Tag Archives: success

Train Smarter, Not Harder

Most people would agree that exercise is a very good thing. Whether we are getting enough or any at all is another topic of discussion.  But if exercise is good then more must be better, right? Wrong! Too much of anything is no good and unfortunately there are those who think the same rules don’t apply when it comes to exercise. Perhaps they feel that they can shed those extra pounds by punishing their body repeatedly and for long periods of time. Or that they can defy all the laws of physiology and build tons of muscle and strength in just a few short weeks.  The fact is, in the end the body wins out and the reason why is because it is designed to do one thing despite what you try to throw at it at that’s to survive.

The Good and the Bad

Stress is usually a word associated with something negative, but not all stress is bad stress. Stress can be easily defined as any stimulus that challenges the body. For this discussion, exercise is a stress that is more appropriately defined as a eustress, or a stressor that causes a positive, healthful response. But as previously stated, just because it’s good doesn’t mean more must be better. The body can only handle so much stress at a time: physically, emotionally and spiritually, before it begins to break down and revert to survival mechanisms. When that happens, the once positive effects of the eustress become counterproductive, almost reversing the direction of the desired outcome. With too much exercise, often referred to as overtraining, that scenario manifests itself as muscle and/or joint pain, sluggishness, sleepiness, decreased appetite, decreased performance, decreased immunity, and worse, potential injury. While the “no pain, no gain” mentality may be a thing of the past, there is always a popular trend or fad that demonstrates dangerous, yet cool looking exercise as the best way to get fit. As a result of clever marketing, thousands buy into it only to discover in the end it’s not good for the long haul.

What is Too Much!

The human body and its capabilities have long been sought after by man. The Olympics, strongman contests, ultra endurance events, etc. – just when we thought the potential could be reached, it gets surpassed again. Is there a limit? When is enough, enough? That’s not a question the average exerciser is qualified to nor could answer – intelligently, that is. Physical exericse is an activity; an activity that can be performed and manipulated to achieve a desired result. Contrary to popular belief, just saying that you exercise has little to do with are you successfully utilizing it to achieve your goal. Case in point, “I go to the gym about 2-3 days per week but I haven’t seen any results.” The next statement usually goes something like this: ‘I’m going to double up my workouts, may be do a few two-a-days like I did back in high school, and then I’m going to go everyday for a few weeks.  That should get me back into shape.” Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

The net result? An even more frustrated exerciser who is now no closer to the desired goal because they didn’t really examine the true problems that exist and perhaps are now dealing with the negative effects sidelining them from exercising at all. The simple notion of just doing more exercise, harder will yield almost the same result of doing no exercise at all – NOTHING!

Time to Drop the Hammer

General George Patton said it best. “A good plan, violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week.” When you understand the value and benefit of exercise, not just simply doing it to do it, you will appreciate and respect the power that smart exercising can have. This includes planning your workouts; building in proper progressions (crawl before you can walk); taking care of the little things such as muscle tightness and joint mobility; addressing the “intangibles” such as diet and rest. It will lead to greater success and your true potential can be realized. In athletics, professional are called professionals because they have developed the proper progression and manipulation of the variables they can control to a level that puts them above the rest.  When you understand that you also have that same potential, you too will be the best that you can be.


Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better



11 Reasons Why You’re Not Getting Results

frustrationAs most of you know (or may be you don’t), I write 100% of what I post in my blogs.  However, on this occasion I am going to share with you a powerful and very insightful blog that first appeared on a site called Lifehack back on May 18, 2010 and was reposted by a leader in the field of strength and conditioning who I have the upmost respect for, Coach Michael Boyle. So while it was very easy for me to repost and share with all of you, I hope you find it to be as educational and enlightening as I have.  Enjoy.

All of us have goals. Goals like losing weight, earning more money, finding a life partner, setting up our business, achieving performance targets, being fitter, building better relationships, and so on. Some people seem to have no problem achieving their goals. Some, on the other hand, don’t seem to be able to make any progress.

I’ve a good amount of experience with goal achievement, having been actively setting goals since 10 years ago. I’ve experienced setbacks and successes in my goal pursuits. Running The Personal Excellence Blog (which is all about how to live in excellence and achieve our highest potential), I often receive reader mail seeking help for situations they are stuck in. I work with clients who are not getting results in life and want to turn things around. This has given me a lot of insights on what keeps people from success.

At the end of the day, if you find yourself stuck in your goals, it boils down to one (or some) of these 11 reasons:

1. You Procrastinate. You keep putting things off. You talk about how you want to do something but you don’t act on it. You are like the howling dog. I recently wrote the story of the howling dog at The Personal Excellence Blog. The story refers to this dog, who keeps howling because it’s sitting on a nail. However, he refuses to get up from the nail. Why? Because it’s not painful enough. You procrastinate on taking action because the situation is not painful enough for you yet. However, the times when it does become painful enough are often the times when it’s too late to do anything. Either you start taking action, or you forever lay in peace. Your call, I’ll leave it to you.

2. You underestimate your goal. Achieving a goal is about getting from point A to B. From point A, you create an action plan that gets you to point B. Sounds foolproof, except the action plan isn’t 100% valid. That’s because you’re setting the plan from point A. You haven’t even been to point B, so how do you even know if it’ll get you to B? At most it’ll be help to bring you closer to point B, but it’s not going to be 100% accurate. Almost all the time, people fail because they underestimate what it takes to achieve their goals. What should you do then? Over-commit your resources and review your progress constantly. (See Step #11 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity). Adjust your plan of action and adapt accordingly.

3. You spend more time defending your problems than taking action. You complain how you are not getting XYZ results. When people try to give you suggestions, you spend more time justifying why their suggestions will not work and defending your lack of results than brainstorm with them on how to get out of your rut. Spend less time talking about your problems and use that time to think about solutions. Then act on them. You’ll get a lot more results this way, and you’ll be happier.

4. You’re too enclosed in your own world. You don’t venture out beyond your normal routine. You do the same things, talk to the same old friends, act the same way, circle around the same issues. It’s no wonder you stagnate. Open yourself up – take active steps to grow. Get to know more people – people who are driven, positive and focused. Get new, refreshing perspectives. Read new books. Add new blogs to your subscription. Ask for feedback on how you can improve. Read my other Lifehack guest post – 42 Practical Ways To Improve Yourself.

5. You’re not working smart. You do the same thing over and over, even when you don’t get results. You apply brute strength to your goals, without strategizing how you can apply this strength more effectively. If you are not getting what you want, it’s a signal it’s time to change what you have been doing. See how you can do this in a different, smarter, more effective way. Look at people who have achieved the same results before, and learn from them.

6. Avoidance (Fear). You avoid taking action because some of the things you have to do intimidate you. You rather delay the process as much as possible. Unfortunately, results are not going to come automatically from delaying. Results come to people who pay their dues, not people who avoid the work. The fear isn’t going to go away by waiting it out. Face the fear and do it anyway.

7. You’re easily distracted. You get distracted by things thrown in your way. Your attention gets diverted from your goals. Your ability to stay focused is instrumental to achieving your results. Be clear of what you want and stick to it. Don’t let anything (or anyone) distract you. These are the obstacles the universe sends your way to see how serious you are about getting what you want.

8. You over-complicate situations. Common among the neurotic perfectionists. If you are a neurotic perfectionist, you blow the situation out of proportion and create this mental image that’s so complicated that it’s no wonder you don’t get anything done. Things are usually simpler than you think – be conscious when you are adding unnecessarily complications for yourself. I wrote about this in detail in Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

9.  You give up too easily. You give up before you even get anywhere. If you read “The Dip”, you’ll know all big goals comes with a dipping point – a chasm where it seems nothing you do is giving you results. It’s normal. This is the point that differentiates those who deserve the goal and those who are just taking a casual stab at it. I’ve a client who has a penchant for giving up in his goals early on. He realized soon that there’s no “easy” way out, and all goals have their own set of obstacles to be overcome. Persevere, press on, and it’s a matter of time before you reap the fruits of your labor.

10. You lose sight of your goals. You settle for less, forgetting the goals you once set. That’s bad because then you are just stifling yourself and making do with what you have – and this isn’t who you are meant to be. You have to first reconnect with your inner desires. If you cannot fail at all, what would you want to do? What are your biggest hopes and dreams for your future? What is the future you want to create for yourself? Reignite your vision and don’t ever lose sight of it. It’s your fuel to your success. Read more about goal-setting in Step #1 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

11. You’re too stuck in your ways. You insist on doing things a certain way. You don’t open yourself up to new ideas. Guess what? You’ll remain stuck in your situation, too. Open yourself to new methods. Experiment. You can only improve if you are willing to try new things.

If you haven’t noticed, these 11 reasons are self-created problems – you can easily dismiss them just as you have created them. The more accurate title for this post should be “11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Successful – Yet“. Your goals are in your hands – you can achieve them as long as you strive for them. Address the 11 things blocking you from your success, and it’s a matter of time before you achieve results you seek.

Til next time, train hard, eat well, and be better.





No Pain, No Gain: Myth or Truth?

400_F_54184437_5HceCfzh1jgdfOipzWNlDs7oTVIGBxS6No pain, no gain.  For decades, this was the accepted mantra of those who competed in bodybuilding or power lifting events, which was then passed on to and assumed by the general population as the only way to exercise to improve health, lose weight, or change the shape of their body.  As years of research and a better understanding of the effects of exercise on the body have shown, the “no pain, no gain” theme is not really fair or accurate. Or is it? Most exercise “novices” or “naysayers” would say it is bad advice, but as a fitness professional I have another perspective to offer you.

Success, whether in life, your career, your relationships, and even your body is all about stepping outside of your comfort zone and that may require embracing some pain.  To reach high levels of physical and personal success you must approach your training, and your entire life, as an endeavor in constant growth. The ultimate truth is, you are either moving forward or moving backward; growing or dying. There’s no such thing as comfortably maintaining. To grow, you must step above past achievements; beyond your perceived boundaries and limits. That means stepping out of the known, into the unknown; out of the familiar and into the unfamiliar; out of the comfortable into the uncomfortable. You must get out of your comfort zone.

Cavett Robert, who was founder of the National Speakers Association, said, “Most people are running around their whole lives with their umbilical cords in their hands and they’re looking for some place to plug it back in.” A majority of the population is scared of the new, unknown and unfamiliar. They prefer to stay in that womb of comfort. When the going gets tough, when the effort gets painful, when the work gets hard, they always pull back into safety. But the extraordinary people do the opposite. They know they have to get out of the comfort zone, and into new territory or they’ll stagnate and die. You can’t grow or change by doing what you’ve already done. You’ve got to train just to prevent yourself from going backwards. Maintenance doesn’t occur when you do nothing. Maintenance is working to fight entropy (the tendency for things to naturally deteriorate).

Nevertheless, most people still will not leave their comfort zones. They won’t do it in business, they won’t do it in their personal lives, and they certainly won’t do it when seeking REAL change in their health and fitness. Why? Because it hurts, it’s uncomfortable, and it means more work beyond what they consider to be hard work already.  And that’s what it means to step outside the comfort zone. It is uncomfortable. Change is uncomfortable, whether it’s physical mental, or emotional.  It requires discipline, sacrifice, uncertainty and fear. To say, “no pain no gain” is bad advice is admittedly accepting things for the way they are, and if you are happy with that then no one or nothing can change your mind. The fact of life is that you don’t grow unless you are constantly stepping outside the comfort zone, and outside the comfort zone requires a little discomfort and pain.

The statement “no pain, no gain” has been misinterpreted, criticized and labeled a fallacy by many. However, those doing the criticizing are almost always the pretenders, the “comfort zoners” who haven’t achieved much. My advice to you is to ignore them. Step out of your comfort zone and follow the small percentage of people who press on and achieve great things. Embrace the “good pain” of growth and when it subsides, enjoy the benefits of the change. But I forewarn you. Enjoy the view for a short while because it’s not long before that higher level becomes your new comfort zone and then its time to press on again.

Featured in October 2009 Issue of 422 Business Advisor

Building Success Through Motivation

How-to-Build-Up-Team-Spirit-for-Small-Business-Success-300x199One of my favorite sayings is a Chinese proverb that says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.  As a fitness professional, I am always working with those who are highly motivated or who are seeking to be motivated.  But what exactly does it mean to be motivated and is there a difference between those that are and those that are not?  The answer is really quite simple: those that are successful have taken that critical first step.

The root word of motivation is “motive.” The definition of motive is, “a reason to act.”  Most can pinpoint a “reason to act”: need for better health; wish for more money; want to lose a few pounds; a desire to play more, work less, etc. While it is certainly important to have a reason to be motivated, most only identify the reason but fail on the follow through, or the first step.  The first step is not simply identifying the motive; that’s just lip service.  The real and first critical step is taking action and taking action requires a thought process that comes to some naturally and to others requires a little nudge. These lessons can easily be learned by simply observing a baby.

Imagine a baby who on its own learns to crawl, then learns to stand, then ultimately learns to walk. Does the baby have to be motivated to take those steps? No. They come naturally.  But when the baby wants to eat, it will take the necessary steps to ensure that he/she is fed (parents are all too familiar with this).  The lesson here is that if you are comfortable with a crawl, then you will watch everyone else go by.  But if you are truly hungry, you will do whatever it takes to accomplish the task.  Getting motivated has more to do with seeing the end result, the benefit, than it does the steps involved in the process.  However, to begin that journey, you still must take those initial and critical steps in getting and staying motivated.

  1. Have a vision for your life. This is the cognitive or rational side of motivation. It is your vision. You have to have a vision that is big enough to motivate you. If you are making $50,000 a year, it isn’t going to motivate you to set your goal at $52,000 a year. You just won’t get motivated for that because the reward isn’t enough. Maybe $70,000 a year would work for you. Set out a vision and a strategy for getting there. Have a plan and work the plan.
  2. Get motivated every day. It is possible that your initial motivation doesn’t last for whatever reason.  Therefore, you should renew it each and every day.  It doesn’t make motivation a bad thing. You simply have to realize that if you want to stay motivated over the long term, it is something you will have to apply to each and every day.
  3. Fuel your passion. Much of motivation is emotional. Emotion is a powerful force in getting us going. Passion is an emotion, so fuel your passion. Set yourself on a course to have a consuming desire for your goal, whatever it is. Do whatever you can to feel the emotion and use it to your advantage!
  4. Work hard enough to get results. You can build on your motivation by getting results. People want the quick fix; the prize; the instant gratification of achieving something without doing the necessary or required ground work. But there is simply no denying it – the harder you work, the more results you will get and the more results you get, the more you will be motivated to get more. These things all build on one another.
  5. Ride the momentum when it comes. Sometimes you will just be “on” and sometimes you won’t. It is the cycle of life. When you aren’t clicking, put your head down and plug away. When you are clicking, pour it on because momentum will help you get larger gains in a shorter period of time with less energy. That is the Momentum Equation! When you are feeling good about how your work is going, ride the momentum and get as much out of it as you can!
  6. Put good materials into your mind. Read and listen. Read good books. Read books that teach you new ideas and skills. Read books that tell the stories of successful people. Buy them, read them, and get motivated! Buy great music and listen to it.  Listen to podcasts, radio shows, lectures, seminars, or motivational tapes that do more to inspire your mind than aggravate it.

Success is just a step away.  Take it one step at a time and the journey will be worth the trip.

Featured in September 2008 Issue of 422 Business Advisor

Staying on Top of Your Game

Chess board and hand. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown.Imagine for a moment that you earn a living as a professional athlete.  Before the ink has even begun to dry on the multi million dollar contract you just signed your name to, along comes an ad agency seeking your endorsement for their product; then another; then another.  Within minutes you are now earning millions of dollars – potentially.  Each contract is contingent on your professional success.  Perform at the top of your game, and you and your family will be set for life.  Consistently underachieve, and you might just have to work well into your pre-planned retirement years.  Whether you are a professional athlete or a business professional however, nothing is a guarantee. Furthermore, while only a very small percentage of the population will ever make it at the professional level, it is certainly not an excuse for not always striving to be your best.

In the realm of professional sports, success is measured in percentages, averages, number of wins, All-Star appearances, or number of championship rings.  But how is success measured in the business world? Or more precisely, how do you measure your own success – your position within a company, your annual income, or the value of your investment portfolio? How about the strength of your relationships, both professional and personal?  Let’s face it!  Regardless of the hat or hats we wear in life, nothing is to be taken for granted and each day brings another opportunity to strive to be better than the day before. Success therefore becomes highly dependent on our ability to stay on top of our game, much like a first stringer trying to not lose his starting job to the back-up.  And that begins by first taking good care of ourselves.

For decades now, corporations big and small have done the necessary research to stay ahead of their competition.  Some of that research has even taken them to closely examining the health and prosperity of their own workforce.   What was once thought to be not “so important” to the value of the company’s bottom line, exercise programs for employees  are now a way  for a growing number of companies to stay ahead of the competition and on top of their game, physically, mentally, and fiscally.  And the evidence just keeps growing!

At the 52nd Annual Meeting of the  American College of Sports Medicine, held last year in Nashville, Tennessee, a study presented by Jim McKenna, PhD, MSc, a professor of sport at Leeds Metropolitan University in England found that when workers used their company gym, they were not only more productive but got along better with their co-workers afterward.   “The results were striking,” said McKenna. “We expected to hear more about the downside of a midday workout, such as afternoon fatigue when they went back to their respective workstations. But out of 18 themes raised by study participants, 14 were positive. It was almost overwhelming.”  McKenna’s study included 210 workers whose company had an on-site gym as an employee benefit.  The workers rated their frame of mind, work performance, and workload on seven-point scales. The surveys were completed right before they left for the day. By then, participants had had their day’s share of meetings, duties, and interactions with co-workers. They took the surveys on days when they had used their company’s gym and on days when they had not exercised. That way, they were only competing against themselves, and any particularly hard or easy days were noted. The most common workout time was during the lunch hour, according to American College of Sports Medicine spokesman Dan Henkel.  Most people in the study took part in aerobics classes lasting anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes. Other options included strength training, yoga or stretching classes. Ratings for mental-interpersonal performance and the ability to manage time and output demands were consistently and significantly higher on exercise days.

The conclusion of the McKenna study was that companies and employees both stand to benefit from at-work gyms. “Companies see more productive employees who also work better together,” he says. “From the public health side, health care costs can be expected to go down for employees who regularly exercise at work. Think of it: fewer sick days, better attendance, and more tolerant co-worker relations.”

As an employer or as an employee, whether or not you consider yourself to be successful, it is important to maintain the mindset that tomorrow is another opportunity to strive for a little harder and expect a little more.  Because if you don’t stay on top of your game, there is somebody or someone else who is ready to move ahead of you.  That is, if they haven’t already.

Featured in July 2006 Issue of 422 Business Advisor

Personal Strategic Planning

TriangleSuccess can be measured in many different ways.  A successful career may include prominence in an industry supplemented with a high level of income.  A successful day may be a day in which the “to do” list was finished before noon.  There are many ways to define and measure success and everyone has their own views and opinions. But no matter which way it is looked at, success can best be defined as the result of a series of positive changes and influences that led to an achievement of a particular goal.  The unfortunate mistake that most people make is that they look for success to come to them, rather than making success happen for them.  That process can begin with personal strategic planning.

Corporations big and small get involved in strategic planning. Their goal through strategic planning is to find ways to maximize the organization of the business to increase their ROE, or return on equity.  ROE simply refers to the return on the capital invested in the enterprise. By reorganizing, prioritizing, and shifting resources from areas of lower value to areas of higher potential value, the ROE in the business can be increased. That very same approach can be used in your own personal strategic planning. The ultimate goal of achievement, or success, is the same.  How you go about it is dependent on what areas of your life need improvement (areas of low value) and which ones are going well (areas of higher potential value).

Behaviorists and life coaches have identified that our goals and achievements (our ROE) can be divided into four basic categories. The four basic categories are: a desire for happy relationships; a desire for interesting and challenging work; a desire for financial independence; a desire for good health. Everything that we do in life is an attempt to enhance one or more of these areas and improve our overall quality of life. The common denominator of these four goals, and the essential requirement for achieving each of them is that they require you to take charge.  Happy relationships do not happen, they are built.  If work is dull and boring, change jobs.  Financial independence is earned (unless you are lucky enough to win the lottery), not given.  Good health is a choice, not a right.  In fact, good health is the one that most of us take for granted until something happens to it.

In the business world, companies have financial capital.  Think of yourself as possessing human capital (mental, emotional, and physical). Just as a company works to increase their ROE, so should you individually work on your ROE.  Without getting into too much information on how to improve your life in all four categories, the best step forward is to look no further than a mirror.  There are so many little things you can do right now that will lay a foundation for success.  Since good health is often overlooked, I can think of no place better to start.

Time and time again, you will hear how proper exercise, diet, and rest are essential to health and prosperity, yet as a society we do not focus on any one of them 100%.  That is where a proper attitude also comes into play.  The right frame of mind can open doors once thought to be never opened.  Everything that you do counts in some way. It is either going to help you or its going to hurt you.  It will either propel you towards your goal or move you farther away from it.  The only one who can make that is assessment is you.  Good, bad, wrong, or right – our decisions are what they are.  How we learn from them and move forward will ensure greater success than the one who never tries.

As mentioned before, success is the result of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of tiny efforts that nobody may ever see or appreciate except yourself. These
tiny efforts, sacrifices, and disciplines accumulate to make you an extraordinary and successful person.  In every area of life, it is the quality of the time, not quantity, that you put into your actions and decisions that determines the rewards life can give. No one is going to understand or appreciate better than you – and that is worth the investment.

Featured in November 2004 Issue of 422 Business Advisor