Picking Your Battles

Much of life is discerning between what is in your control and what is not in your control. So much effort is wasted on things that we have no control over and inevitable pain occurs from the wasted energy. It’s not always easy to establish what we have control over, but once we do, we can properly focus our efforts on taking action. However, as I have gotten a little older, I realize that sometimes the best course of action is no action at all. That is not to say that we should be lazy and do nothing. What I mean is that part of becoming wise is learning how to pick your battles. In other words, the question we should all ask is, “where will our efforts have the most effect?” Picking the right battle is essentially properly allocating your resources and energy. This means that we must ignore less important situations while the major ones are addressed.

I cannot even begin to express how much energy I have wasted fighting the wrong fights. This is especially true being a business owner because I often think that everything is in my control in the business. This is a mistake. Although I’m responsible for the business, I do not have control over every aspect. In business, owners like myself make the mistake of misdiagnosing what areas need the most attention and then we spend enormous amounts of money and energy on things that have very little impact. I’ve done this by focussing on advertising instead of having the sales staff properly trained. I didn’t realize that the ads were not the problem. It was the ability of the staff to close the sale because we had either the wrong people, or they were not trained correctly. This is just one example of picking the wrong battle to fight. Although I had control over both these aspects of my business, one battle would have yielded much more return on investment than the other. I’ve also made the mistake of adding more equipment thinking that would increase sales. In fact, the newer equipment had almost no impact on sales. What did increase sales was remodeling the locker rooms. Interesting.

Just because something is in your control doesn’t mean you have to take action immediately. Rushing into battle unprepared is often worse than taking time to properly analyze the situation and then choosing how and where to attack the problem. Most of us can understand how it would be a mistake to attack an enemy head on where their forces are the most concentrated and you are outnumbered. But that is exactly the mistake we make when we rush into taking action without analyzing where we can be most effective. Again, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should! Sometimes the best course of action is to save up your energy and attack a problem where you will have a huge impact. Think of this as getting a bigger weapon. Don’t throw a rock at a tank just because you’re holding one in your hand. Take the time to find the right weapon to take on the problem.

In health,

Sean

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Thoughts Are Not Enough

THE PROBLEM WITH POSITIVE THINKING

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith“ – The Book of Timothy.

Being both an athlete and an owner of a somewhat large business in the fitness industry, I have noticed much more talk about the Law of Attraction and positive thinking as it relates to fitness and sports. Of course, these concepts are nothing new, but they seem to have found new life in social media circles as of late. I’m happy to see that there is an increased focus on the power of thought and philosophy as it relates to physical performance and health. I do, however, become a little concerned when I see so many people post about thinking positive without talking about the other major factor in achievement and health, WORK. Thoughts alone are not enough. You still have to do the work to succeed. Positive thinking without hard work is delusion. It’s the same as walking into a garden and chanting “there’s no weeds, there’s no weeds.” Guess what? There’s probably weeds and they will take over the whole garden without working to rip them out.

In fact, not only does it take work, it takes massive action to achieve your desires and make sure the garden of your life is beautiful. What does that mean? It means that it usually takes even more work than you think it’s going to initially. So be prepared for that. Not only do you have to think positively that you can do something, you must be ready to work as if your life depends on it. I believe like the quote says, much of life is a battle. We all must battle everyday against the negative thoughts we have. We must battle against the obstacles that stand in the way of our goals. We must battle against darkness in the world by becoming a beacon of light. But a battle takes work. Thinking you can win is not enough. You must begin the race by doing the work of taking the first step and then having the belief you can finish and following up to make sure you do. Optimism itself will not do. Positive thinking must lead you to take action for it to be useful.

The last key to making sure win the battle is keeping the faith in yourself and others. What good is it to fight for what you want if you let the fight change you into something you are not proud of? Look all around and you’ll find people who have been jaded and disillusioned because of their struggles in life. This is where positive thinking comes back into play. It takes both hard work and positive thinking, especially while the work is being done. Hard work has the potential to change us into worse versions of ourselves unless we have faith the work is worth it in the long run.

So remember, believe you can succeed, fight the fight to make success a reality and always keep faith in yourself and others that you can persevere and the struggle will be worth it. Remember too that few things worth having ever come easy. Positive thinking alone may only lead to disappointment without applying the massive action needed towards achieving your goals.

 

In Health,

 

50 Reasons To Be Proud

50 Things I Am Proud Of

Sometimes when you are battling with negative thoughts and problems in your life, it helps to remember all that you have accomplished and all the obstacles you have actually overcome. I’m making this list to remind myself of what I can do when I put my mind and body into action. I suggest that you take the time to do the same. You may just find that you are actually quite amazing if you would just see clearly. So here we go, 50 things I’m proud of.
I’m proud that:
1. I found and incredible woman to be my partner in life.
2. I have always been curious to found out what makes others successful.
3. I have learned a great deal and taken massive action towards reaching my goals.
4. I graduated college without debt.
5. My wife never stops trying in our relationship or business.
6. My children are so smart and well liked.
7. I have made incredible friends.
8.I became a professional athlete with the help of friends and family.
9.I was instilled with a sickening work ethic from my father.
10.My father made me write an essay ever day.
11. I have been able to read over 25 books a year for the last 5 years.
12. My wife and I have been able to travel and experience so much.
13. I have successful businesses that have made me a great deal of money.
14. I have been able to utilize reason and philosophy instead of drugs to get through problems.
15. My immediate family is very close.
16. I have been able to avoid medications for my autoimmune disease without side effects.
17. I’m still so in love with my beautiful wife.
18. My wife and rarely have disagreements or fights.
19. My family has multiple sources of income
20. I’ve made good investments decisions.
21. I’ve had the courage to try new things and learn from my mistakes.
22. My parents have stayed married longer than most couples do.
23. I have turned weak body parts into strong ones.
24. My kids are so loving and kind.
25. My wife and I have started our own traditions.
26.My wife has become an incredible athlete.
27. I have been able to build a company that people see as valuable.
28. I never let my mind focus on what I could not do.
29. I’ve been determined in various areas of my life and achieved what I set out to do.
30. My family comes together to help others.
31. I have been able to train myself to learn new skills and use those skills in the marketplace.
32. I have not let my genetics or disabilities hold me back from doing what I want.
33. I have a wife who makes me want to be a better man.
34. I have a relationship with more passion after 13 years than when it started.
35. I achieved millionaire status by age 25.
36. I’ve lived an incredible life.
37. My kids love learning and being creative.
38. I have surrounded myself with people who want me to do well.
39. My family is always willing to help others.
40. I have not been jaded about humanity despite seeing evil in others and myself.
41. Despite not liking school, I graduated college on the honor roll.
42. My sisters found good men to share their lives with.
43. My friends are all successful in many areas of their lives.
44. I have made an impact of others lives through sharing my knowledge.
45. I have been able to expand my businesses from one to many.
46. I have written extensively on various subjects.
47. I have been able to clear my mind from stress and anxiety with reason and philosophy.
48. I have read and studied history a great deal and have been able to apply its lessons.
49. I have free time to spend with those I love.
50. I have people who love me in my life.

What are you proud of? Let me know.

Sean

Words Can Kill

Words Matter

When tragedy strikes, especially ones caused by evil behavior like the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, the initial reaction is to look for a motive. Most people are not murderous psychopaths, so our ability to understand why someone could hate their fellow man enough to indiscriminately kill and injure hundreds of them is limited. We understand the tools they use to kill so many, so it’s easy for us to target those tools and weapons. But weapons have no feelings. They have no motives. Law enforcement will attempt to figure out a motive, but I’m proposing that all this type of behavior begins early in life when we all form the beliefs, values and philosophy that forms who we become and how we act. I’m suggesting that something as simple as an “innocent” phrase can plant the seed of hatred towards others. After all, the one thing common in all mass murderers is a blatant disregard the value of human life. We know this is true because often times the killers commit suicide, showing they do not value even their own lives.

Below are common phrases that can be heard in nearly every culture and country on the planet that I believe contribute to the devaluation of human life and mankind as a whole. When reading the list, think to yourself how many times you’ve heard these phrases. Think also, whether you have ever uttered one. Who was around when you did so, or who were you speaking to? What did you mean by what you said? As we will see, words matter. More than you may know.

“Don’t trust anyone.” How many times have we all heard this phrase? Most of us begin hearing it when we are children and it drills into us a sense of fear and hatred towards humankind as a whole. If we can’t trust other people, how are we supposed to live? The answer is a life filled with fear, anxiety and paranoia that can push people over the edge.

“Don’t talk to strangers.” This is a difficult one to stop saying because we all want our kids and loved ones to be safe. However, while this phrase may have good intentions, when combined with the other phrases on this list, can and most likely will lead to a hatred of others.

“If you want something done right, do it yourself.” I must say that I’m guilty of this one. Part of the reason for it is that I’ve had experiences which reinforced a belief that others are not reliable. The truth however, is that by uttering this phrase, I’m simply choosing to focus on negative experiences involving others rather than all the benefits I have received in my life from humans cooperating with each other. The truth is, if you are reading this, it’s because of the incredible capacity for humans to cooperate and create new things for the purpose of increasing the standard of living for everyone.

“You’re all alone in this world and then you die alone.” This is just patently false, but I continue to hear it. If you feel alone, again you are choosing to focus on negative human interactions in your life rather than ones that have brought you joy, income, housing, food or just about anything else in the modern world. You are not alone. Others have been through what you have. Others feel what you feel. It took me a while to realize this truth, but once I did, hundreds of opportunities opened up to me in my life.

“People suck.” Except for you right? I think this is probably one of the most common negative phrases I encounter. Sure some people suck. Sometimes we suck. Generic, ignorant statements like this do more to create a philosophy of hatred in people than almost anything else I can think of. Be very careful when uttering phrases like this, even if you’re just kidding around. Others who may be in your presence, who look up to you may not understand that. You just may be a cause of their distrust and possible hatred towards mankind.

“You can’t depend on anyone but yourself.” This is much like the “do it yourself” phrase that is so prevalent. Both statements are patently falsely and serve only to reinforce a philosophy of hate.

“Human nature is evil.” Sure. It is also kind, selfless, caring, greedy. It’s all those things and more. It just depends what you choose to see and focus on.

“Mankind is dangerous.” This is true, but nature itself is dangerous for all living things. Anything mortal faces constant danger from it’s environment.

“Rich people are evil and greedy.” You can replace the word rich with whatever you like- whites, Jews, bankers, business owners…It doesn’t really matter. What you’re doing by perpetuating these types of slurs is to create a lack of harmony between groups of people. In reality, there are no groups of people. There are just people. Any person is capable of certain behaviors or characteristics. The color of the person, their financial situation, their sexuality, all of that has no bearing on who they are as a person. The only thing that truly matters is the set of beliefs and philosophy they live and act by.

“Marry inside your own race.” This may seem like an “old school” belief, but it’s still found in the world today. I’ll say it again, your race has no bearing on who you are as a person. Your philosophy and values do. These phrases are so destructive, especially to impressionable young people. They serve to create discord and fear towards those we see as “different.”

“‘They’ are not like us.” Really? Do “they” eat, sleep, work, bleed, love and die? Oh! Then they really are more like us than you think.

Most of us have heard or even uttered some of these phrases. Let me pose a question; what good has it done? Another question; what harm has it done? The harm is unknown because everything we see and hear affects us to a degree. This is especially true among young people who are just beginning to develop their philosophy for how to live. Let me be clear, saying these phrases doesn’t not make you a bad person. It doesn’t mean you hate people. It only means that you hold certain beliefs that cause your to be distrustful of other people. My request is only that you not let your distrust of others plant the seed of hatred of mankind in others. We cannot always know how our words affect others. Let our words be those of harmony, love and strength rather than hatred, violence and fear.

Is Pain Controlling Your Life?

The Real Problem With Pain

This blog began as a way for me to discuss how to find freedom and happiness despite having adversity and struggles in life. My thought was that even though everyone encounters pain in their life, not everyone realizes that others share in similar experiences. We are all on the same journey in life because we have been programmed genetically as humans to seek out pleasure and avoid pain. Of course, no one can completely avoid pain and often times we mistake discomfort for pain and addiction for pleasure. Therein lies the real problem with both pleasure and pain- it blinds us to reality in the moment.

Pain is especially insidious in its ability to distort clear thinking. When we experience pain, depending on the severity, we will look for and do almost anything to stop the pain. That’s not the problem. The problem is that pain itself is a symptom of something else and it’s often the case that while experiencing pain, we cannot correctly identify the source of the pain. You may have a chronic shoulder or hip pain and blame it on a past injury or the fact that you have been sitting too long during your workdays. However, the real problem underlying the pain could be that your movement patterns during physical exercise are causing stress on the joints and therefore muscular imbalances. Again, it’s exceedingly difficult to diagnose the cause of pain unless the pain has subsided to the point where we can engage in clear thinking again. Then, once the pain is gone, we often forget to research the cause of the pain, or we just get distracted by our daily lives the the endless cycle of pain continues.

Another common experience among people in pain is they find that their ability to be patient and empathetic towards others declines rapidly. We forget that pain is not unique to our human experience, but something shared by all. The worst is when people have arguments over who has more pain! Have you ever seen this? It’s like a competition for who has the most ailments and who has the most difficult life. It’s as if the need for significance compels us to bring up everything wrong in our lives with others.

It’s important to remember that nothing lasts forever, especially pain. No one should believe that because they are in pain, they will always be. Moreover, the pain you are experiencing may or may not have been caused by something you have done. It’s impossible to know for sure because the pain is keeping your from thinking accurately. Trying to diagnose the correct cause of the pain during the suffering of the pain is not the best course of action. Neither is it wise to engage in important conversations (especially with loved ones), business transactions or making important life decisions. Take it from someone with chronic pain, nearly every argument, blow up in temper, terrible decision or major mistake I have made is because my thinking has been obfuscated by physical or emotional pain. It would have done me well to acknowledge that I was in pain and was not thinking clearly before I took any action.

As human beings we can never escape our biological impulses to avoid pain and seek pleasure. However, we can as humans employ our ability to use reason in spite of the pain. All of us should acknowledge and accept that when we are in pain we are not thinking clearly. How do you know if you are thinking clearly? See( https://libertyandpain.com/2016/04/21/thinking-clearly/.) If we are not mindful that we are in pain, we will do something that leads to regret later on. I know, I know…. EASIER SAID THAN DONE, RIGHT? Nothing worth doing is easy. It’s worth at least reminding ourselves that we need to do the hard work when it comes to thinking clearly and acknowledge when we are being controlled by our pain.

 

In Health,

Sean

A NOTE ABOUT HARD WORK

ON WORKING HARD

There’s an old saying, “It’s better to work smart than work hard.” I think that saying was invented by lazy people to justify not doing the hard work. The truth is, you need to work hard on the right things to get your desired outcome. That’s what working smart really means. It means getting out of your comfort zone and taking MORE ACTION than you think is necessary. Now, here’s the problem: most people underestimate the amount of work that is needed to reach a goal and they overestimate how hard they are actually working. I’ve seen this in the gym and in business. In fact, I’ve been guilty of this myself. I think all of us probably have an example in our lives where we didn’t take enough action to achieve what we wanted. Taking massive action isn’t easy, but it is necessary. Working on the right things is also necessary. But how do we know if we are working on the right things? I would suggest you ask yourself one question to determine if you are working on the right thing…

The question you need to ask yourself, the same question I ask of myself everyday, is, “what is my superpower?” Meaning, what is the thing that you do more effectively than anyone else in your family, company or team? For me, I’m the rainmaker. I make stuff happen. I do best when I’m strategizing and delegating out tasks for others. In other words, if my life was an expedition, there would be people clearing trees, making paths, gathering food and marching forward- I would be the one climbing the tallest tree to make sure we were headed the right direction. I try my best to determine where my company and family is headed and then I come up with the right strategy or tasks that need to occur to allow us to reach our destination. If I’ve done this effectively, I find myself very satisfied because I’m using my superpower to its potential. Anything else I find myself doing other than my superpower, I feel very depleted, tired, moody and unsatisfied. Even if I’m working very hard at other tasks that are not my superpower and I’ve done well at completing the tasks, I know that I still have not worked smart, only hard. Working hard is necessary, but it’s never enough.

This is why I believe billions of people are dissatisfied with where they are in life. Not only are they focussing on the wrong things, they are working on the wrong things because they are not working on the things that are in alignment with their goals. Don’t get me wrong, we all have things to do that we don’t like and may not be in direct alignment with our desires, but my point here is that we should not be spending most of our working life on the wrong things. My assertion is that most of us do. For example, in the gym, if your goal is to have a lean an muscular physique, but all you do is walk on the treadmill, you are working on the wrong things. If you are a CEO or owner of a company, but you are cleaning the toilets and vacuuming the floors, you are working on the wrong things. (This author is guilty as charged with this one!) If you are a parent and your goal is to raise bright, caring, empathetic children, but you fail to read to them nightly and just plop them in front of the television, you are working on the wrong things. If your goal is to earn more money, but you aren’t reading or taking classes to learn new skills so you can take on more responsibility and add value to the marketplace, you are working on the wrong things. (Hint: You don’t get paid for your time. You get paid for the value you bring to the market. That’s why certain people make 8 bucks an hour while others get paid millions a year.) To add value to the marketplace and others, you must work smart on the  right things. You must work hard and work smart. You must learn what your superpower is and embrace it and then cultivate it so you become even more effective.

If you are not where you want to be, it very well may be due to the following traps:
-you are not actually working hard at all
-you have not discovered your superpower
-you are working on the wrong things
-you have not written down your goals
-you don’t believe you are worthy of having more
-you have limiting beliefs about you and other people
-you have faced adversity and failed to learn a positive lesson from the experience
you have not been honest and mindful about when you have fallen into the traps listed above

Do any of the above apply? Be honest. I know I have been guilty of some of these. The key is that I’m mindful of when I fall into the trap and I take action to make sure I get back on the right path and focus on my superpower strengths rather than focussing on things that lead me off the path. Don’t lose sight of where you’re going! Taking massive action on the right things is the key to making sure you get where you want.

In Health,

Sean

Finding a Great Partner part 2.

Finding a Great Partner…. Part 2.

What follows may seem like a love note to my wife. It is. Bear with me….

I’ve written about the importance of harmony in human relations and building a mastermind group in your own life. I’ve also written about having a partner dedicated to realizing your goals as well as their own. This is vital in the gym. Having someone to watch over you, care about you and push you past your own perceived limits will create a huge level of progress for you. The problem of course is finding someone who you harmonize with most of the time as well as having your best interest at heart at all times. It’s easy to make acquaintances. It’s hard to develop real relationships that last and make both parties stronger. If you’ve read Finding a Great Partner part 1, you know that my wife Holly has been my partner in life through marriage and raising a family but also in the weight room. She helps to motivate me to do better than I would do on my own. Because she’s watching, I push harder.

I’ve achieved pro bodybuilder status because I found a great partner, who also led me to finding other great people to surround ourselves with so that we could grow. Indeed, my wife is so special it’s beyond words. She’s not just special because she’s a great wife and mother, she literally makes everything just a little more special. She will go out of her way to make a decoration for a cake because the detail will bring a smile to someones’ face. She will send flowers to her grandparents on their birthday across the country every year. As I write this, I’m reading through a book she created of our family vacation just two weeks ago. The trip was already special, but this book is like the icing on the cake. Now whenever I see it, I will experience the emotions I had on the trip along with the gratitude for having a wife that cares about going above and beyond.

Many think they have someone special in their lives. Here’s how I know; regardless of how long we have been together or where we are in our lives as far as business and parenting, Holly never stops trying a little harder than she did before. She is always looking for ways to make others feel special. She’s the best partner I could ever ask for. I sincerely wish for everyone reading this, that you find someone to partner with in different aspects of your life so that you may grow in those areas. I’ve grown in business because of my wife. I’ve grown in bodybuilding because of my wife. I’ve developed a philosophy on life because of my wife. Most of the times I’m smiling, it’s because I’m thinking about her and how great of a partner she is. I try harder daily because I don’t want to disappoint her. That’s the truth.

So go out and find that partner that loves you AND forces you to grow as a person.

In health,

Sean