Sunday Summary 31 July 2022

Top Five Threads

  1. Doing Hard Things based on Steve’s Book
  2. Jason’s Book: Training Essentials – lots of tips (for all) in thread
  3. Steady State LT1 Treadmill Test (3.4mph @ 15%) – sample tips
  4. Mark asks, “Do you let yourself feel superb?”
  5. 8 year build showing gains for my son

Workouts & Working Out

High-Performance Habits

Doing Hard Things

Here’s my thread on Steve’s Book, Do Hard Things. It’s a great read.

Today, I want to share a filter for the “hard things” you might be considering.



The Tour de France just finished up.

Lance and I have different views on a few things but an area where we are in alignment is fatherhood.

You may remember hearing his son defend his lie was a trigger for him (Oprah interview).

My kids trigger me, too.

My kids have clear memories of my mistakes, and they talk about them!

Well before I had my kids, Lance shared an observation along these lines…

Winning the Tour is easy compared to being a good parent

Truth, as deep as you want to take it.


Much of what we define as difficult is a thin-desire for: (a) domination over another person, (b) respect from another person, or (c) deference from other people.

  • Domination
  • Respect
  • Deference

We see it everywhere.

Can you feel it in yourself?

I can.

These desires lead me astray!

My drive for achievement pushes me ever forward – more money, more victory, more conquest…

My drive led me to many difficulties, eventually to a divorce.

I made a choice to leave that former life behind, but the habit of striving came along.

Easier to replace a habit, than transcend it.


Lasting satisfaction, the kind that reduces desire, comes from overcoming ourselves and, ideally, building something with other people.

Perhaps a marriage, or a family, or a business, or a community.

I picked marriage.

In 2005, I made myself a promise, I’d put my marriage first.

My promise wasn’t tested until 2010 when we were living with a 2 yo and my wife was pregnant with our son.

Watching my wife suffer, while I chased external victories, wasn’t compatible with the promise.

I had a choice to make.


Fear & negative motivation are, generally, seen as bad things.

Not so in my life.

As an athlete, I enjoyed “showing” my capacity to do things others found too difficult.

Still do – it drives my writing output and consistency of focus.

As a husband, as a father… I realized I could combine (a) my attraction to difficulty with (b) my fear, of a second divorce.

It worked great.

The hardest thing I’ve ever done was become a good husband and father.


So, remember that your future self might not care about the external victories.

I mean, if you’ve haven’t been satisfied so far, then it’s probably not going to happen on your current path.

Many paths remain open

Choose Wisely

Using Transitional Items with Kids and Yourself

Pooh Bear (1 of 3) goes to the dentist.
Notice, she gave him a cup to HOLD during the demonstration.

Want to reduce anxiety?

Use a transitional item, that can be HELD.

  • Awake to Sleep (blanket, pillow, stuffy)
  • T2 to the Finish Line (running sticks)
  • House to School (mini-stuffy)
  • Home to Hotel (pillow, sleep stuff, favorite PJs)

Many parents wonder if they should “toughen the kid up” by taking away the transitional item.

HELL NO


Momma Cat with her kitten (1 of 3) goes to school, in her favorite PJs, wearing her favorite hat.
Whatever it takes!

As soon as a kid grew attached to a blanket, or stuffy, we’d purchase two more and stash them someplace safe.

If we ever forgot to do this… regret!

Our little ones aren’t little anymore. Their blankets/stuffies still give them comfort.


Scooter around town in your favorite Halloween costume, in December?
Let’s do it.

Not just kids!

  • Eye-shades
  • Travel pillow
  • Phone, water bottle or purse
  • “Lucky” socks

For situations where you are prone to anxiety, create a talisman.



I learned to doodle when the kids were young. When we came across a little one, who was struggling…

What’s your favorite animal, amigo?

Here ya’ go, matey!

Why yes, you CAN keep it…

Sometimes, we all we need is a distraction.


Kids get a bit wild when you arrive at a new location?

Have them bring enough stuff that they have to set up their room, or bed, upon arrival.

Buys you a bit of time to relax after the drive.


When we have a house guest, the reverse applies.
Burn off a little energy setting up to host a kid.

We can’t eliminate life’s challenges.

With a small effort to up-skill ourselves…

We can cut them in half.


Final tip: teach your kids to NEVER take things away from someone.

  • Exchange, or
  • Wait your turn

All this stuff works great on adults. You’ll see it used a lot in sales and high-stress situations.

Where To Spend More Part Three

13 years ago this month

This series came from a conversation with someone, who was taking >50 years core spending off the table.

Part One was True Wealth & Part Two was Spending / Consumption

Where to spend was the final part of the conversation and I didn’t connect as well.

So let’s try again with key concepts.


Money not spent will end up with people who didn’t earn it (and have unintended consequences)

…balances with…

Family spending can become a burden to adult children (high baseline consumption expectation)

So…

Where to spend?

I spend in areas that…

  • help create the person I want to share my life alongside
  • reduce the risk of divorce
  • reduce friction towards the man I want to be

Childcaredetail here

  • Reduce, and redirect, resentment raising young kids is tough! We’ve had to “fire” different childcare people… but the marriage endures. Better to “fire” the babysitter, than me!
  • Kind, athletic spouse – create space so your spouse can be the person you’d like to build a life alongside. Never let anyone sacrifice their life for the “benefit” of the family/marriage.
  • Stay well back from the edge – there were times when I disliked being a father. Create space so you don’t act on negative feelings. ALL feelings are temporary! My marriage, and my family, needs me to not-act on temporary feelings. It is never OK for me to blow my family up.

Create happy memories – I’ve spent the equivalent of a very nice SUV on trips with my wife. Bora Bora, Napali Coast, Paris, London… these are some of the happiest memories of her life.

Over long time horizons, these shared experiences have continued to pay dividends. Much more than I expected.

Lesson: my spouse is likely to connect, and find meaning, in ways I don’t fully understand.



Some nuts & bolts about removing friction

My body looks better when I eat salad => I spend $2,500 a year on prepared salads – I don’t care if I throw a bit of food out. I want it easily available, always.

Related, a luxury good is the ability to not price check the person doing the shopping. If quality & availability matter then provide an incentive for what you want to have happen.

I’m a better person when I train in the morning => At replacement value, there’s $28,000 worth of fitness equipment located where I live.

Weights and cardio… ZERO friction between me and what I need to do for health.

Many of my best friends, now, have kids => make it very easy for them to visit me, or visit them (with a kid).

Mantra: Spend money and time seeing good people

Who to vist? Simple filter…

  1. Do they make me laugh?
  2. Do they help me think better?
  3. Do they set an example for the type of man I want to be?

Some do all three – recruit them!

Remove as many micro-triggers as possible => Twice a year I write a large check to my wife. From that check all the small stuff comes out of our family. My job is to make sure that check gets funded. Her job is to take the pain of those micro-payments.

Do not micromanage my spouse! Agree the master budget and trust your partner to run their slice-of-the-pie. I get one number a month from my wife, net cash out. That’s all I need.

Drop my worst environment – when I was younger, it was commuting. I paid a premium to live close to work. These days… driving. The goal for my family is to get my driving down to ZERO.

Anyhow, know your worst environment and throw some money at it to reduce your exposure. This is a luxury good with a good payoff… your family gets a better version of you.

Beware… you might be hooked on the drama of suffering through for the “benefit of the family” – I’m calling BS on that. Just like your health, you need to own the outcome. Your family needs the best version of yourself. You need it too!

Human Capital over long time horizons. Supported by:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Connection
  • Mood management
  • Conflict reduction

None of them make me appear rich, all of them contribute towards True Wealth.

Connection


Paul’s tweet gave me a nudge to dig a little deeper.


My relationship with my kids started before they were born.

It started with how I approach my marriage:

The “no secrets” policy can be inconvenient but it has big benefits.

#1 => it makes it difficult for creeps to enter my life.

#2 => it’s an effective technique to lower stress and anxiety – especially when combined with daily movement in nature.

This openness applies in all areas – phone, email, opinions.

Sitting in a car with a kid – we all do it.

Sitting in a car with a kid, and a culture of openness… that’s different.


Sharing a meal with a 4 yo at Boulder’s Walnut Cafe – “Dad, sorry to break it to you… you need to try a little harder.”

So there is the culture my kids were born into – openness and a willingness to hear uncomfortable truths.

Then, before there was much to talk about… we went on short 1-on-1 trips. I started this around the time of our oldest’s 3rd birthday.

There wasn’t a master strategy. I simply wanted to give my wife some relief. Later, I wanted to offer her a chance to get to know our younger kids (our oldest has had a strong personality from the get go).

The trips worked. Not just for kids, by the way – we do Couples Retreats and, as a young man in London, train trips with the partners were GOLD.

I like to connect in my best environment. Do you know yours? Mine is mountain forests.


Hauling a 4 yo up Colorado’s Independence Pass – iPad, pillow, water bottle, lunch box, favorite blanket

Some other forums that work:

  • Walking together
  • Driving home in the dark, after exercise
  • Somewhere disconnected – we did a five-day trip without screens/phones
  • Looking at a campfire
  • Floating on water

Phone in airplane mode, turn off the music, expect nothing to happen.

The moments of connection are a tiny piece of the actual time I spend with my family.

I need to be there, and I need to be open to whatever happens.


Wanting to lead from a position of integrity is a motivator. I’ve been setting up the teen years since our oldest turned 8.

It’s helped me make positive changes with regard to my relationship with alcohol, social media, email, bedside phones and anger.

The phrase, “you will need to decide what sort of life you want to lead” is far more powerful when my kids don’t need me to explain my choices in words.

The process of positive change isn’t a whole lot of fun but coaching a winning team is deeply satisfying.

Everybody wants to play for a winning team!


Parenting June 2013

Problems vs Things


The moms who interact with our family (pediatricians, teachers, coaches and tutors) notice our kids have a different attitude towards work.

Recently, my wife was asked “How do you do it?”

She gave an excellent answer explaining it’s a mixture of leading by example, high standards and routine.

To gain useful insight for you, I took her answer and flipped it.

  • What’s different about my household?
  • How does my approach vary from what’s used by excellent parents in my community?

For 25 years, I have acted on this belief…

Only rarely will the biggest problem in my life coincide with what I need to be doing.

Problems, toxic relationships, habits of self-harm – intractable issues and people.

Let them go.

Stalkers, trolls and neurotics – I ghost without seeking to prove I am right, without seeking to justify my actions, without seeking to turn their community against them.

COVID and things I do not control – eliminate their ability to cause further harm.

This saves energy and frees my mind.


That extra energy…

That lack of distraction…

…is the difference between success and failure.


I have another quirk.

I enjoy inconveniencing myself to do what I think is right.

Now, the sensation inside of me is not enjoyment. In fact, I spend a lot of time feeling pissed off.

However, I’ve been around long enough to know there is a hidden payoff in every repeated action. Perhaps, I’m hooked on being true to myself. Frankly, I don’t know the cause. I do know it’s useful.

I believe both of the above are trainable. They’ve played a key part in my successes.

Let’s rephrase… if you’re prone to fixating on your problems then you need to let that stuff go. Letting go is what’s going to help you get past the distractions that prevent you from consistently moving your life forward.


I’ll end with an observation on 360-degree fatherhood. It’s how I choose friends, mentors and coaches.

Spend time sharing positive experiences with exemplars, while they sustain their good habits.

Me to my spouse. My spouse to me.

Me to my kids. My kids to me.

Let the best of others rub off on you.

Writings for an expecting father: Where the rubber meets the road


The second birthday of your first child is a key milestone.

Life’s about to get real.


I think a lot of guys would be more involved if they knew, in advance, what long-term female bitterness does to a marriage.

How much risk do you want to run?

What sort of role do you want to create for yourself?

  • Take a dominant kid away so your wife meets the other kids (this comes later).
  • Taking a toddler away on an overnight trip so your wife can put her adrenal system back together.
  • Lock in a Daddy Day once a week.
  • Lock in a time slot 5 days a week so your wife can exercise.

Smart, tactical choices will help create the woman you’d like to spend the rest of your life alongside.



What do you do best?

For me, it is 1-on-1 time in nature. Whatever your skill happens to be, do not expect it to be a whole lot of fun at the beginning.

The “win” happens when your wife uses the space you create for her own needs.

To create space for meeting our own needs, I was rarely supportive of “getting exhausted together”.


Also invert the situation and consider…

What does your partner like least? …but maybe that’s outside your skill level. In that case…

What can you subcontract? Teaching your kid(s) to be put to bed at an early age from someone other than their mother is one of the best things you can do for your marriage.

I experienced some resistance to outside help with our first kid. The resistance was _completely_ gone by the time our 3rd arrived.

Subcontracting is not a clear cut issue. I can easily subcontract cleaning but it’s one of the highest return things I do in my house. Unassailable authority when I assign chores or ask for help.

Do no expect your kids to thank you => remember you’re doing this for your marriage and to hedge your bets for tomorrow.

You can not do it all => What are you willing to give up to create space for this new initiative?

In the short term, as you adjust to your new reality, it will feel like you’ve given up everything => Because you have!

It’s a brand new life you’re creating.

Writings for an expecting father: The Start


Three things:

  • Learn to swaddle
  • Focus on your wife’s sleep
  • Babies cry

Nothing else matters until you’ve mastered these points.

Why?

Done well, these points bring relief and create space for the rest of your life.


Downstream effects

Where you’ll be sleeping => I spent a lot of time, alone, in the basement.

Sleep schedules => Baby, Mom, You => in order of priority.

Use of outside help => support the marriage by supporting your wife’s sleep and up-skilling everyone’s ability to swaddle and deal with the reality of the baby (they cry).


Pay attention to what works, and doesn’t.

Keep what works and build a schedule.

Writings for an expecting father: Why


How do you deal with the risk that your body lasts longer than your mind?

Serve the young.


A pregnant wife is the start of an outstanding opportunity to de-risk the back end of your life. The skills required to take advantage of this offering are likely to be very different from what you’ve been using so far.

You don’t need to be a father to take advantage of these posts – young spouse, young students, other people’s kids, grandkids, neighbors… the key element is consistent service to others.


Now, in my own case, it wasn’t a desire to “get” future help.

Rather I had a strong desire to “avoid”.

  • Avoid another divorce.
  • Avoid the pain of future regret.

Still not sure? Listen quietly while grandparents talk about their life decisions.

Adversity Reveals

This picture reminds me that leaning into the difficulties of fatherhood has one of the highest returns on investment, in my life.

Saturday’s entry in my Daily Stoic (link is to Amazon) was a reminder that adversity reveals, an excellent topic during these times.


I have a hunch, Colorado is in a lull in our virus process. I’m taking advantage of the lull to get outside.

This week, my kids are wrapping up an academic year’s worth of math.

Five weeks to learn, one week of review – on to the next year’s concepts.

Financial price was ~$500 per kid. The price in time was 4 classes a week (1-on-1, 30 minutes) and 4-6 homework sessions of 20-45 minutes each. The classes were led by a Middle School teacher. Her skill is how we made such rapid progress.

My role was making it happen and dealing with the occasional fallout when the kids struggled with the new concepts.

  • Financial investment – less than expected.
  • Time investment – less than expected.
  • Emotional Investment – more than expected.

It’s probably like that with a lot of things.

The true skill lies in pushing through the emotional hurdle of the status quo.


Bison Peak, Lost Creek Wilderness.

Our experience with Summer Math reminded me that harder is more meaningful. The kids have gotten a lot out of their struggles. In overcoming “math,” they know they have achieved something.

The challenges of these times have demanded more from all of us. Hopefully, you’ve seen the benefit of having to step up.

Difficult does not imply worse.


Right around 12,000 feet in the Rockies.

Governance matters.

Our local and state governments have done an excellent job at navigating through the early stages of this crisis. I disagree with a lot of what they’ve done! Part of what they’ve done well is manage all of the disagreeing voices.

The process of translating “the choices of government” to “an outcome in society” requires social trust and cohesion.

America has trust issues and many are making them worse. However, the lesson here isn’t for our country or your local jurisdiction. The lesson is for your family and your marriage.

There’s a balance between competence and cohesion. To lead, to govern, you need to be keeping both in mind and acting in a way that builds social cohesion.


Time and time again, I have been surprised by outcome.

We are 15 weeks into a process that will take far longer than I expect.

Adversity will continue to reveal.