Friday, 21 December 2012

Free Yourself from Praise

'For a man to free himself from concerning about the criticism of others; he must first free himself from valuing their praise.'

It's worth clarifying that there is a difference between valuing the objective opinion of an authoritative commentator; and idle gossip.

It is rational for example, to value whether your coach says your work ethic and/or performance are credible. This is - by being an objective engagement which we do not associate with emotionally, but merely seek truth - a rational exercise.

But the moment we expect or even value the praise of an individual for our efforts, we also make ourselves the slave of their criticisms too. So choose carefully whose opinion you choose to place value upon; and be willing to stick with that decision regardless.

We value the opinions of others on the basis of their credibility, authority and proven track record for intelligence - to value an opinion on its agreeability with what is convenient or pleasing to us is the most disgusting, appalling and useless moral state.

This means that when your coach or any respected individuals criticise you, you continue to listen as much as when they praise you; and when the idle, mediocre gossipers praise you, you continue to discard their views as much as when they criticise you.

As ever, the only moral cause is focus on the objective truth; and association with those who pursue it.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

A Question of Character: Mike Mentzer

Here's an excellent article by the well-known Bruce Lee biographer John Little, identifying two different attitudes to competition and performance; which respectively demonstrate the values of Objectivism and Machiavellianism.

A Question of Character: The Objectivist versus the Machiavellian

Firstly, is the example set by Arnold Schwarzenegger: who for all his brilliance, his inspirational level of focus and achievements across bodybuilding, acting and politics, apparently relied at times on denigrating and undermining his competition to take first place - no matter what.

Conversely, is Mike Mentzer: a bodybuilder in the deepest sense of the word; a man who believed in the honest and profound betterment of one's self through weight-lifting, philosophy and reason.

Mentzer recognised that our battles are personal; that another man's success does not detract from our own; and that achievement is absolute, not relative.

Far better to work with a friend and end up with a 110kg bench press whilst his is 130kg; than to refuse to cooperate and end up with a 100kg bench press whilst his is 90kg.

Your achievement is absolute; it is not measured according to another's.

At times I've felt frustrations at seeing my training buddies lifting heavier weights than I can, at that moment in time.

What I remember, is that relative to the outside world, we are all progressing and advancing; we are all subscribers to physiological evolution; and we're together, engaged on an important journey.

The first inclination I have when seeing anyone do anything to a standard I aspire to, is to go over; introduce myself; and glean as much wisdom as I possibly can on the respective discipline.

More than the great advice and critique I've received, is the friendships I have struck. There is no higher form of companionship than a shared goal and mutual respect discovered through shared pursuits; and I advance more quickly for training with those a few steps ahead.

Happiness comes from loving what we do; and resonates when shared with those on a similar wavelength. A reasoned, enlightened mind simply seeks to be the best that it can be; and derives its happiness from personal victories - whatever fleeting status or podiums this may bring are incidental.

Ironically, there is something about the attitude Little ascribes to Arnold - the former Republican Governor - that is reminiscent of Socialism: the notion that there is anything satisfactory or enlightened about pulling another man down for daring to have out-climbed you.

Conversely, Mentzer's attitude reflects Libertarianism's belief in the aspiration to that which exceeds our present-self; the glowing white wings we build seeking the wisdom, assistance and friendship of the greatest humans we encounter; and the limitless excellence that reason can liberate us to achieve.

'Anything which I am - or am not - is through the direct result of my own choice or abdication thereof' - Mike Mentzer

Monday, 15 October 2012

A Focus on Adventure

I had an aspiration sometime ago to focus on adventure and self-development, whilst I knew I was wasting time and money on various frivolous activities and material purchases. Clear symptoms of a cluttered mind.

It's somewhat silly to aspire to focus on something, when you already know what that thing is - but that's how it was. I could see myself wasting time on clothes, electronic items and other toys - even though I knew they rarely bought lasting happiness.

There is a particular feeling; a pain and longing I would feel watching any incredible adventure on television, especially snowboarding and surfing - to the point of even finding myself avoiding them.

They say the greatest achievements arise from the most humble, every-day practises. I've recently developed the clarity I was looking for, simply by streamlining and organising everything I own.

Getting a new job with a healthy regular salary was part of the process, due to some practical upgrades that were needed.

Much of my streamlining has been mundane and almost obsessive:
  • I've organised all my music, photos and videos perfectly in the appropriate Mac programs; digitised all personal information (binning almost all paperwork associated with my life) and uploaded all data to Dropbox - before backing it all up with a 4Tb hard drive.
  • Owning a purely Apple ecosystem, with iCloud and Dropbox gives me data harmony across all devices.
  • All books, films and games are perfectly organised on shelves, leaving my bedroom free from any distractions. Only one book or DVD set is allowed out at any time, so my objective is clear.
  • I have one personal email account and one bank account; I have deleted all but a few interesting email newsletters; have tuned each of the social networks I use to the same message and carefully filter all content to be supportive of my goals.
  • My new job sees me on my own most of the time. I carefully chose which personal relationships to cultivate; avoid allowing anyone to depend on me and very much enjoy being single. 
  • I've splashed out on the furniture I need for my living area to be perfectly equipped. No more, no less. And everything in black. Whilst I still own sentimental items, these are carefully stored away from sight.
  • I have fully equipped myself for the coming season with every piece of snowboard gear I require. No compromises.
  • I have defined clear priorities. Snowboarding for winter; kite-surfing for summer - the variables being adventures with friends.
By removing all but the most functional items and devising cohesive organisational structures for all physical and digital items, I have created a physical and mental workspace that is free from clutter.

My priorities are now extremely clear. I have few distractions and am focused to training and writing during the week - with simple, brief breaks to spend time with people whose company is beneficial to me.

You could take every of the above points as a mental metaphor too. The significant time investment and intensity in making this conversion may seem counter-intuitive to some, but the outcome is that I feel more clear in my objectives and focused on achieving them than ever.

I am now free to simply do the things I enjoy; excel in the responsibilities I have - for the time being - to the company I work for; and to push all resources into training and adventure - with the knowledge that I have the everything I need backing me up.

Today, I realise that I see adventures and snowboarding and know that this week I leave for nine days in Lebanon; that I have my next snowboard trip already booked; the simple goal of saving money for at least two trips this season; a whole new board sport to learn in the UK this summer - and I am largely free from any distractions.

The next obstacle to tackle will be getting a flat, but I shall take the level of clarity and efficiency I have developed into this decision too.

Adventure and self-development are my sole priorities moving forwards.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

A Return to Writing..

I’ve taken rather an extended break from writing and feel somewhat obliged to provide an explanation - for myself, more than anyone.

Starting a new job in a very large company threw me somewhat; and - being rather junior there - begun to doubt my credentials for writing on these topics somewhat.

But, I had two realisations:

- Whilst I can think of individuals my age who surpass me in individual aspects such as business, physique and amount of adventure experienced to date; that’s not the point. It's about balance.

I'm in a good place right now, with a healthy chunk on each pillar. I'm fit, fierce, confident and have some great adventures booked already; with a fresh, challenging job that can provide me with both the time and money to do some brilliant things - it's all down to me.

My project is building a lifestyle that facilitates and develops the entire package. The goals are fitness, adventure, athletic ability, confidence and power - and the resources to drive and finance these things. A symbiosis of Zen-like qualities and a commitment to self-development - in the fullest sense - in the context of the modern world.

Apparently it’s rare to think these things are equally compatible. I disagree - and intend to prove otherwise.

- My motivation in writing this blog - at its best - is simply to share any wisdom and tips I discover along the way with those involved in the same quest. I know I’d have been pleased to discover such a resource earlier; and that it’s helped others so far.

Most importantly, like anyone, I am capable of blurring the line between pursuing what I love; and allowing ego and defence to take hold. At times I slip into criticising what I dislike. It is more powerful to focus on what we love and believe in. And whilst I write on these things, only good can come of it..

And I am entirely unapologetic. This is who I am. These are the things I stand for - and I will not make compromises in my pursuit of attaining them.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The True Value of Practise

At times I have begun to question the monetary return on some activities I practise. 

Especially electric guitar, which doesn't have a perceivable direct return on fitness and health in the same way weightlifting and running do; and yet I have practised it for many years with no payment so far.

My conclusion, is to recognise that whilst I am practising anything to the best of my ability which inspires and empowers me to express myself, I am most certainly moving towards excellence; and an evolution in the very nature of who I am.

Whether training my physique, playing electric guitar, snowboarding or any other activity that I enjoy immensely and within which i see meaning and self-expression, I recognise that I am in the process of becoming a supreme being; defined by excellence and exceptional ability. 

This is what counts - and what will come to define me.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Carve Your Own Path

As inspiring as other people's lives can be, it's important to distinguish between being inspired by others stories - and trying to copy them.

When reading inspiring stories by athletes, artists and CEOs, I occasionally find myself comparing my achievements and abilities at their age; or considering how I could emulate their path with my next step.

But this doesn't work. Where else do knock-off business ideas; rip-off bands and other unoriginal concepts come from, but this method?

Getting inspired by the achievements of others, or learning our basics from their examples are good things - but the energy from their work should be correctly focused into the structures we are already building; and the things that are unique to us.

Just as we can identify traits and advantages others may have enjoyed above us, so we undoubtedly have our own. A winner is little more than someone capable of recognising, focusing and building on their own unique advantages.

The foundation of success is honesty; being true to ourselves. We all walk a unique path. Be as bold and true to your dreams and what makes your story unique and meaningful as you possibly can.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Never, EVER Give Up! (Arthur Boorman's story)

I wanted to share the following video with you. It's the most inspiring body transformation I've seen so far and a perfect example of the powerful beauty and joy training can bring into our lives.

I challenge anyone to watch this and not agree:

- How profound and meaningful it can be to transform your body.

- That very nearly ANYONE can do it!