Is it more important to make a lot of money or to learn a lot of skills? Should you spend your lifetime building wealth or building a library of books?
Recently, I've been studying the whole concept of money. It's interesting to see how currency used to work in ancient times and how they work right now, and the one thing I've realized is that currency of today has absolutely NO value in itself. Yes, the piece of green paper that you get from the ATM is no different from monopoly money: you can't eat it, you can't treat diseases with it, and you can't melt it into something else.
Yet, we slave and slave and slave on our jobs to build up a nest of this currency.
The only reason our green pieces of paper has any meaning at all is because other countries would accept it as a means of payment. We in the United States has what's called "reserve currency status," meaning that we could use it to do business with other countries. But if other countries decide not to accept our currency anymore, then all the goodies we get from these countries would cease. Eventually, our currency would become meaningless. All your retirement savings, pensions, social security, stock investments, and any cash inheritance that you're expecting would be absolutely useless. Some financial experts are calling everybody to transfer their monies into "hard assets" such as gold and silver, two materials that would always be accepted anywhere in the world.
Sounds scary, right? You've put in 30 or more years to build up a savings to live off of, but all those savings could be flushed down the toilet in an instant because the U.S. dollar has no more value. Yes, this means that the billionaires could no longer spend their money, because nobody would accept it. Spending the U.S. dollar would be like using carnival ride tickets to pay bills.
And yes, this means that all the banks would simply be nothing more than museums.
So, should we still spend our lives building up wealth when it could all be devalued at any moment? Or should we spend time learning skills that could take us anywhere in the world?
One time, I bartered my skills with a woman in exchange for her time share! She was looking for a personal trainer, but didn't want to pay the cost for one. Me, I wasn't looking for a time share, but I saw this as an opportunity to give my mother a gift for all the ways she helped me and family. Both my assets and the client's assets were "hard assets" -- that is, they had value in themselves. I could help anybody lose weight, whether or not I get paid for it. The client's time share has given my mother a wonderful experience.
Back in ancient times, there was no "reserve currency." If you wanted something, you needed to trade in something of equal or greater value. What you traded with had to be of value in itself. Gold, silver, copper, precious stones, clothing, spices, salt, etc., were all of value in themselves. A piece of paper being used for currency would have been ridiculous, because you can't wear it, eat it, make a weapon out of it, treat sickness with it, and you can't sacrifice it in any temples. Depending solely on reserve currency in itself would have been seen as risky, if not downright foolish.
Back in ancient times, there was more importance placed on skills, knowledge, on what you had to offer. If you had nothing to offer, then you would just become a beggar on the street. Today, if all you have is money but no skills, then should that money become worthless, you, too, would just be a beggar on the street.
This is why it's important to focus on SKILLS, not MONEY. Focus on building up your LIBRARY, not your IRA. What you could DO would always be more valuable than what you could PAY.
After reading this far, you need to ask yourself, "How valuable am I? Do I have anything to offer than simply money?" Think about it this way: if you were to lose your job, what skills could you offer that the average person would most likely pay for? Whatever that skill is, then that skill would most likely be valuable in other places in the world.
Back in ancient times, learning two, three, or more languages was incredibly valuable because it allowed you to do business with people of other countries. Also, should you need to flee from your country because of famine, persecution, or political turmoil, then you could easily do so and start making a living right away.
Money is only valuable until it loses value. But skills would always be valuable anywhere you go. Somewhere in the world is a person who needs what you have to offer -- if you have anything to offer. You could live in a house for free and eat all the food that you want if you have skills.
Some of us may look down on them, but maids are highly valuable people. They know how to clean and cook, and some of them may know how to be nannies. Some maids live in places for FREE in exchange for their skills. Just think: they could watch cable, take hot showers, sleep in comfortable beds, and have access to food all in exchange for their housekeeping skills.
What do you have to offer and where could it take you? Money could only take you so far, but when money isn't enough, what would you have left to offer the world?
Don't become so dependent on money that you neglect to learn something useful. It may never happen, but it's always possible for our currency to become "null and void" so that all the numbers in our bank accounts would just be that: numbers. There's even a verse in the Bible that says, "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain" (1st Timothy 6:17). Money is fleeting, here today and gone tomorrow. Everything around us becomes more and more expensive, and it could keep getting this way until money "out-prices" itself. But the skills that you learn would always have meaning, and they would always improve your life. Focus on your hands, not on your debit card.
My wife used to take a supplement from a network marketing company that improved her digestion. This supplement supposedly helped you absorb nutrients more efficiently. Having Crohn's disease, there are certain foods that she can't eat, particularly high-fiber foods like fruits and veggies. But after taking this supplement, she was able to eat fruits and veggies again! After reading and researching the ingredients of this supplement, I was impressed by it!
But then...well...the company decided to change the supplement's formula, trying to make it "better." Well, they took out the ingredients that made a difference with my wife and turned the supplement into more of an antioxidant supplement instead of an absorption supplement. She felt the difference! The supplement that changed her life no longer did the trick.
You've probably been in a situation where you've said to yourself, "Things were so much better when..." Maybe you're talking about your job, your relationship, your city, your country, your church, a particular product, you name it. Things were better in the past because they were good just as they were. But the need to "fix what ain't broke" made a good thing into a worse thing.
Some time ago, a dentist told my wife and I that my kids needed braces, and that my daughter needed a palatable expander, which makes your mouth wider. My stance is that if her teeth are working and she's not having any issues with talking or chewing, then don't fix what's not broken. Otherwise, my kids could be those occasional patients whose teeth got jacked up because of orthodontic work.
I think about Michael Jackson and all the plastic surgery he went through. He was a very handsome guy when he was a part of the Jackson 5. But with all the surgery, he looked like a cartoon! He tried to fix what wasn't broken.
I think about children who get prematurely diagnosed with some condition when they were really being normal.
I think about people who go to the doctor and get prescribed medication as a "precaution" when there was really no need for the medication.
I think about all the lives that were ruined because they were victims of fixing what wasn't broken.
If you already have a good thing going, there is no need to change it. There is no need to make it better, faster, stronger, or prettier. For the most part, the best thing you need to do is to maintain what you've got going on.
So many times, we get caught up in making improvements. While I'm all for making improvements, I also don't believe in fixing something that never had problems. Yes, if there is an issue, fix it. But if the issue really isn't an issue, then there is no need to do anything more than just maintain it.
One thing I've learned from working on my cars or fixing stuff around the house is that you should never replace anything until it breaks. The newer stuff may not be as good as the original stuff! Back in the day, stuff was made to last forever. If it still worked, you better keep it working for as long as possible, because products are being built faster and cheaper these days -- which means that they break quicker.
You may be thinking that you need some fixing up, but you probably don't. Sometimes, you just need a polishing! Think about original, hardwood floors. If they get some scratches in them, would you replace the entire floor? You better not! No, instead you would polish the floors, because there is nothing wrong with them. Just like you wouldn't throw away a dirty car, or burn down a house that needs power-washing, or give your kids up for adoption because they stink, you don't need to go through a complete renovation because of a few scratches.
When I think about my fitness classes, I could get caught up in how many improvements I need to make. But then I have to look at who attends my classes, and most of my attendants are regulars. Apparently, I don't need to fix anything if people, especially my regulars, keep coming back. But what would happen if one or two people gave me their opinions and I took those opinions to heart and start making all sorts of changes to my classes? Either I'll lose all my regulars and attract people that I DON'T want in my classes, or I would just lose my classes completely. Those few who have a problem with how I teach my classes won't ever be pleased unless I do things their way, and I can't operate like that. So, while there could always be something different I could do, the most important thing that I can do is to maintain whatever good that I have going on and just occasionally polish up the floors.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If there is no problem, don't create a problem. If nobody is complaining, don't give them a reason to complain. If your kids love to read, then maintain that love. Don't start introducing new techniques that would make them hate reading. If it works, keep doing it until it doesn't work anymore. Make changes only if it's absolutely needed, not because you just want to do something new. Otherwise, somewhere in the future you're going to look back in the past and say, "Man, I wish things were like they used to be."
One of the most powerful forces in this world is "truth." This word comes from an old Germanic word that indicates "to be firm," or "to be steadfast," or "to be solid."
In our modern, Westernized culture, we've diluted this word to mean whatever we want it to mean. Or in other words, "What is true for you is not true for me." We make our own little "truths," going around saying things such as "Stay true to yourself" and "You make your own truth."
Even in ancient times, it looked like people had problems in defining the word "truth." There's an incident in the Bible where Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea who served during Emperor Tiberius from around 26 to 36 A.D., and Pilate asked Jesus if he was supposed to be the "king of the Jews." Of course, Pilate thought nothing more of this Jesus than that he was another political, zealous nut claiming to be somebody. Jesus told him that everyone who is on the side of "truth" will listen to him, to which Pilate replies, "What is truth?" (John 18:37-38).
Well, instead of trying to define it, let me tell you what truth could enable you to do. Truth empowers you. It makes you confident. It makes you "solid, firm, steadfast," if we're staying "true" to the Germanic meaning of the word "truth."
One time when I was working at Macy's in New York City, someone accused me of possibly stealing money from a cash register. I was escorted to the loss prevention office in this store, and there I was interrogated by the loss prevention director. Understand that this Macy's on 34th Street had its own jail cell! If found guilty, they had every right to hold me in their slammer until the cops came.
The charge was that I stole $10 from the cash register. I was tempted, due to fear, to offer him $10 even though I didn't steal it. This man pressed hard with his thick, Italian New York accent (well, he looked Italian at least), trying to get me to confess, but I stood my ground. I didn't steal it and I wasn't going to confess to something I didn't do. Now, I wasn't bold about it, because I was scared about going to jail, losing my job, and who knows what else. But I FEEBLY, with weak knees, stood my ground. After seeing that I didn't break, he became a nice guy and explained to me what he was doing. Then he told me, "If you tell the truth, you won't have anything to worry about."
Recently, I told a police officer at my church about that incident, and he told me the rights I had where I could have been even more bold in that confrontation. Back then, however, I didn't know what rights I had -- but, the one thing that made me hold my ground was the truth.
See, it doesn't matter what people say to you. It doesn't matter what people think of you. People's opinions are really meaningless. What matters is the truth -- because the truth will make you stand.
As a fitness instructor, the one thing I try to do is approach people when I see them make some positive changes. I would say things like, "I could tell you're slimming down" or "Your legs are toning up" or "Wow! Look at those shoulders!" And I am not general in my comments. I get specific about my observations. Recently, one of my Body Sculpt Challenge participants came to ZUMBA class and I noticed that her legs looked more toned. I approached her and specifically told her that I could see her quadriceps (thigh muscles) taking shape. See, if you look at your ownself, you may think there is no difference, but when a fitness instructor tells you something, then believe it! You know that instructor tells the truth, and with that truth, you could be CONFIDENT that you are going down the right path.
In this world, you'll get hit with all types of lies. Some of those lies might make you feel good, but they won't make you feel confident -- maybe because deep down, you know they're lies. Ever had that feeling before? Ever had someone tell you something that made you feel good, but you also felt that it wasn't completely true? See, you know what is a lie or what doesn't seem like the truth. But when the "true truth" appears, then not only do you feel good about it, but you also feel SOLID.
I've won awards before, but not all awards made me feel solid. This is why I am truly against participation awards -- which are really nothing more than giving awards to everybody so that everybody could feel good. One time in a high school biology class, my teacher gave out an award to everybody in class. It felt...weird. I wasn't sure why I even got that award. It was nice to have, but I know that I didn't earn it.
Then a few years ago, I got an award from my old gym called "Rookie of the Year." That award did feel good, because I know that I've earned it. I wasn't trying to get an award, but of all the work that I've done at the gym, I know that award actually meant something. It made me feel SOLID, FIRM, STEADFAST.
Sometimes, the truth could make you feel bad, but you'll eventually be thankful to hear that truth. With my daughter, she's an aspiring artist, and since her father is also an artist, I am going to be hard on her. If she asks me if I like one of her drawings, I WILL say no if I don't like it. I'm so hard on her that I forbid her from drawing stick figures and doing any tracing. Why? Because she has real potential, and as long as she keeps practicing, she will be so good that she could sell her drawings and make money. To this day, she practices her drawings everyday. She wants her own YouTube channel where she could show her work. I even told her that if she gives me good work, I'll donate my professional art tools to her, to which she was excited about.
When I tell her the truth about the quality of her work, no, she doesn't feel good about it. But she knows that I'm pushing her to take her work seriously, and eventually she will thank me, especially when I grant her the right to get on YouTube.
The truth doesn't just make you feel good or bad. The truth EMPOWERS. As Jesus once said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). Once truth comes into your life, everything starts to make sense. A veil will lift from your eyes. You will see things that you haven't seen before. You will be able to do things that you haven't done before. You will have strong assurance to walk in a direction that you were scared to walk in.
As that loss prevention director said, when you tell the truth, you won't have to worry about anything. I was scared and vulnerable in that man's presence, but the truth kept me strong. See, lies can't do that. A lie would only get you so far, but then it will abandon you. The truth, however, will pick you up and carry you when you feel that you can't go on.
This world has been destroyed because of lies. These lies become so strong that they make people delusional, making them believe in something that isn't true. But being delusional will bring your destruction. When the truth comes into your life, then you could be set free from any shackles that the lies had bound you in.
What is holding you hostage? What is keeping you from progressing? Whatever it is, break free from that by seeking the truth. Don't try to "make your own truth," which is nothing more than lying to yourself. Seek the actual truth, the truth that will make you stand when everything else comes crumbling down.
So, somebody did something horrible to you years ago. But, you decided to be a good person and forgive the one who wronged you. Yet, you still have these bad feelings against that other person. If you truly forgave that person, why do you still have lingering feelings of hatred?
But let's say that you're the vindictive type who actually wants to keep a grudge. You probably unintentionally forgave a person when you intended to hold a grudge. But the nice, sweet person who wanted to forgive is probably holding a grudge without knowing it.
The word "forgive" indicates a lender-debtor relationship. When you take out a loan, you are a debtor. As the debtor, you owe somebody else something. As long as the lender is holding a debt over your head, then you will be obligated to keep paying that lender until the debt has been settled. However, if the lender decided not to hold you responsible for that debt anymore even if you didn't finish paying it off, then you would be forgiven -- or in other words, the lender will not seek legal action against you for not paying off your debt.
When you are "forgiven," then the person you owed will no longer hold you responsible for the loan, even though you didn't pay it back. But here's another thing about forgiveness: the lender suffered the greater loss than you did. When you are forgiven, you get off easy. The lender, however, is the one who suffered the loss, but he will still not seek further action against you.
There is a parable in the story that Jesus told about a servant who owed a king roughly thousands (if not millions) of dollars. The king told the servant that he will put him in jail until he paid every last cent. The servant pleaded with the king, asking him to give him more time to pay off the debt. The king, however, was soft-hearted and decided to forgive the debt. No longer would the servant be obligated to pay the king that money.
It would be nice if the government could do that with my student loans!
In that parable, who got off easy? Obviously the servant, because the king is out of lots of cash! The servant didn't lose out on anything. In the same way, when YOU forgive somebody, then you must have suffered some kind of loss, whether it's self-esteem, money, trust, reputation, etc. If you lost nothing, then there is nothing to forgive.
Now in that same parable, the servant that the king forgave also had a debt owed him. Another servant owed him the equivalent of a few dollars, but instead of following the example of the king, this servant threaten the other servant to put him in jail until he could pay him back. The other servant begged for more time to repay him, but instead of showing forgiveness, the king's servant threw the man in jail! When the king heard this, he confronted this servant and threw him in jail until he could pay back every last cent of the debt.
See, forgiveness has nothing to do with emotions. Forgiveness is not about liking or disliking a person. Forgiveness is simply a choice to not seek justice against the person who wronged you. This means that you're not going to seek revenge. This means that while you have suffered a loss, you won't seek any compensation for damages.
Years ago, my old landlord kept my deposit of $850 because she had to repaint the walls. Repainting the walls is something you have to do anyway if you want to rent the house out to somebody else. The paint that she used was the cheap kind that stains easily. You can't simply wash the walls because then the paint would wash off and water could get inside the drywall, causing mold. She never repainted the house during the five years that we've been there, and now she wanted to keep our deposit just so she could repaint the walls.
I really wanted to seek justice and bring her to court. My wife, on the other hand, just wanted us to be done with the house and move on. But that's $850 that she unjustly kept from us! I could understand if we purposely destroyed the walls, but the cheap paint you used made the walls dingy and I can't wash off any food stains that get on the walls because of kids. Why am I being punished for your failure to use better paint??
But you know, sometimes it's just better to be wronged than to seek justice. If seeking justice would further cause stress to my wife, then the justice isn't worth it. Sometimes, forgiveness (that is, not seeking further action) is more practical than holding a grudge. Somebody has to be the bigger person. Somebody has to be the peacemaker. Somebody has to be willing to move on to better things than to be stuck in a worthless place.
Sometimes, you need to be willing to accept the loss and move on. You don't have to like it. You may struggle with ill feelings against the other person, but just simply move on without seeking payback. That is true forgiveness: being willing to suffer the loss while allowing the other person to get off easy.
That is life. You will have many who did some kind of injustice to you. If you spend lots of time trying to get payback, then you'd spend a significant part of your life doing nothing but getting revenge. But if you could discipline yourself to accept the loss and to move on to better things, then you won't be held captive by the need to get even.
It takes a big person to forgive, but sometimes forgiveness is more about practicality than about morale. Forgive a person not because you think you're better than him, but because you could be doing other things to better yourself. Why waste time seeking revenge? Would revenge restore what the other person took from me? Most likely not. Revenge makes you feel good, but that is all it does. You could eat a bowl of ice cream and feel good. Why feel good about seeking action against another person when you could spend that time doing something else?
Just imagine if I went to court with my old landlord. I would have to take time out to go to court and sit there for who knows how long to get my case heard. And if she somehow won, then I would need to appeal that decision and take out more time (and money) to do that. That's just too much time spent trying to get my money back. I could be doing more valuable things with my time. So, let me just accept the loss and move on. No, I probably won't do business with her again, but if I saw her again, I won't treat her like an enemy. What's done is done and it's over.
Those who could experience peace are the ones who could let go and move on. Those who always seek justice are never at peace, because their peace depends on being right. Those who always want revenge fail to understand that life won't always go their way. They don't understand that we would always go through some kind of a loss as long as we live. If you can't move on, then don't expect much improvement in your life. If you could be able to forgive, then you're telling yourself, "I'm better than this! There are greater things ahead of me. I won't let this other person hold that much power over my happiness."
Seeking justice is a choice. Nobody has to go to court. In the same way, forgiveness is a choice. It's a choice that causes significant loss, but it's also a choice that would allow you to focus on higher things in life. And just remember that somebody in your life has forgiven you of a wrong you've done. Now, pay it forward to do the same to somebody else. Your forgiveness just might help somebody else become a better person.
Recently, I just realized that I'm living a life that others could only dream of. No, I'm not relaxing on the beach everyday. No, I don't have a private jet. No, I don't live in a mansion. No, I'm not driving a Mercedes -- and I don't care about any of those things. And no, I don't have a bank account full of money -- and no, I'm not rich, famous, or have any kind of widespread recognition. I'm just a regular guy with a very modest and boring life with very little that's going on.
So, how in the world am I living a life that others want? Well, I'm home with the kids and the wife and I see my kids more times in a week than the average working parent would see in a month! I am no longer an employee for anybody. I am truly self-employed, which means that I make my own schedule, take off whenever I want to, and answer to nobody but me.
I am able to work from home on most days. But if I have to work outside the home, I am able to bring my family with me. My kids are well-behaved, they love being home with the family, I am able to homeschool them and work, and we could go on a road trip any time we want -- including to the beach. I could stay up late binging on Netflix movies and wake up late if I want to. There are only a few hours a week where I have to physically be somewhere, but as I already mentioned, most of those times my family is with me.
Now, this would really surprise you: I am able to do all of this without having a working spouse, without being on government assistance, and you'll laugh when you see how LITTLE I make per year. You'd even wonder how in the world could a family of four survive on my income -- and I am not being modest. I really don't make much! For some people, making $50,000 a year isn't much. With us...I'd feel like a millionaire if I could make anywhere NEAR that much. See...told you I don't make much!
So, what's the secret? I took the back roads -- that is, I took an alternate route to get to where I am.
When you're using GPS, you'd know that GPS usually takes you on the quickest route. However, the quickest route isn't always the BEST route, and it's definitely not the only route. Sometimes, GPS would take you out the way. Sometimes, GPS would take you on a route where there are no traffic lights, which means that crossing a road could be a problem on busy streets. Sometimes, GPS would take you out of the way when you could have just simply made a U turn. But for people who are "directionally challenged," GPS is all they could depend on, and since the people wouldn't know of any alternate routes, they would be subjected to GPS's routes.
I am a map man. I would use GPS to find a location that I am unfamiliar with and for their suggested routing, which I may or may not use. When I see their routing, I also look for alternate routes if their suggested route is unpleasant. With me, I am always about alternate routes. The reason I know the Raleigh-Durham area so well is not because I let GPS baby me: it's because I am always looking for different ways of arriving to a destination.
In the same way, there are always different routes to your intended destination. Find out where you want to go and look at all the different ways you could get there. If you just depend on GPS alone, then you'll be subject to all the challenges that the GPS route would give you.
After we left Buffalo, NY this summer, we were on U.S. Highway 219. When we were driving for about 45 minutes or so, we hit a detour. U.S. 219 was closed -- and there were no detour signs. The highway was just closed! So, you pretty much had to figure out what to do next! I looked on the GPS to see where it would take me, but the route didn't look all that attractive. But looking at the map closely, I saw a lonely road that ran parallel to U.S. 219. This road was State Highway 240, so I took that route, and man, that was one of the prettiest roads I've taken! There were no traffic lights and hardly any other vehicles on that road. It was very serene whereas the other route that GPS wanted us to go, State Highway 39, looked like it was full of traffic lights and vehicles.
Why didn't GPS took us on the pretty, serene route instead of that busy route? I don't know, but I do know how pleasant that drive down 240 was, and it didn't take us that much out of the way and it didn't add much time to our trip back to North Carolina.
If you are always looking for alternatives, you WILL find them. But if you just simply go with GPS, then you wouldn't know how many options there are for you.
It's like graduating from college and trying to find a job. Well, you can't find a job in your field, so you go traveling all over the country looking for your "dream job" and getting stressed out while doing it. After a year of searching, you do what any rational college grad would do: you would go back to school and get another degree!
Now, here was your problem: you just followed GPS. You just did what you were supposed to do. You didn't ask anybody if there were any alternative routes. Instead of traveling around the country trying to find your dream job, you could have found a regular ol' job waiting tables or delivering food while you started a business that would allow you to do what you went to college for. There were plenty of options in your own city to work in your field, but you just followed GPS.
One of the most stressful situations is to be in traffic. On Interstate 95 in Virginia between Woodbridge and Stafford is a strip that ALWAYS has traffic. For YEARS, I have traveled down that strip, and it seems like no matter what time of the day you go, you'll experience stop-and-go traffic. There is never a reason for the traffic. In fact, one of my wife's aunts who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland said that it took her about 5 hours to get from her town to King's Dominion theme park in Doswell, Virginia, which should have only taken 2 hours or less -- all because of that small strip of traffic on I-95.
Getting tired of sitting in unnecessary traffic, I looked at my map and saw U.S. 1, which ran parallel to I-95. Once again, it was a peaceful ride -- not as peaceful as 240 in New York, but it allowed us to bypass all that horrible traffic on I-95.
There are always alternatives for your life. You just need to stop having so much tunnel vision and see all the alternate routes that are around you.
Here's the thing about alternative routes: they aren't as straight-forward as the suggested routes. You have to do a little more mapping, travel down dirt roads, and drive 30 miles UNDER the highway speed limit. You may add a few more minutes or a few more hours to the trip. When GPS tells you where to go, you don't think about the drive anymore. You just follow directions. When you have to map it out (like in the good ol' days before GPS), you have to study the routes a little more and even memorize where you need to turn and all the streets and highway numbers you need to drive on. It's more of a pain to map out alternative routes, but here's the one good thing about alternative routes: they are usually prettier and less stressful than the quick routes.
I have so little stress in my life right now. No, I am not showered with gold and silver coins, but I enjoy the life that I have. I definitely don't have all luxuries that other people have, but I have freedom, I have lots of family time, and the stress is minimal. As far as I am concerned, I am living the good life. Other people would have you think that you need to be an internet marketing millionaire to have this kind of life. You don't. All you need to do is to find an alternate route, and you need to be willing to travel on it.
At one time, you couldn't walk. When you were a baby, all you could do was just be there. Your parents carried you everywhere. Then, you started to sit up on your own. Then you started to roll around. Then you started crawling, then standing, then walking, and eventually, you started to run and jump. Today, you could sit up, stand, walk, and jump without even thinking about it -- literally, you don't think about these things. Trying to walk doesn't even come to mind: you just do it.
When you first get started on something new, you use a lot of mental control. This is the hard part. But after so many hours of practice, then you're no longer in the mental control stage. You've moved into the muscle control stage -- that is to say, you no longer think about the activity, because it is so ingrained into you that your body would automatically take control. When you move into the muscle control stage, that is when you become the expert.
So, if you want to be good at anything in your life, you need to move past the mental stage and go into the muscle stage.
What is mental control? It is learning a new skill. This is getting started for the first time. Maybe it's learning a new language, a new software program, how to drive, how to read and write, or just simply how to walk. During the mental control stage, you think a lot about what you're going to do. This is the stage that many of us can't get past because we get discouraged when we can't get it right. But after much, much, much practice, we no longer have to think about what we're going to do: the body takes over, which is commonly known as "muscle memory."
As a group fitness instructor, I DEPEND on muscle control if I'm going to successfully lead a class. Whatever new choreography I come up with, I have to do it over and over again until I could just turn on the music and go. In fact, if you've been attending my classes for a while, you would have experienced muscle control quite frequently. When you "just know" what moves to do next without thinking about it, then you're in the muscle control stage.
If you were ever amazed at how group fitness instructors could remember all the moves and cues for an entire hour without messing up, then you'd know that it's because of muscle control. Their bodies are so used to the routine that the bodies take over as if they have minds of their own. When the bodies take over, the instructors could use their brains to do something else, such as interacting with and entertaining the participants.
Have you ever been amazed at how multi-lingual individuals could talk English one moment and then switch over to another language in another moment without taking a pause? They don't even think about what they're going to say. They just start talking. It has nothing to do with how smart they are. Their bodies just automatically take over so that instead of figuring what words to use, the people could focus on interaction other people.
See, you need to stop thinking that you need to be smart to be good at something. All you need to do is practice, practice, and practice until your body gets used to it. Once the body is used to it, then you no longer have to work so hard on learning a skill -- once the body learns the skill, then all you have to do is "turn on the music and go."
Believe it or not, getting stronger has nothing to do with bigger muscles. You have extremely strong men AND women who have extraordinary strength who look puny! Yet, you have muscular guys who have the grip of a child -- or so it seems. Why? Because strength is actually dependent on nerve activation. You are weak because, at least in theory, your nerves aren't activating all of your muscle fibers. Right now, you have the ability to lift MUCH MORE than you currently can, but because you barely use your muscles, then the body sees no need to exhaust itself. But once you start lifting heavy on a regular basis, then your body starts "waking up" more of your muscle fibers.
When you stop an exercise routine for even a WEEK, your performance goes down because your body starts "forgetting" how intense the routines were. You didn't just get weak: your body just forgot how to do things.
Here's the bad thing about learning something new: you HAVE to experience the mental control stage. There is no way around it. You can't just "turn on the music and go" with any new skill. You have to go through the mental stage, and if you want it badly enough, you'll continue in this mental stage until you could move into the muscle stage. Once your body knows what to do, then you could finally move on to other things.
Discouragement is going to happen when you first get started. The weights are too heavy for you. You can't run too fast. You're not used to eating greens. You're struggling to wake up early. Well, you're going to have to experience all these struggles when you first get started, but understand that the more you practice, the more your body could take over. Then you'll become an early bird without putting any effort into it. Then you could finally do 10 push ups on your toes. Then you could run up 10 flights of stairs without huffing and puffing. Then you could speak 5 languages without hurting your brain.Understand that your goal is to get your body used to the routine, and once the body gets it, your work would be done. You would have finally become the expert. Now, you could work on doing more with your skills.
But sitting at home and being discouraged will get you no where. If you really want something, then push through that mental control stage so you could move into the muscle control stage.
Success in anything depends greatly on your muscle control. Let your body assist you. Your body is more than a house for the soul: it's your personal assistant that could make your life easier.
All information in this blog are for inspirational purposes only. Unless otherwise stated, all content is written and copyrighted by Aiyo A. Jones.