Most of us spend far too much time worrying about the mistakes we’ve made, and as a result, expending far too much energy trying to prevent the next one rather than moving on to the next leap. The next idea. The next innovation. After all, what if we fail again? What if we make more mistakes? What if we are unable to free ourselves from the tyranny of our humanness?
Keep going. Keep failing. Keep being human.
Don’t be stupid and blind when it comes to your outcomes. Your results. Because whether you fail or you succeed there is always much to learn.
The real truth reveals itself in your responses to these outcomes. Your choices. Your willingness to keep going and to prevent your mistakes and your failures from ruling over your mind and your next move like a dictator intent on shrouding you in a cloak of fear that is wet and heavy with the weight of your doubt, and the world, and impossible to carry for very long on the road to your success.
Simply everything, play the way you’re facing, pick your spot, and explode into that space.
Growing up I had the opportunity to play for one of the top club soccer clubs in the nation. The San Diego Nomads. Back then, we were known as the La Jolla Nomads. That’s where the club’s founders were from. Those individuals had the kind of vision necessary to cultivate a lasting legacy and a club today that develops some of the best talent you can find.
One of the most important decisions they made early on was in hiring Derek Armstrong, who still runs the club today, more than thirty years later.
Derek taught me many important things about the game, about life, and about what it means to be a champion. We had a tremendous amount of success while I was there. We played the kind of game people didn’t even recognize or understand at that time here in the United States, and in fact, we dominated many or our opponents and won many championships.
Our success included two runs at the national championship where we finished second and fourth in the country. A truly amazing and bitter sweet experience. Still, it would be a lot better story if I could tell you we had achieved a national championship.
Here’s my point today, though. Derek used to have a phrase he liked to use often. In many ways, this mantra has fit nicely into many other parts of my life, both day to day, and as I’ve weathered some very tough storms in my career.
“Play the way you’re facing.”
Simple. Straight-forward. Impossible to mis-interpret, and guaranteed to simplify the game you’re playing by simply picking up your head, looking around, and moving the ball in the direction you’re facing right now.
Don’t try to get cute and cut the ball back, and attempt some fancy move that sends you in the opposite direction, hopefully in possession of the ball, and now moving with an entirely different purpose. Sure, there will always be time for that. It will be needed. But for the moment, what might happen in your life, career, or relationships if you simply started focusing on playing in the direction you’re facing right now?
Starting right now, simplify your life. Focus on playing in the direction you face, and keeping your head-up, and your vision keen. For the direction you face still holds a very wide field of view with many opportunities.
When you do this, and you abandon unnecessary complexities and frivolous ideas – especially the stuff that’s holding you back, and the ideas and dreams that don’t seem to be moving ahead – you will create the space you need to open your game in a way that allows you to more clearly and confidently pick your spot and move toward your truest and most important and fulfilling dreams.
Competency is NOT enough. That’s why “Good is so often the enemy of Great.” There is great danger in complacency because once you find yourself living with this mindset, and working daily to justify your choice, change is hard to consider with an open mind. Maybe even impossible.
If you’re not careful, YOUR belief systems will tie you down, hold you back and keep you on a very short leash. Preventing progress.
The results can be devastating, not only for your business but for your life in general.
Sometimes, it leads to a statement like the one I heard yesterday that I believe represents an example of your mind as slayer of your dreams and aspirations.
“I have no desire to learn anything more.”
This comment came from a prospective customer with very little understanding about how to build and cultivate a presence and message online that can help your business grow exponentially.
The opposite of this unfortunate stance, of course, is to embrace the idea of mastering your craft as well as the marketing efforts that will help you share your gifts. It’s clear you’ve already adopted this mindset. You’re here reading this article. The title drew you in for a reason.
In order to master your craft, though, daily action is still vital. YOU MUST always be taking steps to improve, learn, grow, and thrive.
Nothing can happen until you decide to move forward.
Nothing happens, and nothing changes until you take action.
Still, there is likely something you’ve been putting off. A project or pursuit of some kind that very likely has the potential to catapulte your personal or business growth or both.
If only you could find the time…
I realize the timing for your next endeavor for growth might not feel quite right. And it might not be. But what if you just started? What might happen next?
Yes! Your choice might feel like a bigger project than you want to tackle right now. But if it’s the right one, what other things might you choose to move out of the way or off your list entirely once this new and important thing is put in motion.
YOU MUST embrace the belief that starting is that which is most important, and trust that once in motion, you’ll remain committed to following thought – even if it’s just a little at a time. Because once you do this, and once the thing that’s important for you to start today is done, you will likely have an extremely valuable and potentially life-altering asset for your personal and business growth. And very often, completion will come a lot sooner than you anticipated.
Are you Ready?
You may now commence without equivocation.
I’ll wait patiently for your success story 🙂
PS I want to leave you with one more keen insight into this idea. It has to do with the difference between Mastery and Competence and what it truly means to be a master of your craft.
Being competent means you can do the work at high standards.
When you work to become a master, you are on the path to inventing the next level of your work, your life, and your business. This makes you a lot more attractive to better clients, customers, friends, and colleagues.
We cannot hold on to that which no longer works for us and expect new and better things to come into our lives. Start releasing that which does not serve you…
Most of us are familiar with the idea of becoming more magnetic, or more attractive. In other words, finding ways to make yourself a more attractive personality that makes you irresistible in all aspects of your life. A more subtle idea is discovering how to create a vacuum that either pulls you forward or pulls good things toward you.
Now, before you stop reading because those two ideas sound like the same thing, I encourage you to stick around for a few minutes, because the distinction between these two ideas is profound.
It helps if you think of this as the difference between pushing and pulling. Because while you can in fact push your way through life, make yourself more magnetic, and strive to make constant progress toward your goals, leading you to opportunities more forcefully; this can also be exhausting and eventually lead to burnout. The extra effort comes at a cost.
I’m not saying this effort isn’t also important at times. I’m saying that there is also another way. One that is less costly, more rewarding, and in my experience thus far, important for your long-term health and success.
Back when I was a young man and a world-class athlete (see the photo below form the archives), we talked a lot about finding and being in ‘the zone.’ In fact, I still have an old poster of the late Tony Gwynn hanging around in the ash flash creative cave that features this idea and how Tony and other athletes described this incredibly alluring and purely zen-like state of mind, and how that clarity allowed them to perform at extremely high levels.
I can still remember myself on multiple occasions on the soccer field, in the zone. Often in very big games, scoring incredible goals and wondering how it could have felt so easy to do and why everything else around me seemed to go into a quiet reverie that left me and me alone with the time and space to do something courageous and magnificent. In fact, many of those moments are still very clear in my mind today, 35+ years later. Incredible.
I have heard others describe this to me as being in ‘the flow.’ And I’ve experienced that too. The times and places in your life when everything seems to make sense, you’re able to find great joy in everything that you do, and you’re not distracted or frustrated by the things you can’t control. Opportunities present themselves with little or no effort. I have produced many great successes in other areas of my life when I’ve found myself in this state.
Of course, the key is in cultivating the right life habits so that you find yourself in this zone or flow as often as possible. Creating a vacuum that pulls you forward will help you do just that. Below, I’ve shared a few more ideas and actions that might help you achieve this glorious state of mind. But first, let’s talk just a little bit about the importance of your vision.
Vision is more powerful than goals in pulling you forward.
Vision is more powerful than goals in pulling you forward. It is a much more comprehensive idea and less restricting. There is nothing wrong with goals, but you need to remember that goals are something you generally strive toward and as such they cost more emotionally and physically.
One of the biggest challenges with goals is that they focus your attention on the future and often distract you from staying present and connecting with the people and activities that you are involved in right now. And it is the here and now where you have the best chance to lock yourself into the zone and experience optimal flow in your life. Not in the future. In fact, if you accept the idea that attachment is the true source of all suffering in life, then you will see how careful you must be with your goals, which not only focus your attention away from now, but also reinforce your attachment to wanting things to be different.
Goals are important, but your vision will set you free.
Your vision creates a level of clarity that you can already see and embrace fully, which ultimately allows you more space and energy from which your present moment can pull ideas, people, events, opportunities, and new and interesting adventures that you will have the confidence to embrace because you are so clear about your vision.
Creating your vision allows you to focus on the present moment and everything you need to do right now to help foster the on-going development of that vision.
See the difference?
When you think about it this way, you begin to see much more clearly how all of the following actions will help you create the life and career you really want. For now, I’ll just share the list with you. Over time, I’ll share more details about how I relate to some or all of these ideas; and how they’ve really helped me in my own life. Some of them will be detailed in the book I’m working on right now.
This is an excellent list of stuff that I do regularly and that helps me tremendously.
Find opportunities and environments that promote your creativity
Surround yourself with people who bring out your best.
Say and share ideas that occur to you even if they are not true yet – this takes great courage and personal trust, but the result is very often transformational.
Invite and create conflict from which solutions will arise.
Experiment more with yourself – including ideas, products, life, companies, situations, feelings, and words. This creates more opportunity and one or more of these new experiments will lead you to something pretty great.
Unhook yourself from who you were – this one is so important and often very hard to do. But once again, will release you from attachment and suffering in ways that are astoundingly profound.
Stop diluting the truth – tell the truth about something even if you can’t yet see any way to do anything about it. Because diluting the truth stops energy from flowing and stops your personal progress in ways that are often hard to see until you’re willing to stand up and speak the truth.
Today, I put together for you a short history of an exercise move I like to use as a benchmark for my fitness program. I’m currently working on another article and post about the importance of bench-marks in your fitness program, but wanted to get these videos up first.
I find it interesting to note the comparisons. I first recorded this bench-mark in 2013. I definitely look stronger and fitter three years later in 2016, and also today in 2019. I definitely look a little leaner in 2016. Some work to do there 🙂
My body feels differently today for sure, but I appear to have made some nice incremental improvements since 2013. Unnoticeable until taking the opportunity to compare these videos. Pretty cool.
Especially for those of us committed to fitness over fifty, personal bench-marks are important. That article I’m working on, along with all the chores, is in progress and I will post either later today or tomorrow depending on how the day goes. If you want regular updates about the release of articles like this one, you can subscribe to the ash flash. I would love to have you 🙂
Don’t let yourself slip backward from where you are today, and when you do, take immediate action to correct the trend. Focus on that daily action, and not you failure to maintain it 100% of the time. You’re human and life is tough some times. Do what you can and establish fitness bench-marks that you can keep for the long run.
Imagine for a moment how cool it will be if I can still do this when I’m 60, 65, 70+…
I like to use a variety of movements as bench-marks to keep me on track and to help me guide my fitness progress and progression. Those will be revealed in that next article.
First, here’s yesterday’s Box Jump – higher than in 2013 and about even with 2016, I think. Although a little more unforgiving prop so the risk was higher.
Here’s what the box jump looked like back in 2016
And here is what the box jump looked like back in 2013.
Seemed like a good idea today to start this list. I’ll come back to add items “as the spirit moves me.” That’s how an old fitness client I coached used to describe his running routine. “I go when the spirit moves me, John.”
I always remembered that, because it resonates with me in my own on-going pursuit of fitness over 50.. One faces many challenges in this pursuit.
Where does that drive to exercise come from?
I’m not entirely sure, but I’m sure glad I have it. And I do everything I possibly can to cultivate its continued presence.
Sunday ideas for inspiration
OK, a good run or long walk are two great Sunday ideas to start with, but I want to share at least one other idea here that might inspire you today.
PS Before I go. Here’s one more I have not had much time to explore as much as I want to yet but has already enlightened me on multiple occasions.
Brain Pickings Brain Pickings has a free Sunday digest of the week’s most interesting and inspiring articles across art, science, philosophy, creativity, children’s books, and other strands of our search for truth, beauty, and meaning.
Finally, here is a great and inspiring list of ideas for actions you can take on Sunday that will catapult your Monday and more.
Clean your fridge. Toss everything that’s questionable
Clean out your car
Clean our your purse, handbags, and briefcases. Lunch boxes too if you carry one. And you should be…
Prepare health snacks and plan for them each day
Prepare your Monday morning breakfast on Sunday
Put some food in the crockpot or instant cooker for dinner today and leftovers tomorrow at lunch
Drink plenty of water today
Write your Monday morning to-do list
Map your weekly goals
Don’t forget to take some time for yourself and do NOT feel guilty about it! This can include your yoga class, walking, exercise, or just some time on the front porch with your favorite book and a tall glass of something cold and is anything other than alcohol.
Make time to catch-up with family and friends
Clean your closet.
Put your wardrobe in order.
Iron your clothes in advance.
Iron your shorts
Iron a few t-shirts – it just feels good
Check the weather and plan your wardrobe for the week too.
Make sure your gym clothes and gym bag are in order too. Got enough shampoo? Clean towels? Lotion? You know the drill. And if you don’t, let’s make it happen.
Get your trash ready for pick-up Day. Mine gets picked-up on Tuesday but it’s always nice not to have to worry about it on Monday evening.
Get off the couch and get outside. Go on a hike. Sit on your porch. Mow your lawn. Do something outside.
Read The Ash Flash to stay inspired for the week.
Treat yourself to something nice. Report back with your ideas. I’m always looking for inspiring ways to check this one off the list.