The physical world that we live in doesn’t care about should, but so many people that live in this world, including myself, care a whole lot about should. The really unfortunate part about it is that people that we don’t even know or care about are the ones who are telling us what we should do. The media, marketers, and advertisers largely are the ones who tell us how we should live our lives. Don’t forget the Joneses either. Nobody knows them, but too many are trying to keep up with them. You should buy this, you should buy that, you should look like this, you should like that, you should watch this, you should, should, should, should!
So this is one of my observations. Should doesn’t matter. The physical world doesn’t care at all how it should be, it is just what it is. So really things are exactly the way that they are supposed to be based on a cause and effect equation. As soon as we accept ourselves for who we are, we can find peace in that and bless not only our own life but others as well.
I also am not saying that we don’t need to improve ourselves and work to improve our lives and others. If you don’t like who you are and want to be someone else, you can always change. You are the only person that you really have any control of, and as soon as you change yourself, everything else will change for you.
So I am trying to do better, a little bit everyday. I am trying to not give a should anymore and to just change what I can about myself. It’s all I can do.
One of the benefits of having been in the wrestling world for so long is that you get to meet a lot of people. Over the course of my wrestling career, I was able to meet so many great people from all across the world, and they all had experiences that I was able to learn from. One of my college wrestling coaches was Matt Lindland. He wrestled for the University of Nebraska and as a senior was undefeated all the way up to the NCAA national tournament. Unfortunately he lost his first match of the tournament, and at that time, if you lost in the first round of the tournament, the opponent that beat you had to win their next match in order to pull you back into the consolation bracket. Matt’s opponent lost the next round and thus eliminated him from the competition. However, after his collegiate wrestling career, he was able to garner world and Olympic silver medals in greco roman wrestling. He also went on to have a very successful career in the UFC, and now coaches other wrestlers and fighters who are working hard for their dreams to come true.
There was time when Matt was in town in Colorado Springs for a training camp that we had at the Olympic training center. He showed some great technique, and I was able to have some great training sessions with him while he was out at our camp. As we were talking with some of his old team mates, who were also out in Colorado Springs, they began talking about one of their old friends. This friend had gone through a divorce and was with quite a younger woman. Matt and his friends were lamenting that their old friend had wrecked his previous marriage and that it was too bad for his ex wife and kids because they really liked them. During the conversation it came up that I was getting married in the upcoming fall. He gave me some marriage advice that I will never forget. It was very direct, and it actually caught me off guard and made me laugh a little. He said, “Oh you’re getting married? Let me give you some advice. Don’t bang whores.” It was simple, but apparently there are plenty of people who have a hard time with that. Infidelity causes plenty of divorces and break ups every year. I’m not judging anybody for the way that they choose to live their life. I know what my marriage commitment means to me, and as long as I focus on how I can treat my wife with love and respect, I think that we will be okay.
I have followed Matt’s advice and it has worked out well for me. I have been married to an amazing woman for 7 years who has given me two amazing daughters, and I hope that she sticks around for plenty more. She has been with me through all of the ups and downs and never complained about me being an athlete who was chasing my dreams around the world. She even flew half way across the world to see me wrestle in one of my last competitions, but that is a whole different story that I will have to tell another time.
The Art of Wrestling
Everybody that has wrestled before knows that it is a tough and intense sport. The workouts are grueling, the competition intense, and the lifestyle of a committed wrestler is unlike that of most of his friends and family. He is only as good as his last match and he must be ready for his next opponent, the one that wants to take everything from him and humiliate him in front of a crowd. If you are a wrestler, your whole life revolves around a series of battles in a long process of war. You battle with your own mind telling yourself you’re good enough, you battle with your team mates to hone your skills, and finally when you are on the mat in competition, you are battling for the victory over another man who has trained to beat you. His goal is to stop yours.
With such an aggressive sport how can it possibly be compared to art? Well just like the artist who spends time learning how to develop his stroke and mixing his colors on a palette, a wrestler must develop his skills and learn the best blend of technique, power, and endurance to find winning combinations against his opponents.
The artist creates art for the love of it, and for a fortunate few they are able to make a living off of it, but the art comes first and the reward comes second. A wrestler doesn’t start wrestling with a hope of million dollar contracts, they start it because a friend or family member brought them to a wrestling practice. They keep wrestling for the love of the sport. At some point they will get caught up in winning and losing, but what if the wrestler could just focus on the love of the sport with an intense desire to continually improve their craft? Where would wrestling be at today if everyone who participated in it thought of it as art? Perhaps we would have more wrestlers doing what they love even at an advanced age. Perhaps this special art would change the world.
“You should stretch more.” I tell myself this every time that I hurt my back. I have been hurting my back for years, but for some reason, I still struggle to take the time to stretch. The times that I stretch the most are during the times that my back is locked up and I want some relief. After my back starts to feel better I will usually keep stretching for another week or two, but then I get lazy, my muscles tighten, and I’m in pain again. Then I go see my chiropractor and rinse and repeat. I should be smarter, but a lot of times habits have nothing to do with smarts.
So if something is working, why would anyone stop doing it? I don’t know why, but I think it has something to do with boredom. One of my favorite quotes is “Losers have lots of variety. Winners just keep making the same old boring winning shots.” People overestimate their intelligence. They think that after something is working that they no longer need to do it, and that’s when things go south. The minute that you think you have arrived, you are screwed because you stop learning and you stop improving, and as soon as that happens your competition will pass you by.
So I’m trying to adopt a new philosophy. I don’t know anything, and I probably never will. Life has a way of teaching me the same lessons over and over.
I started taking college classes again, and it has been a challenge. It’s an accounting class and its hard for me. Debits, credits, where do they all go, how are they classified? I read the book and do the exercises but my mind tries to turn all of that information into scrambled eggs. It doesn’t want to think. It wants to be lazy, but I won’t let it. I’m going to stretch my mind, just like I stretch my hamstrings, glutes, and quads so my back doesn’t lock up. I don’t want my mind to lock up because I already don’t know anything, and I can’t afford to stay that way.
My back feels good today. I took the time to stretch this morning. My mind feels good. I stretched it too.
Do you remember when you wanted to accomplish something so badly that you were willing to give up anything and everything to have it? Do you still feel that way about accomplishing your goal today? I know that over the course of my lifetime that I have set plenty of goals for myself. I have accomplished a lot of them, but I have also failed at accomplishing others, even some that I put a lot of time into achieving. So what is the difference between being successful, accomplishing your goals, and living the type of life that you want or failing miserably and wishing that you would have followed through on the promises that you made to yourself when you were in the mood to work hard? The closest thing that I can come to an answer on this one can be summed up in a single word, distraction. Distraction can be your absolute worst enemy when it comes to achieving the things that you want to achieve in life.
Think about it, we make big promises to ourselves when we are feeling good, but as soon as things start to get a little bit hard, or don’t go as we planned it is easy to get a little distracted. Maybe you promised yourself that you are going to start reading more books, but as soon as your favorite TV show is on, you forget about that goal and plop down on the couch with a nice cold soda. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with drinking soda and watching TV, but what I am saying is that a lot of times distraction is what keeps us from living the life that we tell ourselves that we want when we have a moment of quiet introspection. I am saying that distraction lulls us slowly to sleep as time creeps by and we wake up with our lives having passed us by and not much of anything of significance to show for it. Fortunately there is something that can be our best friend, motivator, and coach. It also happens to be distraction’s worst enemy, it is called focus.
Absolute and concentrated focus will help you achieve whatever you want in this life. The concert pianist focuses for hours a day perfecting their craft, the professional sports star spends their life perfecting technique and skills, the artist spends their day sharing the clarity of their vision by putting it on canvas. Focus helps you to cut through distraction and concentrate on executing those specific tasks that will help you to live the life you have always wanted. Focus will help you to work through the pains and struggle of growth and overcome the obstacles that you will be forced to confront. Focus is hard. Focus is painful. Focus is sacrifice. But, that is what makes focus so great. You see not everyone is committed to 100% focus, and that is why there are very few champions.
So the next time that you sit down to write a goal remember that you will face challenges before you’re finished. You just have to ask yourself at the end of every day, “Who won today? Was it my enemy distraction, or was it my dear friend focus?”
There is a big difference between wrestling to win and wrestling not to lose. It all starts with the mindset that you have as you go into your match. If you are wrestling to win, you will do whatever it takes to get the job done, while if you are wrestling not to lose, you will do the bare minimum just to get by. I have been in tough matches where I have experienced both. The matches that I felt best about were the matches that I gave it my absolute all, and the funny thing is I lost some of those matches. Then on the other hand, I had matches where I won, but I didn’t feel like I wrestled very well. I think it comes down to one thing in particular: being aggressive and attacking from every position.
A long time ago, I was wrestling in my first age group world team trial. I didn’t even realize that it was possible for a kid in high school to wrestle in the world championships until I came across a coach that really opened my eyes to international competition. His name is Mark Fuller and is a four time Olympian for the United States. I had the fortune of starting to work with him on a regular basis during my junior year of high school. I had been to regional and national championships, but he encouraged me to go wrestle in a tournament that would allow me to go wrestle in Finland if I won. I was both nervous and excited to go wrestle in this tournament, especially because there would be college athletes competing at the tournament as well, and I was just a high school kid who had started wrestling a few years earlier. I remember the morning of the competition. Before my teammates and I ate breakfast, our coach told us that we needed to go on a little run in order to wake up and get our bodies moving. While I was on the run, I made up my mind that I was going to wrestle as hard as I could and that I had nothing to lose. This really helped me throughout the tournament. My mindset was that I really wanted to beat a college wrestler from a big school. I also knew that if I lost that it wouldn’t be the end of the world because the college kids would be the ones who would be favored to beat a high school kid anyway. I wrestled well and was able to make it to the finals.
I was nervous going into the final because I saw how big and muscular my opponent was. He was a college wrestler, and you could tell that he was the most physically developed athlete in the weight class. I told myself that I would just go out and wrestle as hard as I could. My game plan was to hit moves as soon as I felt them without even thinking about it or the risk involved. I was just going to let my training take over. I had spent a lot of time working on developing and arm spin and an arm throw with my new coach. This was one of his specialties, and his athletes had also spent a lot of time drilling it over and over. The match started and I just let everything out. I was trying headlocks, arm spins, body locks, gut wrenches, and lifts. You name it. If I knew the move, I was trying it. I kept attacking and attacking, and by the end of the match, I had created enough scrambles to allow me to score enough points to win. I had secured a spot on my very first world team, and I was really excited about it. I thought that it was cool that I was traveling out of state just to get to these qualifying tournaments, and now I had the opportunity to go out and wrestle in the world championships. It was awesome.
However, I can’t say that I wrestled like that throughout every single match of my career. I remember wrestling in other tournaments after I had more experience winning big events. I had a name now. I was supposed to win. I felt like I had a lot more to lose. I felt like people would think less of me if I lost to a lower ranked opponent. I based my self esteem on whether or not I was winning and losing wrestling matches so the fear of losing became greater than the desire and will to win. There is a definite difference between the two, and trust me the fear of loss is not a good one. It is a sickening feeling that sits in the bottom of your stomach and makes your mind race. You start to think about “what if?” and how everything good in your life can change in an instant if the thing that you fear actually takes place. Your heart starts to race, it gets harder to control your breathing, and your palms start to sweat. However, the truth in most cases is that your fear is just an illusion. You don’t have anything to lose because the game isn’t even over yet. It really is just irrational thinking. If you are wrestling a match and you lose, it isn’t like your opponent or anyone else for that matter will come to your house and strip you of all of the trophies, medals, and titles that you have earned in the past. You will still maintain all of the accomplishments that you had in the past, it just might be a case of where you might need to work harder or smarter in preparation for your next event.
Wrestling isn’t the only arena where people can make the choice to wrestle to win instead of wrestling not to lose. Take whatever you do at work for example. Are you really happy doing whatever it is that you are doing, or are you just doing it because it has good benefits and you don’t want to end up homeless in the gutter? Our world is changing at such a rate that if you’re wrestling not to lose, you are going to get beat and regret it. We need people to step up and take chances because a lot of the time even playing it safe isn’t that safe at all. You obviously don’t want to be reckless, but you have to give it your all whatever that may be. There is no guarantee that you will win if you wrestle to win or compete to win, but 10 years later you can look at what you did and be happy that you put everything on the line to succeed. That is something that no one can take away from you, ever.
New Year Resolutions
I read somewhere that most New Year resolutions will be done with by January 10th. That means that almost everyone that wanted to lose weight, organize their finances, quit smoking, or read a list of books will live the rest of the 355 days of the new year living exactly how they did the year before on autopilot. The same feelings of frustration, inadequacy, and self contempt will still be there gnawing away at the soul whispering, “You can do more. You’re not good enough.”, until numbness sets in again, the television is turned on again, and all is forgotten. So this year I want things to be different.
I don’t want to quit with everyone else on January 10th. It takes more than 10 days to sow and harvest greatness (unless you’re God, then you can do it in 6 and rest on the 7th). I hope that I can keep it up.
Success requires a grind. It requires sacrifice. It requires an individual to do something that they don’t want to do at times that they don’t want to do them at the cost of personal sacrifice. There must be struggle, and someone has to win. I’m ready to start winning again.
For many years, I spent my life trying to be the best in the world at something. I spent hours and hours working on developing my craft and honing my skills. There were extremely high highs and heart breaking lows, and the roller coaster of emotion became a drug. Winning is a drug, and after you’ve experienced it there is no way that you can return to the way that you were before. If you do, your soul will slowly wither away and die. You have to keep working, you have to keep reaching higher. Of course, there comes a point where you may have to play a game with different rules and players, but you have to play something. That is what you were made for, to succeed.
These are some things that I really love to do, and I want to do more of all of these throughout the year. If I can live my life in a way that allows me to do these things, I will feel like I am winning.
- Play with my kids. They love to play bears, a game where we all pretend we are bears, and we eat fish, collect berries, wrestle, and hibernate. Daddy horse rides are also something that my kids love.
-Write more. In person conversation is not my strongest suit. Sometimes I feel stifled in verbal communication, and I feel like I am more effective at sharing my feelings and ideas through the written word. I want to continue to blog throughout the year.
-Lift weights. I like lifting weights. It is fun, it releases stress, and I feel like it helps to keep me young. It also helps to keep my metabolism from slowing down too much. I want to beat a friends personal best lifts. He has a blog too and is training for the Games in Rio. Check him out at http://freejordan.org.
-Express more gratitude. There are so many people and things in my life that I am grateful for. I want to be quick in my recognizing and acknowledging people who help me in my life. Thanks to you for reading this blog.
-Show and tell my wife and kids how much I love them. I am so lucky and blessed to have such a supportive wife. She would do anything for me. I need to let her know how much she means to me. I also want my girls to trust me enough to talk with me when they become teenagers. I hear that those years can be challenging as a parent.
I know that my resolutions may not seem great or epic by other people’s standards, but that is unimportant to me. I know that if I follow through on this list that 2013 will give me peace of mind, a full heart, and a rich life. I’m excited for the journey. Good luck to you with your resolutions. I hope we all succeed.
What’s the point?
What is worth doing and doing well? The luxury of living in the United States provides countless opportunities to people who want to work and make a living for themselves, but the question becomes, what should I do to fill my time? There is no one that will come down from the sky and tell you what to do with your time for your benefit or survival, but the invention of the television and other media has given other people an outlet to tell you what you should be doing with your time. Of course you have family and friends who tell you what you should be doing with your life, but there comes a point in everyone’s life when even most of those people stop telling you what you should do because they figure that you are a grown person and should be making decisions for yourself.
When you are a child growing up and going to school, nobody tells you, at least nobody told me, “You know what money is going to be really important at some point of your life so you should plan for that time and be productive now while you are a kid so that you can play a whole lot more when you are grown up. All of these friends that you think are so important and necessary for your survival will all be gone someday. In fact, you will probably talk to less than one in ten of them after you graduate high school. Sure you might stalk them on Facebook or some other form of social media, but you probably won’t interact with them face to face ever again.” I guess parents want kids to enjoy their childhood because they also realize that after kids do grow up, get a job, and get married and have kids of their own that their life will be just a repeating pattern of going to work for someone else to make them rich while they slave away to make ends hopefully meet.
Most people don’t look at this reality and say to themselves, “My life really sucks and I need to do something about it. I need to make a dramatic change or else I will be stuck in this never ending pattern of crappiness.” A lot of people might feel that way, but then instead of doing anything about it, they just turn on the television to make themselves numb so that they don’t have to think about it anymore. The more I think about it, the more ridiculous it sounds. “Let’s spend hundreds of dollars on a device that will be the biggest thing on our wall in our living room, and the whole design of this device is for us to be unproductive and to want to go out and spend more money that we already don’t have enough of. In fact, let’s decorate this entire room around this wonderful time wasting center piece. Just think, instead of living our own lives and making our life a wonderful fulfilling experience, let’s watch other people live scripted and fake lives so that we have something to take our minds off of our own boring pathetic existences.” I imagine that the honest truth is that staring at a blank wall would be better for your health, life, and family. If everyone were staring at a blank wall, eventually everyone would either start interacting with one another, think of something constructive to do, or maybe even have a life changing epiphany that would help them better themselves. Maybe even someone would grab a book and learn something.
Here are some of the biggest TIME WASTERS that I can think of that suck away my LIFE:
-mindlessly surfing the web or watching Youtube videos
You know what? Right now in this moment, I would like to say that,”Hey, I am totally done with wasting my LIFE consuming all of this crap on these mediums. I don’t personally know anybody I see on television, a lot of the people that I am friends with on Facebook, and hardly anybody that I follow on Twitter. I will probably never ever meet the people who produce the videos that I watch on Youtube. I will stop wasting my time.”
Sure that sounds great, but I am going to try to be a little more realistic. Maybe I could limit myself to just one day a week where I catch up on some Facebook, perhaps watch a show I like, and do some mindless web surfing. The point is that I don’t want to be a consumer or a “user” anymore. Instead, I would like to be a producer. I want to be the one creating great content for people to consume, and I want whatever I create to help others to improve their life. I mean it really sounds like an obvious choice right? Either I could spend my life watching crap on television and wasting time, or I could spend my life trying to create something that will help others and will probably even make me happier. Instead of staring at a time wasting box, I can stare at the wall and force myself to think of something useful to do or just go and do something useful without having to use the wall as an inspiration. Maybe instead of just stalking my friends on Facebook, I will actually start calling them or trying to get together with them to do something fun.
Yes, I think I have totally lost my mind, and I am looking to make some huge changes in my life and hopefully other people’s lives as well. Wish me luck. My wife and kids are going to be pissed when they find out that I am going to be selling our television.<
Being responsible for your training is something that I can’t emphasize enough. Your career is dependent on the situations that you decide to put yourself and the effort that you put into your training. There are so many people that want to compete, that want to show up to the match, but they don’t want to train. You obviously have to be able to execute and perform when the pressure is on and it’s go time, but you have to train like there is no tomorrow. You want to be trained in such a way so that you don’t have to think about things too much while you are performing. You just want to be able to act.
The mind is a great thing, but sometimes it slows us down and gets in the way. The fear that has kept the human race alive for so long is also something that keeps us from taking risks or taking chances. When we think too much, we have this huge internal struggle and it allows fear to creep in. A lot of times it is easy to think that we are intelligent and rational people, but most of our decisions are made based on emotion, which doesn’t make any sense at all. So you need to be able to turn your brain off sometimes when you are competing. You need to train yourself to be a warrior that will do whatever is required at any given moment without having to sit and weigh the cost of your actions. You have to have the training so that the very moment that you feel your opponent is vulnerable, you attack and you score. You don’t have time to be afraid because your opponent wants to beat you into submission.
A good coach can help you so much with your training. A good coach will have a good plan for your training, and he will help you to execute that plan and push yourself when you don’t necessarily feel like it. A good coach will give you feed back as to what you need to focus on. A good coach will do a lot of things, but one thing that he can’t do is train for you. You have to train. You have to decide what you will be good at. You have to be responsible. Being responsible means setting goals for yourself and having a plan to achieve them. Being responsible means communicating with someone who will help to keep you accountable for you want to be working on. Being responsible means taking the initiative to ask your coach to take extra time with you. Being responsible means taking the time to watch and review your own film or scout future opponents. Being responsible means knowing what you are going to do every day after practice to get a little bit better than the rest of your opponents.
By being responsible you will be prepared, and when you are prepared, you won’t be afraid. By mastering your fear you have opened all of the doors of opportunity for yourself. Now get to work.