What I’m Watching: Arnold on Having a Purpose

YouTube is a great place to find motivational mashups that get you excited to change your life. But then you wake up the next morning and you hit the snooze button, and you hit it again and again, and then you’re back behind the 8-ball.

That said, sometimes motivation is necessary. It’s sort of like a drug: When used at the right time and in the proper dosages, it can be highly effective.

But to this particular video, I didn’t research it. I don’t know when Arnold gave the talk. I don’t know who the uploader (Mulligan Brothers) is. I didn’t even look at when the video was uploaded. Honestly, I didn’t have any expectations of this video, other than perhaps to hear Arnold mention his bodybuilding, acting and political careers.

I was right on those fronts. But I ended up watching the entire 12-minute mashup because Arnold threw in some gems.

Takeaway No. 1: You need a purpose. It’s the truth. If you don’t have one, you’ll most likely be living an unfulfilled and aimless existence.

Takeaway No. 2: Sleep faster. I nearly laughed out loud when Arnold said this. He was outlining what we typically do in a day and mentioned that we sleep for 6 hours. When some folks in the audience expressed that they need more than 6 hours, Arnold responded, “Well, sleep faster.” It’s kind of a slap in the face of all the sleep science out there, but I tend to agree: A driven person is not going to be sleeping in late every day.

Takeaway No. 3: Failure is staying down when adversity hits. Success is getting back up and pushing along. Plain and simple. Yuuuuuh!

FreeWrite: Just Write Better

Someone wise once told me that if you don’t like what people are saying about your writing, then write better.

Preach.

It’s plain and simple, and the principle can be applied to any endeavor. If you don’t like an outcome or a response, then do better. Excuses, self-pity, anger, all that is useless.

Appreciate the compliments as well as the criticism. But really appreciate the criticism. Because that can be the seed of greatness.

NBA Up-and-Comers: Orlando Magic

The Magic lost in a tough overtime battle to the Nuggets at home on Wednesday.

And while a loss is a loss, it’s apparent that the Magic are a competitive ballclub this season.

They played neck-and-neck with a very good Denver team (sans Gary Harris) on the second night of a back-to-back.

Having Terrence Ross healthy is making a big difference for their offense. Jonathan Isaac is still coming in to his own, but having him healthy is a boon defensively.

Nik Vucevic is playing out of his mind, and Aaron Gordon has clearly taken another step.

All due respect to DJ Augustin, but Orlando has arguably the worst point guard rotation in the League, and they’re still playing good basketball.

This is a team that could hover around .500 this season, and if a few things go their way, could be in the hunt to make the playoffs.

A postseason berth would be huge for this young team. While the prospect of adding another lottery pick next season sounds enticing, this long-suffering franchise needs to prioritize building a winning culture this season.

FreeWrite: Jump at the opportunity

A lot of the time, I want these free-writes to be about a topic that’s meaningful. Something that could potentially go on the blog. Something that’s well-organized and makes clear points.

But that’s not the goal of a free-write. It’s to get the brain thinking creatively.

Consider this scenario. You wake up at 5:35 a.m. Still groggy. Probably want to wake up at 7:35 or even 8:35 a.m. instead. After all, most people sleep in when they can, especially on a Sunday like today.

But you have this new mantra, “Break the chain.” Essentially, if you skip a day of moving your body (and free-writing), then you’ve “zeroed” yourself out.

You don’t have an end-goal in mind, you just know that it’s part of the process of reaching your full potential.

So you get to where you train every day, and you’re still 60 percent asleep. Can or should you expect your body to perform at its best right away? Of course not.

A free-write should not be peak writing performance. It’s a warm-up. It’s preparation for more writing. An inhibitor of writer’s block.

What I’ve honestly found about free-writing is that a topic generally comes to you by the first or second sentence. And that initial topic can inform the direction of the entire free-write session.

What I need to improve on is not going back and trying to improve my writing during the allotted time. The ideas should be able to freely flow on to the page.

If I’m going back and rewriting sentences then I’m limiting the amount of ideas that can flow through me. (I think of myself as a vessel for thoughts and ideas. I’m collecting them as they come.)

The goal, for now, is to utilize this free-writing technique all the time—including when I’m writing a feature story or perhaps a book down the line. Not only am I more satisfied with my output, but I also realize that all the self-doubt wasn’t necessary.

Writing should not be a struggle. Once you’ve learned how to type, and free-write every day, it should be done with ease. You won’t have to procrastinate until the very last minute.

You’ll want to jump at the opportunity before all the great ideas pass you by.

FreeWrite: Coffee chronicles

Coffee can be such a peculiar drink.

Just a single tablespoon (~6 grams) can drastically make a difference in the taste and flavor of the cup.

The grind size certainly matters, and I’m still experimenting with different brands and types of coffee to see what works best for me.

Using Lavazza Cafe Espresso in my drip coffee machine has a learning experience.

Five scoops (my typical dosage) with roughly 500 mL of water produced a over-extracted cup.

Four scoops with the same amount of water produced an under-extracted cup.

I’m trying not to turn this into a science experiment, but that’s what it has inadvertently become.

C’est la vie.

My digestion becomes quite sensitive to less-than-ideal extractions, so I keep working toward the correct balance.

The flavor doesn’t have to be mind-blowing. I care more about ease than doing my own pour-over. But it has to be something that agrees with my palate. For instance, I’m just not a fan of the Chock Full O Nuts brand.

Which brings me back to Lavazza Cafe Espresso. It’s an Italian brand with a lot of history. I like the flavor. But the grind is super fine.

I believe they sell medium grind for drip coffee makers, but I much prefer to buy coffee in a tin, not a bag (makes for easy scooping).

Coffee chronicles, to be continued!

FreeWrite: The end to writer’s block

Writer’s block is a real thing. I’ve experienced it in various degrees over the years.

By its common definition, a writer struggles to record anything. This could be for a variety reasons. For me, the vision of what I wanted wasn’t matching what was appearing on the page.

This was problematic in several ways. First, a writer should never start writing with a preconceived notion of the result. Sure, she can follow an outline, but the writer should capture words and ideas as they flow freely in thought.

Secondly, if a writer doesn’t practice this—writing without expectation or judgement—each day, then the task of writing becomes daunting.

As in any endeavor, dedicated time is required for sharpening and honing ones skills.

I’ve made it a goal to devote 15 minutes a day to freewrite. Most of the entries will appear here on the blog like this one. Some, I may deem unfit for public consumption.

Of course, that ties back to my first point: The writer is merely the vessel through which words and ideas are recorded.

The result may not be up to standard. But that’s no fault of the writer who dedicates herself daily to her craft.

With dedicated practice, a writer will be able to capture the muse at will—dutifully allowing the story to write itself.

FreeWrite: The achievement paradox

Bruce Lee continues to inspire many people with his philosophy and works. There’s no question that he lived an inspired life, aiming for high achievement while famously espousing “no effort.”

Lee is an example of what I clumsily call the “achievement paradox.” He embraced the seemingly contradictory path to achievement. For instance, passion and love for martial arts and film drew him to endure the grueling training and sacrifice needed to improve.

The “achievement paradox” is supported by clinical studies as well. The ability to delay gratification is a actually predictor of long-term achievement.

So by all means, set lofty goals like Bruce Lee. Something you’re passionate about. Something you love. Decide that you’ll do whatever it takes to achieve it.

But conversely, always remain patient. Understand your limits. Learn from your failures. Be flexible enough to change course at a moment’s notice. Be humble enough to admit you don’t know everything. Be willing to step back and go in reverse.

Come to understand the most important paradox of all: Whether or not you achieve the goal is irrelevant. The journey is actually the dream.