How can we review the past year to better inform ourselves as we start the next one?
This seems to be the question on everyone’s mind this time of year.
“What can I take away from this past year?”
“What’s the best way of reflecting on the year?”
I’ve personally tried many different approaches and none have seemed to work very well.
So, this year I wanted to try something different.
I take a tremendous amount of notes. I use the note application on my iPhone and computer daily. It’s become almost a diary of sorts.
As I am writing this, I have 3,409 total notes. Don’t worry, I have various categories and subcategories to help organize them so it’s not a chaotic mess. I will admit, it could be more organized but it’s getting better.
I wanted to go through all the notes I took this past year and pull out the ones that had real sustenance. I saw this as an opportunity to highlight the bigger themes I wrestled with and wrote on over the past year.
I came away with 58 quality ones worth sharing. I broke those 58 notes down into 3 categories with 2 sub-categories for easier reading. These notes are composed from a wide range of sources:
- Book excerpts
- My own thoughts on various topics
- Frameworks for coaching and program design
I hope you find value and insight that can be applied to your life within these notes.
*One note worth mentioning: If you see a black “bullet” that signifies a new “note.” There are a few pieces, like the very first one, where there are more than one “bullet” for the same note.
- Capacity = Hardware
- Heart, Lungs, Muscles
- Efficiency/Economy = Software
- Awareness, Perception of Effort, Movement Smoothness, Motivation, Dampening/Pacing
- Think about how Energy System Training might not be real, rather great lifestyle and nutrition + skill practice + “playing the sport” is what leads to maximal potential
- What are some “Truths'' you believe you have discovered with regards to training for Fitness (i.e. developing strength, power and endurance)?
The initial point to make is, there must be a desire/highly motivated reason to get stronger or improve endurance. The underlying intention will, in large part, drive how well they adapt to the given goal.
Adaptation rate to either strength or endurance will be dependent on the person. This will drive the approach taken to improve those targets. Some will require more volume/exposure on a weekly and cycle basis while others will require less exposure with potentially higher intensity to maintain or improve that characteristic.
Preserving the CNS is key for strength/power expression and adaptation. Understanding someone’s essence helps inform how easily you can tap “into” their CNS/stress it. The easier it is to tap “into” it the more infrequent touches they will need for strength training in the traditional sense. The harder it is to tap into their CNS the more frequent touches they will need for strength training to maintain or improve their metrics in this area.
Volume accumulation is the overarching goal of any training program geared towards the sport of fitness. Being able to handle more volume over time shows an improvement in recovery, tolerance to stress, and dampening of intensity. Building endurance requires a progressive increase in training volume whereby improvements are made indirectly through handling more work. This begins to translate towards improvements in handling more sport specific training volume.
- There was a time when I would design certain training pieces that I knew principally were sound, but I wasn’t completely sure why that was the case or how it fit into the bigger picture. And that is fine. It’s actually more than fine, it’s necessary.
- For a coach, a large part of the learning process is rooted in the exploration of ideas that you’ve downloaded but don’t quite have access to the software, yet. The key here is maintaining the willingness to continually ask yourself, “what is going on with that ‘protocol’? Why am I using it and why is it working?”
- The ongoing desire for a deeper understanding is only where you will discover the answers you seek. But, not knowing the answers does not mean your work is fraud. Rather, it is expected, and needed, at times in order to push the boundaries.
- Uncomfortable Truth: Program design isn’t hard.
Understanding how to progress training with a complex human in mind is hard.
- “One way to serve the community is to see it as a market and solve one of its problems. When people choose to buy something, it’s ostensibly because the thing you sell is worth more to them than it costs. And so value is created”
- The results will be pretty close to what they should be
- If you know (and believe) the outcome you will get will be a reflection of the work you put in, then there’s only one thing to do:
- Start working, keep working, and stay the course. If you try to make it any more difficult than that, you are looking for an excuse.
- Schoolteacher and suffragist, Alice Moore Hubbard, on how people learn:
"Teaching is successful only as it causes people to think for themselves. What the teacher thinks matters little; what he makes the child think matters much."
- If you want to separate yourself from the rest, become the coach who is able to give people the opportunity to overcome their own challenges. When you are able to show them that they have the answers they are seeking, you radically change their lives for the better.
- Are you a transactional coach or a transformative coach?
- What lasting impact are you wanting to leave on your client?
Slow before fast
Long before short
Less is more
Ask don’t assume
Listen before you speak
Know what you want the end to look like
It’s not your job to fix people.
It’s your job to show them how to fix themselves.
Be intentional (have great intent)
Be inquisitive (ask great questions)
Be grounded (have humility)
Be observant (pay attention)
- A framework for creating change with clients:
Step 1. How did YOU get here? (Acknowledge responsibility)
Step 2. How do you want your future self to look? (Subjective perspective)
Step 3. What’s the number (on the scale) and what are the strategies? (Objective perspective)
- [Thinking about your coach-client relationship] The 3 main questions to wrestle with:
“When my client leaves me, what do I want that to look like?”
“What expectations am I setting during the initial consult? Am I setting the tone that my client will be actively learning throughout this process and reach a point where I’m not needed anymore?”
“Am I speaking the same language as my client? If not, how am I going to cover that gap?”
- We transcend the finality of our lives through the passing on of our experience and wisdom to those who are beginning or in the midst of their own journey: mentorship.
- Program design isn’t the end all be all, but don’t let your newfound understanding of behaviors and knowing your client cloud your ability to write great programs. At the end of the day, you still need to deliver a great program that’s unique to the client. Fixing behaviors can only do so much for a shit design.
[Thinking about the coach-client relationship]
- As you evolve and your understanding changes you are also responsible for ensuring the other half of the relationship (the client) is making positive growth as well. If one half of the relationship is growing and evolving while the other is staying still this will lead to a point of contention, which could harm the relationship or even terminate it. Both parties are responsible for helping each other grow, update, and evolve throughout the process.
- Change is certain; making that change with another is not certain.
- What is the end state (not outcome) you want to reach in your athletic quest?
- "When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running."
- The longer the time frame for results, the less you need intensity and the more you need consistency.
- Consistency isn’t willpower, which is finite.
Consistency is a system that allows for easy iteration due to little to no “activation energy.”
If you want advantageous divergence, you have to have a system that easily allows for the preferred behavior every day.
- Winning requires luck.
Getting into a position to win requires work.
And work always comes first before any luck is involved.
Get to work. Luck may find you.
- As the competitive season approaches, it’s important to pay attention to how your system is reacting.
How are you handling the arrival of a competition? As the day draws closer, where is your mood and energy moving towards? Fear? Excitement? Anxiety? Calmness?
The way in which your body and mind move around events of higher importance can give you insights that are worth paying attention to.
Utilize the feedback to notice:
-How you are responding?
-Why might you be responding that way?
-What will you put your focus on as the event draws even closer?
This approach can be helpful in order to better understand your nerves allowing you to corral that energy to pull forth your best effort.
- How to win at the Sport of CrossFit:
Be more efficient and economical in your execution of the movement than the person next to you.
- The elite respond to the contractions aerobically.
- You are not trying to work harder. You’re trying to work less hard by being more efficient, allowing you to recover faster so you can do more work.
(“A range of mechanisms are identified supporting the proposal that an external focus promotes movement efficiency in line with energy and effort conservation.”)
-Less muscle contraction through improved efficiency and effort conservation -> more efficient movement leading to less “hard” contractions
- If you try to “recover” in a workout you aren’t expressing it. True expression of the test is being able to maintain the mentality of “attacking” throughout.
- Does your engine need work or do you need to learn better pacing to use your engine more effectively?
- Is it not up to you to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.
- You are here to do something of consequence. You are not here to just enjoy yourself. (A burden and a blessing)
- If you believe your life has a purpose, then frivolous things ought to be ignored as they will pull you away from your purpose, from your work.
- “When you see someone doing something that doesn’t make sense to you, ask yourself what the world would have to look like to you for those actions to make sense.”
- “Boring as a strategy is the approach that Apple and a large number of famous brands have taken. As you cross the chasm, the bulk of your new customers don’t want innovation at all. They want promises kept, a lack of surprises and reasonable prices and efficiency. Shipping your improvements on a regular schedule and bringing predictability to your offering allows you to reach more people and make a bigger impact. Small innovations allow an organization to avoid falling too far behind innovative competitors, and it can take decades before the gap is big enough to matter. And then you become Yahoo. Or Chrysler. Or Carvel.”
- "Good marketing can sell once, but only a good product can sell twice.
In the long run, your performance reverts to the value you provide."
- We seem to do really well when we’re operating under a structured organization where we know what is expected of us. When we have to create our own goals and our own way we bump into more obstacles. It requires us to create our own structure and take on the responsibility of determining what the path is going to be and what the priorities in the day will become in order for us to attain the goal.
- Be careful what you wish for.
You might not get it.
But as you pursue this wish, you’ll change what you do, what you see, who you connect with and the sacrifices you make along the way.
Our wishes change us.
- “Our obsession with extracting the greatest future value out of our time blinds us to the reality that, in fact, the moment of truth is always now—that life is nothing but a succession of present moments, culminating in death, and that you’ll probably never get to a point where you feel you have things in perfect working order.”
- “One of the most practical life skills that no one talks about is turning discipline into consistency. Discipline will only take you so far. It’s hard to be consistently disciplined.
The power of rituals can be easy to overlook because they seem so simple. Rituals include habits, systems, and even group traditions.
Once started, rituals are hard to stop. Think of rituals as anything structured that creates inertia. Not all inertia is positive. Your rituals can work for you or against you. And their mechanical neutrality is key to using them to your advantage.
What looks like skill is often just consistency. While you can’t snap your fingers and become more talented, you can create your own talent. Consistency creates talent. And you won’t be consistent if you only do things when you feel like it.
When people seem uncommonly disciplined, look for a powerful ritual hiding in plain sight. It’s not that they have more discipline than you or I, but they were able to turn that discipline into consistency with a ritual. Short-term results come from intensity but long-term results come from consistency. Turning intensity into consistency unlocks a powerful asymmetry.”
- “Virtually all negatively valenced emotions are not rooted in the present.”
The inability to recognized how distracted we are is one of the greatest drivers of misery
Seneca - imagination (greater suffering than reality)
Shakespeare - nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so
Pascale - distraction is the only thing that consoles us of our miseries yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries
- Do you believe life is about answers or about struggles?
- The way someone else perceives what you do is a result of their own experience (which you can’t control), their own preferences (which you can’t predict), and their own expectations (which you don’t set).
- Win Friends and Influence People
- Handling people:
- Don’t criticize, condemn, complain
- Give honest and sincere appreciation
- Arouse in the other person an eager want
How to make people like you:
- Become genuinely interested in other people
- Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language
- Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves
- Talk in terms of the other person’s interests
- Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely
- By offering a reward, a principal signals to the agent that the task is undesirable (if the task were desirable, the agent wouldn’t need a prod).
- Pay your son to take out the trash—and you’ve pretty much guaranteed the kid will never do it again for free.
- Beware those who do not live or act as they preach
- Every risk taker needs to have some skin in the game – Hammurabi’s code. No opinion without risk. This is becoming rare in today’s world where bankers and politicians can make decisions which affect millions but they themselves don’t pay if they’re wrong
- Lindy effect- books that have been around the longest will survive the longest (Time is the ultimate decider)
- Stoicism is extremely robust. Possessions make us worry about the downside and make us fragile. Mentally adjust for the worst before it happens and everything positive from then on will seem like a bonus. Stoicism about the domestication and not the elimination of emotions. Invest in good deeds as things can be taken away
- Never ask people what they want as people’s preferences can change instantly. Like Jobs, show them what they want
- Deep Work:
- If you can’t learn, you can’t thrive.
- If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive—-no matter how skilled or talented you are.
The two core abilities just described (learn hard things and produce at an elite level) depend on your ability to perform deep work.
To learn hard things quickly, you must focus intensely without distraction.
- Seasons of a Man’s Life:
4 psychological functions:
Only a few will be developed by the late 30’s, the neglected ones must be addressed in order to lead a more balanced life.
(Jung’s idea of individuation)
The life structure evolves through a relatively orderly sequence during the adult years. It consists of a series of alternating stable (structure-building) periods and transitional (structure-changing) periods. (These periods shape the course of adult psycho-social development)
- Stable Period (Make firm choices, rebuild the life structure, and enhance one’s life within it) / 6-7 years in length, no more than 10 years
-The primary task of every stable period is to build a life structure: a man must make certain key choices, form a structure around them, and purse his goals and values within this structure. (Building the foundation to support the challenges)
-The winding down of the stable period is signified by a recognition that the life structure that has formed the basis of stability comes into question and must be modified.
- Transitional Period (Evaluate current structure and move toward a new and more satisfactory one) / 4-5 years in length
-The primary tasks of every transitional period are to question and reappraise (evaluate) the existing structure, to explore various possibilities for change in self and world, and to move toward commitment to the crucial choices that form the basis for a new life structure in the ensuing stable period.
-A transitional period is required to terminate the past and start the future
- The Practice
The practice is the output; only thing we can control
Routine precedes action
If you want to change your story, change your actions first
Good process repeated has a better chance for good outcomes than lazy process
Good decisions: what we know about the options and the odds. Good outcomes happen or they don’t; it’s a consequence of the odds. Reassurance is futile-focusing on outcomes at the expense of process is not ideal
Confidence - when we imagine we have control over the outcome; commitment is under your control, the end result can’t be.
“So far” and “not yet” are the foundation of every successful journey.
Build trust over time - trust earns you patience
- 4,000 Weeks
There will always be too much to do.
Why don’t you make this one task all that matters.
See what happens.
“We labour at our daily work more ardently and thoughtlessly than is necessary to sustain our life because to us it is even more necessary not to have leisure to stop and think. Haste is universal because everyone is in flight from himself.” - Nietzsche
- “You teach best what you most need to learn.” - Richard Bach
- “Results aren’t everything. Indeed, they’d better not be, because results always come later—and later is always too late.”
- 3 principles of patience:
-Develop a taste for having problems
- Life is an unending supply of problems. If it wasn’t you wouldn’t have anything to do. Be ok with having them and allow yourself the space to work through their unique challenges.
Give each one (problem) the time it requires. No more, no less.
-Embrace radical incrementalism
- When thinking about habits, the key isn’t to do a lot of it at once, but a little each day until it becomes a part of who you are and what you do. Patience requires the same perspective. Setting a finite amount to do before leaving the rest for the next day.
- If you’ve decided to work on a given project for fifty minutes, then once fifty minutes has elapsed, get up and walk away from it. “The urge to push onward beyond that point…includes a big component of impatience about not being finished, about not being productive enough, about never again finding such an ideal time.”
-Originality lies on the far side of unoriginality
- In any pursuit, there’s a lag effect before reaching the realm where originality comes to life. The early stages require trial-and-error, copying others, learning new skills, and accumulating experiences. This is the doorway to your unique perspective. And it requires patience to “stay on the bus.”
- The well-trodden path is the gateway to the other side of the mountain where you are able to see how many different paths you can take only once you are on the other side. But, the only way you can get to this point is through that initial trek.