Saturday, April 30, 2011

Reasons To Partner In Your Business

The future of business development and growth is in strategic partnerships and alliances. Collaboration is the operative word. No person is an island, so we have to build bridges across to another land mass. With active networking, we can build vital links to hearts and minds – if we are to promote and instill changes (for the better). Volunteers, retailers, customers, consultants, community members, family and friends – all these relationships involve partnering.

When I started my own small business 11 years ago, I realized early that I could not do it alone. I also learnt that my journey would be made more meaningful and worthwhile if I worked with others. I focused on work that would offer mutually beneficial outcomes. Business is about ‘busy-ness’ and the busier and involved you are, the better it would be in developing your value. When you engage with partners – and these can be short-term, project-based partnerships – you enhance your capability. Sharing is a value appreciated by many. Sharing involves the spirit of generosity.

How would you approach partnering in business?

1)    Build rapport with people around you. Be liked.
2)    Enhance existing relationships with others – keep building value with them.
3)    Never burn bridges – you never know who may engage or employ you one day.
4)    Do active networking – follow up with each contact, and create further connection.
5)    Not every social occasion is a business occasion. You don’t have to bring a box of cards to dinner. Enjoy the company.
6)    Seek partners with differing skills and expertise. Integrate diversity.
7)    Complement your partner by bringing your expertise to the relationship.
8)    As long as you don’t feel threatened by others, partner up.
9)    There is perceived and potential value to larger, partnership-based, projects that you can do.
10) Sharing of resources and co-branding. Synergistic effects can lead to added value and reduced expenses.

In recent months, I have been involved and engaged in new partnerships. It has been enriching thus far, and I expect we would earn our cumulative value in terms of new experiences, relationships and potential. Give, and take in your partnerships. Have ‘clever-rate’ with you, when you collaborate.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Repositioning Yourself For Optimum Impact

What do road-bicycles, clothes, and shoes have in common? Clue: The F- word.

Fit! How equipment or attire feels next to your skin and sinews are important. Given time, improperly fitted gear will provide physical feedback. Abrasions, calluses, cuts, cramps, numbness and muscular fatigue can hold you back from your full ability to perform physically. Comfort reigns; carelessness pains.

My conversations with runners and triathletes recently yielded interest in reducing fatigue, and warding off debilitating conditions like muscle cramps. I postulated that how you ride could seriously impact on how you would run afterwards. My friend Barney Tee strongly states: ‘The ride determines the run!’

Muscles used for cycling & running are similar, however the exact focus is different. There are strong reasons why you should not pre-exhaust them with bad techniques. Power your way through the ride, yet save your calves and hamstrings for the run.

I have adjusted my cleat position on my riding shoes and I have kept my calves released (not so tensed) during my run. Now, I ride more neutral with my feet parallel to the ground when I pedal. Find your best feet forward. Re-position your cleats onto your soles of your bike-shoes at the joint of your forefoot. You can mark it out with a silver-coloured permanent marker. Better style, get a bike fit done by a certified professional.

In sports, I strongly believe that rehabilitation is the foundation of performance. You cannot train hard if you are injured. Heal before you reveal. Reposition you body by seeking experts like physiotherapist, chiropractors, and body coaches. Yoga, Pilates and core stability work help to align our spine, enhance joint integrity and usher in muscular strength and power. Move about when you can and stop playing prisoner to your chair!

Leadership Lessons: Deliver to your audience’s needs. Tailor your material exactly. Express, then impress. Dress for the part – impressions matter. Speak with authority, commitment and conviction. How do you position your leadership style for greater influence? How do you spread your personal values around your team, department and organisation?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Challenges of A Professional Athlete

It may sound cool and glamorous – being a professional athlete or sportsperson – but is it? Only the top-tier and second-tier athletes make a decent living; many others struggle. You enjoy the purse only when you win, or meet the stringent criteria of a series of races. There are little guarantees, and you cannot insure your sustained fitness or wellness. Yet, this profession attracts a few select ones, as it can be a calling, or something they have to do.

Having had a few days off to prepare for next week’s busy schedule, I attempted to train like a professional endurance athlete (since I am three weeks out to my next 226K race). As fun and flexible as the job title sounds, I learnt that it is tremendously hard work.

1)    You need to be disciplined in your ‘working’ day. Mild distractions need to be kept that way.
2)    A ‘rest day’ may include ‘active recovery’ where you have a lighter day of physical exertion. Naps and recovery are a necessary part of your working equation.
3)    You have meetings and other business commitments around your training sessions.
4)    Your value is determined by your performance: how many podium placing, and your overall ranking.
5)    If you are established, you may live on a retainer rate or sponsorship fees (sponsored products is not enough as you have bills to pay). New pros find it challenging in the start-up stage.
6)    You may supplement or enhance your income with personal or group coaching, as well as leading in training camps.
7)    Build your personal branding: presence and pleasance. You need to be liked by your fans or sponsors will be hesitant to collaborate with you.
8)    This is a profession and a business. You have to mind (mine) your own business (busyness).
9)    Stay injury-free and fatigue-free; you cannot perform well when you are hurting, or over-committed with races.
10)You work on most weekends, as that’s where most races occur.
11)You need to be financially savvy, and plan your budget and expenses around your races. Every race is an investment, and these need to be planned far in advance.
12) Travelling to race is stressful, and you can live out of a suitcase and bike-case for wide stretches of time.

Thus, I have very high respect for professional athletes who live their dream profession. It is, undeniably, a very tough way to earn a living, yet it is driven by one’s passion, belief in their talent, and a desire to reach their potential. It is a shorter-term profession, which needs to be planned long term, and beyond.

Leadership Lessons: When was the last time you trained like a professional athlete? How do you schedule and prioritise your daily and weekly events?

Give yourself a tougher challenge by considering training twice a day – it is no different than students who do twice-daily, swim squad training. If you are coached, you may be experiencing such a commitment. You will sleep very well though. Sleep comes readily for those who train hard. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Do The Write Thing

I have been asked often: How do you write so regularly? My answer is terse: I maintain a daily blog on leadership. Therefore, I need to post as expected, be consistent, and lead with my messages.

Writing takes discipline, and this personal set of rules is no different from the decision to swim at lunch or run before sunrise. Write on your blog. Post on Facebook. Tweet. Writing means you think, then write. Learn four new words everyday. Appreciate the origins and historical reference of the vocabulary that we use. Here is the source I use when I need to reference a word or phrase.

Writing has built new connections for me. I used to have a handful of loyal readers (whom I am grateful to/for) and today, daily readership has grown. This is due to many connections we have established through collaborations in the social media circle.

Certainly, this blog can improve. I am sure I could migrate to a more permanent and flexible platform. However, I am a creature of habit and I am focused on content. Content is king! Sure, embellishments can make for a visually attractive site, however I prefer and believe in the relevance of the stories we post, interviews we conduct, depth of reviews, and recognition of others. In particular, we enjoy bringing to your attention the coterie of guests and discoveries we have made of people of excellence.

Triathlon is just an analogy; it is not the centerpiece of this blog. Anyone with endurance, persistence, tenacity, patience and determination meets our criteria for an endurance athlete. Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike used to say: ‘Anybody with a body is an athlete!’ Everyone has leadership qualities; we just access it differently and at different occasions.

Practice makes permanent – perfect practice makes perfect – so, practice through writing. Write on.
Today, at about 12.00pm (local time) or 27 April in New York, would be the result for the lottery drawing for the New York City Marathon 2011. Hopefully, I’ll bag my slot for this cold run over the five famous boroughs of The Big Apple. My friend Andrea wrote a report on her 2009 maiden marathon experience. Enjoy the read!

This morning, I swam for an hour comprising drills and body position. I chased this session with an evening 2-hour ride (intervals on a closed circuit). I then did a run-brick of 30 minutes at Ironman tempo pace (5:30 minutes/km). My body feels stronger after two weeks of laboured breathing (due to a head-cold). My training heart rates are back to normal, and I can resume my tough Gold Coast Marathon program prescribed by Coach. Not easy, I assure you as The Fox has a way of cranking up the intensity without breaking me down – for that, I am grateful. Have a good day!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Making Advances & Advancing Forward

“If a man advances confidently in the directions of his dreams to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.  He will pass an invisible boundary: new, universal and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.” – Henry David Thoreau

What is your dream job? What would be your dream working conditions? How would you know if you have achieved these conditions? How would you heighten your sense of well being during ‘common hours’?

The fact is that, as endurance athletes, we can train at unusual and uncommon hours. We have many choices. Sleep in and train in the evening; or arise early and train before breakfast and the early shift. Isn’t it a wonder that races take place on weekends AND weekdays? There are morning races (Ironman 70.3 Singapore; Singapore Marathon), as well as evening ones (Sundown Marathon/Ultra; Marina21K; Northface 100).

Take steps forward by shifting your variables. Move them around. Tweak them. Advance confidently towards your life!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Having A Feel For Things

‘I feel the earth move – under my feet. I feel the sky tumbling down…’ ~ Carole King

Running barefoot and doing core training taught me two main things: having a feel for my surroundings and my body.

Sports teach us about feeling, and feeling sensations outside our body (exteroception) as well as inside (interoception). It is about developing a feel for movement, momentum and mobility. How we move, move faster and move around dictates our results and impact on others. Results without relationships can be a hollow victory. It is akin to celebrating by yourself when you succeed. That is why our Iron-Crew and Iron-Mates are crucial to our total success as lifestyle athletes.

When you run barefoot, or walk barefooted on the beach you activate your connection with the ground. Terra firma – the earth beneath our feet – gives us a sense of rooting our self to something. By having our feet on the ground, we are earthed and realistic. It is the antithesis of building castles in the air, where we do not have the building material and place to anchor it. Virtual space is still space, whereas landed property is based on an acreage, and land.

When you stand on one foot, you will activate your proprioceptors – internal balancing centres. Proprioception means ‘sense of self’. In the limbs, the proprioceptors are bodily sensors that provide information about joint angle, muscle length, and tension, which is integrated to give information about the position of the limb in space. How we land when running, or put our foot on the pedal during cycling, and stay balanced when dancing – engages proprioception. Close your eyes; when you stay balanced your proprioception is activated.

Leadership lessons: How do you develop a feel for your people? How much do you engage your intuition? How do you connect with people?

Consider a feel for business. How do you develop a feel for people as well as for the business? Here is my interview with business author Guy Kawasaki on how to keep your clients and colleagues enchanted.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Loops, Actually!

This morning, I completed 15 loops of the infamously boring Selarang Loop. It was a simple circuit of about 4K, with a few rolls thrown in on what is known as the Selarang Hill. Not too far away, is a renowned rehabilitation centre that organizes the annual Yellow Ribbon Run.

Prior to my first attempt at Ironman Lanzarote, I worked up to 23 loops (I started with 6, then 13, then 23). When done as a continuous series of loops, it is akin to a hilly course. Singapore is a fairly flat country where the tallest hill is less than 200 metres high! This morning, as part of my preparation for Lanzarote 2011, I was aiming for 30 loops, however mild distractions led me to decide on an alternate course of action. I am recovering from my head cold, yet I still have the occasional nasal dribble that makes it inconvenient to discharge when there are riders or vehicles behind me.

It may sound insane to do a series of boredom-inducing loops, yet that is the very essence of a multiple-Ironman event. The reason why the Triple-, Quadruple- and Deca-Ironman races are held on a closed circuit is to ensure safety of the riders and runners. The ultra-swim is held in a pool as laps can be counted and the participants are always in complete view of technical and safety officials.
Yesterday’s run clinic (organised through Core Concepts & Back2Sports) was fun. I walked the small group through pre-race training, pre-race preparation, and race-day tactics. This was a precursor to a larger clinic I will present, one day before I fly off to Lanzarote. I am looking forward to the clinic, as there is much to share on running your first half-marathon. 21K is not something you will balk at, as it is a long endurance activity. Kudos to those who signed up and started training for your first half-marathon!

I will sleep early tonight, as I will be leading a run with two other runners tomorrow at 7.30am. Sleep is under-rated, but it is, probably, the most important element that keeps us healthy and fit. Compromise sleep, and we risk all the hard work we have put in for a race.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Elastic Laces, Elastic Bands and Being Flexible

I was taught by my coach to fix my bike-shoes onto my pedals in advance, so that my Transition 1 would be faster. To facilitate my mount onto my bike, my shoes are attached, with elastic bands, onto the rear wheel. This keeps the shoes parallel to each other, and do not drag on the floor. Upon mounting my bike, I can begin peddling (feet on my shoes) and the elastic bands will snap upon spinning.
Elastic laces are useful attachments. Instead of lengthy laces that flail during the run, and take a little more time to tie a ribbon with, elastic laces are more relevant during the ride-run transition (2). When affixed and cut to the required length, all we need to do is slip our socked feet into them, and then tighten then retaining locks. Then, off we go! To put on lock-laces, or similar devices, here are clear instructions.

Between the two elastics, the laces cost more, however they can last for at least a dozen races. The rubber bands cost no more than searching for them, and they are ubiquitous in our environment. We use these springy materials creatively to allow us to safe time, thus becoming more efficient.

Leadership Lessons: How do you facilitate your meetings? How do you facilitate productive conversations with your colleagues and customers? How do you stay flexible in the presence of tension or conflict?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Preparing for Your First/Next Ironman

For those doing your first Ironman triathlon in China in May, congratulations for taking the next big challenge! Here are considerations for your race preparation:

1)    Continue training despite it being a month away. Start tapering in three week’s time. Less is more - you will feel stronger and pumped up. You don't want to be as flat as Dave Scott's Coke on his marathon.
2)    Your immune system is highly compromised when doing long mileage. Ensure at last 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Nap if you feel you need it. Sleep is the best ‘anabolic’ (rebuilding) activity.
3)    Increase your protein intake. Recent research indicates that we may need more than expected. Focus on whey protein without artificial sweeteners; avoid isolated protein supplements. Soy protein is not useful.
4)    Your need for immune-boosting nutrients will be significant when you do long rides and runs. Ensure adequate water, vitamin C, zinc, glutathione, glutamine and herbs (such as Echinacea) to boost your immune system. 
5)    Reconfigure your bike if it is causing you discomfort. If it is a hilly route, opt for a compact crank (with the right gear ratio). Get your bike fitted if you ache in the wrong places, or feel injured. Use a road-bike for a hilly course; use a tri-bike for a flat course. Service your bike early (the last-minute, queue at your favourite bike store may be paranoid-long). Replace old tyres with new ones before the race; replace soiled and flared bar-tape. Review your drink-cages; tightened loose screws if you are using rear-seat cages (example: X-Lab). ELIMINATE TECHNICAL DISTRACTIONS!
6)    Train as if you are racing: start using your race nutritional support. Time to invest and evaluate how you feel when you ride and run with electrolytes, energy gels and drinks. Can you consume one packet of gel every 20-30 minutes? Do you require more calories on your ride, so as to be fresh on your run? How much fluid will you need? Stick to the same brand of energy and electrolytes that you trained with.
7)    Check that all your instruments are working correctly. Get fresh batteries for your odometer/speedometer, heart-rate monitor and digital watch. Ensure that your cadence, speed and heart rate can be detected. Keep your mathematics to minimum, so you can focus on other important matters like your safety, nutrition and race tactics.
8)    Ensure that your swim equipment is more than useable. Ensure that your wetsuit fits well (not too loose to be waterlogged, or too tight to be a pain to wear) and is free of fingernail tears. Patch any tears (seek a professional if you don’ know how). Bring body lubricant or plastic bags to facilitate suiting up. Have two goggles that have been tested; swim in them in both pool and the sea/lake to detect potential leaks (it can happen when you scrunch your face in stress during a swim).
9)    Get ready: have your bike-shoes/cleats locked into your pedal. Practise mounting on/off your bike. Use quick-laces (or elastic) for your running shoes. Practise your T1 and T2 transitions during training. Think change parade in the military!
10) Have a list of things to bring and do. Review this list. Follow the list. Request your traveling partner remind you about contents of this list.

Enjoy and appreciate your preparation stage. You have done the miles. Now time to enjoy the fruits of your training. It will save you heaps of time, and present better overall performance for you!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cycling and Your Working Cycle

‘Early to bed, early to rise – makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise.’ ~ BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

You can program in a bike ride soon after you arise. This is a common pattern among cyclists and serious triathletes when they attend to an early-morning, pre-dawn ride. Apart from the risk of riding alone, and the risk of sleepy drivers steering their sensibilities, aerobic activity like riding and running can stoke your metabolism and alertness for the rest of your morning.

Birth, life and death: that is the cycle of life. As one generation passes, a new one assumes its place. Everyone has cycles. Every end has a beginning, and vice versa. These cycles include our patterns of behaviors, and thus our habits. Some of these patterns are determined biologically, such as sleep (larks versus owls) – we function best at specific times of our circadian rhythm. Other biological cycles include eating, resting, recovery, fertility and energy.

Even though cycles are predictable, these can be re-programmed. Patterns of behaviors can be reformed, just as we can learn new skills if we decide and commit to. Some cycles are functional patterns, whereas others may be destructive. Beware of destructive patterns of behaviors, for these ill-mannered programs affect those around us, directly and indirectly. It is important that we are cognizant and aware of them; or else, we infect and affect other people’s energy space and personal space.

There are toxic people – described as these with destructive cycles. Unless they consciously back-pedal their thoughts and words, their deeds impact others. A media-house shared with me how one of their regular guests used to ‘cause’ staff to fall ill, after being around him. How we project our energy through our intentions and actions can impair other people’s functionality and performance. Interpersonal conflict, office politics, grudges, resentment and disappointment can exacerbate the ‘toxic cloud’ that looms. Stop creating an air of anxiety and apprehension when you approach others!

Leadership Lessons: What is your daily cycle like? How do you evade monotony? What do you do to overcome boredom of routine? When was the last time you reconfigured your cycles? Which positive energies and emotions can you express with your team, so as to further engage and entrance them?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Creating Your Presence & Pleasance

Consider these sayings: Everyone noticed her as she walked into the room. A few of them shook their heads when he walked passed them. Heads turned as the couple walked the room. They were a handsome couple.

The British Royal Wedding may be one of the interesting, upcoming, distractions for the world. Singer Susan Boyle just had has a wax figure created for her; it cost US$265,000 and took three months to create. I am sure that her fans will be smitten by her smiling body-double. It is so authentic looking it could have done with a minor nip and tuck.

Do you people notice you in a crowd? Do you connect with others in public? Do people remember you enough to actively stay in touch with you? What do you stand for? What do you stand out for?

On the digital frontier, how often do your relationships connect with you? How often do you get customers write or call to you? How effective has positive word-of-mouth marketing worked for you? How often do others refer and recommend you? Actor Ashton Kutcher was first to hit the 1,000,000 Twitter-fan mark, surpassing CNN by quite a few thousand Tweeple. Demi Moore and Ashton’s current cause – ending human trafficking and slavery – was the feature on an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN. When people are moved, they tweet, post, talk and do. It is the power of the Tribe to ‘sneeze’. Do you have sneezers around you to support your cause?

Leadership Lessons: How do you entrance others when you walk into a room? How do you establish your professional presence? What is your signature? How do you stand out from others?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Remembering the Greats and Honoring the Best

Yesterday eveninhg, I ran an unusually challenging 23K. I was recovering from a week-long head cold, and my planned 32K @ 5-minute pace disintegrated as I felt flat as a pancake. My Garmin Forerunner 310XT reminded me at 1K intervals my erratic pace. I made a decision to apply dyslexia to my session, and switched the ambitious 32K for a conservative 23K. I experienced fatigued despite following my nutritional plan intimately. I could attribute it to Sunday’s 4-hour bike ride, which was executed at moderate pace.

I spent the remainder of the evening reading the May edition of Runner’s World. This issue was a compelling one, for it featured Boston Qualifiers (BQ) and the immense difficulty of getting a slot in the 115-year-old race that takes place every April. Although I finally qualified for my age group in February at the Hong Kong Marathon, I think I would stand a better chance for a roll-down if I qualified again at the Gold Coast Marathon in July. This year’s entries sold out within 8 hours and 3 minutes! It left many upset BQs in the lurch. Come October, I will certainly be up with my partner on two terminals to ensure a better chance of securing one of the 25,000 slots. Fingers crossed!

Congratulations to Uncle HF Kor! Uncle Kor (Edward Kor’s Dad) ran 5:13:02 in the Boston Marathon yesterday and placed 11th in the 75-79 year old category. It was unfortunate he narrowly missed a top-10 placing (the 10th place gentleman was only one minute ahead) as this fairly fast runner was slowed down by a cramp; he could have placed much higher. I suspect that the cramp was due to the average temperature of 11 degrees Celcius. [Note: It is raining now with expectations of high winds with gusts.]

Also, congratulations to Ben Swee for his second Boston Marathon finish (3:59:59)! Apparently, he would be snapping photographs instead of pursuing a PB.

Olympic legend Joan Benoit Samuelson ran the Boston Marathon today in 2:51:29. That's a 6:33 pace for the 53-year-old.

Marathon great Grete Waitz dies at 57. May this multiple-NYC Marathon champion rest in peace.

Monday, April 18, 2011

From Tarzan to Trazan, From Karma to Crabman

I was watching ‘My Name is Earl’. This television series comprises kooky characters from Earl to his brother Randy to his ex-wife to Crabman – his ex-wife’s husband. Every episode introduces a nefarious and unusual personality. Essentially, the lot revolves about the formerly incarcerated and now-rehabilitated Earl seeking personal redemption from his transgressions on people in his life. He draws out a long list of people and deeds he has to make correct and better. Like his narrative emphases: ‘Karma has a way of coming back in different ways.’ Last night, he reads to children from a mobile library a book about the ape-man ‘Trazan’ (an obvious typological error and questionable content), which he based strongly to one of his karmic deed done well.

Tarzan or Trazan: spelling error or anagram? We can use the same letters but with different arrangement. Scrabble is a brilliant invention of a word game. We construct new words by adding prefixes and suffixes based on the tiles we have, and how we configure them. It is a good way to develop our vocabulary as well as aspects of our grammar. ‘Scrabble’ can be misconstrued as ‘scramble’ if you read it in a rush. Many people do not read e-mails at a deeper level of appreciation. It is so easy to get caught up in tasks that we choose to comprehend messages at a superficial level.

Have you carelessly sent out an e-mail, only to discover later your spelling mistakes? Have you actually subject a person’s name through a spell-check, and dismembered them from their attention?

When you make distinctions on words, then you may make discernments on your decisions. What would be a better decision at that time? When should I make the decision? Who can I decide with?
The vitamin C/zinc supplementation is boosting my immune system. My cold-like symptoms are diminished. Thank goodness for tender mercies! I am reading Phil Maffetone’s book again (featured on our sidebar), and this led me to a fascinating and controversial website on alternative/holistic medicine by Dr Mercola. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Filing Taxes and Taxing Your Body

I have filed my taxes online for the tax-man! My first quarter of the financial year passed by eventfully. Filing my taxes online has been my ritual for the last few years; I have filed my own taxes for the past decade. It has been 10 years of being self-employed and running my consulting business.

This morning, I intended to ride 150K, however I was struggling to wipe my moist nose. I was clearing the annoying seepage after every 15K, and then decided not to push it. I was sniffing from a cold when I was in teaching in Guangzhou, PRC the whole week. Viral infections and intense physical activity do not pair well. I was fortunate to ride with Aristol for one 30K loop and with Desmond for two. After an earlier and hearty Japanese teppanyaki lunch, I headed to the pharmacy to buy my supply of vitamin C (with zinc). Upon consuming 1000mg with 10mg zinc, I took a nap and felt much better.

Sustained endurance training suppresses our immune system, making us susceptible to colds and flu. Many athletes tend to fall ill prior to a major race, because we tax our spleen, kidneys, liver and adrenal glands - endocrine system.  My ad hoc surveys with friends revealed that upon the onset of the flu, they would increase their vitamin C intake and take Echinacea. Physical training causes inflammation of our muscles and these can take time to heal. Alternative medicine and natural therapy may be relevant options if we intend to veer away from the toxic side effects of Western medicines and medication. Feeling and being well is part of our total well-being. Consider alternative medicine as an alternative to medicine.

I finally purchased the Garmin Forerunner 310XT, and used it this morning as a replacement for my lost speedometer/odometer. All the data from my morning's ride has been downloaded and I am quite pleased with its ease and effectiveness. I enjoy digital and electronic technology that empowers me with new confidence. The software is not complex, however it takes some regular use to full appreciate its capabilities. I enjoyed the applications, integrated with Google Earth maps. Triathlete and blogger, John Cooke updates his training log online with Garmin, so that his readers can visually chart his pre-race training schedule.
Clifford Lee’s successfully completed his 11th Ironman attempt. Unofficially, he is the first Singaporean that we know in the local triathlon community to have achieved this personal record. We congratulate him! Watch his race-day video (taken during the ride and run legs) to gain a sense of his endurance challenge at Ironman South Africa in Port Elizabeth. Now, we know why his transitions are long.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fighting For A Cause

The landmark, HBO-produced fight at Caesar’s Palace in 2003 is worth watching: it was the third and final bout between ‘Irish’ Micky Ward and Arturo Gatti. This trilogy of fights may have led to the WBU champion, Ward establishing a presence strong enough to lead to this biographic film, The Fighter. It is equivalent to Raging Bull, a 1980 biopic about Jake LaMotta  (played by Robert De Niro), although there is more authentic and accurate fight choreography drawn from actual video footage.
Academy Award® Nominees: a completely convincing Mark Wahlberg (The Departed), a marathon-gaunt and chemically-crazed Christian Bale (The Dark Knight) and the believably tough Amy Adams (Doubt) star in this highly watchable film. Based on a true story, two brothers from Lowell, Massachusetts, defy the odds, reunite to train for a historic title bout that reunited their fractured family and give their hard-luck town what it's been waiting for: a sense of pride. Micky Ward (Wahlberg) is a struggling boxer long overshadowed by his cantankerous however medicated, older brother and trainer, Dicky Eklund (Bale), a local legend battling his own demons. Their explosive relationship threatens to take them both down – for the count – but blood ties may be their only chance for redemptive qualities of a flagging pugilistic career.
Sugar Ray Leonard has a cameo as a commentator at a fight; in fact, the real-life Dicky once dropped Sugar Ray at a bout, although it was considered a freak tripping accident. Despite his talent in the ring, though, Micky can't catch a break until he meets Charlene (Amy Adams), a chilli-hot bartender who encourages him to stand up for himself. When Dicky is sent to prison, and Micky takes on a more experienced manager, his fortunes start to improve. However, it isn't in his nature to abandon the people who raised him, so he attempts to unite the various factions in his life before his shot at the world championship slips away.

I watched the film onboard two flights. Incidentally I also caught the documentary of Ward’s third and last fight with Gatti. In true sportsmanship, both fighters congratulated and acknowledged each other for a tough and exciting fight. When a fighter retires, it would be best to see him go full circle and fight his best fight (akin to Rocky Balboa, aka Rocky 6). Both Ward and Gatti had to be hospitalized for the physical injuries incurred during this Fight of The Year (2003). I strongly recommend this film that was nominated for seven Oscars; the Best Supporting Actor award went to Bale. Melissa Leo who plays the mother bagged the Best Supporting Actress award.
When you are down for the count, what goes through your mind? Who is really on your team when you face your adversaries? How much do you value your loyal supporters? Which is the cause that you strongly fight for? 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Great To Be Home!

I got back a few hours ago from a business trip, and then rushed through dinner to attend my magic club’s meeting. Since the theme tonight was on sleight of hand magic – the purest form of illusion – I enjoyed the performances.

Having suffered a mild case of the runny nose (probably earned from last Sunday's 12K race & subsequent 3-hour riding brick), I still managed to train twice: a 30-minute circuit training session with free weights and medicine ball/wobble board, and a 90-minute stationary bike ride session. The ride was restricted to a maximum of 60 minutes, however I sat on it for a further 30 minutes since I was the only one earlier in the evening. A lady exerciser irritated me when she flung the doors open to allow the outside air to waft in. I felt hot since the cool, air-conditioned room became mixed with the warmth of the city’s evening. I concluded that this lady believed that a warm ambience would stoke her metabolism. She would have been better off increasing the intensity of her activity.

A few of my friends have hopped on the Kindle reader bandwagon. The digital paper is easier on the eye and the battery-life is long-lasting: akin to a highly trained, and clever endurance athlete. Durability, resilience and persistence are enduring qualities of leaders who lead their teams.

Pardon my lack of time-based postings, I could not access my blog and other social media tools because I had no access. It is quite annoying to be subject to another form of ‘compression’ technology. However, such is life as we can only manage what is within our control. I re-watched Invictus on cable TV, and was reminded of President Nelson Mandela’s words to Francois Pienaar (captain of the South African rugby team, the Springboks): ‘I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.’ It was based on a poem 'Invictus' written by English poet, William Ernest Henley, which Mandela read constantly when he was prisoner 46664. Invictus means 'unconquered'.
'Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.'

But the fourth and last verse is the one that people tend to remember:

'It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.'

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dampening Disappointments

[Thursday’s Post]

Bouncing back from non-starters, disappointing results and criticism are part of our maturing process. Sure, these can hurt us emotionally yet they are bound to occur, at the most unexpected moments.

Kids are taught discipline through suspending their immediate gratification. Delayed gratification is about knowing how to have your cake and eat it, but not all at once, or at one sitting. You can hold back your urges, so that we can channel these motivations into other pursuits of higher relevance and usefulness.

Recall when we resume a bad habit or break a vow that we regret. Regret, left unchecked and unattended, can be destructive chains in human psychology.

We have our bad days – times when things appear to defeat us. Instead of feeling conquered, choose other behaviors to lead ourselves. Exercise, reading an inspirational book, watching competitive sports, or having a productive conversation with a close friend or confidant can excite our neural pathways. Renewed thinking can change the way we feel, almost immediately! Notice how recognition from friends on Facebook or Twitter can engage us. Seek psychological group ‘hugs’ or do a group run, and enjoy the mental, emotional and spiritual energies that come with them.

Step on your disappointments, and step up on your appointments!

Mind Reading: Reading Minds

[For Wednesday]
How do you know when you know? When you hear somebody utter, ‘I know!’ what do they mean? Do you believe in intuition? Do you believe that we are capable of reading somebody’s mind? Can we really know what somebody is thinking about?

The Mentalist is television’s attempt to integrate popular psychology in the field of forensic pathology. What goes on in the psyche and mind of a criminal? Can we put ourselves in their shoes and figure out their next move? TV series Psych describes a highly observant and irreverent private investigator (posing as a psychic) working in partnership with a logical-rational business partner-friend – free-lancing for the police to solve challenging cases.

Thinking is a sensing process: we gather information from our five senses. Our brain then processes the information gathered from our sensing: sense, nonsense, sensibility, and sensations. Our intuition is a relatively unexplored area of our abilities. Sometimes, we do things that are counter-intuitive and go against the grain of conventional thinking. Creative approaches like lateral thinking, or thinking outside the box, are analogies to alternative thinking.

If you believe in the almost, limitless potential of the human brain then psychic entertainers and mind readers could be your cup of tea. Those of us familiar with Derren Brown’s of the Mind Control, and Trick of the Mind series may be interested to attend a ‘live’ show of such mental phenomena.
Keep your June holiday free. For one-night only, on 8 June, Nique Tan performs his unique brand of mind-reading demonstrations. He is an excellent sleight of hand artist, and consummate professional entertainer. Do attend, and he will entertain fully and thoroughly. I just conducted a fascinating interview with this intelligent and highly approachable gentleman, and will post it up soon on a few websites and online magazines.