Monthly Archives: August 2017

Staying Consistent Daily

“Temporary success,” or perhaps, “the illusion of achievement” might be a good way to describe my life in the past.  I would make it to my goals because I did whatever it took to get there, the problem was I could not maintain it.

It turns out this is a common problem among a lot of the population.  We all work hard to get a promotion, but as time passes our performance begins to slip.  

In fitness, I have seen it many times.  People decide to “get in shape” for a marathon or a tough mudder or even a fight. They go all out and they do well for the months leading up to the event.  After they have completed it they go right back to where they started.  Sometimes its the goal to lose five pounds before a vacation or a wedding.  They reach their goal and yo-yo right back to where they started. It is amazing because they feel great temporarily, yet back they go after all the hard work.

I was very money oriented or often times I just wanted to reach a place that others told me was impossible. I would set out to prove everyone wrong and that provided me with the fuel to get it done.  I can see now that this was one of the reasons I had so many highs and lows in life. I had no consistency in my self-control and I always felt I should reward myself for attaining whatever my current goal happened to be.

I was able to focus for a set period of time, but when I felt I was where I should be,  I slacked off.  My solution? A long term plan!  I also knew that if I was going to succeed at anything I was going to have be more consistent in my efforts and outputs.  I had to stop letting myself coast on past deeds. I had to decide to commit myself to excellence in everything I do. No matter what the task or small the detail.  Details are very important, getting through anything without doing it right will cost me in the long run.

I had to make sure all my short term goals were in alignment with my long term goals.  I had to give up looking at what was over the horizon and instead make the best of what I have right now.

I had to get organized.  If I wanted to get somewhere and maintain it, I had to be able to keep a uniform performance and that only comes with organization.

Finally, I had to realize it is not all about me.  What I do to get to my end goal, how I affect those around me on a day-to-day basis as I work toward my goal matters.

I decided that this time I would approach my goals through consistent hard work and the guiding principles of doing what is right. The Bible spells it out for me.  The Gospels have laid out the framework on how to live a fruitful life full of sacrifice, love and joy.

Galatians 5:22-25

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

 

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Digging out

 

I am sure many of you have experienced the art of digging yourself out of a hole. I have spent my most of my adult life coming back from many poor decisions I have made.

I was on a perpetual merry-go-round of highs and lows as a criminal until 2005 when I was finally finished with the streets.  I had the next two years to work on myself and figure out how I was going to live as a normal citizen for the rest of my life.  My main objective was to keep being myself and doing things I was good at, but this time without breaking any laws.  

In the past, I didn’t have to worry about anyone but myself.  I did whatever I wanted.  In my new life, I would have to consider how my decisions would affect those around me.  The stakes were much higher.  In my past life, I had many experienced criminals mentoring me.  Now I was unsure of what steps to take or even who to speak to for advice.

Life presents many opportunities to us, we must keep our eyes and our minds open.  I had to change my way of thinking and my outlook on life.  Writing this now, I can tell you it is much easier said than done.  

I had to learn to trust that God had a plan for my life.  I had to have faith, which is something I never put much thought into other than believing in myself.  I stopped looking at what I could do to bring in the most money and instead starting thinking about where I felt God could use me the most.

It was hard to walk away from the life I had built in Los Angeles because it was comfortable to me.  It was even harder when life did not go my way in Illinois right away and I had very few friends.  I felt like I kept hitting dead ends, and to be honest I felt like giving up and moving back to California at times.  Instead, I kept pushing forward, putting in the days, with the belief that with hard work and prayer the right doors would open.

One of the turning points in the past year was when I threw myself completely into my work and decided that no matter what I was doing, I would do it to the best of my ability.  It was hard when I could not see immediate results, when doors always seem to close as I was looking for a space to teach or open a gym.  Even when I found space and started out, there were so few people I wasn’t sure if we would make it.  But I kept at it.  Kept showing up, putting in the work and praying for direction and God’s blessing.  

Life is by no means perfect, but I know I am on the right track.  I wrote out my goals and started chipping away.  Slowly but surely I have made progress. We all can…. with hard work, determination, and prayer.

Philippians 3:13

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead

Circumstance

There are many uncertain things in life, but there is one thing I have always been sure of: I am responsible for what happens to me.  In the late eighties, a friend gave me a book he found at a yard sale. It was, “A Man Thinketh,” by James Allen, written at the turn of the twentieth century.  It opened my eyes to how much our mind influences our lives.  I later bought another book by James Allen, “Man: King Of Mind, Body, and Circumstance.”

I cannot even begin to guess how many times I have read and re-read these books by James Allan over the years.  

One day last week there was a brief period where there was nobody in the gym but me.

I had the music up loud and I was moving around in the ring.  I was trying to shadow box, but something someone had said to me earlier kept going through my mind.

They had said I was lucky to be good at boxing and to be in shape.  

So as I was moving around the ring fighting my imaginary opponent I had that thought going through my head.  I chuckled a bit when I thought of James Allan’s books, because now that I am a Christian his books have a much deeper meaning. I used to read them and only take away what I wanted to use. He also writes a lot about being moral and honest and those were the parts I skipped over.

I am today where my actions and thoughts have placed me. There was no luck or chance involved.  My mindset, thoughts and work ethic determine the outcome of my days, weeks and years.  

My current circumstance is actually the culmination of thousands of seemingly unrelated small choices over the years.  I am not saying that I am defined by my past choices, because I know that good or bad they are just temporary.  They will change with the present day and depending on the decisions I make now, they will either put me closer to where I wish to be or set me back.

My boxing skills and fitness are not by chance.  Each day is an opportunity to push myself closer to my goals.  I want to encourage you to keep pushing forward.  Dreaming and setting lofty goals is important, but so is the day-to-day grind and hard work that will get you there.  God has given you the tools you need to accomplish the plan he has laid out for you, and it’s up to you to use those tools to the best of your ability.

Philippians 4:11-12

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

 

Structure

In my lifetime I have come across many people who wake up whenever they please, go to sleep whenever they feel like it and basically do whatever they want to do. Many people choose to live their lives with no structure.

I always had a bedtime and a wake-up time growing up.  My bed had to be made and I had to eat breakfast every morning.

When I went to military boarding school we had a set schedule for every day of the week. My experience there taught me that everyone was more efficient when they had a structured life.

It was while I was at military school that I learned to love waking up early, before the rest of the world is awake.  There is something special about the magic time before dawn where I find I can accomplish so much.  I used to wake up an hour before our official school wake up call, shower, get dressed and read. I liked not being rushed, so it worked for me.

I do the same today as I did then.  When I first moved to Illinois I had no place to be early, yet I still woke up before first light, walked my dog and got in a workout. I made a timetable for myself that I followed each day.  I would devote a set amount of time to writing, reading and getting other things done.  

I have found that when I have a routine there is no room for wasted time. I am happier, I accomplish all the things I plan to and I still have some flex time for fun.

I have planned out my years as far back as I can remember.  It is never so restricted and structured that I cannot change along the way, I just have a plan, basically a guide to where I would like to go that year and what I would like to accomplish.  

I have observed people who live without structure and it causes them anxiety and other problems. It often leads to wasted time and impedes them from reaching goals.

I wake up at the same time every day. If I feel tired during the day, the next day I go to sleep earlier.  I eat my meals as close to when I should during the day to keep my energy levels up.

It works and the best part of all this?  I never have to make excuses as to why I was not where I should have been.

I encourage you to lay out a plan and stick to it.  Start with small short term goals and see them through.  Commit to getting enough sleep and regular healthy meals and schedule out your days.  I’m sure you will see the benefits soon after you begin.  We must have faith, knowing that God has a plan for our lives and his timing is perfect.

These small commitments will help you when your bigger goals do not involve immediate gratification but take time.  We can all live a fruitful, fulfilling life when we have structure.

Proverbs 13:4

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Psalm 68:6

God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

 

Live Life Proactively

It took me many years to realize that I didn’t always have to wait around for life to happen to me.

It was a mindset that kept me in places that I knew well. My mind adapted to whatever my surroundings were at the time. I rationalized everything that was going on around me as being part of my life.  In my time as a criminal, I was like a feather in the wind going wherever the wind took me. In those days I had one single goal in life, and that was to pull down cash.

Life began to change for me when I made a decision in 1996 to get out of the life I was leading. I was no longer going to just go where the wind blew me, I was making a path against the wind.

In 2005 when I had accomplished my return to a normal upstanding citizen, I set new goals for myself.  I wanted to write a book, and make money legally. It turns out that was a terrible blueprint for my life.

I wrote the book and I became a successful businessman.  Yet, I had a feeling that there had to be something more to life. I changed my plan again, deciding to pursue something I had a passion for instead of just working to make money.  I also decided I wanted to take a stab at becoming a successful Hollywood screenwriter.  So, I started training people at a gym and began working in Hollywood writing screenplays.

This one question kept coming up in my mind, what do I really want? I kept telling myself money and a good life.  I knew that was not a real answer, it was a copout.

No matter how my plan changed, I still felt like I was missing my purpose.  I did a lot of soul searching.  My motto had always been “I am the master of my fate,” and felt like if I could just steer myself in the right direction, all would be well.  It turns out that was the problem.  I had to let go of my control over my life and put my trust in God’s plan for me.   That might sound like giving up to some, but the truth is I had to work twice as hard once I decided not to always do what felt good to me, or what I wanted.

In Los Angeles, I had all the connections I could ever want.  In Illinois, I have few. I live in the country. Yet, I have discovered that I have everything I need right here, and the few people I am close to enrich my life daily.

I finally know without a doubt what I want from life. I want to do God’s will, have a great relationship with my wife, improve the lives of those I have the opportunity to train and write books.

To have a great relationship with my wife, I have to constantly work on my attitude and my behavior.  I tend to think I know everything, and the truth is I don’t.  

I wrote my second book, and I have learned a lot of patience in the editing and rewriting stages.  

I dropped the distractions of wanting money and fame, and have instead started living my life investing in people: the people I train and the relationships that are meaningful to me.

2 Corinthians 9:6

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

Matthew 7:13-14

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Matthew 6:33

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.