Foundations – Body

This isn’t going to be like my usual posts. This is a simple explanation of the fitness regimen I’ve adopted for 2017. The reason why I’m sharing this is because of the importance of developing our whole selves, meaning Spirit, Soul, and Body. I can’t say I’ve taken are of my body as best as I could have, so I’m being more intentional about becoming meaningfully healthier every year. I want my family to have a meaningfully healthier husband/father every year, and I want to set a good example to our team members, that it is possible to be productive and healthy at the same time. In fact, I think being healthy makes us more productive as it helps us focus and avoid sickness.

The first thing I did was I set my goals. Goals and objectives give us something to aim for. They become starting points to work back from, plotting the necessary steps and investment to achieving them. Whether it’s business or body, applying Stephen Covey’s Begin with the End in Mind, works. To help me choose goals, I just looked at what really fit people are doing and made them my standard. For 2017, my goals are:

– 100 Push-Ups Straight

– 50 Pull-Ups Straight

– 8% Body Fat

– 24 Minute 5k Run

– 48 Minute 2km Swim 

– 10 Handstand Push-Ups

The sad part is that a lot of these I had already achieved when I was younger, but instead of improving with discipline, I allowed a more sedentary lifestyle to take root, which has led to terrible flexibility, pains in certain parts, and significantly diminished physical performance. I needed to turn this thing around before things got worse. 

Due to my time, money, and physical limitations, I looked for concepts that are relatively inexpensive, can be completed in a short amount of time, and can scale, starting with moderate difficultly. This led me to include more High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), swimming, less running than usual, and one “heavy” weights day (which isn’t really very heavy at the moment). A lot of these things are actually free. So no excuses. 

The most important part though would be diet and nutrition. A healthy diet is actually very affordable but can be very bland and repetitive. If diet is 80% of the battle, being healthy is well-within everyone’s reach. Sadly, our lack of discipline, particularly with high-sugar food, is undermining our well-being. For those who are using finances as an excuse not to be healthy, my advice is to stick to a very simple healthy diet. Not only will you save money, you’ll get healthier and feel better because of it.

Here’s what my weekly fitness routine looks like:

Monday: Swim 1k (building up to a 48 minute 2k swim)

Tuesday: HIIT / WOD Day (I alternate between KEELO and CrossFit’s Workout of the Day (WOD))

Wednesday: Goal Day. This is when I focus on improving on specific movements. For this year the movements are Push-Ups, Pull-Ups, and Handstands, all foundational movements that I hate! But giving myself measurable targets helps me see my progress. There’s no such thing as a goal that isn’t measurable. Those are called wishes. And there’s no goal that is achieved without a consistent progression towards that goal.

Thursday: Swim 1k (focus on technique)

Friday: Active Rest (I’ll probably go for an even 5k run)

Saturday: Burn Day: Run 5k, Swim 1k, Core Exercises

Sunday: Strength Day/ 5×5 Day, Yoga Stretching (none of that chanting stuff)

Sometimes, I’ll rest an extra day depending on how my body feels. Notice that I didn’t say “depending on how I feel” because many times I don’t feel like working out even if I know my body can handle the day’s exertion. What I watch out for is potential injury. We need to listen to our body’s to avoid the kind of pain that breaks things. 
Learn from High Performers

I was talking to my friend about my fitness goals when he replied, “Are you nuts? 8% body fat is athlete level!” To which I replied, “Yup.” I explained that I don’t believe in setting mediocre goals. I believe in setting the highest possible goal and working backwards. When making your goals, don’t make your starting point your basis for choosing what you want. Make what is good what you want. Look for a standard, and look for one that’s beyond you, that’s bigger than you, that scares you. This is what high performers do. They don’t set meaningless goals that don’t lead to an achievement or win. Learn from them.


Foundations – What I’m Building

For Why I’m Building, please read this article.

In my last article, I explained WHY I’m building, and that reason, in a nutshell, is love. What I mean by love, as I clarified, is not simply a feeling, but a desire so strong for God, the principles, and the people dear to me that develop myself to be as best an offering to them as possible. For example, because I love my wife so much, the questions I ask myself are “How can I be more faithful?” or “How do I make sure my wife has the fittest possible husband?” or “How do I make sure my wife has a wise and intelligent husband?” Or when I think about having future kids, I ask myself, “How do I become a great dad?” or “What is a great dad?” or “How do I balance the need for discipline and the need for acceptance?” For work, which I love a lot, I ask, “How do I make sure my teams have a great leader in me?” or “How do I make sure our leaders are growing spirit, soul, and body, and how do we empower them with the opportunities and resources to grow in these areas?”

I guess you can say I’m thinking of a lot of things. I think we should all be thinking of a lot of things. The ability to reason and think logically and not just instinctively is one of the main things that separates humans and animals.

I’d like to get more specific about how I’m going about the structuring of WHAT I’m Building, not so much to say that these are superior categories or a superior process, but more to give you ideas for how you can approach your own planning. There are many different methods to planning, and I’m always optimizing my own processes. Like an operating system updating to a newer version, I think it’s important that a person is constantly updating their own operating systems, an improvement from David 2.0 to 3.0, and so on.

I. The first thing I start with is a mind map of my major roles, including future roles. I give an example in the photo bellow:

Every role we play in life is both a privilege and a responsibility, which means they are meaningful and can be lost. Many times we take these roles for granted and think we won’t lose them. We can. And we will if we don’t take care of them. No matter how far-reaching God’s love is, He will honor the free-will He gave us if we choose to live independently of Him. No matter how beautiful our weddings were, our marriages will fail if we don’t take our roles seriously and fulfill the responsibilities of the role. It doesn’t matter how much we pray for our health, our bodies will suffer if we do not take care of that dimension of our person. The point is, we need to take account of the different roles we play.

Taking into account future roles is also very important. Someday, if I’m going to be a dad, I’ll need to grow into a certain kind of person. If I don’t, if I wing it, then my child will get a dad who wings it. If I don’t prepare now, my child will have an unprepared father. If I don’t save now, I’ll stress about bills later. In the same way, too many people are living just for the moment and sacrificing future roles. Before they know it the future is upon them and they have nothing to show and no preparation for the opportunities and challenges now facing them. If you’re in college, start preparing for life after college, which is a working, independent, productive life. If you’re single, start preparing for a lifetime of commitment. Start saving, start learning to control impulses, and most importantly, start learning to walk humbly before God. I wish I did more of those things.

II. The next thing I do is I break these roles down into more specific categories. In the photo bellow, you’ll see that I divided my role as a Person, which I believe is to be maximized, into Body, Soul, and Spirit.

I believe that every person has the privilege and responsibility to grow their body, soul, and spirit towards maximum value. Especially if you say you’re motivated by love, you should be motivated to offer a great person to the world. I’ve never met a truly loving person who didn’t want to give their best to the person they love. Who I am is ultimately what I’m offering God and the world, by growing spirit, soul, and body, I offer God and the world a more purposeful, a more loving, a more rested, a wiser, a healthier, stronger, and more energetic person.

I further break these down into the even more specific areas of Diet, Hydration, Exercise, and so on for body, as well as Devotions, Church, and Bible Study for Spirit. This helps me identify what activities I need to do to succeed in these areas.

III. I identify specific activities I will practice to succeed in the category. As David, I have a personal dimension, and that person is made up of a Body, Soul, and Spirit. In the Body category of my person, I need to exercise if I’m going to succeed in my body. The exercises I’m focusing on this year, considering my goals (such as 8% body fat), constraints (time and money limitations), and preferences (I’m easily bored!) I chose HIIT or high intensity interval training (which I can do at home or outside), swimming (my apartment has a pool so no extra cost), and running (which allows me to listen to audiobooks while working out). To these I add specific goals, such as swim 2k straight (which I used to be able to do, but haven’t done in a while) and a 24 minute 5k (which I also used to be able to do when I was much younger).

Having specific goals like these help me plan my approach. For example, to swim 2k, I need about 1 hour at the moment. I don’t have 1 hour a day to swim, so I do this on weekends. For the 24 minute 5k, I currently run 27 minute 5ks, which isn’t too bad, but it’s not good enough for me, so I’ve prepared interval training and running programs to improve. Because time is a limitation, I try to keep my daily workout to 30 minutes or less and my weekends for longer ones. So I spend less than 5 hours a week on my body (not including sleep of course), which isn’t a lot at all, so I have no excuses.

IV. Finally, I identify the details of the activities and schedule them into one time events or recurring events on my schedule. 

Thinking of goals and dreams is fun, planning for success, which means planning in detail, scheduling, budgeting, and saying NO to a million things is tedious and difficult – but it’s what gets results. I did this planning exercise with Yasmin, and while she was very excited for this year, she was also incredibly tired after. So was I. For everything we say “yes” to, we need to remember that we’re saying “no” to others. This is where maturity comes in. When I say “yes” to a “renovation” fund, I say “no” to a “David’s New Car” fund (which works for me because I prefer Uber anyway). When I say “yes” to being healthy, I say “no” to many of my favorite food and drinks, and I say “no” to certain expenses to say “yes” to certain investments in health.
In the example above, I show a general view of my role as a Steward (which is someone who manages the resources God has entrusted to him). For me, I have found that I have opportunities and talents in business, social work, and with my art, specifically, writing, music (I have compositions that need to be re-recorded), and painting. For the business areas of my life, I articulate my goals here as the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) of the company, aligning my goals with the companies’ goals. For art, particularly for writing, I’m in the process of launching my first book. This means I need to identify things like “October Book Launch” or “sign publisher” or “submit manuscript”. These things happen in order. I won’t be able to launch in October if I don’t submit my manuscript at least 3 months before. And these things don’t happen in a vacuum. I have other roles and responsibilities. So I need to plan ahead and plan well.

It is possible to do a lot of things. Like I wrote in an old blog about Magellan, people of today can do what took the world’s #1 explorer a year to do in less than a day. By planning and harnessing technology and best practices, I’ve found that I am able to live a prolific life despite the challenges of every day.

Hope this helps you plan your own awesome year. May God bless us our plans.

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
Proverbs 16:3

Beating 5 Pound Problems

“Great week! This week was intense!” was the common comment I got from the team about our start of the year. “It didn’t feel like we just came from Christmas break. It feels like we never took a break!”

Music to my ears.

Of course we did take a Christmas break, and I don’t think anyone of them will say that they  didn’t enjoy their holidays, but what I’m pleased to hear is that we have people who are committed. When I say committed I don’t mean willing to slave away, which I actually find to be a misconception about dedication and intelligence (if people are really efficient and effective they should be able to achieve what takes others days in hours or less), but I mean they take full responsibility for their results. It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, we are responsible for our life’s results. It doesn’t matter if everyone is slowing down because it’s December, we’re going to keep our pace because we are responsible for our life’s results, not the guys who announce there’s no work. It doesn’t matter if everyone is using January to warm-up because it’s the start of the year, we’re going to hit the ground running and running hard because we’re responsible for our lives results.

This fundmental understanding that we are all individually responsible for the results of our lives is both incredibly important to sustainable success, and sadly very much lacking in our entitled world. This is why I am vigilant about stamping out seeds of entitlement in our teams. The worst leaders I know are those who think “listening to their followers” means giving them whatever they complain about. This is not true. If you baby your team you’ll have a team of babies. But if you teach them to be professional and mature adults, and if you treat them as such, expecting maturity, intelligence, and responsibility, you will have a winning team. And this starts by laying a foundation of understanding. At our company Bridge, understanding is the foundational value we build on, and to us it means empathy (not sympathy nor pity) and wisdom (not opinion nor idea). It means we dig deeper into situations, we don’t take our first opinion on things as truth, but look for an underlying principle, a foundational truth to explain what we’re seeing, and we partner this with wisdom, which is the ability to know and do the right thing in the right  at at the right time in the place with the right people.

So when someone says “I’m stressed” or “I’m overworked” the answer they get from me is “Really? Ok, let’s rationalize your work. What are your objectives? What are the high impact activities you need to accomplish to achieve your objectives? (The first 2 questions are to make sure they’re focused, not just busy playing office.) How many hours would an efficient person need to fulfill those activities? Explain why these activities take this much time.” This is to ensure we have placed an objective measure of what a good baseline for productive and efficient is. Anyone can be busy but very few can be objective. A guy who takes a hundred jump shots but makes one will still lose to a guy who takes theee shots and makes them all. I want to make sure they’re benchmarking against excellence not against feelings.

Usually, very usually, actually, the results are the following:

  • Lack of clarity or focus:
  • Lack of competence or ability:
  • Lack or misuse of capital, partially the misuse of time and energy

The cure to lack of focus is make very clear what the objectives are and make it very clear to the whole team what everyone is supposed to contribute. Sports teams are effective because they share one goal (score more than the opposing team). All the dribbling, rebounding, passing, screening, fouling, goes towards that one shared goal. Many teams don’t go to work sharing the same goal. Someone in the team wants to be famous, another wants to kiss the boss’s ass, another is trying to find himself, and yet another wants to get laid. This team isn’t going to win if people show up with different agendas. At Bridge, it’s clear that the goal is to become the most excellent payroll company in the country, and we have one ultimate metric to measure ourselves by: number of clients. No matter how hard we work, the whole team knows, the proof of success is the trust of clients. This allows us to benchmark against a simple question, “Will this help us earn and keep the trust of clients?”

Every team will have a different objective. The important thing is that is clear to everyone and shared by everyone. That is what makes a team united after all, it is that they are after the same win.

For lack of competence, ideally we hire people who have the competence for the role, but given the reality of resource constraints, it is important that even if we don’t put a bonafide expert in the role, we need to put someone who is HUDE: Hungry, Understanding, Diligent, and Empowered. Over and over, the HUDEs have shown much better performance than the experts. Between a financial expert and a HUDE, I would place my money on the HUDE becoming wealthy. Between a pedigreed professional and a HUDE, I would choose the HUDE to rely on. Why? Because they’re going to find an intelligent way, and they’re not going to quit until the mission is accomplished, and they’re going to empower others in the process. Because they don’t rely on common knowledge or advanced degrees, they take every challenge with the fresh eyes of a student, so they learn much more than someone who already thinks they know the field. Because they’re HUDE, they grow more significantly and at a much faster pace than others. Let me explain this with an example:

Before leaving the office yesterday a little after 6pm, I noticed much of our team still there. (This is a team that starts work at 7am, to they were putting in 11 hour days on the first week of the year!) I used the time to teach them a lesson I learned from many years of “stress” (I personally hardly use that word to describe how I feel), and the lesson is this:

When you’re stressed, don’t ever allow discouragement, doubt, or defeat creep in. Instead, see where you need to grow, then grow.

When I was a small kid, 5 years old I believe, I carried and dropped a 5 lb. weight on my toe, and it hurt like hell. Today, 5 lbs. isn’t even a warm up. It’s easy to carry. I can carry it with one hand. I can carry much more than 5 lbs. Why? Because I grew. Growth is what helps us face the ever increasing difficulty of ever increasing responsibilities and dreams.

Discouragement makes us lower our goals because of the difficulty. Doubt distracts us with inner conflict. Defeat makes us quit. Instead, focus on growth. Imagine if I let that 5lbs weight failure define my life’s aspirations, if I said, “I tried carrying 5lbs and I just hurt myself. What makes me think I can life 180?” I would not be where I am.

Too many people are letting their 5 pound failures define their lives. They got turned down so they don’t try elsewhere. They got cheated on so they don’t commit. They failed an exam and hate school. They got dumped so won’t ask anyone out. They got tricked so won’t trust. They had a bad first day and let this first impression linger. Their parents were harsh so they rebel. Their parents didn’t have enough so they they settle or complain. They take their 5 pound challenges, fail them, and allow discouragement, doubt, and defeat in and reject growth.

I make sure no one in our team allows a 5 lb. problem beat them. They’re too important to lose to such a small enemy. Instead, they know they need to grow.

Don’t quit because you got dumped or fired or rejected. Grow and make yourself indispensable. Don’t complain because your family can’t afford what you want. Grow and make yourself useful. Don’t complain because no one is listening to you. Grow and make yourself credible. Don’t complain because you have a lot of work. Grow and increase your capacity to handle difficult, long, complex work.

If you want competence in yourself and your teams, don’t accept excuses. Help people grow.

Finally, the issue of lacking and misused capital is usually self-fixing when people are focused and growing. Why? Because money is usually not the main problem even if we keep thinking it is. A focused and competent team is efficient and part of efficient means achieving more with less resources. This is why a lot of big companies fail when they try to spend their way to efficiency when their own bureaucracy ensures lack of clarity and focus, as well as lack HUDE. Bureaucracy, politics, unfair wages (where non-performers make as much or more than performers) will drive HUDEs away.

In a small company like ours, our leaders make sure that we don’t let resources constraints become an excuse for anyone. When someone says, “I didn’t have this and that” we focus on their time and energy use instead “With the time you have, did you focus? Did you maximize your time?”

The point of all of this is:

Don’t let your 5 pound stresses define your aspirations not your effort. Seek instead to grow. Before you know it what was once a huge challenge isn’t even a warmup, and not only will you be able to successfully handle greater weight, you’ll be able help others carry their own.