Why is everyone so fixated on failure?

The important thing to realize is that you will likely fail when you try something new. That is okay. What is not okay is when you fail to even try.

I hit a CrossFit box here in London this morning. A few things were ugly about that whole situation.

  1. I’m not very good at CrossFit
  2. It was balls early, 6:15am start time. For anyone in their usual environment that’s nasty, but for a touring musician, living out of a suitcase it’s heinous.
  3. While I enjoy exercise a lot, my eagerness can sometimes alienate others around me

As you can see, lots of room to fail.

And I did. By technical standards. Hell, my bench game is weak. No way around it.

Learn to Forget Things Quick

Todays Workout of The Day (W.O.D) saw us hit a ton of shoulders and chest, areas of opportunity to improve in my personal fitness game, so going in I knew I was going to be up against a lot. The last time I tried to PR my bench, 135 was about it for a few rounds of 5. So today, in trying to get my 5RM, I failed at 135. I’m okay with that. It’s a hole in my armour and I will spend some time working on my chest strength. Had I not tried I’d have never known.

Looking at Failure as Information

If we change our language from “pass/fail” to “gather info” regarding these kinds of situations, we allow ourselves the forgiveness to accept our attempt and problem “solve” rather than just problem “find”.

Par for the course lately. I’ve always gotten a thrill of being the underdog. Against all odds, somehow finding a way to drive the ship through all that pressure, adversity and overwhelming stress to pull it off. I’m playing my 4th show with Midnight Shine tomorrow in Hamilton. Coming off a less than perfect set in Webequie, I need to find the wherewithal to learn from the experiences I had in order to effectively course correct. In theory, each performance… each workout I hit bench… I’ll get a little bit better. That’s the key. 1%.

“Get Back Up. Get. Back. Up.”

Get knocked down 7, 8, 9 times? That’s fine. You just have to find a way to get back up 10. The innate ability to bounce back.

That’s just a characteristic I’ve always had. Grateful my childhood taught me that. My parents taught me the value of hard work and how important it is to outwork everyone else. Authentically.

If you are struggling. Ask for help. If you assume people know you’re struggling and you wait for them to bring it up, you’re doing a disservice to everyone. Check the ego at the door, ask for help.

Literally, I had the bar come down on my chest after 3 reps in my 4th set and Coach Jamie had to pull it off me. We then talked about locking the shoulder blades back and bracing the core and poof… whaddaya know –  I pulled of 5 on my last set.

I also need to know where I stand for performances. I want feedback so I can improve in areas that are opportunity to get better. Performance reviews are popular in organizations and the music business should be no different. So I’m looking for that.

Don’t Take Things Personally

With no squats on the WOD today, I had to rise up and work on the stuff I’m not so good at. It was great. It was authentic. Because I haven’t done rope climbs, I asked for a variation in order to work my way up to it one day. I was also asked to scale my push-up variations nearing the end as my body was just plain gassed and my technical form was starting to suffer. That’s great coaching. Nothing to take personally. My body was just toast at that point.

Be You

That ties it to my final point. One thing is for sure: I’m okay if I don’t fit in because I was who I am. I’m not okay with being on a path embossed with inauthentic motives. I wanna be me and when I’m not happy, it’s not worth it. Not the workout. Not the tourbus.

Just be you, bounce back and remember it’s a long game we’re playing. Have fun with it.

Ciao from the road!

xo

M

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It’s actually amazing how you can rise to new heights the minute you lower your expectations…

Today has been special. I didn’t expect any of this…

Following the news of last night’s fatal bus crash involving the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Humboldt Broncos, it’s been a quiet day of reflection. As a former junior hockey player, the news came to me as a living nightmare. I don’t know how I could deal with that kind of trauma. I wish nothing but the best for the survivors, the families and the entire hockey community. This is a huge shock to the world and I’m not sure if the pain will ever go away for those families. It was an absolute tragedy.

Despite the sombre news, I made an earlier commitment to get up and move my legs after a couple hours of screen time – I’m working on writing a few big features for Canadian Musician Magazine and I wanted to get some fresh air and get Darwin out for a walk anyway. So I bundled up (Yes, Calgary is still -19 with a windchill because it’s January 75th apparently…) and headed down the hill into Bridgeland, a sleepy community in the heart of Calgary to grab a coffee and some bread for the week. They serve the best sourdough in town at Bridgeland Market. It’s made at a local bakery, called Citizen Bakery.

I leave Dar leashed off on his little bench beside the store as I go in. All the passersby know and love the goof so I wasn’t surprised to come back out to see a young family excited to pet the puppy. I noticed an elderly woman with a walking stick crossing 10th street as the family carried on their day and I went down to unleash Dar and head back home. As I did, I noticed the elderly woman remove her sunglasses and pause on the sidewalk, just within reach of Darwin’s curious nose and full on “body wag”. She spoke in a broken German accent, I couldn’t quite tell, but it sounded like a northern dialect (my mother was born in West Berlin and I at a time had conversational German). We got to talking about how her and her husband are the dog whisperers of the local off-leash park, and how she knows the type of person the keeper or handler is by the behaviour of the dog at the end of the leash…the dog is a beautiful creature that is just the extension of the owners soul. She spoke as an angel. Like you wouldn’t doubt a word she said. It was captivating.

Meanwhile, it clicked. I’m sitting there going, “Oh man, she’s judging me…” but she clearly meant it as a compliment as she praised Darwin’s amazing behaviour.

“He’s such a beautiful, happy, and strong pup,” she said, “he’s wise beyond his years and his energy for life will take him all the places he wants to go… you just have to let him be and trust him.”

I was blown away.

I then asked he where she was from. She quickly responded “Germany”, and then realized I knew that and was seeking what particular region. I told her of my family origin, of which I’m incredibly proud and she told me east of Hamburg, as part of the former Prussian empire. The conversation will never be replicated with the magic that existed in that moment, but after I learned that her family was a bunch of academics, and had to flee from the war-torn Germany or face Hitler’s wrath, she asked me about what I do.

I told her about my health and wellness career and she light up.

She started to tell me about human magnetism. Previous to her talking about this I had never heard of such things. She explained it in half German, half English and told me to look it up on my computer. Here’s what I’ve found so far. I plan on researching it more but I have a few more hours on this magazine article to get to first – http://www.spiritualgarden.net/info/human+magnetism.html

She was so excited to connect and tell stories and engage in a real conversation. I asked her what her name was. “Rosemary”. I said that wasn’t as German as I had expected. Then she put it into her German tongue. Absolutely beautiful.

She said it was especially important to have met because of her hip. She was injured when she was younger but it was okay because she exercised all her life – she loved swimming… ate very good food – herring from the Baltic Sea, vegetables, rabbit, you name it… she kept a healthy mind, read many books, and really the walking stick was just a “security thing”.  I learned so much from that moment with Rosemary…

She asked me my name.

“Michael” I replied.

“Michael, thank you for this. It has been wonderful to speak with you. I want you to research that human magnetism because it is in your field. You will enjoy it. It is fascinating. He [Darwin] would like to go walk now. I can wash my gloves, don’t worry (Darwin sheds a lot) and we will see you again.”

I’m not sure if I believed in angels before, but this was one heck of a sign that I am on the right path. Don’t let anyone – blood, stranger, best friend – doesn’t matter. No one can throw you off of your path. Follow your dreams, be persistent. Be humble. Be you. Affirmations like these will be there, you might not see them at first. But they’re there.

Rosemary, thank you for being a part of my life. Whether I see you again some time soon or not, that moment will forever be etched in my memory.

I always seem to comprehend experience through my art and when I came home the following few phrases just flowed out of me. So here you are. This may explain things clearer to some. And I hope they don’t fall deaf on others ears. I am working at it. Harder than you’ll ever know. And just because it’s not a path you chose, with all due respect and as Rosemary suggested, you have to let go. Let Darwin lead.

Thanks for reading.

M

xo

———————————————

Rosemary

Father was sent to flee

Packed the family and hit the road

Before the Germans came around

Bundled up on wisdom and a pocketful of hope

 

Her steel blue eyes, simply capsized

By oceans of night and day

Captured as fairytales from what I know

And what my mother had to say

 

The keeper’s hand down the leash

Can turn him beast or friend

It’s the soul inside and the heart that gives

Life or death in the end

 

Every word from every lip

Has some certain sense of grace

It’s all up to how you arrange

The letters in every place

 

Since ’72, her heritage true

An old German, like half of me

She lit right up, eyes wide shut

When I told her I help to free

 

Others from themselves inside

Sounds silly but she agreed

No amount of human magnetism 

Could polarize the seas

 

The good, the bad, the sick and loved

Ich liebe dich, meine freund

Du bist ein Engel, der zu mir geschickt wird

To mend this sobering wound

Photo by Alina Sofia on Unsplash

The snow falls so peacefully. So close,

And lays a solid crunch under his boots.

That soft reminder of the few years past,

Of how easy it is to become naive of the power of closeness.

The snow doesn’t fall in perfect time, it goes unchallenged by most passers by

It knows no opposition, everyone loves its cold, persuasive, often self-loving charm

Nor does it lay with poise,

It’s natural beauty deceives even the shrewdest of negotiators

But as he crunches along, alone with his two best friends, himself and his pup

He’s got one thing for sure on this icey snake, this trickster of the winter

As he is not falling

The snow may be magnificent, powerful, alluring even…

And it can be…

But it’s falling. And when it falls. It makes contact with reality and is subject to two fates –

To lay as background to children,

Or to be trampled under foot as he and his dog continue on down the road.
📸

Get into the habit of tuning out those that don’t have a vested interest in the outcomes of your situations. Also don’t get sidetracked by those that aren’t on track themselves. You choose your route, your direction, and heck it can be the wrong one for awhile… but at least it’s a direction.

There’s always going to be someone there to knock you down. Someone to tell you you can’t do it. Someone there just to tango with the resistance that you’ve built up in your head. That’s all they are. The voices that are advocating the self-doubt, the fear of success and the countless other forms of bullshit excuses as to why you haven’t finished that symphony yet. They’re oftentimes called critics. On the street, they’re haters. It’s part of the game. You know you’re at a certain level when other start to care enough to actually take the time to knock you down. I consider it a victory. I’m doing something good enough that my enemies are taking action. I deal with it. I revel in it. So I’m gonna tell you to shut up and deal with it too. I’d rather have a bunch of haters screaming at me and telling me how bad I am than the alternative. I’m the one in the game. I’d much rather deal with all that shit than having to watch from the bleachers. Wouldn’t you?

There’s people out there, some great. Some the scum of the earth; there to coddle you in and use you for a point in time until you’re no longer good for them… Then they spit you out. Chewed and vulnerable. Pay no mind. Get up, dust yourself off and learn from it. Pick better friends. Leave these people in the past. You don’t need them and their draining qualities to shape your future. Rear view mirror that shit.

Ensure you’re taken care of before anything else. Life is not what you get out it, but what you give back. When you can manifest success through that principle, you’ve got it made. You’ll see all those other people that chewed you up and wrote you off still doing what they’re doing. Sure – making good money, but spending it, or living a lifestyle that revolves around the next big thing. It’s a black hole. There’s always going to be a next big thing. It’s those people, not you – that’ll get sucked in though. You know better. You’ve got this.

You have the foresight as a serial entrepreneur to build the walls of your empire with windows and doors. An escape plan so when you get to where or what you want, you don’t reflect and say “okay, now how do I get out of this…”

If you’re a writer, write every day. Singer? Sing every day. Eventually, your commitment, your professionalism and your persistence will pay off. You will get breaks along the way, but first you need to create that opportunity. Without the creation you can’t expect the results. Create opportunity for yourself.

Put a plan on paper. Follow through. If you need an accountability partner, email me here mike@armyofharmony.com

Remember,  you don’t need to be a rock star to start, but you have to start in order become a rock star. Stay sweet, folks!

Mike