Every action will have a reaction, we may not see it for years, but there will be one. That is why the choices we make every day are so important, even those we deem small. A prime example is food, many of us do not give a second thought to what we put into our body. It matters, we will see the obvious, which is weight gain, the part we do not see until we are in trouble is our health. Nothing will taste as good as healthy feels.
We close out another year and usher in a new decade. All of us tend to make resolutions on New Year’s day and yet how many of us follow through? We often give up within a month, why? Change is hard, leaving our comfort zone is not easy, does it mean we do not want to improve our lives? We all have dreams and aspirations, but are we willing to put in the work that it will take to reach them? If we want something bad enough, we will make the time, find the funds, be consistent and throw away the excuses.
How often do we let a lack of self-control set us back in life? Do we follow the latest trend blindly without doing our own due diligence? Its time to step up, take charge, do our own research, trust in ourselves and live the life we dream of living. Making our own informed decision is the only way to live life.
We are only free when we conquer our ignorance and weakness while taking personal responsibility for our actions. It is when we put away selfish thoughts, stopping giving into animal indulgences that we realize just what our purpose is on this planet.
Becoming an expert in anything is never quite as simple as taking a weekend course to get certified by an organization. The journey for knowledge is never-ending. Many people expect to go to school, take a class or two and become a master at something. In reality, a true master never stops their quest for knowledge.
With martial arts, in particular, I’ve learned that when you teach others you quickly realize how much you still do not know. You realize what faults you have, and if you take the right steps to remedy your faults, it helps you grow.
No matter what you do well, there is always someone who does it better. If we become so conceited that we believe our own hype, we will never continue to grow.
Even if you receive the highest award in your field, you cannot relax and quit working on your craft. If you do not consistently grow, you will soon be outdated.
There is a documentary I have watched a few times called Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It is about a man who found something he loves to do, make sushi, and he works tirelessly to perfect it. He is never content and is constantly looking for ways to make better sushi. That is why his small restaurant is rated the best sushi restaurant in the world.
In life, we must constantly keep learning in order to stay relevant. If we want to stand out in any endeavor we must keep learning and it must be quality knowledge that we gain.
We must change our mindset. Instead of doing something to win, we instead will choose to do something to gain knowledge and grow. It can be humbling to work at things we are not good at, but in the end, it is a valuable lesson. To grow, we must let go of our fear of failure, humble ourselves and often it means forgetting about what the rest of the pack is doing.
I encourage you to pick something you are not good at, and start learning, growing and developing new skills. Each of us has at our fingertips a vast amount of knowledge, why not use it?
When it comes to our faith, the same thing is true. We can never just sit back or coast on our faith. We must constantly strive toward growth. As a Christian, it is up to me to put in the work to continuously grow and become more like Jesus. None of us is without faults. I need to realize what my faults are, and work on them.
An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
Making better use of our time while enriching our lives sounds a little bit like a self help guru’s pie-in-the-sky sales pitch. In all honesty, it is possible to accomplish both of these goals by making a few small changes to our daily routines.
I love to wake up early before most of the world around me is awake. The early morning is a quiet time when (after a cup of coffee) my mind is working like a well oiled machine. I can get a lot finished in a short period of time.
I realize that most people will not want to wake up as early as I do. We can all, however, plan our lives so we have a routine where we go to bed a little earlier, and get up a little bit earlier.
The extra morning time is time we can use to enrich our lives. How? Reading, for one. I always read books at night before I go to sleep. Reading helps me unwind and relax before I go to sleep. I also enjoy catching up on world news and reading my Bible first thing in the morning.
Books open up new worlds. They let us experience other lives, other periods of history and other places. Books can teach us or entertain us. Often, they do both. I have read so many books that I thought I would have no interest in, yet once I started I was sucked into the story.
The year is winding down. It’s time to think about the new year ahead and making some changes. I encourage you to wake up earlier and enjoy the morning hours. I also urge you to spend more time reading books.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
There is no escape, no way to hide. It will find all of us at one point or another during our lifetimes. It has been said that a book of failures would be a great book to read, so that we could learn from other’s mistakes.
Have you ever noticed that there are never any “failure seminars”? There are plenty of speakers on the topic of success. You can catch a motivational seminar online or in a conference room in a hotel most any weekend.
I have failed at so many things I could not even list them all here. The good news is, I took a valuable lesson away from each one. One of the best thing about pushing yourself hard and ultimately hitting your goals, is that our minds tend to gloss over the periods of heartbreak and failure, focusing instead on our successes.
One day I decided to take up a new hobby: prospecting for gold in the mountains and deserts of California. I really did not know much about it at all, but when my wife and dog and I hiked in the mountains we had seen several people panning for gold in the streams and it got me interested. I started reading everything I could about gold prospecting and the history of the gold bearing regions in California.
The next weekend, instead of heading off on our usual hike, we packed our lunch, a few shovels, and some tools we had picked up for gold panning. We headed to the East Fork of the San Gabriel River. We parked our car and hiked a mile or so up a path along the river. We found a giant boulder and I started digging out buckets of dirt and passing them to my wife who would pan it out in the water. We dug for hours and found nothing, not a trace of that elusive gold. We did have a great time! Our dog fished in the river, we enjoyed the sunshine, cool water, amazing scenery and our hike.
We went back to that river many times. Each time we dug deep holes and found nothing but black sand and tiny gold flakes in our pan. One day, an older prospector came by our hole to chat. He told me where I should dig based on his experience. Later that day we found a small “picker,” which is what you call a tiny gold nugget that is big enough to pick up with your fingers.
We were doing almost exactly what the 49ers did during the gold rush. Instead of iron pans, we used plastic pans, and unlike them, we were not trying to make a living from it.
It turns out that most of the gold is still there, undiscovered. The early miners took the easy gold that they could find near the surface. It is back breaking labor with little payoff to keep digging and looking for the deeper gold. I enjoyed it because it was a challenge and a treasure hunt.
We graduated from panning to setting up a sluice in the water. The next stage was learning how to metal detect in the Mojave desert – which meant getting out there in the early hours before the temperatures rose. Hunting for gold nuggets in the desert with a metal detector is called “nugget shooting.” We joined the Prospector’s Club of Southern California, which gave us access to claims all over the region. Then I graduated to operating a dry washer in the desert.
I learned to love the peace and quiet of the dry, desolate Mojave desert. We started finding “color” almost every time we went out.
I wanted to find a good sized nugget with my metal detector before I left California, but it was not to be. On my last attempt before moving, a solo trip early in the morning, I saw some fellow prospectors find a gold nugget just a few yards away from where I was looking. I guess you could say I failed because I never found that fist-sized nugget I was seeking. Instead, I would say that I gained some useful knowledge and made some great memories.
Prospecting mirrors so much of what we do in life. Each one of us is seeking some kind of treasure. There’s no guarantee you will find that big nugget. Successes and failures: they all come with valuable lessons. I look back on the hours I spent digging dirt holes and wandering the desert not as a failure, but as some of my favorite memories.
My friend Mark and I spoke about the topic of failure this past week. After a successful high school and college wrestling career at Oklahoma State, where he was a two time All-American, Mark began his mixed martial arts career with the WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting). He did well enough to be picked up by the UFC when they bought the WEC.
When I first met Mark, I noticed that he carried himself differently than most of the guys I knew, and he was open about being a Christian. Mark was not pushy with his faith, but he was setting an example by the way he lived and he was always ready to lend a hand to anyone who needed one.
I trained with Mark for his first fight in the UFC, which he lost. It was a bad loss, but he was back to training within a week. Mark Munoz went on to have a long UFC career and while he never won the belt, he always left the ring a winner. He was voted as “the nicest guy in MMA” by the UFC. I learned from Mark that in MMA, a loss does not equal failure. When you keep fighting, improving and moving forward, you are succeeding, regardless of what the outcome of any one fight may be.
Mark told me that if you have a fear of failure you will fall backward. If you embrace it, you will take away a valuable lesson. We all fail. We have to learn from it and keep moving forward.
Resilience, Adversity, and Desire: A real champion in life, whether you are fighting in a cage, prospecting for gold, or trying to get a promotion in your job, is the person that shows resilience even when they fail. Adversity is something to use to make us better, not break us down. We will all face it, but how we view it and push past it will define us. Desire is what will make you get up each day with determination: study harder, work harder, train harder.
Mark also reminded me that what we speak about every day is what we become, so choose your words wisely.
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
We are down to the final days of 2016. Many of us are looking back on our year and making plans for the one ahead.
The first day of the new year comes with a tradition in western culture where we promise ourselves that we will accomplish certain actions. We call them new year’s resolutions and while many people make them every year less than 8% actually accomplish them.
I have watched this unfold year after year at various gyms across the country. January rolls around and they are slammed full of people for the first week making it hard for the regulars to get in a good workout. Some people begin the month doing two-a-day workouts. By February 80% are no longer working out. The excuses are always the same: I’m sick, my children are sick, I have no time, I got hurt, work is busy, I’ll do it home. Sadly, by March 98% have quit. The key is not two-a-days, the key is patience: slow and steady progression.
Last year I decided that I would not eat refined sugar and I decided to stay closer to my former fight weight. It seemed an impossible task. I eat healthy for the most part, but I enjoy a few treats. One in particular that I enjoyed is candy corn. I love candy corn, and they have recently come out with so many new flavors that I have wanted to try! The end of the year is now here and I have made it the whole year without eating a single candy corn!
Another goal I had during 2016 that has been very hard for me to do is to let go of grudges and anger that I had towards others. I have made progress, but this is a lifetime goal and will take a lot more work.
I had a few other goals in 2016, all of which I worked on bit by bit, and accomplished. This year I have a few new ones.
I will start by defining my goals with a definite finishing point. Goals don’t begin with, “I will try,” or “I would like to.” They will be goals that while difficult are achievable with hard work.
I will have to be patient, because nothing will happen over night or even in a month if it is worth it. It is hard to see progress, but change will come.
If your goals are fitness related, you will reach a plateau – most likely more than once – on your quest. This is where it takes strength to keep going. When you make it past these difficult points you will notice notable, change.
I speak to a lot of people who tell me they wish to write a book. A common reason for not writing it is time. Everyone can find an hour a day to write. If you cannot write at home, go to a coffee shop or a library for an hour. It is work, you have to do it on a regular schedule. The more you do, the better your work will be. Don’t worry about getting it just right at the beginning, because the first draft never will be right and neither will the second. Instead, get it on paper from beginning to end and then go back and make it better.
Vocalize your goals to others, they become real when you state them. It helps when others are involved and keep you accountable by asking about them.
If you do something every day it is like putting money in the bank. Some days I do not feel like training, but I do. Writing is the same, but as long as I do something, it will be better than nothing.
If something beyond my control happens or even if I just get lazy, I make myself get back into it right away. You might feel that you are starting over. It will be easier if you string together as many days as you can without missing any.
People often say Friday is my cheat day, or rest day. Try to avoid that and keep a floating day off instead. This way if something comes up on Sunday or Monday take that day off from your schedule and then go right through the rest of the week.
This year I will read the Bible start to finish. I will also write two books. My last goal is to have a podcast or a radio show of my own.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourself.