Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Joys of Ownership

"Real composure and real effectiveness at work come from being completely responsible and taking full ownership of everything you do. At the same time your heart is open and responsive. You are not easily knocked off center or fooled by your habits or narrow ideas. You are clear about your purpose, and at the same time you are not grasping for results."

- Marc Lesser (ZBA: Zen for Business Administration)

My wife and I were relatively late in life to purchase a home. Our rationale (for not buying a home earlier) was that renting gave us a roof over our heads, a comfortable living space, no maintenance concerns, and the freedom to pick up and move at a moment's notice if we chose to. Financially, we felt that money not spent on mortgage interest or maintenance and repairs could be put to good use elsewhere. This arrangement worked for a number of years. Ultimately however, our son's inability to play freely (and noisily) in a rental environment forced our hand and we are now happy home owners.

We could call our home ownership an investment, but that assumes that we are going to resell it or that someone is going to benefit from it's possession or resale value. The problem with using the term 'investment' is that it is never neutral - it is always good or bad. Ownership, whether you are talking about real estate, or training, is a lifestyle choice. Renting relieves you of responsibility. Ownership requires commitment. Renting leaves other options available. Owning is a long-term, binding contract.

The concept of 'ownership' is an important one when it comes to real-estate, or training...

*You don't really own it, until you OWN it. My wife and I don't own our house - we own part of our house. The bank owns the rest. We have more payments than I care to calculate before we can truly call it ours.

Participating in a online forum thread about Westside doesn't mean you know anything about the method. Visiting the CrossFit forums, or doing Fran, doesn't make you an expert. To truly understand something, you must experience it. To experience something requires more than a taste. Ownership takes time and effort.

*There is no manager or super a phone call away who will come to fix your broken toilet right now and for "free". There is always something to fix, and YOU will have to pay for it. The buck stops with you.

In training, injury and ruts make you re-examine your training. They force you to see that the responsibility for performance lies with you and you alone. No one else can do your training for you. It is YOUR responsibility to "git r done", or not. No excuses, only reasons. "Do or do not. There is no try." (Yoda)

*All things are impermanent. When I rented an apartment. Upkeep was not an issue. There was no lawn to mow, and no sidewalk to shovel. Understand this about home ownership - you will have to mow your lawn over and over again. Same thing applies to leaves. The dishes you own will need to be cleaned after each meal. Getting frustrated about it is like getting wound up about having to brush your teeth or take a dump.

In training, gains are volatile. This is a fact. If you want to be strong and powerful, and you want to stay that way, it will require training. You may have "earned" what you have, but what has been found, can be lost again... If you want to continue to make progress, or even maintain, you will need to train again and again and again.

*There are no guarantees that you will gain money on your "investment" - NONE. When you rent, there is no expectation of return - you pay the bills and you're done with it. However, most people who try to sell their homes are always calculating their "return on their investment". I get it - there is a lot of emotion wrapped up in a home. and when prices drop, we can take it personally. The real estate market might bounce back, but it might not - there are no guarantees. You can put in a new kitchen with the marble countertops and stainless steel appliances and finish your basement, but it might not appeal to anyone else five years from now.

As hard as you may train, there is no guarantee of results. We may feel "entitled" to gains, but even the best process might not yield the performances we're after.

*You can paint your house any color you want. I know a family that cracked open a case of spray paint cans, handed one to all the kids, and went to town. Probably weren't beloved by the neighbors, but hey - they own!

Following someone else's routine, program, plan, or system is fine, and we all do it from time to time. But the real gains come when training is tailored to our own needs. "Owning" your training means making it fit you, not trying to pound your round self into the square peg. A good coach is like a real estate agent that works with you to find the perfect match - you don't have to have one, but they can be an amazing resource.

*Ownership forces you to think long(er)-term. Spill coffee on the carpet? No big deal if you're renting. If you own, you come running with a towel and stain remover because you don't want to spend the rest of your television-viewing years being distracted by that humongous brown blotch that fades but never completely goes away.

When you're young, fickleness is natural. When you get older, you get focused - you know what you want and plan accordingly. Meandering goals and flitting about from routine to routine will get you exactly nowhere fast. In Dan John terms, ownership eliminates free will, and this may be its greatest gift - the liberation that comes from narrowing choices, possibilities, and distractions.


Neal Harper said...

Wow. Not just for training- it's a really good post on life.

I'll be giving this a lot of thought- it's already helped me see where I'm fighting myself with speed of gains (I spent 12 years getting out of shape, 4 months is a bit short to demand I be in better shape than I was 12 years ago!)

MKSchinabeck said...

Can you please shoot me an email:


Boris said...

Thank you. This is another one of those "reminder to self" posts.

Will do.

Unknown said...

Great post! There's a poem about Tai Chi that has verses...

"Students must have oral instruction to enter the gate and be guided.

Practice daily without stopping, the method is through self study."

Seeking good coaching is important, but no one else can do the work. They can't "larn you nuthin..." you got to do it for yourself.


Sumit said...

Really well said, kudos.
But I would argue that the investment is not necessarily monetary, your investment is in your family and child as well.

btw, I stopped over from the dd forum...

Franz Snideman said...

Absolutely ENJOYED this post Boris!!!

Man....that really spoke to me!

thanks for posting this or better yet, for owning this post!!!



Boris said...

Thank you Charlie - the buck ends with us.

I view 'investment' as product/performance-centered - we 'invest' because we expect returns, or want to minimize loss. I view 'ownership' as commitment, come hell or high water.
True ownership is recession-proof. Investment is not.

Thank you Franz. Between my conversations with Taikei and Pavel this summer and at the Sept. RKC, I heard your name A LOT! Your RTK workshop sound great - wish I could be there.

Niel K. Patel said...

Great post Boris, very well said.

Boris said...

Thank you Niel.