5 min read

Universal Truth

Isn't he ridiculously-good looking?

I spent six, great hours, a few months ago, with 20 or so local musicians at a clinic that my good friend, and fellow coach, Michael Averill, put on in Vancouver.

20 aspiring and talented musicians looking for some inspiration on how they can hack the music scene in Vancouver, get more gigs, make better music that more people want to listen to, engage with their audience better on stage and be able to make a living playing music.

No small feat by the way…

I was eager to observe how others go about getting better at their craft.

As the only non-singer/songwriter of the bunch, and the only other ‘coach’ present, I think I had unique perspective on the clinic. I did not attend with the purpose many of the other attendees had, so I was able to connect the dots on a lot of the concepts Michael discussed, and associate them with other things going on in my life and coaching career.

In other words, I went for the experience.

The art of coaching and creating change is what really interests me these days, and Michael was bang on in his approach. He did an excellent job of empowering the group, feeding off their energy and utilizing the collective brain power in the room to establish great dialogue between the group. Needless to say, I learned a hell of a lot that day, for free, I might add.

I believe everyone discovered that day, that in order to get to the top of your craft, it is not necessarily about just having great songs, or great transitions, or great moments or knowing the right people, it’s about developing a complete package to offer the world.

The sum of all of those different skill-sets, habits and behaviors, on and off the stage, equates to finding success in music.

Therefore the common coaching cue is to identify what you’re not so great at, and work on it as a skill until it becomes a habit and that habit forms a new behavior.

For instance, I used to tell others I was shy, I could swear I was born shy, but I’m not. Through a lifetime of athletics, music, performing, being the youngest brother in a family of 4 and coaching, or working with groups, I feel less and less shy every day. I may not work a room like Bill Clinton just yet, but I’m working on it.

This basic principle applies to coaching, it applies to shyness, it applies to music and it applies to fitness.

This is the essence of a Universal Truth. A basic principle that can be applied to a multitude of disciplines or facets of life.

And consequently, for this blog, fitness truths…

Here are some lessons I took away from that day:

1) Don’t try to fit square pegs in round holes. Just because P90x is touted as the best exercise program, or you are told the Zone Diet is the best diet to try, doesn’t mean they are right for you. As Michael put it on this day, it’s really about finding your voice, so go on the YOU diet and training program. It may take a while, but it’s worth it, that’s the art of weight loss.

One of my favourite Bruce Lee Quotes, that I learned from fellow coach and trainer, Alwyn Cosgrove, is, “absorb what is useful, disregard that which is not, and add what is uniquely your own.

2) Connect and Relate. If you want to change or solve a problem, connect with other like-minded individuals who fit the criteria of where you want to be eventually. On this particular day, we had 20+ musicians with a wide variety of experience all willing to chip in and help other artists. Utilize the power of a positive group, strike up a conversation with the guy next to you in the squat rack, and strive to learn just one thing from that experience.

3) Look for Moments of Opportunity. There are tiny moments that present themselves periodically to really drive a nail home. When problems present themselves, it is easy to assume that you will not be able to perform, but when you change your viewpoint even slightly, it can be a big opportunity. Every single musician present at this workshop could recall a moment where their equipment failed (a big problem), and then described the solution as feeling magical. Is someone using your equipment at the gym? What can you do to deliver an equally magical moment?

4) Learn Improv’. This is a skill I really try to teach in regards to fitness, and generally the problem with prescribing a meal plan or exercise routine, is that people get locked into rigidity. It is easy to get off track then when you don’t have access to whatever the details of a plan state, mindset sabotage even. At the other end of the spectrum, it’s important not to try and wing any performance either.

Learn how to improv’ appropriately, because knowing how to improv’ doesn’t negate the need for planning, it’s just learning to utilize what I’ve come to call:

Flexible Planning

Have a plan, but learn to adapt as new information becomes available and opportunities present themselves.

5) Develop Self Awareness. Human Beings have an incredible gift that very few creatures on earth ever experience, that of self-awareness. Be aware of your surroundings, but also where your mindset is. Hear and feel the subtleties of your environment. It’s common for inexperienced musicians to get on stage, rush their set and ignore their audience, just like it’s common for you to get to the gym, ignore your warm-up, rush you workout, and hurt yourself in the process. Slow down, be mindful of yourself…

6) Fear is crippling — not motivating. Even musicians, who by definition perform in front of others, get scared. One person expressed a fear of making a mistakes, another a fear of success, and still another a fear of being judged. If you can remove the fear you have in your pursuits, you are limitless in your ability to achieve your desires. What are you fearful of, in your weight-loss pursuit right now?

7) Define Success. Success is not an end point, but it still needs a definition. One attendee, who just happened to be an accomplished actor and voice artist (and wonderful singer songwriter for that matter), pointed out that you will wake up numerous times and feel like you’ve made it. When he landing his first paid gig, it felt like he had made it. When he landed his first contract, he felt like he made it. Then later when he landed his first big gig, it felt like he made it.

Now he realizes that he was always successful, and he cannot define success through a moment in time, or through monetary value. Success is really a feeling. Just like I’m not sure you can define success in weight-loss as having lost 40 lbs — which is impressive by the way — but rather, how that weight loss has impacted your life. How does that accomplishment make you feel? That’s success…

I like the concept of Starting with Why, it’s how I define my success.

7) Success Never Happens Overnight. This is a prime example of everything the public rarely sees. In the case of musicians, there is a lot of daily hard work that goes into finding success, from networking with the right people, to connecting with other players of various instruments, to practicing your own instrument daily or song-writing daily.

What do you think about fit people right now? That is must be so easy for ‘thin people’ to stay thin? That’s your perception of success because you didn’t witness all the hard work done behind the scenes, you don’t know how that person eats, or sleeps, or drinks (or doesn’t for that matter), or what they do for a living (maybe it’s physically demanding), or how frequently they go to the gym, because you don’t see it.

It’s all those little things that will add up to finding success in your weight-loss pursuits though, I guarantee it.