Friday, July 8, 2011

Learn from success, not failure

Last week I was talking to an someone, and wandered into the subject of nutrition. I tread carefully with people on this subject, as I do a lot of reading on it and consider many opinions and philosophies. I have a hard time buying into "absolutes" and don't buy into major media "hype".

The topic landed on sugar, and this person went on a rampage about how artificial sweetners are so bad for you. Of course, I joked about how great cane sugar is for you. This person did not laugh. "At least it is natural", they said. I responed by saying "in all of my years on the trails, in the countryside, in the south, in the mountains, I have never come across cane sugar naturally in the environment".

They responeded by saying "okay... it is processed, but.............." I don't remember what was said after that, because that is funny in itself. "It is processed, but natural". Watch a video on making sugar from sugar cane, it is hardly something that can happen in nature.

But here is the best part, the person saying this to me was obese. So was this person's spouse. I find it interesting when obese people give advice about diet and excercise.

I know I have mentioned the evil "High Fructose Corn Syrup" here many times. I use this as a benchmark example of people going crazy for the wrong reasons. People think I have said HFCS is good for. I have never said that. I think it is bad. I think it is just as bad as cane sugar. In small amounts, I don't have issues with either. The problems with both are a result of EXCESS, or even moderate consumption.

Fine you can say one is bad, and one is good. I don't care anymore. I consume very little of both.

What does this have to do with the title of the post? I will tell you. Rewind 15 years.

I was with my boss from 15 years ago and we were talking about relationships and marriage. I was newly wed from the prior year, and he gave me some advice. It was capped by
"Trust me, I know... I am on my 3rd marriage".

Wow. You must be a marriage expert.

Okay... I know. You can and should learn from someone's mistakes. But why do they get more credit than a couple who has been married happily for a long time?

I think it is because our society is a pessimist one, in general.

I used to be laughed at for reading motivational books. I figured out a long time ago to learn from successful people, and avoid advice from the not so successful. Sounds easy, right?

Wrong. Every step of my life and career I seem to run into buzz-kills.

Author Marcus Buckingham wrote a great book titled "Now, Discover Your Strengths". He talks about focusing on your strengths, and developing them while minimizing the damage your weaknesses can do. He does not say to improve your weaknesses, just do damage control. The hard part of the strenghts is finding out which ones you are good at. Buckingham help creat The Strength Finder. It is cool, I suggest you try it. Can anybody guess what I am? I didn't know, but all of my co-workers did.

The point of all of this is............

Success is something we must learn from. This applies to running, diet, relationships, etc.

I am reading a couple of books on the above topics, and I am more inclined to buy into the thinking of someone who has shown what they preach through their own results.

My converation with the obese person about my health just could not get out of my head this week... hence, this post.

People think I am "lean" and "fit" due to genetics. They discount all of the hard work, discipline, and lifestyle I choose to live to stay this way. My dad is obese, and he has given me more bad advice about food than many people I know. But I still love him.


SteveQ said...

I was expecting something different from the title of the post. When trying to deal with problems I've encountered in ultras, I've found most of the best runners have never encountered them; there's nothing to learn.

You and the obese person were both right, just using terms differently.

Many doctors tell patients to diet and exercise, when they don't and are themselves obese - it doesn't mean the idea's bad, just that they don't follow it. Priests give marriage advice all the time; being celibate doesn't mean what they say is wrong, just that they have no personal experience.

Frankly, I'd take advice from just about anyone on relationships - I certainly can't do worse! - ummm, it must be genetics, yeah, that sounds good.

Adam said...

Nice post, Matt. This reminds me of a conversation I had with a coworker a while back. He was in line to get breakfast, ordering a big cheesy omelet. The overweight person behind him commented on how lucky he was to be able to eat like that. My friends response? "I workout 5 days a week, what do you do?"

If I ate the way I do now, and didn't work out, I can't imagine what I'd look like and feel like.

Anyhoo, I think there are a lot to learn from other peoples mistakes and successes. And I like the idea of damage control on your weaknesses.

Chad W said...

I really enjoyed your post, Matt. Successful people have had their fair of failures as well, and that both are valuable sources of knowledge and wisdom. Sometimes success, even through experience, can cause tunnel vision toward a solution. Whereas you can be successful by repeating, it may not be the best solution for a problem. I think this is illustrated by the innumerable approaches to diet and fitness that people take, and the fanaticism surrounding some approaches. Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Anonymous said...

So after people order a double whopper, xl fries,etc.,(close to 2000 calories) why do they order a diet coke?.........stewy