Milo and the calf
Have you ever heard the saying “eat a bear — one bite at a time”?
For those that haven’t, here is where it means. It means you break down a man sized TASK (the almighty grizzly, hehe) into bite sized chunks, and accomplish eating the entire thing ONE chunk at a time.
As opposed to looking at the entire bear (task) and getting overawed by the enormity of the task ahead and getting discouraged, or worse, not STARTING at all.
In terms of success, what does this mean?
It means that you break down a goal into bite sized chunks, my friend.
Often times, we start out with the right intentions in terms of goals, but lose focus along the way, and most commonly at the outset.
Lets say, for instance, that you have a goal to drop 50 lbs. (Yes, that ain’t an extreme as it sounds given today’s fitness and conditioning levels and obesity levels, etc).
You look at the scales. You’re currently 70 lbs overweight.
You do the right thing. You visualize, and get all fired up upon seeing the ideal you and then a PLAN to lose weight pops into mind (hopefully the RIGHT plans and the right routines).
But then it comes time for EXECUTION.
You feel exhausted the first day you pop off them squats. Your legs hurt, and you can barely walk the next day.
OK, fine, you think. No problem.
You do it again after two days or so, and improve … a little.
But your still not losing weight.
Rinse, repeat, and within a couple of weeks you see that you HAVE indeed lost weight … a grand total of a little less than ONE and a half kilos.
(NB — this is a true story in part — yours truly was afflicted with the “I’m exercising daily, but can’t seem to lose weight as quickly as I’d like” before I got on the RIGHT routines and did the RIGHT things).
Then you look at the goal. 50!
Seems far off, doesn’t it?
And slowly, all the enthusiasm you built up evaporates, until one fine day you just give up and stop doing the thing — because the task itself overwhelms you.
And this is sad, my friend. It’s sad, and yet more common than you’d think. The biggest hurdle is often getting STARTED — — but way too many people do the exact opposite of eating a bear one bite at a time and get overawed by the task at hand … and before they know it, they’re back at square ZERO — or less.
Sad part? This can be avoided so easily … and indeed, that’s also the GOOD part in a way.
What do I mean, you ask.
Well, let me explain — by means of another example.
This afternoon, and indeed all morning, I’ve been trying to get my daughter to do some Math H.W. — — ultimately unsuccessfully, hehe.
Now it’s lockdown time at the time of writing this, and as the dreaded COVID19 panic makes it way across the globe, or should I say as the FEAR settles into people’s minds at a deep, subconscious level, our kids are the most impacted.
Young kids especially that need to move around and be active and DO things on a physical level rather than be confined all day long to the house staring at a computer / laptop screen (or, as is the case with my daughter, the dumbphone screen).
Or the tablet screen, for that matter!
Kids were ALREADY spending way, way too much time on their electronic gadgets and devices before the lockdowns started to happen on a GLOBAL scale, and right now (and if you are a parent, or even a caretaker in any way, shape or form), you KNOW that time has tripled or more (and that’s putting it conservatively).
At such times its often times a battle to get kids away from the screen and do some HW or learn some new things — — or perhaps even that old favorite, read a book.
I manage to do this fairly successfully at times, of course, with a combination of patience, “Good Papa”, a friendly and interesting, hands on approach to teaching, and more.
But it doesn’t work all the time, my friend and after two nights where the entire household hasn’t (for reasons beyond the scope of this note) slept well at all for two nights in a row, everyone’s cranky, and my daughter’s normally lightning quick BRAIN isn’t working at top gear today if I might say so.
And all throughout the HW (which was basically simple sums of multiplication) she had the same refrain.
Daddy, can’t you give me something EASY?
Honey, this is easy enough, would be my response.
No it’s not!
(Followed by the occasional tantrum etc)
And finally I sat her down and told her like it was, albeit in a kiddie manner.
Honey, you have to do incrementally more difficult things in order to get BETTER — not just at math — but in LIFE.
If you keep sticking to the easy things and your comfort zone, you’ll never ever improve. Sure, the other members of the household at this point might not really push you to do anything outside your comfort zone. They never did ME in many regards either . . . but this is not conducive to learning or improving at anything.
And from my six year old’s reaction, you might as well have thought I was talking to the clouds, or in the clouds!
Fair enough. She’s young, so I finished off with this … much like the story of Milo and the calf, Shristi. Do you remember I told you that one a couple of years ago?
She didn’t or she seems not to have, at any rate . . .
Anyway, whats this story you might ask.
Many years ago there lived a tremendously powerful wrestler in Southern Italy who went by the name of “Milo”.
Not only was he a champ — a six time champ at the Ancient Olympic Games in Greece — but he was also uber -dominant in the other tournaments of the day — — and a bonafide Periodonikes — which is a title that is the equivalent of what we call a “grand slam” champ today.
They built them STRONG back then — there were most certainly none of the bloated steriod freaks we see running around the gyms today!
And Milo was stronger than the rest — and just how did he develop his amazing strength — and muscle — and functional strength/endurance?
Well — he had a very unusual training technique — one which involves carrying heavy objects — with a twist!
He owned a little calf, and got this idea of carrying the calf on his shoulder and carried it around all day with him.
Thats right — he carried a calf with him — and he did this DAILY without fail.
As the calf got older, it got bigger — and heavier — and within the span of 4 years, it grew into a full grown BULL — and Milo was still hoisting that darn bull on his shoulders at that time!
Though folks laughed at him initially, he was certainly the one having the last laugh. Don’t know about you, but any man that can hoist a full grown bull to his shoulders and keep it there isn’t no-one to mess with in my book!
Of course, this sort of training isn’t new to strength enthusiasts and not to yours truly either.
I wrote about the immense value of carrying and lifting oddly shaped objects (NOT weights you find in the gym) in Fast and Furious Fitness, and the tremendous strength it builds.
In the 0 Excuses Fitness videos I talk about how you can do pushups with your kid on your back — and believe me, it ain’t just the weight — it’s the UNWIELDY nature of the weight that really gets you!
I also speak about carrying large containers of water up and down stairs — and how it literally gives you a Gorilla Grip within a very short time span if you keep at it!
And so forth.
And while these are all good reasons to mention what I am, the real reason I’m mentioning it is this — it bears testament to the amazing power of DAILY repetition.
Daily repetition — the small things done over and over again — can indeed move mountains, my friend — and Milo’s story is but one example.
At the start, it might seem inconsequential. It might even seem “tedious” to keep at it day after day after day without seeing any tangible results straight up — but much like a bank account, your actions add up — and one fine day, you’ll see the mountain you’ve been aiming to build right before your eyes — higher, taller and stronger than you ever imagined it to be!
And if you want more examples?
Well, I do a variant of what Milo did every time I go out with my daughter.
My daughter’s over 6 years now — and certainly not a “light weight” for her age (and fit as a fiddle as well).
And of course the first thing she wants to do when going anywhere is jump straight onto Papa’s shoulders — and stay there.
And despite the chorus of calls from Mommy to “get down and let Papa walk”, hehe, she stays perched right there, and I’m happy to carry her around as well when I can.
First, because I won’t get the chance to do this too often and I’d like to grab chances like this by the scruff of the neck when they do arise.
A great bond builder — and two?
Well, it’s a great workout — and if you don’t believe me, try carrying heavy groceries in one hand — balance a frisky kid on the other shoulders — and do so while navigating traffic on foot — on slopes at that!
You’ll quickly find it gives you the upper body and leg workout of your life — a workout unlike any you’ll get in the weight room — but a workout akin to what Milo did for years — and a workout that delivers solid RESULTS.
Admittedly, I don’t do this daily — but I do it a few times a week without fail, and I enjoy every minute of it!
Pull-ups are another area I’ve applied this technique successfully.
I still remember those days when I’d faithfully go out to complete my reps … it mattered NOT if I did just 3 reps per set — or 5 — or 10 — or varied the numbers around.
What matters is I stuck at it until I got to 150 daily — — and I stuck at it no matter what!
And today, doing pull-ups is as easy for me as plonking one’s arse down on a chair is for most people.
And while there are plenty of other factors to it — it’s YET another example of the power of daily repetition — and the things it can accomplish!
And back to homework, and studies … the only way you can get better at multiplication, for instance, is by a) doing it daily, and b) doing it at a level slightly MORE difficult (as opposed to LESS) each time you do it.
And the same thing applies to life.
Want to achieve more and greater success?
Then step outside that comfort zone, my friend.
Do what you didn’t do before — or do it at a higher level, and then come back tomorrow and do it AGAIN — — at an even higher level.
INCREASE the steps you’re taking daily (in terms of your goal) until you reach a level of success your comfortable with!
It’s much like getting to banging out 50, or even 25 pushups at one shot.
When you start, 5 might be a chore, but you KEEP AT IT.
5 turns into 6 soon, and then 7.
In a week or two, you’re at 10.
And you keep going from there, and keep building upon the momentum and (importantly), the feeling of SUCCESS built up by the LAST success.
(Note — this progression may sound too elementary, but believe me, it is a chore for the average modern day man to give me ONE good pushup in slow, strict form — let alone 10!).
And as you read this, you’ll see that we’re breaking down the task … whether it be my daughter’s multiplication or your pushups into achievable small chunks.
Eating a bear, one bite at a time.
Building more and more strength the Milo and the calf way, progressive strength training at its best.
Exercising your idea and writing muscles a little more daily, until the idea of pounding out 10,000 words daily no longer overawes you … because you DO it everyday! (and note — I did this for a couple of months back in the day when pounding out a ton of writing and books for another business venture of mine, so its very doable if you set your mind to it).
And so forth.
Moral of the story — and all these stories, to be fair?
One, break the task down into manageable chunks. Eat the bear, but ONLY one bite at a time!
Two, keep at it daily.
And three, keep tearing off a slightly bigger chunk than you did the day before.
And that, my friend, is really all there is to it (from an execution standpoint) of (metamorphically speaking) climbing Everest — or higher, in terms of achieving what you previously thought were INSURMOUNTABLE goals/odds.
It’s easy, if you know how and if you think about it!
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