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Be the oddly-shaped cornerstone of your own Masterpiece than just another brick in the wall of someone else’s Mansion

I seems we are in the midst of a revolution ..
A revolution of sorts … information, perceived freedom, mystical and empowerment … amongst many others

It’s not natural, afterall

Schooling, we were told gets you a job. But, to me, an education – self education, builds wealth.

We’ve bought into a model that taught us to embrace the system, to consume insatiably … to spend for pleasure and to separate ourselves from work. We’ve been taught that this approach works… but it DOES NOT (not anymore).

This GAP keeps us from succeeding, cripples the growth of our society, & makes us really stressed. We are all racing towards something, praising each other for being ‘busy’. What is that something? It seems “natural” to live the life so many of us live, but in fact, it’s quite recent and totally man-made.

It is not so natural, afterall.

Having a ‘growth mind-set’ is far better than having a closed one.
Be curious, Stay curious.

Big Business Controls Us

The BIG BUSINESS control us.

Most who are caught up in this ‘system’ understand this. Our schooling taught us through years of study to be the perfect worker, the perfect employee. We exist in a corporate manufacturing mindset, one so complete that anyone off the grid seems like an oddity. In the last few years, though, it’s becoming clear that people who reject the worst of the current system are actually MORE likely to succeed.

There are many examples of these quirky, weirdos who never finished college – two of which are – Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. They were mavericks in their thinking and not only dared to dream but … they dared to dream real big. They pursued what they loved and became very good at simplifying the complex. The magic was in the intelligence behind the thinking in taking complexity to simplicity. This is far more difficult than cramming for exams or remembering facts. 

As Steve Jobs said –

Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Classrooms have been teaching the wrong stuff. It has been reinforcing the wrong stuff for years. School teaches us Fear and it has been very good at it. Decades of school have drilled that into us …& still doing to our children – fear, fear and more fear. Fear of getting a D-minus, fear of not getting a job right out of school. Fear of not fitting in.

Don’t let that fear engulf your thinking and cloud it. Clean up your thinking, as Steve Jobs said and take a page out of his book … to work hard at simplifying the complex, whatever complexity it is that you are facing. 

Then … find your magic and … 

Move your mountain.

Good people cannot stand by and let injustice happen … which removes the key element of Freedom – dignity.

Question is does school still work or prepare you for work?

What do you remember from your school years … your university years … and/or are you still studying? I remember there being some very good teachers and some ordinary teachers. At university, I can count less than a handful of lecturers that were great teachers. Two of them, I am still friends with and in communication to this day.

What is one of our worst fears?

Yes, apparently, apart from snakes and public speaking, we hate being seen as ‘different‘. This fear is propagated in school, in the whole education system.

Here’s what more schooling does & continues  to teach people –

  • Fit in
  • Follow instructions
  • Take good notes
  • Cram for tests and dong miss deadlines
  • Don’t ask questions
  • Don’t challenge authority
  • Have a good resume’
  • Don’t fail
  • Don’t say anything that might embarrass you
  • Don’t answer back

Etc…

Question is, does school still work or prepare you for work in today’s fast changing world. I think the education system needs a big overhaul as the existing paradigm simply does not work and does very little for the individual in a fast-changing world. 

We have seen hints of alternative methods of schooling during this period of covid lock-down, but is it enough? Or, are we just going to go back to ‘how things were?” 

For me, anyway … I respect the system that we had (and still have) as it was the best system that was available but personally, I never let schooling get in the way of my education. 

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

Being a mis-fit, the outsider, the rebel and weirdo is a strength

Being you, and no one else but you, takes courage. Especially in a world that is continuously trying to make you someone else. Courage is the foundation of everything you can do with significance. As stated by philosopher Osho – 

“You cannot be truthful, if you are not courageous. You cannot be loving, if you are not courageous. You cannot be trusting if you are not courageous. You cannot enquire into reality if you are not courageous. Hence, courage comes first and everything else follows.”

Many imitate because of fear of being ostracised or being ridiculed. Seek first, to know yourself and love yourself. Self-love is a positive and productive force as it drives us to test our limits, impels us to do our best and compels us not to settle for anything less.

Be conscious of your unique-ness or weirdness and understand how you can serve the world better, with the unique strengths that you possess. I believe, being a misfit, an outsider, the rebel and weirdo is a strength in this day and age. It is less superficial and I think the world deserves and is hungry for authenticity.

Remember this: “consciousness of our strength increases it.” – Vauvenaregues (1715 – 1747).

Be you, have courage.

Those who dream … to be different … and aim to share their unique selves with the world, to help … get the love back in return.

We are what we think

Each of us a searching for beauty, for our truth, but each of us need to discover the truth for ourselves. What keeps us in the ‘dark’ is all up inside our heads:

We are what we think.

The mind is like a gushing spring and at any and every moment, we’re thinking about dozens of different things. To a large extent, we inevitably live inside our heads. This constant ebb and flow consciousness can take us to places we do not want to go and … should not allow ourselves to go.

I believe schools/colleges/universities… should teach ONLY TWO things :

  1. how to THINK 🤔 & find solutions to interesting problems/challenges. We should also be learning how to Think extensively, not intensively.
  2. Lead (this skill of leading needs to be taught … like the system has taught compliance. The world not only needs more Leaders … but also Champion Leaders. Leaders who are socially smart & responsible purpose, ability to connect & have a positive impact on society).

And I believe we need good QUALITY teachers/educators. As Malcolm Gladwell mentions in his book “Tipping Point”, the quality of the teachers have a bigger bearing on the performance of the students than the number of students per teacher. Great teachers in all areas of life are precious. Bad & lousy teachers/lecturers cause damage that last forever.

Bad & lousy teachers are dangerous but don’t blame them … get rid of them. Blame the Corporate system that still requires complaint workers who do well at Tests.

Here’s what I imagine :

I imagine a teaching facility that has sign something like this –

We teach people to THINK 💭 for themselves, to take initiative and to create their beauty … their truths, to question the status quo and to do everything with more care, more trust and more compassion. We teach our graduates 🎓 to interact with transparency and understand that more consumption is Not the Answer to social problems. We teach people to have courage in their convictions and be Leaders. To take a stand for what they believe in“

I imagine schools/colleges/higher education organised around teaching people to BELIEVE.

In themselves & realising their dreams to make  the world a better place .. & live a life of significance.

Believe.
Even if you don’t believe in anything … Believe in belief, itself.

Believe in yourself

The real foundation is to treat your ‘uniqueness’, your difference as the cornerstone to building your Mansion … not be just another brick in someone else’s building/mansion/dreams.

Keep seeking until you find what you’re looking for. When you find what you’ve been looking for, you will most probably find pain and suffering but it is in this pain and suffering that you will discover your treasures. For it is the everyday challenges that are in itself, heroic: the little battles we all fight to stay focused and do our best, to overcome doubts and fears, to keep our cool when all about us may be losing theirs. 

To truly master the art of worldly wisdom, you must win a more inward struggle, as Baltasar Gracia’n (1601-58) states – 


“First be master over yourself if you would be master over others.”

Above all else, believe in YOU … believe in yourself.

Create your own Bible and be the best your can be, always, as Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) said –

just improve yourself; that is the only thing you can do to better the world.”

I agree.

Do the right thing, always and keep your mind pure. Everyone knows this, even a five year old child. However, very few truly understands and practices it.

Schooling gets you a job but self-education, I believe, builds true wealth.

Your choice.

Cheers & Ahoy!

Yours in iron, heart, mind and muscles,

Believe or not believe.
Get your ass off the pole of the fence (stop sitting on the fence!)
Choose.

We all need to dream but have our feet firmly on the ground.
A strong foundation of support, unconditional love and good Life Education is critical to having a successful life.

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The QUALITY of your Network is more important than your Quantity. Here’s why –

Who are ‘you?”

The Lifeblood of connecting 

Everyone wants to be rich. Right? Not you? Well, you’re special … 

Do you have a million dollars in cash laying around, what about a billion dollars? No, I didn’t think so, many don’t. Would be nice though, wouldn’t it?

What is ‘connecting’/networking” to you?

It would mean different things to different people. I’ve learned over the years that ‘good networking begins with the ability to start and carry on a good conversation.” We all have strengths and some people are better at ‘connecting’ than others. That is a strength of mine, has always been.

I don’t think anyone would get far in this world if you can’t make eye contact, act confidently, and engage in an intelligent conversation punctuated with give-and-take, back-and-forth dialogue. It begins with Trust, and the only word that describes trust, is, priceless. You can’t buy trust at any price but over time, with patience, you can earn that priceless trust. 

Here’s what I’ve learned over the years – if people you connect with, like you and they believe in you, then they will trust you, and if they trust you – then they may buy from you.

The lifeblood of connecting and the nurturing of relationships, stems from networking. Networking, to me, is your life skills and social skills combined with your business skills. Business pleasure done before and after regular work hours. …& during hours too (lunch meetings). 

There is life and happiness in sadness. Find it.

Good things come to those who have patience

To me, the ability to make conversation is an important part of nearly every relationship we have in our lives. The ability to engage in ‘small talk’ (have a listen to my tips in an early video), speaks volumes for you and leads to communication that deepens the relationship. 

So, “what you can do today?” you may be thinking

Here’s a place you could start from – try and perform one small act of kindness today without the expectation of getting something in return. Maybe pay for the coffee for the person who is standing in line behind you at the coffee shop? What can you do to brighten up someone’s day today?

In my experience, good things come to those who have patience and take consistent, persistent actions toward what they want or desire. They make committed decisions … decisions they ACT on. Just like what I’ve learned about building good Quality muscle with balance and symmetry. You need patience, above everything.

And do the right thing all the time, and respect will be yours. Believe in your heart that what you’re doing that the actions you’re taking is the best you can do – for yourself, first, and for others second. And always tell the truth. Here’s the thing about truth – no truth, no nothing. Full-stop!

I certainly understand the proliferation of social networking sites these days – they’re sprouting up everywhere. I also understand how it can help advance our careers (some of us) and help us meet like-minded individuals online.

But is it really good use of your time

I am very conscious of my time (just like many of you are) and I could see how a great deal of time spent on social networking sites can be unproductive and many times, online interactions are often superficial and unimportant. For me, I have a certain about of energy and I don’t like expelling it for less than life-affirming actions. I have seen that company mission statements mean nothing when the people they work for them are treated with disrespect. 

Let me ask you a few questions: are we really more connected today with all these technological gadgets and applications? In my mind, being ‘virtually’ connected and personally connected are two entirely different things. Sure, we need both in today’s world, but I would caution that the quality of your network is more important than your quantity. 

The jury is out on this one. Time will tell.

Believe in you. In what you have to offer to help people, help themselves achieve something they care about. Be persistent.

Reach out and touch someone

I’d rather have 200 ‘live’ people than 2000 “friends’ on Facebook.

Just like I approach adding and retaining QUALITY muscle, I retain ‘old school’ principles but add a ‘modern twist/flavour’ to muscle growth and sculpture. When it comes to networking and building quality connections in today’s high-tech world, you need to combine the new technology with the ‘old-school’ way of connecting. 

And how do you do this?”

Well, you can’t build muscle by thinking about or reading about it … you actually have to go and reach out and lift the weight and feel the muscle. Same for quality relationships, you need to go and ‘reach out’ and touch someone (I love that Noiseworks song “Reach out”). 

I’ve been in and around gym for almost 30 years now and have had over 30,000 + conversations and this is being conservative. I particularly had multiple conversations for 12 to 18 hour days, 7 days a week, with people of all ages and from all backgrounds in the seven years that I owned and managed my Family Gym. I probably have listened to more stories from individuals than the average person alive today has in the 100 year lifespan. 

I’ve offered my ears and shoulders to lean – on and cry on. I’ve wiped their tears, I’ve given them unsolicited hugs. I’ve offered good advice for free and I’ve made phone calls that many would not do. I’ve shared stories and made them laugh during their sad days and I’ve reminded them of the good times they had; I’ve driven to their homes and personally knocked on their doors to see if they were ok; they were pleasantly shocked and grateful for they weren’t in a very good place at that time; I’ve been the clown when I needed to be to infuse people with happiness and vitality … and also showing them that it’s ok not to take life and themselves too seriously all the time. 

Read that last paragraph again. 

I have mentioned ways in which I believe I worked very hard to be a source of comfort and strength and wisdom for the members of my Family Gym and others connected to my businesses. It was about building Quality Relationships, not superficial ones. What they were, are, what some people refer to as “random acts of kindness” (when no one is watching or awards given out) that you do, simply because you care about them. They nurture relationships and some develop in to quality and convey to others what it means to be a good friend. 

Like many things in life – like sex and chocolate and clothing … quality is better than quantity.

Do the Right thing, not some of the time .. but all the time.

Be an Active Listener

It is difficult to make connections but it is often more difficult to make important connections. The least understood element of connecting is that it’s a two way street. Yes, we always want to connect with someone else but the more important question is – do they want to connect with you?

What is your idea of being a ‘friend?” A Business/Life Mentor told me a long time ago that – 

Connecting is really all about being nice. Your friendliness is partly your ability to engage and your willingness to give Value first.” 

When you combine the attributes of niceness/friendliness with engagement and value, you will develop powerful connections that lead to RICH relationships. 

For some, the talking part of a relationship comes easy but there is another side of the equation in any relationship worth keeping and that is being a good listener. Do you think you’re a good listener? Staying engaged as an ‘active’ listener is very hard work because you need to stay focused and not let your mind wonder. I believe that as you become better at listening, you also improve your ability to win friends and influence others – and perhaps avoid a misunderstanding that can set relationships back years. 

I have seen this happen. Don’t let it happen to you. Focus on becoming a better listener, an Active Listener. 

I am a far better listener now than I ever was in my life, thanks in part, to my years of owning my own gym business. It’s easy to get complacent but I remind myself every now and then to be attentive when someone tells a long-winded story (like my 9 year old son … can he tell stories, must take after his Dad, ha ha ha!)

If you aim to be a top-notch connector or networker, it is essential that you become a more improved active listener.

If you don’t get what you want … learn why and seek another solution.

Powerful connection

The more people who are attracted to you, the MORE solid your connections you’ll make. Here’s a question – think about your most powerful connections right now. Make a list of four or five of them (Hopefully, you have that many)). Next, to each of them, write a sentence or two about how they have helped you, and how you would like them to continue to help you. Then, write a sentence or two about how you have helped them. 

Here’s an example of a powerful connection I have – Through my adding value to one member of my gym over six months, I was one connection away from the most Powerful Man in the world at one time – Mr Barack Obama. This man that came to me to help him, help himself be his best self was part of the President of the United State’s inner sanctum and advisory/support team. He was the best at what he did and was head-hunted by the Obama’s to help manage part of his 2nd term Presidential campaign because of the help he gave the Clinton’s prior to that. So, effectively, the value I gave to my client (and now friend) was (and still is) a very powerful connection to have, as it is only one connection to President Obama. 

Now, make a list of four or five people that you would love to meet because they could help your personal growth. Ask yourself, how can you give value, first. I have found that if you make yourself valuable, and memorable, people will desire to make you part of their network. Also, in my experience in helping people, help themselves over the last 3 decades, the important thing is just that: make sure you’re prepared to help someone else get better whether it is a one-to-one meeting or a networking event. 

The question you have to ask yourself is this: How can I help people, help themselves to achieve something they care about? That has been my mantra in helping people, ‘build their bridges’ over the last three decades. I’ve asked myself how can I make people better as a direct result of connecting with me? Now, this should be done with care. What I mean by this is that, you can use this strategy to connect with anyone, anywhere, and not just use it as a strategy to connect at a networking event.

Find your superpowers. Know your superpowers. Work to your superpowers (strengths)

Not everyone is a connection

I have learned that not everyone is a connection, and each person you meet is a valuable lesson in the art of connecting and networking. In my experience, when you begin to give value to the world, somehow the people you affect will find a way to tell you. Even if it takes a couple of years. I have experienced that many times over the years.  

We have been told that it’s ‘who you know that matters’. I don’t fully agree with this. I believe it’s ‘who knows you, that really matters’ in the long-term.

Realise this – the first stage of being liked and connected to is the person you see in the mirror when you look at it. As Dr Benjamin Spock said –

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”

The person needs to be be loved, before he/she can give love. Then, give, first. Easier said than done some times, but to get what you want … you must give of yourself first – without measuring. 

Believe in yourself. Dig in and ‘get your hands dirt’ and become the person you aspire to be … a person of performance and ‘getting shit done!’

Sit back, thank God … and think to yourself ‘wow!”

Hope you found this helpful to you and your business,

 

Yours in iron, mind, heart & muscles,

Paul e Valentine

There is a Lion in you .. in every one of us. Find that Lion and overcome your fears … fears of rejection, fear of failure, fear of what others think of you. Believe in YOU.

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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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11.5 KEY Life Lessons I’ve learned in my life so far …

Do you believe in Love at first sight?

ONE. GIVE people more than then they expect.

Go the extra mile. Do it with a smile.

Human nature (especially in the Western World), teaches us to “Take”. We are constantly taking, taking things in life, for granted and by doing this philosophy of taking, we are intentionally Taking from Themselves.

If you’re a Christian like I am, you will know that the Bible teaches that to receive, you have to GIVE. You can give, in many ways – financially, emotionally, intellectually, your time etc.

I believe, your greatest GIFT to others and the world is your Attitude. Having an Attitude of Gratitude’ (by giving Thanks), you connect yourself to the magic in the universe and ultimately receive everything you desire in life.

One must deliberately think and feel Gratitude, there is no other way to tap in to the abundance but first, you must give.

I like the point where the sun looks down where the land meets the sea meets the sky. My Golden Point. Do you have yours? Where?

TWO. Don’t believe everything you hear or read.

Reality is what you perceive it to be, not what others tell you it is. If you don’t think so, just watch a really good magician or illusionist change your reality right before your eyes.

Also, spend all you have and sleep all you want.

Continuously helping you become the best you can be … BEGIN help by helping yourself.
Then,
Reach out and touch someone … be the light for someone who can only see darkness.
Help them see ‘beauty’ .. see their truth.
Help them manage their insanity with sanity … their chaos with order.
Pray.

THREE. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to.

I’ve been very fortunate to have been with a woman who said she just wanted to keep talking to me from the very first time she met and hear my voice. I think that is one of the best compliments I have ever had.

I feel the same way about her and we have been together since we first laid eyes on each other twenty years ago.

As you get older, their conversation skills will be as important as any other.

Thank you, my darling wife and dear life friend, Cathy for the last twenty years of talking and conversing.

A lovely time out on the ski slopes.

FOUR. When you say, “I love you,’ MEAN it.

I’ve heard it and so may, have you. People who rattle off the phrase ‘I Love you’ but, you know they don’t really mean it as their actions to match the words.

From my experience, love is worth the risk.

It is quite simple, if you say it, mean it.

Don’t abuse that phrase.

To pursue your SHIT and never achieving it is far better than never having a go at your SHIT and living with regret forever.

FIVE. Live with each other for at least six months before you get married.

About eighteen years ago, my girlfriend at that time (my wife now), asked me to move in with her. After two weeks of deliberation, I called her up and said –

“why not, let’s just do it”

We were both a little scared. It was new territory for both of us. We agreed that we would give it a try for six months. If either of us or both didn’t like living with each other, we would call it quits and go separate ways.

I heard couples breaking up because they pressed the toothpaste from different ends. Apparently, the little mosquitoes irritate you more in life.

Almost twenty years later, we have beautiful memories with two beautiful children and a dog.

The six months was a key moment in our relationship.

Thank you, Cathy for agreeing with me to do this all those years ago.

Travelling the uncertain seas of life together.
Love is worth the risk.

SIX. Believe in love at first sight.

I know some people don’t believe in this and try to analyse their future love partners based on other logical reasoning like income, status, intelligence, looks, height etc

They’re all important, yes they are.

I believe they are not as important as listening to your intuition in choosing a partner. This usually involves illogical reasoning and matters of the heart, which is tied to your eyesight and seeing love before your eyes.

It is a beautiful thing.

I’m still with my wife from the first time I laid eyes on her in the Photocopying/Fax Room at our place of work, in the year 2000. We were Business Consultants working for a Top Advisory Firm in Sydney, Australia.

She gave me the best smile I had ever seen and I believe I saw her heart smile to me, through her eyes.

I fell in love, then and my love for her has grown every day since.

What do think YOU see in the mirror?

SEVEN. Don’t laugh at anyone’s dreams. People who don’t have dreams, don’t have much.

What are dreams?

Dreams tell dreamers what could be as opposed to what currently is. Dreams are essential to creativity and innovation and achieving goals.

What are goals?

They are ‘dreams with a deadline.’ Everything begins and ends in the mind, starting with your imagination/dreams. As a mentor once said –

If you can conceive it and believe it, you can achieve it.

I used to tell people that if I made that person I see in the mirror better than, last week, than last month, than last year … in ten years I will be on the World Stage, standing and competing against the best in the world.”

Within ten years, I stood on stage against the best natural bodybuilders at that time, representing Australia. A Big Dream, come true. I repeated the feat the following year for good measure. As a great mentor once said –

“If you think you can, you’re right … you CAN.”

Don’t ever laugh at another person’s dream, no matter how far-fetched it is.

My ten year dream. Achieved. Twice.
Believe in YOU. Have a Quality Plan and then Work that Quality Plan

EIGHT: Great love and great achievements involve great risk.

It is worth it, if you desire it so.

Life, is many things and one of them is – life is a big exercise in Risk Management.

Remember: No Risk, No nothing.

Wonderful insight in to the mind of a Great Leader

NINE. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

Smiles should be traded in, like the Stock Market.

Those who smile often and readily, should get credits of some sort from society. Smiling makes everything a little better, unless you’re the Joker and going up against Batman.

Everything is going to be alright.

Smile.

One of my many quirks – my Old Captain Viking Pirate persona
Smiling is a habit of mine. … a contagious habit I must add.

TEN. Disagree with people, if you must but don’t hate them.

It’s ok agree to disagree and still like someone.

In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling and personal judgements. Leave judgemental comments to God or people who have a profession as a Judge.

Shit happens. Stand your ground. Don’t be afraid.

Exactly.

ELEVEN point (.) Five: Spend time alone. Learn to enjoy your own company.

I enjoy my own company.

Do you?

You can be alone, but you are not necessarily lonely. Many people cannot stand being alone with themselves. It can be the most difficult thing for some people to do, the thought of spending time with themselves, with their own minds, with their inner-thoughts is just not ‘cup-o-tea’.

Spending time alone can be beneficial in more ways than one. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time initially, you can simply start small and slow.

The important thing is to Start.

My time alone produces my version of magic.
My Fine-line drawing paper art.
The fusion of chaos & order … that point where I dance with peace.

This is a list of only 11.5 Key lessons from my life so far … ‘0.5″ because the list is not exhaustive.  Many other lessons you can choose to learn as you travel through life. The skill is in identifying the relevant ones with appropriate sufficiency.

All the very best in your choices,

 

Cheers & Ahoy!

The Old Cap’n Viking Pirate Evangelist Muscled Monk … & Life lessons/hacks (11.5 Key) so far …

The Old Cap’n Viking Pirate Evangelist Muscled Monk and his pirate dog – “Mr Fuzzy/Fussy Cuddles”

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Headship

To lead, you need to serve … you need to spread your love … you need to spread your wings … and be the wind beneathe other wings …
Here I am spreading my wings … my lats … just like Batman’s cape

Another term for Leadership

Have you heard of the term – “Headship?”

It is another term for Leadership.

I think it has a Biblical origin, whereby the man is recognised as the “head” in marriage and so he was endowed with authority and the right-to-dominate. This set of beliefs would not sit well with women in marriages or society in general, today, and understandably so.

It may have been Paul’s mistake of patterning the man’s role as “head” after Jesus Christ’s position as “Head-of-the-Church” which gave weight to the husband’s role in a marriage. Patterning your life on someone else without thinking about possible negative consequences can be a dangerous thing.

Great Leaders bring out the best in others … Great Leaders walk the trenches with their men … great leaders are great servants
Here I am with the members of my gym
Members that I served for 7 years of my life …
to be their BEST

A True Leader has a Servant’s Heart

Should the husband, become Lord and Master or Servant, I ask you?

The Man and Christ have been compared since, so does that automatically give the Man all the rights and roles to that of the Lord in the home?

I think many in societies today still act out this misconception in families and in other areas of life, like board rooms, sports fields etc. Men dominate to a significant degree. Change is happening but it is happening so slow that the real benefits will be experienced fifty to hundred years from now.

But why?

What are some of the traits of good Leaders anyway?

I think the great Leader and teacher of Leadership, Mr John C Maxwell, stated it rightly –

“The best leaders desire to serve others, not themselves.”

How many of you reading this can honestly look at yourself in the mirror and say that you truly have a servant’s heart?

I agree, totally, … all great Leaders have a servant’s heart. Can you think of some great Leaders? Who comes to mind? Gandhi? Nelson Mendela? Donald Trump? General H. Norman Schwarzkopf? Jesus Christ?

There are many good Leaders .. but not many, Great Leaders throughout history.

Winning this award in 2008 for the BEST GYM in the Northern Beaches of Sydney was the best award I have ever received (better than my 2 x World Championship trophies)
It was an award judged and voted on by the residents of the Northern Beaches on the BEST GYM & related Services in the Health & Fitness category

Headship means responsibility to act in love

We, as humans making our path through the maize of life, tend to seek & gravitate to Leaders, consciously and unconsciously.

It can be a benefit for some people, who prefer to off-load their responsibility in making decisions to someone else – a volunteer that can be used as a ‘scapegoat’ when things fuck up. You see and hear about this every single day – in politics, business and sport and life.

Headship means responsibility and initiative.

Headship is a responsibility to act in love; initiative to act in service to another. And who do you think is the greatest actor in Headship that ever walked this planet? I believe it was Jesus Christ. He demonstrated self-giving love and self-humbling service which gives us a whole new meaning and standard to the term “Headship.”

He truly embodied the qualities of servanthood.

So, to be true Leader, you need to take the initiative in building an atmosphere of loving, self-sacrificing service.

 

What’s you idea of Headship? What is your idea of what a Leader should look like? A Viking? A Pirate … maybe?

Taking on other’s qualities

Are you in a marriage?

It seems that marriage partners tend to become like each other, don’t you think?

After nineteen years of marriage with my partner, Cathy, I have deduced that there are one of two ways marriages can go. Based on my relationship and my observations of other marriages, either partners tend to become like each other and start taking on other’s qualities, or developing the opposite characteristics in negative reaction to the other.

Which way to you choose? Question is: are you still married?

Bowling night out with the Men of my gym
To Lead is to Serve

Real Leadership begins in the home

A person’s fundamental character is learned from the people he or she lives with in the early part of his or her youth, his or her family. Real Leaders are molded by the people that love them in the early years.

Real Leadership, begins in the home.

Leadership, I believe, is a function which should always be shared. I grew up in an extended family where Leadership was shared. That is what I adopt with my wife and nuclear family now.

I find when Leadership is shared in mutual respect for each other, it establishes a climate of dignity, freedom and responsibility. I believe this is part of the secret to my wife and I managing our relationship for nineteen years now. We’ve both changed in more ways than one since we first met but we’ve always allowed one another room to grow.

This climate of dignity, freedom and responsibility in turn creates an atmosphere which is both comforting and stimulating to both partners in a marriage. Do you share the Leadership function with your married partner?

And how do you know if this is what you have?

Well, shared Leadership is one where each is free to grow toward personal maturity and each partner is eager to see the shape of Christ forming in the other (see Galatians 4:19-20).

With Margaret .. the blind member of my Family Gym .. & her dog
Never forget – to Lead, one must have a heart to serve
I served this lady and her blind daughter (who I helped train for her first Paralympics in her teens).

Choking of communication and understanding is a cause of bad leadership

Where one party seizes power, or both the husband and the wife, both struggle for control, an atmosphere of competition and conflict results. The choking of communication and understanding is the fuel of this atmosphere. Even the unconscious assuming of power by one partner or the other will mold the relationship, perhaps in ways neither desire.

We’ve all seen this play out in the Hollywood movies countless times and some of you may have played it out in real life too.

When relationships break up, a common reason is there was a ‘break-down in communication.”

Leadership ability begins in the home … children learn character building in the home
Be the best character you can be … for YOU, first .. and then for your kids

Traits of a True Leader

Here are some ways you can become a True leader:

  • Put others first – being intentionally aware of others’ needs and being available to them
  • Confidence to give power to others – how we treat others is often a reflection of how we treat ourselves. How do you treat others?
  • Initiating service to others without expecting anything in return – the heart of true leadership is in the initiation of service
  • Not status/rank – conscious – your motivation to help others is paramount
  • Serves out of love – the quality of your leadership depends on the depth of concern for others

So, how do you fair in your Leadership skills so far in life?

More importantly, how do you learn to become the best servant you can be and as a result a Great Leader? A mentor once summed it up to me many years ago –

You must be little (seem insignificant) and serve all.

 

All the best to your Headship Role in life.

Cheers & Ahoy!

The old Cap’n Viking Pirate Evangelist Muscled Monk … & what it means to be a Great Leader

Me, some of my quirks (showing off my muscles, posing at every and any opportunity and my desire to ‘over’ dress than to ‘under’ dress. Also, my quirk of love for dogs (and in particular, my pirate dog) and animals in general.

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The Christmas Nativity Story speaks to our need for Hope

Find your light.
Light your path.
It is YOUR path.
No one can ride that path with you, but YOU.

Your “Right” to something can be very different to doing the “Right’ thing

I am a human and societal observer.

I have been since I was a child and I love it because you learn a lot, just by watching.

Permit me to make this observation: we must be very careful in speaking of our ‘rights’. I think people who constantly refer to their rights tread on dangerous ground. You see this just about everywhere you go in our modern-day, fast-paced societies.

Your ‘right’ to something can be very different to doing the right thing.

That is part of our reality, or a perception of our reality, at least.

Where the land … meets the sea …. meets the sky

The Nativity Scene on Christmas Eve Mass

I signed up my son and daughter to take part in the Nativity Scene on Christmas Eve Mass a few months earlier. My 8 year old son, Zachary, said that I was wrong not to assume that he wanted to participate in it. He said that he was going to church but was adamant he won’t play the “Sheppard” role in the Nativity Play.

Initially, I was angry but then realised that I was at fault for assuming I had the right exercise authority over him, simply because I was his parent. I subsequently apologised to him and said he didn’t have to do it if he didn’t want to.

My wife, Cathy, subsequently persuaded him to play that Head Sheppard role. And he looked and sounded terrific on stage, saying his lines to Mary and the Angels (my daughter, Olivia, played the role of one of the Angels) at the time of Jesus birth. It was beautiful to see them along with other young children re-enact the scene of the Nativity and the birth of Jesus Christ, our saviour in front of a packed out Church.

My initial failure at persuading my son to do the Shepherd role in the Nativity play also reminded me of how difficult I have found when helping people, help themselves to do the ‘right thing’ as they move towards their best selves. Despite presenting all the evidence and logical reasons for making or choosing healthier options with regards to habits, doing so is very very difficult for many.

Thank you Zachary for the reminder.

Father-son relationships take work
A lot of work

Failing as a Dad

After that heated debate with my son, I contemplated my failure as a Dad in relation to what I was observing quite readily in society – that many were referring to and claiming ‘their Right” but not necessarily considering whether they were doing “the Right” thing.

I thought about these questions: do you have the unqualified right to the respect of your children? Do you have an unqualified right to the respect of your spouse for that matter? Do you have every right to exercise authority over your children?

The answer is – No, you don’t!

You certainly DO NOT have an “unqualified right.”

You have a parental duty from God and you cannot sever that right. So, let’s ask this question: –

“Does and should a person demand his rights?”

So, I believe, God grants us ‘our rights’, but in so doing, these rights are only that, and no more … these rights are only granted to fulfil his or her duties. I know I have failed my children many times in this aspect of parenthood and especially in being a Father. I am certainly far from perfect and still very much a Work-in-progress…. in being the Best Dad I can be and also a better husband to my wife.

What do you think?

Believe or not believe.
Get your ass off the pole of the fence (stop sitting on the fence!)
Choose.

Duty to God, first

As parents, we automatically get ‘parental duties’ imposed on us and most of us, embrace them. It should not be forgotten that these parental duties apply towards God and to our children. Then, and only then, should we speak of our ‘parental rights’.

Duty to God, first.

Bare your cross.
Then …
Help someone else carry their’s … only if you can manage both

To exercise and respect, Authority

Each generation speaks of and writes about the rebellious spirit of children and young people of the generation that comes after them. Why do think this is so?

On one hand, it is one of education, whereby I believe, the children have never learned respect for authority as their parents didn’t know better and had not exercised authority. However, on the other hand, it is very possible that these children did not learn respect for authority because the parents misused it. Or parents have completely different views of respect for authority and demonstrate this towards one another in front of the children.

I’m sure there are many of you out there who feel that you’re not respected by something your wife, husband, partner said or did. One or both parties then abuse their authority and supposed power over each other.

It is no wonder, that in life, we have so many examples of men and women, inevitably, abuse power when they attain so much of it.

With the next generation of Valentine males – Zachary.

Authority: a God-given Weapon

We had a major disagreement this morning – my wife, kids and I and some things were said that hurt each other. I needed ‘time-out’ to cool down so I listened to some ‘Enya”. Her musical frequencies (songs) has certainly resonated with my brain wavelengths since I first heard her musci in the early 90s.

All relationships take work and disagreements is simply what people who love each other do … very similar to building and keeping good quality lean muscle mass. You hurt the muscle area (through repeatedly lifting weights and increasing the load/hurt on the muscle over time)… then, feeding it with the necessary nutrition (love and care) and allowing the muscle/person/relationship to heal/recover and become bigger, more shapely and better.

That is a very simplified version of loving relationships.

I think I was guilty of abusing my authority as a Dad and raised my voice unnecessarily when arguing. I was wrong to do that and I demonstrated a lack of control and respect for my power in my family. Others were guilty of it too but I won’t go in to that here.

Authority should not be toyed with. A person that is given that power to wield this authority over others, should understand that it is a God-given weapon.

All who wields this Power (like us, parents), must be constantly vigilant on it’s use and abuse of it. One should always be ‘on guard’ lest you misuse it for selfish ends.

Authority, must never be exercised in an arbitrary, unreasonable manner.

The world is still crying out for more Leaders who exemplify the utmost discipline in the respect of and exercise of authority and power. Leaders that go from good to Great.

Praise the Lord!

My son, the Shepherd

Zachary’s role in the Nativity was – one of the Shepherds.

Got me thinking about the question why, the shepherds?

The announcement of Jesus birth went to the Shepherds, first. Why? I mean, God didn’t go to the Theologians or the elite? The first group would have probably consulted their commentaries and the latter, may have looked around nervously to see if anybody was watching. What about the successful, why not them?

Well, maybe, they would have consulted their calendars because they were so ‘busy.’

Instead, God went to the Shepherds. Why, I ask?

Maybe, it is because they didn’t have a reputation to protect or an axe to grind or a ladder to climb. They were simple men, who maybe, didn’t know enough to tell God that angels don’t sing to sheep and that messiahs are not found wrapped in rags and sleeping in a feed trough.

I have seen this re-enactment play out on Christmas Eve masses many times over the years but it is only yesterday in Zachary’s role playing, my son, the Shepherd … that I asked those questions.

Like my failure to persuade my son to take part in the Nativity initially, many things in life and what we call ‘reality’ is heavily influenced in being able to communicate effectively through storytelling. The Nativity is a great story and the Bible has a collection of great stories, written by wonderful storytellers. Stories that connect and move people. Even all these centuries later, like we do today.

Maybe, we can all learn how to be better story-tellers now and for the rest of our lives to be more effective communicators.

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

Christmas is about … Hope … the vision of Life

Christmas is about many things, to different people. In yesterday’s mass, one of the 3 things he asked the members to consider was that Christmas was not just about ‘your immediate family’ but should be about others. About asking yourself what can you GIVE to others, in whatever shape or form.

I felt good that my family did give.

My wife helped encourage my children to practise sessions of the play leading up to the mass in which they gave their performance. I gave my voice as a member of the Church Choir during mass and helped set up the hall prior to mass. I was happy we ‘gave.’

Here, I am again, in the early hours of Christmas morning, giving you my thoughts … through my writing and I hope it add some value to you and your life, however, small it may be.

It is my gift to you, this Christmas Day.

Don’t give up, don’t give up on what you believe in .. . don’t give up, but use the chance to return to HOPE. Hope that everything will be better and as you imagined.

There are many good and bad things Religions of the world represents. However, the one thing that I believe Religions of the world provide is a strong pathway for the individual towards Hope. This belonging to a sense of Collective Faith is very powerful … which is reflected in Christians all around the world celebrating Christmas Day.

Hope, ultimately is all that we have in life.

Hope is ultimately, all we have in this life

Remember, to stoop in the presence of Greatness

In church, there are moments when we are required to ‘stoop’ or bow our heads or kneel when we are talking to Jesus and God. That is what you do when you meet or are in the presence of Greatness.

Jesus was a great man, a great Leader, a great Messiah. He still is, many centuries later.

As I see it, as you go through life, you can see the world and everything it has to offer – standing tall. But, to witness the Saviour, you have to get on your knees.

So …

While the theologians were sleeping;

And the elite were dreaming

And the successful were snoring …

The meek were kneeling.

They (the Shepherds) were kneeling before the One, our Saviour .. that only the meek will see.

That is the Nativity. That is Christmas Day. They were kneeling in front of Jesus, the son of God.

Remember, to stoop in the presence of Greatness, like my son reminded me in his role of a Shepherd in this year’s Nativity Play.

Thank you, son … for the life lessons you’ve taught me.

My prayer for my son …

I pray that from today forward, I may be the greatest example to you of someone (a Gentle Man in this case), who not only recognises and exercises authority when appropriate but also respects the power it allows me to wield.

In all areas of life, especially, as a parent.

Merry Christmas to you and your family,

 

From my family or Valentine Viking Pirates …

 

Cheers & Ahoy!

The Old Cap’n Viking Pirate Evangelist Muscled Monk … & Shepherd Lessons from my son’s Nativity Role

Find your strengths.
Society only rewards when you’re working from your strengths.
Work to your strengths.
Give your Gifts.
Live.
I like this hat.

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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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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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Don’t chase the unchaseable

Me, some of my quirks (showing off my muscles, posing at every and any opportunity and my desire to ‘over’ dress than to ‘under’ dress. Also, my quirk of love for dogs (and in particular, my pirate dog) and animals in general.

Know YOU.

Being different and appreciating & developing your uniqueness can make you stand out in a world 🌎 that is very cluttered.

That is a positive thing if that is what you desire.

Know YOU (your strengths).

Love 💕 YOU (not in a narcissistic way).

Work on YOU (your talents & gifts).

Share YOU (& your strengths ) with those who love what YOU DO (by being the best servant you can) because YOU love others.

And humanity.

With care, trust and compassion.

Choose love 💕 not hate.

Always.

Now, there is a difference between positive thinking and delusional thinking. I have been like a sponge absorbing and educating myself from the University of Life, in all streams of knowledge sources – books, mentors and leaders of various fields, more books, family, friends, strangers … even more books, videos and … more books.

For almost five decades now.

Everyone and everything teaches You something.

Champions practise a lot of visualisation and simulation.
To create magic, you need to fuse the worlds of sanity (where you are) with insanity (where you dream/imagine you are, before you are).
That is difficult.
That is one of the key keys.
Don’t stop. Trying. Believing.
Keep on … keeping on. You’ll get there. Everyone always does.
Especially, if you do it with your heart. and ….
with LOVE.

Manage your funnel better

One of the skills is to squeeze out irrelevance and “bull-sh*t” as your sponge-like-brain absorbs knowledge and know-how. In other words, in the wise words of an ex-business/life mentor of mine –

learn to manage your funnel better

Here’s one maxim that was mis-leading growing up: –

“You can be anything you want to be, if you just try hard enough.”

Now, like most people, I embraced this maxim at a young age. Along with thousands of other kids, I spent a good chunk of my childhood trying to be the next Rugby 7s star ( in my case, it was the Fijian Rugby 7s legend – Waisele Serevi, on par with New Zealand’s Johah Lomu).

Every day growing up in Fiji, we played rugby 7s and practised the “goose-step/side-step” and explosive lateral movements and ‘dance like a twinkle toe ballerina on a rugby field’ kind of play.

But, there was always someone better.

After giving 100% of my effort for most of my primary and early secondary school life, I couldn’t even make the junior Rugby Team (well, its very hard to crack a team in Fiji as there is a multitude of supreme athletisism when it came to rugby).

I was just one of the many other fans on the side-line, part of the cheer squad for the schools.

backstage with a fellow competitor
I won

Who you already are

The truth: playing a starring role for Fiji at the Rugby 7s or World Cup wasn’t in the cards for me.

I realised early that I CANNOT BECOME anything I wanted to (like I was told to believe) and that I needed to focus on building on who I already was.

Each of us, unique individuals has a greater potential for success in specific areas, and the key to human development – all our individual development is building on who you already are.

While my story may be simplistic, in many cases, I have found (in helping people, helping themselves, find their best selves over the last two decades) is, amongst other key things – aligning yourself with the right task can make things easier.

For YOU.

Even the great Michael Jordan of the basketball courts could not become, well, the “Michael Jordan” of golf or baseball, no matter how hard he tried.

When we’re able to put most of our energy into developing our natural talents, it seems, extraordinary room for growth exists (just like building quality – muscle if your have the genetics for building muscle, like I do  …. Remember, I didn’t have the height gene and so never played basketball but I did have the muscle genes).

Let’s say I didn’t discover bodybuilding when I did. Say, even though I had the potential to build large muscles, quickly and I didn’t train it regularly enough, they wouldn’t develop to World Standard Quality.

However, because I discovered it in my late teens and I did work, they grew. Keeping everything else constant, if I did the work equally as hard as someone without as much natural potential, I am likely to see a greater return on my investment.

And I did.

Representing Australia at the World Natural Physique Championships in New York, USA.
Placed: 4th In the world.
Success = Preparation meeting opportunity. I was prepared.
It also includes knowing what to leave out to allow you to focus on what is important to achieve your goal(s)

Taking the I M out of IMPossible

I was one of two (the Top 2) who was picked to represent Australia at the World Natural Bodybuilding Championships – the two best in Australia. Imagine that story – boy from developing country, the Fiji Islands makes it all the way to compete against the best in the world at, not one, but two World Natural Bodybuilding Championships in New York, USA.

A city (New York) that is at the opposite end of development and modernity. An island boy, wearing grass skirts and living the simplest of lives beats the best in the world, with access to the best nutrition and training equipment and multi-million dollar machines and coaching.

Not a bad story I think.

You can take the “I M” out of IM Possible if you identify and work FROM your strengths.

I am living proof of this.

Result of time x hard work => multiple NSW, Australian Bodybuilding Titles and 2 x World Natural Bodybuilding Top 5 placings, two years in a row. I discovered my sport rather late … when I was almost twenty years of age.

Fluke?

I don’t think so.

The old maxim told us by well-intensioned elders of –

you-can-be-anything-you-want-to-be” should be modified to accurately reflect reality as we perceive it:

YOU cannot be anything you want to be – but you can be a lot more of who YOU already are.

Know YOU and your talents/gifts.

Don’t chase the un-chaseable. You’ll waste the most precious gift given to you: LIFE.

working triceps in my gym

Taking the path of most resistance

Do you know what your gifts or talents are? Are you working and doing a job that is working from your strengths? You don’t know?

Well, it seems that many people go through life, living a life, not from a strengths approach for several reasons –

  • They are simply unaware
  • Unable to describe their own strengths …. Or the strengths of the people around them

Because they have been told and have been working on “ their perceived weaknesses or shortcomings” or ‘areas of improvement’ in their corporate jobs, most of their lives.

It seems that from ‘cradle to the cubicle’ we devote more time to our shortcomings than to our strengths, and taking the path of most resistance. Why, why, why!!

Sadly, studies show that the vast majority of people don’t have the opportunity to focus on what they do best. What happens to these people? Well, they’re not their best and … they’re simply a very different person. Studies show that, for example, in the workplace, you are six times less likely to be engaged in your job.

So, when you’re not able to use your strengths at work, chances are that you :

  • Hate going to your place of work
  • Have more negative than positive interactions with your colleagues
  • Treat your customers badly
  • Tell your friends and family what an awful company you work for
  • Achieve considerably less on a daily basis
  • Have less positive and creative moments

Not ideal and healthy for you, is it?

This is why doing work that you love and working from your strengths is very important, compounded over your lifetime, given that life is the most valuable thing given to you.

side chest in the gym

Some key steps to identifying your strengths.

Ask yourself, what are you really good at? What did you like doing as a child that your kind of enjoyed and had fun doing? Is there anything that springs to mind? Did you find it easier to accomplish a certain task or activity while others struggled?

That could be a talent or gift of yours that has been laying dormant all these years.

Add time (it took me about ten years to get to my first World Championships in New York, USA) and hard work (deliberate, specific skills at your art/in my case, through education and coaching – building maximum muscle with shape and balance & symmetry and being able to show it off on stage and ‘paint a motion picture of the flow of sculptured muscle/art” ) – makes it a strength (s).

As one of my favourite business gurus said (Dr Peter Drucker (1909 – 2005):

“Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong ….. and yet, a person can perform only from strength”

So, find your unique gifts and develop them into strengths.

And value the difference that YOU are.

 

You’re welcome,

 

Cheers 🍻 & ahoy!

The Old Captain Viking Pirate 🏴‍☠️⚔️Muscle 💪Monk 🤔😎….& being different/wierd

Quality Plan + Quality Implementation allowed Team Valentine (my wife & I) to beat the best in the sport here in Australia and stand on the stage against the best in the World.

The best thing you can do to help the world is … to continuously strive to be the best you can be, for you first, then for everyone else.

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A Poem – Out of Love

Life: Connections upon connections. A continuous pathway to … nowhere.
Line Drawing – My Life: in frames
Your task: draw your life in frames.

 

A Poem – Out of Love

 

We held a family meeting at a restaurant in the big bright lights of the city,

Everyone hadn’t seen each other for a while and there was a lot of pity.

The shy waitress approached and tentatively asked if we would like to order a drink,

My grandson, big talker, yelled out, “yes, please, one beer!” as she wrote in her notebook with ink.

 

They say that I wasn’t “me”, that I was losing my memory,

Thinking it was best that they made decisions and that it was best for me.

The last time round, I heard them say the same thing,

What I needed was an ear and heart to be listened to, and allow me to sing.

 

So there we were; and, when everyone saw that my energies were up,

The waitress, a stranger in the group slipped up by me, smiling and asking if I would like to have a cup.

A cup of tea, I said “yes, please my dear” with the full satisfaction of a child in a candy store,

But still the others only spoke of themselves and what they wanted from me, hurting me to the core.

 

And so we sat; I spoke out loud and clear, without the least pretense,

Life is a gift” I muttered, “today this gathering here today makes a lot of sense.”

Disposing of me by rushing me to an Old Peoples’ Home, just because you think it is right –

My life is mine and mine, alone, just like yours is to you and as disappointing as it may be to you, I am not going to be put out of sight.

 

And when they stood, gasped and questioned my decision,

I politely said “sit, it is better on the energy for you” as this debate was kind of fun.

That same waitress walked into the commotion, laying down everyone’s drink,

Looked at me, winked and said she overheard the talk and that they should have a re-think.

 

Looking at me, she told them, she still sees life .. a lot of life,

That if I didn’t want to go, my wishes should be respected and to stop giving me strife.

For it is out of life and from me, they got everything they desired,

But the one thing I desired was demonstrated by the waitress the restaurant had hired.

 

It takes a lifetime, to try to understand love, to try to know the unknowable,

If only we could look in to the future, maybe use a crystal ball.

Love was what I was searching for all this time, what we’re all chasing,

But Out of love, I will do what they ask … thinking that Life un-loved is not a life worth living.

– Paul e Valentine

______________________________________________________________

 

Cheers & ahoy!

The Old Cap’n Viking Pirate … & love of writing poems

Allow your mind to ”connect’ with infinite intelligence.
With consciousness.
It is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.
An example of this: this poem I have just written which took me only 30 minutes

I. AM.
GOD?

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