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Sunday, 31 December 2017

Best-of 2017 Media Picks


Thanks for stopping by.  If you missed my Best of 2016, you can go back and check it out here:

(I also wrote Best-ofs in previous years.  you can scroll through the archives on the right of this page to find them).


I didn’t read quite as many books this year (60 maybe?) as normal, as I spent more time on articles, blog-posts, and traditional media (WAY too much of this - thus the post yesterday about how I will engage with media more PROactively in 2018).  I got a little addicted to the craziness that is the Trumpshpere.  No more … 2018 will be back to quality media - good books, good articles, good blog-posts, good podcasts.  


Which brings me to a question that was asked by Jorge Carvajal on Twitter last week about what folks’ thoughts are about finishing books.  My opinion - easy: if the book sucks, read something else.  I honestly don’t know why people struggle with this.  Life is short.  Don’t spend it wasting time doing things you don’t enjoy.

A word or two on this year’s list:
I read 2-3 hours a day, and listen to podcasts for another 1-3.
I don’t have a TV, and I don’t have WiFi at home - so lots of time to make (hopefully good) choices.  
I’ve divided the list into sections.
I haven’t included books I don’t like at all.
My pet peeve: good people who recommend crappy books, just because they’re written by colleagues, or by someone else in the industry.  There are some truly HORRIBLE books in the sport performance world.

I have three requests for those in the Industry:
  1. Just because you live in the sport performance world doesn’t mean you have to write a book; 
  2. Just because you live in the sport performance world doesn’t mean you have to buy the crap that others in the industry are putting out; and 
  3. Just because you live in the sport performance world, and you somehow got suckered into buying a crap book by a colleague doesn’t mean that you have to pay it forward trying to sucker others into reading it also


The same goes for podcasts.  There are more and more performance podcasts popping up.  Some are good.  Some are bad.  Most are somewhere in between.  This is a good thing - the cream will eventually rise to the top, as it traditionally always has.  

Traditionally.  

My worry is with the quantity of new media - and the concomitant dilution of quality - as well as a growing industry where many lack the necessary context-experience to separate the wheat from the chaff, that it will become increasingly difficult for high-quality work to gain acceptance-respect.  My glass-is-half-full side here points to the success of Fergus’, Brett’s, Steve and Brad’s, and Brian, Andy, and Phil’s books (below) as hopeful proof that the cream will continue to rise to the top.


Back to podcasts:

My biggest issue with most of the sport performance podcasts, is that most end up being simple question-answer sessions (Robbie Bourke’s podcast is a notable exception to this), where the hosts aren’t able to discern what’s accurate from what’s simply novel.  I have the same beef with traditional media, by the way.  Even the New York Times are now having to post-hoc produce critiques of their own reporting - needing to take 24-48 hours to do their own research into the latest Trump-lies, or the spin of other politicians.  This is a challenging time, but as I wrote yesterday, the antidote is to ask “why?”.  

We all need to dig deeper; whether it be into the recesses of our own minds, the programs we write, the manner in which we coach and communicate, or with the media we engage with. When someone tells you “your glutes are shutting off”, for example - and that they have built a system to eliminate this, ask them to go deeper.  If we don’t have the opportunity, let’s do some further research ourselves.  Dig deeper ourselves. 

If you do not have the experience to fully understand something, be careful when you say “I think”, or “I feel” - and be careful not to be exploited by the lowest-common denominator messages - appealing to novelty, rather than to quality.  


Anyways - on to my top media picks of 2017:


Books:

On dealing with the world we live in:

Silence In the Age of Noise - Erling Kagge
The Energy Bus - Jon Gordon
The Elon Musk Blog Series - Tim Urban (Wait But Why)
I bought this on Kindle, but if you want, you can read it for free on the What But Why blog
The Circle - Dave Eggers
Apparently a pretty crap movie - but I enjoyed this somewhat dystopian look into the future
The Gift of Fear - Gavin De Becker

Over-rated, but still OK:

Principles - Ray Diallo
Biggest critique: Diallo should have hired a ghost-writer.  The poor writing is distracting
The Captain Class - Sam Walker
Meh … I got the point after a chapter
Legacy - James Kerr
Really don’t see what the fuss is about, to be honest.  

Best in Existentialism:

Existentialism and Excess - The Life & Times of Jean-Paul Sartre - Gary Cox
At The Existentialist Cafe - Sarah Bakewell
The Stranger - Albert Camus
I went deep into existentialism this year.  These three were my favorites.  I will no doubt have a few more on the 2018 List

Best in Business:

Thinking in New Boxes - Luc De Brabandere and Alan Iny
The Systems Bible - John Gall
Not a business book per se, but lots to learn here that can be applied to the business world.
What Do You Want Your Customers to Become? - Michael Scherage

Random:

Recovery - Russel Brand
Check out Brand’s podcast Under the Skin, also.  Trivia: my good friend, and former UKA Chief Physio Gordon Bosworth, is Brand’s therapist.
What Doesn’t Kill Us - Scott Karney
Basically, a how-to on the Wim Hof method

On History:

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind -
 Yuval Noah Harari
Thirteen Days - Robert F Kennedy
I read this after listening to Dan Carlin’s 6 hour exposé on the Cuban Missile Crisis on Hardcore History.  Really insightful short read

The Best in the Industry:

Peak Performance - Steve Magness & Brad Stulberg
Bringing elite-performance sport principles to the general population … timely
Conscious Coaching - Brett Bartholomew
A must-have for all coaches
Unplugged - Brian MacKenzie, Dr Andy Galpin, and Phil White
The right book at the right time
Gamechanger - Dr Fergus Connolly w/ Phil White
A must-have for all who work in sport!

The Top 5 Non-Sport Books:

Erich Fromm - To Have or to Be?
I’ll read this every year
The Undoing Project - Michael Lewis
Lewis - incredible writer!
Delivering Happiness - Tony Hseih
This is the book Diallo’s Principles should have been.  This is an awesome look into Hseih and Zappos
Existentialism and Excess - The Life & Times of Jean-Paul Sartre - Gary Cox
And my book of the year:
Fantasyland - Kurt Andersen
I heard about this book from listening to Andersen’s conversation with Sam Harris on the Waking Up podcast.  If you are wondering why America is the way it is, read this book

Non-fiction:

The People of the Abyss - Jack London
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit - Sloan Wilson
Both classics; both in the rotation

one of my 'book-shelves'

Podcasts:

Waking Up 
The Axe Files
Fresh Air
How I Built This
What it Takes
Very Bad Wizards
Hidden Brain
Common Sense
(NOTE: I listen to all episodes of the above podcasts for at least the first 30 minutes.  If I enjoy the first 30 minutes, I finish it.  If not, I delete it)

And podcasts from sport (or related to sport):

Finding Mastery
Resilient Performance
Host Doug Kechijian is a smart dude, doing the performance podcast a little differently to everyone else.  If you haven't checked it out - do it.  Begin with his conversation with Isa Steinberg
Perception and Action podcast - Rob Gray
Rich Roll
All Things Strength & Wellness (Robbie - you need to change the title)
ALTIS (Ellie Spain is doing an awesome job interviewing upcoming ALTIS ACP guests)
And the occasional Just-Fly Sports Performance (I really enjoyed the agility one from a few weeks ago with Shawn Myszka, Scott Salwasser, and Michael Zweifel, for example)


Again - In closing – it really doesn’t matter what you read … just read!  If this list helps you choose some good books and podcasts, then great!  

If not, and you’re reading anyway – that’s great too!


Thanks - Stu


Saturday, 30 December 2017

Why?


People ask me why I haven’t posted for a while.  
They assume I’m too busy.  But that’s not it.  


Too busy should never be a justification.  
Busy is a decision.  
Busy is a cop-out.  

“Too” busy just means you don’t know what you want to do.

Yet.
  
So you (try to) do everything.  


No - I haven’t been too busy. 

Truth is, I haven’t posted in a while because I have had nothing to say.  

Nothing to say because I got hooked.
 - on junk.  

The junk that is the world we live in, and specifically - how we consume it:

  • The titles, and not the abstracts.
  • The sensational headlines, and not the boring stories.
  • The tweets, and not the articles.
  • The blogs, and not the books.
  • The notifications, and not the essays.

Repetition over education.

Where everyone speaks, but no one listens.  

All mouths.
No ears.

Where what feels good is more important than what’s true.


Junk - we find out - is a way of life.

  • It is all consuming
  • It is our new reality
  • It is stealing our time

And - if we’re not careful - it’ll steal it all.
From right under our noses, as we watch it do it.  

But there’s an antidote:

DEATH

Yes - DEATH.
Or - at least the acceptance of it;
the acceptance that life is just an elaborate journey to nowhere.
And an acceptance that the only way we can live with this absurdity is because we have the ability to ask WHY. 

Why the junk?
Why time-wasting?
Why are we participating in this absurdity?

“Why” is our way out of the mess that is this world right now.



Because if we do not ask why, then what’s the point in living?

Even if our answers are unsatisfactory, it is the act of asking the question that gives us purpose.

It maybe doesn’t make sense of the absurdity that is a president Trumpty Dumpty, for example - 

but it is in asking the question that brings us closer to our own truth; 

The truth that is the constant, and unending, invention, reinvention, interpretation, and reinterpretation of ourselves throughout our lives. 

The understanding that we are always a work in progress, 
 - shaped by that which we focus on.  

Because neuroplasticity occurs whether we like it or not.
Our brain is literally changing every moment of our lives.

How we focus our attention - what we focus our attention on,
… is what our life becomes. 


“How we spend our days is how we spend our lives” - Dillard


The question is:  “how will we spend our days?”
What will we choose to do?
What will we read?
Who will we listen to?

“If I spend the remainder of my life doing this, would it be meaningful?”



In 2018, I will work through this PROCESS a little differently.

Rather than reacting to the world around me, I will engage more proactively,

  • With what I read,
  • With how I read it.
  • With how I communicate,
  • With who I communicate.



Each week, I will share my own efforts at finding my own truth:

The WHY:
the PROCESS.

The negotiation with uncertainty …

because life is complicated,
 - and complex.

And only by admitting to this - 

Nay - not the admission; but the acceptance of this;
In fact - only by embracing this uncertainty,
can we hope to find where our own truth lies.  


There are no short-cuts;
we have to play the long-game.