Boot Camp

One more lap. One more rep. One more breath. I think I can make it.

by Pete Ferguson

I’ve been battling with age for the last few years. Call it 40’s survival.

Almost by accident my wife signed us up for boot camp in exchange for teaching the instructor’s daughter in preschool.

I remember the first few classes well. I was sure death was just around the corner. Then I learned that my body was capable of much more than sitting on a couch.

Knee pain, back pain, shoulder pain. But I pushed on. I pushed through. I had a small-in-stature but huge-in-heart Latina kicking my butt the whole way. And the pounds began to drop. I began to have more energy. I began to live again. The pain began to subside.

We took a break from boot camp for almost a year and hit the gym. We hooked up with a good friend who exercises more than anyone I know. And I was able to lift more than I ever lifted. I’m continually amazed at what the physical body can accomplish when the mental abilities kick in. But the lack of cardio sent my weight back up to where I began before boot camp. So about a month back we started up again with Marianne and she is kicking our butts back into shape.

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Today we did about two miles back in boot camp with weights. Stopping every 100 yards to drop and do pushups, squats, arm exercises. The fresh air from the mountains washed over me, letting me know I could hold on a bit longer, try a bit harder. The “girl weights” I started off with felt like 100 lbs each by the time we made the two miles.

Drenched in sweat, mind clear, it all came together.

It feels good to be alive.

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Saying No …

Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying “no” soon enough. ~ Josh Billings

by Pete Ferguson

Okay, I have a confession to make, I am a diagnosed people pleaser.

If I am not careful, I will agree to just about anything just to be agreeable. I quickly place myself in another’s shoes and when asked for help I think “if it were me, I’d want the help, so I’ll say YES.”

And so I’ve been known to sign up on many unwanted crusades by saying “yes” too quickly. The trouble is, since I didn’t really want to say yes I’m now stuck between keeping my word and being annoyed that I said yes.

Within family, church, and civic responsibilities, many are not used to hearing the word “no.” It makes you a bad Christian if you do not say yes to every single request for your time and attention, right?

When you allow every request to divert your attention from your most important activities of the day, everyone ends up frustrated. ~ Elizabeth Grace Saunders

The word “no” to me has had an emotional tie of rejection. Which is why I overcommitted myself previously by quickly jumping to a yes.

So how do you start saying “no?”

My wife Stephanie is really strong in this area. She simply says, “that is not going to work for me.”

No rejection, nothing personal. It just isn’t going to work for her.

Some will retort with all the great reasons why Steph should sign up for the PTA, commit a Saturday to service. If pressed, Steph may reveal her hand and let others know that she runs around from piano to dance to cello to violin to harp to flute lessons all week while running a preschool, which usually will dissuade most from pursuing her any further.

But she remains firm.

What I’ve found, interesting enough, is that many people who want a yes from me aren’t really committed to the cause – they are looking to either shift the burden of when they were too coward and said yes – or (misery loves company) they didn’t want to say no either and now they want me to join the club and get the martyr t-shirt as well.

As a recovering people pleaser, I can spot another a mile away.

So how do you muster up the courage to say “no?”

You have to stop drifting!

If you are planning a trip to Las Vegas and the car is packed, your hotel reservations have been made and tickets to your favorite shows are at “will call,” how easily will someone be able to persuade you that Washington D.C. is actually better?

Probably not likely, right?

Why? – Because you already have a plan and a vision of where you want to go and besides, the entire family is in the car and ready to go to Vegas!

And so it is with life. When you have a full plate of what you want to do and how you must accomplish the task, other’s crusades – while completely worthy and upstanding – will have little temptation to distract your time and attention.

So I’m learning to show compassion and encourage another’s request, but then politely say no or explain what else is going on and ask what I should stop doing.

Understand that being able to say “No” is a leadership practice.  It’s like when we first learned how to ride a bike, we were a bit sloppy at it. So, give yourself permission to fail, learn, and keep practicing. ~ Henna Inam

 

Start Somewhere

Live to Start. Start to Live.

Richie Norton

by Pete Ferguson

Friday I met up with a friend and one of my accountability coaches I met about 18 months ago on a plane. I’m rarely one to start up a conversation with a complete stranger, especially on a plane – too many sales pitches.

But this one was different and has been life altering. We’ve gotten together to check in sporadically and discuss projects for some time now. She’s helped me reframe failure and build the framework for success. On Friday we discussed where our lives have gone since first meeting.

Big places, with tiny steps.

Which is why I say today you must start somewhere. And today is a good place if you are already not on a journey.

And then of course, you have to continue moving forward from where you are.

One blog, 500 words, at least four times a week is 104,000 words, or a book or two, in one year. One trip to the gym, three times a week, results in much better fitness. Eating one less of something not so healthy a day leads to better nutrition and health.

You will fail along the way by not waiting for perfect to get started. That’s a good thing.

Once when I wrote about the “fun of failure,” someone responded, “Don’t think about it as failure! Re-cast it in your mind as something different,” etc. My first reaction was to agree, but then I realized —no. I don’t want to pretend that I’m not failing; I want to embrace failure. ~ Gretchen Rubin

Complete and utter failure teaches us to adapt quickly and opens creativity.

We become an expert at what not to do the next time.

We also may find hidden in failure a new success we were not originally working for. Viagra, Post-it notes, etc. …

So start something … anything, TODAY.

Taking Action

A man who has to be convinced to act before he acts is not a man of action. You must act as you breathe.
Georges Clemmanceau

by Pete Ferguson

I love Fridays. You’ve just about made it through the week, survived another one, and now it is time to unwind and focus more on personal pursuits. But I love Mondays too – so full of potential, a nice clean start to another week of adventures, successes, and failures to learn from.

I would be “sleeping in” instead of going to the gym except that I’m in a hotel room. And sleeping in for me is usually 6 am unless I can take two weeks off and seriously unwind. Who has time to sleep in when there is so much to do?

Slowly and shockingly, I realized that it does not take moving a mountain to achieve true happiness and fulfillment. It takes small shifts in perspective, a massive dose of self-confidence and self-esteem – none of it can be faked, all of it stems from within – and a determination to not give up until you find what you are meant to do with your life. ~ Farnoosh Brock

I’ve been helping Farnoosh edit her upcoming project: “Cracking The Code” about how to succeed in Corporate America. Farnoosh has been helping me garner more confidence and stick to commitments.

Yesterday it was decided that Farnoosh and I are to be accountability coaches for each other. She has to wade through my and many other’s edits for her ten chapter project before her upcoming birthday in April. I will get my book organized and in the editing process for a Kindle release by June 1st. And yesterday we both agreed it is time to get cracking!

I’ve had a number of accountability coaches. My wife of course. Myself. A colleague, Lauren, pushed me to register this domain name and write my first blog. Dan Miller’s Coaching With Excellence and a room of 50 people committed me to writing four blogs a day last May which has resulted in 90,000+ words. Ellie Gates has inspired me to take action on many things and has been a great corporate mentor. Jeff David committed me to give a go at coaching where I learned that is not where I currently need to be – but at least now I know!

“Do not lie in a ditch, and say God help me; use the
lawful tools He hath lent thee.”
— English Proverb

My father, now 68, just declared his desire to drop some serious weight so he can be around for another 10 years (I’m hoping for 20). He has enlisted all six of us in the gig and is willing to pay for pounds lost depending on our BMI scores. I will go public with that next week as it will be both embarrassing and a push to take action.

Having goals is good. But if they are in your head, they won’t happen. Writing them down is a great psychological way to commit, but sharing them openly and publicly is a great way to get scared into action I’ve found.

“Luck comes to a man who puts himself in the way of it. You went where something might be found and you found something, simple as that.” ~ Louis L’Amour, To the Far Blue Mountains

As I prepared for a radio interview this past week I was reminded of a transformative point in my life. Burnt out and making stupid decisions, I had a sabbatical of 5 weeks paid time off to get my life together. In the process, I found an old journal where TEN YEARS previously I had written down five goals – and achieved none of them.

Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you. ~ Thomas Jefferson

I have since repented and I’m working very diligently on all five of those goals and a few more.

What are your goals, and who is holding you accountable?

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If It’s Not Hard – You’re Not Practicing

Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. ~ Vince Lombardi

by Pete Ferguson

My kids are all very into music. Each plays the piano, and then another instrument (except two-year-old Miles who plays everything …)

Whenever a new piece is assigned by our very masterful teachers, it is really hard for our kids to adjust. They have fallen into a rut of ease with the previous pieces they have played almost to memory – but what they haven’t remembered is how hard it used to be.

We were discussing it on Sunday as we were winding down for bed. Mark had just been given a particularly challenging piece for cello which requires jumping from string to string within a bow movement as well as jumping all over the fingerboard.

I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true – hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it. ~ Ray Bradbury

I told Mark that if Steph and I went to the gym every day and used the one-pound weights we might feel really good about ourselves, but we’d get bored quickly and we certainly wouldn’t gain much muscle in traditional lifting.

And so it is with life. At work I’ve stretched far, been outside of my comfort zone, and felt unsure about where things were going. But then as I look back on my successes, I see that the lessons were learned and progress has been made.

This will be my 181st blog since May of last year. Over the summer there were many days I thought about quitting. With only 18 people viewing, I felt it wasn’t worth the time and effort. And it was uncomfortable throwing myself out there.

But then several of the 18 people approached me and thanked me. So it was worth it to them … good enough for me.

I don’t know if I practiced more than anybody, but I sure practiced enough. I still wonder if somebody -somewhere -was practicing more than me. ~ Larry Bird

Now writing comes with considerable ease – which means it is time to do something that will push my comfort zone again. I am thinking that it is time to put together the most read and commented blogs into a book form, then edit it together into one collection.

Work is crazy busy, and I need to continue with my commitment of four blogs a week, so it is outside of the comfort zone for sure. Then there is the “what if no one wants to buy it” and all of the other self-doubt that can be demoralizing.

But on top of writing this blog, I just helped a friend edit a book, so I’m feeling a bit bold.

The most popular blog so far, hands down? Ironically: “Why it is Time to Man (or Woman) Up!

So I guess it is time for me to Man Up and get going! My brother works for a well-known publisher and has been writing a novel and just signed on a literary agent. I think it would be fun to compete a bit. He will be going the traditional route, with the might of a publisher behind him as well as his experience in the business. I will be self-publishing on Amazon but you are part of a crowd who has stumbled upon my writing, found a commonality, and continue to read and subscribe – thanks by the way!

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

~ Neale Donald Walsch

Okay, now I’m out of my comfort zone and realizing that by writing here, I’ve just committed. I’ll need to put a date on that commitment shortly and timeline of what needs to happen to get there.

What is outside of your comfort zone that needs a gentle nudge? Post it for the world to see!

What’s Your Needs Assessment?

Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.
~ Michael Jordan

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by Pete Ferguson

Several years back I bought a 350 horse-powered SUV that had video entertainment, heated leather seats and a hefty price tag. We had owned a travel trailer for several years and had used it often, but our current SUV was underpowered and couldn’t take it far. At the time, diesel gasoline was $3.02 a gallon.

The new truck was a great truck and towed our trailer well all three times in two years – diesel had moved to almost $5 a gallon and we could only go 8-10 miles with that gallon.

When I finally humbled myself enough to conduct a family “needs analysis,” it was revealed that we didn’t like maintaining a trailer, and most often only 2-3 people sat in this monster truck at a time.

Steph summed it up well: “I spend all week in a 3,000 square foot house cooking, cleaning, and picking up after kids – why do I want to spend my weekends in a 300 square foot trailer cooking, cleaning, and picking up after kids?”

So we dumped it all.

We now have a used SUV bought with cash for rare occasions and two four-door cars – also bought with cash – and love taking vacations using hotels/motels and airlines. It was a very expensive lesson – despite being extremely impressed with all my former truck and trailer “could” do, we found we didn’t need 85% of the bells and whistles.

When we did a proper needs assessment, we realized our greater need was to be debt free. We also realized we were paying $700 a month (+ gas and insurance) for this ridiculous combo but couldn’t afford to go on vacation! – Stupid Tax as Dave Ramsey has appropriately coined it.

If you don’t have a plan, you will see the world as your oyster. Trouble is, you may not like eating oysters, especially one as big as the world …

And so it is living life without a plan. You have no carefully chosen destination, and as a result, you never “arrive.”

The same holds true for when you have a flawed plan. If your plan – as mine was – is to outdo your neighbors, you will arrive, only to find that the destination is not really where you wanted to be.

Carefully examine that end regularly and refine it. If you continually do this, eventually your day-to-day actions will take care of themselves and your eyes will be open to the resources and options which are lying right at your feet – but you were too blind to see.

What story of life are you writing? How does it end?

Where I Stand

While I am proud of what I’ve accomplished with music and songwriting, what I’m most proud of is my happiness. ~ Jewel

by Pete Ferguson

The past year or so has been an amazing journey. It has also been very personal – which makes writing here more difficult and why I’ve slacked off a bit.

It is easy to post a contrite “why you should …” blog, but much more difficult to dig deep and reveal the inner workings of one’s mind, heart, and soul.

The posts that are most popular seem to be the “seven reasons why you should …” or “ten things everyone should do better.”

But the reality is that I’m likely not going to do all seven, or ten, or three. I’m going to incorporate what works best for me.

And that is where happiness lies – in our ability to be ourselves, to be in the moment, and to have a vision of what we want to do and move in that direction.

Happiness is always there with us in the moment. We just have to make the shift and choose to see it … But being happy doesn’t come from the things we achieve or how far we’ve come. It comes from being present and enjoying the journey. ~ Peter Clemens

Mistakes come easily. That’s just life. We like to hold our heroes up high and pretend they did not make mistakes – or that they made big ones early in life but then turned it all around and never looked back.

But is that really reality? I’ve met multi millionaires who’ve said their biggest goal in life is to have a family that gets along better.

I’ve seen senior executives who’s greatest quest in life is happiness in their personal life. The success as work is a mere byproduct of that quest.

And what I’ve learned is simple. You have to be your best self.

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I say best self because being just “yourself” can lead to a lot of base behavior. The natural man or woman would likely sleep all day, eat a lot, and be quite selfish.

To be your best self requires momentum towards a vision of how your individual contributions to life will make a better life for those around you.

And for me, the journey does start right back where I started – with myself. I have big dreams: to transform the security world, to reveal the Tooele, Utah, valley as a great music hotbed of talent, which it is.

But the most important dreams I have are to see my children succeed. Just as my father worked hard to improve our lives over his own, I too want my children to have access to things which were out of my reach. I want them to be firm in who they are, and to help them realize their dreams with more ease – but not without learning from the trials and obstacles that will surely be in their way.

I want the words “can’t” and “impossible” to be a laughing matter and not a debilitating roadblock and dream killer.

And at work I want to extend that vision to others who are just starting their career and may feel stuck in an accidental career. I want to pave the way for them to be successful quicker, faster, and smarter than I have been. So they can take the torch I’ve carried and move it much farther into the future.

And that is where I stand.

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