Perfection… is it attainable and is it desirable?

•January 7, 2013 • 8 Comments

I was listening to BBC World on Sirius Radio the other day. There was an interesting segment that caught my ear.  A person was giving a personal view point on “perfection” and the dangers of pursuing that ultimate goal, and why “good enough” is good enough. I found myself becoming a little annoyed with her view point.

She actually made the argument that the path towards perfection in fraught with negativities and dangers.

Amongst others, she discussed sushi Chef Jiro Ono as one example of an “unhealthy” pursuit of perfection.

This piqued my interest enough to start reading about the chef and his life.  His story is one that encapsulates the meaning of pursuing perfection.

Jiro Ono’s father was an alcoholic and worked in a factory.  When Jiro was 7 years old, his 1337256000000.cachedfather abandoned the family. The family had no money so Jiro left home at the age of 9 and started apprenticing at a sushi shop…working the same job for 76 years. Jiro currently holds the distinction of being the world’s oldest Three Star Michelin Chef at the age of 86.  He is regarded so highly, that even acclaimed chefs Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, and countless others, hail him as the greatest sushi chef that has ever lived, or at least currently the best sushi chef in the world.

Sushi is special and so uniquely Japanese.   It’s what I would define as a precision food.  If prepared sloppily it looks unappetizing.  One of the skills of being a Master Sushi Chef is to make raw meat into something that looks like a work of art, while at the same time appetizing.

There is a district in Tokyo called the Ginza district.  This district is widely regarded as one DSC_9081of the world’s most luxurious shopping centers.  In between the luxury stores, which include, amongst others Dior, Prada, Armani, and Chanel, lays a dull office building. Tucked away in its basement, a glass door away from a subway platform is Sukiyabashi Jiro a tiny sushi bar with only 10 seats.  The restaurant has no bathroom, no slick interior design.  Since it is so small, this allows the staff to focus on preparing top-quality sushi and serving each client the best possible way, noticing little details like how much they eat, or if they are right-handed or left-handed.

Despite his age, Jiro, come rain or shine, takes the subway to work every morning.  He still Kozue-Tokyo-Assorted-sashimioversees most of the details of his restaurant, including reservations and menu.  The chef takes no days off other than for national holidays or funerals. But in addition to purchasing the best and highest quality fish, Jiro also has a special rice dealer who sells his best grains to him, in order to optimize his sushi.

Only six people work at Sukiyabashi Jiro: Yoshikazu (chef Ono’s son); another  sushi chef; three apprentices, who must train with Ono for a decade to attain the status of shokunin; a woman who handles the accounting and the cash register, and another woman who cleans the restaurant.

Sukiyabashi-Jiro-Ginza-Tokyo-Oo-toro-594x445Sukiyabashi Jiro is so popular you have to make a reservation up to a year in advance and pay $368 (around 30,000 yen) for a fixed menu of 20 pieces of sushi.

The attention to detail is incredible.  For instance, Jiro ages his tuna for up to 10 days, and apprentices massage the octopus by hand for 50 minutes before preparing it. Chef Ono is such a perfectionist that he’ll even make his sushi different sizes for different customers, so that an entire party finishes the food at the same time.

Even though Jiro has had a hard life and follows a strict routine, he is enormously happy with his work; as he has stated many times, he is blissful and truly enjoys his work, which appears to keep him vital in his old age.

However, in order to pursue happiness Chef Ono has had to compromise his relationship with his family and two sons (which to some people may appear extreme). His relationship Sukiyabashi-Jiro-Ginza-Tokyo-Chef-Jiro-Ono-at-Workwith his eldest son Yoshikazu, who is the worthy heir to Jiro’s legacy, is sometimes strained since at times it is hard for Yoshikazu to live up to his full potential in his father’s shadow.

Chef Ono increases his creativity by focusing within a narrow range, rather than going wide.  By starting with the same daily routine, pursuing a narrow focus, combined with his talent and hard work, this allows him to be open to true creativity.

Beyond Chef Ono’s life and his restaurant, I am truly interested in his philosophies – which are what drives him in his pursuit of perfection, including:

  • “Once you decide on your occupation, you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work.” – It is interesting that he doesn’t say “find work that you love”; rather he says “love the work we have chosen.”
  •  “Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably and is the key to success.”
  • “Cultivate love for your work, much like we do in a serious relationship that ultimately results in marriage. Joyful work requires a lifetime of devotion.”

Jiro’s philosophy on work is very different to how most of us perceive work.  In our culture we tend to categorize work in two ways, either work we dream of doing, or work we have to do for income in order to afford our lifestyles.  I think many of us tell ourselves that the work we would absolutely love to do is just a dream and we must endure a career of mediocre enjoyment until we hit retirement and only at that time can we begin enjoying life.

What’s very interesting is that Chef Ono still feels he hasn’t reached perfection despite the fact he has 3 Michelin Stars*.  So, the lesson I pull out of this is that perfection is never achieved but the driver to attain it, which keeps us motivated and moving forward.  The resulting created drive constantly pushes us though the boundaries which we originally thought were personal limits, allowing us to realize that we have so much more potential than originally we thought we had!

Sport

DSC_0129The Japanese word “kaizen” simply means “improvement”. The word refers to any improvement, one-time or continuous, large or small.  The word Kaizen in English is typically applied to measures for implementing continuous improvement.  It is a philosophy I like to apply, or at least try to.

Cycling is physical and hard, taking serious commitment.  To have fun with cycling whether racing, or just keeping up with the local club ride, requires a certain level of fitness, achieved by dedication, time and hard work. One needs to put in the training, effort, and absorb the necessary pain to push through to the next fitness level.  The longer I participate in this sport, and apply myself the more improvements I achieve and find myself achieving things on a bike that I originally thought were not possible due to my size and weight!

article-2172800-13D27C1E000005DC-478_468x286To me perfection and continuous improvement do not have to be what other people think it is, but it’s what I think it is, whatever aspect in life we are talking about whether its sports, life, relationships, or work.  Doing the best I can, as an individual, giving 100% of my effort and ability, whether it’s besting a previous workout, pushing past maximums, that to my mind is one avenue of pursuing perfection…finding out what my body is capable of by pushing to optimize its capabilities.

I would never want to live in a world where “good is good enough.” I think the pursuit of perfection raises us and our spirit…for instance; it is what makes the Olympics so wonderful Cavendish of Britain cycles to win the London-Surrey Cycle Classic road race, a test event for the London 2012 Olympic Gamesand exciting, where the athletes’ lifetime of work comes to the fore, under the bright lights of the world stage. Pushing the boundaries, passing what we previously thought was impossible to surpass.   Without the pursuit of perfection and achieving the best we are capable of, to my mind, the world would be boring.  Pushing the outer boundaries is what pushes us forward as individuals, as well as human kind as a whole. Since perfection is never attained, it is what drives us further than we believed we could go.

Having said all this, I think there are always two sides of anything.  Whatever people do, whether eating, drinking, working, pushing to be the best whatever, we can take it too far. Pushing for perfection doesn’t need to be unhealthy as long as we do not lose sight of the other things in our life, that are important such as love, family, friends, health, etc.

But, I do not like or subscribe to the notion of “It’s good enough.” Those three words really bug me! It is lazy.  Granted there are situations where one has to prioritize if one is under pressure.  But I want to make that the exception and not the rule.  I feel that if I was to live by those three words I would be stuck in the universe of mediocrity!  No thank you!

“The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Past Memories and the Creation of New Ones…

•October 22, 2012 • 2 Comments

I was sitting in one of my favorite cafés in Venice, and over the speakers a piece of music started playing which brought me back in time.  Memories started flowing into my mind…

It’s strange, but when I go over memories from my childhood the images come in sometimes as black & white or in sepia tones…very moviesque.  Interesting.  Sometimes, for me, there are things that are difficult to remember, even if I really want and try to, I cannot reach them.  Others flow easily into my mind and become more intense and vivid.  I think Mira Bartok is correct when she wrote in her book, The Memory Palace, “We humans are different–our brains are built not to fix memories in stone but rather to transform them. Our recollections change in their retelling.”

However, the advantage of having a twin brother is like having a proofreader.  He can really help clarify some of my unclear memories I have, since we experienced many of the same things as children.  One of the advantages of being a twin.

Anyway, I generally remember the fun and positive things during the earlier periods of my life, when I had less responsibilities and stress.

One of the things I remember as a child, was the times, generally after dinner, when the family would sit down together and watch home movies my father and mother had filmed.  The beautiful moving images were on 8mm film and projected on a white wall in the living room, or on a screen that my father would bring from his office.   The movies would be of my brother and I, family holidays, and family gatherings.  Most of the individual films captured moments of happiness.  I loved these evenings.  I forgot about school (which I hated…I was definitely not a scholastic prodigy!) and other things that I considered a struggle at that time, as I slipped into a fantasy world, immersing myself in happy and fresh memories.

As my life marches forward I find myself thinking more and more of the past.  Many of the memories are not as fresh anymore, since they happened quite a few years ago, but I try to hold onto and remember the wonderful experiences I have had so far…such as growing up in the English countryside, playing in the fields on the local farms, building forts from freshly cut straw and hay bales…all the pets and animals we owned (ferrets, chickens, sheep, cats, horses), our massive vegetable garden, our homemade jams and juices, the three fields we owned, as well as two small apple orchards…the wonderful spring months as the buds developed into flowers and leaves, family holidays in Cornwell and Wales, learning to ski in Austria…riding lessons at the Balcombe Riding Stables, visiting my grandparents in Bremen, North Germany, on a regular basis…mum and dad taking my brother and me to the local pub, after driving back from the beach on a beautiful summer’s evening with the dreamy orange glow of a setting sun.

Other wonderful memories include my parents taking us to London to visit the zoo (where one of my favorites was the Chimpanzee Tea Party at 3 o’clock), the Tower of London, Harrods in the Royal Borough of Kensington, and Chelsea.  Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Westminster, Covent Garden, Speakers Corner next to Hyde Park…on and on and on.

Obviously, with the good memories come the not so good ones.  But one thing that I thought about is how careful one has to be in regards to not doing or saying something that has the potential of a negative result.  Negative actions, towards other people, have the potential to inflict emotional scars on them and myself.  When I was younger I said and did things with not much thought as to what the outcome would be.  So now I have negative memories, resulting from some of the things I have done…I can never take them back.  You can say ”sorry”, but the reality is that some residue of those actions will be there for life, ultimately forming into negative memories.

The practical reality of creating positive (versus negative) memories for the future has been reinforced a number of times, and again recently, when I read an article in Town & 

Country Magazine entitled ESTABLISHMENT VS. ESTABLISHMENT (January 2012, page 77).  This article was part of a series of monthly articles associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement.  The Establishment vs. Establishment article covered three individual experiences, of demonstration, from the past (basically, the OWS movement is nothing new, just re-titled)…One of the three segments was called SAYING NO To DADDY and was written by Patti Davis (President Ronald Reagan’s daughter).

“…My father, for his part, was not a man to begrudge anyone a divergent opinion; he’d have been fine if I had written some articles disagreeing with his policies, or even given interviews, as long as I was respectful and civil.  But I chose stridency instead.  I chose an in-your-face approach that, because of who I was, actually distracted from the issue I was trying to address.  I said frequently that my protests weren’t personal – I was simply against my father’s politics – but of course that wasn’t heard.  Actions speak louder than words, as trite as that sounds.  I was a child railing against a parent, nothing more.

My immaturity lay in not understanding that the choices we make never affect only us.  Everything we do has a ripple effect.  Decades later I would look into my father’s eyes and try to reach past the murkiness of Alzheimer’s with my words, my apology, hoping that in his heart he heard me and understood.

This is what I know now that I didn’t know then: How you express yourself is just as important as what you are expressing.  Anger is generally not a good communication tool, and a daughter publicly protesting her father’s policies as he sits in the Oval Office, the elected Leader of the Free World, send only one message: anger…

…One of my deepest regrets is how I responded when my father asked – several times – if I would sit down and talk to him, listen to his side of the issue. “I already know your side,” I told him, “I know where you stand.” I can still hear his hurt silence on the other end of the phone…”

As I enter the next phase of my life, creating new memories (memories resulting directly from my own direct actions versus those that are forced on me, good or bad), it is important for me, particularly when dealing with people, to tread carefully, to be positive, helpful, and be as considerate as possible.  Depending on the situation, not an easy task, but one that will lead to more pleasant and happier memories down the road!

“Withdraw, like a turtle, into a hard yet harmless shell, ornamented with beautiful memories of the past.” – Mariam Masood

The Chicken or the Egg, or is it Motivation or an Obstacle?

•June 18, 2012 • 4 Comments

Sport

Recently, I have had difficulty, not wanting to get up and workout – AGAIN!  I have felt uninspired and unmotivated to exert or hurt myself (a cycling term for a really hard workout).  I just wanted to stay in bed and skip the workout, while questions and thoughts run through my head in regards to why I feel compelled to push myself physically as hard as I do.  Questions such as: “what am I doing this for?” “What am I trying to prove?” “Could I spend my time elsewhere?” “I need more sleep!” etc, etc.

In fact these feelings, of not being motivation, have been so pervasive I truly had thoughts of throwing my bike(s) away!  These negative feelings are confusing since I really should be SO motivated right now.  I am the strongest I have ever been on the bike, since starting to ride over 4 years ago.  My weight is floating around 215-218lbs, down from 245lbs, when I started, my body fat is between 5-7%, down from 12-15%.  I am currently at my high school/college weight at the age of 49.  Thank you Dr. Phil Goglia of Performance Fitness Concepts (www.pfcnutrition.com) in Santa Monica!

I made a serious commitment to cycling, putting in the time and working with people who are so much better than me, with many more years of experience.  This has enabled me to improve at a much faster rate than if I had tried to sort out this sport on my own.  Then again, I do have to give myself credit since when I pursue something, doesn’t matter what it is, I always do it at 100%.  I personally feel that if I pursue something it is at 100%, otherwise what is the point?  If the motivation is not there, I should then look for something else to do, interesting and demanding enough to allow me to be fully motivated and engaged.

There are no short cuts. I always open myself up to learn as much as possible about whatever I am pursuing.  Listening is an important skill I have developed (the older I get the easier it is for me to do that).  When starting something new I try to open myself up and become a sponge.  I actively seek out mentors, and coaches, experts in an activity I am learning, while quickly sorting out the “talker” from the “real deal.” I have met so many snake oil salesmen along the road of personal development…

As I continue to transform my body to become more efficient on a bike (hard to do for someone who is 6’7” and naturally built more like a rower!).  There is a balancing act required, of losing weight while maintaining strength and power.  I have strategically lost weight slowly so my body could adjust to the physical changes in order for it to produce the same power output with less weight.  This is what gives me the ability to go faster year after year.

Anyway, I am digressing.  These cycles of de-motivation appear quite frequently in my life (I would say that would be true for everyone who engages in doing something that is mentally or physically hard).  Although, when I have a down swing, as discussed above, it is sometimes confusing because there are so many positives surrounding my sport and workout.  Of course, I have to always remember, there are many possible reasons/influences that affect motivation…including stress, over training, low energy, work, a bad diet, lack of sleep, booze, etc. it takes serious commitment to identify and correct the causes and also requires total honesty.

On a side note, I do understand that the body and mind needs some down time, for adequate recovery, as well as being able to stay mentally motivated.  I routinely take off a few days here and there, whether it’s taking time off the bike, or giving myself an easy workout week, cheating on my foods once in awhile, or whatever.  However, it is important to remember that there is a time to reengage again, and not become too comfortable doing nothing or consistently taking the easier route…which all can lead to the beginning of a very slippery down hill road.

In regards to addressing the mental aspect of motivation, particularly the lack of it, I have developed a simple personal thought process/formula to positively adjust my mind set to overcome a lack of motivation.

In order to get back my desire and motivation, I think about the following things:

  • If I stop working out I would just become an average 49 year old – with the potential of becoming unfit, unhealthy, unhappy and overweight.  I do not want to be average!
  • I understand that living a healthy lifestyle helps me get more out of life, including laying the foundation for happiness since, from a physical standpoint; I can participate in so many more fun activities.
  • There is something so wonderfully primeval about being able to athletically outperform younger athletes.  For me it a HUGE motivator.  However, I totally understand I can only do this if I put in the training time, watch my foods, and get enough rest…but it is the choice that I alone make and can control.

These things scare and inspire me enough to get me out of a funk and ass out of bed to workout!

Life

As in sports there are always situations in life that take some effort.  I don’t’ necessarily feel like going to work every day, making a presentation, sitting through a performance appraisal, going to jury duty, and so on….we all encounter things we don’t want to do but have to, unexpected unpleasant situations we are forced to deal with.

I have come across many people who do not push through something that might be outside of their comfort zone, or are too lazy to see a task through because it requires considerable effort.  To my mind this group of people, form a high percentage of the general population and fall in the category of “average.”  When I come across someone like that it in fact motivates me, since I do NOT want to be average…

Working for a company, or doing any kind of job/project, is like being in a marriage.  How I assess whether things are ok is by determining the bad, or not so fun things, and match (list) them against the great and interesting things that are part of the same universe. If the positive things overshadow the negative things, then things are going well.  I am constantly looking at the negatives and thinking about how to make them into positives.  So, even if it takes a while I always give myself a fighting chance.

Part of living life and learning along the way, is by overcoming obstacles.  Only by overcoming obstacle and hardships will I learn and grow.  So, when I hit a bump along the way I can ether try to avoid it, thereby not learning anything other than maybe the art of avoidance, or meet the obstacle head on gaining whatever learning and experience that will result.  The resulting knowledge and experience adds to the foundation for overcoming obstacles in the future.

Finding motivation, overcoming obstacles and challenges, are for me the same thing.  Not having or loosing motivation is like coming up against an obstacle which needs to be addressed quickly and head on.

“Having a strong desire or being successful does not mean that you are going to feel great all the time. No matter how enlightened I become, I will not be positive all the time. You have to understand the swing of the pendulum. It must swing back and forth. The only other alternative is to sit still in neutral, which is precisely what most people do.” ~ Thomas D. Willhite

 

My Life Weapon of Choice…Faith

•March 12, 2012 • 5 Comments

The older I get the more I like the word “Faith” – Faith in myself, faith in my family, my friends, faith in something higher.

Faith is sometimes the only tool I have when the world makes no sense, and when life throws me the biggest obstacles and heartaches, or when life just doesn’t seem fair in general.

Just by living life it is guaranteed that all of us had, or will have, something difficult happen.  Sometimes, to overcome these, you just need to believe…to believe in something bigger than yourself, and to believe that there is something good just around the corner, to believe that after you close your eyes and wake up in the morning it just might be alright.

What makes life so exciting is that I never know what is waiting for me. When I think back, there have been so many times when I felt so claustrophobic, exasperated, stressed, depressed about a situation, or by certain negative accumulative dynamics filling my life during a certain period, that are surrounding or swamping me, all with the potential of pushing me down the emotional abyss.

However, something always happens that instantly gets me out of the funk of self pity…all it takes is something small, whether it is one conversation, one phone call, one text, one e-mail, one chance meeting, or a sunny day.

Getting an injection of joy, positivity, support, whatever it is, has the potential to feel like someone has switched on a warm inviting light within a previously dark depressing room…and it is THIS that makes life interesting and fun!  One minute I am living in darkness and the next, my heart is beating with excitement.

People can always give up – that’s the easy path!  I have come through some tough periods in my life, particularly recently, and they have certainly helped me to grow as a person.  I have mentally moved on up by incorporating faith in the way I view and handle many of life’s toughest challenges. There is always something to look forward to.  It is true that in our greatest adversity we can sometimes find our greatest joy.

Faith tells me that the next day will come and there will be a reason to go on with my life, always providing me with a reason to live life to its fullest.

Faith goes up the stairs that love has built, and looks out the window which hope has opened” — Charles Spurgeon

This may be the last time…

•February 4, 2012 • 11 Comments

I have found that I prefer reality shows from across the pond.  They appeal to me so much more than the ones available in the US. To me the English reality shows tend to be more gritty, have a documentary feel, and come across more “real.”

As I mentioned on facebook a couple of weeks ago, I have been watching this intense reality show on BBC America called “24 Hours in the ER.” In the intro a nurse says – “Everyone should walk through an Emergency Room once in their life, because it makes you realize what your priorities are. It’s not the rush, rush, rush and money, money, money. It’s about the people you love and the fact that one minute they are there, and the next minute they are gone.”

I do not know why, but this statement really affected me.  Maybe, it was because of the visual setting of an Emergency Room.  Amongst the injured people coming and going, the buzz of activity, the blood, the screams of pain, this nurse spoke in such a calm and wise way, that it cut through the craziness and it came to me so clearly…Regardless, this statement left an impression I cannot shake.  It motivated me to started thinking about a few things.  The most important aspect I settled on was that I really needed to be more “present” than I possibly have been in some situations.

Anyway, this simple statement made me think about where I have come from and where I am going with my life in regards to the people I am surrounded by, my family, friends, acquaintances…basically, all the components that provide stability, comfort, resources, and security in my life.

It is so easy to take things for granted.  For instance, I may not be totally engaged all the time, with the people whom I see on a regular basis, because I know that I will see them again soon.  Or, when visiting a familiar place, I may not look around, or not be fully aware of the surroundings, since I think I know it so well and I will be there again soon.  If I let them, everyday things and activities can become so superficial.  I am there, but I am not there…I think that everyone can relate to this.  Being truly “in-the-moment” is a very difficult thing to do, because our mind is so over-stimulated and cluttered!

This statement reinforced the fact, for me at least, how important it is to really make an effort and be in the moment.  When I sit with a friend I really want to be fully engaged, enjoy their company, take in what they are saying, make eye contact, fully listen, and open my mind to totally understand their perspective.  Same thing when I go to a familiar place.  I want to really open my eyes and other senses…I will always discover something new!  The scent of flowers, how the setting sun’s light is playing on the side of a building, the way the wind is moving the leaves in a tree…

I have made an agreement with myself.  I will try not to take anything for granted going forward.  I will never know when it will be the last time I experience certain situations again, and once gone they are lost forever.  I really want to “absorb” the person, place, and situation.  I want to be appreciative and thankful as to what I am experiencing.  In this way, these moments will be with me for the rest of my life, and will be something I remember and treasure.

 

 

Happy New Year and, by the way, a Leopard doesn’t change its spots…

•January 11, 2012 • 2 Comments

Sport

For the longest time I have been a person of routine and order, with a systematic approach to life which carried over to my sports.  I have found to be successful, I personally need to follow a specific routine, a path if you will, hitting certain fitness milestones along the way in order to achieve my ultimate objectives or goals.  This is true whether I am talking about a specific race, losing weight, building strength and conditioning, whatever it is…

However, being super organized can be a double edged sword. While it helps me meet my goals, it can play games with me by mentally affecting and negatively impacting my workouts, if I let it.  For instance, the evening prior to a morning bike workout, I will prepare all the apparel and equipment needed.

Bike – visual bike check, pump up tires, fill two water bottles and place in cages, snap my charged Garmin onto my handlebar bike mount – DONE.

Kit – Layout on guest bed a Jersey, bibs, vest, undershirt, arm warmers, knee warmers, socks, heart rate monitor – DONE.

Miscellaneous items – On the stairs to the garage, place helmet, sun glasses, shoes, Shoe covers, garage opener, gloves, tire repair kit, cell phone, ID, and coffee money – DONE.

God forbid if I forgot one of these items! I would usually find out I have forgotten something once I had already left for the ride.  For example, let’s say I forget the heart rate monitor.  Discovering that I forgot the heart rate monitor, or another item, would really PISS me off!  This would mentally plague me to the point where the quality of my workout would be affected since I would have it constantly in the back of my mind!   To get the best of the workout, I need to have a clear mind.

As described, there are many items I need for a ride.  Therefore, it is not uncommon for me to forget something at least once every week or two!  Since I ride 5 times a week, this means I would be negatively affected around 10 – 20% of the time I was on the bike.  I needed to change the way I thought, to free my mind, otherwise I would continue to lose too much valuable workout time!

It was important that I became more flexible, to just go with the flow, and not be so rigid.  Once I did I quickly realized I could get just as good a workout whether I had or did not have the monitor (or tire repair kit, or coffee money, or my cell phone, or whatever!).  The only difference is not having a heart rate reference during the workout.   Also, after the workout I have no numbers, relating to heart rate, to download into my electronic workout log. SO WHAT! The world is not going to stop turning! My fitness will not become less because of it!

I started riding with feeling instead of relying on hard numbers!  I have found that I actually ride better that way.  Now when I race I don’t even use my heart rate monitor and belt.  It freed me up.  I think in the past having my heart rate numbers available during racing (even during hard workouts) slowed me down, and put up self-imposed mental barriers… “Oh, I am closing in on my maximum heart rate, I better slow down. I still have another 30 minutes to race!”  Not knowing my heart rate keeps my mind open and doesn’t allow me to shut down my performance, influenced by visual queues.

Life

In past, I was all about lists and prioritizing.  I used to get really upset when things would not go my way…like someone calling an impromptu meeting when I thought I had the day free to work on my projects and get caught up, or if I could not complete my “to-do” list sequentially, as I had laid out the prior evening.  This all created stress for me.  In life, as in business, things never really go the way I exactly expect since there are too many variables that constantly pop up. I can’t control this, no one can!

Over time, I realized that I needed to change the way I conducted my life otherwise finding true happiness was going to be impossible.  I can’t remember when it was, but there was a day, not that long ago, that I just “surrendered” to the daily forces that come up.  To not do this was getting way too tiring.

I still like being super organized, efficient, ordered.  But, if things get out of place, a little crazy, or something gets in the way of what I have planned, so what!  I do not get flustered or frustrated.  I allow myself flexibility, knowing I will complete the task and close the loop a little later.

A leopard doesn’t change its spots, but I can sure as hell change the size of the spots…

Friends for Life!

•November 30, 2011 • 4 Comments

Sport

I feel so fortunate regarding how fantastic the friends are that I have made over the last four plus years, since being part of the local cycling community.  The level of friendship rivals those I have with people whom I have known for much longer!

When I relate to people on multiple levels it definitely pulls me towards them.  I think that is just natural for most people.  But, I think the bond, or the pull, is even stronger between people who go through the same experiences, particularly visceral ones.  There is something there, that is so pure, when people are involved in an activity that requires focus, dedication, mental toughness, physical stress, where the activity has to become a life-style in order to attain a certain level of performance, all of which cycling encompasses for me.   Also, I have found another huge benefit that arises out of meeting and befriending people on a visceral level first, and that is these people will then tend to be open to “mature” conversations, where people sincerely listen to each other regardless of the subject, even when it involves some of the most polarizing subjects, such as politics and religion.

Life

In my earlier years my brother was much more gregarious than I.  It appeared that he was always surrounded by a mass of people.  I envied his ability to achieve this.  I was always more closed off and more protective regarding letting people into my life.  I definitely found that there was a certain security by being more secluded, while also giving me more time to do the things I wanted to do.  But regardless of the small benefits of minimal friendships, in reality I found that it was much better to have friends… Amongst other things I found that true friends will always be there for you, that one person to talk to, to like you for whom you are, to hang out and just talk.  Anyway, there was a point in my late teens when I made a conscious effort to become more gregarious, open, and interested in meeting new people.  I quickly learned to follow the quality versus quantity philosophy.  As soon as I did that, it was as if a whole new world opened up to me!

To me one of the most important aspects of life is friendship.  Without true friendship life is empty and meaningless.  I have been so fortunate, so far, by having unbelievable friends, while having the ability to still make new friends.  Life is truly amazing, and what makes it even more so are my friends!