This is one thing I've noticed about people (including me): people don't appreciate what's free. Honestly, I don't always appreciate what's been freely given to me. It's as if we have to work HARD for something in order to appreciate it. If we didn't bust our butts to get it, then it has no value. If somebody has given us a valuable gift (which by definition is FREE), we'd neglect it simply because, well, it's free.
One of the main reasons why I don't advertise my ZUMBA classes for FREE (even though it is essentially free), is because I don't want to attract the kind of people who don't appreciate what's free. So I advertise my classes as "donation only" so folks would know that they could give whatever they want, but still have the option to not give anything.
My Body Challenge program I do charge for, because doing that program for FREE would mean that nobody would take it seriously. Plus, I charge people penalties for not doing certain things -- nobody would take accountability seriously if there are no penalties involved.
You know, most things in life were given to us for free. All of you were given something very valuable for free, whether it's a job that you didn't have to apply for, a place to stay, a car, healthcare, gym membership, etc. Some of us treasure what's been freely given to us, while some of us neglect our gifts.
But you know what? There is something else that is free, but you never thought of it as free: an opportunity. Believe it or not, opportunities are FREE because you didn't work for them. You didn't invite them. In fact, you weren't even looking for them. Opportunities are like pests: they just invade your space without asking for permission. For example, back in college, I had a man from the Czech Republic invite me to work with his church in that nation. In his words, he said, "We need more black brethren." So, simply being black (which I never asked for when I was born) gave me an opportunity to be invited to his country. Now, I would have had to raise the funds to go there, but the invite was FREE simply because of my skin color (which was given to me for free).
Back in New York, I worked for Macy's. My mother already worked there per diem (that is, as needed), so she suggested that I apply there. The INVITE, which is the opportunity, was simply given me. I didn't ask about working there. But because of the invite (the opportunity), I applied there and was immediately given the job because I used her employee number as a referral. Because I wasn't working full-time anywhere else, I was able to work many hours at Macy's, especially during the holiday seasons. That job helped me pay for my EMS training, which lead me to getting EMS jobs.
Opportunities are FREE -- and as such, we tend to neglect them. Some opportunities I appreciate, while other opportunities I simply neglect. Why? Because I could get so caught up in what I want to do that I miss truly important opportunities that are presented to me.
I think about a parable in the Bible about the servants who were given a certain amount of money to invest. One was given the equivalent of $5,000, another the equivalent of $2,000, and another the equivalent of $1,000. Each man was given according to what they were able to handle. The first two servants invested the money and doubled it. Both of those servants were greatly rewarded for their efforts. But then we have the last servant who was only given $1,000 who buried the money. When the "master" asked the servant about how he invested the money, the servant returned the $1,000 to him, being afraid to invest the money. The master chastised them, calling him "wicked and lazy" (ouch!). That servant had the OPPORTUNITY to do something great and to get rewarded for it. Instead, he neglected that opportunity because he didn't want it (Matthew 25:14-30).
You know, the FREE opportunities that are presented to you could lead to great rewards -- but you are probably neglecting them because these opportunities are not what you wanted.
For instance, when I was a member of a gym, I was given the opportunity to become a Les Mills instructor. I wanted to teach the Les Mills BodyAttack fitness program, which is about as intense as my ZUMBA classes. But the group fitness manager said that the gym has no BodyAttack programs, so she highly recommended that I go for BodyPump. I didn't want to teach BodyPump, but her suggesting that I go for BodyPump was an opportunity that came with promise. If I got caught up in what I wanted to do, I would have missed other opportunities. But I took her suggestion, went for my BodyPump certification, and I became a very successful instructor in that program. I had a permanent gig at the gym teaching classes. If I was caught up in doing BodyAttack, well, I would have had to go to another gym and I may or may not have been hired. At least with my gym, I knew I could get a job right away by doing what she told me.
Think about this: would you rather work HARD for something that may not have any promise instead of working EASILY for something that does come with promise? Would you rather bust your behind for pure chance, or would you rather ease into something that's given to you? You probably want to be a college professor, but you have a great opportunity to be an elementary school teacher -- and you could get this job right away. Would you stick to your guns and neglect the elementary job, or would you be willing to put your dreams of college teaching on hold?
Whether it's good health, good vision, a job, a place to stay, or a chance to travel to another country, if the opportunity was given to you, think twice about neglecting it. No, not every opportunity is a good one. But if an opportunity presents itself, don't be quick to dismiss it. This opportunity just might be the answer that you're looking for, but it's dressed in different clothes.
If you've attended my ZUMBA classes and wondered how in the world do I have so much energy, well, I'll tell you my secret: I spend the entire day preparing for this class.
As hard as my ZUMBA class is, if I prep well, then that class won't feel like much of a work-out for me. Yes, there are times when I'm struggling in class, but overall, I'm able to do everything in class that I planned to do. There are no exercises in that class that are too hard for me to do, all because I spent the entire day prepping for the class.
Now, you think, "Wait a minute, your class is only 45 minutes long! Don't you think spending an entire day prepping for a 45-minute class is overkill?" And yes, it seems like overkill. When you start your day, you don't think much about my fitness class. You have other things to worry about. If you're truly committed, you MIGHT spend two hours prepping for class. But most of you probably spend no more than 15 to 30 minutes prepping for my class, and that time is probably spent on eating a light snack, drinking an energy beverage, or just simply getting your clothes ready for class.
For the entire day, I may eat no more than TWO (yes, TWO) things: a protein salad and oatmeal, and maybe I might have a banana or two. I take a multivitamin supplement and a chlorophyll supplement. I drink a juice that I made in my juicer that consists of beets, apples, red cabbage, and a couple of other veggies. Then I drink a cold brew coffee 3 hours before class. If I feel for some reason that my sugar is a bit low, I would have a quick sugary drink right before class. In addition, I do no other work outs before class. The goal is to get my body to direct as much energy to my cardiovascular system and my skeletal muscular system as possible, and when done right, my preparation would make my highly intense class seem ALMOST like a breeze.
Now again, you're wondering, "But your class is only 45 minutes! Why would you waste your entire day for just one 45-minute class?" Well, here's the answer: those 45 minutes may be the most important 45 minutes for YOU, or for someone else. I've been told that my classes are the highlights for the week for some people. My classes might be the only things some people look forward to each week, so I want those 45 minutes to be the BEST 45 minutes that such people could experience.
But you know what? Life works the same way. Preparation time is always significantly much longer than show time. Back in high school and college, I participated in theatre, and in college I was briefly a theatre major. A typical show would run no longer than 2 hours. But guess how long the prep times are for just ONE show? MONTHS! Plus, you spend almost EVERYDAY rehearsing for that show, that short, two-hour show, and you might have a small part to play. But no matter how small your part is, you're still spending almost everyday rehearsing with the rest of the cast.
But all that prep time would pay off during show time. The audience would get a great experience and nobody would ask for their money back due to a bad performance. Yes, preparation time was short, but the end results were well worth it.
Success in anything in life requires long preparation time. You might feel at times that you're spending way too long preparing for something, but really, the longer you spend on preparation, the better the impact would be during show time.
Whenever I'm asked to deliver a short talk in church, I would spend a week preparing for it. Every time I give a short talk, I would have people express how much my words meant to them. That short, 5-minute delivery may have had a life-long impact on one person. And when you think about it, one week of preparation doesn't compare to a life-time of positive changes.
Just recently, a regular ZUMBA participant experienced chronic foot pain that came on and off for years and years and years. No doctor was able to figured out what was wrong. Then when she came to me and described the pain and how it came on and off, I immediately thought that something she was eating triggered it, and that it could be wheat. So, on the next day, she reduced her wheat consumption. Then on the day after that, her foot pain went away. She only spent a few minutes talking with me about her problem, but it took me YEARS of study to come to my conclusion of food being a trigger for her foot issue (and it was just in ONE foot). That very short conversation we had would lead to a lifetime of relief from foot pain.
Show time is always short. Preparation is always long. But as long as you're prepping for the right thing, then your show performance would ALWAYS have a lasting impact on somebody.
My daughter has recently taken an interest in animation. She has an app on an iPad that allows her to draw pictures and animate them as if she was making a cartoon. She definitely has the potential in doing some serious work with this app, but her main problem is that she doesn't spend enough time on her work. So, when she would show me her end product, it would be good at first, but then as the show continues, things looked rushed and the overall story line (which I am BIG on) wouldn't make much sense. So, I'm teaching her that if you want to do good work, you need to spend TIME on it. All serious artists spend hours and hours (if not DAYS and WEEKS) on their art. She needs to significantly increase her prep time so that her show time would blow me away.
Before she showed me any of her art work, she would prep me by saying, "I worked really hard on this." But I would tell her that simply saying "I worked really hard on this" means nothing. I want to know how much time you spent on your work. If you spent only an hour doing your work and then you want to spend the rest of the day doing something else, then you didn't work hard on it at all. Yes, I'm tough on her and on my son, but only because I see potential in them, and the older they get, the more of a push they need to be the best at what they do.
If YOU want to be best at anything, then you need to prep, prep, prep, and prep some more. I just have a very lowly title of personal trainer. With that title, you don't expect me to know much about anything that doesn't deal with exercise. But if you've ever talked with me, you would know that I know quite a bit about the medical side of things. When I'm not teaching a fitness class, I'm studying my books. My goal is to be that go-to person in all things related to health. I even have a drug reference app on my phone so I could quickly look up any drug on the market and know almost anything I want to know about those drugs. Why do I, just a lowly personal trainer, need to know about drugs? Because I want to be that guy who knows everything that relates to health. Plus, if someone is having trouble losing weight, I could ask them what drugs they are taking and look it up on my phone app to see if slow weight loss is a side effect.
You could always perform without much (or any) preparation. But you could NEVER perform WELL without significant prep time. Meat cooked in a smoker tastes much better than meat cooked in a microwave. A tomato that ripens slowly tastes better than a tomato that has been forced to ripen as they do on commercial farms. A house built in a year is better than a house built in a day. When the prep time is there, the end product would leave a significant impact on your life.
Don't live your life rushed. Spend some quality time on something, because when you do, life would become richer for you.
"Condemned if you do, condemned if you don't" (in nicer words, of course), "It's Catch-22," "Isn't it ironic," and "No good deed goes unpunished" are all familiar phrases that express how life is full of risks. As the old saying goes, "There are only two things that are certain in life: death and taxes."
Living healthy comes with risks, just like living unhealthy comes with risks. Exercising could keep your body strong for a long time, but you could also get injured by it. Taking a multivitamin could promote good health, but it could also cause health issues. Drinking raw milk could take your allergies away, but there could be bacteria in it that could kill you. I think about the song Michael Jackson sang in "The Wiz" called, "You Can't Win." And with information being so abundant on the internet, you could find pros and cons in ANYTHING that you wish to do. Bottled water, once thought to be safer than tap water, is considered just as toxic by some sources. Drinking pure rain water, which you think would be the healthiest source of water, may be laden with chemicals in the air. The word "organic" doesn't necessarily mean that the food hasn't been sprayed. Man, you really can't win!
While pondering all of life's ironies, I realized that there is no way to go around risks. Life is full of risks, and if you want to live life, then you need to take risks. There is NOTHING that you do that is risk-free. Even if you bought an item from a television program, you may be able to get your money back if you're not satisfied with the item, but you'll still have to pay the cost of shipping and handling. So, did you truly get a refund? Once you punch in your credit card info, you've just tossed caution out the window.
In order to live life with boldness, you need to take risks. You need to accept that today's actions won't guarantee tomorrow's results. Going for your college degree won't guarantee you a job. Getting married to the person you thought was right for you won't guarantee that your spouse won't leave you. Raising children the "right way" won't guarantee that they won't fall by the wayside once they get older. Working hard on your job won't guarantee promotion. Driving the speed limit doesn't mean you won't get pulled over for something else. Eating right and exercising won't promise that you would improve your health, and in unique cases, doing these things might kill you.
There's a book in the Bible that's solely focused on life's ironies. The Book of Ecclesiastes was written by the third king of Israel, King Solomon, and in this book he writes about his observations of life. The one thing he noticed about life, the one thing that truly distressed him, was that everything seemed so random. You could work hard to give your children an inheritance, but your children could squander that inheritance. You could work hard to get a job promotion, but some newbie with no experience could get hired in your job and take the position you wanted. It's like a person who won the lottery, just to get cancer and die soon afterward. And it's like a person who eats right and exercises who drops dead on a treadmill.
All these ironies could be depressing. And you know what? It is what it is. Life comes with risks, and as long as you want to live it, then you need to take risks. Staying put because you're scared to do anything would be just as risky as going out to do something. The only difference is that by doing something, you're more likely to accomplish something. Doing nothing usually results in nothing happening.
I think about the song written by Martina McBride called "Do It Anyway." Some of the lyrics are as follows: "You can spend your whole life building something from nothing. One storm can come and blow it all away. Build it anyway. You can chase a dream that seems so out of reach, and you know that it might never come your way. Dream it anyway." I love songs with a powerful message...and those songs are usually gospel or country (this song is country). This song shows that even though life makes no promises, keep moving forward as if something good would come out of your efforts.
While reviewing the best multivitamins to take, I came to the conclusion that ALL multivitamins work (some better than others), and that ALL multivitamins come with risks. In fact, ALL supplements (multivitamin, oil tablets, herbal capsules) are good and ALL supplements come with risks. Putting anything in your mouth comes with no guarantees. So, why stress over what is considered "safe" and "unsafe?" Just take the supplement anyway. You're condemned if you do, and you're condemned if you don't. Just take the risk that would more likely be in your favor and hope for the best.
Going back to Ecclesiastes, as depressing as the book could seem, the author does offer practical hope. Regardless of any risks that you have to take, just be sure to enjoy whatever it is that you do. "Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life." (Ecclesiastes 5:18 NLT) In other words, do what brings you joy and don't work so hard to change your situation.
When you think about it, having joy is one of the most important things you could accomplish in this life. Even if nothing comes from your ventures, well, at least you enjoyed doing them. When we were children, we simply had JOY in whatever we did without expecting anything more. I know that while I LOVED writing and drawing when I was a kid, I didn't expect to make a living from these activities. I just enjoyed the activities for what they were. As we become adults, we get so focused on doing stuff that counts, on chasing careers and promotions, on getting everything that our neighbors have. We focus on the bad situations that we're in and work tirelessly to change our situations. According to King Solomon, life is so random that nothing you do comes with any promises, but the best thing you could do is to accept whatever life you have and to focus on the things you enjoy.
The novel that you write may make you money or it may not. All the hard work you put into that garden might be destroyed by a hurricane. All the exercises that you do may help you lose weight or it may not. Don't do ANYTHING expecting some risk-free guarantee. Nothing in life comes without risk. But if you enjoy the activity, just do it and hope that something good would come from it.
The most joyous people are those who don't care about what the future holds for them. They are just focused on TODAY and doing the things they enjoy. If you enjoy good health, take those vitamins. If you enjoy having a strong body, do those exercises. If you enjoy speaking in different languages, then continue learning new languages. Do whatever you want to do because you enjoy it, and don't avoid it because it comes with risk. Just do it anyway, as McBride suggests in her song.
The more you're willing to risk, the more joy you could have in this life. Put aside your fear of germs, getting killed, getting hurt, getting sick, and all that. I do promise this one thing to you: if you're always scared to do something new, you WILL be depressed your entire life. You could live life to the fullest and die by 50 years old, or live the rest of your life in a nursing home because you've gotten so sick that you can't do anything for yourself.
All information in this blog are for inspirational purposes only. Unless otherwise stated, all content is written and copyrighted by Aiyo A. Jones.