Saturday, November 22, 2014

Comfortably dumb

I am a consultant by profession. I am not really an expert on anything but know enough (or at least pretend to know) to help my clients. I float around from one client to another and one place to another. The job requires me to change or reset my life frequently. I have not been allowed to get comfortable although I want to. In the last 2.5 years, I have lived in Seattle, California, Chennai (home) and am now in Amsterdam. It does suck - I have missed having some sort of stability in location. By the time I settle down somewhere, make friends and get into a routine, it’s time to move. My biggest gripe is that as long as I don’t finalize a long term location or at least a continent, I cannot have dogs in my life again!

On the plus side, I have learnt to adapt to new places, cultures and people quickly. I have learnt to work with people in India, the United States and now Europe. I know how to set myself up quickly in a new place. I have a nice checklist to find an apartment anywhere.

I was talking to a client who is leaving his organization having spent 11 years building his career there. That organization, the people and the place are all he knows and he has built quite a bit of goodwill there. Everybody loved him and I envied the guy. So why was he leaving? Interestingly, he told me that he envies my job! He is worried that he is getting too comfortable and that is a risk for him personally and professionally. What if the company or industry runs into some kind of financial crisis? He is worried that he has not seen enough of the world outside to survive. He thinks he has been influenced into thinking a certain way which may or may not be the only way. He wants to be able to work in a place like India or China and be successful.

It got me thinking – I complain about work a lot. But to be honest, it has allowed me to learn and experience so many new things and meet so many people. Right now, I am in Europe with my living expenses covered and I get to travel over the weekends. I should be thankful. But I want what the other guy has – the stability, the comfort, the relationships and all the good stuff that comes with it. I guess there is no right or wrong – the grass is always greener on the other side.

In fitness and training, there are people who specialize in something like strength/endurance/mobility/sport and there are others who prescribe training for life – for long term health and wellness. Personally, I love lifting heavy stuff and don’t quite enjoy anything that requires me to move for longer than a minute. I focused on lifting heavy for about a year and at that time, I probably needed it to build a solid foundation. Now, I need to get better at the other stuff if I want to remain healthy in the long term. I need to move better, faster and last longer. If not, it is a risk for my health. I need to diversify my fitness portfolio and not get comfortable at one form of training. I need to get better at everything to have a stable and healthy life in the long term.

I have been training with barbells after a good 6 month break and I am loving it. However, I know I love it only because I am comfortable doing it. I still hate running – maybe if I train enough and run better or more efficiently I will start to like running. Maybe even love it. I appreciate the importance and effectiveness of kettlebell training but I still don’t like it – it’s probably because my squat with the kettlebell is so much more wobbly and lighter than my squat with the barbell. I have learnt that I have to try different things and get better at everything. I need to be prepared to be fit anywhere. What if I have to travel to someplace which has absolutely no training facilities and the only available resistance is bodyweight. What if the place has only bread to eat and no meat? I still have to be fit and strong and need to adapt.

I do want to find a sweet spot and not keep experimenting all the time. But, just as with professional life, I think it will take time. I will try and fail in the next few years. But I will learn. Some people are lucky and find that sweet spot pretty early in life. Most of us will spend the majority of our lives looking for it. I am one of the lucky ones who has started looking for it reasonably young and also has the freedom to look for it.

When I do find that sweet spot, I know I am fit for life.

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