"Whether it is the bow, or any other weapon, it should only be adjusted to suit your body and be bereft of any sort of decoration. Even the slightest bit of decadence on your weapon can bring about hesitation and cost you the battle." Tsukahara Bokuden The Hundred Rules of War
Most of us don't concern ourselves with bows or others weapons of war, but I think the quote speaks to each of us. Let me explain.
There's a school in my area (CESJDS) that my school competes against in athletics. Now this school is always tough...it seems every sport, every game is a tough, close one. This school's sports program doesn't appear to have a fancy bone, there's no sense of flair or showy behavior. You know what they do well...what the excel in? They are absolute monsters, across the board, at the fundamentals. The basics of every sport have been near perfected by the varsity level. That makes you tough to beat.
If you're in business, you know that mastery of the basics help you build success.
The most successful students I've taught haven't been the most gifted, though many of them have been exceptionally bright. No, the most successful students are the ones who do the basics well. They attend, participate, and elaborate on concepts.
Just this morning I sat in my old 3rd Grade classroom; where I was the teacher, not the student. It brought back memories of students that I taught in that very room who are graduating high school this year. The strongest students, in 3rd Grade and now in 12th, are the ones who do the little things right.
Build a strong foundation. Perfect the basic.
I don't know about you, but my week has already started off on a great foot with celebrating my wife's birthday. As we look ahead to another work/school week, here are your 3 Keys to an Awesome Week:
1.) Get up 30 minutes early. Do it. No excuses. You'll find that the extra half hour can be incredibly productive. It'll be tough, for sure, so accountability is key in the beginning. I'm going to start by posting a picture of the clock when I get out of bed...
2.) Plan for February. We're wrapping up January this week. Look ahead; what are three things that you want to accomplish over the next month? If you don't set a goal, you'll be in the same place next month. January is the month when we all make great goals...only to see the practice drop off in February. Don't let it slip!
3.) Look for practical ways to help others. Hold doors. Help neighbors carry things t0/from their car. Pick up trash instead of just walking by it again. ACTIVELY hunt for ways to help/bless others.
Here. We. Go!
So far, so good. Well, not actually. I've been doing great at stretching each morning and jotting down one day that I could have made each day better; but I've slacked on showing thankfulness. I wish that I could say that I didn't know why it was harder than normal this week, but I can't say that. I know that, without regularly reviewing that small goal, I tend to slip into an egocentric worldview and shift from having a producer mindset, to one of a pure consumer.
It's never too late. Reflect. Figure out where you need to improve. Take small, measureable steps toward progress.
Right now, I'm going to hunt someone down to thank.
Have an great Friday to cap off an awesome work/school week!
Week #4 in Tsukahara Bokuden's The Hundred Rules of War, and I've found a gem! Seriously, I LOVE this one.
Early on, only into page 20 at this point and I read:
"You should neither sleep late nor talk too long."
Because we've got work to do!
Want to experience one of the most peaceful days of your entire life? Wake up early and get your day started. If you've got young children at home like I do, getting up BEFORE them will likely be the only distraction free part of your day. You can get a ton accomplished in just a short amount of time.
Want to have a productive afternoon at work? Skip the lunchroom talk. Eat lunch on your own. You'll find you use fraction of the time. Now, I'm not saying you should be an antisocial hermit at work, but doing this once or twice a week will reap huge rewards.
Here we go...for this week:
1. Within the first half hour of the day, take 5 minutes to stretch. Flexibility is, by far, the most neglected aspect of fitness. I really like the routine below.
2. Before you go to bed, write down one way that you could have made the day better. Even if you're day was already pretty sweet, think about improvement. Do NOT use this as a daily excuse to gripe or whine. Think productive improvement...
3. Thank 5 people (at least) every day. Make it a challenge...be on the lookout for ways to show your gratitude.
Have an awesome week!
Following up on the 3 Keys for this week...
So, to be honest, i haven't event started reading The Horse and His Boy. It's in my lap right now though, and I'm going to start cranking through it asap!
The five minutes of focused breathing that I challenged you with this week...total game changer for me. The more I've read about the studies on meditation and breathing, the more excited I get. You probably know this, but folks who don't breathe have a significantly shorter lifespan.
Seriously though, the five minutes of quiet, distraction free focus has been energizing and grounding at the same time. Awesome practice. If you haven't tried it this week, get started. Don't know how to? Send me a message, I'll help you. It's worth it...you'll notice a positive change immediately.
Have an awesome weekend. My DC Metro area friends, enjoy the warmer temps! Get outside and do something fun. Remember, no such thing as bad weather; only bad clothing and planning.
Here we go. Week 3 of going through The Hundred Rules of War by Tsukahara Bokuden.
This week seemed pretty straightforward when I began reading:
"You should think of greed and lust as the enemy." pg. 19.
The more I read and think about it, the more I think about it and read it. After a couple of days, it jumped out to me: greed and lust are listed as a single enemy. They work together to the downfall of the warrior. Now, considering when this was written, we can assume that is was exclusively targeting men. Some enemies never change.
Regardless of the enemy or the victim, I think there are a couple of takeaways here for each of us:
1.) We all have "enemies".
2.) When we boil it down, we don't have as many enemies as we tend to complain about.
3.) All of those enemies are working together to end us. I mean really...do you think greed and anger aren't related? How about pride and lying?
Typically, we have 2-3 big "enemies" or struggles to battle.
Step 1: Identify them.
Step 2: Eliminate them.
Embrace the battle.
Last week was great. Definitely experienced the benefit of using drive time productively. I will definitely be making that a regular practice! Keeping the thankfulness journal too. Simple things, done faithfully, really do add up to a big change.
Enough of that...for this week:
1. Last week it was 10 pushups as soon as you woke up. This week: 10 squats. Whether you want to add them to your pushup routine or use them as a replacement, I'll leave it up to you for now.
2. Somewhere around lunchtime, take 5 minutes to yourself, get comfortable, and focus on your breathing. Block out all distractions. Put on some soft music if you're able. Just clear your mind and feel your breath. If making this a priority requires you to hide in a bathroom...make it happen!
3. Read something that you normally wouldn't. I don't really care for fiction, but this week I'm going to start reading The Horse and His Boy. A lot of folks that I trust shake their head when I tell them I haven't read it (especially considering my background as a teacher) so I am going to fix that.
I love this one...been chewing on it for a week now.
"Anyone who feels that their lord or elders ask the impossible is a person as simple minded as the lowest servant." The Hundred Rules of War, pg. 17
Now, most of us don't really have lords and elders but, if we're honest, we all answer to someone. I've got a couple bosses. I've got a few teachers. As much as I think I'm independent, I have people to answer to.
Here's a thought to consider:
Take the requests of your bosses/teachers/spouses/parents/whoever and a challenge. Want me to do something impossible? Awesome...I will.
But there's a more important word in the quote; a word that drives me nuts sometimes. "Feel". You feel like you've been given an impossible task? You feel like it's too hard? You feel like your boss is overwhelming you? So?
Have you taken time to think? Think, and consider the request from another perspective? Probably not, but it's natural. I think we're naturally geared to complain first when things get hard. It takes practice. Intentional practice.
I hope you're given an impossible task tomorrow and I hope you crush it. I hope you learn to take on the challenge with a smile and an "awesome".
1. Get out of bed (without hitting the snooze button) and knock out 10 pushups. You choose what kind of pushups...just do 10 of them!
2. Use your drive time. Your commute can either be a complete stressful waste, or it can be a pleasant learning experience. Lately I've been listening to podcasts; trying to learn things rather than listen to the same news loop or music.
3. Start a thankfulness journal. Each morning, after you take care of your pushups, jot down 2-3 things that you're thankful for. The benefit here is that you're forcing yourself to set your day up with a positive mindset. Hey, you've already done a little exercise, now you shift your focus to things that you're grateful for.
Think about this. These three keys set you up to arrive at work or school on a positive vibe...crucial for a Monday morning! You've woken up, skipped the snooze, recalled things that you're thankful for, and used your drive time well...work will be a piece of cake!
Just wanted to post a quick note to follow-up on the post from Wednesday. If you live anywhere on the Atlantic Coast, you're probably a bit chilly this morning. If not prepared, you will experience pain and sacrifice the moment you step outside. Can we use that pain to experience pleasure? Is it possible to use the cold in order to experience a bit of joy? Absolutely!
Take a minute (or 4) and watch this, but stick around for the comments below.
Now, this guy had an awesome accidental experience. As it stays cold out there, folks will be gathering in coffee shops. People will be gathering in pubs and restaurants. Look, when it's cold out there, my favorite place to be is at home. I personally find the process of dressing in layers and sitting in a cold car to be annoying at best. But this weekend, I want to get out there and try to create an experience like the one in the video. It'll look different for sure, but I'll try.
What's sacrificed in the attempt? Really?
Well, for me, there's the sacrifice of comfort (which I am naturally drawn toward). It's much more comfortable to stand in line and look at my phone. It's awkward to strike up a conversation with someone I don't know. There's fear there...fear of rejection maybe, but still a little fear. There's the exposure to the cold, which means sacrificing time while I find enough clothes to put on. There's the sacrifice of time which is, in my opinion, THE most valuable thing that we have. There's a financial sacrifice, although likely not a large one.
I'm not sure how it will go, but I'm willing to sacrifice a bit, experience some discomfort and maybe a little pain (it is cold you know) in order to also experience the pleasure of brightening someone's day. I'm willing. Are you?