Dan John: Wandering Weights, Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 27

I preach the fundamentals. I preach the basics. I’m sure people listen, I’m just not sure they hear me. Unless you were born with a lot of family money, either you need to be lucky (and, yes, luck is a huge factor in making it big) or you have to master the basics of money making. The same is true in everything worthwhile in life. Even squatting.
Marty Gallagher may be the single best person in the world to talk to about squatting. After we worked together in Virginia Beach, I basically tossed out much of what I knew about squatting. This article is just an example of his outstanding insights. Perhaps the finest paragraph in coaching lifting ever? This:

“Self-administered forced reps: our squat motto is, 'better to fail with integrity than succeed by breaking form.' Other squat schools teach ways in which to slip and slide past squat sticking points: the easiest way in which to make squats easier is to make them 'shallow,' barely dip down, barely bend the knees on each rep. This strategy could be summed up as, how do we 'make heavy weights light,' whereas our philosophy is to use strictness, extreme ROM and other 'intensity enhancers' in order to make 'light weights heavy.' We say, don’t avoid sticking points, seek them out; slogging through sticking points is where the gains lie.”
Seek out sticking points. This is also true with gathering wealth. That SUV with all the chrome might look nice, but it's draining your bank account, too. In that respect, this early retirement article resonated with me.
If I could sum independent wealth into two nuggets, it would be these—

  • Investment advice number one is YOU! Get the education you need to get. Invest well in yourself with workshops, resources, community and ongoing education.
  • Number two is your spouse. To quote Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: “Choose Wisely!”

The John Family motto is It's not where you start; it's where you finish. In 1982, I put $1,100 in a 403B account. My total income for the year was just under $10,000. This comes due (meaning I can take the money out) in about two years. In 1982, 2017 seemed a long way off. Today it seems like tomorrow.
Belt tighten your budget before you need to. And prepare for an occasional “issue.” Have some emergency money on hand, have fresh batteries in your flashlights, and keep a fair amount of extra canned food on hand. Your water heater has enough water to keep you going awhile, by the way.
Finance is simple, just like health: Floss your teeth, wear helmets and seat belts, don’t TRY to get fat, keep the baseline of health on track, and cultivate long-term relationships.
Writing, if you know about your subject matter, is simple and basic, too. These tips from William Zinsser (RIP) are marvelous.

  • And the more you keep in first person and true to yourself, the sooner you will find your style: “Sell yourself, and your subject will exert its own appeal. Believe in your own identity and your own opinions. Writing is an act of ego, and you might as well admit it.”
  •  Don’t ask who your audience is…you are the audience: “You are writing primarily to please yourself, and if you go about it with enjoyment you will also entertain the readers who are worth writing for.”

My new book Can you go? (in stock!) focuses on the needs of the client or athlete versus the wants. This article expands on this idea in a way that can save you time, money and effort.

“Let’s say you’ve just finished reading a Wendell Berry novel, and you suddenly have a yearning to move to the country. You’re convinced that you’re the kind of guy who would not just like, but love agrarian living. You tell your wife this. She reminds you about how much you complained when you were at her grandparents’ house out in the country for only a week. Maybe you’re not the kind of guy who’s cut out for yeoman farming after all.”
This article is on the same track…a bit. 

“Keep in mind that your list can potentially be fairly long, and will likely have many additions as you check off items and your priorities change. You also want to remember that for a bucket list to be effective, you need to be aware of it, so buying a bulky leather bound journal that looks like a ship’s log, as appealing as that may be, is really a poor choice since you’re unlikely to have it with you very often.”
And, if you still can’t get out of bed, just “talk to you.” 

“New research suggests that Marcus' [Aurelius] technique of 'self-talk,' and in particular that he used the second-person pronoun 'you' instead of 'I,' can be an effective motivational strategy. Researchers speculate that 'it cues memories of receiving support and encouragement from others, especially in childhood.' Keep that in mind the next time you need a boost to start your day.”

A good summary of Marcus’s work can be found here. This point saved me during my time in administration:

“Your energy and time are both limited, so don't waste them on what inconsequential people are doing, thinking, and saying, when you could be focusing on your own issues.”
I found this article and video about a program that demands an hour a day for 90 days to be illuminating. Not in the success of the four participants, because their success was so minimal one has to wonder why they did it, but for this summary: “A soul sucking experience.” If you work THIS hard for 90 days and only get these results, couldn’t we argue it is not a good program?
In case you are looking for something a bit more successful, I love Max Shank’s program here.

If there's a theme this week, it would be that mastery of the basics trumps everything else. And, you probably knew that. Now, go do it. 


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Publisher’s note:  Dan's new book is here!

Image of Dan John's new book Can You Go

In stock in print, all ebook formats and audio!
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