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The Grace of Seeds.

_MG_9765

I have been blessed with two very beautiful, healthy children. It is truly one of life’s blessings in my eyes – the Grace of Seeds.

However, in interactions with men of all ages in gyms for over two decades now, for some men, the responsibilities of fatherhood are simply more than they bargained for. It could be due to many things.

It seems, it is not only the intrusion of a newborn child’s demands; not just the scary anticipation of financial burdens (some men tend to view it this way) – from cot to college.

Maybe, it is the realization that the ‘honey-moon’ period has finally come to an end. Things will never be the same as they imagined it to be. This can be a stark reality indeed for some men.

In addition to this, some men probably have an increased fear of the onset of family life as this would entail responsibilities of parenthood. This would ultimately mean, the feast of love with his wife will grow stale. That the wine of their love will lose its bouquet.

That their love life will fizzle out.

But this is where interpretation of what married love means to Real Men differs.

Often when a man is insecure about himself, afraid of his personal characteristics and strengths as a husband and lover, he is unable to find a reliable and relevant version of the truth about love within a marriage.

And that it is this version of truth of married love:

The love between a married couple has a special ingredient that allows for the inclusion of the love of others.

But, it seems that there are many examples all around us in today’s modern living that tell us that countless couples disagree with this position or interpretation of what married love is.

The expectation gap between ‘what is’ and ‘what they imagined’ is just too big. I have met quite a few couples over the years who choose to not have children. Very sad indeed.

I will argue one point regarding this and one point only and it is this: if the Bible makes it clear that God our Creator, made us in his image and likeness, then I believe that he (God) intended and hoped that we would be ‘fruitful and increase in number”.

So, if you choose to give life and love whether by birth or adoption, you become more of what God meant by ‘in God’s image’. This is our real slice of the ‘essence of life’, our closest chance to share – if only to a small degree – the highest attributes of God the Father himself.

This is as close to “God-like” as any person could become.

To not do so and take another path, to not offer love to our own children, the seeds that will bloom in the future. Well, personally, I cannot fathom this decision.

This is to miss one of the true meanings of what life is about. To go down this path deprives you of a taste of eternity, that is ….

The Grace of Seeds.

It is a sacrament of everlasting life.

Nourish those seeds with all the love you can muster as they will be your future – our future.

They will be the World’s Future.

And, thank God every single day for blessing you with the grace of seeds!

For posterity.

 

Until next time,

Me and my children. Children gives you a hint of eternity. A true blessing to be graced with seeds. Vv.

Me and my children.
Children gives you a hint of eternity.
A true blessing – the grace of seeds.
Vv.

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Torn between two hands.

My beautiful wife of almost 12 years now. My love for this human being keeps increasing every single day.

My beautiful wife and co-captain in life of over 15 years now. My love for this human being keeps increasing every single day.

I love life.

Being an avid student of life, I think a lot about life and it’s definitions and prevailing beliefs and belief systems, on all levels.

I think every individual should have a continuously questioning curiosity to everything in life, which includes their existing beliefs and values and everything else. A questioning attitude just like scientists have had and use in their reasoning.

I ask again what it means to be a man?

I’ll say it again, it can be difficult to be a man in today’s world. I believe he is torn between two hands. Let me elaborate. You see, every man – every male strives to meet his basic psychological needs.

“And what are these?” I hear you say.

Well, firstly, I believe it is simply to know and be known. If we keep it simple, in addition to this, every man needs to love and be loved.

He also needs other very important psychological needs. By “other”, I believe men need deep caring relationships with other men. If I recall correctly, I think it was one of the disciples (James I think) who said christians should be encouraged to confess their sins to each other and pray for each other … or somewhere along these lines.

What does this mean for us?

Well, I believe it means that every man should have another man who would have their back. What this boils down to is that a man who does not have at least one other man to whom he can be accountable regarding his failures, hurts and temptations is a prime target for masculine anger.

You witness evidence of this erupting in almost all areas of our society – in families, in schools, in workplaces, in communities, in countries and between nations.

The angry man in our society is caught between an unrealistic ideal brain-washed in to him by previous generations. That is all they knew. They knew no better.

Today’s men strive to live up to this “unrealistic mythical masculinity ideal or stereotype” on the one hand and true masculinity on the other.

He feels the pressure to –

  • Achieve
  • Earn
  • Conquer
  • Win

And in a lot of cases, do all these things on his own. Do it at all costs. Costs to his health, his relationships, his family, his community of friends.

… just to live up to these unrealistic expectations society places on him of outdated stereotypes of what it means to be a ‘real man’. But every man has a vulnerable side. Every man is a Mr Vulnerable too where he also feels the need to love and to nurture those he loves and be loved and nurtured by those who loves him.

But this is an impossible ideal. An impossible dream. As he, today’s Real Man futilely attempts to reconcile the two in his own life. He is torn between being invincible and vulnerable, aloof and involved, self-serving and sharing.

He is torn between two hands.

The roots of this conflict send up numerous shoots of anger-producing tendencies in his life.

Anger tendencies that can be dangerous for the man, the people around him, the community he lives in and the nation as a whole.

With the next generation of Valentine males - Zachary.

With the next generation of Valentine males – Zachary.

Men should not be made to feel ‘torn between two hands’. Men should not be made to be torn between these two ideals. Men should not feel they should travel alone. Men should also welcome the vulnerable side of him. Men should accept that sharing this responsibility is one of the best ways to move forward in the direction of a new definition of what it means to be a Real Man in today’s world.

It is not fair on the man and not fair on those he loves. I feel very blessed that the woman who chose me to spend the rest of her life with allows me to be vulnerable. It is “Mother’s Day” today and she is the most amazing woman I have ever met in my life so far. My children are very blessed to have her as their mother. She is my co-captain on our ship through the sea of life.

For the women reading this, please try and listen to your man, really listen. Listen with your two ears, your body, your spirit and your heart. Help him be Mr Vulnerable too, if you’re not already doing so.

And for the man, embrace your Mr Vulnerable. It does not make you less of a man. I believe it makes you more of what it means to be a Real Man. Today’s definition of a modern-day Real Man, what true masculinity really is.

It is one of the most important gifts you can give the little men (our sons) of the future. The young men we entrust to lead and make decisions when we are old and grey and when we are gone and forgotten.

Do it for the future of Man-kind.

 

Until next time,

My daughter and I. I cherish every moment I have with her. She allows me to be Mr Vulnerable too. Vv.

My daughter and I.
I cherish every moment I have with her.
She sees a healthy dose of masculinity in me and Mr Vulnerable too.
Vv.

Its ok to be Mr Vulnerable. Vv.

Its ok to be Mr Vulnerable.
Vv.

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Being and doing.

Being and doing.  Strive to bring them together as ONE.  For a better you, a better life.  Vv.

Being and doing.
Strive to bring them together as ONE.
For a better you, a better life.
Vv.

My grandfather played a huge role in my youth.

I only have a few photos of him in a little photo album I bought almost three decades ago now. I was fortunate I had the foresight to put a few photos in this album for me and my family in the future – the family I have now.

I was about eleven years old when I put this album together. I bring the album out every so often to show my kids and tell stories of my childhood. They just love listening to these stories and the photos bring these stories to life – of the life I lived in the first quarter of my life. Stories of my grandparents, my siblings, my cousins, extended family members, my friends, my pets and my hobbies.

A different but beautiful phase of my life – a life my kids are so very far removed in their lives they live now. A time and part of my life that I will always cherish.

It was a different time, different era – a different place.

These are the only photos I have of some of the most influential persons I had in my life in my first fourteen years on this earth. Two of them were my grandparents. They were more like parents to me. They raised me as their child.

This blog is dedicated to my foremost role model – my grandfather. A man that melded ‘being and doing’ into ONE. Let me tell you a little story about him and how it relates to the title of this …

I don’t remember much about him now but I remember how I felt when I was around him. I felt loved. I know he was a man of love and always showed me he loved me every day.

I remember he was very strict and particular in everything he did. Everything had its place and everything had standards. Standards that we all had to adhere to.

Without fail. There were no exceptions.

He was very much a ‘black and white’ sort of a person with very little or no ‘grey areas’. He would call a spade a spade and wouldn’t mince his words if he had to get his message across by bothering with ‘political correctness’ as we do now.

He called it as he saw it! He was a Clint Eastwood “Old School” kind-of-a man. A man I looked up to.

Like I said, it was a different time, different place.

Setting his own standards through - Mind-muscle connection. 'flexing the muscles' in a "most-muscular' pose. Chris is an A+ student and the results show for a 47 year old man. On his way to realizing a physique and mind-set he imagines himself having. ... adopting my framework to body/mind re-engineering. No risk, no belief - no nothing! Vv

Setting his own standards through –
Mind-muscle connection. ‘flexing the muscles’ in a “most-muscular’ pose.
Chris is an A+ student and the results show for a 47 year old man.
On his way to realizing a physique and mind-set he imagines himself having.
… adopting my framework to body/mind re-engineering.
No risk, no belief – no nothing!
Vv

But he was also a gentleman. A real, genuine, gentleman. Dressed like one, behaved like one and thought like one. I only realized how fortunate I was to have such an influential person like him in my life after he died.

He died in peacefully in his sleep. It was a quiet end to a quiet man.

My beliefs, my values and principles and my perspective on life has been strongly influenced by this influential grandfather of mine. A simple but very wise man.

From what I understand (and to some extent, remember), he was a very quiet man. A man of few words. A man who spoke through his actions. A very authentic, Real Man.

One thing that I will always remember was that he never missed a performance that I was in throughout my primary and early secondary school life. I always saw his face in the crowd of parents and grandparents that came to watch. ALWAYS! This is a very tough standard to live up to now that I have kids of my own.

I found it very difficult to attend all my children’s school performances last year. And they are just starting out in their primary school. I will do my very best for the future years to keep up this standard.

At his funeral I was made responsible for meeting and greeting people at the door as they arrived. I could not believe the amount of people that turned up at his funeral, I mean there would have been over five hundred people that poured in. They came from all levels of society – senior government officials, doctors, judges, big businessmen, teachers and so forth.

Was this all for the man I thought I knew – my grandfather?”, I wondered.

It didn’t make sense”, I thought to myself. I remember seeing the tears in the eyes of all those hundreds of people (mostly strangers to me), who had come from everywhere to say farewell to this ‘quiet man’.

This moment and the funeral got me thinking …

I wondered and still wonder who would come to my funeral with tears in their eyes? Have you wondered this too? I remember thinking and still think about what one’s life is for and what is the point of our existence in this world? I asked myself what the definition of success was? We’ve all heard these questions before, yes. Most of us have read the philosophies.

But have you really applied them to yourself before? Seriously.

Doing and being is essential to muscle building success for your health and muscle goals. Connect the two. Make them one. Vv.

Doing and being is essential to muscle building success for your health and muscle goals.
Connect the two. Make them one.
Vv.

Well, I guess this gentleman I knew as my grandfather had somehow touched, in some way, shape or form – the hearts of everyone who paid respect at his. It only occurred to me many years later that one of the reasons why this quiet man influenced so many people was this:

He was a man whose beliefs and actions were very closely aligned, where his being and doing was almost the same thing. It was ONE. He was an authentic man. This is probably one of the most difficult things each and every one of us have to face in life – the alignment of our beliefs with our actions.

This is always going to forever be a complex, dynamic process because even though our individual beliefs may stay the same, our actions will be influenced by how the world changes around us (and the pace of change is quicker than ever before). We are now, more than ever, forced to constantly re-think and re-assess our actions against our beliefs EVERY SINGLE DAY!

The alignment of one’s beliefs and actions – of a person’s being and doing, is a very difficult daily battle with constant change. For most, if not all of us, this search for a stronger connection and search for this truth will never end. It’s almost a losing battle. The search for the authentic self, your authentic self. Your soul. But don’t despair, don’t give in. Persevere.

Strengthen your grit!

Since that realisation all those years ago, I have been trying to bring my being and my doing closer together. It isn’t easy. You could say that it has and always is a daily goal of mine and continue to be so in to the future.

Do you find yourself acting a part in your normal day-to-day which is not totally ‘you’? What about in your place of work, the organization you work for? I remember working in large multi-national corporations many years ago, doing a lot of travelling and consultancy. I thought then and still do now that everyone is basically a ‘role occupant’. Everyone in these organizations. This is necessary however, to have the smooth running of the organization.

Can you honestly say that your role or the roles you play/played in those organizations were a perfect match between you and the role? I didn’t think so.

Very few of us would.

An old school pose by an 'old school' believer. Vv.

An old school pose by an ‘old school’ believer.
Vv.

I liken it to my children’s fantasy role playing I see them enact when they play ‘pretend stories’. Part of the appeal of working for such organizations, apart from the financial incentives is that it forces every employee to escape from themselves for hours every day to play a role, a part.

It is normally fun at the start but damaging in the end, on many levels. I am raising this vital observation because I think it is very important, especially in this era we live in where we witness almost daily the damaging effects of people’s deeds not aligned with their beliefs.

Seemingly small, disparate choices made daily, that result in cataclysmic storms all because one’s being and doing is not ONE. Remember, elephants don’t bite, mosquitoes do! Pay more attention to the little things in life, things that are not seen with the naked eye – like your beliefs.

This, I believe, is a huge contributor to the deterioration of Trust in people and between people; in society and between societies; in the country’s leaders and between country leaders.

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.

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.

My hope is to point out what I observe and ‘see’ in the meaning of things and in the purpose of life. But more importantly, my hope is that I raise questions in your head in order to encourage you to find your meaning and your purpose.

So, I leave you with this question: do you live your daily life as the ‘real you’? Do your actions reflect your beliefs? What are your beliefs? How far apart is your being from your doing?

Is your being and doing strongly connected and ONE?

If it isn’t, you may want to start re-aligning them before it is too late. Make this habit. There is power in deliberate practise. There is power in habit. It begins within you and with you – with a choice.

Food for thought.

 

Until next time,

A little fun with my cowboy hat at home.

A little fun with my cowboy hat at home. I like hats.

~~Life & wellness COACH~~

~~Life & wellness COACH~~

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Adam needed Eve.

My son and I. Time with your children will be one of the most important investments you will ever make in your life. Choose to make it.

My son and I.
Time with your children will be one of the most important investments you will ever make in your life.
Choose to make it.

Not sure what you remember about the start of the greatest stories that were ever told but I do remember the story of the creation. Matter of fact my kids pick a story each night before bed from the bible and inevitably, they choose the story of the garden of eden at least once a month.

Adam and Eve was part of this creation story.

Most of you will know that.

One version of the beginning of life as we know it involved a man and a woman, created by God. Adam, on his own, I believe would not have worked. It may have lasted short-term at best. You and I may not have come in to existence.

It is evident Adam needed Eve!

Operating alone in life is a little unnatural. What do you think? Wasn’t there a philosopher that stated once that –

“no man is an island”. There is some truth in this.

Okay, your definition of what is natural and unnatural may be different to mine and that is fine.

I think that is how most of life should be operated – a collaboration between a man and woman, between men and women, whether it be in the corporate world on in every-day life. However, it appears that most of life has been structured in such a way that it is biased to the comfort and convenience of men.

Made for men. By men.

But I believe that the system that has worked for centuries – a system that was and has been dictated by men, for the convenience of men, may become extinct in the near future. The industrial age, the one that established our schooling, our work day, our economy and our expectations and dreams is dying.

I believe it is dying but it dying faster than you and I think but there is evidence all around us of this funeral. Look around at the various industries – the music industry, the media outlets, newspapers and journalism to name a few.

And I think that is a good thing for man-kind.

The system and protocols set up for society, for the convenience and comfort of men, whilst excellent for the Industrial Era is not appropriate for now and the future.

My son made me aware of this not too long ago.

You see, we tried to get him to go to early music lessons taught by one of the Sydney (and Australia’s) best early child-hood music teachers when he was about 3. Turned out, he was a very different child in those classes. I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t reason with him.

From the moment he entered that room, he took on a different personality – a very difficult personality. I felt that the room somehow triggered this abnormal behaviour. You see, Zachary is a little bit of a ‘stirrer’ by nature but this half hour of music was very difficult for either Cathy, my wife or me. We tried many things to manage his behaviour but nothing seemed to work.

I thought deeply about why this was happening because it only seemed to happen in that class.

Then it dawned on me that he felt reminded too much that he was a ‘kid’ when he was in those classes. The games and some of the activities were too ‘kid-like’ if you know what I mean and Zachary didn’t like to be treated like a ‘kid’. Even I felt like a kid when I was in those classes!

Because we refer to and treat Zachary like an individual and not like a ‘kid’, he expected to be treated like an individual. You see, from what he has observed in his short life so far, he loves everything about being an adult – doing work with me around the house like an adult, wearing my adult shoes, going shopping like an adult and being spoken to like an adult or at least an older child.

The Result: he behaves like an adult! Zachary likes being treated like a man or a grown-up boy. And I have to say that Olivia, my daughter loves to be treated like an older girl too. And those music classes did exactly the opposite.

My kids and I with Ruby the Dog. They just adore each other. Choose to spend time with your kids, not 'quality time'.

My kids and I with Ruby the Dog. They just adore each other.
Choose to spend time with your kids, not ‘quality time’.

So, it got me thinking about life and society in general.

Everything seems to be geared to the adults, isn’t it? Actually – most of life, matter of fact almost everything you can think of, for a very long time now has been organized for the convenience of adults, in particular – the comfort and suitability to men!

Give it some thought and let it sink in …

Work hours is structured that way and has been like that for centuries. The hours set is very suitable for men, isn’t it? The system of the industrial era allows one to have a ‘work-home-from-home’ that conveniently makes men unavailable at home for forty to eighty hours.

And when are these hours structured? During those moments at home where help is needed most. Those waking hours, where men are needed for cleaning, cooking and caring for children. Your children! So, the system still predominantly excludes one person from the ‘work-home’ and who do you think that is?

There are no prizes for guessing who that person is!

Yes, it is the woman. The mum. The female that is representing “EVE”. This is still the majority of cases in today’s world.

The question I ask is ‘why?!’ It is a choice after all, a choice every man, every woman, every family has to make. No one is going to ask you to make that choice for you. Be brave and make it yourself! Its not about whether you have what it takes; it’s about whether you choose to pursue it. Of course it is difficult to overcome a lifetime of education (and brainwashing). New habits will have to be created, and new dreams/expectations to go with them.

I believe with the exponential growth of technology and the embracing of more balanced philosophies, it is not necessary that individuals (particularly men) should be locked away in office places at the same time for hours a day.

What do you think?

I don’t think it is healthy for one thing. It is not necessary to be in the same vicinity as all your office colleagues every day of the week. You can be just as productive if not more, if you focused on what you were paid to do in the convenience of your own home. When will society realize that a lot of that ‘office time’, whilst relevant for the previous industrial era, is not necessary now and was put in place mainly for the convenience and needs of men.

It would be highly likely that ‘hours at work’ would have been very different today if it was us, men, who had to also run a home, clean, cook and take and pick up kids from school. It is not easy, believe me, it isn’t. But I believe it is a necessary and arguably the most important investment a man can make in his life: Time (not ‘quality time’) with his kids and home-life.

My children - Olivia and Zachary striking a 'front double-biceps' pose for the camera. Watch out, these Valentine Guns are loaded!

My children – Olivia and Zachary striking a ‘front double-biceps’ pose for the camera. Watch out, these Valentine Guns are loaded!

More of society, more of life should be geared toward the ‘Eve’ of the relationship.

More should be given to the woman. More should be given for the woman’s comfort, for her convenience.

More of society should be organized from a woman’s point-of-view, with more love, more care, more compassion, more flexibility. More importantly, more control over where and when one does one’s work.

There should be more personal responsibility and less ‘looking-over-your-shoulder’ work environments that still exists in many industries and in particular, the corporate world, where grown-ups are still made to feel like children in an ‘adult-like’ environment. How suffocating is that?!

How can grown adults be expected to work productively and do what is expected of an responsible adult if they are meant to feel like a ‘kid’ when at work because of the old-fashioned culture still in existence?

Over a hundred years of indoctrination of industrialism has changed the way we dream. The industrialist needs you to dream of security and the benefits of compliance. The industrialist works to sell you on a cycle of consumption (which requires more compliance) and the industrialist benefits of moving up the corporate ladder – his ladder!

But the society now is very different to what it was a millennia ago. Times have changed dramatically.

I believe that this is what society wants more of – a more balanced, more equal approach to life in all areas for both real men and women. And I also believe that this is what most men reading this and out there wants too. The winds of change has already been happening. Men and women are moving towards more of a “Adam and Eve” relationship and I believe it is very healthy and is necessary for this period in history.

If you are already in such a relationship, you are blessed.

Organizations need women more and more and should start changing archaic systems that are no longer relevant in today’s world. Women provide the balance to men, the balance that men need. This should be reflected in all areas of life – a genuine Adam and Eve approach. An approach that respects the importance and power of connection – between human beings, in particular the equal time-sharing both parents have in raising their children.

It began that way many, many years ago in beautiful story-telling about a garden of Eden – with Adam and Eve. We, society, need to return to this but this time with the understanding that Adam needed Eve. 

I am blessed I have my Eve – my wife, with equal Captaincy on our ship in the journey through our sea of life. I know I need my wife like Adam needed Eve.

Here’s hope to a better future … by turning back to the future.

All the best for 2016!

 

Until next time,

Me and my children - carriers of my genes. A taste of immortality for me.

Me and my children – carriers of my genes. A taste of immortality for me.

Find what you love to do. Then, go do it!

Find what you love to do.
Then, go do it!

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Mr Vulnerable.

My son and I. One of my responsibilities as a man and dad is to make my son aware that being vulnerable is ok. vv

My son and I.
One of my responsibilities as a man and dad is to make my son aware that being vulnerable is ok.
Vv.

Father’s Day came and went only last weekend. I had a great day with my wife and my two children. I received two beautifully hand-made cards from each of my children and loads of hugs and kisses. Oh, and some of my favourite chocolates.

It was lovely.

I trust all the dads reading this and dads all around the world had a wonderful time with the people they love the most too.

The special calendar day (just like Mother’s Day) got me thinking about being a man but especially in today’s world. Not all men are fathers and not all men are dads but all men are men. So, I got thinking about being a man. Yep, let’s attempt to re-evaluate the question, “What is a real man?”

In particular, what it means to be vulnerable and still be a man… what it means to be “Mr Vulnerable” and where, how and why it can be incorporated in to the ‘man’ that YOU are.

Every second of every minute of every hour of every day …. of the rest of our lives allows you, me and every man out there to be vulnerable and it may be one of the most important characteristics that we can adopt (if you haven’t considered adopting it already).

The thing is that most of us would have been raised with a definition of what society (modern-day societies) defines it as. This definition is dare I say, unrealistic and quite a burden for the modern male to wear. So much so that I believe the modern day man is finding it quite difficult to be a man.

Now, we could look in many places for possible definitions of what a real man is and justifiably so. Some men look for these in sports stars, movie stars, politicians and so forth. I believe it is important for the modern male (whether you’re a dad or not) to truly understand what it is to be a man. A real man.

 

Olivia and Zachary enjoying their time with Ruby. Being a role model for my children is one of the most important responsibilities I will ever have in my life. For the rest of my life. Just like it is for every other dad out there.

Olivia and Zachary enjoying their time with Ruby.
Being a role model for my children is one of the most important responsibilities I will ever have in my life.
For the rest of my life.
Just like it is for every other dad out there.

I thought that one place many people wouldn’t be brave enough to seek an answer is the bible (unless you’re a Christian). We don’t have to look any further than the disciple – John. John, I believe displayed 6 characteristics of what it means to be a real man. In no particular order they were: sincerity, simplicity, conviction, courage, vision and vulnerability.

There you have it! Six Key traits of a real man.

From my experience with people in predominantly male-dominant gyms over the last 23 years, I have found that one thing that men struggle with is accepting that being vulnerable is ok. It seems that the modern man is told since birth that being vulnerable is a no-no, that it is a sign of weakness. Today’s ‘macho’ man of western society must not show vulnerability, he never admits a mistake.

What a load of you know what! Generation after generation of men still believe in this cr#p. Very unrealistic burden for men to carry partially dictated by societal definition of a modern man.

I recall reading research done in America a little while back that stated that five of the most difficult statements for today’s modern man to make are:

  1. I don’t know
  2. I was wrong
  3. I need help
  4. I’m afraid
  5. I’m sorry

This certainly supports what I have deduced from my observations of the last two decades. It seems that modern day men have a problem with admitting vulnerability. That for some reason, if they do their masculinity is brought in to question.

For you Christians reading this – wasn’t this a test for the disciple John which he passed with flying colours?

I think John’s vulnerability was so great beyond belief in his extreme demonstration of humility when he said in reference to Jesus “He must become greater; I must become less”. You cannot get much better than that with someone being so humble.

A trait that is truly missing in the world today.

So, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, to be authentic to no one else but you first. It is good for the soul and makes you a real man. A humble man is not afraid to admit it. A humble man is not afraid to admit he is or was wrong.

There is a real man in all men reading this and all the men in the world. However, to reach deep down inside and get him, you need to become more aware of who you are now and take actions (sufficient and appropriate) to change certain habits that may not be aligned with the definitions of a real man I have given.

The important step then is to be flexible enough and ‘man-enough’ to adapt to the ‘man you imagine yourself to be’, ideally a man closer to the kind John was. It’s not easy, matter of fact it is darn hard work but the end result is a thing of beauty. And this is one of the things the world needs more of right now.

This, however, may clash with the current modern day definition of what it means to be a real man.

Me and my two children - Olivia and Zachary. I love them with all my heart.

Me and my two children – Olivia and Zachary. I love them with all my heart.

Be the real man you know you are. Be inspirational to you first, so that you can be inspirational to the young males that are searching for examples of what it means to be a Real Man. Don’t let them get lost to men of lesser character. So, all you dads out there or men playing a surrogate role, be the role model, be the Real Man that the legions of young boys  and future men of our society need to aspire to.

This is not a want.

This is a need that our modern day society needs now more than ever. More Real Men to help provide a template to the youth of tomorrow, especially with so many possible definitions are being filtered in to their young minds. Give them a template, like that which the disciple John gave us to build on and stand the test of time.

If every man reading this and every man in this world took this responsibility seriously, what a beautiful world I can imagine for us all in two or three decades. When young men of today, modelling their characters off you – the modern day Real Man will be leaders of tomorrow.

It is a great hope of mine.

It’s not too late. Make the change because you know it is the right thing to do and you’re humble enough and courageous enough to do it.

Why?

Because you’re Mr Vulnerable. You’re the man! (and if you’re a woman and you’re reading this, get your man to read it too).

All the best in your journey towards being a Real Man. It lies within every man, so go ahead and bring Mr Vulnerable out and share him with the world.

Because the world needs YOU to.

It’s time ….

 

Until next time,

With the next generation of Valentine males - Zachary.

With the next generation of Valentine males – Zachary.

 

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a better life, adaptation, belief systems, Beliefs, breaking points, change

Breaking Points.

Education through a perception of the truth. All successful relationships have an acceptable level of trust between parties concerned. All relationships have their breaking points too. Here: coach-student relationship. Vv

Education through a perception of the truth. All successful relationships have an acceptable level of trust between parties concerned.
All relationships have their breaking points too.
Here: coach-student relationship.
Vv

Have you ever had to work out what your ‘breaking points’ are? Have you ever been forced to choose between life and death? How would you behave in a home robbery? What are your breaking points – what would you not do, no matter what?

As we progress through life, at some point we are tested. Tested on the various areas in life – physically, emotionally, socially, financially, intellectually and so forth. Friendships reach breaking points, family relationships discover their breaking points and tolerance levels. We all get tested. No one is immune to this process of discovering their breaking points. I’m sure you could tell a few stories about these moments when your breaking points were tested.

Think about it for a second. Would you lie to save your kids’ lives? Would you conceal the truth to win a better business deal? To sell your car or your house? Would you ‘back-stab’ your friend or work colleague to get a promotion? How people interpret Right and Wrong is dependent on people’s or a group of peoples’ perception of what is the truth.

So, in essence from a social-behavioural viewpoint, TRUTH is the set of principles that people live by, regardless of what they might say they believe. We all know and have seen there are different truths – subjective, operational, hypothetical and intellectual – and then there is factual data. How true a belief is depends on the level of perception one is at. All levels of truth as we know it however, are examples of truth dependent and contingent on a given set of parameters.

This even applies to our exalted ‘scientific truth’ which is also defined and constrained by conditions and contexts, that they are subject to dispute and error. So, essentially, you are best advised not to believe everything you read, see or hear without at least asking the question ‘why?’ and seeking factual data.

The world seems to be getting ever increasingly filled with more and more laws and regulations. At the most simplest view, all of life is based on some assumption of principle. It is quite obvious now, that everything in nature is based on principles – irrefutable laws showing that all of life is in fact part of a greater design strategy.

Despite the ever increasing dependence on newer regulations, I think there is a finiteness to how reliable this is and every will be. There can never be sufficient rules and regulations, laws and auditors or inspectors to cover or check everything. Everything, whether it be in businesses and organizations or families. To pursue this end would see life get even more complicated and will prove too costly.

Building muscle has some truths that have evolved through application of principles over 100 years. Every one's perception of the truth is constrained by the lenses he views the world through.

Building muscle has some truths that have evolved through application of principles over 100 years.
Every one’s perception of the truth is constrained by the lenses he views the world through.

We see and read about this every day – people getting away with unprincipled behaviour simply because the person found a ‘loop-hole’ in the law, rule or regulation. We see this played out on the sporting field and we see it playing out in board rooms of organizations as well as on the office floors. We even see unthoughtful, unprincipled behaviour displayed quite regularly within families. This really pushes individuals to their breaking points as trust, above all things is eroded.

On a bigger scale, recent Global Financial Crisis and other events prove that there are many unprincipled people who thrive in a system based mainly on principle.

The answer to this problem seems to be: more rules and regulations to curb unprincipled behaviour in one are, within a specific scope. Inevitably, barriers that prevent trading would be dismantled for certain activities and players to remain competitive.

What’s needed more of and not just in business and the big cities are Principles and People of Principles. We need more of it in every corner of society. This is a precious commodity in today’s world. This begins in every home, where I believe little children must be taught that dangerous behaviours are ‘wrong’, but as they grow older, discernment should replace moralism.

Principles that would not waiver, even when tested. Especially in this world where organizations and industries are left to ‘self-regulate’ and ‘self-monitor’. Where individuals are given ‘free-reign’ to exercise their own discretion, without being supervised or because of cost-cutting measures.

We have all known or do know some people who operate with two sets of principles. Sometimes they don’t admit that they do until it is too late. Having two sets of principles – one for work and one for home, for example just does not end well. This applies to both the individual, organization or country-levels. It will always end with a catastrophe where many people get hurt. We see this playing out by parents who have double-standards when it comes to the treatment of their children favouring some over others.

Nothing in life happens by ‘chance’, there is no such thing as ‘coincidence’. I believe this so. So, it follows that, on the whole, the most efficient organizations are the most principled ones. I believe this applies to individuals too – in organizations and in families.

Muscle is like life, it relies on two principles: 1) Simplicity 2) Continuity Like life, muscle building is about principles and the adherence to them. Not doing so does not works against you. Vvv

Muscle is like life, it relies on two principles:
1) Simplicity
2) Continuity
Like life, muscle building is about principles and the adherence to them.
Not doing so works against you.
Vvv

Every successful, long-term relationship whether it is with yourself or others (individuals or organizations) comes down to trust. It costs much less to trust than it is to comply with rules and regulations. It is sad that in many individuals, their lack of ‘spiritual truth’ leads to a dimness in moral vision and blindness to the truth. This is a major problem for society.

We’ve all heard that people need to ‘earn’ our trust before it is given. A very important point as for trust to work, you need to have principles and an awareness of your breaking points. I believe these principles only evolve from your belief systems or set of beliefs.

This is why ‘knowing yourself better’ is paramount to allowing you to constantly make changes to your set of beliefs that are applicable to you. You also have to consider where you are in life and your relationships with either family, friends and business colleagues – I refer to these as the context and parameters within which your particular perception of the truth holds true.

Know your breaking points and constantly be on guard when assessing whether or not sticking with them makes you a person of principle in today’s world.

One thing is certain – everything in life changes. Everything is constantly evolving. You are not the same person you were ten years ago. Gee, you are not the same person you were just a day ago. Nothing stays the same and that goes for your breaking points too. If there is one thing we can all learn from nature and from evolution theory is that it is not the smartest nor the strongest that ultimately survive. It is the one that adapts the fastest.

Progress and growth in life (and muscle building) comes from adaptation, but remember, sacrificing your principles to achieve this outcome does not always end well. It almost never does.

Know your breaking points. You can start this process by becoming more aware of YOU. Accepting responsibility for the truth of one’s life. This takes a lot of courage which leads ultimately to love and hopefully, forgiveness too.

All the best!

Until next time,

The philosophy you follow heavily influences whether you achieve your goals in life or not.

The philosophy you follow heavily influences whether you achieve your goals in life or not.

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a better life, action, attitude, belief systems, Beliefs, better choices, decisions, Goals, self, self improvement, self-image, success, you, your life

Are you the master or slave to your “shadow”?

Each rep of each exercise, executed with constant tension throughout the full range of motion gets you closer to the person you 'imagine yourself to be'. Goal of set: make the last rep as good as the first. An A+ student here - Phil Waugh.

Each rep of each exercise, executed with constant tension throughout the full range of motion gets you closer to the person you ‘imagine yourself to be’.
Goal of set: make the last rep as good as the first.
An A+ student here – Phil Waugh.

In daylight or any light for that matter, you cast a shadow. Even if the sun or light is right above you, your shadow is still there. It is always there. Your shadow here can be likened to your self-image, your sub-conscious. Are you the master or slave to your shadow?

It is an interesting relationship – this one between you and your shadow. Can be likened to a ‘master-slave’ relationship where you would think that YOU are the master and your shadow, the slave.

All actions you take comes from this relationship. Well, many actions can be taken by the master but no action whatsoever can be taken without consulting the shadow.

The shadow or the ‘sub-conscious’ ability of the mind houses your very important ‘self-image’. By the time we are adults, we would have developed a self-image about every talent, every characteristic and every performance we have ever had. Have you ever heard yourself or others state perceptions out loud like – “I’m a lousy cook, I can’t even scramble eggs’ or “I have a terrible memory”. “I’m never on time”. “I can’t stick to a healthy diet”. I have heard many of these self-limiting impositions people have made and believed in my time in the gym.

These all make up your shadow, shaped by your subconscious mind. The important thing to remember is this:

“you cannot outgrow these limits you place on yourself – you can only set new limits within which you must live.”

Results with care. Here, Brad is 'feeling the essence' of the exercise and inching closer to his best self. Managing your 'shadow' better is a giant step towards realising your goals. Vv

Results with care.
Here, Brad is ‘feeling the essence’ of the exercise and inching closer to his best self.
Managing your ‘shadow’ better is a giant step towards realising your goals. Vv

In my two decades of helping individuals in the gym find the best version of themselves, whether it be in losing weight or in quitting a bad habit, effort alone is not enough to achieve and sustain the goals. You also need imagination!

I always tell my students that they need to “walk, talk, eat, sleep, sh%t, talk, run …. Like the person they need to be, before they become the person they will be.” As there is another important point to remember:

  • It is not what you “are” that holds you back, it’s “what you think you are not.”

I have learned a lot about people and a lot from the many thousands of people I have met over the last two decades in the gym. I love ‘people watching’ and one thing I do know that holds true for every person is this:

  • Individuals DO NOT behave in accordance with reality. Individuals behave in accordance with their ‘perception of reality’.

What is your reality? What is your perception of the ‘truth’?

I have found that if a person does not desire to work on changing his/her self-beliefs that are aligned with the person they desire to be then the change they are seeking will be temporary. This will apply to any worthwhile change, for example weight loss, alcohol consumption or quitting smoking and so forth.

Self-image is fundamental to understanding human behaviour and what I discovered years ago is that if you change a person’s self-image, you change their personality and their behaviour. I think this is a very important part of any mentoring/coaching role, whether it be in a team capacity or on an individual basis.

This is why effort (or will-power) alone is not enough to make a change that is lasting in yourself. Trying to make a worthwhile change at the conscious level by using will-power, will usually result in a temporary change. I have seen this many times with the thousands of gym goers that seek a positive change in their lives. You see them – bursting out of their seams doing all the group classes, sporting the latest clothing gear, looking the ‘part’ but never achieving their goals.

There are many reasons that people fail to achieve lasting change but a big part of it is that they try and take on a new habit for example – going to the gym or give up a bad habit for example – one-pack-a-day smoker for ten years by good ol-fashioned, teeth-gritting WILL POWER.

This is where people fundamentally go wrong: people think that they are masters of their shadow and have not understood that they are in fact slaves to their shadow, the shadow being your subconscious part of your mind. Because they have not spent the time working on their self-beliefs that make up part of their self-image, the conscious mind is still unconvinced.

Two principles of building muscle: 1) Simplicity and 2} Continuity. Become aware; Apply action: Adapt accordingly.

Two principles of building muscle: 1) Simplicity and 2} Continuity.
Become aware; Apply action: Adapt accordingly.

Reminds me of a client I trained a few years ago. He did very well. He lost around 30kg and built a decent physique. He worked very hard and was a very good student. For about 8 months I reminded him daily of the importance of ‘walking, talking, sitting, eating, sleeping, shi%ting …. Like the person he desires to be”. And for those first 8 months he told me he had it under control and he had mastered this request of mine.

However, I wasn’t convinced he was (even though he had achieved a body-weight he had not been at since he was a late teenager). It was unchartered territory for him.

It wasn’t until he went out and played a round of golf with some of his old mates one weekend that he truly understood what I meant by that statement and what I said was his biggest challenge was.

For the entire round of golf, he was having an extremely bad day and he couldn’t understand why he was hitting the ball that bad. It just so happened that a friend in the group (an ex-Olympian who understood a bit of sport psychology) went up to him and said,

“you are still hitting the ball like you were the guy who was 30kg heavier – the old YOU?”

That was when everything crystallised. He then realised what I had meant when I reminded him of how important it was to train his mind and mastering his shadow. I have said this a thousand times over the last two decades – losing weight is the easy part. What is the most difficult thing to do is convincing the REAL YOU that you are the NEW YOU.

In the case of the example of the smoker, your shadow (self-image) has seen you as a smoker for the past ten years and believes that you will still “see” yourself inside as a smoker.

Result: The smoker fails his attempt to quit smoking. Puts it in the “Too – hard busket.”

This is where imagination and emotion (or heart) comes in to the equation. I have always believed that effort (will-power and hard work) alone is not enough to achieve lasting results, one needs imagination and ‘heart’. You need to feel the end result you are seeking.

If you don’t change your self-image or shadow then when there is a conflict between will-power and conviction, the latter will always WIN. You can see this in action for example when you know you’re tired but you’re convinced you won’t sleep, you just won’t sleep no matter how hard you try (will-power).

Chris enjoying a well-deserved rest between sets. A 'set' as I define it is: a continuous progression of 15 to 45 sec 'focused moments'. Focus + heart + visualization ===> results. Vv.

Chris enjoying a well-deserved rest between sets.
A ‘set’ as I define it is: a continuous progression of 15 to 45 sec ‘focused moments’.
Focus + heart + visualization ===> results.
Vv.

For any worthwhile change to be sustainable and permanent in your personality or behaviour, you should first involve change in your belief-systems and self-image (change the control your shadow has over you). This change in self-image needs to be followed up with a quality plan and quality implementation for any successful change in your lifestyle.

We make decisions (small and big) every single moment of every day of our lives. To me, most if not all decisions in life come down to 2 things:

  1. Plan
  2. Implementation

You need these 2 things if you want to get results. That is easy to understand. It follows then that to achieve QUALITY RESULTS, you need to have a QUALTIY Plan and have QUALITY implementation.

So, a question you would ask yourself is “are you going to be a slave to your shadow for the rest of your life” and use it as a ‘handicap’ or are you going to use this shadow as a springboard to achieving greatness?” However, which way you define greatness.

Scientists agree that the human nervous system cannot tell the difference between an actual experience and an experience imagined vividly, emotionally and in detail. This is why your shadow can be used as a springboard to achieving greatness if that is what you choose to achieve.

It is yet another of the many decisions you have to make in your life. A choice.

So, it would follow that you need to “see’ through the eyes of the person  you would like to be if you desire to be the person you desire to be.

You need to take control and manage your shadow if you wish to make any worthwhile, sustainable change in YOU and your life. Let me sum it up in this formula:

A quality plan + quality implementation = quality life.

This is what my framework and the products I have developed help people do. I give them a quality plan (tailored to each individual) and I guide them through quality implementation towards a quality result. So, don’t leave such an important aspect of self-achievement with the ‘lottery of life’ attitude, that a big percentage of the population do – you can see this behaviour reflected in the popularity and increasing prevalence of games of chances, led by the gambling industry.

It is the one thing you have some control over, if you desired it. What is needed from you is the courage to manage your shadow better and become master to it and not the servant. Make a quality plan to change your belief systems for the better and use your shadow (self-image) as a spring board to a better YOU, a better LIFE.

Overcoming many small hurdles on your way to achieving your ultimate goal is encouraging. Progress, any form of progress is a motivating factor. So, don't strive for perfection, instead seek progress ... towards your ideal SELF. Vv

Overcoming many small hurdles on your way to achieving your ultimate goal is encouraging.
Progress, any form of progress is a motivating factor.
So, don’t strive for perfection, instead seek progress … towards your ideal SELF.
Vv

So, if there is one important investment you will ever make and abstain from putting the ‘cart before the horse’ like the majority of people do, is to work on your shadow. In order to do this, you need to understand your shadow, understand the REAL YOU. You need to increase your awareness. The first step to any form of self-improvement.

To do this, to understand – you need to work towards simplifying things. Matter of fact, in the beginning you need to ‘over-simplify’ things to understand things better – to ‘manage your funnel better’.

So, that is your first step, simplify YOU. Simplify your life. Make the complex, simple. Simplify to understand. Understand you and your shadow. Seek to understand the master-slave relationship that exists. Before becoming a master of the many other external things in life, become a master to yourself – your shadow.

Work towards managing this master-slave relationship in your favour. Take better control of your shadow by understanding and changing your self-image, with a vivid, clear, emotional, sensory vision of the person you want to be.

If you have children, watch them play ‘pretend’ games. Understand your shadow by adopting this “lets pretend” attitude, and play the role of whomever you want to be. My kids just don’t go out of character until the pretend game has ended. Imagination is one thing my kids have helped me improve over the last few years of fatherhood.

So continue to work on your imagination and believe in your dreams. Believe you can become a better version of YOU and try ‘pretending’ you ARE before YOU ARE. After-all, your shadow cannot tell the difference between “The real me” and the ‘the one I see’.

Managing my shadow better, helped me towards representing Australia twice at the World Natural Body-building Championships and be placed in the Top 5 in the world in consecutive years. It has also been one of the reasons over 84% of everyone I have ever helped over the last 10 years have successfully achieved their goals or better.

So, don’t be a slave to your shadow. Instead work towards becoming the master that you deserve to be and be the best you can be, for YOU first (in whatever worthwhile goal you have), and by default everyone gets the best of you too. Be the best you can be to live the best life you can live.

Besides, I read somewhere a long time ago that life is like a parachute, you only have one chance to open/live it.

Choose well.

All the best.

Until next time,

World Natural Bodybuilding Championships. Side Chest pose. Placing: 4th.

World Natural Bodybuilding Championships.
Side Chest pose.
Placing: 4th.

Side Triceps pose in the heat of competition at the 2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Contest held in NY, USA. Represented Australia. Ranked: 4th Best Natural Bodybuilder in the World. Repeated this in 2008.

Side Triceps pose in the heat of competition at the 2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Contest held in NY, USA.
Represented Australia.
Ranked: 4th Best Natural Bodybuilder in the World.
Repeated this in 2008.

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