31 Things I’ve Learned in 31 Years – Part II


In honor of my recently-passed 31st birthday I’ve come up with 31 things I’ve picked up over the past 31 years. I posted the first eleven here. On to the next ten!

12. I, and nobody else, are stagnant souls. You can always reinvent yourself and change yourself if you want to badly enough. I’ve been fat. I’ve been weak. I’ve been afraid to go after the things I wanted. I decided I didn’t want to be any of those things anymore, and I put in the work necessary to change myself.

We go through minor changes and reinventions all the time, but twice in my life I’ve made major changes to who I am and what I was doing. Not to say that some of my basic root character hasn’t and doesn’t remain, it certainly does, but both times I sat down and realized that I wasn’t happy with my life and something needed to change. Given that I’ve yet to actually meet a fairy godmother swinging a wand around, I also realized that what needed to change was me and it was going to take some work.

The point I’m trying to make is that while yes, changing and reinventing one’s self is hard it is possible. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself into some sort of mediocre or shameful existence just because you’ve made some mistakes in the past, someone told you that you weren’t good enough, or you’re wallowing in self-misery while proclaiming that you’re “sacrificing” to help someone else.

13. Be you. Stop trying to hold other people’s standards, hide your personality, or be someone else. Whether it’s in your business, your writing, or in life, it’s important to throw your real self out there. People will respond better to it. You’ll attract those who are congruent with your life while repelling those who aren’t.

The fastest way I can think of (other than snorting designer drugs marketed as “bath salts”) to set yourself up for failure and misery is to try to be and live up to who other people want you to be. You’ll be pushed and pulled in all directions like a little girl in a nightmare mosh pit: Scared, confused, and bruised, all the while being too short to see the band.

14. Read and read a lot. There’s a whole world of knowledge out there waiting for you. There’s a book out there for pretty much every skill you could want to learn and about every chunk of history and philosophy you can imagine. While reading isn’t the end of education, it’s cheap, portable, and you can go at your own pace. Several of my mentors have said some variation of the quote “when I meet someone, I can tell how successful that person is or is going to be not based on the size of their TV, but by the size of their library”. I can’t say that I disagree with them.

On a related note: Don’t be that guy who buys books and puts them up in plain view in order to impress visitors but has never actually read them. Tool.

15. Warm up and perform your mobility work. This is one of those that I can’t seem to get through my own block head, but I have learned that it’s absolutely true. Unless you’re the very rare exception, you need to be performing more warm-up and mobility work around your training. I’m religious in forcing my clients to do it, and as a result I have very athletic, largely non-injured clients.

I, personally, have the tendency to walk in, bullshit with someone I know in the gym, do some arm swings and a hip flexor stretch (which honestly is far more of a warm-up than I used to do), and get after it while screaming “WEEESSSTSIIIIDE!” in my head (drop a note if you get that reference). Unlike my clients, I tend to be stiff as a board and am always jacked up.

Now that I think of it, maybe I haven’t actually learned this one yet as I don’t do enough of it, but I’m pretty sure I need to be doing more warming up and mobility work… and I know you need to.

16. Olympic lifting jokes are ALWAYS funny. Seriously. Here’s some of my personal favorites off the top of my head:

“Well, she doesn’t Clean for shit, but her Snatch is FANTASTIC, so I keep her around.”

“Hey, I just did a Jerk of 225!”
“It’s been my experience that a lot of jerks weigh 225.”

“The more you hump the bar, the better your Snatch gets.”

And the classic: “Nobody likes a sloppy Snatch. Nobody.”

Heh. Yep, still funny.

17. Music is my life. I’m a music guy (although I can’t play anything for shit). I have a hard time getting into poetry when reading it. Poetry slams give me hives (dirty hippies and beatniks). But poetry performed as music (as all lyrical music is)? I can’t live without it. People are always surprised by the breadth of my musical taste and collection but I’m a firm believer in the idea that if you say you hate everything about an entire genre of music then you haven’t explored it enough.

18. You’re never going to know how you or someone else will react until you’re tested. My whole life I thought I handled things a certain way. Until I failed. You see, for as long as I could remember I’d been good at most everything I actually wanted to do. A few years ago I found myself in the situation where I was doing what I wanted to do but was very unsuccessful. I’d always thought that I’d either a) simply succeed, or b) just overcome adversity. It didn’t work like that. I crumbled into c) depression.

This combined with some other situations to put a lot of strain on my significant other. I’d thought she was willing to ride the ups and downs towards success, but that turned out to be not the case. She was extremely supportive for a while but when it became clear that things weren’t working out like she expected she quickly developed a mean streak that I’d not seen before. Rather than just leave the situation it seemed that she sought to punish me.

Needless to say, this didn’t help things. So now you’ve got two miserable people more focused on tearing each other apart than fixing their problems. We were like two crabs in a pot of heating water. Rather than try to figure out a way that we could push the lid off together, we became more focused on tearing each other apart in response to the pain of the situation.

After that experience I’ve been able to embrace failure and I do react to adversity with the overcoming attitude that I thought I’d always had. She, I’ve been told, is a totally different person and much more pleasant to be around. Hopefully that’s the case. The point I’m trying to make is that when things are going well it’s very easy to react to everything in the right way. Don’t assume that because someone, or yourself, does the right things when the going is good that they’re going to when things get rough.

19. Listen at least twice as much as you talk. You were born with two ears and one mouth and they should be used in that order. Seek to learn as much as you can from everyone around you, which is awful hard to do when you can’t keep your trap shut.

20. If you do happen to be considered an expert on something, don’t get a big head and think that you’re an expert on everything.

Everyone has something that they’re pretty good at. You may be considered an expert in your field of study or interest and have many people around you employing the “Two Ears/One Mouth” technique when you talk. That’s awesome. Congratulations on your knowledge and experience and hopefully you’re using it to help people.

However, just because you know a lot about strength and conditioning, the Android operating system, or polishing walruses doesn’t mean that you know a damned thing about fixing the brakes on a car, United States/Chinese politics, or chemotherapy. So if you aren’t an expert in those fields then it’s your turn to shut your mouth and open your ears.

Another thing I see that really chaps my ass is the “Guru Phenomenon” which is pretty common in my field (strength and conditioning) and especially robust thanks to the power of the internet. Yes, I do realize that I’m writing this to you on the internet and spouting wisdom. Anyway, potential hypocrisy aside, I’m here to tell you that most of the gurus out there, in whatever field they’re in, are full of shit. Or they may be an expert on one particular segment of a field, but because they’ve reached some sort of worshiped status by their followers they feel the need to be considered infallible in all that they do.

Here’s some great ways to spot a fake guru (Bonus Tips! I’m so good to you people):

-Always speaking with a voice of authority, about ALL subjects.

-Will not tolerate opposing viewpoints and quickly resorting to personal attacks and removal of the offending individual.

-Will not admit mistakes or allow their own viewpoint to shift in response to superior evidence.

When you see these traits cropping up, it’s time to start looking for the skeletons in the closet and the chinks in the armor. That and reach down to get one hand securely on your wallet.

A beautiful thing.

21. Steak is best served rare to the point of almost raw. Chicken, not so much. There’s nothing like a good, well-seasoned, rare steak to put me in the mood. There’s nothing like a pink, slimy chicken to send me running for the can.

As a side note: Raw foodists. Many them are vegans (and likely dirty hippies), but some aren’t. I get most of it as far as eating raw veggies, etc. I don’t know as though I’ll buy in, but whatever. However, there’s a sub-group of them that are decidedly omnivorous/carnivorous and will rock out the sashimi (good), beef (steak tartar, not great, but not bad), as well as pork and chicken raw. This may be a bias point for me, but these people creep me out. Consider that a bonus thing you’ve learned about me today.

Not quite done.

All right, there’s another ten (and a half) things I’ve picked up in my 31 years. I’ll be back to round out the list!

Again, think I’m full of shit? Think I’m right on? Let me know below!

For Part III, Click Here!

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Comments on 31 Things I’ve Learned in 31 Years – Part II Leave a Comment

May 24, 2011

Angie Plummer @ 1:17 am #

Nice blog post!!!! Very informative, as usual!!!!!

June 9, 2011

Isaac @ 12:28 am #

I do what I can, Ang!


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