantial amount of power to be tapped from a complete sense of being fed up and dissatisfied.  I am not suggesting you turn into a wall-punching lunatic, but to take some time to think about why you are even considering a lifestyle change.  Maybe you were playing with a grandchild and were getting winded easily and had to cut short the fun.  Maybe you are sick of your lower back feeling like it has daggers sticking into it every time you want to go dancing.  Maybe you think wistfully back on the days of being an athlete and wonder why you replaced quick feet for a beer gut.  Or maybe you saw your doctor who shook his head disapprovingly at your stress levels and blood work results.  Give some time to really think about whatever it is that got you thinking about making a change.  Many times, it will make you a little more restless… and that’s good in this case.
  2. Start small.  It’s not necessarily the case that you need to make a full 180 degree change from how your life was before.  That approach does work for some people, but for others it’s just a quick path to hitting huge roadblocks, stalled progress and eventually giving up.  But some action is absolutely better than none and as any high school physics student can tell you, an object in motion tends to stay in motion.  If you are even doing something small, the barriers to moving onto the next step are not going to be nearly as great.
  3. Go after things of interest to you.  I can give someone all the advice in the world about weight training and interval conditioning, but if they simply are disinterested in that, it’s of no use.  I think that points gets lost on some people providing advice – they treat it as an all-or-nothing kind of thing.  I am a strong believer in the power of a proper resistance training program, smart diet and good conditioning to make a big impact not just on your health or bodyfat, but your quality of life.  But I also know it’s not going to interest everyone, so I am not going to force feed anyone my philosophy.  I will try and seek out what is the area that someone may have an interest to seek out.  Again, the catalyst is all about lowering the barriers to make the reaction change occur.  If someone used to be a dancer, they might like to try a dance class.  Then the ball may begin rolling along and they branch out from there, but the key is to seek out that thing of interest first and make the push there.

I only went with 3 tips because what I considered as a 4th option is not really a tip so much as a fact: it’s your own personal decision to take action in the end.  There are a lot of wonderful ways to ease that decision, but it will still be ultimately up to you to make that choice.  The trick is that when you are in a long-term state of inaction, the choice can seem massive and curling up on the couch with some Cheetos to watch Jersey Shore is a whole lot easier if that if what you’ve been doing… and if that is truly what you’ve been doing, God help you.  That show is crap.

So from whence shall come your catalyst?  Look to thine own self.

Now I need to go spend a few minutes thinking why I lapsed into sounding like the King James Version of the Bible.  Hoo boy.

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’.

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.