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.
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.
Thank you. Thank you for everything you did for me this year.
Yeah, the whole acid/stomach thing was and continues to be a bit of a piss off. It’s keeping me from doing some of the things that I love. And I really hope that we can sort that out together next year.
That’s a minor inconvenience compared to everyplace I got to see because you took me there. To every awesome concert and show ... I am able to sit for hours in the uncomfortable tightness of the Massey Hall seats. Able to dance (or a reasonable facsimile) for hours on the concrete bar floor.
You treated me pretty good this year. I treated you pretty good too. I guess it only seems reasonable. But some people, even with the greatest of care, don’t have the strength and health I am lucky enough to have. So, Thank you.
Another year under the bar has increased my respect and admiration for everything you can do and all that you tolerate, enable ...and enjoy. 😉. And while you occasionally lie to me (yes, I probably DO have one more rep in me) ; I promise to get better at listening to you before you have to yell.
You and me; we’ve got a pretty good thing going....
Yes, another Powerlifting/Work Life analogy.
I am very close to benching 135#. Lifters know that this is less arbitrary than it sounds, as it means that I will be using a full plate on the bar. It’s a milestone! And in a sport based on tiny incremental progress, these milestones are major. And it’s very likely within 3 months or less from being achieved.
Some things that have struck me during this last bit of effort towards my big lift:
1) It’s on my mind. And it’s going to be the same incremental progress when I hit it. I go up in 2.5# increments every time. This will be the same. And yet… it’s different. Just like other progress, we often celebrate what seems like progress, but not recognize all the other exactly equal steps we took to get there before.
2) I’ll miss a few times before I get it. Because it’s really at the edge of what is possible for me, I won’t know if I can do it until I try. So I will, inevitably, fail. I have already. And I will again. In fact, even after I get it the first time, there are no guarantees that I can the second, because for that moment, I am playing at the edge of possible. And if I chose to wait until I knew for sure I could do it without fail… until I was strong enough to make it certain? Well, then for sure it would happen way later than it will by trying whenever it just might be possible.
3) The best version of me will be needed. Again, because it’s on the edge of impossible, when I try, I have the best chance when I had a good night sleep, and have been eating clean and feeling focused.
It’s this last one that really sticks with me. It’s very clear to me that to deliver this lift, I need to be at my best, and that comes not just from my intent at that moment, but what I have been doing in the hours (even days) prior to it.
And that makes me think about my other endeavours in life, especially at work. For sure most of my job is not playing on the edge of impossible. It’s certainly not a walk in the park, either. So when it’s not easy…. The very best me ensures the best outcomes. And the best me does not just come from that moment, but the moments leading up to it, including what I eat, how I sleep and how I recover and play.
So the next time I am at the gym, or resting, reading, or eating optimally, I will remember that what’s good for me is good for the best me at work too…and taking that time and effort is an investment in work as much as it is in life. And not doing it? Well that’s just not an option, now that I know, is it?
The image is from Facebook; a colleague posted this today. It means a lot because it comes from someone who I know has a great and kind heart, who finds inequality ugly and who is not afraid to speak his mind. And saying “there was times when I should have...”, does not come from flaws. We are all flawed. We all sometimes let things go. It simply means you are not going to let fear of acknowledging that reality stop you from calling it out.
And that’s what’s needed. From men. From women. From ME.
I have sometimes been angry over an incident and at the same time cautioned myself against that anger because “it wasn’t SO bad” or “I am just being overly politically correct” or “I use salty language sometimes ....so I guess it’s the same...”. And stewed. And felt that there was no upside to saying anything. Only down. And ended up been as frustrated about the feelings of guilt and worry as I was about the comments that started it.
It’s easier to call it out when I see others up against it. I do that. So why not as often when it’s me? Because I don’t know intent to be bad (he’s alright ...does not mean harm)...I hold back. Because I think of how fortunate we are North America compared other countries...; I hold back.
And while intent is incredibly important to me... I think this is one of those cases where I let it get in the way. Because every time something like this passes unchallenged, an opportunity is missed to move the needle forward. To let someone know that every word is a seed and that those kind can’t have any beneficial harvest. That just because it could be worse does not mean we should not all strive for better. That just because I CAN take it does not mean I SHOULD.
Most progress is incremental. It’s not surprising that someone can look back and go “uh oh”. It is a sign that the needle has moved! If I think about some things that happened early in my career... thankfully I had a manager would not tolerate aggression or offensive talk from our vendors .... it’s hard to imagine those things happen as frequently today here in Canada at least. That progress has happened because of all the times people DID call it out.
So if you think everything is good… I guess it’s OK to ignore all of the noise about #metoo. For one, I feel really glad people like Ken don’t think things are OK. That means there’s hope for #metoo.
Sent from my iPhone
First ever un-spotted 115lbs #benchpress. I’m pretty sure I have never NOT used a spot on anything over 100lbs.
It’s not that I can’t safely move the weight. But I let fear prevent me from trying without a safety net.
I would stand there at the bar, trying to reason with myself that there was no need to be afraid. And even though I knew it was true I could not convince myself. So I would ask for a spot.
Today I tried something different. I figured since I wasn’t going to be able to reason myself into NOT being afraid... I’d just do it no matter how I felt. And the results.... you can see for yourself. I wasted a lot of time trying to reason with the part of my brain just doesn’t reason.
I’m done with that.
I had a Personal Trainer for over a year. And then I had a coach. It was an easy transition because it’s the same guy. Let’s call him Jerimiah… (Because that’s his name….)
In March 2016 , spurred on by a growing love of powerlifting and Jerimiahs recent place (the TOP) at Nationals…. I decided to participate in a summer Powerlifting meet. The London Open, to be specific. Initially, I only asked him to help get me ready. But when I eventually (reluctantly) asked if he’d be there to support me, he was surprised I had considered that there’d be any other option. And at that moment, it started feeling just a bit different.
In the past, when he said “we”, I often laughed. “We can do this”, he’d say. And I’d think “We? I don’t see you picking up the other end of the barbell! Is that some training-speak to encourage me?” But not long after we started prepping for the meet; it really felt like WE! And now, the value I put into this relationship is kind of shocking. Personally, in some ways he remains nearly a stranger. But I trust him with a lot. I rely on his guidance, support and feedback. So how did it become “we”, exactly? Well, here is what I see now:
So has his approach changed? Actually, I have to sheepishly admit that it probably hasn’t. Those things actually didn’t start when I committed to the meet: they were there before. It was my perspective that changed. Yes, I did specifically ask for him to ‘have my back’ and got his commitment. But the only real change in approach was mine. So I had a coach all along, but didn’t know it. My bad.
And now I look around at people giving me feedback in my personal life or at work, and think: Maybe they are my coaches too? The push to own something. Or the encouragement to give it up. The dialogue to help me sort out how I feel, and what’s on my mind. Suggestions to consider modifying my approach. A pat on the back for a little win...... Sound familiar? It’s the SAME things I listed above that I value in my relationship with Jerimiah. I don’t always take the feedback from others as easily as I do with Jerimiah. Maybe its because it does not feel like “personal coaching” because of their approach. But maybe it’s also because of my perspective. And that, I can change.
Icon made http://www.flaticon.com/authors/nikita-golubev
In an article on Linkedin, I talked about some lessons from powerlifting. What I have learned from powerlifting is a topic that often gains my attention, as it’s really changed my perspective on growth, community and a number of other important aspects of both my work and personal life. And today….. I put another one on Linkedin for the “books” (even if this is digital….). And it made sense to put it here as well, even if this platform is uusally reserved for 'fitness' and is introspective, while this one ends with a question.
A stickler will say that I should be using the word decrement to describe what follows. And while grammatically correct, it just does not convey what’s on my mind.
There is a lot of noise lately about innovation in general. And it is important. It’s exciting. It’s often FUN! But it does not replace improvement. I have made some major changes to my gear (not technically innovation, but from the perspective of me as the lifter) that have given me measurable boosts in a short period of time (I really love my SBD knee sleeves), but MOST of the gains have been incremental based on constant small improvements to mobility, strength, and technique. Even looking at a quarterly progress (chart above)…. There are no momentous moments here. Just incremental improvement. But it remains real material progress of which I am proud.
Here is the rub. I won’t get to stay here unless I keep it up. In fact, in order to consistently do what my current best is, I need to get better still. And if I take too long of a break from testing my strength by using it…. By requiring ALL OF IT it to complete the activity I’ve chosen to do…. I’ll actually fall back. Staying right exactly where is I am - stasis - is not likely. People don’t stay exactly the same; we change. So the odds are very high that I will either take an incremental step BACK, or get STRONGER. I am grateful that I have the choice. I am not going to waste that on incremental decline.
Enough about Bench Press. The same can be said about many areas of personal and professional development. My job is to take what powerlifting has taught me, and bring it into all that I practice.
How about you? In what areas do you continue to improve, and where have you gotten stale…. Even maybe started to increment in the wrong direction?
We just wrapped on a vacation to COUPLES .... and it was such an amazing rest. We are not really much for "adventure vacations" per se. We already really enjoy our life/lives and aren't looking to a vacation to fill it up with parties, thrills or physical exertion. A real vacation for us is a rest. Not just the lack of daily obligations, but almost a mandate to just "chill out already". Garth already has that down pat, but I struggle. It would be easy for me to find stuff to fill the time. And for some, that might be just what the doctor ordered, but for me; a good vacation is a serious reboot; complete with some time just being....being. Still. Quiet. Sometimes listening to music, or reading. Or a walk. But mostly just a nice slow crawl, a slower pace in the brain, and a release of "need to be doing" for my heart.
And I sit here on our patio for the last 1/2 hour before leaving, feeling grateful for this opportunity, and equally thankful for the life we return to. There is not even a hint of wistfulness about leaving.
All of this leaves me feeling immensely blessed and grateful.
We ease back in tomorrow. Laundry. I'll go to the gym and train. Then back to work on Thursday; full steam ahead.
My meet is around 14 weeks out. I have a whole cycle to work through, and hypertrophy starts tomorrow. I am eager for the work, for the inevitable progress, for the opportunity to practice. For the endorphins. :)
And work is really humming. I love the product and it's shaping up to be a fun and challenging 2017.