Dr. John Berardi Wonders Out Loud

Finding inspiration in a return drive from Toronto to Philadelphia and back John Berardi wonders out loud.

I wonder…
Would more people overcome “average genetics” if they devoted 1-2 hours to their exercise plan every single day?

A new Canadian television program, The Dragon’s Lair, features aspiring entrepreneurs who are given the opportunity to pitch a business idea to 5 successful venture capitalists in the hopes of convincing them to invest in their business ideas. In typical reality TV fashion, the show presents a string of woefully unprepared contestants making a mockery of entrepreneurship.

However, on a recent episode, a woman from London Ontario, home of my Alma Mater, the University of Western Ontario, impressed the “dragons” with her business model and approach. She had started a line of delicious, omega-3 rich, organic salad dressings, She already had distribution and was looking for capital to mass-produce and distribute her dressings. Her presentation was on point, her marketing and advertising was solid, her product was of high quality, etc. And as a result, two of the dragons kicked in a total of over 100K to help her along.

When interviewed, post-show, she confessed that she was a mother of 2, worked full-time during the day, and devoted only 1-2 hours/night during the week to her salad dressing business. “People are always shocked when they hear about how I’ve grown the business” she stated in the interview. “But you’d be amazed by how much you can accomplish with 1-2 hours of directed effort performed consistently 4-5 nights a week, every week.”

It’s surprising how little incremental effort is required for long term success. His observations are solid and his article is worth the read.

Clearing Off The To-do List So I Can Think About Nothing

Ever wonder what makes some people accomplish so much while others just sit around waiting for life to happen? I used to wonder until I became one of those people who do things.

When I was at university I learned very quickly that you didn’t need to go to classes or do all the readings, all you needed was to do well on the exams, tests, assignments and you’d get a good mark. I was lucky enough to be able to do well on these things without having to work very hard. Instead of investing any of this un-spend effort potential on something worthwhile, I worked hard at doing nothing, literally NOTHING. I watched Law and Order on A&E, Simpson’s reruns, sat around drinking with friends talking about a future that we’d one day get to. Looking back I sort of wish I had done something, take a dance, art or music class, start indoor climbing or mountain biking, go to the gym or even go to the library and learn something that I cared about but wasn’t going to be marked on. It would have been nice if I had done something for its own sake instead of doing nothing for the sake of it.

Well school ended, I got a job and life got going. Now instead of doing things because I was getting marked for it, I was doing things because I was getting paid for it, but all in all I was still doing very little. I remember back on my mid to late 20’s as a miserable time in my life. I had a high paying IT job and could buy all the things that I wanted, but I was still used to doing nothing so I found myself not wanting anything. I kept drinking with my friends and I discovered a love of eating in restaurants. I had taken up smoking so even when I was sitting there doing nothing, I felt like I was accomplishing something because I was having a cigarette. Talk about your life preserving fictions!

In hindsight, it was the IT crash of the early 2000’s that was responsible for a big shift in the way I looked at the world. The company I worked for went belly-up and I was laid off. I hated the job so I wasn’t that unhappy about it, and because I was laid off, I was able to go on EI. I was collecting a pay cheque without having to go to work. This was, in my view, the best of days. It wasn’t of course as I was still very unhappy and completely unmotivated to do almost anything. I didn’t find or look for work and had to move back into my parents place because the money ran out.

This was the beginning of the end for the old me. My parents didn’t drive me to get a job but they did need to see me doing something “productive”. Since they didn’t give me any specific instructions, I took it to mean that if I could improve my mountain bike riding they’d be happy. I bought a trail pass at Kelso Conservation Area in Milton and started riding there daily. This was fantastic because I started to get better. I was able to ride tougher and tougher sections without clipping out and I began to enjoy climbing hills. I developed a passion for riding and with my improvements I became more and more confident. At the end of the summer when I took part in a 24 hour team relay race my improvements were noticed by my teammates and my improved confidence allowed me, for the first time ever, to feel at peace with what I was doing. I had set the goal of improving as much as I could by focusing on my training and I was enjoying the success of achieving that goal. It was the first time in my life that I had wanted to do something and had actually worked to attain it. It was the first time in my adult life that I didn’t feel like I was doing NOTHING.

The switch was flipped and things started to change very quickly after that. I began setting goals, planning how I was going to achieve them and then setting that plan in motion. It was fantastic and addictive. What replaced the feeling of apathy and fear towards the world was a sense of excitement and empowerment that I had some impact on what I got out of life. I learned that I could do things and that I would feel better after I did them. I think it was around that time that I discovered that the voice inside my head that reminded of all my failings would go quiet whenever I was working on something or had just finished something. That was a huge step forward in my development because I hated this voice and welcomed anything that would make it go away. The problem now was that I was working to get rid of the voice. Well, it isn’t so much a problem because I was getting a lot done, it’s just very annoying to have to listen to it at all. While doing things is a great way to silence it, the voice is still there to remind me that I’m wasting time.

At 33 I accept that I did this to myself. Whatever environmental influences there were, they play only a legacy role in who I am and how I create my present understanding of the world. However, the antiquated role they play still impacts me today. For example, back when I learned to do nothing, a part of me felt shameful or guilty for it. If the voice spoke to me and told me that I was being a failure, it was absolutely correct. If I had continued down that path I would have ended up dead very early and never accomplished anything with my life. The voice served a very important function, it warned me that I was wasting time and it created a sense of urgency to drive action. But because I left it untested for years, it is a part of who I am today and it will fire-up whenever I’m wasting time. The problem now is that I hear it even when I have the right to take some down time, which makes taking it easy and doing nothing extremely difficult. I blame my tendency towards overtraining on this characteristic. I think in time I will learn how to get back to doing nothing and not feel bad about it, but it’s going to take a while.

Today I need to clear off my to-do list before I can relax. I guess it’s good because when I wasn’t like this and I never got anything done. Now I can’t get around to wasting time if there’s something pressing on my mind or if someone is waiting for my input. I can’t because my mind won’t let me. It requires my action to silence it and I’m only too happy to oblige it.

Compliments Mean The Most When We Want Them To Be True

I give out a lot of compliments. When I identify someone who is doing a good job I will tell them that they are doing a good job. The girl at the coffee shop who makes my coffee, a joke and me smile will get recognized for it. I’ll notice new hairstyles, engagement rings and changes in the look of vitality and comment about them. In doing this I’ve noticed a few of things.

First off, most people can’t take a compliment very well. They seem to play it down like it isn’t true and some are very successful at diminishing it completely. I’d be inclined to say that some of my positive comments have actually allowed people to feel worse about themselves. I do wonder why someone would tear himself or herself down so completely in response to something nice. I tend to think that it is because they believe that I’m not telling the truth because, in spite of what I say, they know that they are crap and unlovable. It’s really weird.

The next group is those who respond with suspicion. They’ll ask me what I’m selling or just throw a compliment back at me. I’m guessing they do this because they feel unlovable too. I clearly must want something from them if I’m going to lie to them. If they reciprocate the compliment they keep everything on an even playing field and will not feel obligated to me for the nice thing I said. Both are clear indications that they do not believe my observation.

The final group is those who respond with a thank you and are filled with a sense of gratitude. They take compliments well because they believe what I have said. They don’t question my intentions, they just assume that I am telling the truth and have noticed something about them that they want to be true. I regard these people as more complete than the others because they give in to the possibility that things are the way I think they are. They allow their feelings and understanding of the world to be impacted by the way I view it – they take something positive out of my kind words and they allow themselves to feel good about it.

If you are going to give out compliments be sure that they are true and that they reflect how you actually feel. For example, “I like the way your hair looks” or “the way you smile every morning makes me feel good” are better than “you look pretty” or “the other people don’t smile as much as you do”. I say this because you can easily defend and embody your feelings; it is a lot harder to back-up objective type statements – I am an expert on my own feelings so any statement I make that speaks of them is undisputable. If your new hairstyle makes me feel that you look more beautiful, you aren’t in a position to tell me that I’m wrong. It is very difficult to tear these compliments down without being offensive to the person who uttered them.

It’s also very difficult to automatically reciprocate the compliment because it won’t sound natural. I’m saying something that I’ve clearly been thinking about because I’m telling you how something made me feel – knowing your feelings requires at least a moment of introspection. If you automatically compliment me back the “when were you going to tell me that” question is unconsciously raised. This question changes the dynamic between the two people in a very real and unnatural way.

A good compliment is simply just an honest observation about something that you view as positive. It will be well received if it reflects what you actually feel, especially if the confirms something that the recipient wants it to be true. If they receive it well, you know you are engaging someone who is comfortable with who they are and that they trust that you are telling them the truth. Be sincere and make their day!

Writing Out Your Goals: The Actualization and Evolution of What You Want

I was cleaning out the basement this weekend and I came across a list I made about 3 years ago. It is a “to do before I’m 40” list and I wrote it after I got laid off from my IT management job. I remember the list well because it was my first ever goals list and it looks like:

By 40

  • Record an album
  • Complete a triathlon
  • Own a business
  • Own a house
  • Have $50000 in the bank
  • Own a mountain bike trail
  • Complete a 24 hour mountain bike race by myself
  • Have written two books
  • Be working as a motivational speaker
  • Get a nose job
  • Have a suit made for me
  • Sing in front of other people
  • Bench press 200 pounds
  • Have a six-pack (abs)
  • Drive across Canada
  • Go out East
  • Have a recording studio
  • Have an MA
  • Have invented something
  • Meditate 30 minutes per day 3 times a week

It’s a lofty list with a few very challenging items, a few superficial items, a few status items and a number of fitness/sports goals. When I saw the list I remembered it instantly in spite of the fact that it was in a box in my basement and I hadn’t seen it for three years.

Of particular interest to me are the number of these items that I no longer care about (they aren’t my goals anymore), and the number of items that I have been able to cross off the list.

On the face of it, the few items that I have cleared off the list are fairly modest. But when I think about it more, I realize that many of my peers have similar goals but have not achieved them or are not even working towards them. Even if I didn’t achieve anything else in the last 3 years, I think I have achieved more success than most people have as far as setting a goal and moving towards it because I did achieve some of the things I put my mind to.

But that isn’t the case as this was just the FIRST goals list I made. As I worked towards building my own company (making video game cabinets) I realized that it didn’t really make me very happy – I wasn’t that I wanted my own company, it was that I wanted to work for myself and have my success be determined by my own effort. Given at this was the case, I needed to learn how to sell. Learning how to sell became an item on the next goals list. I also knew that I’d have an easier time being taught how to sell working for an established company vs. learning through trial and error with my own company. “Working as a sales person for an established company” was also put to paper as a goal. I ended up getting a job with GoodLife Fitness Clubs as a membership coordinator; it’s a sales role.

With reference to GoodLife and selling, my goals changed very quickly as I attained more and more of what I put my mind to. It went something like this:

  • Learn the theories of selling – 6 weeks
  • Make a sale – 10 days
  • Achieve my monthly goal – 30 days
  • Lead the team in sales – 75 days
  • Lead the division in sales – 120 days
  • Become a General Manager of a GoodLife Club – 160 days
  • Become a successful manager – did not happen

There was some over lap with these goals – I completed my first sale and achieved my monthly goal when I was still learning the basics of how to sell. The other thing that is interesting is the speed at which I changed my goals – what started off as a desire to prove whether or not I could sell became a desire for a career with a company in about 60 days. Recall that working for GoodLife was not one of the before 40 goals and even the goal of learning how to sell was only tangentially related to anything on that list. There is a sort of evolution with this – what we want can be changed by what we do today, one achievement leads to a desire for other related achievements or to a desire for something completely different.

My failure to become a successful manager was a bit of a disappointment but it was also a huge learning experience. I worked hard to be successful at it and had enjoyed some successes but did not achieve what I viewed as success and after a lot of soul searching I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to. Once I saw the futility of what I was trying to do, I conceded and stepped down allowing someone else to try and make good on what I had hoped to achieve.

The next goals list moved away from leading a team in favor of leading individuals:

  • Become a personal trainer – 4 weeks
  • Help someone start working towards his or her fitness goals – 2 weeks
  • Achieve my first month goal – 2 weeks
  • Sell over $3000 in training – 5 weeks
  • Sell the most on the team – did not happen

Again, there was a goal that I gave up on because I realized that I wasn’t going to be happy working towards it. In fact, I found training people to be one of the hardest things I have ever done, seriously. It takes a special type of person to work one on one with someone to help him or her achieve their goals. The problem was fit. I never had the goal of seeing someone achieve their goal, only to sell training, be a trainer and help people get started. Had I had a better idea of what the job was actually about, I wouldn’t have done it because it’s a long haul thing and not the simple once-off that selling memberships is.

So I left the job, particularly drained, and since I had saved some money I took a month to travel the east coast of Canada and do some camping. I went with my childhood friend Deb who loves traveling. It seemed to make sense to go with her because we had spoken about traveling together before and the opportunity just present itself last May. So that cleared off another couple of goals (one from the first list and one from a fifth or sixth list).

Now what does this all mean? Well, I think it means a bunch of things:

  • That by writing your goals out you make them real
  • Real goals will be achieved more often than imaginary ones
  • Goals will be achieved or changed based on new information
  • Every action you take can impact your desire for things that were never considered before
  • By looking at a list of your goals, you can begin to create a sense of entitlement or, at least, a sense of ability that you can do something
  • You’ll have a better chance of finding yourself doing what you want to do if you figure out what you want to do and working towards it
  • That your desires are based on what you are doing at the moment and less on what you think you want

I encourage everyone to write out their goals and I’m not sure how it goes. When I ask them about it, they say things like “I don’t feel like it” or “it feels really stupid” or “I don’t need to”. But I think that most people don’t do it because they don’t think they have the right to anything better than what they have now. Life is something that is done to them and not something they are willing to take an active role in creating. Life isn’t like for everyone, those who have taken the time to write out their goals tend to be working towards achieving them.

If you want to change your life, change your life and the best way to start is to figure-out what you want to get out of it. Go on, make that goals list!

Look At Me If You Want To Keep My Business

If you want to make me feel ugly, don’t look at me. Avoid making eye contact and look away from me when you are talking to me. The best thing about doing this is that you won’t have to deal with me again. And it’s fair that you don’t look at me, you don’t have to. In fact, it really is the best way to get me to go away, I’m a pretty good single trial learner. I usually won’t come back because I’d rather feel happy than that feeling I get when someone won’t look at me.

The first time I ever told someone that I feel ugly when people won’t look at my face when I’m talking to them, it was to my boss. We were at a company retreat and had just wrapped up a long day of meetings and roll playing. Part of the roll play had been for the entire group to form two circles, one inside the other facing each other and rotate, taking the time to look into each persons eye and think something positive about them. It was a tough exercise because I didn’t know most of the people and found it difficult to think something positive about them. During it, I noticed that some people were not looking at me as I looked at them. In fact, about 10% of the people wouldn’t make eye contact with me at all. At first I thought I understood their issue, it is a difficult task, but as more and more people did it I started to feel kind of crappy. By the end of it I was glad it was over and more than happy to calling it a day.

We all gathered with our respective bosses to have a few drinks and review the day’s progress. When I mentioned to my boss that it made me feel ugly when people wouldn’t make eye contact with me. As a group we discussed it, which gave her the opportunity to reinforce the lesson – look people in the eyes when you talk to them otherwise you have no control over how they perceive the situation. She knew that left to their own devices the situation would be viewed the same way I viewed it, as a negative.

Why would this be the case? Why would I take people not looking at me in a conference as an indication that I was ugly? First off, what is important is that I took it as a negative. It makes sense that I would take it as a negative because there people were deliberately trying to hide their intentions from me. All human beings can cold read others to some degree and the most revealing part of a person is their face. There are more muscles in the face than any other part of the body and the combination of possible movements and positions is enormous. Most of these expressions are meaningless – look at some of the expressions of a young child – but some are universally meaningful – a smile, for example, has a mouth component and an eye component. We can identify someone who is really smiling by looking for a tightening of the muscles around the eyes in an almost squinting position. This is a universal facial expression and studies indicate that people from different countries can identify real smiles and happiness on the faces of people from other countries. Most expressions are like this and we are able to pick up on them almost immediately.

We are pattern-matching creatures so we constantly try to read as many faces as we can to try and interpret the intentions of other people. Our end goal is survival so we are looking for people who have negative or bad intentions. Since the consequence of miss reading ones intentions is harm, we are conditioned to become suspicious of those who do not let us read their faces. My interpretation that others were not looking at me because I was ugly wasn’t necessarily accurate. I was correct in getting a bad feeling from them because they were not letting me read them; I matched a pattern that indicates that someone is trying to prevent me from reading their intentions, a behavior that triggers a negative emotional response to warn me that my survival may be on the line and that I need to avoid these individuals. My belief that they were not looking at me because I was ugly is strong enough to repel me from them thus avoiding the potentially dangerous situation; while it doesn’t necessarily reflect reality, it serves the purpose of removing me from their situation.

It is important to keep in mind here that the emotional system of the body has not adapted to the relative safety that exists in modern society. It is based on conditions that would lead to death if important details were missed when it was critical that the individual be driven to action when certain patterns were matched.

During the discussion with my boss and coworkers about the feelings that were created when someone doesn’t look at me, it became evident that I wasn’t the only person who feels ugly when it happens, but there were others did not feel ugly. My boss, who is a particularly pragmatic individual, admitted that it made her feel unsettled and untrusting of the people, but she did not feel that it had anything to do with her. She believes, and I think correctly, that it revealed more about the character of person who won’t look at you than what they think about you. She and others in the group said that they just couldn’t do business with people who won’t look at them and that they try to avoid these people because they never feel connected to them. What was key was that all of us felt something when people won’t look at us. This type of behavior is important enough a piece of information that we are dialed in to identify it.

If you run a business you BETTER look at me when I’m shopping with you. When you are the seller, you not looking at me doesn’t make me feel ugly, it makes me not trust you. It raises doubt in my mind about you and the value of service that you offer. It makes me question the quality of the products you sell. It makes me think you are a con man because you are not giving me the opportunity to read you. You are, in essence, facilitating the same response in me that the social non-looker does. The difference is, when my money is involved I attribute your actions to some quality you possess vs. some quality that I possess. We are, after all, dealing with something tangible like currency and not esteem.

Secondary Attack – Reworking A Trained Muscle Later That Day

It should come as no surprise to learn that I love to workout with weights. There is something special about the feeling you get when your muscles have been fatigued from a lot of heavy lifting. This feeling is wonderful to me because I feel pain in places I don’t normally feel anything. It’s a strange masochistic awareness that lets me know that there is a lot more of me than what I’m used to knowing.

One of the best ways I’ve found to increase this awareness, to create delayed onset muscle soreness through working out, is to partially retrain a morning body part later on in the day. For example, I train chest, shoulders and back in the mornings and will work legs, arms and abs in the evenings. On a day when I’ve trained back in the morning I’ll sometimes follow DB curls with a few sets of narrow grip pull-ups with the goal of more complete fatigue of the biceps and to retrain the back muscles from the morning workout, I’ll finish off triceps training with dips if I’ve trained my chest earlier in the day. The goal is to complete fatigue both sets of muscles and force a second influx of recovery nutrients into muscles I trained in the morning.

I’ll always try to train biceps in the evening on the days that I train back and triceps on the days I train chest because the morning workout does impact the arm muscles to a fairly large degree. I say this because most people can’t get a good biceps workout when they train them with back. While this is a common split, it is not idea from a biceps growth perspective. The same applies to the triceps and chest split.

With a body part like the traps, after I’ve trained them in the morning, I’ll just pick a trapezius isolation exercise and do it in the evening.

Some people don’t like this approach. They say that it is too high volume and that it will lead to over training. I don’t disagree with them, but it you do it right, it represents a fantastic way to maximize training intensity without having to dramatically increase load. You do need to decrease the volume of exercise in the morning workout, eat more and increase the amount of recovery time before you train the body part again to help avoid overtraining. But this is also true for all high intensity shocks that you employ during your training and it is especially true to training to true failure.

I’d encourage you to give this secondary attack approach a try. It’s going to help you completely drain and fatigue your muscles and it will force a second growth-creating release of repair hormones.

Short Term Weight Management – Fat Burning Phases

The fastest way to lose fat is not a long gradual journey, it is a series of steps, alternating between rapid loss and no change. You will learn discipline and healthy eating by following the long gradual approach that can help you maintain the results once you’ve achieved your goal. I recommend the long gradual approach to everyone because of the lifestyle management and educational opportunities it presents. But if the goal is to get the weight off as quickly as possible, a repeating cycle of 4 weeks of intense exercise and then 1 week of recovery will get you there faster that anything else.

The body adapts to change very quickly and will become more efficient at maintaining a state the longer it is held in that state – doing 45 minutes of cardio three days a week while eating 500 calories fewer per day will achieve the most weight loss during the first few weeks. Soon after, the rate of loss will drop off and then stabilize. This makes sense from a survival point of view because you need the body to function on as much energy as is available in the environment and you need it to adjust to conserve energy when there is a shortage and burn more when there is a surplus.

Intense exercise can be regarded as a shortage of food as you are creating a caloric deficit through motion vs. food restriction; intense exercise also increases the BMR with leads to a further deficit. Just like a real food shortage, the body will adapt over time to function more efficiently with the lower number of calories. The goal of cycling the exercise in 4-week blocks separated by 1 week of rest is to minimize this adaptation and then reset the body to function under normal caloric conditions. This is what will generate the fastest weight loss because it eliminates the body’s powerful ability to adapt to changes in the environment to conserve energy.

It’s also important to remember that the rest week will help to keep your immune system functioning at a normal level. Extended periods of a sustained caloric reduction have been shown to dramatically suppress immune functioning.

I am not advocating that people take this approach to weight loss, I’m just saying that this is what works the fastest. Lifestyle and behavioral modification are the safest and more effective ways to long-term weight management but if you aren’t interested in that, here’s the solution you’ve been looking for.

The Zen Lessons Of Road Rage

Back in October of last year, I read a message board thread titled What Causes Road Rage? …things I hate on the road!

DeanCollins’ response really stuck with me (I’ve edited some of the spelling):

October-9th-2006, 02:29 AM

It starts when the aggressive driver fails to leave early enough to arrive at his/her destination on time, compounded by their unrealistic expectations about making it through traffic lights and being able to drive at a certain speed. They become further aggravated with their expectations that other drivers will behave in a certain manner especially when the aggressive driver tries to influence them. When the other drivers don’t respond to the input, they take it as a personal attack and feel the need to retaliate. These hostilities will escalate exponentially when confronted by another aggressive driver. These are control/out of control issues that cause these aggressive drivers to lack the patience to deal with varying traffic conditions and other driver’s behavior.The remedies are simple. Leave plenty of time for your trip. Expect traffic delays and red lights (it happens every day). Don’t have expectations about other drivers. Don’t try and influence the other drivers by making eye contact, hand gestures, talking, tailgating, retaliating etc…. these are offensive acts that can trigger a defensive act, such as someone firing a gun at you (thousands of people carrying these days). The life you save may be your own.

Dean smacked me in the face by pointing out some of the things that I was doing when I drove. I hadn’t been aware that I felt other people where out to make me late or that the municipality had set up their traffic light system to make sure the lights stopped me every now and then.

Very soon after reading his post an answer to the question “why won’t they get out of my way?” came to me for the first time. They weren’t getting out of my way because they didn’t have anywhere to go, there was only one lane and they had cars in front of them. I don’t drive a fire truck so they don’t have to get out of my way.

So I started giving myself more time to get to where I was going so I could stop needing people to get out of my way just so I could be on time. This really changed my driving environment. It stopped being me against all these other cars and it started being me driving my car. You can imagine how that capped the rage and hostility I felt. It turned out that I had been wrong about other drivers all along. Most of them don’t even consider me in their drive, they see my car and want to avoid hitting it, that’s as far as it goes.

Dean also made me aware that I pick up on other drivers’ intentions when I drive. Most people drive with the intention of getting to their destination safely. These people are easy to identify because you don’t even notice them. They are inside the cars that are driving. The drivers’ whose intention is to get to where they are going faster than what is safe are equally easy to identify, they are the people who are driving the cars. We give them qualities and characteristics, personalities and lives and the fact that we are aware of them at all is an indication that we’ve picked up on something abnormal about their driving.

I’ve learned to put this information to good use to improve my happiness by eliminating some of the manufactured stress associated with driving. There are only two things aggressive drivers want from other drivers. First off, they want them to get out of their way. If they can’t have that then they want to get into an aggressive exchange with a non-compliant driver. Only one of these opinions is reasonable enough for me to go along with so if they want around me and I can make it easier for them I’ll do it. I don’t pull over and stop, the way I would for a cop or an ambulance, but I’ll give them room if they want to pass me, change lanes if it will open a gap for them or wave them by if it’s not going to cause anyone else hardship. Once they pass me I don’t have to think about them anymore. I’ve also dramatically reduced the likelihood that they’ll crash into the back of me because of their tailgating or cause an accident that I’ll be involved it.

Some say that I shouldn’t reward their maladaptive behavior. That letting them get their way will only embolden them but I prefer to look at it as rewarding my pragmatic behavior. I don’t need to invest the cognitive energy to think about them and, frankly, I don’t think they are worth spending any energy on. I don’t know them so I don’t care if they have personality issues that manifest themselves in road rage. I’ll let someone else give them the civics lesson in the form of a beating or a gunshot because I’m in my car trying to get somewhere.

Who Are You Not To Be?

Who are you not to be?

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us,
it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

This appeared in Marianne Williamson’s 1992 book “A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles” and is often missourced to Nelson Mandela’s Inauguration Speech in 1994.

I love this quote because I think many of us have been conditioned to believe that greatness is something for someone else to enjoy. The truth is that we all have talents and there are things that each of us do that others cannot. We should not feel shame for this and trivialize our achievements. We should embrace what we have done and allow our actions to empower others.

Lance Armstrong Story

I like the following quote because it helps me stay focused on my training during the off-season. It is a diary entry by Colombian rider Santiago Botero during the Tour de France one year:

There I am all alone with my bike. I know of only two riders ahead of me as I near the end of the second climb on what most riders consider the third worst mountain stage in the Tour. I say ‘most riders’ because I do not fear mountains.

After all, our country is nothing but mountains. I train year-round in the mountains. I am the national champion from a country that is nothing but mountains. I trail only my teammate, Fernando Escartin, and a Swiss rider. Pantani, one of my rival climbers, and the Gringo Armstrong are in the Peleton about five minutes behind me. I am climbing on such a steep portion of the mountain that if I were to stop pedaling, I will fall backward. Even for a world class climber, this is a painful and slow process. I am in my upright position pedaling at a steady pace willing myself to finish this climb so I can conserve my energy for the final climb of the day. The Kelme team leader radios to me that the Gringo has left the Peleton by himself and that they can no longer see him.

I recall thinking ‘the Gringo cannot catch me by himself’. A short while later, I hear the gears on another bicycle. Within seconds, the Gringo is next to me – riding in the seated position, smiling at me. He was only next to me for a few seconds and he said nothing – he only smiled and then proceeded up the mountain as if he were pedaling downhill. For the next several minutes, I could only think of one thing – his smile. His smile told me everything. I kept thinking that surely he is in as much agony as me, perhaps he was standing and struggling up the mountain as I was and he only sat down to pass me and discourage me. He has to be playing games with me. Not possible. The truth is that his smile said everything that his lips did not. His smile said to me, ‘I was training while you were sleeping, Santiago’. It also said, ‘I won this tour four months ago, while you were deciding what bike frame to use in the Tour. I trained harder than you did, Santiago. I don’t know if I am better than you, but I have outworked you and right now, you cannot do anything about it. Enjoy your ride, Santiago. See you in Paris.

I read this when I’m having a tough time convincing myself that today’s workout will make any difference in the grand scheme of things. I don’t want to know what it’s like to be beaten by a lack of training.