Worst than losing

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
– Winston Churchill

Today marks a week and a day where I have spent a ridiculous  amount of time contemplating how bad should I feel. With what you ask? Not competing in an event that I’ve dreamed about but knew I wasn’t going to personally: to nominally win, improve my understanding of an experience or practice, or to leverage my personal brand to create future opportunities. These might sound very ivory tower definitions (other than winning for the sake of winning) but there is more to the story.

This is a very Bobby Fisher method, I figured out once I was old enough to experience the life lesson: Either you win or you learn. For those not in the know, the calculated brilliance of the prodigy went beyond the board and also came from selecting which tournaments to put his prowess and prestige on the line for.
This week, I followed the same strategy, and without any fanfare or commotion withdrew from a small time Ninja Warrior feeder competition; an easier affair than expected. The only fallout was telling the few people expected to see me flail about the course. News that I was nursing a minor injury was apparently enough for my thick-skinned coworkers to agree competing shouldn’t be in the cards.

So that should be the end of the adventure. Yes, 8 weeks of training, often twice a day ended with no competition. But, if anything I’ve learned from life is things unceremoniously come to an abrupt end all the time. Let’s all thank George R.R. Martin for making a career of it, so we can be better adjusted. I do however still feel bad about withdrawing. Even with the knowledge that a full time rock climber obliterated the course, and I wasn’t even very obsessed with this competition.
What I may have an issue with is putting in the work, caring, and then having to rationalize away the invasive thoughts that: I did not train for the level of the competition. And, I was aware of that lack of preparation, the entire time. In my opinion an infinitely worse feeling than the sting of losing… Recently I wrote about the frustration I was having with my training process. Breaking it down, I am confident that the foundation work I started on wasn’t long enough nor did I have the schedule to adhere to the aggressive training schedule that I’m used to. Quickly recapping, the time commitment to either go to bed earlier or squeeze in work outs during lunch were on the table, but like many people that overpromise to themselves; I didn’t put enough systems in place to make it easy for me to go from

Wake up – morning run, 1pm (MWF) – yoga, 12pm (TTh) – Barbell complex, evening – plyometric conditioning.

It has been in these last few months I’ve really understood that when motivation is high it is an easy ask for your body to train hard for a few weeks. But, to straddle the idea of always innovating your training or keeping different ways to stay motivated is entirely a myth. Especially when I have to admit to myself this salaryman life at a desk is increasingly making me weaker and more susceptible to the most egregious offense than accepting a loss and that’s accepting mediocrity.

work of the day
Technical work –

5×4 Sumo Deadlift
Met – 4 rounds
10 Handstand Push Ups
20 Sumo Deadlif High Pulls
50m KB Farmers carry

Extra Credit –
500m Row
50 pistols

Senpai won’t notice you(draft)

Recently I had a chance listen to  an interview with Eric Thompson, you know the “How bad do you want it?” guy; if you don’t here’s a video, I’ll wait… (approx 5min)

Now the interview itself was a surreal reminder to the master procrastinater I considered myself I have a long way to go. The thesis of Mr. Thomas’s story can be distilled down to: When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breath, then you’ll be successful. It was strangely refreshing for me to hear; because it reminded me when engaged I can go for days focused on a project; letting the results (good or bad) fuel the venture. But, like many motivational videos/ interviews the feeling faded, and a few days later the thought of his story edged back into my mind. As several friends all hitting the New Year wall early and asked “How do you stay motivated?”
In the back of my mind I was trying to translate the story.
There was a young man, you know,
who wanted to make a lot of money
and so he went to this guru, right.
And he told the guru you know
I wanna be on the same level
you are and the guru said
if you wanna be on the same level I’m on,
I’ll met you tomorrow at the beach…
I didn’t get very far. For one: I don’t have the heart to or attention to disclose to them my recent snatch ‘PR’ and other wins have from wanting ‘it’ more than most people are comfortable admitting to themselves; two because motivation is a game that explaining the rules in their entirety is more disservice than gift. 

My belief on motivation in short is its personalized and comes after bouts of success, failure and burnout with a daunting explanation that borders on new agey. Yet, I fumbled through an explanation that was reminiscent of a Rocky monologue, and equally as elegant, but at least they got the picture: Life works in seasons and don’t curse your waning motivation, find a way to recharge and press on. 
A little disappointed that wasn’t Thomas’s true thesis, or even what I exactly believed myself. Only in the end it offered what they needed, and surprisingly an understanding why they sought me out for. “Thanks Senpai!” Hit my inbox again and again. 
The word I stopped using when I hung up my gloves and retired from fighting had be come a fully viral meme. Bookish nonathletes accepted the name and an epiphany struck me like the 3/4 upper cut I threw once upon a time. The term ‘Senpai’ and specifically the cry to be “noticed by senpai” has entered the internet Zeitgeist and has become a meme thanks social media.

Finally, I could hear vividly in that moment what I what my advice and thoughts to my younger friends, should be. Of course it came though as an impression of ET (Eric Thomas):
You tryin’ to get motivated!? You want get senpai to notice you? Why’re you even worryin’ ’bout that? Of course senpai isn’t going to stop and notice you; their too busy grinding! Finding their way in the world! Don’t wait around for senpai, find a sensei! Get yourself a teacher that can give you the foundation you need, work hard and an then senpai will pay attention to you.
I can only wish capture a fraction of the energy E.T. has when delivering a speech or just going off on some student. But, after that moment I understood the microcosm of Senpai/Kohai trope: I was an de facto Senpai. Also the irony doesn’t escape me that I began writing as a way to refine my thoughts and create my own voice online, much like my mentors before me… Yes I want senpai to one day notice me too. And, this is where I’d like to share with the uninitiated a quick definition to what I am going on about, so you won’t feel compelled to search google about this concept and potentially terrifying Reddit posts that boils down to we all seek little bit of validation, growth, and mentorship we all need without noticing it. “Senpai/Sempai” is a Japanese honorific term used when addressing someone with elevated social status schools, sports, clubs, etc… but not exactly an authority figure like a teacher or manager; “I hope Senpai will notice me” very plainly is an anime trope to express unrequited admiration.

I sincerely think there’s a reason to why so many people have made chasing after the approval of thought leaders a cultural obsession. Or conversely why studying  celebrity culture is so much more rampant. Not just because of the ubiquity of famous people streaming their lives. Likely because everyday people don’t recognize the mentors in their lives and accept life lessons from them, but know they need life lessons to someone who made it. And this is something that I feel needs to change. The mentor – apprentice paradigm is in my all too American DNA: from a life multiple high school sports, martial arts, learning public speaking, to sale I’ve always had someone that would even if they loathed me answer my tough questions. And, sometimes make me realize why I’m so hungry to learn and strive to make it to their level. Today I never noticed until now but you’re doing a good job my diligent kohais out there. 

The HBDYWI full speech here: