I wrote this ramble for LinkedIn but decided to put it here, too.
What has Covid19 taught us? Most of the things that people are posting as learnings aren’t from facts that could not have been known before the pandemic. A lot of musings are about appreciation, fear, inequity and a myriad of other things that were there and were visible, if you dared to look.
So why did it take the current crisis? The human mind is a strange thing. As the Heath Brothers said in their book Switch; “Your brain isn’t of one mind.” Or put another way, modern day sage Robert Perry was fond of saying “It’s a long way from the head, to the heart”.
Sometimes (often, even…) it takes a jolt. It’ a shame, but there you have it. And when this is over, we’ll forget and it will get buried in a puddle, beyond reach.
I get why. After all, If we let it to the surface, all of it; every problem exposed, we’d be in fight-or-flight all the time. And that’s not sustainable. What is sustainable? I know it’s a word that hardly seems to belong on LinkedIn (or Instagram)!but here you go: it is LOVE. Not the romantic sort (although I am a fan of that too!), but the love Aristotle spoke of that requires seeing other as equal. In fact, I would argue seeing other as…. Not other at all.
We are linked & not just economically.
Whatever you feel right now, that itch that compels you to change; start that process now. Pick the thing that you can contribute anew, and make it a habit, quick, before your heart forgets…..
To start, how about I spell out what I mean by those terms?
As you can see from my venn diagram, I think it also applies to more than muscle, joints and sinew. We all have varying degrees of strength, stability and flexibility. Moreover, each depends on the circumstance and context.
Are you full of grit and able to withstand pressure? Great; but maybe you miss a chance for growth.
Are you quite open to change and people naturally follow you where you lead? Careful pied-piper; that you do not criss- cross the land dragging a merry but aimless band.
You try: I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on when you have seen these deployed really well and not so well. As with so many things, its about balance and deploying the right things at the right time. That means reflecting on the circumstance you find yourself in. For some, this is natural. For others, you may need all three just to take the time to dig deep….
Don’t get me wrong: I love being right, too.
But as a curious person who thrives on growing and learning, exchanges that include that moment of ‘oh, well I might have been wrong’ or ‘oh, I didn’t know that’, are the only ones where I grow.
Being found to be right might be a nice ego boost, and it is certainly necessary when designing solutions for my clients. Nevertheless, when it comes to interpersonal relationships, moments of realization are the only ones where I leave the exchange a least a bit different than I went in. And if I always leave exactly the same as I went in, ….well what a shame.
Everyone we meet has an opportunity to help us learn and grow. To waste that just so you can be “right”, doesn’t seem very right, at all.
The fine peeps at Kingspoint held a mock meet today for charity. It’s been over 2 years since I did a meet and this was a perfect soft landing.
I didn’t get brave, thus the 3 white lites (sheets of paper!) on all lifts, but they all felt really good so I did add a little extra than originally planned for the last deadlift.
I was only 5 pounds under my (meet) best squat two years ago, 4 pounds more than that on benchpress ... and a whopping 45 pounds short on deadlift. While that’s been the most problematic this year, it did move pretty good, even with conventional stance, and I know that it’s just a matter of doing the work.
Of course, today has got me thinking about numbers for the October meet.
Target in KGs - squat 80, bench 60, deadlift 90
I have registered for a meet. The London Open in October. Yay! We started meet prep Monday and finished the first week today. Friday’s are going to be all three lifts, doing a set of 5 of increasing weight until it’s the max. So since today was the first of that, it seemed like a good benchmark of where I am starting off this round, and so I am saving it here.
It was July 2016 for the first meet. I’ve done another , but because I am starting over a bit (not all the way over, but certainly not as ready as 2017) I am looking at that one as a reference point too. My squats are about the same now as they were when we started prep that year, so while I have a lot of work to do, it is DO-ABLE! My bench is already close to my best. Deadlift is no where even close to 2017.
Oh, and I’ll be a weight class up. But I tell myself it’s practise only, for a competitive entry in 2020!
A few weeks ago I launched a small quantified-self project. It’s origins flow from increasing generalized anxiety...thinking about ways to manage that. My Dr. directed me to a website and I ended up (eventually) at https://welltory.com It aims to measure stress, energy, and productivity. I love me some measurements!
It’s interesting, for example, but not surprising... to see that in comparing my sleep and my energy - there’s a correlation. And I can make choices that help with quality sleep. Simple and logical enough.
What was more surprising is the Welltory suggestion that I would benefit from continued measurement even if I don’t follow their suggestions. Huh? As it happens, simply being aware of how you feel and how your body is reacting (or is that the other way around?!?) is a good start to managing stress.
I don’t see myself doing any knitting or sudoku as meditation. But hey, you never know ....
Sports-to-business analogies abound. Another one crystallized in my mind as I was reading a training article by Dan John this week. His advice? Do not chase fatigue. “ You WANT the weight to feel light and easy. Inch that load up over a few workouts. Like we discover in throwing the shot and discus, inching your effortless efforts up a bit seem to increase your best.” ~Dan John
Fatigue is a natural part of serious training, and a natural part of business life. That’s true as individuals and can also be true of an organization as a body. And I think that thinking of an organization as a body can provide a perspective on everything from Alignment to avoiding the Zero Sum Game.
Stronger and faster is a fantastic goal. In that regard, why not ta learn something from elite athletes? Yes, they train, and even to fatigue. Nevertheless, they also diligently put efforts into recovery and rest. Many training programs will focus on fatiguing only one or two main muscle groups. Legs today, arms tomorrow, back the next day...carefully ensuring that the nervous system has what it takes to turn this teardown into new strength and skill.
Likewise keep an eye on the team; the body.
Everyone is going to experience times of fatigue such as during big projects. But extended periods of fatigue set you up for only one thing; injury. Make sure you do not have too much stress on one area for too long. Make sure the burden is shared. Make sure there is time for rest and recovery.
Want faster and stronger? Do not chase fatigue.
As my training log indicates, I have not really squatted much at all this year. My stomach was just so bad that wasn’t possible. And then three months off for the corrective surgery ... a few days checking movement patterns... and today we finally gave it a try.
Does it count as a barbell squat if there were no plates at all on the bar?
Anyway, it was really frustrating. Everything about it felt foreign. It took a great deal of intent to get everything in some sort of functional form. So it’s time to post!
Why? Not to mope in my frustration. But because I know this will pass. And when it does I can look at this and remember how incredibly tough it was today. The best encouragement that you can take something from tough to doable is that you have done it before.
No? I'll give you a hint; it's about my benchpress.
Still no? Well, maybe because if there IS a pattern... it's way underneath.
These are the days between my benchpress PRs.
Sept 12, 2017 130.0 Oct 10, 2017 132.5
Dec 6, 2017 135.0 June 28, 2018 137.5
Aug 3, 2018 140.0
They are all the same icrements - 2.5#. But some came as quickly as 28 days after the previous best, and some took over 200!
If there is a a pattern... it's made of 2 things. The usual 2 things.
I finally hit 135 pound benchpress in December. Every few weeks after that we would try. Sometimes I’d hit it, and sometimes I’d miss. Eventually it was more hit then miss. And just recently I started trying (and getting) it every time I bench.
What’s empirically and emotionally obvious in powerlifting is that you're only going to get something to be easy... by doing it over and over again while it’s still difficult. Only by trying despite (many) failures do you improve.
Looking back on my 20s, everything seemed so hard. Now at 47, there are certainly difficulties in my life but by and large much of what troubled, or at least tired me out then causes me no trouble today. Perhaps your 20s are years of constantly having to do difficult things. You know, you just turned into an adult after all, a lot of this is new.
So when I run into the inevitable rough patch, I just look forward and imagine how great the 50s are going to be when I have conquered these challenges too.
Someone said today, about powerlifting, that your ability to improve was practically infinite. I’ll get back to you on that when I’m 70. But I do wish that I understood back in my 20s the way I do today how nearly infinite is our ability to grow and adapt and improve. It makes ageing a wonderful adventure instead what I expected would be decline.
Here’s to finding hard things to do, and doing them over and over until they are easy.