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Weird is the New “Normal’

Let your light bring colour to the world

Wait …. what?!.

I asked my eight year old son, my wife and my ten year old daughter, individually, to answer two questions –

  1. Did they think their dad/husband (of 20 years) was weird?
  2. What 3 things (out of the hundreds) they think is ‘weird’ about me?

I got some interesting answers and when my son was asked the question .. he answered it (like he has been since he began talking … saying –

wait … what?!

My wife’s three things were –

  1. What I eat
  2. How I think
  3. How I dress

My daughter’s three were –

  1. Things I liked
  2. Music I listened to
  3. How I eat

My son’s three things were –

  1. What I liked
  2. How much books I had
  3. He always sees me working

If that is what they see as ‘weird’ and is also part of why they each love me … for being … no one else but me, then so be it – I am weird, and proud of it. If being weird is a crime, then, I guess I am the biggest criminal in this world.

Beautiful art with my favourite colours

Weird to me is …

I was asked a question by a group of thinkers I’m a part of –

“What is weird to you?”

I typed my response as I sat down and thought … I”m a very fast typer, so I typed as I think … weird to me is .. 

Weird is being comfortable within yourself. With YOU.

Weird is closer to learning your truth, your beauty in life. Weird is heightened awareness that your truth lies within you.

Weird is being less self-conscious and not using that energy worrying about what other people think,

Weird is picking yourself up and trying again, no matter how many times you fall/fail or stink;

Weird is having abnormal strength, not from the gym but from all the times you’ve picked yourself up

Weird is never, ever, ever … giving up, simply because you’re ‘tough’;

Weird is loving the Journey song – “Don’t Stop Believin!” and use it as a mantra when you fail,

Weird is being courageous at just being YOU, in a world where everyone else is trying to be ‘like someone else’, following one another’s tail;

Weird is loving YOU, unconditionally and others you value, too

Weird is loving others enough to enlighten them with your truth and take time to admire the sky, so blue;

Weird is being open and prepared to listen to their truth,

Weird is allowing yourself to be vulnerable even at the expense of ridicule and shunned

Weird is speaking out against injustice when the majority won’t, without the use of a gun;

Weird is not accepting the ‘status quo’ and always seeking a new and better way of doing something,

Weird is always questioning the wisdom passed down from our forefathers … even two plus two equalling four and why do bees sting;

Weird is being self-less, about reaching out to connect through communication,

Weird is communicating with more than words … it is a communication from the soul & using your vibration;

Weird is respect, responsibility and peace, personified into every thought,

Weird is wisdom and strength disguised as UN-Normal, for all battles fought,

Weird is spiritual discipline revealing hidden treasures from one’s infinite creative source within and sharing with love

Weird is acceptance, freedom and contentment disguised in your physical form, taking you places by a dove;

Weird is courage, humility and integrity to oneself and others,

Weird is giving .. hope and gratitude as a daily habit, similar to that existing with lovers;

Weird is offering a hug or shoulder for someone to cry on when no one else will,

Weird is accepting you don’t know anything and your curiosity and energy keeps your search beating down new paths of knowledge trying to get your fill;

Weird treads the fine line that many fear to walk …

Weird is the precarious fine line between insanity and … genius, but for those who don’t understand, all they do is – talk;

Weird is closer to genius that you think,

Weird is knowing that which way you fall comes down to becoming a Master of Mind Management, let’s put in down in ink;

Weird is knowing that Mind Management involves 3 main areas –

Weird is knowing and doing better thinking because –

Weird is the summary I put forward here –

Weird = Thinking (focused) + Feeling (Heart) + Imagination (Goals/Dreams) ==>Good Life.

If you’re Weird, wonderful.

I like Weird.

I am Weird.

Being weird was seen and treated with distaste and branded ‘abnormal’ in our history of mankind. But that was history, this is the present.

We’re living through unprecedented change in our current history, the present. A gift. We’re creating our new history, beginning now … I pronounce that –

Find your truth, create your beauty.
Be the light you want to see in the world

Weird is the New Normal … 

Let’s be Normal, together … with all our other weird friends and … help imagine … and make this world a little better than how we have found it.

What do you reckon?!

Who’s with me?!!!

Do you believe this?

Cheers from Sydney, Australia

Paul e Valentine

**Vitality, Health & Lifestyle Coach/Entrepreneur**

Be the person that YOU are.

Be YOU.
As YOU are.
Accept the uniqueness … and weirdness that you know you are.
Embrace YOU.
Never imitate.

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UN-True Gods

Keep working toward being the best YOU can be.

What and who do you idolise?

We are taught that idolatory is placing our longings for what only God can provide in the hands of a creature instead of the Creator. What and who do you idolise? Have you thought about this?

Have you thought about this – when I live for my work, or my wife, then I have made them my UN-true God. When I have failed … and I will fail… multiple times… (I can be sure that an UN-True God will be powerless at the point of my greatest cry out for help & need).

What will happen then?

Pose name: Rear Lats-Spread
You’re looking at a well-sculptured, world-class back. I built this with Trust in God first, and trust in – ME.

SHAME on YOU

What will happen is … I will experience the shame of failure and misplaced Trust. Why is trust is important? Because, it is. Read about Trust here. The authors of the Bible are very clear that dependence on an UN-true or “False” God will inevitably result in loss, pain and most horribly – shame (Isaiah 42:17; 44:9-11).

It seems that a False God will always disappoint.

Here is a story about shame .. I’m sure, each and every one of us can relate

A friend of a friend once told me that she waited for her mother for what seemed like 3 hours at an airport once. She had a wait ‘in-transit’ and notified the ‘busy’ mum about the opportunity to meet. The mum agreed two days before this was to occur.

She waited.

And waited.

She told herself not to put too much faith in her mum, for fear that she might forget and she told herself not to build up to much faith in her mum. Her mum was full of energy and vitality and had so much time for everything and everyone but …

Her.

She waited.

And waited.

Going through what she would say to her mum over and over in her head. All the things she wanted to share with her.

Time passed.

She did not come.

After the first hour, she would stop looking up to see if her mum would be there and just buried her head in her book. But, it wasn’t perfect, heck, nothing is ever perfect. So … she would hesitantly …

Look up!

Hoping that she would finally see her there, but no.

No one.

She would feel an immense wave of self-hatred and shame. The worst feeling one could feel, of all the feelings you could feel that is negative, shame is the lowest of the low.

Pose Name: Back Double-Biceps
The extent of Back Development highlights the extent of development the athlete has in the understanding of the sport of physique sculpting. Not resorting to illegal performance enhancing drugs is a choice. Building muscle the “natural “ way allows you to hang on to it, even if you don’t work out for a while.

There is no hope

She hoped.

She was looking for hope. Hope that she would connect with the Woman who was her False God – the one who could bestow or retract her life.

But THAT Idolised God … the woman she called her mum …

Failed her.

And she was ashamed.

The question is not why did she allow that to happen, the question is why do we all experience that feeling of shame at least once in our lives? Why, I ask? Why do we allow ourselves to be hurt and shamed by False Gods? They are not worth it… there is only one God and he is not a False God.

Persons must ‘open’ their eyes … open their minds.

Pose Name: Side Triceps.
One of my favourites … in my gym of 7 years. Everything we achieve in life and everyone we interact with in life, is founded on Trust.

Losing Face

Shame is the lowest level anyone can experience out of all the negative, low consciousness levels, lower than even Guilt. It is perilously proximate to death, which may be chosen out of Shame as conscious suicide or more subtly elected by failure to take steps to prolong life.

It seems, death by avoidable accident is common in this circumstance. We all have had some experience in our lives so far of .. ‘losing face’, becoming discredited, or feeling like a ‘non-person.”

We all want to be Mr or Mrs Invisible when we feel shame, hanging our heads and slinking away. In primitive societies, even in Biblical times, from which we all come from, banishment is equivalent to death. Remember Cain, the brother of Abel? He was banished.

The equivalent of death, it was.

Shame, as Freud determined, produces neurosis. It’s destructive to emotional and psychological health and feeds in to low self-esteem.

This ultimately leads to the development of physical illness. “It seems that the Shame-based personality is shy, withdrawn, and introverted.” (Dr. David R. Hawkins, Power v Force)

Do you harbour any shame from your childhood? I would suggest you work out a way to rid it from your inside, from your soul before it’s ugly head rears itself further down the track in your life.

Training efficiently and effectively under the “safety umbrella ☔️ “ helped me get to 2 x world 🌎 championships. 
The conservative approach to training is always the best way in the long term (it may take longer, ie., it took me 10 years to get to the World 🌎 stage, but I did. With all my joints in tacked. No injuries in almost 30 years of lifting weights 🏋️‍♂️ is a great record to have.

The Greatest Loss – our failure to trust … GOD

The greatest loss is the greatest shame.

And what is that ‘greatest shame?” It comes down to something I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. It comes down to Trust.

Yes, trust.

It is our ultimate failure to trust God.

What is your ‘world-view’ on trust? Is it the Bible’s interpretation of Trust, at it’s essential core? What is the Biblical version of Trust? As I see it –

Trust seems to involve a reliance on God for what seems to be the most essential to our being, to us – being human. And what is that, you may think.

Trust in God.
He is the only TRUE God

S.O.S

Well, it is fundamentally the whole-ness of our soul, our spirit. The intact-ness of it, all. One should never lose one’s soul/spirit to anything or anyone that could be considered to be a False God.

Why is the soul important?

Well, for many reasons but one reason is that anyone or anything should not be allowed to shame or disgrace or possess our soul – that quintessential core of who we are.

That ‘essence’ that will live forever … eternally with God, our True God … no matter what is done to our body, reputation or temporal security.

S.O.S

Save Our SOULS.

Please.

True GOD.

 

Cheers & AhoY!

The Old Cap’n Viking Pirate Evangelist Muscled Monk … & shame

Don’t instill shame in your kids. Teach them to have a relationship with God, the True God

Help people strengthen their resolve, internally, with their own souls
so… that nothing can tear it out.

 

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Death of a Cubicle Worker

Bigger isn’t necessarily better but … it can smash things (like the Hulk)

Bigger isn’t necessarily better

I remember the last words my boss of almost three years say to me as I walked out of his office –

Paul, bigger isn’t necessarily better’.

I nodded at him, smiled and left. This happened a long time ago, back in 2003.

You see I had an offer to go work at one of the Top 2 Accounting & Business Advisory Firms in the world and I was leaving my role as a Senior Accountant of a 2nd-tier Accounting & Business Firm in Sydney, Australia (Top 20 in Australia).

It was exciting and even though my boss was happy for me, I could tell he was a little sad. I had handled his clients for almost three years and did a good job at it, working very hard. Heck, for about six months after I joined, my Manager upped and walked out and I was thrust in to an “acting Manager” role. I held the fort, so to speak for half a year while they looked for someone appropriately qualified and skilled.

He liked me. I was loyal and I was there when he needed me. This was reflected in my six-monthly salary review, I was handsomely compensated and was at the top of the salary range of my peers. “Not bad” I thought.

I could not foresee the future and being a candidate for the death of a cubicle worker.

Funny thing is that that piece of advice also applies to muscles and bodybuilding. The guy with the biggest muscles doesn’t necessarily win on stage in competition. That is because the guy with the most balanced & symmetrical physique with the right muscle: joint ratios and knowledge of the ‘art of posing’ is what builds a champion physique.

I’d understand that fully in my next phase of life, only a few years from where I was then …

 

Exactly.
No one can truly see the future but we can certainly extrapolate current patterns to help predict the future.

When being your Best isn’t good enough

I was hired at a newly-created level just below the “Senior” level I was at my old Firm. It was a blow to my ego, initially, as I felt that I was being demoted. I brushed that out of my mind and told myself that ‘it was only a title’.

Thing is, that initial thought bugged me right through my experience there and every other thing that bugged me just seemed much bigger than what it was. Hey, I was back at a Big Four! (My first Corporate work experience was at the largest of the Big 7 at that time – Arthur Andersen, just after graduation in the late 90s, where I spent over 2 years as a Risk Consultant).

It is now the Big Four.

Was nice to be back, or so I thought.

Let me just say that …I failed at my role. This is when I learned how being your best was not good enough.

I was going from a mid-tier to a Big Four and that was a ‘step up’ in the world, or so we believed. My first, heck, my first three months was nerve wrecking and admittedly, I found the place intimidating, cold and I was filled with fear but also a bit of excitement and loads of nervous energy.

But I had a bit of pride about it all.

I was sort of average at University. Many students had been far above me on the Dean’s list and graduated with honours and straight A’s. Not me. I had never hit any academic home-run except when I was in Primary and High School.

But that was a long time ago…. and besides, I was literally practising my social skills and building relationships and making connections in many sections of life. Skills like honing ‘small talk’ in various social situations, comfortably having conversations with people from all levels of the university and society- from the Chancellor, to having beers with Heads of Departments, to Gym Managers to gardeners. I spent a lot of that time mixing and socialising and finding out more about people as I ran a small business on the side too.

Besides there just so much to do besides study for straight As, and working on developing ‘me’ as a whole person and …. I had the energy and foresight to do that.

“What did my employer see in me? “ I used to ask myself.

They were looking for “well-rounded” individuals with experience along with brains… not just super-brains with no ‘people skills’. Ha! All that time running a business while studying and socialising wasn’t a waste after all. Apparently, many studies from major educational institutions indicate that the ability to connect with people is a key skill to have in life, a part of what is now commonly known as ‘Emotional Intelligence’.

One thing that immediately bugged me after getting that ‘newly-created’ title was I wasn’t getting much more than what I was getting at my old job.

I went from a Window Cubicle with great views to a ‘hot-desk’ and great work colleagues and a wonderful culture to something that was very different. A hot desk means that you don’t really work there and they don’t give you a permanent spot. You’re meant to be at your client’s premises, because if you are then, you’re charging your time to the client.

The firm makes it’s money that way, they had many perks. Employees loved that. I wasn’t phased.

The office was huge. An open-flat plan, comprising of a cubicle-walled jigsaw puzzle that felt like one of those boxes they make white mice run through to find the cheese.

Sometimes taking a bad photo of yourself can be very good for your own good. Just like sometimes, the greatest hurt teaches you the most.

Our Life-Controlling Mechanism

We can fill our minds with inspirational messages encouraging us to “Just do it!” or “Follow your heart!” so when we can’t do something or we recognize we aren’t good at something, we feel stuck. If we quit, that’s a problem (“Just do it! Don’t give up!”)

Sticking with it and quitting is a losing game, it is a lose-lose situation. No amount of positive affirmation can get you out of this abyss.

You feel like you’re unable to move at all.

Not able to think straight .. I felt like an imposter .. that I wasn’t good enough to be amongst the best of the best … not a good feeling to have at all.

I grinded my teeth as I slept, tossing and turning at night, and waking up with a feeling of dread in my stomach. I couldn’t handle that immense feeling of failure that kept rising and rising. Was it that I couldn’t do my job or I just lost all care about doing it? I’m not sure what happened first, my memory may have been a bit distorted.

I didn’t know where to turn.

I felt trapped.

You see, each of us have our own self-image, which kind of determines the kind of scope of person we are – it is our Life Controlling Mechanism. You see, we all have self-imposed limitations and we cannot outgrow these limits we place on ourselves.

We can only set new limits within which we must live.

Sometimes inspiration is not what you need, it is acceptance.

Acceptance so that you can move on and one day be in a position to say –

“I used to do that at one time in my life, but I no longer do”

A very powerful phrase to say. We all need to think we are making progress in life, no matter how small ‘that’ progress is. Saying ‘I used to do that?” gives you at least a perception that you’re kind of progressing in life.

Never give up.
In less than I year of leaving my cubicle in the Corporate Environment I was standing and competing against the best natural bodybuilders in the world at the World Natural Bodybuilding Championships in New York, USA.
Find your strengths .. know your strengths .. continuously build your strength on strengths.
Never give up

It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not.

Especially if you’re hard on yourself like I am.

What doorways are you trying to squeeze yourself through right now where … you know what?

You really fit just fine. You are not the problems. It is the environment that you are working in, that is the problem. If you take a fish out of water and expect it to climb a tree, it will fail miserably.

Does the environment make us believe it’s all our fault? Yes, yes, definitely yes.

We live in a world where the screws are on tight. There’s a capitalistic shrink wrap making sure everything is fitter, happier, and more productive. So sometimes the stress on all of us builds too high.

There’s no room for error.

Now, that doesn’t mean my bosses at the Top Firm were bad, they absolutely weren’t. They had lofty expectations and needed me to help. Fast! The screws were tight on them, too.

No wonder it’s such a hard lesson to learn as we’re falling that we’re okay, we’re okay, we’re okay. And maybe it’s just not about us. It simply isn’t about us.

Well, nobody is telling us that. So we always think it’s always about us.

Maybe what we need is simply – a Fresh Start.

I did.

A few years later I did what I really loved to do and that was to coach people how to be their Best – I owned and managed my Family Gym for about seven years. That failure at that cubicle job had many benefits, it spurred me on to very intense self-reflections and an identification of personal strengths. So much so, that in less than a year of leaving the cubicle world, I was competing at my first of two World Natural Bodybuilding Championships, representing Australia.

Finally, this fish was in the ‘right environment’ and my Best was good enough… good enough to be one of the best in the world at my chosen activity (Top 5 in the world two years in a row, representing the country I love).

You see I’ve learned many things from that failed cubicle job experience and one of it is that it’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not.

I wonder what yours is?

I know one thing for certain … the future of work will see the death of many cubicle workers. It already has as technology has allowed many employees to work from a distance already. Be creative and consider strategies for your future and the future of work, Now.

Never forget: BELIEVE in YOU, first.

All the very best,

 

Cheers & Ahoy!

The old Cap’n Viking Pirate Evangelist Muscled Monk

Learning from the best at something, to be your best is the quickest way to get to where you’re going.
No one can teach you what they don’t know.

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To DO NOTHING could be the best thing you could do for yourself.

The brain cannot multi-task, this is a myth.
Neuroscience shows that the brain can only TASK-SWITCH.
You CANNOT multi-task without mistakes.
Teach yourself to DO NOTHING … to SIT STILL. … to …
Just BE.

Sitting still is UN-Easy

My daughter and son are now almost eleven and nine respectively.

I have watched them grow in to enthusiastic and very curious individuals. They have the same blueprint but have very different personalities and appreciate their own uniqueness. Over the years, I have given them many challenges for their growth, in various forms – art, music, sport, mental agility, verbal wrestling etc.

When they were four and two respectively, I gave them a challenge to DO NOTHING … just to sit ‘still’. We first began with 20 seconds and kept increasing. Like any new habit, the first time was quite difficult for them, being kids .. but as time went on, they got better at it. It was the hardest thing they have had to do in my opinion and is one of the hardest things for adults to do too.

Sitting still is UN-Easy, indeed. Some cultures do this better than others and I believe many in the developed world can take a page out of the Fijian’s handbook. It is no fluke that they are the happiest people on the planet. They know when to work … and when to relax. They don’t mix the two.

Try it. How did you go?

Guess how good my children are at sitting still now? Yep, they can sit still for an hour with ease now, when they need to. Like all habits, it takes patience and practise.

People in a hurry struggle to find time for recovery, real recovery. Many look forward to their annual 4 week leave, but by then, it is too late, as you cannot escape your mind. You can only manage it better. Their minds have little time to meditate, to UN-Think, to just BE. Still. Their minds have little time to pray and their problems seem to get ‘blown out of proportion” and usually taken out of perspective.

In short, I believe people in our very fast-paced cities and societies have been showing clear signs of physiological and psychological disintegration because of many reasons. One key reason, as I see it is that we are living at a pace that is too fast for our bodies. It seems that people think that all other areas of life needs to be changed as fast as technology changes.

Nope, very bad extrapolation of ‘correlation’ if you asked me. This, I believe is the Essence of the Stress Problem in society, as this way of thinking feeds in to the ‘instant gratification’ mentality afflicting many in our modern-day societies.

Find your inner-peace but don’t wait too long … or until you’re a skeleton

ACTing to Create Change

It is difficult to get YOU and your mind to be in the Present moment, to have mindful connection with the present moment. Why is that? I wrote that one way to do so is to learn to “UN-Think”.

You see, from my experience, plugging back into the present moment and connecting with our surroundings does not need to be complicated.

Being in the present moment tends to prove most difficult when we are troubled with a major life problem, loss or trauma, and no one reading this and alive, can say that they haven’t experienced these challenges.

As we all know, problems have the habit of filling our minds and taking over our thoughts to the point where we can be emotionally and mentally absent from the people around us. This is why we all need to improve our skill at being still.

You see, I believe, to do nothing and be still is an under-rated, yet, KEY life skill, as hinted in the Bible –

“Be still and know that I am God.”    

  • Psalm 46:10

But many have forgotten how to do so because they are always ‘busy’. “How are you?” I would ask … to a response of – “busy!” . Really, I ask myself.

Like all new skills, practice makes a huge difference and with perseverance, the skill becomes easier to master.

Here are a few routines you could practise to help you get back to the present moment, as part of your acting to create change

  • Apply your senses
    1. Stop
    2. Be Still.
    3. Concentrate on trying to name 3 things you can –
      1. See
      2. Hear Feel or touch
  • Grounding YOU”
    1. Stop.
    2. Be Still.
    3. Push your feet into the ground (feel that force travel through your feet into your glutes into your lower back and up towards your neck)
    4. Consciously straighten your back.
    5. Chin up and shoulders back.

STOP and RELAX
After almost 30 years of training with weights in the gym, I have found that Breathing properly is one of the Key factors in achieving the results you desire. Apart from staying alive, breathing properly allows you to focus better and when you focus better, you have improved ‘mind-muscle’ connection, you become “ONE”.

When you have better mind-muscle connection, you feel and control the weight better and when this happens, you build quality muscle better. Breathing correctly increases your self-awareness and helps you avoid injuries in the gym (part of the reason I have stayed INJURY-FREE since I began weight training in the gym).

Stop and Relax

  1. Stop.
  2. Be still.
  3. Take a deep breath and count ‘one’
  4. Then breathe again ..
  5. And Count ‘Two’ in your head …
  6. Then breathe again ..
  7. And count “Three” in your head…
  8. And keep going to ten.

 

If you can focus on nothing else but the numbers and not let any other thought come in to your mind as you count one through to ten while focusing on breathing slowly and deeply, you would have gotten closer to mastering the ‘art of concentration’.

Try it. See how you feel.

Find that place where you can sit ‘still’ and ‘ do nothing’ … but just BE. For me, it is where the land meets and sea that meets the sky. I sit still and do nothing but listen and see and smell and feel. where do you go?

 Stress-Free Living

I have noticed that many expressions of spirituality have become linked to adrenalin arousal. I believe, can be very harmful. In recent times (over the last 10 years or so), many modern-day sages or ‘saints’ seem to find their peak spiritual experiences in exciting challenges or emotional catharsis.

Why?

[Many] seem to confuse adrenalin arousal with spiritual growth. If their bodies were stimulated, they then felt they were growing spiritually. If they were not stimulated, they felt nothing was happening.

Well, I’ve got news for you … it ISN’T!

The saddest thing about this kind of confusion is that it actually works against spiritual growth. People are confusing adrenalin arousal with spirituality. Many true saints of God as outlined in the Bible found their peak spiritual experiences in quietness and solitude.

Here’s the prescription for ‘stress-free living’:

“your beauty … should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet smile, which is of great worth in God’s sigh.”

  • 1 Peter 3:3-4

This truth, which was meant for wives in the original context is a wonderful secret to stress-free living.

Begin with YOU … the internal-you.

Then, worry about the external.

 

Cheers & Ahoy!

The old Cap’n Viking Pirate Evangelist Muscled Monk … & learning to DO NOTHING could be the best thing you could do for yourself.

Have no doubt.
Help yourself first.
God will meet you half way …
he ALWAYS does.
All you have to do is: BELIEVE.

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Recognised for being the BEST

Recognition for being the best at something by society is special. It is something each and every one of us continue to search for in our lives.
Here I am with one of my signature poses at the 1st World Natural Bodybuilding Championships I competed in, representing Australia.
They only reward the Top 5.
I made 4th.
Not bad for a boy from the Fiji Islands who not only dared to dream… but to Dream BIG.

Running a political party

Most of you know that once upon a time, I owned and managed a Family Gym for about 7 years, a gym that was me .. and me, it.

It was like running a political party with many factions/sub-groups within sub-groups in the party and I was the Leader/Prime Minister.

We had many sub-groups – policemen/women; ex-police vice – commissioners; ex-inmates; Italians; Greeks; arabs; South Americans; Pacific islanders; Irishmen; Englishmen; Americans; Canadians; French; Germans; Africans; South Africans; dads; mums; athletes; plumbers; electricians; designers; accountants; chairpersons of and senior executives of banks; lawyers; engineers; politicians; powerful businessmen; construction workers; builders; rubbish collectors; … you name it.

We had them. A great cross-section of Australian society. They all belonged to my extended family – of love 💓 (hence, 💓alentine).

And I had to ensure that each sub-group worked well with each other & most of the time they did. But it took work… a lot of work.

And I loved it.

 

A night out with some of the Gentle. Men in my Family Gym.

Conflict Resolution – a skill for Life

I learned a lot.

Chief among them was – The art of negotiations and collaboration with anyone. I was a connector and connected people. I got warring groups to “get along” … that it was ok to “agree to disagree” (luckily there were few and far destructive disagreements). I learned that you can disagree with someone and not feel threatened or does not mean that you hate that person.

From biker gang Bosses and their members to retired citizens … I found myself constantly diffusing problems and potential problems.

Naturally, one of my major strengths now is: Conflict Resolution.

If I can’t provide a solution, I will definitely know someone, who knows someone… who can.

A ‘sick day’ from school day for us here, 4 years ago now.
Enjoying the entertainment at Sydney’s beautiful Luna Park.
I never let schooling interfere with my or my family’s education.
Children teach you better conflict resolution skills

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover

Despite there being so many differences I also learned that we all have more in common then we think … if you –

“don’t judge a book by its cover “.

Very difficult indeed for many but that is what I did … and still do.

I welcomed anyone and everyone in to my gym, with a smile and a question that has stayed with me til today –

“How can I help you?”

The members that were courageous enough to walk through my doors to seek help were .. got my undivided attention. They were invited to be in my extended family if they chose to … and I treated and see them like that ‘til today, even though I don’t speak to many of them since I let the gym go.

My grandfather taught me many things, one of which is not to judge anyone based on the person’s image. And … give people a second chance. Leave the judging to God.

We had a 70:30 ‘split’ between males and females, with age ranging from 90 year old to my son at that time (between 0 and 2 and half years old). Members came from up to 20km away (& drive past 15 other gyms to get there) …and from all levels of society.

We had members from all levels of society … from one of the Top 200 wealthiest people in Australia at that time to some of the less fortunate in the neighbourhood.

This latter group made my gym operation very ‘un-business like’ because I try to do the right thing whenever I can, which is to give people access to my gym facilities even if they didn’t have any money to pay.

 

Gym members of all ages and sizes came to my Family Gym.
They even stopped by to say hello before their High School Formal

A partially Charity Gym

So, my gym was very much a partially Charity gym as I would help almost every person that made their way up the stairs if they made the decision to help themselves. I gave a lot of the members a platform to launch their best selves (many who could not afford to pay their gym membership or coaching. I would help them and never turn anyone away).

I could not & did not turn any person away because I just can’t (when you put yourself in their shoes ), and empathise, you automatically open your arms (even though it goes against everything you learn in your business degree about making $ )

And … expect nothing back. You just GIVE and … Give …&

Provided they genuinely wanted to and would allow me to help them, help themselves.

Basically show them “how to”

And they did.

Me my extended family members; a group of members of my family gym.
They all loved training and being part of the extended family that was my gym
Relationship take time to develop .. just like an Oak Tree needs time to grow

In the years that we entered the Community Business Awards (I think we entered it 3 x) and won our ‘Health & Fitness” category in one year and was finalist in the other two years.

It was certainly a very proud moment for my wife, Cathy and I as it was voted on by the many local communities that make up the Northern Beaches. We were recognised for being the Best at what we did and were the best gym in the Northern Beaches, Sydney, Australia.

Confirmation that the community of people at large agreed with and appreciated mine and my staff’s efforts to provide a vehicle to help people, help themselves … find something they care about.

Because I cared.

I’m content I … “took a stand back then. For 7 years I did. A stand for what I believed in … that every person, irrespective of their background or place in society, should have access to the best help they can get.

My members knew they did,. They didn’t just have any gym owner and coach to guide them, no, they had me, a 2 x World Natural Bodybuilding Champion to help them, help themselves move towards something they cared about. And I enjoyed every challenging minute of it. Even though, it costed me $$$ and thousands of hours of free gym membership and knowledge and ‘know-how’ so people could help themselves.

Simply because of the person that I am.

Giving. I gave them my knowledge and ‘know-how’ … my life and contributed to making the world a better place, by empowering one person at a time.

We received the award from the honourable Government Minister, Miss Bronwyn Bishop.

Was a lovey night.

Lovely memories … of once upon a time … and it is very lovely to say –

“I used to …. do a certain thing at one point in my life .. but I no longer do”

 

Cheers & ahoy!

The old Cap’n Viking Pirate … & a period of time when I used to own and manage a beautiful, one-of-a-kind’ Family Gym

Receiving the Local Small Business Award from the government minister in Australia – Mrs Bronwyn Bishop
Category: Best Gym in the Northern Beaches – Health & Fitness category

 

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After almost 3 decades of training in the gym, here are my Top 3 Tips to “get going” again

Work on strengthening the spirit within. It is part of the foundation of love – the unknowable.


Beginning the journey for anything worthwhile achieving is never easy … but you’ve got to Start – Just DO IT (I’ve always loved this NIKE slogan … so powerful). 

Taking the initial step toward redesigning your body can be an empowering experience.

And if you manage to do what so many can’t – stick with the plan after that initial burst of enthusiasm wears off – you’ll also discover that it’s one of the smartest things you’ve ever decided to do.

I remember my first time, over 30 years ago.

I was scared. Plain & simple. And I don’t like being scared, matter of fact I don’t let any fear get the better of me. I tend to face my fear head on since I was a kid (probably why I sorted out issues with “bullies” in school, a lot of times letting my “fists do the talking “).

But I was simply (& admittedly, embbarresingly scared.

Scared of the clanging & banging of iron & metal on metal. Scared of the big looking men (mostly male dominated at that era). Scared of all the strange looking machines.

When I walked out of the gym that 1st day, I told myself that I would learn as much as I could get my hands on (the internet was in its embryo stages ). So I got my hands os many library books on the human body ‘ muscles & nutrition & anything resembling bodybuilding.

I was a sponge & took a whole semester to learn as much as I could (along with my studies in my first commerce university degree).

Abdominal/thighs pose at the Asia-Pacific Australian Natural Bodybuilding Championships.
Placing: 2nd in Australia.

Education precedes motivation

I’ve always believed Education precedes Motivation.

So, these notes are written for you in mind .. picture this : –

It’s day one of your bodybuilding journey . Embarking on a journey, your journey into bodybuilding is no small endeavour: you deserve props just for making the decision & moving forward.

After 30 years here are my Key/primary points – (useful tenets/nuggets of wisdom you can keep in the back of your brain).

Use them as “❤️alentine Guiding Principles “.

Should you ever lose your way along the road to strength, health & your best body, these principles will help you get back on track quickly.

A good teacher is hard to find but finding a good student is even harder.
Plan the work – to work the plan.
Photo: discussing fine points of one of my programs with retired legend of rugby – Phil Waugh.

🌴❤️Principle #1: Listen 👂 to your body.

Your body & brain 🧠 are in constant talk. How often your brain chooses to listen determines how well your body will respond to what you ask for.

It is not a two-way communication (equal) pathway though.

Latest neuroscience suggests that it is mostly a”1 way street”. The body sends 80% of messages to the brain 🧠(via the Vagus nerve).

Good bodybuilders listen to their bodies better than anyone on earth.

Get in touch with different types of pain when you exercise. There’s two types-

i) the dull, mild pain that comes from working a muscle that isn’t used to being worked. This pain means, “Rest your body, let it repair itself, then continue strengthening it.”

ii) Then there’s the sharp, strong pain that comes from pulling a muscle, twisting something the wrong way, or worse. This means, “Put down the weight & walk away!”

Knowing the difference between these two kinds of pain can make a world of difference in your training.

Note: I have not had any major injury in over 3 decades of weight training. It is important to teach yourself the ‘tortoise approach’ or the conservative approach to training as I have found that this is the most efficient and effective way to achieve long-term, sustainable results and stay injury free as you age.

Here’s me doing my favourite pose at the World Championships.
Contest: 2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Championships held in NY, USA.
Ranked: 4th Best Natural Bodybuilder in the World.
Believe in yourself. Trust in yourself. Make your Being and your Doing – ONE.
Vv.

🌴❤️Principle #2: Prepare for Pressure

Your biceps & chest will grow (mine certainly did). As soon as these do, you will also receive attention from your peers who not only admire your newfound courage.

They will also secretly wish you don’t have so much of it.

Just be aware.

The next time you decide to say “no” to that slice of cake 🎂 at your best buddy’s roommates cousins’s birthday in order to stick to your diet, expect more than one person to try to talk you into having “just one bite.”

Understand this one thing about human beings – people do not like being reminded of their blunders/weaknesses.

When you don’t eat that slice, you’re helping to bring out guilt feelings in those who do.

People hate feeling like that.

However, it has nothing to do with you – remember that!

Stick to your guns 💪 and, if people persist,ask them direct to their face , why don’t they support you in abstaining from the sweet treat.

Fortunately, my friends back in my university under-grad days were quite supportive.

Keep it simple.
Be the best version you can be of YOU, for you – first.
This way, everyone gets the best of you too.
Vv.

🌴❤️alentine tip #3: endure the Doubt.

You WILL experience doubt, at some point along your journey.

There is no doubt about that.

You will question your dedication & get discouraged by slow gains. You may even wonder about finding time to train.

Heck, I almost threw in the towel several times over the last 3 decades. Many times, I’ve asked myself what the fcken hell was I doing not accepting a party 🎉 invitation when so many great people & good & drinks would be there.

There are countless doubtful thoughts 💭 that little voice over your shoulder, saying, give up man, you won’t achieve it.

And then I think about one of my many mentors life tips to me –

Remember, the heart 💔 ALWAYS precedes the mind.”

Interpret that however way you want. Apply these 3 principles to your thinking & life and keep building momentum in your daily habits that contribute to your overall goals.  

Now, go get back on the horse and ride him like you’ve never ridden him before … go to the gym and lift those weights and help those muscles, help you … feel the ‘essence of life’, Vitality … & Have a great day and life …

Cheers & ahoy 🍻!!

The Old Captain Viking Pirate 🏴‍☠️ Island 🌴 Muscle 💪 Monk 🏴‍☠️❤️alentine …& getting back on track 

The old Captain Viking Pirate 🏴‍☠️ ⚔️Enjoying a beer 🍺 in a hot 🥵 spring day here in Sydney Australia 🇦🇺

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Three minutes too late

To lead is to inspire
To help create new leaders
To truly lead is to truly love 💕 unselfishly
I had a family gym that was predominantly male (70%) for about 7 years. I encouraged the men to speak freely and communicate all their feelings and we shared stories and helped one another through tough emotionally difficult phases of life. What a wonderful group of ‘post-feminite new age males’. The key to making and keeping any relationship is effective communication. This is easier said than done. It requires work … a lot of work.

That awkward moment after you say ‘hello’

Its all about connections.

Life is.

So is the operations of your brain, in what is called the connectome.

In my years as owner and manager of my family gym for seven years, many things contributed to having a ‘family’ culture within it. A big factor came down to not just the connections but the quality of connections. Between the members and most importantly me and the members and the various sub-groups within the membership.

It was akin to being the Prime Minister and leader of a party, with many factions within that party and also the existence of an powerful opposition leader and his party. An interesting, fulfilling and wonderful learning experience.

Whenever a new person walks in to the gym, I train my staff to greet them politely and to simply say “how can I help you?” What I find is the important moments following that initial interaction is that awkward moment after you say ‘hello’.

Communication in life is like a neuron connectome.
A neuron example and its network of dentrites
One of the 100 billions neurons in your brain that make you …
who you are.
Your are your connectome

Three minutes too late

We’ve all been there.

With the potential friend or the new boss. Your brother’s new girlfriend or just an attractive stranger at a party. I guess from my perspective there are two scenarios with social situations –

  • Make a good first impression
  • Just want to be liked

Three minutes too late or so following that awkward interaction that we reflect on and feel and think of what we should have said, instead of what we had said.

Would you take a magic pill if it would get your through that awkward phase after saying hello? Would you take it?

Find your light.
Conversations can take many turns. Key is to stay focused on a few lines of thought at a time.
Multi-tasking is a myth.

Drifting off

Have you drifted off after meeting someone for the first time?

What do you do? I think we all have found ourselves in situations, supposedly in deep conversation but we’re no longer listening to the other person and generally start talking to ourselves.

We basically, start drifting off.

 

Thinking thoughts like –

“What on earth was he thinking combing his hair into that hairstyle?”

“Am I making a positive first impression?”

“what am I going to take for lunch tomorrow?”

“geez, what’s that song’s name you hear on the radio this morning?”

“who the person you came with is talking to”

 

Staying focused on the person(s) you’re having a conversation with is key to connecting. Best.
And stay tuned alert to changes in topics but keep your destination clear in your mind.

The power of Focus

In my experience with owning and managing a gym for seven years and managing the relationships I had with the members in that time, there were many variables but I believe the key was focus.

The power of focus, in particular.

I interacted with members and listened to and talked to members from 5:30am when the gym opened all day until the gym closed at 9:00pm. When I was there, I was there. I was present. In every interaction I had with each and every member, I gave them my full attention (even when I was talking to multiple people).

The most important key to building rapport and trust in any relationship with someone … with anyone is focus.

That is the Power of focus.

This really helps in “connecting” with people – giving them the respect they wish for and giving them our full attention, however difficult that may be.

 

Focus on one thing at a time if you want to maximise results and chances of getting the result you want.
Connecting with people also depends on your ability to focus.
Giving them trust and respect.

The power of focus allows you to achieve results that you strongly desire. My power of focus allowed me to reach and place in the Top 5 of the World in Natural Bodybuilding in two consecutive years. Here’s a little formula for you: –

** Focus (mind-set/attitude) + Effort (hard yaka/work) + heart (feel) + visualisation (imagination) + sumulation (deliberate practice) =====> put in to a quality plan + quality implementation ====>> Results/Success **

Here are 4.5 key things I use when I want to focus on the person I am with –

1). Don’t judge

I just don’t have a habit of judging people. Period. I leave that to God, that is not one of my roles. However, I don’t mind a good debate and agreeing to disagree after hearing what the other person has to say first.

Putting aside any preconceptions and biases in thinking and having an “open mind-set/growth mind-set”, I allow the person I’m with to experience total focus.

Multi-tasking is stressful.
THe brain CANNOT multitask, it can only TASK-SWITCH.
Be kind on yourself and FOCUS on one thing at a time and …
do it once and do it well.

2)Find the excitement in someone even when they appear to be ‘boring’

Yes, this can be very difficult. Very difficult indeed. Especially, when you find yourself thinking about what you’re going to be having for your next meal or the episodes you still have left to watch on Netflix Game of Thrones.

All you can do is – try. Just try.

Give them your full attention and listen, really ‘listen’. What I mean is listen not only with your ears but your body (facing the person), your hand gestures not crossed, your head and eyes looking in to the person. And your heart, your heart should be listening too.

Then, find out something about the person that you find exciting and ask them, and hope that they would love to talk about that thing too.

Try. For God’s sake, just try.

Feel and practice feeling good positive, winning thoughts
Find something interesting in the person you’re talking with

3) Be part of the action and conversation

Especially in a group situation – ask questions about what happened and who was involved and what fears were felt and so forth.

Don’t stay silent, even if you have to nod your head, say a few ‘ahums’ and basically put forward a body-language that is agreeable.

It pays off in the long run.

Don’t stress out in social functions.
They are just human beings and make mistakes just like you
You should only be stressed if you had to connect with lions in a cage or gorrillas.
Relax. Your performance and ability to communicate effectively depends on this.

4.5)Mirror, mirror

Try to mirror or match the other person you’re talking with.

What is it, well, in effect, matching or mirroring is doing the same as the other person. This could be the same body language – she raises her glass and so does everyone else or same nod of the head.

Mirroring doesn’t only include body language, we also make similar sounds – sort speak in harmony with the other person, like “aha … aha, yeah” when we hear them say it.

So, in this world that has multiple communication platforms and social media that allows for increased connections, … is increasingly built on connections, it is not the number of connections that matter or continuously creating more connections in your network. No, I believe it is the quality of connections that matter most.

It is about getting back to the basics and doing the basics properly. Reminds me of building and keeping quality lean muscle mass and training with the basics in the gym. Nothing fancy and not trying to include every new ‘fad’ exercise in your repertoire’.

Whether consciously or not, and it is usually “not”, when we are connecting with someone or keen to get on with them, we adopt similar postures and movements. And when this happens the other person is more likely to assume that our thoughts and emotions are similar so they tend to feel warmer towards us, almost regardless of what we are actually saying.

I experienced this every single day in the gym for the seven years that I owned and managed my own. It didn’t matter who it was, how old the person was, level of education or what level of society they came from, matching and mirroring body language helped me ‘connect’ with them better.

Don’t force it, just ‘go with the flow’ so-to-speak. And relax, don’t over do things.

You’ll be just fine.

Practise thinking winning thoughts.

Practice does not make perfect

No, Perfect practice makes perfect, was what one of my early coaches would tell me.

In other words, there is always an optimal way or right way of doing something very well. Understand what it is, learn it and then deliberately practice it – that way – ALL the time.

Not some of the time.

So, practice some of these key communication points in the mirror. Do it every day. Simulate some of the conversations you may have with people in social situations. Imagination is key … if you can ‘see’/imagine yourself doing something and acting in a certain way and you have practiced the right form/technique/way, you can bet your bottom dollar that you will make a great first impression and make a lot of connections.

Simply because people will be drawn to you and your mannerism.

First impressions, matter. Remember: You never get another chance to make a first impression.

All the very best,

 

Cheers & Ahoy!

The Old Captain Viking Pirate … & why first impression is important in making you connect better.

Me my extended family members; a group of members of my family gym.
They all loved training and being part of the extended family that was my gym
Relationship take time to develop .. just like an Oak Tree needs time to grow

Connections with humans of all ages is important for one’s own personal development.
Try it.

The old Captain Viking Pirate 🏴‍☠️ ⚔️Enjoying a beer 🍺 in a hot 🥵 spring day here in Sydney Australia 🇦🇺

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