Friday, December 30, 2011

About A Year In Review

If there was ever a good year, 2011 was the one!

Now, don't get me wrong, I've had a pretty good run and I have very little, if anything, to complain about.  I have the most wonderful family a man could ever ask for; a lovely, beautiful, caring, adoring wife, two magnificent daughters that any father would be proud to have and what has to be the most amazing grandson ever.  The good Lord definitely knows into whose life to drop these blessings.

I am not any different from anyone who wants to accomplish great things in life and is willing to work hard for them.  I am focused, determined and most of the time on target.

As I entered 2011 I knew that one of the biggest items in my bucket list would, God willing, come true.  That is to become an Ironman.  I had signed up for Louisville which was to be held August 29th.  The training had begun and baring a major catastrophe, it would be completed as planned.  And that it did.  That day, I did become an Ironman. (read the race recap here)  But as we all well know this did not happen over night.  This was a journey that took almost four years to complete.

What I did not know at the beginning of the year was that two more items, both large by any account, would also come true.

The one item that is fairly common amongst anyone who actively works a bucket list is "to retire".  This item could have been found in my list as well.  Another item that is also frequently found is "to start own business".

As luck would have it, things worked out perfectly for both goals in 2011.  A situation presented itself that allowed me to take early retirement and on July 1st, I did.  I would no longer be a slave to the time clock; to deadlines imposed on my time by others; to the responsibilities of having someone, anyone to answer to on a daily basis.  I would be my own man.

In comes the second goal.  Due to the aforementioned event, now that I had some time in my hands, I was able to concentrate on starting my own business.  I became a Registered Court Interpreter for the Language of Spanish (thank goodness I paid attention in Spanish class) and on July 21st I landed my first assignment.  After that, it has been non stop.  I'm truly blessed.

I am busy, busier than I have been in years (hope my old boss does not read this), but a different busy.  Now "all" of my efforts are rewarded with direct benefits for my family and myself.  I am able to work as much (and this is now the case) or as little as I want to, when I want to.  I can take time off when I need to for as long as I need to.  You get the picture, don't you?

What's in store for 2012?  Hard to tell, hard to top 2011.  Said bucket list still has a lot of items in it.  Only time will tell how things will develop.  I have been struggling a bit trying to prioritize these.  So I have taken to the idea that I will let the year play its course. If 2011 is an indication of things to come, 2012 should be a doozy!

I'd like to invite you to go over to this blog's facebook page and click the "like" button.  Easiest way to get fast updates.

About The Best Of 2011

This year I have taken to my blog a bit more consistently.  This is post No. 51 for 2011.  That's almost one post per week.  Not a power blogger by any stretch of the imagination but a steady blogger at that.  I have seen the blog's popularity, measured by "hits" per post steadily increase.

It is no surprise that the post that gathered the most traffic was the one entitled "About Becoming An Ironman".  It accumulated over 2,000 hits in just 48 hours.  It was the most shared via twitter and liked on facebook of all posts.

This post takes the reader through my day at the 2011 Louisville Ironman.  If you didn't get a chance to read it, you can do so here.

The second most popular post and one that I feel strongly about is the post entitled "About Being Fit vs. Being Healthy".  I cannot measure its popularity in terms of "hits" because even though it was posted on September 29th, I still get comments via twitter and emails about it.  Apparently this post made a few people think about their fitness and health.

A couple of other favorite posts of mine deal with the issue of the "Ironman Tattoo".  I brought the subject up in a post titled "About The Tattoo", in which I used the subject to make a point as to how people really don't understand why we do what we do.

After the Louisville Ironman, the subject resurfaced again after I had mine done.  This post can be found under "About Ironman Pride".

I have been using the down season (I hesitate to call it an off-season because as we know, triathletes do not have an off-season), to write about what it takes mentally, to help yourself achieve your goals.  The first post in the series is entitled "About Positioning Yourself For Success".  There's a series of post that follow this one.  The first three have been posted, there are several more to come.

A facebook page has been created for this blog.  Please navigate your way there by clicking here and press the "like" button.  This is an easy way to ensure you get  future updates.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

About Resolutions

“Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve” ~ Benjamin Franklin

One of the greatest advises I’ve ever heard.

New Years’ resolutions don’t just happen.  You don’t wake up January 1st and decide that “this” is what you’re going to resolve this year.  If that’s how you do it, I have a bit of bad news for you.

A good resolution is one that has a chance to succeed.  Like any other goal you make for yourself, it has to be planned, thought out, dissected, chewed up, spelled out, shared, and yes… written.

New Year’s Day is full of good intentions.  We “resolve” to lose weight, to eat better, to exercise more.  Maybe we want to be a better spouse or parent.  Or it could be to improve our relationship with our employees, our employer, our customer or suppliers, our friends or neighbors.   You may want to be a better communicator; to listen more and talk less.

If you belong to and regularly frequent a gym, you know that the first few weeks of the year the building is full of people with great intentions.  Great intentions but no plans.  You know this to be true because after a short period of time, the crowds return to  normal,  left with just those who are serious about their goals.
There’s no feeling like that of achieving a goal.  A small one, medium or large one.

I challenge you to work on your New Year’s Resolution starting today.  Isn’t there something you been itching to do?  to accomplish?  A change you wish to make? An item off your bucket list?  I bet there is.

Think about this.  Write it down.  Set a date.  Work it backwards.  Spell out small steps you’re going to take today, tomorrow, this week, this month, etc.  And yes… share your resolution!  Tell the world, tell someone, just. tell. someone!  Accountability is a wonderful thing.


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Monday, December 19, 2011

About Risks

The word "risk" has always had a negative connotation attached to it.  Depending on your point of view it could represent anything from failure and loss to danger, tension and stress.

But risk also has a positive side and it takes a special individual to see the chance of a big pay off, a big win.

Every time we make a decision, we're taking a risk.  Sometimes well calculated, sometimes not.  Everyone knows and understands that it's a pretty bad idea to take dumb, miscalculated risks; those that you expect to have no positive result in the short or long term.  On the other hand, it's equally foolish to pass the opportunity at an intelligent, well calculated risk; one which you expect to yield a positive result.

Most of us have learned to, and become pretty good at avoiding dumb risks.  But we are equally bad at taking the intelligent ones.  This is what separates the most successful folks from those who end up wondering what could have been.

Successful folks are willing to take those risks. They're willing to stick their necks out because they know that the potential benefits totally outweigh the potential setbacks.

Usually the long term benefits of a risk well taken outnumber the consequence of a potential failure.

I have always been a risk taker.  Always. Sometimes to the dismay of family and friends.  I have failed more often than I have succeeded, but I dare not think of what could have been had I not been willing, ready and able to take those risks.  And it all began at an early age.

As I was growing up,  had there been a vote in my high school for the "Person Most Likely To NOT Be Doing (What I'm Doing Today)", that would have been me.

Everything I tried to do I was not any good at.  Be it sports, or any other extracurricular activity, I failed miserably.  But I failed not because of lack of effort (okay, maybe a little bit), but because I was not any good at it.  I remember in the 7th grade I thought I wanted to play an instrument.  I was told by a music teacher that the trombone was the easiest to learn.  We went and rented one and two lessons later the teacher asked if I had ever thought about sports.  So off to football I went.  Tried out and made the team, only because I think they took everyone who tried out.  A couple of practices later, the coach introduced me to the baseball coach who in turn introduced me to the choir director.  Yeah, I was that bad.

The point is that I wanted to do something and I wouldn't stop. I continued to take risks despite my track record.  That is until I realized that I was left in the choir as a gesture of good will by the director for it was obvious that I didn't belong there.  All these hits took a toll and I stopped taking risks.

Through the years I learned to calculate risks better.  I learned that I needed to venture into areas where my chances of success were higher.  Slowly but surely I learned to master this, and with each new success I ventured into new worlds until eventually I found myself becoming an Ironman, which in itself it was probably one of the risks with the highest probability of failure I have ever taken.  Yeah, if my friends could see me now!

The key to success in risk taking is to look far ahead in the future. When thinking of potential benefits, its always better to think enough ahead so as to give your risk a chance to succeed.  Over time, small changes and/or adjustments to your plan can yield a higher chance for a positive payoff.  Give your decision a chance to play out.  Adjust as necessary and watch it come true.  This is what keeps me from getting discouraged when my failures outnumber my successes; it's because I keep thinking long term and I keep adjusting as time goes by.  I learn from each disappointment and adjust my sails next time the ship leaves the harbor.

Short-term thinking and risk aversion seems to be the modus-operandi in today's society.  We are trained from early on to expect immediate gratification with as little risk as possible.  A person like me does not quiet fit into this mold, and I don't want to.  I want to think ahead, way ahead.

Find an intelligent risk you can take today.  Who knows if it will pan out? Nobody.  May be it won't.  But what if it did?  Be happy with whatever the results, you will have gained courage and knowledge just by making an attempt.

Embrace Intelligent Risk.


I will discuss "mistakes" on the next post in the series "Position Yourself For Success."  Until then, I ask that you please visit this blog's facebook page and click "like".

Related Posts:

About Positioning Yourself For Success

About Attitude

About Passion

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

About "Passion"

"Passion is the fuel that keeps us going in good times, bad times and all in between times.  Passion is the fire in the belly, the driving force or energy source that takes us to our destination... and beyond."

"Passion drives us to unimaginable places by helping us overcome unimaginable resistance"

Passion touches the depth of the soul and speaks to the spirit.  Passion can be so profound that trying to explain the feeling is like trying to speak a foreign language.  Although once felt, the need for explanation fades away and the experience takes precedence.

It wasn't until I met my wife that I discovered the true meaning of "passion", in more ways than one. Up until that point, I had no "fire", there was no purpose, very little meaning to what I did and how I did it.  I went through the motions and very slowly, I was getting no where in a hurry!

I had always been afraid of the "fire" because I didn't want to get "burned", so I was always very careful as to not let the spark fly.  I stayed away from pushing and taking risks because previous results had taught me that failure was not pleasant.  I had not realized, at that point, that each failure was a learning experience.

Fast forward 20 years.

Slowly I began to discover and fully enjoy newly discovered passions.  A new fire was added with the birth of each daughter, and later that of my grandson.  Amazing how how hot those burn today. I also developed a passion for all things right.  In my personal life as well as my professional one.  I found that these two merged nicely and when they did everything seemed to fall into place.  And with these experiences adding up one on top of the other, I ventured into a world I had feared for a lifetime.  The world of physical fitness, and an unprecedented passion followed.  It's been well documented throughout this blog.

According to surveys (you know there are surveys for everything), about 75% of the population do not know what their true passion is.  Clearly, not everyone seems to be doing what they were meant to do, but finding out what drives you is not as simple as it sounds.  It may come naturally for some but most of the time you have to ask yourself questions in order to pinpoint exactly what you were born to do.  But what questions should you ask?

These are only suggestions, but it's a good place to start:

* What puts a smile on your face?
                        Happiness and Passion go hand in hand.  So finding out what puts a smile on your face is paramount to finding out what you were put on this earth to do.

* What do you find fun to do?
                        Usually what we find that puts a smile on our face, we find fun to do.  Fun leads to happiness, happiness leads to passion.

* What sparks your creativity, curiosity and imagination?
                         Think of something you like to do where you find yourself expanding your horizon, always coming up with new,different and exciting ideas relating to the subject.                       

* What would you do for free?
                        What do you look forward to do regardless of whether there's monetary compensation or not. Doing what you have a passion for brings out your best, and this leads to greatness, and greatness leads to success.

* What do you like to talk about?
                        What topic makes you brighten up? changes your entire behavior?  Sometimes the topic of conversation may not be as clear to you as it is to others.  If in doubt, ask friends what it is that you like to talk about, what topic changes your attitude when is brought up.

* What makes you unafraid of failure?
                         When we do what we are passionate about, we have total confidence in our abilities.  Period.  Think of something you do or want to do, no matter what.  How can we fail when we do what we love?  Doing what you love is a success in itself.

* What would you regret not having tried?
                         We all have dreams but somehow life pushes us in different directions.  If you were at the end of your journey, what would you regret not having pursued?

Passion is yours to experience and revel in it, even if it causes you to scrape your knees every now and then.  Passion is within you.  It is yours to discover and master...But remember that passion will not be fully unleashed unless what you're doing, or want to do, is in alignment with who you are.

So, what drives you?  What sets your belly on fire?  Share your story with us by commenting on this post.


I will discuss "risk" on the next post in the series "Position Yourself For Success."  Until then, I ask that you please visit this blog's facebook page and click "like".