Geoff Roes’ 2012 Iditorad Trail Victory – a lesson in endurance potential

Geoff Roes – an elite American ultra-marathon runner – won an incredible race in the rugged Alaskan outback last week. Though, instead of saying he ‘won,’ it would be better to say he ‘survived the fastest.’

The 350 mile foot-race took a full week to complete in absolutely insane conditions. He pulled all his own gear in a sled behind him, often breaking trail through fresh snowfall and dragging himself up and over hills. It is worth reading his race report. To me it was a good reminder of what we are really capable of as humans from an endurance perspective.

Check out his race report at iRunFar.com.

Hope is Not A Strategy

Hope is not a strategy.

A strategy is a plan that you create to achieve a worthy goal.

Hope can support a strategy. In fact, it is sort of prerequisite – especially when you are trying to do something extraordinary. Extraordinary things are  often surrounded by uncertainty and this is particularly where hope (or faith or grace or whatever you want to call it) plays a key role.

Regardless, hope itself is not a strategy. If you want to do big things. Plan. Learn as much as you can. Consult people who know far more than you do (particularly elderly people who can take a long-term view of things). Write down your thoughts and be specific in what you want your outcome to be, and also be specific in what you anticipate your key tasks and steps need to be in order to get you there.

Once you have done all you think you can do…keep at it….do some more!

Then finally…..allow hope to fill you and give you confidence that your efforts will inevitably lead to exactly the perfect outcome.

I went hiking a couple of days ago in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness a few hours east of Seattle, WA. This is a view of "Big Heart Lake". Photo by Ravi.

Our Deepest Fear

Earlier I posted an amazing motivational video and just ran across one of the readings from the video in its entirety.Its powerful enough that I need to share it with. Read it a few times. Let it sink in. Then go out and do something remarkable.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

by Marianne Williamson

from A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

Your greatest purpose

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all of your thoughts break their bonds: your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive and you discover yourself to be a greater person than you ever dreamed yourself to be.

– Patanjali

Masters of our fate

Sure I am that this day we are masters of our fate, that the task which has been set before us is not above our strength; that its pangs and toils are not beyond my endurance. As long as we have faith in our own cause and an unconquerable will to win, victory will not be denied to us.

– Winston Churchill

So you think you are crazy?

Alex Honnold free-climbs Half-Dome at Yosemite. No ropes, just chalk!

It is inspiring to see people pushing the boundaries of what is possible, even if these guys are totally insane. Enjoy – then get out and start training!

Trailer for First Ascents Series

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Adr-RK-ftxo]

Real-life Spiderman

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfjkBrgVGyw]

Free-Base Jumper & Slackliner Dean Potter

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7NcLCC-YNI]

Ueli Steck’s Speed Climbing Records of Eiger, Matterhorn, etc.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWCljD5_Rew]

Pier to Peak Half Marathon

My rendition of the course profile for the Pier to Peak Half Marathon, from the Santa Barbara coast to the top of Los Columbres Mt. (up Gibraltar Rd.).

I just completed what was easily the toughest running race of my life, the Pier to Peak Half Marathon in Santa Barbara. 4,000 ft of elevation gain, with hardly more than a few hundred meters of flat road in the entire course. The winning time was 1:38 with most runners coming in around 2.5 hours or more. I finished in 2 hours and 19 minutes (well off my best 1/2 marathon time of 1 hr 22 mins).

I finished the race without walking more than a few steps at the aid stations to help get water down. That was my goal and I was pleased with it. Running a tough race like this really helps focusing on pushing through even when things get tough. No one sets personal records on a course like this (unless it is your first half marathon!) so it really comes down to learning how to suffer and being OK with that. All growth comes when the mind says stop but you push through.

I read some advice from Stu Mittleman – a legendary ultra runner – who said that it is critical to determine the specific conditions under which you will quit before you begin an endeavor. In the heat of the moment it is impossible to make the right decision. You need to be clear with how much you are willing to suffer and deal with that. I came back to that advice often when I was thinking of walking. I knew it would be painful and it was. I’m glad I chose not to take the easy way out.

Trust me on the sunscreen….

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTJ7AzBIJoI]

I’ve heard this twice today on two totally different radio stations. Good to see it is making the rounds again after first hearing it so many years ago. What an amazing song!

Wear Sunscreen or the Sunscreen Speech are the actually an essay called “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young” that was written by Mary Schmich. It was originally published in the Chicago Tribune as a column in 1997 and then remixed into a song by Baz Luhrmann in 1998.

The lyrics are awesome. Here they are:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
than my own meandering experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you
imagine.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blind side you at 4pm
on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you

Sing

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with
people who are reckless with yours.

Floss

Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes
you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with
yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you
succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe
you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky
chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body,
use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever
own..

Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for
good.

Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the
people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you
should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you
knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live
in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were
noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund,
maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one
might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you’re 40, it will
look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than
it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen…

Do few things well

Lord Hanuman, an embodiment of dedication. In this case, Hanuman is shown kneeling, as a symbol of self-less service to the divine.

If you are going to do something, you might as well do it as best you can. No sense in just dabbling. Decades from now you will remember the few things you did with sincerity and rigor, not the many things you half-tried to do.

In this day and age it seems like people want to do more and more things, but want to dedicate less time and effort and focus on any given thing. Books are getting shorter. Short blog posts are replacing strong editorial and journalistic content. Tweets are replacing e-mails. Intense 20 minute get-fit-quick workouts are replacing leisurely and relaxing walks or runs or bike rides.Fast food is replacing sit-down dinners at home.

I think there is a shortage of people willing to take on a few (or maybe just one) task and do it well. Write a book. Run a marathon. Cook a 5-course meal from scratch. Focus on one business idea vs a dozen possibilities.

The power of focus and dedication to a single thing is incredibly under-valued right now. If I were an investor, I’d be buying.

Leadership in Everyday Life

"Snow Dancer" - me in Natarajasana aka "Dancer Pose" during a hike to a snow-covered alpine lake in the Cascade Mountains near Seattle, WA (May 2010)

Leadership is one of the most misunderstood and puzzling things. Last week I was with a group of team leaders at work discussing leadership. I felt that this is something we should challenge people do more of. Someone made the comment that “Ravi…you know that we can’t have everyone lead. We don’t have enough stuff for people to lead. If everyone was leading, we wouldn’t get work done and people would be fighting over projects to lead.” It was as if the world only has so much room for leaders. I find this notion silly. The world needs more leaders. The world DESPERATELY needs more leaders. The reason we have the problems we see in the world (e.g. rampant disease, poverty, war) is that too few people choose to step up, speak out and act in a way that helps others and inspires others to do the same.

In most situations I’d say that a small fraction of people have the desire to step into leadership roles and fewer still take the steps needed to rise to the occasion. I’ll take a wild guess and say that even in a hyper-competitive environment like a top-tier university or leading corporate environment…fewer than 10% of people (and even this is an upper bound) take advantage of regular opportunities to display leadership. Most just coast by and assume someone else will lead them or make the decision for them.

The problem starts with the reality that most people are actually confused with what leadership is to begin with. Leadership is not about managing people or being in a position of authority – like a CEO or some corporate managing director. In fact, leadership is most powerfully displayed when one acts without authority and leads people who DO NOT HAVE TO work for them. The most effective and memorable leaders in history did not actually have people who worked for them (e.g. Gandhi, Dr. King, Rosa Parks, etc.). They displayed leadership in their thoughts, words and actions and this congruence created the spark that rose others to act in kind.

Another problem is that people get tricked up with how to display leadership. They think it is about picking the right project or schmoozing with the right people. In reality, leadership often happens with seemingly small actions and decisions. Leadership happens when you break a deadlock over where to go for dinner with your friends. Leadership happens when you make the decision to take the right fork in the trail (instead of going straight) while out on a hike with friends or family. Leadership happens when you take the initiative to drive your family or friends to a new restaurant, park or museum. Leadership happens when you choose to try busting out a handstand in the middle of a yoga class – even if it means you might fall over – instead of just hanging out in a standing split or some other “safe” pose. Leadership is when you speak up during a meeting to voice your opinion on an important issue. Leadership is also listening actively to others and showing that you respect their insights as much as your own.

The world needs more leaders, not less. This isn’t a game of musical chairs with limited opportunities to lead. I would love to have the amazing problem of seeing too many people stepping out of their comfort zone, leading their families – friends – co-workers – loved ones into the future.

If you want to start leading, right now take a few minutes and brainstorm a dozen little things you can do to show leadership in your everyday life this week. Here are a few examples:

  • Offer to drive co-workers to lunch
  • Try a new pose in yoga class (or go further than you ever have before)
  • Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while
  • Hold the door open for someone, and smile while you do it
  • Give a sincere compliment to someone you don’t know
  • Speak up in class or during meeting to voice your opinion
  • Take advantage of an opportunity to present your ideas to co-workers or classmates
  • Arrange fun weekend plans for you and your friends/family

Circle three things on the list that really speak to you, and do them RIGHT AWAY.

Start leading in seemingly small ways. Do this on a daily basis and as often as your can. It is critically important. It develops your internal leadership muscle so that when larger and more meaningful opportunities to lead appear, you’ll immediately step out of your comfort zone and take them on. Start small and watch some major change happening over the longer term. Also remember that leadership is a transferable action – that is to say, by taking action you’ll inspire other to do the same. By choosing to speak up in class, you’ll inspire other students to do the same. By taking on a more challenging yoga pose, you’ll inspire others by showing them what is possible. Don’t hesitate, do it now.

Shift Your Vision – Lesson from a Hike to Lake Serene

I took this photo of one of the amazing waterfalls on the way to Lake Serene, I adjusted the exposure on my Nikon D60 SLR to capture the silky smooth nature of the water rushing over this granite slab.

I went on what turnout out to be an incredible hike yesterday, though at times I felt pretty miserable. I headed to Lake Serene, a wonderful hike in the Cascade Mountains about 90 minutes from Seattle. Just drive east on Rt 2 towards Steven’s Pass. Head 7 miles past the hamlet of Gold Bar and turn right on Mt Index Rd (a well-maintained dirt road) and you’ll come to the trail-head.

It is a 7-8 mile hike round-trip, with the first part fairly flat to rolling along small rises in the hills. You’ll cross streams (great fun!) with an optional spur taking you to Bridle Falls (a 1 mile round-trip hike straight up the side of the mountain!). The final 2 miles to Lake Serene are a steady and steep climb, all the way to an epic looking alpine lake. On a nice day you can see the 3000 foot granite cliffs rising from the far side of the lake like an ancient amphitheater. It is totally surreal! Here is a photo panorama I took last year on a clear day:

Photo panorama composed from 10 individual pics of Lake Serene on clear day last year.

Yesterday however, the weather did not cooperate. It was very cold at the start (40 degrees) and the rain began to pick up from a mist to a steady downpour. My supposedly rain-proof coat gave up and quickly became soaked through all the way! My pants were pretty useless too, so I zipped off the bottom portion and just hiked in shorts (people looked at me like I was crazy!). In fact, I resolved to hike “barefoot” using my Vibram’s, and everyone I passed on the trail asked me about them. It was pretty funny since most people were wearing intense hiking gear, with gaiters, poles, and full water-proof regalia…and here I was with a small day-pack, no shoes and shorts!

I did this entire hike in my Vibram Five-Fingers, felt like I was walking barefoot! Yes, I got tons of questions from other hikers on the trail :).

The trail was full of large puddles and at times was flowing with running water. After a few hundred yards I stopped trying to step around the puddles and just tramped right through them. These Vibram’s are meant for walking through streams while kayaking, and work incredibly well. Over time my feet have gotten used to the rocks and roots, and I only winced a few times when I stepped on something sharp poking through. I relished the chance to dunk my legs in streams mid-calf while other hiker tentatively tip-toed across rocks trying not to get their shoes wet! The sense of absolutely freedom that comes from just going right through mud, water and not worrying about the conditions is so amazingly cool.

Self-portrait!

I eventually made it to the summit, where the weather was much colder, the streams were frigid and it actually was snowing! My feet were cold but surprisingly not as cold as I thought. In fact, my hands were far colder than my toes!!!! I eventually reached Lake Serene, and this time, instead of seeing an epic amphitheater fit for the gods, was greeted by a misty fog-drenched lake, half-covered with snow. The granite columns were invisible. My arrival was also welcomed by the sound of periodic “ka-booms” in the far distance, followed by low-rumbles that grew to deafening roars. Indeed, avalanches on the far side of the lake were happening every few minutes! I could hear the rush of the snow, but due to the fog could not see a thing. It’s neat how when one of our senses gets cut off, the others are so much more in tune. Luckily, my position at the water’s edge surrounded by flat earth and large trees made me very safe from direct hit by an avalanche.

Lake Serene this time around, covered in snow with the sound of avalanches rumbling through the natural amphitheater every few minutes!

On my way down from the lake, I began to get colder and ridiculously hungry. I had plenty of food and water with me, but due to the cold, was hesitant to take a break and eat like I should have. As I descended the mountain, I was laser focused on the trail right in front of me. I wasn’t looking around. I was day-dreaming and not very present. I was out in this pristine wilderness but not soaking it in, I was in my own bubble. I might as well have been in a shopping mall or lounging in my apartment, I was that oblivious.

Suddenly, I turned a corner in the trail and came to a small vantage point. I was still laser-focused on the muddiness of the trail ahead, not enjoying the environment. This lovely woman was standing just aside from the trail and greeted me with a big smile. It was enough to get me to stop for a moment. She said a few words and seemed incredibly relaxed and enjoying the moment. I just stood there, still feeling cold, hungry and staring at my mud-soaked feet.

Suddenly, I saw her zip open her back and pull something out. It was a camera! She turned to one side and pointed across the valley, saying “check that out.” Turning my gaze I saw an epic waterfall, one of the biggest I’ve seen in a long time, pouring off the top of the mountain, spraying mist everywhere. In this instant I went from feeling cold and anxious to feeling totally calm and happy. A small shift in my vision made all the distance. I pulled out me own camera to capture the moment (check it out below….).

A small in vision led me to notice this amazing vantage of a roaring waterfall! The picture really doesn't do it justice. It's spectacular.

In the end, the hike was remarkable. I didn’t get the view of Lake Serene that I hoped for, but a small shift in my vision allowed me to see the bigger scenery that was there, and come away with a pleasant experience despite the conditions! If such a small shift in focus could have such a profound affect on a single walk in the woods, imagine how we can use such small shifts in our vision to make every day amazing!

Using Jedi mind power to support a fallen tree!
There is beauty all around, we just need to stop and notice.

What I’ve Learned from 10 years of Competitive Swimming

Here I am (third from left) with friends a few years ago. We're ready to jump off the Bainbridge Island ferry and swim back to Alki Beach in West Seattle! Yes - we swam across Puget Sound (3.5 miles in 50 degree water, brrrrr) to raise money for a Junior Achievement.Peer pressure can be a wonderful thing 🙂

There is no sport more dear to my heart than swimming. I started swimming lessons when I was 7 years old and started swimming competitively when I was 12. I swam throughout high school and while in college did not compete in swimming per se (had no hope of making the team at Penn State), but instead shifted focus to triathlon. The triathlon bug had a firm hold on me until just a few years ago. This post is really about my experience swimming in high school, as it has had an incredible impact on my life. Nowadays I do not swim on any regular basis, but those lessons I’ve learned have helped me in many other endeavors. Here are a few of them.

Your body is capable of far more than you think it is.
Swimming is perhaps the most brutal endurance sport there is. Swimmers, even from middle school, will regularly log over 10K yards on a daily basis! Think about that, most people don’t even come close to walking that far over the course of their day, let along running that far! Swimming is a whole different story. High schools are well-known for pushing swimmers through grueling double-session workouts. My team was often in the pool by 6am for a 90 minute practice, followed by another 2.5 hour session after school! Even after pre-season training was done, we’d do marathon training sessions on Friday’s along with the occasional double training session day.

This course of training really showed me that my body is far capable of more than I think it is.  Our bodies are amazing machines, and we’re often just held back by limiting beliefs, not by any true physical limitation. I love endurance sports because they demonstrate what the human body is capable of when pushed.

Technique is more effective than raw power
Swimming is a fascinating sport because the drag caused by water makes technique and body position such an important component of overall speed. I was never that fast as a swimmer (I tend to do best over very long distances – e.g. 1 mile or more!) but during my later days of racing triathlon would do fairly well in the swim portion of longer races (usually coming out of the water in the top 10-20% of the field). Even though I am very slender (I like to think lean and mean not skinny!) technique plays a massive part.

I had several friends in college who were on my triathlon team, and they were outstanding cyclists, but their legs and hips would sink like bricks in the water. It didn’t make logical sense that I would beat them out of the water, given they were taller and far stronger (with great cardio-endurance ability), it was technique that mattered most. I remember in high school the state champion in the 500 freestyle my senior year was very short (probably 5′ 7″) with short arms, but he blew away everyone in the field through sheer fitness and amazing technique.

We can muscle our way through situations (athletics, in business contexts, in relationships even!) but over the long-term technique will win out. Pay attention to your craft – whatever it is, and spend as much time as you can mastering technique.

You can use peer pressure to your advantage
The camaraderie and group strength of our swim team was impossible to beat. Knowing that 30 of your friends were also getting up at 5am for a 6am practice helped you get out of bed. Knowing that everyone else was also suffering through the weekly “3000 yards for time” training drill didn’t make it easier, but at least you knew that everyone else was dreading it as much as you! (really – we did this drill my junior and senior years of high school for the first 2-3 months of the season, to see how our base training was helping our overall fitness! 3000 yards is 120 lengths of a standard high school pool, try doing that every week at max effort!).

Peer pressure is often viewed as a negative thing. I know that it is not. Anyone can construct their own peer group and direct the group energy in a way that helps everyone out. In racing triathlon, I rarely competed alone. In both my IM races, I had several friends join me in the race. In fact, it was seeing a close friend at mile 5 of the run course (he was actually passing me on the run as I was doubled-over on the side of the road with cramps) during my last Ironman and hearing his words of encouragement that kept me from dropping out of the race when my body was racked with muscle spasms from dehydration.

You can and should always use peer pressure to your advantage – and the benefit of your peer group as a whole.

Leaders bring out the best in others
My swim coach was one of the most effective and inspiring teachers and leaders in my life. “Coach” had a knack for knowing when to push people when they were just slacking off and lacking mental toughness (which was often the case!), and when to take it easy on them (which was rare!) when their bodies really needed a break. He pushed us farther than we thought we could go, and in the end it was always in an effort to bring out the best in us. Leaders are like that. They aren’t afraid to push, even if it means being unpopular for a little while, if the end result is about making the entire group, team, organization far better. People pleasing and making everyone happy all the time is not what effective leaders do, they are laser focused on making the entire group great.

+++
Those are just a few of the lessons I learned from my years as a swimmer. If you have a lesson to share from your experiences as an athlete, drop a note in the comments to this blog!

The Inspiring Story Behind Stallone’s “Rocky”

Rocky, an inspiring movie - but the story behind how Stallone got it made is even more inspiring!

The story behind Rocky is something that I first heard first hand from Tony Robbins, as part of a training he was conducting several years ago. The story was one of the most inspiring tales I’ve heard. I’m a big Rocky fan and had no idea that it was not only created by Stallone, but of the ridiculous courage (some may say massive obsession with a sprinkle of craziness) it took to stay true to his belief in his work and in his vision for how the movie could best be made.

The best revenge is massive success – Sylvester Stallone

Luckily, I’ve  found the story recorded in full on YouTube. I highly recommend listening. If you are going through a tough time. If you are having a challenge staying true to a vision you really believe in. If you are facing rejection in any part of your life. You must listen to this story. It might just make your day – it might just change your life.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywuse55qU2A]

Setting an Intention

In yoga classes I often ask students to “set and intention” for the class as we begin. This intention, or purpose, can set the tone of the entire class. An empowering intention can make be the difference between moving through class with “the wind at your back” and struggling through in a hope that it will come to an end quickly! Intention setting is not some esoteric principle. It is something that we do every day whether you know it or not.

Today my intention was to "tip-toe through the tulips" - mission accomplished!

Think about your own day (pick a day, like today). If you went to work or school or on a trip somewhere, when you walked out your door to start your day, you had an intention with regards to where you were going. Whenever I put the keys in the ignition of my car, I have a point to why I am turning on the car. Either it is to get to work, go to the store, visit a friend or do something else with a purpose. There is always a reason, even if the reason if to just go for a joy-ride!

In the same way, when students roll-out their yoga mat they are their for a reason, be it conscious or not. In making a conscious and directed purpose for practice there is an opportunity to create a positive meaning for the time and effort spent. It is also a chance to anchor a practice to something positive. After all, it is a lot easier to push through a physically challenging asana if there is a motivating reason for it! In the same reason, it is easier to deal with a challenging situation at work or while traveling if you have a motivating force behind your actions.

Red, red and more red! These tulips are incredible!

As with yoga class, there is power in setting an intention for your day. When I get up every morning, I  set an intention for how I intend to be to be during the day. The intention is never based on an outcome (which is impossible to control) but always centered on my own way of being (which is completely within my control!). Here are a few examples of empowering intentions – in the form of “Today my intention is to….”

  • …be an outstanding example for others
  • …see the humor in every situation
  • …stay present
  • …relax and have fun
  • …see the best in everyone
  • …focus on doing what matters
  • …serve without expectation
  • …to give it my best effort, nothing more and nothing less

Try this practice out for the next few days. When you wake up in the morning (perhaps after a meditation) make it a point to set an intention. Come back to it on a regular basis (perhaps every time you have something to eat or drink), and watch your days take on a whole new meaning.

Empowering intentions can indeed add some color to your life!

Powerful Beyond Measure|Our Deepest Fear

“Our Deepest Fear…” is a tremendous piece of writing by Marianne Williamson.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

—-from A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson.

Bringing this passage to life is an awesome video I stumbled across on YouTube.

This video includes scenes from the movie Snatch with audio from Muhammad Ali and Rocky and a music soundtrack spliced from the Transformer’s movie and Gladiator (another one of my favorites!). Tony Robbins narrates much of it. Many of the words are pulled verbatim from Williamson’s writing or from the most recent Rocky movie.

There is so much motivational juice in this short clip!

It’s worth paying close attention to the words in this clip. Some of my favorite quotes are:

  • Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
  • I’m gonna show you how great I am! Only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick – I’m so mean I make medicine sick! – Ali
  • I’m gonna show you how great I am! Last night I cut the light off in the bedroom, hit the switch, was in the bed before the room was dark! – Ali
  • I’m gonna show you how great I am! I’d wrestled with an alligator, I’d tussled with a whale, I’d hand-cuffed lightnin’, put thunder in jail! – Ali
  • Nobody is gonna hit as hard as life, but it ain’t about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep movin’ forward. That’s how winnin’ is done. – Rocky
  • If you know what you’re worth than go out and get what you’re worth! – Rocky
  • It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We were all meant to shine as children. Not just in some of us, but in everyone. As we let our own light shine, we give others the opportunity to do the same. – Marianne Williamson

Words to this video (from Dustin):

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure, beyond measure.

Ima show you, how great I am.

Last night I cut the light off in my bedroom, hit the switch, and was in the bed before the room was dark.

Ima show you, how great I am.

Only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick, Im so mean I make medicine sick.

Ima show you, how great I am.

This kids gonna be the best kid in the world.
This kids gonna be somebody better than anybody I ever knew.

Ima show you, how great I am.

I have wrastled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale, I done handcuffed lightnin, thrown thunder in jail.

Ima show you, how great I am.

All you chumps are gonna bow when I whoop him, all of you, I know you got him, I know youve got him picked, but the mans in trouble, Ima show you how great I am.

But somewhere along the line you changed, you stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good, and when things got hard, you started looking for something to blame, like a big shadow.

Let me tell you something you already know, the world aint all sunshine and rainbows, its a very mean and nasty place and I dont care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.

You, me, or nobody, is gonna hit as hard as life; but it aint about how hard you hit, its about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward.

Thats how winning is done.

Cause if youre willin to go through all the battling you gotta go through to get to where you wanna get, whos got the right to stop you. I mean maybe some of you guys got something you never finished, something you really want to do, something you never said to somebody, something.

And youre told no even after you pay your dues, whos got the right to tell you that, who? Nobody. Its your right to listen to your gut, it aint nobodys right to say no, after you earn the right to be where you want to be and do what you want to do.

Now if you know what youre worth, then go out and get what youre worth.
But you’ve gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers saying you aint where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody.

Cowards do that and that aint you!

You’re better than that!

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

All you chumps are gonna bow when I whoop him, all of you, I know you got him, I know you’ve got him picked, but the mans in trouble, Ima show you how great I am.

The Importance of Discpline

Discipline is probably the single biggest factor to personal success in anything. Back in high school I knew quite a few friends who seemed to do pretty well in school and sports by doing the bare minimum – or at least a pretty modest amount of work. They did just enough homework, just enough studying, just enough training to do OK – and let some natural talent pick up the slack. However, those who really excelled at their craft – they were incredibly disciplined.

The people at the top of the class worked incredibly hard. The people making the state team in swimming put in tons of yardage in the pool during the season AND off-season. There was a big difference between those who did OK and those who really excelled – and those who stood out really had a strong work ethic (and in the case of sports, some good talent to boot).

The thing about discipline is that it is cumulative. If you are disciplined enough to eat a “salad with every meal” (something I frequently do) – over time – your body will reap the benefits. You will get the proper nutrients into your system, have less room in your belly for garbage and learn to like the taste of salad. It is cumulative and works its magic over months of practice, not after just a few days.

If you are disciplined enough to go to bed 1 hour earlier every night and get up 1 hour earlier every morning – you’ll reap the benefits over the long term. You’ll get extra quality time when the world is asleep to get work done. You’ll be more apt to exercise and move in the morning before settling into a sedentary routine (assuming you have a desk job or sit in a classroom all day). You’ll also have less opportunity to give into the late night munchies (a bad side affect of staying up too late!). Discipline with your time in this way will pay huge dividends over a few months (maybe even in a few weeks) – but you need to give it time.

The challenge with discipline is that it requires you to make an effort consistently over an extended period of time. The upshot is that after a certain point – the discipline becomes “the norm” and no longer requires effort. Getting to this point, though, has been the bane of many new years resolutions!

Think about where in your life you could use a little more discipline. How will a new or improved habit change the quality of your life for the better over the long term? What is stopping you from doing it now? Try out that new way of being for 30 days and see what happens.