26 December 2006

True Wealth

The photo this time is my birthday celebrations yesterday. That is a monsy-muffin on top of some caramel ice cream. Pretty tasty!

I'm glad that I waited a bit as I managed to come up with some additional ideas on this topic. A good place to start this conversation is my piece from Jan 1, 2006. Then review my Personal Planning piece from Sept 5, 2006. Those are the ones that explain what I actually do in order to move forward.

How did your year go? Did you increase your personal wealth? Within my own life, 2006 saw a big increase in personal wealth. However, it wasn't in the sorts of places that we normally look.

My definition of wealth includes: nutrition; fitness; finances; friends; personal productivity and Monica.

Traditionally, when we think about wealth we look to an outward appearances of assets. If we go a little deeper then perhaps we consider the size of a person's balance sheet.

I've written about how I like to look at net assets (assets minus liabilities). This is because many people that exhibit traditional wealth are actually caught in a trap due to the combination of personal debts and their lifestyle choices. Ramping up asset acquisition and personal expenditure, slightly quicker than they can "afford". With a tailwind of rapid asset inflation and easy credit, it takes a tremendous amount of discipline to be prudent.

Looking back in my own life, there are a number of financial lessons that I remember from my childhood. The one that stands out above all the rest is my dad's advice to save 10% of everything that I "make". It has been the bedrock of my financial planning and it's made all the difference to me. In university, as a graduate trainee in London, as a venture capital partner in Hong Kong... I've never, ever, ever, spent more than I earned. If I could offer you one tip for financial security then that's the golden rule. If pro triathletes that live on less than $2,000 per month then a professional manager can certainly get by on what she earns.

The buy-out investor's equivalent of this Golden Rule is "never finance operating losses". I'll save the lessons of venture capital for another time.

I subscribe to a free investment letter put out by a guy called John Maudlin -- he writes each Friday and, occassionally, sends along the writings of other people. One of these ones that he passed along (I think) was a definition of wealth that was "the ability to finance a lifestyle".

and, being in a conservative mood I added...
"the ability to finance a lifestyle over time and changing circumstances"

Now that appealed to something in me because it seemed really, really safe. There's something about that safety that calms. Of course, I might have become caught in that trap that affects many of my former collegues in finance and investment... ...ever increasing standards used to delay the time when they will start "living" their lives.

Once you want to have a house on three continents and consider flying commercial an inconvenience... well, if you want all that, indexed, over time and changing circumstances... you can see why some of these guys end up dying at their desks.

Of course, when a person's actions divert from their words over time... they don't really want what they say.

What's all this have to do with wealth? Good question. Well, if money is linked to wealth then did your spending over the last year increase your wealth? Do you spend on the things that make you wealthy?

The modifed definition appealed to me and I wrote an entire article on just that point. However, something was missing so I didn't post it. I'll share a parable, I think that it's from The Alchemist

There is a man sitting by the well in the desert. He's too scared to leave the well for fear that he might die of thirst. Eventually, he dies by the well.

How often do we fail to live for fear of failure?

So what was missing from that definition? Attitude!

Three book recommendations -- A New Earth; The Education of Little Tree; and On Death and Dying. I read these right after finishing those three wealth titles that I included last time.

Each one provides ideas that you can use in decided what matters for your personal plan. A New Earth has an interesting section on the concept of attitude -- the author talks about three forms of attitude: acceptance, enjoyment, enthusiasm. When I think about the people that achieve -- they have a tremendous amount of all three -- probably a sign that they are living in harmony.

So... after spending three months using my Personal Planning template, it struck me that one way to measure true wealth is to consider the probability of enjoying any given moment.

Not the probably of enjoying every given moment -- I'd say that is close to zero for me. Rather... the probably of enjoying the current moment at any given time.

I don't know if that seems like a revelation to you. It certainly did for me. Why? Because I started to look at people, spending, actions, potential commitments... everything... I considered it and asked myself... "what is the likelihood of this choice increasing my true wealth"?

I started to see how certain decisions, made to increase financial wealth, were actually draining true wealth. Of course, I noticed these decisions mainly in others. It's always more easy to see the self-help illustrations in those close to us, rather than ourselves!

So I went back to my Personal Plan and noticed that a few "important" items simply faded away. Some areas of conflict seemed to lose their uneasiness within me. When I define wealth as my current happiness -- I don't want to let people "steal" it from me.

Of course, you would be right to point out that anything that I feel inside is my creation. Still, choosing certain paths makes it more likely that I won't need to achieve satori to have a life with meaning.

Your next question might be who is the "me" that "I" am always referring to? He seems to get in the way a lot...

I got a zen book for my birthday...



21 December 2006

Apprentice Coach Position

Hi Gang,

I have room for up to three apprentice coaches in my squad this summer.

Coaching experience is not requried.

If you are interested then please send me an email with details on:
  • Your background
  • Your plans for 2007
  • Where you live and how much time you can spend in Boulder, CO
  • How you would support yourself in Boulder, CO
  • Education
  • Non-formal qualifications
  • Athletic certifications (expired, current and planned)
  • First Aid and CPR certification (current?)
  • Lifeguard certification (current?)
  • Work experience (coaching and non-coaching)
  • Athletic and race experience
  • The three most important things in your life
  • The favourite aspect of your current life
  • One thing that you'd like to change about yourself
  • Questions to me about the position
Please include a copy of your CV as well.


15 December 2006

Happy Holidays

Hope you have a nice holiday season.

Back in January,


03 December 2006


This article is on the most important thing that I've learned this year. I'll lead you through my progression...

Joe Friel taught me that the only difference between a fantastic and a poor performance is that we learn more with a poor performance. I'd go further and say that what we learn with success can lead to some of our greatest mistakes [See Deep Survival by Gonzales].

One of Scott Molina's favorite sayings is that we can justify a lot when we are winning. He was talking about races but, we are ALL winning at many levels nearly all the time. Even if you think that you are unsatisfied, from a human survival viewpoint, we are huge winners. In fact, when we consider some of the things that we do worry about, well, that really drives home the point.

Mark Allen mentioned to me that the patterns and experiences that we lay down when we are successful are what we need to overcome to move past that level of success. Within life, our approach will take us to a point. To get past that point, or even to stay at that point, our approach, and our beliefs, will need to adjust as our environment, and as we change.

So that's the opener


Now a break for the photos!

What you have on the photos is TT-2004 (Trek) and TT-2006 (Cervelo) and TT-2007 (Planet-X).

The most recent shot is how I spend a chunk of my week here in Noosa... living the dream on my porch. Like the headband? It makes me smile. That position is "short stem, flipped up, seat back 2cm, spacers out". I've been trying a few different options.

If I can get my torso stretched out more then it appears to be a big improvement over the previous two years. My shoulders are lower than normal even with that hump in my back (which is mainly spine, not scapula). Saddle looks a bit low in the various photos (we took ten) but it is quite powerful (from Week One wattage, the only way was up).

I also think that I have some scope to put some spacers back in as my head (even with helmet & looking forward) would be lower than my spine. That 2004 position went 8:29 -- certainly some upside there. I was riding with my shoulders around my ears!

You see... I'm trying to stay open to new TT positions to move past my previous success!


I've got a post on "true wealth" in my drafts folder but it didn't quite get to where I wanted it. I did a post on wealth last January 1st so perhaps I'll run it then as a one-year review.

If you've noticed that the archive (right margin) is out of action then so have I -- we're on to that. May have happened in a migration that we did a few weeks back.

The thoughts on wealth started when I was doing my quarterly review of my personal plan. I've also been reading a series of books about wealth and the stock market (The Money Game; Reminicenses of a Stock Operator; and The Richest Man in Babylon). The Babylon book is the most practical. The other two have great stories and a reminder that performance is merely how elites keep score. The enjoyment lies in the path, the game.


If you read my stuff (that was actually about me) from 2005 then you will see a thread running through my most of my personal writing. It went something like... once I knew that I wasn't able to do what it takes to perform the joy went out of it for me.

That is interesting to me because it points to several assumptions that I had that must have been very deeply help. These assumptions were the result of the line of thinking that I opened with.

When we only have one way to succeed, eventually, the changing cycles of life will get to us. It also ignores the fact that are as many ways to succeed as there are successful people. Anybody that tells us that their way is the only way... they haven't really looked around.

In October, a buddy lent me a copy of the Triathlete interview with Peter Reid. The most interesting thing that I found in there was Peter's observation that once he couldn't do the training required (by him), he knew that it was over (for him). It's good to see that I'm not the only one that has felt that way about our sport.

When we "fail" we get clear (and memorable) feedback that our approach isn't working. However, when we succeed we receive different feedback -- that our approach worked (at a given point; for a given circumstance).

Many successful people end up chasing their memories of what that success entailed. Who knows if we are even chasing the right memories! Even if we are chasing the correct memories, is it the right time to be chasing them?

Dave Scott told me (through M) that every race is different, every season is different, every year is different. He was probably trying to tell me that I didn't need to ride across the US each year to do a decent Ironman. John Hellemans has been telling me that (indirectly) for about three years!

I just might be starting to listen.

To attain our very best, we need to challenge ourselves to remain open to new approaches. I like to think about it as being flexibly stubborn, or intelligently committed.

Results come from commitment to a process. The challenge for me has been to remain committed to the results, rather than a specific process. Am I deeply committed to my process or my performance?

In my life, I've used many different approaches. Successful outcomes resulted from my commitment to, and belief in, the approach that I was using -- more so than the specific approach. Our commitment and belief systems are very powerful in creating our results.

Relentless commitment to any reasonable process will take us quite far. It is when we want to get even further that we need to consider how we've been holding ourselves back.

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