Season 1: Episode 5 – Book Review – Aggressive & Invincible Mask

“Imagine the moments just before a cage fight. The cheering crowd. The threatening opponent in the corner, flexing, shadow-boxing, bouncing rhythmically on the balls of his feet, ready for someone to ring the bell so he can pounce. The highlight reel of his past victories plays on the jumbo-tron—man after man hitting the canvas or tapping desperately as the air gets choked out of them. Think about all the money on the line. The bragging rights. The years of training that led up to this moment.
And now think, how would you feel if you were the fighter about to enter the cage to face your opponent? Afraid? Anxious? Angry? Numb? Worried? You’d be a perfectly normal human being to feel those things.”

Excerpt From: Lewis Howes. “The Mask of Masculinity.” iBooks.

Some of you may or may not know my story about being a child, but back in 2003, I went through a phase where I saw a lot of aggression.  On the first day of school. my mother was laid off work.  We went from having a lot of food, to having very little food in the house.  My mom did everything she could to keep peace and calm in the house, but when the lights got cut off, it persisted.  There was a time my brother confronted me at band practice and we got in a fight.  His punk ass (and I mean that out of total disrespect — lol) ran home to tell my mom first.  When I got home, my mom was screaming at me, and so was my brother, which lead to me running away from home for the first night in my life.  For a mother to take someone’s side, as angry an individual one will ever meet (my brother) without hearing me first, was heartbreaking.

These things continued festering when my long-time crush, Adriana, ended up dumping me.  Following that, a manipulative girl by the name of Maria came into my life and left without a trace, too.

Going into December, I had an insane amount of anger.  There was a jazz band playing in the band room one afternoon — one of the most depressing songs ever that had stuck with me, and still does, to this day. I told my brother what was happening and he could relate.  Remember, if you’re depressed, the goal is to not be around depressed people. My mom, out of desperation, sold a truck to my uncle’s girlfriend (and the truck she got from her father).  She got a much needed $2500 USD from her, not to mention that a long time family friend had came over the previous three weeks with a full Thanksgiving dinner for us — seeing my mom reduce to tears.

Shortly after the New Years, my mother got a new job and that dark cloud that was hanging over our family for the third quarter of 2003 had gone away.  However, something was still inside me.

I would scream and slam controllers on my upstairs bedroom floor when I lost in Blitz 2003.  My mom would yell at the top of her lungs, screaming violently at me “IT’S JUST A F***ING GAME!”

That last time i overreacted was a basketball game: UNC vs. Duke.  UNC lost by a nailbiter and my reaction was so terrifying that my mother glanced at her friend, who was sitting right next to her, and asked him “is something wrong with my son?”

Days later, a kid name Manny approached me and asked about joining the high school Track & Field team.  That weekend I tried out and made the team.  Yes, there was just a small snippet of aggression and uncontrollable rage remaining in me at the time (my brother swayed my mother into not buying some shoes for me and I ended up crying really bad in the back seat of my mother’s vehicle).  After that, that was the last time I could remember being so emotionally distraught.

Aggression builds up.  There are so many areas, in my life, where I could’ve pinpointed what actually happened.  You can only connect the dots looking back.

“That said, the real problem for the development of young men is when aggression is the primary outlet for their pain, their sadness, their anxiety, and their anger.
Unaddressed anger is the glue that keeps the Aggressive Mask stuck in place, starting very early and lasting, in many cases, for decades. There is research on this, and it testifies to how much young boys, in particular, are soaked in anger. For many of them, anger is the only emotion that is “acceptable” to express.”

Excerpt From: Lewis Howes. “The Mask of Masculinity.” iBooks.

Invincible Mask Podcast

Today’s Podcast

Napoleon Hill – Failure – Introduction of My Physical Failure

Let me paint this picture of this life-turning night at Palo Verde High School back in May of 2005.

I was a 300m intermediate-hurdler who was favored to at least make it to the Sunrise Regional Championships.  I remember I failed miserably at the 110HH – not intentionally, but because I was more focused on the ‘endurance’ run that was approaching the next day.  So, here I am sitting on what feels like a frosty field for 10-20 minutes.  Before the race began, I did a fair amount of stretching to keep loose.  However, all athletes were forced to keep seated in the inside of the field until the 800m race had finished – which seemed like for AGES.

Boom, here we go.  Approached the blocks, glanced at the heavy crowd on-hand and I recall glancing at just two random Filipinos, making eye-contact with them.  It just seemed like at the moment, it was time to do WORK!

“Runners on your block!”

I did my usual jump-crunch and backed into my blocks, waiting calmly for the gun to go off and unleash hell.

“SET”

…………

“SHOT FIRED”

I’m flying out the blocks in tenacity so I can get ahead quickly and pace myself.  This track’s 300m race starts in the first curve rather than the back straightaway, which was very odd.  It didn’t throw me off, but I just remember getting to the first and last curve before I felt my legs tighten up on me.  Not to the point that I pulled my hamstrings, but it felt like I had 2-20KG cinder blogs on both shoulders.  The other athletes zoomed by me and I saw my hopes of making finals dwindle before my very eyes.

I finished, fell to the ground, and wept like a baby.  I staggered walking across the field in utter devastation and seeing some of my teammates looking at me with no reaction.  The hardest part was going to my coach and apologizing to him.  Other athletes from my team who were heavily favored to reach the Class 4A State Championship Race also didn’t qualify.  It was a night of misery.

Or was it?

Podcast 

Stephen Covey’s Begin With The End In Mind

Today is a special feature for my most played podcast on spreaker.com – Stephen Covey’s Begin With The End In Mind.

Not sure about the analytics behind this, but there have been almost a half-a-grand plays on this particular podcast, so I will write a short blog and post the podcast down below if you guys want to listen in!

To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination.  I was just recently teaching how to write business plans for some of my students, and I realized that some articles we came across didn’t coincide with what we were doing.  In fact, people who actually do write business plans don’t abide by them.  It requires flexibility, but you need to know the forecast of the business and what direction it’s going in.

Before you begin anything in life, always have a clear goal at the very end and trust the process.

If you’re a basketball player, what’s the ultimate goal? Do you just want to play your way through high school to keep in shape? What about university? Would you like to play in the NBA? Blue-collar player? Starter? All-star?

How about Track & Field? I wish I had asked myself this question years ago.  I didn’t have an end goal.  I had no idea what I wanted to become in terms of a star.  What times did I want, to how much strength I needed to run the 110 meter high hurdles.

I remember I asked a pseudo-mentor at a track and field meet, “could you please give me some motivation before running?”  What I would’ve told myself was, “Arsenio, who do yo want to become? What do you want? What’s your end goal? Specific times?”  Instead, what I got was, “run fast!”  Yeah…..thank you.

The process will have a lot more “downs” than “ups,” but it’s all part…of the process.  Going through not only those years of track and field in high school, to unwittingly quitting at college because I hated the hate going around the team was all downs….but there was a lot of character building in it.

Work

A lot of people right now are engaged in survival “busy-ness” that isn’t getting them anywhere in life.  They discover towards the end that the “success” ladder was leaning up against the wrong wall for the last 10 years.  It is possible to be busy – very busy – without being very effective.  You can be the ultimate “hustler” but I see people hustling at companies making minimum wage; picking up large containers of cement.  I used to be that person in 11th grade before I quit.

People, from all walks of life including doctors, actors, business professionals, athletes – often struggle to achieve a higher income.  Why? That drive to achieve that particular goal blinded them to the things that really mattered most and now are gone.

All Things Are Created Twice

All things are created twice.  That’s the principle of “beginning with the end in mind.”

You need to first have a mental creation before having a physical creating.  Can you imagine construction workers building a house without a blueprint of it? Where would they start? How does the owner want it to look? It would be impossible to get the “perfect” house because you have to first vision that perfect house.  Having a clear image is vital and the first step.  The carpenter’s rule is “measure twice, cut once.”  You have to make sure that the blue print, which is the first creation, is what you really want, that you’ve thought everything through.

Look at a business.  if you want to have a success enterprise, you clearly define what you’re trying to accomplish.

Life Begins At The End of Your Comfort Zone

Track & Field in high school

Those 200m, 300m, and 400m intervals that made me feel faint, dizzy, legs burning, and wanting to throw up after practice everyday were grueling.  As an athlete, these days, including heels and bleachers, are the days we dread.  The days I used to dread.  However, little did I know it was preparing me for getting out of my comfort zone.  This type of maniacal training after school on weekdays prepared us for the track meets, which we performed at such a high level.  If you look at any of the greatest athletes around the world, their working out regimen would make you hurt while watching it.  Usain Bolt’s regimen was unbelievable and often had him regurgitating practically everyday.  This is called “stepping out of that comfortability zone.”

Moved to Australia

I wish I can get back the lost time I had in Australia.  This was the most discomforting I’ve ever been because I was trying to be someone I wasn’t.  Because I have such a wonderful personality (haha), it was hard for me to acclimate in a society where not many people smile.  Is it because I was living in the CBD of Melbourne? Possibly, a blend of Chinese, Mauritian and French cultures is extremely difficult, which brings a mixture of personalities together that are completely different, but it also revolved around my physical environments.  My work places (dental offices) were tragically terrible (longest story ever) and my living situation was appalling to say the LEAST.  When I hauled over to Sydney for the remainder of the 9 months on my visa, it got probably a tad better, but I have to say I was uncomfortable the entire time.  On the other hand, this prepared me for Thailand.  Wonderful ol’ Thailand whereas if I didn’t live in a foreign country before Thailand, I would’ve given up quickly because of the animosity dished out towards me.  I’m glad Australia prepared me for the madness within these borders.

Thailand boosted my uncomfortability to unspeakable heights. 

If you want to become successful, you’re going to have to put yourself in a very uncomfortable situation.  Am I talking moving to Asia as an African American or moving to South America as a Caucasian? No.  Do the thing you’re afraid to do. Period.

Living here in Thailand is basically living in a ball of hate for me.  The ignorance I receive on a daily basis is jaw dropping and that’s me being honest.  The rewards on the other side, however, is blissful.  It’s freedom.  The story I’ve created being here has inspired the masses around the world.  I’m saying to you today that life doesn’t begin until you test yourself in deep waters.  It’s like jumping into the deep-end, which I did when I was young, and almost drowned.  Yes, my pseudo-cousin said I wouldn’t die, but I got really close to dying; thus why peer pressure was never a problem for me.  When you’re way in over your head, the light will be above you.  You may not notice it, but through all the thick-and-thin, problems, transgressions, and a variety of other things that will come forth….just know that those are questions that will be answered by you.  Only you can go through this.  No one else can.

I’m grateful for everything I’ve experienced in my life because it prepared me for where I am today.

Podcast: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/11822230

My Greatest Defeat – 2005 Sunrise Regional Track & Field Championships

Two years into my track and field career marked the biggest could-be-achievement of my life.  As a junior in high school, I qualified for the Sunrise Regional Championships.  Four heats of runners from all over the valley (Las Vegas) facing off with the top 2 of each heat clinching a spot in the finals.  Top 2 athletes of the finals would head to Reno for the Class 4A State Championship Race.

Having clinched my spot in the regional semi finals, and with a very distinguished time (upper echelon of all runners), I would at least make it to finals.

I failed miserably at the 100m high hurdles (my weakness); conversely, the 300m intermediate hurdles was the event that I ran great times in over the course of a few months.

Heading into a pivotal race in the west side of Las Vegas (Palo Verde High School), my nerves were calm and I was ready to go.  However, I didn’t run the race in my mind whatsoever, nor did I ever, which I think was crucial for advancing.

Nonetheless, after the 200m heats, my event was up next.  I’m not exactly sure what was happening on the track, but the officials made us sit down on a cold field, waiting for hour event.

For those of you who don’t know, sitting down and not stretching before a race could end up being detrimental, especially if the temperatures outside were dropping as time went on.

Finally, they called on my heat and I proceeded to lane 3 – one of the best lanes to run in for a 300m intermediate hurdle race.  I recall making eye-contact with a couple of Asians before the race – they nodded, I carried on.

“Runners on your block!”

I told myself I would come out screaming out of the blogs and establish my pace.  Worst decision ever.

I crouched down and did my typical ritual which involved me smacking the track while taking deep inhales and exhales.  I backed into position on the blocks…..here we go.

Once the gun went off, I came out of the block FLYING – passing everyone within the first 75 meters.  However, when we reached the first curve, that’s when my hamstrings and quadriceps locked up on me.  I had no idea what was happening, but it felt like I was carrying cinder blocks, narrowly getting over the hurdles while the rest of the racers past me in the blink of an eye.

The last 100meters was beyond devastating, hitting every hurdle as I went over – huffing and puffing.  I reached the finish line at 50 seconds, dropped to my knees and sobbed.  I remember staggering across the field covered in tears and there were twins on the team who were looking at….then dropped their heads as I approached.

A few of my friends approached me for comforting before I went to my coach to apologize. He looked at me, eyes glistening – then put his hands on my shoulders before giving me a partial hug.

“Sorry, coach!”

Because my coach is such a magician and knowing who I am, he cracked a joke about the race saying, “in the beginning, I was excited! Then around that back stretch I started looking at you and the time with my jaw dropped.”

LOL!

Another shot-put thrower failed to reach the state championships when he was the most favored out of all the competitors in the entire state of Nevada .  800m runner, who had run extraordinary times throughout the year, also failed, too.

The entire team went up in flames that fateful evening at Palo Verde High School in May.

12 years later, two tough mudders later, thousands of miles later, tens of thousands of squats later, I’m still here.  This failure set myself up to continue working out for the rest of my life.  Not just because I’m a speed-adrenaline junky and I love running extremely fast, but if it wasn’t for that May night, there’s no telling where my body would be in terms of physique.

When I go running and I’m 200meters away from my mark, the sprint is ON! I barrel down the street while people watch me in awe….”PUSH MOTHER ****ER! DON’T STOP! DON’T STOP!” I feel at times I’m off my head, but those last two hundred meters have rescinded within me in the greatest possible way.

Thank you, failure.  If it wasn’t for you, who knows where my health would be today.