Patience is concentrated strength

laura after vaccine dose 1

produced by john c ashworth

This seemed like a good post to start the 2021 year. Not exactly the first post. I posted a quick workout for you yesterday. But a good theme for all of us as we head toward the anniversary for the pandemic and we all begin the work of re-setting our hearts and minds for what still lies ahead.

In 2021, patience will be essential…

john c ashworth grief journal 2020
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Here’s the story I referenced from the ash flash from 2020.

13 Life governing principles to help keep you on track

13 Life governing principles to help keep you on track

curated by john c ashworth

I came across a story recently about General Colin Powell and discovered he used to put his 13 most significant, governing principles on a bookmark that he would include with his book giveaway. They’re very good so I thought I would share them with you today.

General Colin Powell’s 13 most significant governing principles:

  1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.
  2. Get mad, then get over it. (I really like this one. –John)
  3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position fails, your ego goes with it.
  4. It CAN be done!
  5. Be careful what you choose. You may get it.
  6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
  7. You can’t make someone else’s choices. And you shouldn’t let someone else make yours.
  8. Check small things.
  9. Share credit.
  10. Remain calm. Be kind.
  11. Have a vision. Be demanding.
  12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
  13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

It’s a pretty good list, right?

I encourage you to make your own.

I go started on mine after reading this one. I’ll share it when I’m finished.

In the mean time, I will share the three words I chose to guide me over the last year and a half and I’m still focused on these.




For many years now, I’ve chosen three words to guide me each year. I have goals too, but choosing these three words simplifies my focus on a daily basis. Any time I feel myself slipping, I repeat these three words to myself and then focus on how my writing can get me back on track.


PS Here are a few notes on my simple 3-word system mentioned above.

The 3-word System by john c ashworth

The main idea is to choose three words that are designed to guide you all year.  Three words that encompass the brunt of your focus on being a better human being.  Three words that simplify your life in an important way within the context of your own life, which is not that simple all the time.

One of the biggest reasons I like this process is the fact that it both frees and focuses your thinking at the same time.  If you try this, you’ll fine that it’s actually quite hard to come up with only three words that you are going to stick with for an entire year.  It forces you to really do some thinking about what is truly realistic and important to you right now.

Also important to remember is that each word will likely have many guiding principles for you. For example, my third word, ‘writing’ keeps me focused not just on my work here on the ash flash, but also the free-writing I do to help maintain clarity in my personal life and career, the book I’m working on, and the fictional story about an unruly band of characters that has been in the making for quite some time and that my wife Laura has encouraged me to pursue with more urgency. Not to mention the writing I do for the printed version of the ash flash and the personal letters I send to friends, colleagues and others in my network.


Four Simple Questions that will change YOUR Life Right Now

Four Simple Questions that will change YOUR Life right now

written by john c ashworth

This is a simple exercise today and yet one that could change the trajectory of your life significantly forever. I mention this all the time, but this is what the ash flash is truly about…one simple piece of information or inspiration on any given day that has the potential to inspire and inform you in some unique way that changes your life and career for the better forever.

Here are the four questions I have for you today. Don’t underestimate their power.

  1. Why?
  2. Why Not?
  3. Why not YOU?
  4. Why not Now?

The thing I love about these four simple questions is that you can very likely apply them right now to almost anything you are currently contemplating, holding onto, unwilling to let go of, or otherwise making no meaningful progress on.

STOP everything right now.

Ask yourself these four simple questions, and then spend some time free-writing about them and you will likely discover that the only thing holding you back right now is YOU.


The most important part of your fitness program

written by john c ashworth

The most important part of your fitness program

As a former fitness coach and personal trainer and currently a fit, healthy fitness over 50 cadre member, people ask me from time to time what it is that I do to keep myself in shape.  

My answer is always begins with a little context.  Because my fitness program is not overly impressive.  I’ve just had it going regularly without fail for thirty plus years now.

“I keep going…”  I say.

“I never stop.  I’ve NEVER stopped.”

How long have YOU been working at it?

Keep going…

Don’t stop.

Look for modes of progression and seek expert advice to aid your quest. A little goes a long way. Especially when you can find a real expert.

I admit it. There’s a lot more to it than just your consistency.  Expert personal fitness program design is an art that finds its roots in science. You and your path are unique and need to be treated as such in order for you to achieve your potential.

Consistency, though…

That’s really the key, because without your regular commitment, no fitness program can produce the results you crave.


We start here.



PS My current fitness program includes all of the following: swimming 5-6 days per week (350-500m). Strength training twice per week. Walking 4-6 days per week (1-3 miles). Walking is sometimes curtailed a bit in the winter and in those times, I swim more. When it snows, my snow removal duties also add to the totals. Just as yard work does in the warmer months. And, of course, right at this very moment, my ability to get to the pool has been thwarted by covid-19, so I’m doing my best to adjust and missing that experience terribly 🙁

Here’s a screenshot from January of 2020. I cleared about 6 inches of snow that day in addition to my swim. I love the apple fitness tracking system. In combination with the Apple watch this tracking system actually provides a lot of useful data and constant feedback if you want it about how well you’re doing with your exercise and activity each day. Will get into that more later.

When you click on the swim workout that was recorded wearing the apple watch in the pool, you get even more specific data and information about your swim, including your average heart rate, which is extremely valuable data and information. Again, I plan to get into more about all of this in future posts about the Apple activity tracking system. I really like it.

swim workout on 011720
There are a number of things I really like about having access to this information for each workout, including average heart rate. An extremely valuable metric to track. -john c ashworth

PPS If I had to choose the second most important part of your fitness program it would be the tracking. In order to build a proper plan for safe and effective progression of your fitness program, you need to keep track of where you’ve been.

Want to feel good? Sleep MORE…

written by john c ashworth

I’m sitting here at my desk and wondering why in the world I feel so good today; and then it occurs to me…I got a lot of sleep last night 🙂

Sounds a little silly when I say it out loud, but that’s the truth and that’s why SLEEP is one of my three words for the year.

I know we all struggle with this, and that we all have good logical reasons why we struggle to get MORE sleep. Life is busy, especially for parents like Laura and I. Parents who work full-time and more, and who are devoted to providing our kids the kind of opportunities in life that should not be taken for granted. Sometimes you have to give up a little sleep to make all that happen.

But there are plenty of other times when sleep becomes elusive as a result of bad habits or loose organization in the evenings. I find that when I commit to it and make it a priority and focus my evening on turning out the lights at a certain specific time, that I can make it all happen a lot more often.

Sleep more this year. You’ll probably live longer, but more importantly, it won’t feel longer 🙂


You can’t play perfectly all the time

written by john c ashworth

Most forward thinking driven and self-motivated people are harder on themselves than they need to be. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is an important personality trait. Being driven to win and compete and measure-up to your competition and to the goals and aspirations you’ve set for yourself is important. Also important is to be realistic with yourself, especially in the face of your mistakes and shortcomings.

You can’t play perfectly all the time.

Most of us will discover that we are more loved in the weeks after our death, than in the weeks preceding it. As I’ve heard more than one funeral director say, “Everyone becomes a saint once they’re gone.”

To achieve success though, you need to feel you deserve it in spite of your mistakes, shortcomings, and misgivings. And probably more important, especially for those of us who tend to be more assertive, forward-thinking, and more than willing to make a bonfire of our reputation, you MUST stay strong in your belief that you deserve what you have achieved.

Often, this is tough, because in pursuit of constant improvement and growth, we must accept both our praise and the disdain that falls upon us from time to time.  The latter often arriving more often than we might expect.

Worthy accomplishment comes from both the clean and dirty work that must be done in order to get there.

This is not to say that you must break the law or defile your colleagues either.

What I’m trying to reinforce here is that in order to grow you have to be uncomfortable first and that discomfort often comes from the negativity pointed toward us from those that don’t like us, don’t like what we’ve done, or how we think, or that we got here first.

Should you let this discomfort stymie your growth and your pursuit of achievement, you might find success somewhat elusive at first.

Keep in mind that when your vision and your mission are true and worthy and worth pursuing, that this is often in stark contrast to what everyone else can see. Most don’t have the vision you do and that reality can get tough at times. Believe me.

Stay on the path and keep going and when things get rough just remember…

“YOU deserve every ounce of success and the wisdom that comes along with it because you have earned it!”