05 March 2007

The Magic Formula

Blogger is having a little trouble uploading my photo. So...

There's an alternative one posted on Planet-X with my race report. That photo is of the Snowman Stampede. As you can tell from that snapshot, the day lived up to its billing. The race was my first sustained effort of the season and it went well for me. I can attest that an hour of drilling it at altitude gives a pretty strong hypoxic training stimuli.

For those of you that enjoy data, my average heart rate for the hour was 165 bpm and my max was 170 bpm. That compares to my heart rate cap of 148 bpm -- I've been using that for all "endurance workouts" as well as during "endurance" phases of training.


I was sent a weblink the other day to a philosophical website. I enjoy reading these sites and surfed around for a while. Around the same time, I was contacted by an athlete looking for an exact determination of his endurance training heart rate threshold, what I call AeT (aerobic threshold).

The two events reminded me that our minds craved certainty as well as clarity. We're always looking for...

...the magic formula
...the magic protocol
...the perfect partner
...the perfect wave
...the perfect day
...the perfect conditions
...the ideal plan

A man more wise than me pointed out that this craving for something other than what we are tends to make a lot of people unhappy. Still, I think that spending time learning from experts can be time well spent.

It's interesting though... my experience is that you have to learn a tremendous amount to get yourself to the point where you see that nearly everything that you learned is a distraction from what matters.

The people that get the most practical use from their knowledge, tend not to be the ones with superior knowledge. Individuals with the greatest reach excel in clear communication, rather than technical detail. This drives many experts absolutely bananas! Personally, I find that entertaining for some reason.

So on the site that I linked up is a quote about success. You can read the entire essay here.

"The secret of success of every man who has ever been successful -- lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don't like to do."

That pretty much sums it up for me. There's nothing more that I can tell you about success.

..but I'll give it a shot anyhow!

I prefer to program myself in positive, proactive ways. Figure out what you want to achieve then seek out experts of character and pattern yourself on their actions, thoughts and beliefs.

That's all great but... you are going to need a HUGE amount of energy to keep up with an individual that has deeply engrained their success patterns into their mind, body and spirit. In fact, most people will get overwhelmed by the power of their mentors.

So while the author of that essay is pointing out the difference between success and failure -- he is not addressing why the failures struggle to keep up. When people breakdown, it is their process that falls apart.

So how do we give ourselves the energy to maintain our circle of success? How do we give ourselves every chance to form those successful habits?

Here are some ideas that I came up with. They are what work for me. Perhaps they will help you. I'd encourage you to find out what works for you. Much better than following what works for me!

All of the following are things that we can "do" in order to build the energy that we have available. The closer that I stick to these guidelines, the easier (and deeper) I find my ability to achieve my goals.

-- most people try to do too much. At any given time, I can manage doing two things "right" in my life. Everything else is being done "ok" at best. If you come over to my house then you'll see the two things that I'm working on right now. I posted it on my fridge. I want every single person that is close to me to know what I'm working on.

Nutrition -- there is a clear link between nutritional quality and mood. Running deeper than mood, there is a direct link between energy and nutrition. I smile when people tell me that "a calorie is a calorie". It's not that way in my body and it's not that way in terms of our impact on the Earth.

Our bodies are the most direct expression of how we feel about ourselves and our nutritional choices are the most frequent actions that we take with respect to our (physical) selves. Food choice is easier than thought choice!

Recovery -- there is a certain pride in many cultures (and sub-cultures) around sleep deprivation and self-suffering. At a certain level, something inside us can "feed" of this stress but (eventually) you'll fade away. The "hard" path may feel satisfying for a few years but it is worth remembering that most of us are playing an 80 year game! I have big plans for my body twenty years from now -- some of the lads might get me this decade but if I just hang on long enough...

Love -- this is a big one and I'd encourage you to think about love in the absolute broadest sense of the word. What I mean is any thing, person or experience that enables us to feel more "open". In my world this includes: Monica, nature, church, friends, training, old tress, snow, sun, wind, animals, little kids, water... all of these are spiritual "openers" for me and lift my energy.

Attitude -- attitude is mission critical. My mentors/advisers/pals and I had an email thread the other day about "coaching elite athletes". What started as a discussion on coaching elite triathletes (rather infrequently elites in life), turned into a platform for some very successful people to define their personal definition of success. What was fascinating to me was that EVERY one of the successful people had achieved their person definition of success. They may not have achieved my definition (or your definition) but they achieved their own. A clear reminder that we must choose our goals wisely. What comes next is important...

Successful people cultivate an abundance mentality for their goals within themselves. They "are" what they are seeking to achieve. Through this self-expression, they achieve success prior to achieving their goals.

Unsuccessful people (unconsciously and consciously) cultivate a scarcity mentality within themselves. The focus on their "lack" of what they are seeking and long for the day when they will achieve it. This day rarely comes.

Change in our life situation most effectively stems from an improvement in our personal outlook, expressed by what we cultivate in ourselves. We are most able to attract the things, experiences, people that we cultivate within ourselves.

In, then out.

Our culture has it completely backwards with many of the messages that we are fed within the media. The searching for satisfaction (and change) without. The unsucecssful are constantly wondering why their impression of the world remains rooted as a reflection of what they hold within. The truly successful smile and give thanks that they have learned to be satisfied with what they have created within themselves.

So that's my Energy Creator list! What about my personal energy reducers?

Related to simplicity -- I train myself to say "no" to attractive opportunities. If you have trouble with this point then start by saying "no" to unattractive opportunities. No joke, I know plenty of people that repeatedly choose to do things that they hate rather than having to face saying "no" to somebody that's probably too caught up in their own life to notice.

Nobody likes saying "no" to people (comes back to the opening quote about successful habits) -- I was fortunate in that I was forced to learn how to say "no" in my first job. In venture capital, we had to say "no thanks" to a lot of people. Given that it is as tough for the partners as it is for us... the junior guy on the team gets plenty of practice saying "no" early in the investment process -- the partners get the really tough ones... saying "no" late in the process!

I tend to extend my zone-of-no-thanks from opportunites... to situations... to people... to habits... to foods... to the web ...to anything that is a distraction from my ability to devote myself to my two main goals.

Sounds a bit extreme, and I suppose that it is, however I am looking for a very deep level of achievement, satisfaction and success.

The Magic Formula -- a self-sustaining circle of sustained action over time.

Choose wisely,

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