Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 239
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 239
I’m on a rest day between an HKC, an RKC and a bunch of workshops around England. I need a day to rest my voice.
I got to the hotel here in London and devoured a lamb shank with some wine and finally felt the jet lag release from me. I think I am good with jet lag:
I simplify packing
I bring my Bret Contreras Glute Loop and work hip thrusts and clamshells every morning.
I meditate at least once a day, usually twice.
I drink a lot of water.
It’s simple, but nothing fancy ever seems to help. Destressing by simplifying is step one and exercise (including a fair amount of walking daily) is step two.
Tiff left a message. She got stuck in Florida due to weather and I thought that was bad enough. Then, she told me that my brother’s heart had stopped. Twice. As I type this in a hotel room with very little information save that he is alive and being cared for, I need to remind myself about what is important and urgent in life. He has gone through a lot recently with the recent fires in California. [Editor’s note: Dan’s brother Philip died yesterday, 6/11 ~ Laree]
Fires seems to pursue my family.
Stress is cumulative. It’s a lesson that I keep learning. I think we need to spend time connecting the dots between life’s tragedies and our health and longevity.
Let’s hope for the best. I will, of course, let you know.
Oddly, I think my brother is a lot like the Prophet Jeremiah. He actively worked to tell his neighbors that they needed fire safety. Few…well, very few….listened. It reminds me of what I consider the key to coaching, teaching and parenting:
Forthteller, not a Fortuneteller
I took a Hebrew Scriptures course back in the mid-1980s over a four-week period. There was a lot of reading and a lot of work. I was the lone student on the last night.
I like to finish things. The upside of being the only student is that the instructor had time to help me dig deeply into the material. That last night, I used the word “Prophet” in the traditional sense: “one who speaks for another.” The instructor smiled and said:
“Let’s add a little bit to that.”
I was told that the key to understanding not only Biblical prophets but ALL prophets is to understand they are not telling us the future. They do not roll sticks, bones or shells to bedazzle us with our journey to meeting a tall, dark, handsome man. Rather, they are “forthtellers.”
Prophets, and those who work in the prophetic world (more on this in a moment), are those people who tell you the truth. They speak forth. The true prophet reminds us that if we continue doing this or that, you can’t be surprised where you end up.
We are the sum of our past decisions. True, things happen but Victor Frankl reminded us: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” I know, bad things happen. I know. We have the ability still to choose our attitude about it.
Coaches, teachers, parents and family often fill the road of forthteller. Listen, that beer and pizza diet of freshman college girls is NOT optimal. I bumped into a former student a while ago with friends and the student asked if I recognized him. “Of course, of course.” Honestly, I recognize only a third of him: he didn’t listen or pay attention in high school when we discussed food, exercise and recovery and, well, it shows.
I’ve had adults tell me that they wish that “I would have never started smoking.” Honestly, not ONE person or ad or health class ever warned you about smoking? If you fought in World War II, I get it, but…
Here’s the bottom line: from the heart, you and I BOTH know what to do when it comes to food (eat like an adult), exercise (yeah…do some) and sleep (go to bed!). There are few surprises in life. To be successful in school, show up, listen and earnestly work on your assignments. We could go on forever here.
So, sometimes the coach, trainer, author, parent, friend or family member is going to give you some forthtelling.
Listen to it. Embrace it. Usually the forthtellers oddly predict the future.
Let’s look at the internet this week. Tony Gentilcore’s article here deserves a full reading. This book he references seems like gold: Achieving a Goal Versus Achieving Success: My Take – Tony Gentilcore
This article is a truth in my life: if I “binge watch” a show, I don’t always remember who, what and where very clearly. I’m not alone: Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read – The Atlantic
In a piece for The New Yorker called “The Curse of Reading and Forgetting,” Ian Crouch writes, “reading has many facets, one of which might be the rather indescribable, and naturally fleeting, mix of thought and emotion and sensory manipulations that happen in the moment and then fade. How much of reading, then, is just a kind of narcissism—a marker of who you were and what you were thinking when you encountered a text?”
To me, it doesn’t seem like narcissism to remember life’s seasons by the art that filled them—the spring of romance novels, the winter of true crime. But it’s true enough that if you consume culture in the hopes of building a mental library that can be referred to at any time, you’re likely to be disappointed.
Books, shows, movies, and songs aren’t files we upload to our brains—they’re part of the tapestry of life, woven in with everything else. From a distance, it may become harder to see a single thread clearly, but it’s still in there.
“It’d be really cool if memories were just clean—information comes in and now you have a memory for that fact,” Horvath says. “But in truth, all memories are everything.”
And this article has some good advice to deal with this memory issue.
“The shortest one is the time during,” Ariely continues. “So we need to think more about the time before, which is anticipation, and time after, which is memory.”
That means figuring out how to create not just fun times, but memorable ones. Sitting on a beach and drinking Moscow mules for a week may be relaxing, but it doesn’t create many memories. Instead, the days will likely blend together, Ariely says.
That’s why variety is key. Different experiences will turn into different memories down the line. That doesn’t mean you have to paddle across the Amazon one day and go shopping in Paris the next to have a nice trip.
“Even if it’s small variations: one day skiing, one day snowboarding, another day sledding,” Ariely explains. “We also should think of learning something for the long term, so the memory is more intense.”
This article is well worth the time to sit back and think about it.
1. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FLAVOR OF SHIT SANDWICH AND DOES IT COME WITH AN OLIVE?
Ah, yes. The all-important question. What flavor of shit sandwich would you like to eat? Because here’s the sticky little truth about life that they don’t tell you at high school pep rallies:
Everything sucks, some of the time.
Now, that probably sounds incredibly pessimistic. And you may be thinking, “Hey Mr. Manson, turn that frown upside down.” But I actually think this is a liberating idea.
Everything involves sacrifice. Everything includes some sort of cost. Nothing is pleasurable or uplifting all of the time. So, the question becomes: what struggle or sacrifice are you willing to tolerate? Ultimately, what determines our ability to stick with something we care about is our ability to handle the rough patches and ride out the inevitable rotten days.
If you want to be a brilliant tech entrepreneur, but you can’t handle failure, then you’re not going to make it far. If you want to be a professional artist, but you aren’t willing to see your work rejected hundreds, if not thousands of times, then you’re done before you start. If you want to be a hotshot court lawyer, but can’t stand the 80-hour workweeks, then I’ve got bad news for you.
Finding your life purpose involves eating a shit sandwich or twoWhat unpleasant experiences are you able to handle? Are you able to stay up all night coding? Are you able to put off starting a family for 10 years? Are you able to have people laugh you off the stage over and over again until you get it right?
What shit sandwich do you want to eat? Because we all get served one eventually.
And your favorite shit sandwich is your competitive advantage. By definition, anything that you’re willing to do (that you enjoy doing) that most people are not willing to do gives you a huge leg-up.
So, find your favorite shit sandwich. And you might as well pick one with an olive.
That site has another article that I thought was worth debating.
Curriculum Would Include: Why everything we believe is most likely wrong to some degree; why our memories are completely unreliable; how fields as seemingly sturdy as mathematics and physics are full of unresolvable uncertainty;12 how we’re all terrible judges of both what made us happy/unhappy in the past and what will make us happy/unhappy in the future;13 how the most important events in history are always those that are least predictable;14 how it’s certainty and rigidness of belief that leads to evil and violence, not the opposite;15 that much of what passes for scientific knowledge today is based on research that has repeatedly failed to be replicated or verified;16 and so on.
Why It’s Important: Pretty much anything good in life comes from uncertainty or a state of not knowing. Uncertainty is what drives you to become curious, to learn, to test new ideas, to communicate your intentions to others. It’s what keeps you humble. It helps you accept whatever comes along. It allows you to see others without unfair judgments and biases.
Pretty much anything bad in life comes from certainty: complacency, arrogance, bigotry and unfair prejudice. People don’t get together and form religious cults and then drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid because they’re uncertain about something. They do it because they’re certain. Governments don’t starve and murder millions of their own citizens because of uncertainty. They do it because of certainty. People don’t fall into deep depression, obsessively stalk their ex, or shoot up a school because they’re uncertain about themselves. They do it because they’re certain.
They’re certain in a belief that, like almost every other belief, is probably wrong.
Skepticism cultivates the ability to open yourself to alternatives, to withhold judgment, to question and challenge yourself and make yourself a better person.
Well, there you go. I will stay, I think, in England for another week. I will be teaching and lecturing and wandering around. Until then, keep on lifting and learning.
For your quick access link, here’s Dan’s full OTP page, including all of his articles, books, lectures and videos, all in one place.
(There will be no The Sword in the Stone review this week. Sorry)
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