It’s March 25th, how are your new years resolutions coming along? Chances are these once vitally important goals have fizzled away, a mere three months after the reality of life has set in.
After a wonderful conversation with a good friend this past weekend, I realized once again the positive impact that clearly defined goals bring to our lives. I shared that there were three goals I was working on and that I seemed to be failing at all three. Perhaps I’m spreading myself too thin. Perhaps I’m not recognizing the interconnectedness between the three. Or perhaps I have simply not been effective at setting goals that I can measure and are producing results.
Setting goals is a practice that I feel the millennial generation does not implement effectively. Far too often I find my students, friends and myself believing that as long as the calendar shows I am “busy,” I am being productive. This is typically far from the truth. Filling up your days with meaningless work may project the appearance that you are being productive, but spending your time on tasks that are not urgent and not important are counterproductive to making progress. The focus should be placed on the effectiveness of our progress, not on the efficiency of responsibilities that reinforce the status quo.
Goals provide direction in our lives. I was confronted with the question, “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and I hesitated with an answer. We should be visiting the answer to this question on a regular basis.
"One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.
There are strategies to ensure that the goals we are setting are effective. An easy and very common strategy is to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. These goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. When you write a goal, go through the S.M.A.R.T. criteria to see if it passes the test. The critical aspects of this process I reinforce with my students are being specific, measurable and creating a time domain to accomplish. Another strategy that is taught by the CrossFit, Inc. Level-1 Seminar Staff is to create goals that are observable, measurable and repeatable. I like to use CrossFit’s definition because of the emphasis on data collection. This data is imperative to tracking progress. Whenever we are creating goals, we should write them down on a piece of paper. I have found the act of actually putting pen to paper will help solidify our commitment to our goals. Additionally, they should be displayed in an area that you will encounter on a daily basis, hopefully multiple times a day. The bathroom mirror, the front door of your home, or next to your bed are all ideas for areas that you will see and therefore reinforce your actions every day.
Being specific in our goals will allow us to stick with them. If your goal is to “run more” because you feel that increasing the frequency of this exercise will increase your overall fitness, it will be hard for you to observe and measure if you have completed this goal. However, if your goal is to “run a 5k in under 25 minutes by June 20th,” you will know by June 21st if you have accomplished your goal or not. I like to think about short-term and long-term goals. What am I hoping to accomplish in 5 years? As well as, what do I want accomplish this week, month or year?
Another strategy that I use is visually identifying (and writing down) where my goals intersect, thus creating “micro-goals” to help me accomplish both. If I am setting goals in relation to losing weight or increasing my fitness ability and I am also interested in saving money or getting out of debt, there is a nice intersection of strategies that can be identified to help me work towards both goals. For example, I can choose to cook my meals at home. Cooking at home is typically better for you (helping me make healthier diet options) and it is typically less expensive than eating out (helping me save money in my food budget). Therefore, I could create a “micro-goal” of “eating dinner at home 5 nights a week.” This micro-goal is specific, attainable, has a time component (I will know at the end of the week if I accomplished this or not) and helps support my two broader goals of a healthier lifestyle and saving money.
Here are a few areas of our lives that we can consider setting goals in:
Think about these areas and pick one or two you would like to work on, use the tools that I have provided, and write down some goals! I referenced above that I am failing at the three goals I have been trying to accomplish simultaneously. My goal is by the end of the week to pick two of these goals to work on, reformat them to ensure they are effective and then get back on track.
What goals are you currently working towards?
What strategies have you put in place to help accomplish your goals?
How do you stay motivated with your long-term goals?
Where do you want to be in five years? Close your eyes and picture how you want your life to look. What do you need to do to get there?
Where do you want to be in one year?
If you have been doing CrossFit for any amount of time, odds are you have run into the question, “What is CrossFit?”
As you spew out a few popular movements that non-weightlifting and fitness freaks might understand, there is a remote possibility that what occurs in a CrossFit box was accurately depicted to your audience. Assuming that your answer was coherent enough, the next question is almost always, “Why do you do THAT?”
Some times I feel that the innate pressure that a CrossFit work out creates to compete with yourself and others, get that PR and to push your body to its limits in gym allows for the purpose behind the journey outside the gym to be lost.
Why is it exactly that we do this week in and week out? Why is 30 minutes of cardio and segmented body workouts not good enough anymore? Why do we pay money to do what can only be described as torture, at times, and then show up the next day for more?
In short, because it works.
The secret though, is it only works if you know what you are working towards. What is your purpose? What are your goals? Wanting to lose weight? Wanting to increase fitness? Wanting to be a better parent or partner?
Those are all valid questions and a place to start, but what does it all mean?
So you want to lose weight? Join the club. But what is it about losing weight that is desirable?
What do you want to do with your body and mind that you couldn’t do before?
This is the ultimate question that only you can answer for yourself. And it needs to be answered.
CrossFit can be the tool to help get you there, but you still have to decide the ultimate destination.
Over time, I obtained a vision of myself and my body that became disproportionate to reality. CrossFit has allowed me to change that reality, but more importantly, change my vision. The ceiling and what I know I am capable of has risen. I have higher expectations for what I can do and what I want to do.
I remember going on a hike last spring that I had hiked the year prior as well. My first go-a-round was a struggle. I breathed heavy and my self-consciousness took away from the joy of being in nature and surrounded by friends. After walking into the gym nine months prior and attempting the hike a second time, it was a completely different experience. I was aware of the beauty around me. I joked and laughed with the people I was with. I found different objects to press overhead. I was able to enjoy this amazing activity and be grateful for my ability to participate in it.
I eventually paused at one point and silently reflected, “This is why I CrossFit.”
As excited as I was to hit a 475 pound deadlift PR last week, applying what we do in the gym to improve our lives outside of the gym is pure euphoria.
CrossFit is a tool. A wonderful and powerful tool to get you to where you want to be. However, even powerful tools need conscious and aware operators to be effective. CrossFit can be the tool to help get you there, but you still have to decide the ultimate destination. While you’re on your way to your destination, don’t forget to stop and enjoy the process.
So, where are you going and why do you want to get there? Where is the byproduct of all your hard work in the gym going to take you? Ultimately, what do you want to do with your body that you couldn’t do before?
Yesterday evening at Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, Washington, I had the honor and privilege of attending a seminar presented by the founder of CrossFit. Known by most as simply “Coach,” Greg Glassman shared insights into how the CrossFit phenomenon was created and the importance in establishing a free enterprise system in which affiliates thrive.
This was the first time, aside from CrossFit Journal videos, that I have heard Glassman speak. Overall, I found his demeanor likeable and his perspective straightforward. He was not afraid to discuss the economics of the business and fielded questions that many folks have put on the table, such as issues around saturation and brand protection.
“an opportunity so rich that it became an obligation.” -Greg Glassman
Throughout his speech, there were several nuggets of insight that I found particularly interesting. Glassman discussed that business owners should focus on pursuing excellence as opposed to money. “Excellence is the beacon. Excellence is the light house,” Glassman said. Excellence is the only thing that is constant and should be the focus of all that we do. He said, “Markets move capital to excellence.” Glassman pointed out that by building a brand and culture that exudes excellence, the money will follow. This process cannot happen by focusing on money first. Focusing on excellence allows individuals to pursue a passion. Glassman said that his goal was to establish “the best training program every created.” This perspective allowed him to provide a value to his clients that other gyms and personal trainers did not make a priority. He focused on excellence without ever realizing he was becoming an entrepreneur and the wealth soon followed.
Glassman said that, “Business is presenting uniquely attractive opportunities.” I absolutely loved this definition. You typically read that business is about solving a problem or taking an existing idea and manufacturing it more efficiently or for less cost. What types of opportunities are businesses offering their clients? I work in Higher Education and even through that lens, this perspective is applicable. If you are not able to provide a unique and attractive product/service/experience to customers, you will not be in business for very long.
Glassman shared his experience in Africa, building schools, and how the CrossFit community banded together to raise money through the CrossFit for Hope work out. The work out generated nearly $1.7 million in donations. He discussed how much power there is in giving. A quote that truly stood out to me about this experience was that he felt it was “an opportunity so rich that it became an obligation.” Wow. A millionaire founder of an exponentially growing fitness program made it a point to discuss how giving is enriching to the point that he feels obligated to continue doing so. I find that to be a powerful perspective.
Towards the conclusion of his talk, before taking questions and answers, Glassman discussed his marketing philosophy. He said, “The best marketing is when you are so good that people won’t shut up about what you do.” There was laughter in the crowd as I am sure most people have heard the joke, “How do you know that someone does CrossFit? Because it’s all they talk about!” Glassman said he doesn’t recommend marketing. He recommends branding. Focus on your brand and clearly communicate to others the value that your company offers people. His goal was not focused on maximizing the rate of return on his investment, but to “maximize the healing.” He knew that if he focused on healing his clients by providing “the best training program ever” and optimizing their nutrition, the marketing would take care of itself.
Glassman set up a free enterprise model of affiliation, as opposed to franchising his brand. He has almost single-handedly created a platform in which thousands of individuals have become entrepreneurs. He expressed that the overall “pie” of revenue generated by the CrossFit brand and community (Affiliates, shoes, supplements, apparel…etc. All companies that are positioned as targeting the CrossFit population) is estimated at $1 billon. The CrossFit brand slice of that pie is roughly $50 million. Glassman conveyed that the overall goal is for the pie to continue growing, while his slice continues to shrink. Glassman has put his opportunity for obscene wealth on the backburner to empower those in the community.
I was not quite sure what to expect from this seminar. I decided to come in with an open mind and worst-case scenario was that I got to listen to the founder of this life-changing activity that we have come to know as CrossFit. I mean, it’s not every day that you get to listen to a millionaire speak for roughly $10 a ticket, right? I could not have been more appreciative for the opportunity to hear him speak. I felt rejuvenated and excited as we walked back to the car. These “business” lessons are extended beyond the boardroom and the bottom line. These words are how we should be living our lives.
Focus on excellence. Seek opportunities to give that are so enriching it becomes an obligation. Pursue your passion. Provide uniquely attractive opportunities. Pay attention to the process and not the end result. If you’re good at what you do, people will not shut up about you. Do not market, brand. Maximize healing.
And most importantly, as Glassman said, “Love the hell out of your clients.”
A special thank you to the Freedom Foundation for hosting this event.
I have not been able to put it down since I picked it up. Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Workweek that is. If you know anything about me, you’ll know that two aspects of my life I have wanted to work on for quite awhile are being a morning person and enjoy reading. I still struggle to roll out of bed in the morning, but I have found myself reading more and more. I heard a quote once, “the only difference between the person you are today and you are in five years from now are the books that you’ve read and the people you’ve met.”
How often in our daily lives do we focus our attention on what is urgent (e.g. phone ringing, constantly checking email) and spending time being efficient at non-important tasks?
Ferriss discusses the concept of effectiveness compared to efficiency. Ferriss states, “Effectiveness is doing things that get you closer to your goals. Efficiency is performing a given task (whether important or not) in the most economical manner possible” (2009, p. 69). This concept tied into what I implement from Stephen Covey and discerning what is important compared to what is urgent.
How often in our daily lives do we focus our attention on what is urgent (e.g. phone ringing, constantly checking email) and spending time being efficient at non-important tasks?
If my allergies are any indication, spring is in the air in the great Pacific Northwest. This is a wonderful time that is filled with extra hours of sunlight and a perfect opportunity to de-clutter our lives. I plan to spend some time in the next couple weeks analyzing how I spend my time and if I am being effective in all aspects of my life. Focusing attention on important tasks and being effective will make me a better professional, partner and friend.
What ways do you as an individual or as a department or company ensure that you are being effective? Do you organize your daily calendar to set yourself up to succeed?
Tim has some great resources available on his blog. I recommend checking it out.
Ferriss, T. (2009) The 4-Hour Workweek. New York, NY: Crown Publishers.
The 2013 CrossFit Open kicked off with the first WOD (Workout of the Day) announced on March 6th. For a lot of people, this is a big deal. For most people, they have no idea what this means.
The CrossFit Open is the first stage in the ultimate goal of crowning the "Fittest Man and Woman on Earth." This is done by allowing individuals from around the world the opportunity to register and complete a series of five work outs, announced every Wednesday night, for five weeks. Athletes register for $20 and have the opportunity to complete the work out at a CrossFit affiliated gym and submit their scores online. If folks do not live near an affiliate, they are able to simply video record themselves doing the work out and submit a video.
The world is broken down into regions. The top 30 men and top 30 women in each region from the five Open work outs are invited to compete in Regionals. The top 3 men and top 3 women from each region then are invited to compete at the CrossFit Games in California. You may have seen this on ESPN.
This will be my second year competing in the Open. Last year, with a full four weeks of CrossFit under my belt, I signed up not realizing what I was really signing up for. I have no intention making making it to the CrossFit Games or even Regionals, so why would I sign up?
I think that it is imperative for us to take a step back every once in awhile and test fitness. Every day training is typically for the purpose of building fitness. We need to measure our results. Expose weaknesses. Create new goals.
The first work out was a combination of two work outs from last year. The snatch (an Olympic Weightlifting movement) ladder last year comprised of 30 reps x 75 lbs, 30 reps x 135 lbs, 30 reps x 165 lbs and as many reps as possible at 210 lbs. I was not at a point last year where I was able to snatch 135 lbs. This year, after 70 burpees and 30 snatches at 75 lbs, I was able to snatch 135 for six reps before the time limit ran out. I would call that a success. It is gratifying doing something that a year ago your body was not able to do.
I am excited to see how I can make gains in other areas this year. The work outs are sure to be intense and test our physical capabilities. If I can show improvement or perhaps set a new PR, that is a victory in these games for me.
Last Friday I had the opportunity to facilitate one of my favorite days of the year, our 3rd annual Leadership is You, student leadership conference. As one of the founders and chair of the conference, it has been remarkable to see it grow over the past three years. I am always taken back by the amount of energy these 120 plus students have at the end of a six-hour day that covers a vast spectrum of leadership content.
As with any large event, frustrations and miscommunications occur that some times leave you wondering if the stress is worth the struggle. It all too often becomes about your own feelings and I have, at times, forgotten how important it is to take a step back and realize that this event is not about me. It is not about my frustration in navigating the political buoys and stroking staff egos. This event is about the students. This event is about promoting, for a relatively short period of time, the opportunity for students to push the boundary of their comfort zone.
This morning, I received the below message as an email forward from a student that has and continues to overcome obstacles on a daily basis simply to remain a college student.
“I went to the leadership conference today with L****. I really, really didn't have the time to go, but something inside me just pushed me to go. The day was incredible! Both L**** and I are speechless as to how inspiring the speakers were. The speakers were so uplifting and encouraging. I really, really needed that. I am so glad that you told me about it. I would highly recommend that conference to any student in the future. They had us really thinking deeply about our lives and where we are going and how to get there. I think I learned more form the two speakers that I saw in one day than I have learned in my whole life from anyone. Thank you so much for encouraging me to go. It really, really was life changing -- at a time when I really need it most.”
(Note: I am not the professional staff member that encouraged this student to attend the conference, but I am so glad that the staff member did.)
This is why I do what I do. As much as this student needed to be at our conference on Friday, I needed to receive this note. I needed the reminder that it is not about me. It is about her. That what I can do every day, no matter how large or small, has the ability to create an impact for that individual that I may not have the immediate perspective to recognize. It brings me joy knowing that an event that I could help facilitate will be an unforgettable moment for this student.
Actively seek perspective. What may seem insignificant to you could be a dramatic and impactful moment for that individual.
I am passionate and write about personal development, leadership, education and healthy lifestyles. I work in higher education and I am committed to being an outstanding mentor and professional in my field.
Copyright 2019 Noah Cheek. All rights Reserved.