Two Life Lessons Learned from Gladiators

I’m always searching for ways to improve my workouts and get in better shape. I just didn’t realize that search would end up teaching me two critical life lessons.

Here’s what happened…

On my last trip to Texas I asked my 50+ year old brother-in-law how he stays in shape because he looks like he’s 35 years old. He told me he runs 2 miles to an outdoor workout station and does three sets of pull-ups, pushups and dips. Then he runs 2 miles back home.

I like that workout approach and figured I’d try it for myself so when I got back to NYC I did just that.

I ran 2 miles then went to an outdoor workout station along the East River to start on my upper body exercises. When I arrived I instantly noticed something about the guys in the area. I couldn’t quite place it but then I eventually realized they could all be American Gladiators or on the cover of Men’s Fitness. They were different ages, ethnicity and heights but all were absolutely ripped. Pretty sure their ears even had a 12-pack.

That gave me a eureka moment…. Clearly I am in the right place if I want to look like these guys do. By being around them the standards for my body physique immediately increased. I’ll start with my brother-in-law’s routine then slowly add in stuff I see these Gladiators doing. Then, voila, I’ll be a Gladiator to.

So the first lesson?

Find those who are already where you want to be then copy what they do

  • The fastest way to results is to borrow a success roadmap from someone who is already where you want to be

But that’s easier said than done as I would soon find out. I consider myself an athletic guy but it became apparent very quickly that it would take some time to transform into Joe the Gladiator.

Why?

Because I suck at pull-ups. By suck I mean I did…like four before I started pretending that my hands were too sweaty to keep going. I’d wipe my hands on my shirt and just shake my head “damn you sweaty hands” meanwhile my biceps ache and the Gladiators roamed all around me.

And that’s just my first set! I had two more to go. And, at this point, I could either do more pushups (much easier for me) or force myself to get back up there and embarrass  myself by doing one or, perhaps, two pull-ups per set.

It took some Eminem to motivate me but I eventually got up there and blocked out everything else. I did a whopping 2 pull-ups on my second set and 2 more on my third set. Then, I got the hell out of there.

Second lesson?

Force yourself to do the uncomfortable (even if it’s initially embarrassing)

  • Trains your body and mind to get used to that activity so you can get better

I know I’ll never get better with pull-ups if I don’t force myself though the beginner challenges. It sucks, really sucks, feeling so inadequate when those around me are accomplishing much more but I know that if I keep their company and push myself past my comfort level I will soon become Joe the Gladiator.

 

 

Why Don’t We Follow-Up?

I have a problem. I am offered a solution. Do I take it? Yes. Well, usually.

But, why do some people habitually resist a solution when it’s presented to them?

First, let’s look at an example.

Last Friday I presented at the New York City Public Library. Topic was How to Be a Good Networker.  It’s the second time I’ve presented there and I LOVE doing it because I
can tell the info I’m giving them is useful. I know this because of the engagement during the class plus the reviews they fill out afterwards.

But, an interesting thing happened to me before the class started this time. I always try to engage the attendees before I begin to 1) warm me up and 2) build a rapport with them. Well, this time my pre-presentation engagement attempt backfired!

Here’s how it went down with a lady in the audience:

Me: Glad you all made it today considering the bad weather!

She: Oh yes, I’m glad you made it too. Was concerned it would be canceled.

Me: Ah, I’m only a 10 minute cab ride away.

She: DON’T SAY YOU TAKE CABS TO A ROOM FULL OF UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE.

Yikes. Now let’s pause here. My attempt to build rapport ain’t going well. But, screw that because my main goal is to serve the audience members and help them reach their goals. So, the #1 thing is to move past the dis and try and help her get employment.

Me: Oh, what industry are you in?

She: I’m in payroll management.

Me: Oh, wow, my brother is a payroll manager for Greyhound.

She: Really?

Me: Yep, and I’d be happy to introduce you. He lives in Texas but might have some contacts in NYC that could help you out.

She: Ok

Me: Cool, follow up with me after the class and I’ll be glad to make the introduction.

Boom. Problem? Unemployed payroll manager. Solution? Introduce her to my brother in payroll management to help her get a job.

Done and done. Right?

WRONG. She. Never. Followed. Up.

Now, why, why, WHY would she not follow up?

And, let’s take a bigger step back from the example. I actually offered to help and jump on a call with everyone in the audience. I’d say 30% of them got my card and of that only 3% followed up with an email afterwards. Nobody actually asked for help. And during my presentation I made it a point to say it’s important to follow up within 48 hours and to ask for help from others.

Now they either don’t believe I can help them out or they do think I can help and for whatever reason they did not follow up.

For simplicity purposes let’s assume they think I can help them. So, the question is, why didn’t they follow up?

This is an age-old question. And, quite frankly, I’m guilty of it too. I’ve seen things that could be the solution to my problems and I don’t act on it. I don’t do it for the following reasons:

  • Too busy doing “other stuff”
  • Don’t see finding a solution to my problem as a priority
  • Lazy

The common theme from all those 3 things is it simply isn’t important enough for me to act on. Because if something is super important to you, you follow up, right?

So the next time I teach a class I’m going to focus on ways to help people determine if following up is important to them.

Here are four questions to ask ourselves:

1. What good things could happen if I follow up?

2. What bad things could happen if I follow up?

3. Why do I want a solution to my problem?

4. Where will my life be in 6 months, 1 year and 5 years from now if I don’t find a solution?

After answering those you will know if it’s a priority or not. If it is a priority you will now have enough associated pain/pleasure to take action.