Freedom in Commitment

A few weekends ago, I committed to running the “Psycho Wyco” Run Toto Run 10 mile option, as well as competing at the Victory Grappling Championships in both the Gi and No-Gi divisions. I also committed to the 165 lb weight class, which means I have a few pounds to drop.

Believe it or not, this produced freedom. It takes a certain mindset, but committing can produce freedom in your mind, too.

The Right Mindset

Many of us have trouble with commitment because of FOMO, or fear of missing out on something better that may come along. Even after eventually making a choice, we let our minds get consumed on how other choices could have been better.

We first must understand that there is no such thing as a perfect choice. If we dissect our choices enough, we’ll find the good and bad in each and every one. By making a choice at all, we will be giving up something else. This is simply the nature of choices. So embrace it, and then forget about that something else. Commit to your decision. Own it, as Jocko Willink would say.

The Freedom that Ensues

In my post Choose your Suffering, I talked about how all the decisions we make are essentially about how much suffering we are willing to endure. A commenter of that post, Jonathan Vieker, was reminded of the following quote.

We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.

Jim Rohn

Once a commitment is made, it is much easier to choose the suffering of discipline rather than the suffering of regret. The commitment offers this freedom from having to make decisions that would lead to regret.

I am now focused on the physical training that will need to transpire between now and the 10 mile race and competition. The diet and calorie intake that will be needed in order for that training and weight goal to occur will also be on my mind.

What’s different? I have been training pretty consistently for over a year now, and have been wanting to get back down to 165 since Christmas. The commitment of the race and competition has cemented a path with fewer distractions and detours.

The gains (and in one case losses) are already being observed since the commitment was made. Try making some commitments of your own, and forget about the things you may miss out on as a consequence of your commitment. Instead, focus on the gains that will occur as a result!

The Best Mentor

Some of us believe that in order to be the best that we can be, we must be trained and mentored by the very best. But what does it mean for a mentor to be the best at what they do?

If this mentor or trainer never fails at anything, does this mean they are the very best? Perhaps it means they are not willing to put themselves into positions where failure may occur.

To me, it is necessary and admirable for mentors to come up short. It shows extreme courage and strength of will to place oneself in a position where failure is probable knowing the world (including your mentees) are watching.

My coach and mentor (on the right in the featured photo) showed the utmost bravery in accepting a difficult challenge, and put himself on stage in a position where failure was a possibility.

A tough match ensued, and Cody created a few offensive strikes and defended nicely. In the end, he got caught, and the match concluded with a loss. I could see and feel his disappointment.

Of the mentees that matter, Cody didn’t disappoint a single one. We are all as proud as can be, because we have the best coach and mentor we could possibly have!

At Least One Failure

It can be difficult for some to show vulnerability and to admit their weaknesses. Sometimes, it is easier to avoid putting one’s self in positions where vulnerability and weaknesses shine. However, many of us understand by now that avoiding these positions prevents growth.

No matter how much we’ve read about the benefits of vulnerability, agree with it in principal, and understand that it promotes our growth, it doesn’t take away the challenge of actually applying it.

Try telling yourself this before you engage in anything in which there is room for personal growth:

I’m not going to end this session without at least one failure.

Giving yourself a green light for at least one failure will help you get comfortable with perhaps many more, offering you the growth that you want and deserve.

Gratitude Entry

I’m running down to the last minute on this blog post for the week. Instead of finishing my morning routine of writing some reflections of yesterday and aspirations for today in my journal, I’ll leave them here for this 22nd morning of January, 2019.

January 22, 2019

I’m grateful that Erin loves to drive, and for her ability to drive 10 straight hours without needing or wanting me to take a turn. I’m grateful for my graduate school friends, Brian and Rob, and the continuing work all of us put into maintaining a great relationship since leaving grad school back in 2005. I’m grateful to have found out my attempt at passing the IFM Exam back in November was a successful one.

Today, and this week, I want to focus more on my relationship with my wife. I want to be more careful of letting snide comments out, and remember that my partner for life deserves better. Instead, I will either keep my mouth shut, or find something more supportive to say in those moments.

Since I just returned from a craft beer expedition in Michigan, I want to take a break for the rest of the week from any craft beer, and focus on getting a few more workouts in, instead.

The benefits of a daily routine of reflection are vast. What are you grateful for in your life? What can you improve upon today?

The Oboe of the Home Brewing Orchestra

If you’re a home brewer, than you should probably be reading the Brülosophy blog.  They have great write ups on brewing methods, new ingredients, and experiments (what they call ex-Beer-iments).

Their experiments usually consist of changing one variable in the brewing process, while keeping the rest of the variables of the brewing process fixed.  Once the finished beers from the experiment are ready to consume, they perform a triangle test.  A triangle test is one in which you pour two of one of the beers and one of the other into opaque cups.  Then, a participant is asked to identify the one that is different.

If they can identify the one that is different, they give their perceptions of the two beers. Specifically, what they found different about the two and which one they prefer.

Say a group of 24 people participated.  If all of them just guessed at random, then you would expect around 8 of them to guess correctly (1/3 of the 24, since you have a 1/3 chance at guessing correctly).  Indeed, one can calculate the probability (using a binomial distribution) of several different outcomes.

Again, say that 24 people just selected at random.  The probabilities of

  • 8 or fewer people guessing correctly is 0.594,
  • 9 or fewer people guessing correctly is 0.746,
  • 10 or fewer people guessing correctly is 0.860,
  • 11 or fewer people guessing correctly is 0.932, and
  • 12 or fewer people guessing correctly is 0.972.

The last bullet point means that the probability of 13 or more people guessing correctly is 0.038.  Since this drops below that magical probability of .05, this is where results would become “significant.”  That means that the probability of that many people guessing correctly is so low, that we are more apt to believe that people aren’t just guessing, but actually can tell a difference.

Anyway (sorry that got long winded), Brülosophy‘s experiments very often come up insignificant to the surprise of many readers and home brewers. There are a lot of techniques and methods home brewers think of as “best practices” when it comes to home brewing that come up insignificant in the results.

Enter the oboe. Seth Godin wrote the following blog post called Does an orchestra need the oboe? on January 4, 2019:

For most pieces, for most audiences, most of the time, you wouldn’t miss it if it were gone.

But take away one more instrument, and then another, and pretty soon, we’ll stop listening.

The little fillips, the extraneous extras, the dispensable nice bits–they count for more than we know.

So, yes, take away a best practice of your home brewing, while maintaining all of the others, and it will go unmissed (insignificant in a triangle test).

But take away another, and another, and soon your beer won’t be easy drinking anymore. The Brülosophy experiments are very useful and informative, because it is nice to know which “best practices” can be individually ignored from time to time.  However, I would take much care in making several changes in your brewing based on these results.