Work Hard, Find Yourself

Hello and welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂

We are going to take a break from our regularly scheduled program this week. This week marks the beginning of the 2015 Crossfit Open. It marks the 8th year of the Crossfit Games as an organization, and the 4th year of the Crossfit Open. If you aren’t familiar with these competitions, I’ll leave some links at the bottom. I suggest you educate yourself 🙂

This competition season also marks the 5th year since I began my journey with Crossfit. At some point, we’ll get in to that whole story, but that isn’t what I want talk about today. Today I want to talk about the importance of testing yourself as a means of self discovery.
 You can see this in the microcosm of every box around the world where people pit themselves daily against the barbell and against the clock. You can see this in the macrocosm of the Crossfit Games where international athletes gather to find out who can do the most work in a weekend.  This entire movement is about finding out what you are made of. There is no other event in the world like the Crossfit Open. Participants from 100’s of different countries battle against each other to find the limits of physical and mental fitness, and to find out who will be named “Fittest on Earth”.
Crossfit has turned in to a phenomenon. I was watching behind the scenes clips and motivational clips from  the 2014 games this morning, and this program has turned into an international gathering of athletes, supporters, admirers, and sponsors. Elite level athletes are signing endorsement deals and signing autographs. Like it or not, Crossfit is a Thing. We can watch people exercise on ESPN, and it really is a big deal!!
Crossfit began as a program for Operators and First Responder’s. The kind of fitness developed by early Crossfit workouts was functional and it correlated well with the kinds of jobs that required a ridiculous volume of work, high levels of endurance, and the ability to focus under duress. Think about Special Ops warfighters, or inner-city SWAT team members. The mentality required to perform some of the “original” WOD’S correlated well with these “high intensity” professions. This kind of training conveniently packaged the concept of mental fortitude and psychological toughness and made it available to “the masses”.
 
As more people found out about the Crossfit Method, and as the organization grew, Greg Glassman began issuing challenges at his gym in southern California. He wanted to find the toughest and the fittest and the most durable. He wanted to find the fastest, the strongest, the most resilient. A few people stepped up and said they would test themselves against the program Glassman created. Greg Amundson and Annie Sakamoto are two names that always come to mind, and I am sure you can find a few more if you really look hard. These few became known as “Firebreathers”. Their goal was to find the “most fit”. Their goal was train for the unknown and also the “unknowable”. Their intent was to create a system that could effectively prepare a person for ANY physical challenge or endeavor. All aspects of fitness were considered, generally described  in the 10 components of fitness. It was suggested that the person who could perform best in each of these categories would be considered  the “most fit”. 
 
How could someone be good at ALL these things? How could someone train in such a way as perform competently at ANY physical task? How was it possible to devise a system that sought to “punish the specialist”?  Were there people who sought out their weaknesses and worked to make them their strengths? Were their people who were willing to place themselves in difficult and uncomfortable situations, simply to see if they possessed the physical and mental character to not only survive, but to to thrive? 
 
The simple answer  is “YES”. And they came in droves! People around the world began following “Mainsite” (www.crossfit.com) and performing the “Workout of the Day”. People started constructing home gyms in their garages and backyards. Videos began showing up on Youtube and slowly but surely, the movement began to grow. The first Crossfit Games was held on a small ranch in southern California, and was an “invite-only” event. There were roughly 200 athletes, and a man named James Fitzgerald was crowned “Fittest Man on Earth”. In the eight years since, the sport (and the community) grew exponentially. This year the Crossfit Games will be held at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, and it is estimated that more than 250,000 people worldwide will compete in the 2015 Crossfit Open. 
 
Whether you are a hopeful Games athlete, or you simply seek to stay fit and active as you age, Crossfit provides the template for self-discovery through hard work.  Through the competitive template of the Crossfit Open, we are able to test ourselves against each other and against the clock. More importantly, we are provided the opportunity to test ourselves against OURSELVES. We find our limits,  then we choose how to proceed from there. Can you push a bit harder? Can you lift a bit heavier? Can you continue moving just a bit longer? These are questions no one else can answer. I am looking forward to learning more about myself this year as I compete in the 2015 Crossfit Open. If you are competing or participating in the Open this year, I would love to hear your Crossfit story!! Drop me a line at tobias.shea.livingrevolution@gmail.com or leave a comment here!
 
As always, thank you for reading my words and for participating in the Living Revolution!! Until next time…Peace.Tobias.

Inspiring Loyal Believers

Hello and welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂

A large part of my role as a Crossfit coach is to promote what I believe and show my clients and gym members what works for me, namely the benefits of fitness and a healthy lifestyle. I use my education, experience and a healthy dose of experimentation to share what I know, and convince others they need what I am trying to give them. How I present myself to other people, and how I create connections, and ultimately, how I make a living, are all contingent on how well I establish a foundation of authenticity. Authenticity and transparency are two attributes that help create loyal believers and I want to talk a bit about how loyal believers are the foundation of any successful movement or process.

I started the year with a rant, and while it feels good to get that off my chest, I’m going to downshift this week, and start a discussion about how we inspire each other, and how that inspiration turns in to a process, and how that process eventually helps us achieve our desired results. For any movement to be successful, or for any process to produce results, the individual participating in that process must be a loyal believer in the process, and that loyalty must be inspired by leaders who choose to set a positive (albeit not perfect) example. As a movement gains momentum, the followers continue to observe a leader’s actions and behaviors, and if authenticity is maintained, the likelihood of those followers “drinking the Kool-Aid” and committing to the process grows exponentially. No matter what kind of process or movement you are involved with, we all need mentors or provocateurs with good intentions to push us in to new and uncomfortable territory because we so rarely have the gumption to go to those places on our own.

We all struggle when confronting the part of ourselves we need to change. When the struggle becomes too much, it is appropriate to ask someone else for help, motivation, and information. I hear gripes and whines and excuses all the time about how “difficult” it is to make time for training. I hear moans and groans about how “hard” it is to eat enough protein, or sleep more than 5 hours a night, or drink 64 oz of water in one day. I love hearing these gripes and moans because this shared struggle is one way connection and community are established, and helping people find solutions to these challenges is what makes my job so interesting and exciting!! On a daily basis, I strive to create a community of people who practice encouraging each other. On a daily basis, I thrive on creating an atmosphere in our gym where anything less that your 100% is unacceptable, where there is no qualifying your effort as long as you are committed to the process. On a daily basis, I am rewarded when I see people overcome challenges, build mental and physical strength, and achieve their goals.

As you continue to forge a path in this New Year, I encourage to ask yourself if you are a loyal believer. Do you observe you current health status and your current physical abilities and decide that maintenance and optimal performance are optional? If your physical body and the duties you are able to perform contribute to your self-image and self-worth, I encourage you to commit your time and effort and consciousness  to process of making yourself better today than you were yesterday. As you evaluate the goals you are chasing and the processes you are involved in, ask yourself if what you are chasing with change your lifestyle in a positive way. Are you committed to being better today, in some way, than you were yesterday?

Answer these questions, and then shoot me few lines and let me know how you are progressing in this New Year. I look forward to hearing from you :). As always, thank you for reading my words, and for participating in the Living Revolution!!

Until next time…Peace.Tobias.

excess doesn’t = success, success doesn’t mean excess

Hello, and welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂

  I taught two Crossfit classes this morning, starting at the unholy hour of 515am. There is a very short list of activities I enjoy participating in at 515am, and teaching Crossfit classes is actually on that list.  I do this a few mornings a week, because I love it. I love that there are people who are crazy enough (and dedicated enough) to show up every morning and brace themselves against the rest of the day with a bout of intense exercise. I love being the first person in the gym. I love how quiet it is early in the morning, and how still it feels in the gym. I love writing the workout on the board, and then mentally rehearsing drills, points of performance and cues for the movements we are programming that day. I love coaching because it is something I am learning to be good at, and I am learning to be good at coaching because I love the work I do.

Strangely enough, I sat down to write today with the intent of complaining and whining about why I don’t get paid enough for what I do. This led to me complaining and whining about how I don’t get paid enough at my “job”. This led to a short(but frantic) Google search for part-time jobs, and being faced with the stark reality of the current job market. Which led to me complaining and whining about…you get the idea. But, when I sat down here to get all that out of my head, the above paragraph is what came out. The irony is not lost on me.

It is hard for me to describe why I struggle so hard with the idea of financial “success”. I get ideas twisted in my head, and somehow marry the ideas of happiness and success to financial gain, and that union has always left a weird taste in my mouth. I think I have a skewed view of what is “not enough”. I definitely have a different perspective on what is “too much”.  I’m not afraid of hard work. I’m not afraid to make sacrifices. Thankfully, so little in that regard is being asked of me. Instead, I feel a bit under-utilized. I feel like I’m holding myself back, or more accurately, I don’t know how to push myself forward. My ego is wondering what my real motives are, and where my loyalties lie. Can I simply continue to do what I love, share my vision with other people, AND use these connections to help achieve my financial goals as well?

I keep coming back to words like cooperation and collaboration. I keep thinking in terms of combinations, adendums, and aggregate. What part can I play? What idea can I spread? How do our goals and passions intertwine? Am I making myself clear? But, I digress…

These words are a small step forward. The conversations that will resonate through each of you, will be other small steps forward. I encourage you to reach out to someone today and share an idea. Take some time and listen to someone else tell their story, or share their idea with you. How can you use me to benefit, and how can our partnership benefit us both? What can I help you do? What can we share? What can we create that manifests success beyond what we can imagine? Leave a comment, or send me a note and let’s get this train rolling. I can’t wait to see what kind of amazing stuff comes next! As always, thank you for reading my words, and for participating in the Living Revolution :). Until next time…Peace.Tobias.

 

Proficiency, Efficiency, and Excellence

proficiencya high degree of competence or skill; expertise.

efficiencythe ratio of the work done or energy developed by a machine, engine,etc., to the energy supplied to it, usually expressed as a percentage.

excellencethe fact or state of excelling; superiority; eminence.
Hello, and welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂
  The definitions above have been simplified, but I think it is hard to miss the meaning of these powerful words. How grandiose!! How magnificent!! The synonyms go on and on, but I want to talk more about the ideas represented by these three words. These terms were brought to mind after I attended a local weightlifting seminar, but as I ruminated on what these words mean, I was inspired by how they can be applied to any and all aspects of life.
When applied to the sport of weightlifting, or more broadly, the concepts of human movement, these terms follow a simple progression: develop proficiency first, maximize efficiency, then achieve excellence. Again, in terms of sport, every championship team and Greatest Of All Time athlete possesses these attributes. They dedicated their lives to developing a high level of proficiency, they supplied the passion to refine their chosen craft to leave behind only what brought success, they endured the gauntlet of challengers to establish their superiority.
  I started thinking about these words, and I started to get a little bit pumped up. I mean, what would happen in your family, your community, or the world, if we all started pursuing our lives with these ideas in mind? What if, even in the simplest tasks, we sought to develop expertise? What if we did even common tasks uncommonly well?
  Some of the worst parts of humanity stem from apathy and indifference. Our darkest moments are when we choose not to participate because of laziness or disinterest. Instead, let’s continue to evolve, and pursue excellence in all aspects of our lives. From the most mediocre task to the magnificent adventure, let’s begin to cut away the unnecessary bullshit, and strive for optimal efficiency. For every little action, for every little movement, for every posture and position you encounter throughout your daily life, I challenge you to develop unrivaled proficiency. Go out in the world today and BE AWESOME!
  Do you have some amazing ideas about how to apply the ideas of proficiency, efficiency and excellence? I would love to hear from you!! Drop me a line at tobias.shea.livingrevolution@gmail.com, or leave a comment below. Also, you can find me on Instagram now!! @livingrevolution (duh.).
  Thank you so much for reading my words, and as always, thank you so much for participating in the Living Revolution! Until next time…Peace.Tobias.

A Work in Progress

Hello, and Welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet. Summer has been crazy and amazing! The kids went back to school this morning, and I am doing my best to get back in the groove of sharing my thoughts here and trying to make the world a better place, one day at a time. My goal this year is to enrich the Living Revolution experience, and to help keep me accountable to this blog, and all of you, I’ve been working on a few ideas to discuss. As always, I welcome any interaction from anyone who reads these words, and I would appreciate comments and inquiries that help drive these discussions towards action. I did some intense reorganization over the summer, and I am feeling like I need to make use of this space before I lose the opportunity.

So, henceforth, prepare yourselves. I’m sure it will be a bit random and chaotic here until I can find a nice groove, so I appreciate your patience :). To start things off, (again), I’ll leave you with a question…

On a daily basis, how do you manifest your uniqueness in the world?

If you read this, drop a quick reply to let me know you are “out there”. Thanks for reading my words, and for participating in the Living Revolution!

 

 

 

Learning Gratitude

Welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂

First, I want to say “Thank You”. Many of you have been reading my words and interacting with me for a few years now, and our on-again off-again relationship continues to give me reason to think hard about how I live my life. You hold me accountable, you provide a sounding board for my thoughts and rants, you give me feedback about how you live life, and through all that, we establish and maintain community. Many of you I see in real life, and we further strengthen our bonds with face-to-face interaction. For all of this, I am exceedingly grateful. So, again, “Thank You” :).

Which brings me to my point today. I don’t see enough gratitude in the world, and I am here to say we need more. I am here to say we need to think more grateful thoughts, we need to speak more grateful words,  we need to start living more grateful lives and acting out gratitude on a person-to-person level. This is not rocket science, and everyone reading these words has the ability to change the world in a positive way by fostering gratitude, and living more grateful lives. Here’s why I think this is important…

In a quick search on the interwebs for definitions of “gratitude”, I also found an extensive list of antonyms of gratitude. For those who may not remember from middle school English class, antonym means “opposite”. A brief list of antonyms of gratitude include the following words: boorishness, callousness, censure, condemnation, disloyalty, ingratitude, rudeness, thanklessness, thoughtlessness. Each of these words, in turn, has a list of synonyms (words with similar meaning), but I am sure you get the point. If  you don’t know what these words mean, I encourage you to look them up, read the definition, and then feel how you react to those definitions.

A common theme between all these words is the idea of separation or dis-integration. When you condemn someone you pass judgment on them, and place yourself above them in a hierarchy, separating yourself from them. When you are disloyal to someone, you betray their trust, you break the bond of faith, and separate yourself from them. When your behavior is callous, rude, or thankless you show people you are insensitive, unsympathetic, lack manners, and you separate yourself from them.

I know I have experienced something like these negative feelings in my life, and I assume, many of you have as well. I know that I treated people unpleasantly as a result of my own selfishness and narcissism. I know I missed opportunities for genuine connection with other people because, I made the choice to react callously or thoughtlessly. I know I experienced a less-fulfilling life in those moments when I am not paying attention to how truly blessed I am.

This is unacceptable.  In those moments, I haven’t set a good example for others to follow. In those moments, I’ve missed an opportunity to make another human being feel good. In those moments, I allowed my ego to cloud my thoughts, to disrupt my flow, to set me at odds against the rest of humanity. When I selfishly put myself in my little box that is all my own, when I choose to withhold gratitude, I separate myself from potential connection, from relationship, from community.  I FAIL.

Human beings are social creatures, by nature. Even the most introverted soul requires some measure of positive, real-life, face-to-face interaction with other human beings to live a healthy, happy, fulfilled life. When we consciously choose not to express gratitude, we suppress that urge for connection. When we choose to not be thankful, we numb ourselves against the vulnerability and openness that giving thanks requires. When we choose to be grateful for this thing over here, but not that thing over there, we allow those minuscule fissures of separation to take hold, and it only gets worse from there. So, let’s not do that, okay?

I need to be clear here, and be very specific about how we are all going to start practicing gratitude. I need to be specific because some people may take my words and put them in tiny, separate boxes, and may decide they only want to express gratitude “when it seems appropriate”, or “when it makes sense”. But, that simply won’t work. We need to start being grateful for EVERYTHING.

Start with the easy parts. Be grateful for your home, food, income, family and friends. If you don’t have these, or if you have reasons you aren’t grateful for these things, you may have a larger issue that needs to be addressed!! Next, extend your circle of gratitude beyond “survival-mode”. Be grateful for your smartphone, the internet, the beautiful sunrise, and your favorite pants. These things are all helpful and useful, and it doesn’t take too much effort to be grateful for them. From here on, things start to get difficult…

Extend your gratitude outward to the annoying acquaintance who won’t stop talking to you while you are in line at the coffee shop. Extend your gratitude toward the telemarketer who calls to sell you life insurance, just as you sit down to dinner. Be grateful to the cyclist who brazenly chooses to ride in the middle of the lane instead of merging to the side so you can pass. Now, you are on the right track, but there is more still…

 Choose two or three small challenges or problems in your life, and consciously express gratitude for lessons the Universe is teaching about yourself  as you navigate these challenges.This part may take some practice and a little time to get used to. You will need to be more mindful of how you interact with other people. You will need to practice holding your tongue, and filtering your thoughts, and formulating conscious response to situations and people, instead of simply reacting to situations and people. You know, THINK. Use the fore-brain that supposedly put us at the top of the evolutionary ladder, and take charge of how you perceive the world around you, and how you interact with the other agents of the Universe who exist here with you.

Finally, you need to bring your awareness to the people and situations that are actively bringing “negativity” to your life. I use quotation marks, because defining something as negative is simply a matter of perspective, and you can always change your perspective. Did someone you love just die? Be grateful. Did the ceiling of your bedroom fill with rainwater, then burst and disintegrate above you in the middle of the night? Be grateful. Did a fake African prince hack your bank account and steal thousands of your hard-earned dollars? Be grateful.

This will not be easy. This will expose nerves you never knew you had. But this work is necessary. This work is worth it.

However, most of us will never get to that last part. Because it’s hard. It requires effort. It requires practice. It is a pattern of thought that goes against the “me, me, me” selfishness and insecurity so common in modern society. I can’t say much to convince you of this truth. But I can say this: if you never make the decision to express gratitude to the negative stimuli in your life, you never open yourself up to potential gifts, graciousness and healing that result from coming out the other side of those challenges. Missing out on all that potential awesomeness is truly a tragedy.

Wow. Okay. That rant turned in to a novel. I hope you all get my point. I’d love to hear your tales of gratitude, and maybe even some lessons you learned from choosing to make yourself vulnerable, and choosing to invest the time and effort  to say “Thank You”.  As always, thank you for reading my words, and for actively choosing to participate in The Living Revolution. Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.