Monthly Archives: August 2014

Fight Gone Bad, trip going better

I’m in Orlando now! I’m staying with Ally, another college friend, and her family. They have been uber-gracious to let me not only crash in their guest room but also eat their food and monopolize their dining room table for my workspace. And unfortunately, most of what I’ve been doing here in Orlando has been working and looking for work. I knew that would be the case, not just for this stop but for a lot of the trip, but it’s still taking a bit of getting used to. I read an article about mistakes beginning solopreneurs make on Sean Ogle’s site, Location 180, today, and one of the ones that stood out to me was the tendency to behave like a backpacker rather than an entrepreneur–that is, to treat travel like a vacation rather than a business trip, focusing on short-term fun rather than the long game of building a business. I knew going into this trip that it wasn’t going to be a vacation. But knowing that while still working out a decent work/life balance is a practice for sure, and I’m still figuring it all out. I’m sure I’ll have more to write about this in the future as well.

I did go to my second CrossFit workout yesterday, though! I found a box called CrossFit High Performance a short drive from where I’m staying, and dropped in for a Sunday morning WOD. That was actually the first thing that impressed me about CFHP, that they actually HAD a Sunday morning WOD. Most of the other boxes I’ve been to are closed on Sundays, or else have open gym or at most a late afternoon specialty WOD. CFHP has an 11:30am WOD on Sundays, as well as one at 6:00pm. The owner Tyrone and the class leader Adrian were very welcoming and knowledgeable.

Unfortunately (for me), the WOD was a workout called Fight Gone Bad, which is somewhat notorious in the CrossFit repertoire as being a ballbreaker. Basically you do as many reps as possible (AMRAP) of five different exercises for one minute each, then you get a minute break. That’s one round. The WOD itself is FIVE rounds. I remember round one and most of round two…the rest is pretty much a blur of struggling to do one more rep, then another after that, etc. This WOD was a reminder of one of the lessons I learned from taking cold showers: the first day of doing anything tough is easy. It’s the SECOND day that will kill you. And even scaled way, way down, this second WOD was REALLY hard. This is what my results looked like:

Wall balls, sumo deadlift high pulls, box jumps, push presses, and row for calories.

Wall balls, sumo deadlift high pulls, box jumps, push presses, and row for calories.

I manged to stay relatively consistent on the first four exercises of each round, but you can see in each rowing round how dead I was by that point. (You can also tell I was exhausted by the mistakes in my arithmetic, as round 2 should have been 47 reps, not 57.) The good news was that despite feeling like death during and after the WOD, I woke up this morning able to move normally, with only minimal pain and soreness. And as noted before, after completing the WOD my main goal at this early point is not to end up so sore I can’t move. So I count this a win.

Want magic bullets? Pick up the gun first.

There comes a time in every solopreneur’s professional life, usually fairly early on, when the following thought appears:

“When THIS happens, everything will be awesome.”

THIS can take many forms. Maybe it’s quitting your job. Maybe it’s going to a conference. Maybe it’s joining a mastermind or working with a particular mentor or coach. Maybe it’s starting your business, or making four (five? six? seven?) figures in that business. Maybe it’s traveling. Maybe it’s a family member bankrolling you, or an angel investor dropping you some seed money. Maybe it’s something else. But whatever THIS is, when it happens, all your problems will disappear, everything will suddenly be easy, and the rest of your life will be smooth sailing. THIS is your magic bullet.

So you go after it. You go to that conference. You join that mastermind. You approach that family member. You start that side hustle. And then you wait for the magic bullet to work, your life to transform, the money to roll in, the easy living to start.

Except it doesn’t. You’ve got new problems now, plus you’ve probably still got the problems you had before. You’re still broke, you’ve picked up more debt, and you’re even more stressed. This magic bullet didn’t work too well. Maybe it wasn’t the right one! Better find another. Try a different coach, a different travel path, a different investor, a different marketing plan. Surely that one will work, right? Or the next one? Or the one after that?

You see where this is going, don’t you? (And don’t call me Shirley.) Why do so many solopreneurs (and really, so many people from all walks of life) get stuck in this downward spiral of looking for a magic bullet, a cure-all, something (anything!) that will fix their lives and make everything easy?

Because it’s easier to keep looking for magic bullets than to admit you don’t know how to shoot.

I’m going to say that again.

It’s easier to keep looking for magic bullets than to admit you don’t know how to shoot. 

At The Conference For Men, one of the speakers talked about “walking toward the gun,” an analogy for facing fearful situations head-on, as in facing down a gun being pointed at you. But in the context of magic bullets, the analogy resonates for me in a different way. Now the gun isn’t being pointed at your head, it’s sitting on a workbench, or hanging from a nail, or displayed on a showcase rack. The gun is waiting for you to walk toward it, pick it up, and start learning how to use it. Walking toward the gun may mean facing your fears, but picking up the gun means taking responsibility for your life.

Think about the heroes of every great Western you’ve ever seen. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Rooster Cogburn. El Mariachi. Shane. Josey Wales. Butch and Sundance. The Magnificent Seven. (If you’re not a fan of Westerns, you can substitute John McClane, or Neo, or Bruce Wayne.) Each of these protagonists had moments where they could choose to let shit happen to them, or pick up a gun and fight for their lives. Some of them didn’t want to take on that responsibility. Some felt they were too old, too tired, too beaten down, or not good enough gunslingers, and they knew doing it would be hard, tiring, painful, maybe even fatal. But they picked up their guns anyway. They chose to be responsible for their own lives rather than wait for others to do it for them.

You, reading this right now, have a choice. You can keep looking for magic bullets. Or you can take responsibility for your life and pick up the gun. In the immortal words of Olmec from Legends of the Hidden Temple: the choice is yours, and yours alone.

I get that it’s a scary choice. Picking up the gun, whatever that metaphor means to you, may mean sacrificing your ego, your comfort zone, your free time, your habits. It will take time. You almost certainly won’t get it right the first time, or even the hundred and first. It will be tedious, or tiring, or terrifying, or all three at once. Some days you’ll fail completely. Some days you’ll look at the gun that you’re still learning how to hold or clean, let alone shoot, and think “damn it, why can’t I just find that magic bullet instead?”

I get that, because I deal with all those issues every day. My personal gun, taking responsibility for creating the income I need to support this trip rather than waiting for my family to fund it, is new enough to me that everything I just described comes and sits at my laptop with me every day. Tedious, tiring, and terrifying? Damn straight. So why do I keep doing it? And more importantly, why would you?

Because after they picked up their respective guns, Doc Holliday became the fastest draw in the West, Bruce Wayne saved Gotham City innumerable times as Batman, and Neo learned he could face down an agent and win. I decided to pick up this particular gun in the middle of May, some ten weeks ago. After those ten weeks, my life already looks completely different than it did before. I’m more comfortable with hard work and with uncertainty. I don’t mind being uncomfortable as much. Many of my habits have changed. I push myself harder. I like myself more. And I’m creating the income I need, one day at a time. So what if no one is coming to save me? I’m learning how to save myself.

Picking up the gun is the first step, or the first hundred steps, to being the hero of your own life. And even though it sucks sometimes, when you take such responsibility for your life that your gun becomes part of your arm, magic bullets become superfluous. You don’t need them anymore.

Back In The Box

So since day one, I’ve been staying with my college friend Andrew in Boynton Beach. He’s got a pull-out couch for me to sleep on, and lots of movies and miniseries on DVD for us to watch (Lego movie, season 3 of Sherlock, the Hornblower series, etc). He’s also taken me to some decent restaurants, in particular the Old Key Lime House, a very touristy place that nonetheless has pretty good food and (as you might expect) excellent key lime pie, and Due South Brewery, which serves its beer in a bar layout on weekends and has various board and card games for people to play while they drink. My high school friend Andie joined Andrew and I at Due South on Saturday night, and the three of us played Cards Against Humanity. She also took me to another cool restaurant, the Blue Anchor in Delray Beach, which was basically like someone had taken an English pub and transplanted it from across the pond to a touristy strip in eastern Florida. Pretty awesome. And I took another ocean picture, or more accurately a canal picture as Andie and I walked over the bridge spanning the intercoastal waterway.

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I also recently did something I haven’t done in over a year and a half: I went and worked out at a Crossfit box. Crossfit Boynton Beach is a pretty large box, with probably 20+ people to a class (at least on a Saturday morning). Possibly because of this, the WOD was a team workout where the class was split into groups of three. Sarah, the coach, clearly knew her attendees very well, because she pretty effortlessly divided everyone into teams based on experience and capability–or at least by gender and body type–before all of them had even arrived. I was on the Out Of Shape Guys team, which was not the team’s actual name (none of them were named) but was nonetheless largely true. The three of us could do all the exercises, but not as quickly or with as much weight as the other teams; we all were solidly built but carrying some extra weight; and as a result our WOD scores were somewhat lower than the other teams’ scores.

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But really, that was fine with me. My goal in going to CF again was just that, to GO. Well, that and not die. I’ve returned to CF after long periods away before, and several times pushed myself really hard in the first WOD back only to spend the following week too sore to move properly. So while I didn’t exactly slack off in this workout, I did listen to my body and made sure not to go too hard too fast. And while some of the exercises were really tough (knees to elbows reminded me how hard hanging from a bar is, and the 400m run at the end was brutal), I was pleasantly surprised by my performance in others (in particular wall balls, power cleans, and double-unders). And best of all, the next day I was only sore enough to feel how good the workout had been. No pain, no difficulty moving. It felt awesome.

(Of course, yesterday I did a few sprints after my morning walk and then today my left knee decided to hurt pretty much all day, but you can’t win them all.)

I’ll be in Boynton Beach for another day or so, and then on to visit my friend Ally in Orlando! The journey continues….

Coast to Coast in 4 Hours or Less

So I mentioned in my intro post that there are two things I love: growth and words. Today I’m going to add a third thing I love: travel! Especially by car. Between family moves (8), family vacations (at least a dozen), seasonal jobs (2), graduate school (1), and other long drives (a bunch), traveling within and around the US by car has been a major part of my life. I love to drive anywhere, but setting the cruise control and cuing up an audiobook or three is practically paradise.

So when I lost my job at Sarasota Opera at the end of March and began figuring out what I wanted to do with my newly location independent life, the choice was pretty easy: ROAD TRIP!

(Okay, it actually wasn’t that easy, and it wasn’t really until close to World Domination Summit that I felt ready enough for this trip to talk about it publicly, but I’ll go into my decision process more in a later post.)

So anyway, last Thursday, July 31, was the end of my lease in Sarasota and thus my final day as a full-time resident. I spent the morning tying up all the last loose ends of moving out of my apartment. Then I grabbed lunch, filled up my gas tank, and proceeded to drive across Florida, south past Venice and Naples and east toward Miami. It actually felt pretty normal. Not mundane or boring, but kind of ordinary, like I’d done this kind of drive a few times before and was comfortable doing it again. I guess the crazy excitement and/or paralyzing terror of this trip will show up later. And frankly, given how long and stressful the week prior to last Thursday had been, an afternoon of ordinary-feeling driving was just what the doctor ordered.

I was reminded that this is Florida by two things along the way: bad drivers, of which there were plenty, and the thunderstorm I drove through. Florida storms come up fast and pass by just as quickly, but in the interim they might as well be a heavenly fire hose. Thankfully most of the bad drivers decided to only be marginally reckless during the storm. Even the worst Florida driver apparently knows that trying to maintain 80+mph when you literally can’t see ten feet in front of you through the curtain of rain is Not A Good Plan. (Another nice thing about Florida is that you really can drive from one ocean to another in just a few hours, so even with the drivers and the weather it wasn’t all that bad.)

I got to Hollywood, FL, a little early for the meetup I’d be attending, so I stopped briefly at a Starbucks near the beach to stretch and get a drink, and was immediately distracted by the two golden retrievers sitting with their owner outside. One was a regular amber-colored golden, and a bit older; the other was a white golden (often called a Canadian or English golden), and still very much a puppy! She was about 8 months old, so she was near full size but her coloring was still very white rather than the champagne color they fade into as they get older. She kept trying to nip playfully at my hand as I petted her, which was both adorable and a bit frustrating. Sadly I forgot to ask if I could take a picture.

I did get a picture on the beach, however. My friend Josh Barad was hosting an authentic relation meetup on the beach, and because of the earlier storm it was both relatively cool and almost empty. As I stood at the edge of the surf, the blue-gray ocean and the remaining clouds filled me with some much-needed peace.

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Ahhhhhhh…

The meetup went really well. It was great to see Josh again and meet a few of his friends. Then I got back in my car and drove up to Boynton Beach, a suburb of West Palm Beach where my friend Andrew from college lives. I got in after ten and was pretty sleepy after the super-long day, but I was also starving, so I stayed awake long enough to throw together a sandwich and eat it while I caught up with Andrew for a bit, and then more or less collapsed onto his couch.

And that was day one.

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