I’ve been noticing lately that almost anywhere I am and anyone I thank for something, their response is “No problem.” The typical response used to be “You’re welcome.”

So what’s this shift taking place in our culture? Is “No problem” equal to “You’re welcome”?

When someone thanks me for something, I’m making a concsious effort to say “Thank you”. To me, that’s more personal and tells the person I wanted to do it. That I meant for it to happen. On purpose. Saying “no problem” seems to make it more about me. It says “Yeah, what just happened wasn’t too much of a bother for me. It didn’t put me out much at all.”

Maybe this is a silly observation, but genuinely being kind to someone, looking them in the eye and letting them know you care, seems to be a lost art. Let’s bring it back. I challenge you to try responding with “You’re welcome” the next time someone thanks you for something. Hopefully it’ll be no problem at all :)

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Well, I didn’t really join a cult, but some might perceive it is as one. I’m simply making it a point to put it on my calendar and go every day to CrossFit. CrossFit 413 to be exact. The 413 is for Philippians 4:13.
A few translations are:

“Christ gives me the strength to face anything.” CEV (Contemporary English Version)

“I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” GNT (Good News Translation)

“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” MSG (The Message)

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” NASB (New American Standard Bible)

I’ve worked out before. I thought I’ve been in good shape at times. Muscles aren’t necessarily a measure for fitness though. I’ve worked out in air conditioned gyms. I’ve had a personal trainer who was amazing and helped me literally get back on my feet after a bad motorcycle crash in 2008. After a year of personal training though, I sort of plateaued. With working long hours, lots of travel and plenty of comfort food, I sort of undid the hard work I did in 2010. Then in 2011, I maybe did 20 pushups all year.

Fast forward to June 25, 2012 where my life changed for the better. I began a 4-night “Elements” class required to join my CrossFit gym. In those 4 sessions you learn lots of the proper techniques and terminology of the lifts, moves and exercises used in CrossFit. After getting through these first 4 nights, I was able to choose from many workout times offered every day throughout the week. It’s been an incredible month of working out in this new way. I’ve been totally out of my comfort zone. I’ve challenged myself like never before.

During the introductory week, they really emphasize your diet and exercise. One thing that stuck with me was when our coach said “You can’t out-train a bad diet”. Going into this I thought I’d start eating “healthy” again. I mean, why not, right? If you’re gonna put in all that hard work, you should try to eat better. Unfortunately for most people (including me) “eating healthy” has meant trying to eat less of what I love. Maybe switching to diet soda instead of my precious Coke and Mountain Dew. It usually means ordering the wheat toast at the restaurant. Since I’ve done a lot of that in the past and it hasn’t really worked for me, I decided to go Paleo.

Eating a paleo style diet as much as possible these last 4 weeks, plus doing the CrossFit workouts, I’ve seen dramatic results with big boosts in energy, a more balanced mood, better sleep and I’m down 12 pounds. I realize I’m building muscle and shredding fat, so I’m not putting a huge emphasis on the numbers on the scale, but 12 pounds in 4 weeks?! That’s pretty cool.

CrossFit gyms are typically “boxes” and definitely nothing fancy. There are no leather couches to lounge on or walls of TVs streaming daytime television. Big fans take the place of air conditioning and the big overhead doors are open to help circulate the air*. (*note: in July in Arkansas, that air has been in the triple digits! I workout in 100+ degree weather in the afternoons and sweat like a fiend – and love it).

The equipment and gear we use includes kettle bells, wooden boxes to jump on, weighted medicine balls to throw high up over a 10ft red line painted on the wall,  jump ropes (for “dubs” or double-unders which I haven’t got the hang of yet), barbells & weights for olympic style lifting, monkey bars and rings for pull-ups and muscle ups. And the coolest thing… no one is walking around with headphones in their ears. This is a very relational environment. You partner up with someone and actually encourage each other through their 8-20 minutes of torturous hell called a WOD (workout of the day). I say “torturous hell” in an affectionate way. Many talk about the love/hate feelings for the workouts and it’s true.

The PEOPLE at CrossFit are the best thing about all of this. There are some people like me – new to it all or just a few months in and not in shape. There are some who’ve been doing this for a few years. Some are in the military and 20-something. Lots of very stunningly fit people – but no ego or attitude. Everyone is so supportive and encouraging. Last week I was struggling through a few final pushups on a timed round. My arms were shaking and I couldn’t even manage the full push up at the end. My knees on the ground and sweat pouring from my face, a few guys got down on their hands and knees right up in my face telling me I could do it. “C’mon David – just 2 more! You can do this!” Wow. That’s what we need for working out and life in general. During another workout I was nearing the end of my 4th round of a workout that included a 400 meter run at the end. My partner came out and ran the last 400 meters with me (this is after he had already done his workout before me). I can’t describe how that made me feel. He didn’t have to do that. He ran the last 400 meters with me as I grunted and spewed and could barely pick up one foot after the other to keep it going. I wanted to stop. I wanted to walk. I kept going though, because he was there running with me.

After doing the workout, most everyone collapses on the floor for a brief moment to recuperate and catch their breath. Then, there’s lots of fist bumps and “Good Job!” & “Way to go!” filtering throughout the room. Encouraging. Inspiring. Motivating. Community.

I joke about the “cult” thing. But, I have been drinking the “kool-aid” and it’s pretty tasty. I’ve found another tribe that I love being a part of. If you’ve never experienced CrossFit or had a positive workout experience that’s challenging for your spirit, mind and body, I highly recommend it. Find a box near you and see what happens.
I guarantee you’ll be better for it.

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Wow! It’s been a very long time since I’ve written a blog post. Twenty-six months and two days to be exact, but who’s counting?!

These last few years I’ve worked hard, played hard and  spun my wheels. Many people I know who own their own business, working for themselves, often fall into the whole “the shoemaker’s children are barefoot” situation. This is a gentler, laugh-it-off way of saying “I’m too busy taking care of the needs of others to take care of those near and dear to me.” Or, “I’m overcommitted and unable to invest any time in personal development or focused business growth.” That all changed for me late last year, and now here I am… Baffled, Bewildered and Enraptured!

My business is successful. Every day I get to serve many amazing clients, putting my creative and problem-solving skills to work. I’m blessed with more work than I can even manage at times. Any given day I’m pushing pixels, tweaking timelines or wielding web code like a Braveheart-sized sword. Even with all this fun, fulfilling work, I probably grew a little too comfortable and predictable. I love a challenge. I love adventure. I forgot what it felt like doing something that didn’t come easy to me – until last week.

In what my wife might tell you is another one of my quarter-life crises or something, I applied to the School of Rockfish. It sounded like an amazing, awesome opportunity… for a recent college graduate. But for a 43 year old who owns his own business and has a wife and 3 boys ages 10, 8 and 2? That might be a stretch. Oh well, I went for it. And it’s been an amazing 7 days so far in the program. The last real coding I’ve done was in a C-based language at American Airlines in 1999. But, I love using that side of my brain and owning my nerdiness.

I’ve enjoyed working with some amazing people in the first school of Rockfish and finally learning some Objective-C and Xcode (Apple’s IDE for building iOS apps). I’ve paid the yearly subscription and had an Apple developer license since the iPhone came out in 2007, but the shoemaker-syndrome has been in effect and I never even installed the SDK.

I know a whole lot more now than 7 days ago. I’ve also become painfully aware of how much more I don’t know. I think we can get so good at doing what we do, we take it for granted. We also fail to get out of our comfort zone and learn new things and be daring. Since downloading and reading the free ebook ‘The Flinch’ by Julien Smith, life has gotten more exciting for me. I’ve taken his challenges to heart. I’ve stopped being so safe all the time and have purposely begun doing things I’d never normally do.

I don’t know where all this is going yet, but this latest little excursion has been fascinating and fun. Now before I get back to reading my new Objective-C book that just arrived via UPS from Amazon… I’ll close with some amazing words I just read at the end of Part I:

Don’t Stop (taken from the end of Part I of Objective-C Programming by Aaron Hillegass)

At this point, you’ve probably dealt with several frustrations: installation problems, typos, and lots of new vocabulary. And maybe nothing you’ve done so far makes any sense. That is completely normal.

As I write this, my son Otto is six. Otto is baffled several times a day. He is constantly trying to absorb knowledge that doesn’t fit into his existing mental scaffolding. Bafflement happens so frequently, that it doesn’t really bother him. He never stops to wonder, “Why is this so confusing? Should I throw this book away?”

As we get older, we are baffled much less often – not because we know everything, but because we tend to steer away from things that leave us bewildered. For example, reading a book on history is quite pleasant because we get nuggets of knowledge that we can hang from our existing mental scaffolding. This is easy learning.

Learning a new language is an example of difficult learning. You know that there are millions of people who work in that language effortlessly, but it seems incredibly strange and awkward in your mouth. And when people speak it to you, you are often flummoxed.

Learning to program a computer is also difficult learning. You will be baffled from time to time – especially here at the beginning. This is fine. In fact, it’s kind of cool. It is a little like being six again.

Stick with this book; I promise that the bewilderment will cease before you get to the final page.

- Aaron Hillegass, Author and Nerd Extraordinaire
from Objective-C Programming, The Big Nerd Ranch Guide

And now for Part II…

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