Saturday, November 23, 2013

I am the Common Denominator

In every problem in our lives, one thing is constant. Every time someone screws us over or does something to us, every time some stupid system or rule gets changed and it affects us, one thing is the same. When our job (or jobs) prevents us from making a workout or eating right - when outside forces cause us to not have time to spend with our family and do what we want to in our lives, one piece is always the same. 

I am the common denominator.

And so are you. 

I don't typically like angry rants or blogs. As a coach, I think it is better to build people up then break them down but I think this concept is so elemental, so critical to our growth that there is no easy or nice way to put it. 

Suck it up. 

I am the common thread in all my problems. So are you in yours. 

And when I talk to people about this they nod and agree.

"Oh that is so true," they tell me. "No one wants to admit it."

But … 

Then the "but," as though it is true for everyone else except them. I know. I use the "but" sometimes too. Everyone does.

Right, it applies to everyone else in the world "but," you are the exception. Wrong. You are still the common denominator. 

We all know people that are always angry at someone else for what they are or aren't doing. 

"Everything would be better if so-and-so did this … " 

"Everyone around me is the same …"

See, I think as egos, as humans who have a certain image of ourselves, we hate accepting when we are the problem. While our logical mind, our brains, understand that there are things we are doing to screw things up, our egos, the side that deals with our beliefs about ourselves, gets in the way. It is easier to blame it on someone else than to really solve it. 

Now, engage the logical side again. 

If it is time to make a change, will it be easier to change yourself, the only thing you completely control, or someone else, something you have absolutely no control over? 

A friend of mine, a Marine, put it to me this way, "If things are fucked up, un-fuck yourself first."

Translated: "You are the common denominator."

The issue is simply one of perception 

You are the you you choose to be. But you are not the you you think you are. That is why this concept is so difficult to accept sometimes. Accepting that you are responsible for what happens, or at a minimum how you respond to it, means that you are not the you you think you are. Most of us see ourselves as capable. If we were capable, we wouldn't have these problems. It must be someone else's fault. We don't like to question our perception of ourselves, our identities. Admitting it is our fault not someone else's means we may not be who we thought we were. 

But it doesn't matter if we don't like it or it makes us uncomfortable or we don't believe it. It still is. And you can read this and tell me it's wrong. It won't matter. But it won't change it either. 

I am the common denominator. 

So are you.

Your life is the one you picked. 

Years ago I read book called Execution: The Art of Getting Things Done. My favorite quote (actually the only thing I really took from the book) was this: "We don't think ourselves into a new way of acting, we act ourselves into a new way of thinking."

Daydreaming and planning are not action. Neither is complaining and bitching.  

In your life, you are a participant, not a victim. Stop believing stuff happens to you and start making things happen for you. It is not someone else's fault.

Even when it is. 

They don't care and they won't fix it. You are the thread that runs common -- the common denominator. Take credit for the failures at least as quickly as you take credit for the successes.

Stop complaining to everyone about everyone else. No one wants to hear it. I don't and neither do you. It doesn't mean I don't care it just means I know it won't get you anywhere better than where you are. All we are doing when we bitch to others is trying to build allies, get them on our side and strengthen our case that we are not the problem. 

But I am the problem.

So are you.

Look at it this way: If it is a problem for you then it is your problem. 

Mahatma Gandhi said it clearest, "Be the change that you wish to see in the world."

Grandiose? Maybe, but what if Gandhi wasn't talking about the whole world? What if he just meant yours?

Even if you don't think you can change the whole world, you better recognize that you can change yours. Besides there is no one in that world better positioned to do it.

NOTE: I felt very Hemingway-esque today writing and editing this from a European coffee shop.  I am in Copenhagen to teach a course for guards in the Danish Federal Prison System for Blauer Tactical Systems . I spent most of the day wandering through the city, checking things out. There must be a million bikes in the bike racks, almost none are locked. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

FEAR: Mongering or management?

Finding the "Personal" in Personal Defense Readiness

A couple weeks ago, just days before I was going to a local high school to teach Personal Defense Readiness to a sophomore physical education class, I got a text from my wife about a school shooting in nearby Sparks, Nevada. She didn’t have the school name or the grade level. She just heard it happened. 
CrossFit Defense at CrossFit Love, Philadelphia (Top)
SPEAR Instructor Certification, York, PA (Bottom)

My sister is a teacher in Sparks. My nephew goes to school there. Despite the tragedy that occurred, there was a huge feeling of relief when I learned no one I knew was involved.

That same week several police officers I know, some friends, were injured when an parolee at large allegedly shot at them, trying to get away. One of the police officers was shot in the face and taken to the hospital.

A week later, I was across the country working in my role for Blauer Tactical Systems. I was in Pennsylvania teaching CrossFit Defense and SPEAR System for Law Enforcement Courses. I got several texts and emails from students and friends about a woman that was abducted from the local Wal-Mart, raped and dropped back off at the store. The folks who sent me the information, former students, believed I should remind people how important it was to take a self-defense course. I hated that I was across the country and was grateful that no one I knew was hurt.

See, one of the worst parts about being a self-defense or Personal Defense Readiness Instructor is that you always feel like you are using tragedies to promote your business.

When I refer to these stories I feel like I am standing on a pedestal with a megaphone shouting, “Look at the news, the world is scary. Learn how to defends yourself for $29.99!!!!”

It makes me feel kinda’ dirty. How do you inspire people to face their fears and train for something they don’t even want to consider without fear-mongering?

My self-defense coach Tony Blauer told me  that his system, the SPEAR System, is just like a fire extinguisher -- No one buys one, excited for their house to catch on fire, hoping to get a chance to use it. Self-defense is similar. No one learns self-protection skills and then goes out looking to get mugged. Most, I believe, will never want to have to put their new skills to the test. Like the fire extinguisher, we want them there, under the sink, in case the unthinkable happens.

I heard him say once that statistics are irrelevant, unless you are the one percent. Then, he points out, they mean everything. See, we get in this mindset that these tragedies ... this violence won't affect us. And statistically, that is a good bet -- until it is not. Then, the statistics are not only relevant, but  becoming one can be life changing. 

In the high school class we talked about the shooting in Sparks. I told them about the fear I felt when I heard about it and we discussed the heroic actions of the teacher, Mike Landsbury, who moved toward the danger giving the students time to flee. Investigators believe Landsbury’s actions, sacrificing himself, saved students lives. We talked about the numerous school shootings and lives that were saved when students and teachers who managed their fears moved toward the threat with “indignation” and purpose. We did drills, replicating an active shooter situation. One of the kids who participated confided to one of our coaches that his brother was in a school during an active shooter tragedy many years ago in Colorado. He has always harbored fears because of that. He said the training helped him face some of those fears and made him feel more empowered.

In the CrossFit Defense Course, we discussed the emails and texts I was receiving about the local assault. Some of the students admitted they had fears of just such an incident. I told them so did I, if not for me then my loved ones. We talked about addressing fears, in light of these types of things happening. We still have lives to live, and none of us, we agreed, were going to live in fear and hide.

Nonetheless, I was relieved to hear an arrest was made. (See the story here)

During the cop course, I was able to tell the students, cops themselves, the good news that the last of the wounded police officers I work with had been released from the hospital and his prognosis looked great. Many of them told me they had seen the story on CNN.

Here is the reality: We are all the one percent at some point. The statistics ARE relevant when the fear of becoming one of them negatively changes the quality of our lives. Even if we are never actually a victim, we suffer if we allow our fears to victimize us and change the way we live our lives.

And really, that kind of empowerment is what I want to market, not the fear.

In fact, the opposite is true. That BTS family of courses (SPEAR, CrossFit Defense and PDR) is the only one I know that provides a forum and a formula for particulars to identify, discuss and manage fear. 

Coach Blauer was recently featured in a CrossFit video. In the clip, he tells the story of the origins and evolutions of the CrossFit Defense program designed around his SPEAR System, the same system we teach at NorCal Self-Defense

"Everyday we're faced with some sort of conflict, some sort of confrontation,” Coach Blauer explained. ”How you manage that determines the quality of your day, and therefore the quality of your week, and therefore the quality of your life. Fear management is everything."

It is not paranoid to prepare. It’s your life, Live Ready!  

Check out the entire NorCal Self-Defense calendar here.