Tag Archives: work ethic

Self Branding

“Your Character. Your personality. It’s your graphic, your sign, your value, and the ONLY thing you can truly possess.”

A friend of mine wrote that.

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It was timely, because not only did I recently teach a chapter on ‘branding’ in my business English course, but I’ve been thinking about how to ‘brand’ myself in a new business endeavor.

What are the qualities and values I want potential clients to associate with my name? How do I even go about branding myself? But aside from business…what values am I forging in my own life?

It’s easy to dust of the thesaurus and look for adjectives. But it’s far more difficult to BE some of those things. I suppose it depends on the words you choose for your life’s brand. Most of the things I want require hard work.

I want to speak German fluently, but the words aren’t going to magically appear in my head. I want to do pull ups, but I can’t expect to wake up with the ability. But these are things we can wrap our hands around.

Intangibles are much tougher.

To be reliable: it means to be there for people.

Integrity: it means to actually LIVE what you say you believe.

To make friendships: means to risk rejection.

To love: means to risk the most tender part of yourself.

A good work ethic: (*this is earth-shattering, I know) but it means WORKING HARD.

Living your dreams: it means you will face failure on a daily basis.

But just like with pull-ups, forging your life’s brand requires effort, dedication and practice. You will not be struck by lightening in a freak laboratory accident nor will a radioactive spider-bite suddenly make your life complete.

The fire will rage. The hammer will fall. But actions determine whether the metal becomes a sword or vaporizes into noxious fumes.

We are born with certain personality traits, tendencies and characteristics. But much of our character is hammered by iron, in the heat of the forge; and we can’t see the results until things cool down.

And yet, we are not passive, shapeless creatures. Our actions shape our character. 

Inaction shapes it too.

You just have to decide what brand you want for your life. And once you figure it out, you have to work for it. Because if you don’t brand yourself, time or circumstance may do it for you.

And it may not be the brand you had hoped for.

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A Crossfit Ethic for Everyday Life or Shut Up and Work

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As a writer, I love words. Language has some great ones: discombobulate, serendipity, abscond, chocolate; and I know that words can be motivating. Words have incubated millions of loves and spawned thousands of wars. They are powerful, hurtful, thrilling; they can touch the soul or break the spirit; they can focus the mind or flood it.

But there comes a point where words are as ineffective as a wheel on an overturned bicycle, it spins fast but gets nowhere.

Words must be backed up by action, or else it’s all just carbon dioxide.

Sometimes, as our coach says, you have to get shit done.

Maybe you have to become fluent enough in a second language to get a job? Maybe you have 8 years-worth of junk in your attic that has to be cleaned out in one week? Maybe you want to lose that last 5 kilos, run mountain marathons or deadlift 115% bodyweight?

Whatever goal you envision, it’s nothing unless you walk towards it on a daily basis.

And that takes work.

Not talk.

If you want to change things, then change them. Step out, step up, be bold, be aggressive. Shyness is really a form of self-consciousness, which means, you’re thinking too much. Too much about yourself. Too much about what other people think. Get over it. Step outside yourself and DO whatever it is you have in your mind to do.

Work is hard. It’s uncomfortable. It requires effort you don’t even know you HAVE inside you. But the only way to achieve your dreams is not to pontificate about them, but to ACTUALLY work on them by DOING the thousand little things necessary to build them into reality.

Remember that scene in LOTR, ‘Return of the King,’ where Samwise Gamgee is in pub with his buddies: he sees Rosie Cotton, takes a drink, and then walks off camera while his friends blush? Who DOESN’T remember that scene? Sam has become a man (or Hobbit, rather) of action, and we all know it’s SO much better than in the beginning where he’s just mooning over her. Or later when he’s in a sea of lava with nothing but his regrets and a nearly-dead, four-fingered compatriot.

Don’t live life with regrets. If you’ve messed up, then get over it and move on.

Most of us don’t just walk into a Crossfit affiliate and swing the 64 kilogram kettle bell. Some of us can barely wield the 4 at first. My first Turkish-Getup I kept stumbling over my own feet. Rob didn’t even HAVE a 4kg kettle bell back then–he gave me a weight that had broken in half–and I could barely hold it over my head. It was HARD.

Weights are useless if they’re lying dormant. You have to grab them and lift them every day until you CAN put them over your head.

This is one way that Crossfit has changed me: I am finding the strength to do things that are hard.

Some of these things I love.

Some of these things I don’t love.

But I DO know this: my Crossfit work ethic has given me the courage to take risks, to be focused, and to DAILY draw closer to my dreams.

These dreams are not just vapor.

They are real.

They require effort.

They CAN be achieved.

And yours can too.

So, let’s stop talking and get to work.

There’s a WOD waiting for us.