Finding a Great Partner

The Importance of a Good Partner

            Humans are social creatures. We exist and persist for, and because of, each other. We frequent health clubs, bars, restaurants and movie theaters so that we may feed off of the energy of others. Being around others reminds us that we are alive. It’s the elixir of vitality—human connection. But while great benefits occur from being around others, the inevitable problems that arise from such encounters lead us to believe that on some things, “we must go it alone.” Let me suggest that instead of going it alone, you seek out a partner to take with you on your journey. I believe there is incredible power and fulfillment in having another person by your side for most undertakings. A special relationship with another person is incredibly beneficial when it comes to physical training. Let me explain…

As a health club owner, I’ve clocked thousands of workouts by myself. Some have been incredible, but most paled in comparison to when I was training with a partner. Two people dedicated to one common goal, expanding each others physical potential and establishing routines that revitalize the body, can accomplish much more than one person on their own. In my opinion, having a partner to push you, be honest with you, motivate you and help you overcome the pain of resistance in the gym (and in life) is so important to fulfilling your potential. I’ve had some incredible training partners in my life. My father was my first. We still train together when possible. My best friend Chris is another. Our mutual love for the iron began after a painful breakup. My ex’s best friend happened to be his girlfriend at the time. I walked out of the room after being dumped, Chris saw my face, and I said with an angry look, “Tomorrow we are doing squats together.” This was 11th grade. I squatted 315 pounds for reps out of sheer anger and adrenaline. A friendship was forged for life. We both own fitness companies today.

Currently, my training partner is my wife Holly. We have been together over 12 years, but it’s only been the last two years that we started working out with each other instead of doing our own routines. Like many women, she was intimidated by lifting heavy weights and preferred to “sweat it out” doing cardio. However, after our second child was born, Holly dedicated herself to not only getting her pre-baby body back, but surpassing it. I can tell you confidently, that after grueling workout sessions, heavy weight (315 pound deadlifts) and simple diet modifications, she has accomplished her goal. She’s been absolutely incredible through this process, pushing herself to new levels, but also pushing me to get stronger and more flexible. I have ankylosing spondylitis, leaving partial fusion throughout my whole spine. Despite that, with my partner’s help I have been able to move more freely and with less pain that anytime in the last 10 years. I attribute this to having a partner that has my best interest at heart. I suspect she attributes her successes to the same. She’s the best partner I’ve had in life and in the gym.

I believe strongly in the mastermind principle—where two or more like-minded people get together regularly and plan out future actions in the spirit of perfect harmony. It’s truly amazing what mankind has achieved through cooperation. More than that, I believe that true fulfillment comes through having a great partner in various aspects of life. A great partner can really help you to become better, give you compassion and understanding when needed and help you to overcome obstacles in the weight room and in life. My advice here is to look at the various areas of your life and see where a partner can really help you to grow and become more. Find someone you can be in harmony with and go deep. Gold and diamonds are found at great depths. The same is true with a partner. Their value comes from going deep with them. Commit to them and make sure they are committed to you and your goals. Find yourself a partner for life.

In health,

Sean

On Marriage

Seven Ingredients for a Happy and Lasting Marriage

            Perhaps the word marriage does not apply for some people. I don’t want the word to scare you off, so please substitute whatever word applies to you: relationship, partner, lover, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you understand the essence of any great relationship or marriage. Almost fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce. An even greater percentage of dating relationships, around 80% end with break-up. What about just regular friendships? I suspect that friendships end for similar reasons to relationships. I’ve seen first hand how relationships, friendships and marriages end and while a romantic relationship has slightly more elements needed to make it last, the similarities in what makes all human relationships work or fail are fairly simple to recognize and understand. After 12 years of being with my beautiful wife, I can confidently tell you the ingredients necessary for a happy (very happy) and harmonious relationship. I’m not saying things last forever, but I will tell you that if something bad happens in my marriage, it’s going to be my fault. The reason… #1.

  1. Taking Responsibility—How much is each person in a marriage responsible for keeping it going? 50/50? 60/40? The answer is 100%. Each person must take extreme ownership of everything in a relationship. Each partner is responsible for 100% of what they do and the situation he finds himself in. Don’t like that? Too bad. Own your life and take responsibility for it. 100%.
  2. Desire for Harmony—First and foremost, there must exist a desire to get along with another person in order for a relationship to exist or a marriage to thrive. Believe it or not, I don’t think most people desire harmony. They look for problems. They look for drama because they know others can relate to it. They know their friends will love to hear about everything wrong, so they secretly want problems. You see, many believe in the fallacy that “all marriages have problems.” Or that “the seven year itch” is real. The truth is, whatever you look for, you will find. If you look for harmony, you will find it. If you look for issues, you will find them. Be careful what you focus on and…
  3. Know Your Outcomes—What do you want out of this relationship? What does your partner want? If you don’t know your desired outcomes, or they don’t jive with what your partner wants, your marriage will end. No exceptions. My wife and I talk about what we want and where we want our partnership to go at least once a week. My outcome is to live an incredible life by being in an incredible state with my wife and children. I want my family to always feel my love. I want my wife and I to be partners in our journey together. I know that my wife wants the same. How do I know that? We talk to each other about what we want. Communicate or expect your partner to seek it out elsewhere. Here’s a hint, you should not have to talk to your friends because they “are the only ones who get you.”
  4. Value and Values—All relationships must add value to the individuals involved. If you are not getting a significant amount of value by being with someone, or you are not providing value to another, you don’t have a relationship, you have an acquaintance. Along with bringing value to the marriage, you must value the other person. This almost goes without saying, but you’d be shocked at how many people take their partner for granted, or worse, detest them. You must value your partner as well as provide value to them. Beyond that, you must have similar values in how to live life. If your values differ to an extreme, the path your lives will take will be very different. That doesn’t bode well for a successful and happy marriage.
  5. Empathy—This is the area of life I think most people are lacking. I admit, even I have trouble with this at times. Seeing something from another’s point of view is very difficult to do and it’s likely the main cause for violence and despair in the world today. Do you know what’s going on in your husband’s or wife’s head? What’s the story they tell themselves about what they are doing here on Earth and who they are? I suggest that if you don’t know the answer to these questions, try to find them out. Empathy is the main ingredient to a lasting relationship. Without it, and without understanding your partner, you won’t have a partner for long.
  6. Passion—Let us not deny that passion is vital to a marriage. Attraction to your partner is a must. Sexual intimacy that occurs often and is fulfilling is how many relationships bloom and grow. The lack of it is how many relationships end. You should look forward to being close with your partner. It shouldn’t be a chore or a hassle. It shouldn’t be embarrassing. It should be a staple of your marriage. If passion is lacking, work to make it great. It’s such a vital and fulfilling part of the human experience, to miss out on it is a crime… in my opinion.
  7. Love—Its the strongest word in any language spoken in the world. Everyone wants love. We crave it from our families, our partners and our children. It’s vital to a happy marriage. Love, though, is very difficult to define. The dictionary definition doesn’t quite do it justice. Some define love as a feeling, but I believe it’s more than that. I believe that love, in addition to a feeling of deep affection, requires sacrifice. Whatever you love, you willingly sacrifice for. You go the extra mile, you give up opportunities, and you put their needs before your own. I know many in marriages that have deep affection for their partners, but are not willing to sacrifice anything in their own lives to make their partner happy. Is that true love? I would suggest that it’s not. I think love requires deep affection and the willingness to put another’s needs before your own.

So there you have it. The seven ingredients for a happy and lasting marriage (or partnership). I hope this helps. As someone who has never been unhappy for more than a few hours in my marriage (my fault), I think that what I’ve written above is true and valuable. Above all, if you don’t want a relationship to end, do what you did at the beginning of the relationship and there will not be an end.

In health,

Sean

Harmony=Success

“Success is the knowledge in with which to get whatever you want from life without violating the rights of others and by helping others to acquire it.” Napoleon Hill

Though it may be brief, this is likely one the most important blog post I will ever write. This realization came to me after pondering a series of questions over the last few weeks. Some of these questions were: What is the cause of the most tragedies and failures in the world? What leads to violence, stress and negative attitudes? Why do some couples stay together and stay happy while others break up? Why do some companies thrive and others fail? Why do some people love their job and others hate theirs? Why are some people able to create amazing things while others struggle with creativity? Why does the world still struggle with war?

The answer to all these questions is a lack of perfect f harmony between people. Throughout history, most of the problems we have experienced as humans can be traced back to a lack of harmony between people.   On the flip side of the coin, harmony is the reason for any major lasting success. Every enterprise, every country, government, marriage or other organization must face the reality that the determining factor in how long lasting and successful they will be is whether the people directly involved are working together in perfect harmony, or there is consistent discord between people. Harmony between people has led to every major success in history.

Once harmony exists in an organization or relationship, an alliance can be formed. No one can succeed on their own without the help of others. Alliances must be formed to achieve anything worthwhile. Every couple, every business, every nation must have a mastermind alliance. A mastermind alliance consists of two or more minds working actively together in perfect harmony toward a common definite objective. This is perhaps the most important ingredient in achievement. A star player cannot win a game on his efforts alone. An alliance between ALL team members must exist. If not, the team will crumble when problems arise… and problems will always arise. But those working together in a spirit of harmony will continue to thrive. If not, the problems will win.

What does it take to operate in a spirit of harmony? A change in consciousness must occur. A person must be consciously aware that harmony can exist if they seek it out. Moreover, a person must believe that when the energy created from harmony is focused into a mastermind alliance, no problem is unsolvable.   In my business, I demand that harmony exists between all associates and with customers. If a lack of harmony exists, the problems that will arise will not be solvable until there is a return to perfect harmony. Often this requires the person unwilling to be in harmony with others is removed. What the takeaway? You must be willing to be in harmony with others. A willingness must exist within every individual in an organization to act in harmony with everyone else. If that exists, anything is possible. Sound simple? It is. But simple is not always easy.

I believe that most people are, in fact, good. However, many people do not have the desire to be in harmony with those around them. They point out the flaws of others, gossip, and berate their fellow man. Humans inherently distrust others because most believe that their problems have been due to others. In reality, the lack of harmony between themselves and others is the cause of the problem. Humans need other humans. We are social creatures and we have dominated the earth and increased the standard of living because of alliances between people working in harmony. The number one cause of failure is lack of harmony between people. The number one cause of success is perfect harmony. The choice is yours.  I urge you all to choose harmony. Your life will be more fulfilling if you do.

The Right People

The most important aspect of any organization is the people in it. People build the culture. People build and operate the systems. People interact and provide value to customers. People determine the direction and speed the business travels. People spread the culture and the culture of a business (or relationship) determines how successful and long lasting it will be.

Because people are so important to any enterprise, it goes without saying that having the right people will make or break a business. Having the right people ensures harmony within the business. Having the right people will ensure the systems are being operated correctly. Having the right people will ensure sales and retention of customers is high. The right people will know what to do without being told. The right people will understand the importance of Make-You-Happy Customer Service. The right people do not need to be motivated; they already are motivated, and they will motivate others. The right people want to learn and improve to be the best at what they do. The right people want to be around the best, so they are constantly analyzing their environment to make sure they are in the best place and they are contributing enough to making it great.

Having the right people in a business will eliminate old problems and create new opportunities (also known as new problems). The right person wants to be in harmony with their environment and fellow coworkers. The right person produces incredible energy. The right person is one of good character. The right person reads everything they can on improving themselves. The right person has a positive mental attitude. Bottom line, people are the heart, the mind and the lungs of any business and society. There is one question I ask myself daily: am I the right person for this? Are you the right person?

Be One With Another

Personal connection with another is perhaps the greatest, most fulfilling state we can achieve as humans. The overwhelming desire to share experiences, build empathy, trust and connection with a partner, family and friends is what drives humanity forwards. While most media push stories of violence and conflict via reality TV shows, news programs and dystopian movies, the fact remains that humans are inherently wired to connect with each other, not hate and avoid them. Connection is a human need—a biological imperative.

Many people who have divorced or faced significant struggle with another may argue the importance of connection, but studies show that married couples report a significantly higher level of happiness and fulfillment as opposed to singles. Further studies report that the higher number of strong personal connections you have with others, the happier you are in your life. Humans are social creatures. We need each other to survive. We need each other to make the free market thrive and promote overall prosperity. All humans need to contribute and give beyond themselves to achieve fulfillment. So while it may be that others can diminish our tranquility through conflict, our desire for connection overrides.

Personally, I can say without a doubt that my connection with my wife is truly what gives me the highest level of fulfillment and happiness. I am focused more on her at any given time than I am myself. Everything I do, I do with her and my children in mind. I want to see them happy. I want to see them thrive. I want to share everything with my wife (except illness). My trust and love for her gives me such an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and well-being, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is the state that people are supposed to be in the majority of their lives. So while it’s easy to look at the history of humanity and see war, conflict, hatred, prejudice and ignorance—that is nowhere near the whole story. The real story is that humans have connected and conspired with others to create something beyond themselves. Connection is creation.

We all must strive to make a personal connection with others. To share our life experiences and stories so they may live on beyond our own lives is the real story of humanity. Yes, you must take care of yourself. In fact you owe it to yourself and others to be the best you can be, but that is not what creates happiness. Being a better you is important solely for sharing with and helping others. Working on yourself is fine, but it’s only useful if you can give.

So go out and connect. Give beyond yourself. Create an unshakable bond with someone. This doesn’t mean being naive. People can and certainly will harm you in life. You must protect yourself and be guarded when necessary. Be prepared for pain. However, do not obsess about the dark qualities of interaction with others. And don’t worry if all your connections or friendships don’t work out. Not all of them will. Just focus on the future connections you will make. Focus on the love you give and others have given you. Remember above all, whatever you focus on, you find. Focus on being closer to others. It’s the only thing that will bring you true happiness.

In Health,

Sean

15 Ways to Add Value in the World

People love lists, and for me personally they work to keep my mind steady and in proper working condition. However most lists are not useful to us as we don’t usually follow them, but certain lists belong in every human’s operating manual. The most important thing we can do with our time is to add value to another’s life. Nothing will yield more satisfaction in life than by contributing to the brotherhood of man. Likewise, nothing can yield you more money in the marketplace than figuring out how to add value to another’s life. So, without further ado: 15 Ways To Add Value in the World…

  1. Always do more than you get paid for. Go the extra mile so that people speak nicely of you always.
  2. Make people feel special whenever possible.
  3. Focus on complimenting everyone you meet and spend time with by sharing something you admire about them.
  4. Figure out their needs and try to deliver what they need. This is the foundation of both a fulfilling life and the free market.
  5. Look them in the eye and smile often.
  6. Keep fresh memories about all the positive aspects of that person and relay that information often.
  7. Be lavish with praise and slow to criticize.
  8. Think about life from their perspective and try to alleviate pain when possible.
  9. Touch them physically or with words to communicate your love for them.
  10. Let them know you think of them often.
  11. Take a tone of voice that communicates respect and understanding.
  12. Do something nice without expecting anything in return.
  13. Go out of your way to deliver a moment of happiness whenever possible.
  14. Do not let your imagination go wild with false, negative thoughts the person may have.
  15. Silently say, “Thank you, I love you,” in your head before speaking with another human. Everyone is fighting a battle you may not know about. Remember that and you’ll always operate from a place of compassion and not fear.

Do You Feel In Charge?

Are You in Charge of Your Life?

My favorite part of the Dark Knight Rises is when Bane asks in his creepy voice, “Do you feel in charge?” It’s really a great question. As adults we really are only in charge of one thing–our own lives. We are supposed to take responsibility for all that happens to us in our lives, not complaining when things don’t go our way and not apologizing when things go well for us. As humans, we try to control and mold our environment through technology, philosophy and many other avenues available to us. But I know firsthand that we don’t always feel in control. All of us at some point have complained about something wrong that has happened to us. Sometimes the complaining is justified–it might even feel good to vent. But I wonder, does it do any good?

Aristotle posed the question to his students, “What is the good in it?” He was referring to the deeds we engage is as human beings. With every deed, we should be able answer “What’s the good in it?” If the answer is nothing, we are not supposed to engage in the activity. Of course, this philosophy presupposes that humans do all things with the end-goal of achieving some goodness. This is debatable in regards to humanity as a whole. But, I’d like to keep the focus on you. You are, of course, a good person dedicated to improving yourself physically and emotionally. You wouldn’t be reading this otherwise. So, Aristotle poses a valuable question for all of us. In everything we do, we should ask, “What’s the good in it?” This is one way of taking control of our lives and our environment. By focusing on what good we can do, we can control our actions and therefore positively affect our environment–even possibly control it to the greatest extent possible, something we try to do as humans.

So, are you in charge of your life? Do you own yourself? If the answer is no, then who controls you? Of course you are in charge and responsible for your own life. While things may happen to us that we cannot control, we can control our reaction to them. And I would suggest, when reacting to these external events, ask yourself, “What’s the good in it?” If there is no good in your reaction, why do it? Will it help you to complain? To retaliate? To whine in social media? Will people think more of you or less of you? What will you think of yourself? So ask yourself what Bane asked, “Do you feel in charge?” Because you are in charge. What are you going to do about it?