Monthly Archives: March 2011

R&R

Sometimes getting away from it all helps you look out for what's next!

So I guess I’ve been going pretty hard lately.  Training for the upcoming Boston Marathon with 40-50 miles weekly, working diligently to continually innovate and keep our service offerings fresh and rewarding to Pro-Activity clients and staff, launching or preparing to launch a few new pilot offerings / programs, pushing through what seems like more than your average amount of road-blocks when opening a new commercial site, actively participating in an ever growing Endurance Club (http://pacerteam.pro-activity.com/), completing continuing education to renew my Personal Training certification, doing my best to sacrifice my personal time for others in the Lenten season (I’d say I’m doing just “ok” here), and recently “volunteering” to coach a local track & field club one night per week.  Ok, wah wah, cry me a river….we’re all busy, right!  I get it.

But what I’m still trying to master is this whole recovery thing….if you’ve been reading along with my colleagues or on our monthly communication website http://thrive.pro-activity.com you know by now that the research says recovery (along with Move, Fuel, & Endure) is one of the 4 essential building blocks to optimal human performance.  I mean, it totally makes sense….get moving, put the right fuel in the tank to keep you moving, recover enough so that you’re fresh and ready to go hard again when needed, and never give up…..endure life’s challenges and you’ll assuredly be successful.

Of the four, “Recover” has never come easy to me…I’ve always been your classic type A over trainer…pushing my limits because I “need” to be in control….I “need” to achieve….I “need” to win…..and more than once, it’s left me over-done, a bit beat up, and a few times on the brink of serious injury.  And while I’ve gotten better over the last few years at understanding the balance of pushing yourself physically to the edge vs. over the edge, I’m definitely still learning how to loosen up a little bit, and decompress mentally & emotionally back to balance.  But thankfully, about six and a half months ago…something amazing happened….I got married (surprised?..I’m still a little shocked someone was agreeable to this as well)….and one thing I’ve quickly learned about (healthy) marriage…you don’t get to be totally “in control” all the time….and for good reason!

So this past Friday, my 30th birthday, my wife surprised me when she put the two of us a cruise ship for a quick getaway to the Bahamas (FYI, in my opinion 4 day trips are the perfect amount of time to recover but not get so far out of routine that you dread coming back)….it was full of relaxation and recovery (calories too, but that’s another whole story)….my aches and pains from the training are near gone….my head is as clear as I can expect it….I’m back to balance and ready to move again and endure the next push towards many exciting milestones ahead!

Stay tuned, and please share some of your favorite “Recovery” tips by commenting or posting on the Pro-Activity facebook page http://www.facebook.com/goendure

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Reinvestment in Self: A Positive ROI

As I get ready to celebrate my 30th (gulp) birthday on Friday, I have to look back and laugh a little bit at the last 10 years.  It doesn’t seem all that long ago that I was 20 years old, and sitting through Corporate Finance classes at Cornell, doing my best to understand the stock market, bonds, annuities and where I could realize the greatest personal ROI (Return on Investment).  I was positioning myself (or so I thought at the time) to embark on an amazingly profitable career on Wall Street….and all this Ivy League stuff was sure to pave the way….right?

I hope you’ll bear with me on this one, it’s a little long…but there is a point…and hopefully you get some value out of it….

So life, like it tends to do, threw some unexpected obstacles in my path…..some more tragic and seemingly horrible than others, but all proved to be learning opportunities that have shaped my life over the last ten years….and realize that when we invest a little back into ourselves and what we really want…we get the greatest return.

The first was relatively uneventful….and included a bus trip to Wall Street, a one day “externship” (I still don’t know what that means) with Lehman Bros. (who??…thanks to some questionable accounting that lead to their crash in 2008 some of you might not remember this giant)  …the 4th largest Investment Bank at the time…..and I learned a TON….mainly that Investment Banking was not my bag…and I didn’t care what my personal portfolio could look like…..I was taking the other prong in this fork in my road.

Shortly thereafter, as I returned to Cornell to figure out what it was I would do with my life (doesn’t everyone know by 20 years old..ha!), I got this frantic message from my then boss while at work (student computer lab supervisor…oh yeah!)….”A plane just flew into the World Trade Center!”………I’m sure everyone can remember exactly what they were doing at this moment in American History….it was one of the most tragic, yet heroic days in our lives….we lost many good people….our economy and job market tanked….but at the same time…we saw people come together like never before…and it re-instilled a sense of pride, patriotism, and purpose in our country.  As a society, we began to rebuild and reinvest in ourselves…..and we once again felt good, and proud to be Americans.

Unfortunately the events of 9/11 made finding a job extremely difficult….and as a new-grad in 2003 I was fortunate enough that my older brother (a future Ironman by the way…follow him at http://mikeeisenhart.blogspot.com/) knew someone that could help me land a job at Hewitt Associates in Healthcare Mngt. Consulting (in plain English: basically crunching numbers for large corporations to determine how they could save on Healthcare Insurance premiums….no shortage of work there!).  But within the first two months of my new job…my life came crashing down…..tragically I lost one of my best friends to a motorcycle accident.  I’ll never forget the moment I got the news….it was like someone hit me with a baseball bat in the back of the knees, punched me in the stomach, and ripped my heart out all at once.  And even with an amazing family and network of friends to comfort me and my other best friends….it was undoubtedly the darkest time in my life.  For a few months I literally questioned everything, most especially who I was and where I was going….and with the exception of being around family & friends, and coaching youth sports….I struggled to find purpose.  And then it hit me….

What if I could do the things that made me happy, and actually make a  living doing it?  Could I really make some changes, reinvest in my personal happiness, make a living, and contribute to the greater good all at the same time?….Enter Pro-Activity!

While in my final high school days and college two of my siblings had the guts to take the entrepreneurial leap, and open what was at the time a Physical Therapy company that dabbled in everything from home care, to sub-acute rehab, to athletic performance and traditional PT, to workplace injury prevention, with one simple purpose: to provide clients with opportunity to experience individual excellence in their health, and thereby, their lives!  And, more than anything…I wanted in, so I could formally pursue this whole “coaching thing” with everyone from young athletes to folks looking to get and stay fit & well……oh and by the way I’d work for next to free (thanks Mom & Dad for covering me these years).

It seemed like the perfect reinvestment in self, even if it cost me a decent paycheck from Hewitt….at Pro-Activity I could be around family, and pursue health and fitness coaching at a professional level.  My siblings continued to drive our business growth with the support of my sister-in-law, another friend, and me – and things started to develop.  And as we continued to hone our focus on Wellness (from Prevention of Disease and Injury, to Performance, to Healthy Aging)  we continued to grow, and so did our team.  It wasn’t long before we added a few more important cogs in the wheel, my college best-friend, and health & fitness specialist Nick (follow at http://corewrestling.wordpress.com/) and childhood best-friend and Doctor of Physical Therapy Justin (follow at http://rootsofmyhealth.blogspot.com/).

Now years later, our “Pro-Activity Family” has gotten larger with some more key additions, and we’re preparing for some exciting times (one especially dear to my heart: The Fuel Good Cafe, operated by my sister-in-law, and my wife  – a place to get good food, at a good price, that tastes great, and “Fuels Good”).  And while our group doesn’t always see eye to eye, and like any “family” have our skeletons in the closet, stressful times, and heated confrontations….at the end of the day being around this part of my “family” and being able to coach and serve yours towards greater fitness continues to serve me as a rewarding reinvestment in self, and has given me a substantial self-fulfilling positive return.  And with that, I’ll keep pushing so long as it does….thank you for reading, and more importantly, playing a part!

(Some of our recently coached athletes below!)

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My Personal Time – A Sacrificial Lamb?

So excuse me while I impose a little of my Catholic upbringing into a public forum…..although I consider myself of strong faith and pretty devout, one of my biggest struggles is when an individual tries to push their religion onto another…or has some sort of religious agenda…it drives me mad….but that said, I thought I’d share something personal because it just might be an idea you find self-fulfilling.

As a Catholic, each year the Lenten season comes, and each year we’re encouraged to sacrifice, give alms, and pray in prep for the Easter season.  We’re often encouraged to “give something up”….many select favorite foods as their go to choice….and I’ve been there, done that a few times.

**side note, for two of the last 4 years I gave up meat and lost 5-10 lbs without even trying….did you know vegan diets who’s primary nutrition comes from fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts & seeds have incredible health benefits and have been shown to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, fight heart disease and cancer, and promote optimal body weight and function.  Check out this site for tons of research & the latest news as to why “More Matters” when it comes to fruits & vegetables: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/?page_id=8767

 

Anyway, back to the story – this year I decided I’d look for something of more value to me than my favorite junk food…something that I truly cherished….after all, giving it up was supposed to be a challenging sacrifice, and prepare me for / remind me of arguably the greatest sacrifice ever in man-kind (depends on your beliefs, but I’m a believer so bear with me).  So this year, I’ve decided to give up one of my most prized possessions….MY TIME….. and pass it on to a handful of selected “lucky ones”.  So hear goes, starting this past Wednesday, March 9th, and for the entire Lenten season until Easter Sunday, April 24th I will email one person daily on weekdays and offer my time over the next week to support them by doing them one favor in hopes to live with more altruistic principles (thanks to my sister Amy for some inspiration here…follower her at http://amyeweller.blogspot.com/).  The selected individual can:

  1. Choose to take me up on my offer and I promise to do all in my power to deliver on this favor whether big or small, so long as it is something I can do in the next 7 days and have the means to do…(clearly I’m not independently wealthy!)
  2. Can pass this favor on to someone else, so long as you give me their direct contact information
  3. Can forgo this favor altogether, so long as they promise to offer another person their time and a favor (how many of us would select this option if chosen?).
  4. Or…I guess could totally disregard this offer…but I sincerely hope not!

I believe if we all take an extra moment out of our days for others…put up our time and energy as a sacrificial lamb, we will find it truly rewarding….maybe even allow us to feel (a)LIVE….and with any luck….our efforts and the example that we set will be passed on or “paid forward” (I love that movie by the way).

So what do you think?…..maybe you could give it a shot?  Drop me a message or shoot me a comment on Facebook and let me know your thoughts….maybe I’ll even select you!

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Convenience – the Opposite of Great?

Sometimes convenient isn't so great!

When was the last time you said, “It’s just not convenient for me”?  Have you ever thought about what this really means?  I mean, clearly life would be easier if what we wanted just fell into place at the exact time we wanted it, right?…..Wouldn’t that be nice?!  But would that make life better…..more fulfilling….or more enjoyable?  The “convenient” answer is “Yes”…..but after spending a great deal of time this week thinking about acting out of convenience vs. acting out of principle or for what is “right” in the pursuit of something “Great”…..I’m pretty confident that the convenient answer is WRONG!

Take a moment and ponder a few things that you place value on in your life…..your relationships with others and / or a higher being….your recreational activities….your job…the purchase of a beloved sports car….your report card or desired college choice….your health and fitness!  What is it about these items that make them carry so much value?  I’d argue it’s due in large part to the amount of effort and hard work they require to ensure they are a success…or great.  Take some examples below:

  • Relationships – if it was always about convenience and things just coming easily…would we ever grow…if we were never pushed or confronted or expected to be our best….would we place the same kind of value on the relationship that we do with others who bring out our best?  Would our mind and heart allow us to remain focused and committed….or would things get stale and boring?
  • Recreational Activities – why do people love golf….because it can be relaxing, but still a challenge to master….why do athletes train for hours to perfect skills?….because their is an enormous feeling of self-worth…or greatness, when you’ve given your all leading to accomplishment….and the main reason the accomplishment is great is only because it took so much work to get there!  In almost a never ending circle, the work (aka inconvenience) is what makes outcomes so great…and great outcomes is what drives us to work!
  • Your Job – ever go through the day staring at the clock, just waiting till it struck leaving time?  I used to do this before finding something I could be passionate about…..this job was convenient…it paid well….not much was expected out of me…but each day I left feeling empty….I was simply looking for a paycheck, and to get out of work to go do what “I really loved”, but even the mighty dollar wasn’t fulfilling enough for me to feel great.  Since that time, thankfully I’ve had the pleasure to meet, speak, and work with people on the other side of this coin…those who work 12+ hours a day, for far less pay because they believe in their product / service….they don’t feel the need to shut down the computer at a specific time or push today’s tasks to tomorrow, regardless of how convenient (or inconvenient)….instead they work till the job is done because they believe in it’s purpose and the self-fulfillment and value it brings them.
  • The beloved sports car (insert other material possessions here) – why is it they are so valuable to us….is it possibly because they are usually scarce, expensive, or otherwise hard to come by….and because we have to work hard to have the means to purchase or otherwise acquire them?
  • Your desired college (or that of your children) – what’s so important about the “Ivy League” anyway (or any other prestigious school)…sure the education is great…but why?  The education is great because it’s challenging…it pushes you and your limits….it exposes you to experiences that other schools may not be able to offer….but the challenge doesn’t come on your terms…it comes when the professor says so, and (coming from someone who missed a few social outings to study) it’s far from convenient.
  • Your Health & Fitness – the convenient approach would be to eat the foods that are readily available and cheap sold at “Convenience” stores (ironic name huh?) or Fast Food chains…..but why is this type of meal so cheap and readily available….because there’s very little work (or love for you Mom’s out there) that goes into making it great!  Or what about how convenient it is to plop down on the couch after a long day’s work…hit the snooze button too many times in the morning…or stay in on a rainy day rather than getting up and out to exercise….it’s certainly convenient…but will not lead to “Great” health & fitness.

Bottom line our journey to doing something Great…..and a key to being (a)LIVE is taking the road that twists, turns, goes up & down….and “You can be sure of one thing…there is never a crowd on the extra mile” – it’s anything but convenient!

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    Welcome to the Big Leagues

    Growing up, like most young athletes, it was my dream to be a professional athlete.  I was drawn by the idea of being a professional football player and  “playing my favorite game” for a living….and a promising  living it so seemed to be….and then I turned 8….and screeeeeech….. my dreams came to a halt….

    In retrospect, it wasn’t anything too terrible…..it’s just……well…..Dan Marino was 6’4″ and 240 lbs…..and me….well, I was a strapping 52 lb. second grader….and although I was plenty aggressive to play with the big boys (imagine that)….with neither parent over 5’6″, I realized maybe I should consider other sports………….enter double leg take-downs, half-nelsons, and a blossoming wrestling career that landed me a handful of championship experiences, a few bumps and bruises, tons of life lessons, and entrance into Cornell University.  But after spending the better part of two years as a member of the Cornell wrestling team (currently ranked #1 in the nation), and 13 years competing, I realized to succeed at the highest levels in the most competitive arenas…..to be the absolute best…..to truly be #1…. you have to place it as your absolute highest priority… in a way…it’s almost like you have to be in love with your sport, or game, or work or whatever it is where you truly want to be the best…to be world class….and well, at that point in my life…in that realm…..wrestling wasn’t.

    But this past Saturday, I got the opportunity for a brief (although it didn’t feel brief after 2 hrs. of running) time to experience a workout step-for-step with someone who is at that point with their sport…and man was it humbling….   If you’ve read some previous blogs, you know I’m currently training for my 4th marathon (Boston)…and although definitely not an “Elite”, I guess I’d consider myself a pretty good distance runner (Runner’s World states that only 10% of American marathoners are fast enough to qualify for Boston), and for the most part, I really enjoy it (sometimes even love it).  But try this one on for size…my colleague Julie Culley is an Olympic hopeful in the 5k (follow Julie and her teammates at http://www.njnytc.com/), which for those non-runners is “only” 3.1 miles…less than 12% of the distance I’ll be covering this coming April…..and just about the time I was ready to pout about an 18 mile workout…Julie piped up “I gotta do 17…I’ll do it with you!”…..and there I stood thinking a little dumbfounded, “Holy crap, this girl runs a 3 mile race…does she really crank out 17 mile long runs?”  And after she ran my legs off at a 7:10 – 7:15 pace, and explained part of her weekly ritual which includes multiple days with 2+ workouts, and upcoming 90+ mile weeks…..I realized this was the big leagues…this was a person totally focused…a person who truly loved what she did for a living….

    Go Julie!  We’re rooting for you!…But for those of us not vying for our spot in London 2012, there’s still a lot we can learn here…..you may have read similar themes in Napolean Hill’s “Think & Grow Rich”, Jim Collins’ “Good to Great”, or most recently in Geoff Colvin’s “Talent is Overrated” (so I hear anyway)……..the gist is simple….determine what you truly love….determine what it takes to be the very best….and practice with precise discipline time and time again until you are the best….I’ll bet if we take a deeper look at the love(s) of our lives (people, professional, objectives, charities, etc.), and apply these same principles the outcomes will be extraordinary….we’ll find ourselves in the big leagues…if not world class…and definitely (a)LIVE!

    Till next time….”it’s 10pm, do you know where your children are”?….Good night!

     

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