Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Beginning is the End is the Beginning 3 of 3: 2012: Clearing and Clarity

Direction: Coming from and Going To*
This part three of three. Parts One and Two deal with what happened last year.

Yeah yeah ok...So this post was *meant* to have been completed aaaages ago. For some reason, for the past few years this post is delayed by a few months. I've been trying to 'get it right' and choose the 'right' things I 'should' be focusing on this year.

I've been toying with one or two themes this year already but I've only really got it coherent recently. Perhaps it's due to my impending appraisal at work...
So here are my themes for 2012 (even though we're almost half-way through!)

1) Being a clearing
What I mean by this is being a space for things to happen. I read something somewhere about our bodies not actually being discrete entities - but more 'spaces' where more of us occur. Said another way, the greatest concentration of me is where I am right now...but I'm actually spread everywhere. The old Star Wars insight 'We Are All One' makes more sense when I think of it this way.

Being a clearing is consciously creating a space for something to happen.

The best metaphor for this is shown at home in my kitchen.

I do a lot of washing up at home. After dinner, after She has cooked something that tastes great, in the morning, last thing at night, during family gatherings - it's a lot of pots, pans and plates.

Washing up isn't enough though.

This year I've added in drying up and putting it away too.

What this creates in the kitchen of course is a clear space... be filled up with more amazing cooking from Her and mess. Think about it: the empty space of the kitchen almost *calls* for someone to cook in it.

It's become a habit.

The empty page *calls* to be written on.

The purpose of meditation (amongst other things) is to empty our minds to achieve enlightenment.

Animals are admired in martial arts for their absence of thought - pure action.

Malcolm Forbes said "Education's purposes is to replace an empty mind with an open one".

This year is about me clearing a space for things to happen: a promotion at work, more money, great pupils and learning, brilliant family gatherings, parties with friends, happiness, a lean body...whatever I can think of - and commit to.

2) Providing clarity
Having a more senior role at school and being taken (slightly) more seriously has made me reflect on the purpose of leadership and management. Even more so being a teacher.

It's made me think about the longer-term - 3-5-10 years down the line in my life.

I thought about where this came from and realised it was something I learned from my Dad. His mind seems to work at amazing pace; he's constantly engaged in evaluating, judging and thinking about the future; choosing his course of action from a potential 98; considering the risks of each and finding the best course consistent with what he wants. It's not effortless and not always pretty - but he approaches it with the grace of a Grand Master of Chess.

From the Teachers I deal with, to my Wife, from the Pupils to my Parents, from my Friends to the people I train with at Urban Krav - if I'm providing clarity for them: about what I'm doing, what they need to get their things done - whatever it is - maybe it allows for cool stuff to happen.

In any of the roles I have in my life, this year is about providing clarity for everyone else so they can get on with what *they* want; what *they're* committed to.

Perhaps both of these things together is what it means to make a contribution to someone: providing them with a clearing and clarity.

Let's see how the rest of 2012 opens up.

The Trilogy is Complete.

* I actually took this picture.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

JDS Insights: March 2012

Hard Sell
This post is not *trying* to sell you anything. But I do acknowledge the self-indulgent nature of blogging and my own self-interest.

So sometimes I will sell something: a book, an idea, a particular paradigm - whatever. But make no mistake - I am selling it. There are openings for action on my blog that I could gain from financially. You're media-savvy and sophisticated enough to see that.

But don't let me stop you from acting on something that inspires you.

(Equally and perhaps more insidious, don't let yourself stop you from acting on something that inspires you).

If you do choose to act - then take action.

If you discover materials to help you on your personal journey, then help me out by clicking a link and ordering.

If not, don't. Read and enjoy.

(There's a reason for that preamble which will become clear in May's post).


Anyway - it's true that this post is long overdue and lots has happened, and it is exciting. This month was the beginning. And it was about three things: numbers, truth and a lot of fun.

During March, the madman experimented.

I am referring to the experiments of the Four-Hour Body I mentioned in February AKA 21st Century Healthy Lifestyle AKA the Avoid Becoming Even More of A Fat Bastard Plan.

To call this book ridiculous is an understatement. The subtle subtitle 'diary of a madman' is appropriate.

Bottom line: it works.

Now, I am the particular kind of weirdo that reads books and does what they say. I love the medium of the written word for collecting, understanding and reasoning. I love it for its ability to evoke laughter and tears.

Most of all I love it for the ability to communicate information. And I'm an information junkie; I love to read, absorb, interpret, debate and get behind the truth behind the truth. So reading is great for me.

As I said last month though - I was hesitant and sceptical. So when I read the book, I was deeply aware that it wasn't just the material I was testing; I was testing my own ability to alter my behaviour and habits. This is no small feat.

This is *really* what the book's about - putting aside all the controversial stuff about what he does - on a sample of one - and it's applicability to the whole of humanity - the main idea is that if you want to achieve a particular goal, find out what you need to do to get there and do it. It's the *psychology* behind producing personal results.

Nothing particularly revolutionary there then.

But I do think that the vast majority of people who buy books like this - and any other practical guide book/ self-help book - don't actually *do* what the book suggests. I complicate everything. We complicate everything.

So when I read what was needed and shared it with Her - to my surprise She was up for giving it a go. We were both of the mind of giving it a trial and seeing what results got produced; measuring, monitoring and tweaking. (In the book he's big on the whole idea of measuring; this is not a new idea to me - it's all over the business literature as the only truly effective way to produce results on an ongoing basis...Peter Drucker's the man...)

There is a deeper context to this: namely diabetes. Not only it is rife in my family and Her family; it's rife in my cultural/ racial background. Yep, people of Southern Asian descent have a lot of diabetes floating around...all that ghee...and the fat tummies to match - I'm no exception.

So I was primarily interested in reducing the measurement around my waist - as measured around my belly-button. (Interestingly, recently, a lower waist measurement has been suggested to be a better predictor of a long life and fewer health problems. The ideal is less than half my height.).

Now I've lost weight before - and I was clinically obese*. Have a look at the pics and description in this post and in this post. But back then - it was easier because I was so unhealthy. Since then, I've not been *as* unhealthy but my weight crept up.

Pretty much since last year, I've been trying to get down to my original target weight of 10st 10lbs - but without compromising fitness and strength whilst doing Urban Krav Maga.

And pretty much since last year, I've failed consistently. I was up to 11st 6lbs.

And the reason? I had no framework; no paradigm; no guidance for my lifestyle. Nothing.

I'd exercised lots - You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises (mentioned in this post) had produced results but only partly. I was still pudgy, chubby and sludgy (despite having better punching technique). Although that book mentioned nutrition and its importance - I had no way of matching it practically to my lifestyle. It was all too hard.

That's why The 4-Hour Body fitted perfectly. It gave me a framework that, with a bit of effort and thought, I could integrate into my lifestyle.

Here's some truth:
22nd February 2012, 11st 3.2lbs, 22.8% body fat
31st March 2012, 10st 5.6lbs, 19.1% body fat

21st February 2012, 36.75in waist
31st March 2012, 33.75in waist

Numbers don't lie.

Buy this book and experiment - like the six or seven boys I teach have done.

BTW - on the side of the book it says, "Do Not Read This Book Unless You Want Immediate Results". It's a blatant hard-sell pitch to insecure suckers.

What does that make me?

Apart from all this fun - and it has been fun - I had a wonderfully mad Saturday where I went on a part of a Monopoly Pub Crawl, took Her out to lunch and met up with two, old, great friends. It was a wonderful day, spent with a great group of people.

Rediscovering two friends was brilliant as well - because we're a nice motley crew: one state primary teacher, one independent secondary teacher and a circus teacher**; one Jewish (who loves bacon), one English (who's really an angry white teenager), one mixed-up (who desperately wants to fit in); one government-funded, one privately funded and one independently funded; all thoroughly opinionated.

Even though we're all guys none of us are traditionally 'alpha-male'; we aren't afraid to express ourselves with each other. This means the level of conversation can move from being an intense debate about the state of the economy, calling each other on our nonsense, through mindless silly misogyny and full-on geek film discussion. I truly appreciate the level of mutual respect and love between us - but more than anything - I appreciate not having to wade through all the machismo *nonsense* I have to deal with when speaking with most guys.

Mostly, men are insecure, emotionally backward monkeys. The three of us are that too - but we *know* we are and aren't afraid to admit it.

Needless to say, we've decided to hang out at least one evening per month. Invigorating and refreshing.

They've also bought, read and consumed the Four-Hour Body too. What does that say about us?

Oh one more work during March, we had the (minor) matter of an inspection. Which went well apart from one cock-up by me that I took full responsibility for.

March is the month when The Year Really Begins.

Enjoy the insights.***


Mar 01: Life moves at the pace you set.

Mar 02: I make things way more complicated than they need to be.

Mar 03: We have become so divorced from our bodies we can't hear what they're saying to us.

Mar 04: There is far more to a healthy life than exercise and diet.

Mar 05: When we are stimulated enough (but no more) by our inner world, we find an outer expression of peace.

Mar 06: Inner turmoil begets outer disturbance. The opposite is also true.

Mar 07: Enjoy what there is to have now. Tomorrow will be different.

Mar 08: Actual, physical stuff is less enriching than a great conversation.

Mar 09: In conversation, anything is possible.

Mar 10: Reality starts with a conversation.

Mar 11: A great conversation is a spiritual experience.

Mar 12: The degree to which we are honest reflects our strength of character.

Mar 13: Only when I am ready to embrace and own the true depths of my idiocy am I ready to understand my greatness.

Mar 14: Things don't have to change because someone is watching.

Mar 15: Things always change because someone is watching.

Mar 16: A big action can provoke a big reaction.

Mar 17: Lots of small actions can be more effective than one big action.

Mar 18: Standing still doing nothing takes energy.

Mar 19: At least work out the correct direction before you start running. It saves so much time.

Mar 20: It's frustrating to see, but I am always honouring what I say. I am just not always aware of what I've said.

Mar 21: Life always responds to your fundamental thought about it.

Mar 22: Identifying what truly motivates us can provide the keys to freedom.

Mar 23: Don't forget to actually do it once you've planned.

Mar 24: Much to my frustration I cannot plan for everything.

Mar 25: Not everything needs an explanation.

Mar 26: Words cannot articulate everything.

Mar 27: Comparing myself with others to validate my experience is a path to misery.

Mar 28: Embrace the actions that produce what you want and get rid of the rest.

Mar 29: Self-awareness is the greatest gift we can get from our parents - however they give it to us.

Mar 30: Self-awareness requires a willingness to ask a question of oneself and not be satisfied with the first answer.

Mar 31: Self-awareness unreflected in a changed life is: at best - navel-gazing; at worst - masturbation.
*Defined as having a BMI of 30 or more - according to the World Health Organisation

**Follow CircusBoy1

***All my stuff.