Mistakes Young People Make That Cost Them Careers

I have spent about half of my working life managing other people. I am liberally minded, engaging and an effective sales person, so owners and key decision makers have had little difficulty trusting me with leadership roles. During this time, I have noticed that young people with a lot of potential tend to do some things that make managing them extremely difficult and often lead to their early departure from solid organizations.

Here are some behaviors that I have noticed in young workers that indicate that they won’t be working with me for very long.

1) Mistaking rules for reality. Rules are just agreements on how something is to be. They describe appropriate behavior from what isn’t. One of the biggest staff complaints that I have had to listen to concerns parking. Regardless of where I have worked, staff is always told to park as far away from the door as possible to make it easier for the members or customers to get access to the building. This always made sense to me because the business depends on the customer spending their money and there is a correlation between time in the building and money spend. The staff are not less than the customers in the worth sense, they just don’t buy as much as the customers so they are asked to walk further to get in the door. Rules are not value judgments, they are just there to make something a particular way so everyone knows how to behave. You don’t need to agree with them, you just need to follow them.

2) Speaking for others. When you speak for others, you are only speaking for them if there is nothing to lose. As soon as there are consequences to what you say, they will deny their feelings and claim, accurately, that they didn’t say anything about it. The best thing you can do is NOT speak for others.

3) Knowing more than everyone else. There’s a chance that you will be asked to do stuff that doesn’t make a lot of practical sense, to you. If it makes sense for the organization then that is how it is going to be. Pointing out how stupid you think it is does only one thing, demonstrate the need to get rid of you.

4) Mistaking unique for only. Each of us have a unique view of the world but each view is only ONE view of the world. If there are 25 people in an organization there are 25 unique views of the world. The chances that any one view is the best and most accurate view in all business situations are pretty slight. If I let one worker go today and hire a new one tomorrow, the organization still has 25 unique views of the world and the chances that I have brought on the one view that is the best and most accurate are pretty low. Your uniqueness will be called upon when it is what is needed to solve a problem or move the business forward. Until it is called upon do the job that you were hired and agreed to do.

5) Thinking people care about why. If you choose not to follow the organizations rules, do not expect anyone to listen to your reasons why. The police don’t care that you were speeding because you believe that you can control your car better than most people, the judge won’t care either. If you make the choice to not follow the rules be smart keep your rational to yourself. The time to explain why is BEFORE you do something and it comes in the form of “here is an alternative solutions, should we change the process?” If the answer is no, follow the rules.

6) Taking things personally. It’s work and you are paid for your behavior, actions and time. Your boss probably hopes that you are happy and that you find your time at work rewarding. But when it gets right down to it, if they have to choose between you doing your job or you being happy, they will select you doing your job every time. Don’t take it personally when they don’t seem to care that you have a hot date, birthday party or tickets for a big game and they make you finish your shift because, lets face it, you don’t make it a personal thing when they pay you for the hours you work.

Steady-State Cardio IS Keeping You Fat

Let me start off by saying that the above statement does not necessarily apply to everyone but if you do a lot of cardio and can’t seem to drop those pounds, you may want to consider it.

The statement is based on a few facts:

  1. The body adapts to exercise very quickly by becoming more efficient to the physical demands – if you do the same workout two times in a row your body will be about 20% more efficient the second time.
  2. The body adapts to the energy system demands of a workout very quickly meaning that it will be more efficient at delivering the energy needed to perform the same workout next time.
  3. The body overcompensates to the demands of a workout to ensure that there is more than enough strength and energy to get it through the same workout next time.

Here is the problem with steady-state cardio as it deals with long term fat loss – your body is so good at adjusting to any repeating physical demands that there is a diminishing marginal caloric-cost to each workout. When you are working in the fat burning zone (between 50-65% of your heart rate max), your body adjusts to these workouts to ensure that there is enough energy to fuel them. Given that they rely more on fat utilization for fuel, the body adapts by increasing the amount of fat that is available. The consequence to this adaption is an increase in fat storage.

This isn’t a big deal initially as you are able to increase the amount of work that you do to stay ahead of the increased energy (fat) storage but at some point very early on, the body catches up and begins to store more fat than you are able to burn off (remember 1 and 2 above). At this point, steady-state cardio stops having a fat loss effect and starts having a fat maintaining effect. When one will achieve this point depends on a number of factors but I would estimate that most people will achieve it after about 2-3 months.

Examples would include the over-weight aerobics instructor, marathon runner or tri-athlete because these individuals spend a lot of time with elevated heart rates and have adapted to the physical demands of the activity. While their cardiovascular health is superb, their body rely so heavily on fat metabolism for energy that they store fat very effectively to allow for the sustained effort that their sports demand.

Long-term fat loss is best achieved through resistance and strength training to increase lean muscle mass, and moderate amounts of high intensity interval training (HIIT) to tax all energy systems. HIIT is best described as periods of increasing work effort followed by recovery phases. A good HIIT workout will see you heart rate modulate between 60% of you max to 95% of your max but will never stay at one level for more than a few minutes.

The Conversation About Children

Over the years I have gotten into it with a lot of parents about my desire to not have children. The conversations all go pretty much the same. They ask me when I am going to start a family and when I tell them that I don’t want to start a family they tell me that I am being selfish.

When I was younger I thought that their comment was a slag on me, that I was somehow less of a human being because I had thought about the consequences of having children and made the decision that it wasn’t something that I wanted. As I get older and start to see the first wave of divorces in my peer group, I feel more comfortable with my stance. It is also very clear that any person who tells me that I am selfish for not having children has either found the right partner, has always wanted kids or is trying to justify their own child creating actions by getting others to do the same.

If you have the right partner, the desire to be a parent and the resources to afford it go ahead and start a family. If you are missing one of these three things, don’t.

First off, individuals of our species are able to effectively cold read a lack of love between two people. When you have children with the wrong person, the child is able to pick up on it and will learn this to be the normal dynamic between two people. This lesson will be carried with them into adulthood and may lead them to choose partners that help them to facilitate the same loveless experience.

If you end up getting divorced, the lives of your children become more difficult. There is plenty of research out there indicating the single parent families can result in well adjusted children, often better adjusted than children in a loveless two parent household, but there is also the undeniable finding that the environment changes in a way that eliminates many of the advantages of a loving two parent household.

Next, if you do not want children but end up having them, you better be able to want them unconditionally because they will pick up any feelings of contempt. Contempt is very much like the universal emotion disgust that all human beings are capable of feeling and reading on other peoples faces. To develop optimally, children need unconditional support and love from their primary care givers. Feelings of contempt immediately add conditions of behavior to the feeling of love that children may not be able to satisfy. While it may be appropriate for you to expect your partner to not find a frenzied excitement at the sound of pots banging together, this expectation is not going to be met when your 2 year old realizes that they can control the sounds in their environment by hitting two things together. You need to be proud of their discoveries and be very accepting of the fact that a young persons lessons about the world are often very destructive and disruptive.

Finally, while money is not necessarily a critical component in child rearing, having it does make life easier. The most highly taxed demographic in society tends to be that of the young family. (Okay, this isn’t entirely accurate, but young families need to spend more than child-free two person income households so a larger percentage of their after-tax income is already accounted for). The more money you have, the easier it will be to provide all the necessities and privilege that help to shape a well adjusted youngster. Having money will also allow you to maintain some of the quality of experience that you enjoyed before starting a family. Having children will shift your priorities, but having children shouldn’t mean the end of all the things you love doing. But it could if you don’t have the funds and have to choose between your gym membership or baby formula.

Given that the consequences for having children are life long, people should be spending as much time considering this decision as they spend thinking about their retirement. Buy accessories on an impulse if you like but plan your family and know what you are getting into before you begin.

No Standard Process? Make Your Own And Follow It

For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed life more when there is a level of predictability to the things I do frequently. I will put up with some very annoying behaviours and patterns providing I have had enough time to get used to them. For example, I know that I’m going to be standing in line when I go to the bank to make my student loan payment each month, I know that I’m better off using the cashier instead of the self-serve check-out when I’m buying produce at the local Real Canadian Superstore and I am certain that the QEW east bound is going to be really slow when I leave work before 5 PM on Friday’s. These are things I’m certain of because I have experienced them often enough to figure-out their pattern and I find them very low stress because I am prepared for them.

Up until very recently I would find myself getting annoyed when there was a change to one of these patterns. Probably the biggest source of this type of frustration has been the check-in procedure the front desk of any GoodLife fitness clubs other than the Milton coed club where I work; my card will only open the gate at the Milton club because GL’s check-in system cannot immediately check you in if you are a member of a different GL club, so when I go to Burlington and scan my card, nothing happens and the gate does not open.

I know the gate won’t open so that doesn’t cause me the frustration. What I used to find annoying is the lack of consistency in the check-in process between the different clubs. At some they smile and open the gate, at others they take you card and open the gate and at others they ask you to write down your name, membership number and the time of day on a check-in sheet before taking your card and letting you in. The other option is they look at you with suspicion, take your card and check your member number in the system, then ask for ID and then get you to fill out the check-in sheet. I am willing to follow any one of these procedures every time I visit but I don’t understand why it varies between clubs and even between individuals at the same club.

A few weeks ago I was walking down the stairs at the Oakville club thinking about what was about to happen and a realization hit me. What was frustrating me was the absence of predictability and the feelings of helplessness I had when I go to check in – no matter what I think is about to happen, there is a very good chance that I am going to be wrong and the front desk person is going to have me jump through a different set of hoops. I identified, that if I knew before hand what was about to happen, it wouldn’t be an unpleasant experience for me, it would just be something I do. So I grabbed the sign-in sheet, filled in the required information, handed over my membership card, showed them my drivers licence, smiled and said “hello”. They unlocked the gate and I went in. I wasn’t asked to do anything else because I had already done everything they could have wanted me to do. It was a small thing, but I had moved the locus of control back to me and removed that helpless “what is about to happen to me” feeling that the process normal facilitated.

Since then I have carried this lesson over to a number of different areas in my life. At home, I expect that I’ll be making the bed in the morning, taking out the garbage and washing the dishes before I go to work instead of wondering whether or not Rachel will or thinking about the possible reasons why she didn’t. At the gym, I assume that there is going to be someone using the squat rack for biceps curls so I don’t consider doing squats until I am loading the weight onto the bar.

I have started to uncover the things that annoy me and I am modifying my behaviour to ensure that I control what ends up happening as often as possible. I determine what needs to happen and then make the process or procedure that I follow consistently so I don’t give others the opportunity to determine my behaviour. Doing this has dramatically reduced the amount of stress that I experience and it has returned a lot of joy to things that I was beginning to find somewhat painful.

Things are predictable because I make them predictable.

Cycling Pedal Stroke – When It Feels Right

I use clipless pedal so when I ride my feet are attached to the pedal – I am one with the bike. Being locked to the crank allows a rider to exert force to pedal throughout the entire rotation of pedal stroke. You are able to pull up on the back leg while pressing down with the front one channeling more force to chain and the wheels. They make you a more efficient and powerful rider.

I’ve been riding with clipless pedals for the last 7 years and each year I get better at feeling the circular drive force. At the end of last season I was able to feel it consistently when I was sitting – it feels like my butt sinks an inch into the seat and there is a noticeable increase in the power output.

This year it feels like that, but after I learned to lock my lower abs I’m able to feel the power coming from my hips as opposed to my legs. I get the same hip stability that I have on the saddle by really locking my core. As a result, I’m able to get that same increase in power when I stand or hover and have found that my max output comes right when my butt seems to just float above the saddle – there is no real space between my body and the seat but there is no real contact either. It feels like I’m floating and there is the sensation of my femurs powering away from my body. Like many body sensations, it is hard to put into words, but I know immediately if I am completely recovered from the last workout or ride because I am unable to get this feeling if I do not have enough energy or power.

With my lower abs locked tight, I feel the bulk of the effort of the pedal stroke coming from my hips, then my upper leg and finally my lower leg – from the big muscles to the small ones. Given the relative strength of my glutes, I’m really happy that I’ve learned to engage them when I’m riding as opposed to relying exclusively on my quad strength and their associated knee extension to power the pedals forward and slightly down. A tight core also helps to facilitate hit flexion on the back part of the stroke.

I know that I’m going to continue to improve, but after 7 years of practice I’m starting to drive more power to the pedals throughout the entire 360 degrees of the crank rotation and the result is longer faster rides and an increase in intensity.

New Challenges – Moving In With Rachel – Month 2

As October begins I am excited about starting my third month of living with Rachel. School started again in September and I started a new job, so our lives are very different than what they were when we first met and started growing our lives together.

Here are the things I learned during our second month living together:

1) Don’t waste a moment. Rachel started school and I started a new job so we need to make the best of the 10 minutes a day we see each other.

2) When making a meal that requires some effort, make enough for two. If Rachel doesn’t end up eating it, there’s a meal for me that I don’t have to make. But she’s usually happy to have something to eat that doesn’t take much time to get ready.

3) There is tomorrow. If I think I have an issue and it’s fairly late in the evening, I’ll just sleep on it. If it is actually important it will come up again the next day when my mind is more clear and I’m thinking better. If it doesn’t come up again then it would have been pointless to raise it in the first place.

4) Take out the garbage. Not taking it out doesn’t make you the winner, it makes the place stink.

5) Change your eating habits to eat the things the other likes cooking and eating. I don’t like onions but Rachel does so that means I do. End of story.

Check out New Challenges – Moving In With Rachel – Month 1 for the first part.

Just One Exercise – T-nation article

Just One Exercise by Michael Boyle of t-nation is one mans answer to the question “if you could only do one exercise, what would it be?”

He says push a heavy sled because each step engages one leg and there is massive core muscle recruitment involved with single leg movements. While this is not a single leg exercise, each step of it is so the core activation is superb. It also engages the glutes and hamstrings in the way that you come to expect from glute ham raises or good mornings. Check out the videos in the article if you’re not sure what he’s referring to.

I would have answered differently but for a similar reason. I say one arm corner barbell shoulder press because they recruit the pec, deltoids, triceps and the muscles of the core.

Once I started doing single arm and single leg work, I was able to dramatically reduce the amount of oblique work I was doing. In fact, I haven’t performed a single side bend or side planking movement in months and I’m happier than ever with the way my mid section looks.

Waiting For Death On The Gardiner Expressway

On Friday I went to see Deb to hang out, chat and have a few drinks. This doesn’t cause any problems with Rachel and I because Rachel has to work in Toronto at 11:30 PM until 7:30 AM. I got to Debs around 9:30 and cracked my first beer of the weekend.

I left my phone off because it is pay as you go and I wasn’t expecting to hear from Rachel until around midnight when she would text me to say good night and to let me know that she had gotten to work safely. I turned my phone on around 11:58 PM and my night changed.

Text messages began to stream in:

11:14 PM – Rachel – On my way love

11:45 PM – Rachel – help

11:51 PM – Rachel – help please

11:56 PM – Rachel – Please Patrick help

I call her at 12 AM and she answers her cell home in a frantic state. “I’m at the side of the Gardner and someone has hit my car. The cops have just shown up. I’m okay but I’m going to the hospital.” I’ve never heard her this freaked out.

She is directly above Cherry Street on the East bound Gardiner Expressway with a flat tire. She had been struck there for about 25 minutes waiting for the police to arrive. Take a look at the google map, she was stopped right were that red car is. Now follow the road back about 50 metres and realize that the red car is not visible to anyone in the right hand lane before this point. For almost 20 minutes she sat there stuck in her car waiting for the police hoping that someone would not rear end her. She said cars were skidding and swerving to avoid her because they had less than 50 metres to react. She figured she was going to die and called her folks to say goodbye and tried desperately to get in touch with me so we could have one last conversation.

She got hit around 11:58 by someone who wasn’t able to get out of the lane. Fortunately for both of them, they were able to slow down enough so as to just lightly crash into the back of her. The police showed up a few minutes later and started directing traffic around them so a tow truck could pull them out of harms way – for $200 she was pulled about 1.5 Km off the highway to the ESSO gas station on Lakeshore.

The whole thing left her very shaken in a way I cannot relate to. I’ve had accidents before, I destroyed my second car on the south bound 427 on Monday morning but the accident was over in about 3 seconds and all lanes of traffic stopped. I was pulled off the road without fearing a secondary impact. I KNEW it was over as soon as I looked up to see all the other cars waiting for me get out of their way. Her termoil lasted for about 25 minutes while she sat there completely helpless waiting to get rear ended. The Gardiner Expressway does not have any shoulder because it is a raised highway, a product of a younger Toronto when the population was low enough to support that type of thing. Long since becoming dated, there is no way off of it other than driving to an off ramp or jumping 40 feet to the ground. She faced certain death by jumping or the possibility of death by staying with the car. I would have made the same choice, but it removes any illusion of control that you may have.

She is uninjured and the car is a little damaged. She’s grateful to be alive because someone died at the same sport last year under exactly the same circumstances. I’m not sure what the lesson is in all of this other than try to get to a place where you will be seen if you need to stop on the Gardiner. But when you are driving on the rim and the car is grinding to a stop, you are left with very little choice other than to stay put and make those “thank you and goodbye” calls people make when they have time to think about the fact that they are going to be dead very soon.