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!

Worst Case Scenarios are Sometimes Not That Bad

Ben Franklin edited a newspaper once. He was approached to publish something that he found “scurrilous and defamatory” which would have made him a nice sum of money. He decided to sleep on it in a very interesting way.

On his way home, he bought a cheap loaf of bread. That evening, his dinner was about half of it along with some water. He then slept on the floor. In the morning he had the other half of the loaf with some more water for breakfast.

Why did he do this to himself? To play out a worst case scenario: that he would make very little money on this newspaper by not publishing articles that were defamatory. Since he was able to survive the night and morning in such a low state, he decided “never to prostitute my press to the purposes of corruption and abuse of this kind for the sake of gaining a more comfortable subsistence.”

We fail to make specific choices in life that would ultimately be great because we think that going forward with it may

  • cost us our job
  • muddle a relationship
  • result in failure

So what? Perhaps specific choices will end in these things (but more likely not). Is that what you really feared? It is harder to see that by making the choice, in the long run

  • you will land in a better job
  • you will spark newer and more positive relationships while enhancing the positive ones you already have
  • the reward is much greater in absolute terms than the consequences of the short term failure

Experimenting through self-deprivation will help you gain the confidence necessary to make some difficult life choices. I encourage you to try one of these self experiments (or come up with one on your own):

  • Intermittent fasting, or fasting for an entire day or longer (please read about it first).
  • Giving the Whole30, Primal Blueprint, Paleo, or another type of diet a try for 30 days.
  • Plan and prepare every meal (no eating out) for 21 days.
  • Give up driving for a week. Walk, ride your bike, ride the bus, catch a cab or Uber.
  • Unplug the TV for a week.
  • Go camping for a week (perhaps while biking across a state)

During your state of abstinence, be sure to continuously ask yourself what Seneca suggests: “Is this the condition that I feared?”

The worst case isn’t that bad after all, and you will be a toughened and more hardened individual on the other side.

Everything Will Be Revealed

One of my favorite sayings and one of my wife’s least favorite sayings in our lives is “everything will be revealed.”

This highlights one of our key differences that makes our relationship work so well.

On my side of the coin there are those that don’t ask enough questions.  We prepare ourselves as best we can as we forge into the unknown, because we know when we get there everything will be revealed.  If we happen to lack something that we could have easily packed if we had asked the right questions, we quickly adopt our next favorite motto: “Learn to do without.”

To us it is almost worth not asking the questions in the first place.

On the other side of that coin there are those that ask a lot of questions. They don’t want any surprises. Even when the course you are taking will not change upon knowing the answer these type of people ask anyway. They just need to know.

There is a really happy middle ground that we pull each other into. I could definitely benefit from asking a few more questions and communicating my intentions. She could probably benefit from living on the edge a little, and not having all of her questions answered.

It is one of the many reasons our relationship works so well. We are the ying and yang for each other when I believe everything will be revealed. 

Questions from Tim: Part III

In Questions from Tim, Part 1 and Questions from Tim, Part II, I answered the following questions:

  • What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
  • In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
  • What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?
  • How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
  • What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

In Part III, I will address

  • If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it – metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions – what would it say and why?
  • What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
  • What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it – metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions – what would it say and why?

I think putting this poster of outer space with the caption “Don’t take stuff so seriously, remember… You are here” with an arrow pointing at nothing you can see with any clarity.  We should have a constant reminder of how insignificant we are in this universe.

What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

When I measure out my coffee in the morning I take extra care in getting my coffee beans to be exactly 42 grams. There is really no reason for doing so, as I could probably not tell the difference between a Chemex pot of coffee made with anything in the 40-44 gram region when brewing coffee using the same amount of water.

Since I’m waiting for the water to get to a specific temperature anyway, I’ll sometimes take single individual beans out in order to hit 42 grams. There are times when I even switch out big beans with little or vice versa once I get within hundredths of a gram.  It is ridiculous, I know.

I also love trying things that I read about that are good for me, but sound awful. As an example, I may get in the shower and decide on a whim to just stand under the shower and turn it on cold turkey! It is quite a shock to the system, and is not really that pleasant. But I read that it is good for you somewhere so I do it from time to time just for that reason alone.

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

If you forget everything you learned in college you’ll still be OK if you can learn and pick up a few decent habits.

  • Learn how to become ultra organized and efficient. Don’t ever believe you are organized enough and have nothing more to learn on how to be any more organized. You can be organized even more.
  • Never stop reading.
  • Write, write, and write some more. This can be done in the form of a journal, blog, etc. or a combination of any.
  • Seek novelty.
  • Do not be afraid to take charge and lead how you believe is best. On the same note, don’t be afraid to fail. Embrace the failure and learn from it.

Honestly, if you can get the first bullet point down, you will be set for life. Everything else will follow accordingly.

While taking a class again through Washburn, I was shocked at the idea that people could not get an A. If you have the ability to organize your day so that you attend class, have time outside class set aside for reading and working on the material – and then the follow through to actually use that time for what you set it aside for – you can achieve anything. 

Ignore the idea that your career should be in something you love to do. This is not necessarily true, as if you make your career out of something you love you will most likely lose the love.  Instead, find a career of something at which you are good at or would like to be really good at.  Save your passions for your free time!