Eat Salt

 

On May 6th, I completed the St. George Half Ironman, ranked as one of the most difficult half-Ironman races in existence. And boy, was it hard! I had trained and prepared the best I could, but sometimes you can’t know exactly how to prepare until you are in the middle of the event. So, all said and done, I want to share with you the five things that got me through the (name again) Ironman. Enjoy!

 

  1. Eat salt – Or your muscles will cramp up and you will die and get hit by a car. (At least that is what my coach Hector said! Maybe he was exaggerating…just a bit.) But for real though, when you are sweating profusely like you are during the half (or at least I was!) you lose a lot of electrolytes, the “spark plugs” for your energy. You need to replenish these stores or you will be out of the race before you know what hits you.

Life lesson: what do you need to maintain your momentum in the pursuit of your goals? Do you know yourself and what is sustainable for your own body, mind, and spirit? Are you taking the time to find rest, inspiration, and community – whatever it is you need to not experience burnout?  Are you willing to make those things a priority even if others think you’re “not working hard enough?” or “being selfish”?

  1. Check your ego at the door – and try YOUR best! People are going to pass you – people older than you, fatter than you, younger than you, less ripped than you — they will glide past you like you are a toddler trying to walk for the first time. Don’t think about that. Run YOUR race. No worries – keep your head down.
  2. That being said, be competitive!– win, beat, own, take others on! It’s amazing to see what happens when you stop worrying about your ego; you can give it your all no matter what. Guys twice my age are doing this thing 45 minutes faster than I was! Imagine if they had just said, “ah, well, I’m old. Just finishing it will be good enough.” No! Get after it with everything you’ve got!
  3. Do it for someone or something other than yourself – This is for when the demons start talking to you—when things get hard. If you’re only doing it for yourself, when the going gets rough, it will be all too easy to make excuses..slack off…drop out. To finish strong, you will need to call on your root systems –the people you love and care about — to get you through.

Tip: Note the name of the person or cause you are competing for before the race – keep your goal in front of your mind, or even write it physically on your arm or race tag. This is applicable to anything difficult you challenge yourself to in life.

  1. Have fun! – When you’re enjoying yourself, you get the most out of an experience you chose to train and prepare for. Don’t waste it! How could you make what you do more fun? (hint: see number 3 🙂
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Would you still do this if you woke up blind tomorrow? 

Image that tomorrow morning you woke up blind. 

That is what happened to a black belt instructor friend of mine just the other day. 

He didn’t let that stop him from running his race. 

Remember, black belts never give up and black belts always follow through. 

Being a black belt is a way of life NOT a belt. 

Unleash and UpLevel

Progress produces Pride

Martial Arts is about taking your life to the next level no matter what area it is.

In martial arts, we learn constant and never ending improvement by constantly moving up from one belt to the next. Most people think that when you get your black belt the learning stops but actually earning your black belt is just the beginning and the traditional word for black belt actually means ‘first step’ or ‘beginner step’.

Today I got to witness hundreds of students earn their next color belt and I was honored to see several students test to black belt. They were truly amazing but also just taking another step in their martial arts journey.

It is my belief that in life we are all happier when we are progressing forward. It is not so much accomplishing the goal that makes us happy. It is in the journey and the climb and the progress and the getting better that happiness can be.

I remember, I’ve had a goal to buy a really fast sports car for some time now. That goal drove me to work hard and earn money. After purchasing my Corvette Stingray with 550 horsepower I was thrilled…for a few weeks and even now I still smile when I take off from a stoplight. Here’s the truth though, I’m already thinking about what is next and what my next car is or how I can give someone a car.

Moving forward produces pride. It makes you happy.

4 things martial arts could teach your family

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That is my good-looking family right there. A few years back but just as good looking today, right? 🙂

Practicing martial arts was an amazing choice for my family. What started as a hobby gave us invaluable gifts over the years. I want to share several of them with you here.

1.     There are only two things that you can do before you graduate high school that holds any weight on your resume. One is to become an Eagle Scout and the other is earn a black belt. Employers know that people who have earned these honors know how to work hard and treat others with respect.

2.     It brought us closer together. They say that the family that kicks together sticks together. It is true! Focusing on something and learning it as a family is one of the most effective ways to form close bonds. You are all facing common challenges together!

3.     We stayed active. Our country is pretty large. I don’t mean in square miles. I mean in our obesity level here in the United States. Here is the rule at UpLevel Martial arts – if you eat that day, then you must move and exercise that day. Martial arts kept my family active doing something we loved together.

4.     Confidence is key. As a young homeschooled boy, I remember being very shy. I cried my first karate class! But martial arts taught me that I was valuable and competent– that I can succeed through my own effort – not from being perfect but from trying my best. It also taught me that I can make good decisions, despite of the constant negative pressure out there. Whether pressure to do drugs, experiment with sex, or simply join in bullying another kid at school, I believe that the ability to stand up and say ‘no’ or simply recognize that our worth comes from inside — not what the ‘cool’ kids are doing or even the celebrities on TV – is essential for success and personal well-being. Martial arts encourages self-worth and embodying the confidence to do what is right.

5.     Self Defense is essential. I was put in headlocks as a kid and pushed around. Nothing even close to life threatening, but when I learned to walk around aware and alert I started to notice potential threats more easily. Then, as a martial artist, I developed the skills to defend myself if necessary. Sometimes the only skills needed are confidence and awareness. My brother Tim and I have been in self-defense situations twice and in each one I am grateful we had the training to step in and protect the innocent.

We hope you will come join our team at UpLevel Martial arts where we forge leaders for life.

To black belt and beyond.

Mr. Sam Wegert

4th Degree Black Belt

 

6 unexpected things I learned from buying my first Supercar.

20161125_142829I really wanted to UpLevel my ride. I woke up the day before Thanksgiving and decided: today was the day! And if I wanted to show off my car to all of my family and friends over the holidays, then I needed to buy it today!

I frantically made all of the arrangements. Call the bank, call the dealer, ”how about 250 dollars less than then your lowest offer?” Awesome, at least I FELT like I was getting a good deal. It’s not like he would actually accept it…

Wait, did he say yes?!

He did.

That means I’m going to Greenville to buy a new car. Right now.

The dealership says it closes at 8pm. I rushed by the bank to grab a check and made it there literally 3 minutes before it closed.

I pulled up to the dealership at 8:15pm. But, late as I was, at Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet-Cadillac in Greenville, SC, they were all smiles as they waited for me to fight the rush hour traffic and the flat tire to get there. I was grateful, especially the day before Thanksgiving.

In 20 minutes, I had completed the paperwork. They made it very easy to spend the money.

I jump in my car. It’s mine – this beauty of a car that freaky fast that I’ve wanted for such a long time. 20161125_142210

Immediately, a flood of negative thoughts come over me. Should I really have this car? What will people thinkI’m too young to buy a sports car. It is a big liability. Am I selfish? Is this too much?

All of these thoughts stayed with me as I drove home. As amazing as the new car was, I still had some nagging questions. I dealt with the feelings  after a talk with an amazing friend who reminded me of several life lessons that I wanted to share.

  1. Don’t be afraid to grab life big and don’t kid yourself into thinking that everyone will be jealous if you do – they don’t care.

Most people spend most of their time thinking about themselves.

  1. Keep your promises to yourself. 

This car was a promise I made to myself: that I would buy it after I purchased my third martial arts location. Black Belts are honest and truthful …even to themselves. You must be able to trust yourself.

Shout-out to Mr. Bond, Grandmaster Mun, and Mr. St. Clair for kicking butt in their second month. Great things to come at UpLevel Martial Arts Waxhaw!

  1. Stuff will never ever make you happy…unless it can go from 0-60 in 4 seconds. 

I was basically just as happy before my new toy as I was after my new toy. Seriously, it didn’t really change much – I went back to life as normal…ok, almost normal. (Though I can’t lie – the smile on my face to go from 0-60 mph in 4 seconds is ridiculous!)

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  1. Have fun. You live once and you WILL die. 

Don’t take life too seriously – no one I’ve known has ever gotten out alive. Enjoy it. This is also not a license to be stupid. Think through your choices. Can you afford it? Are you leaving those that come after you a legacy… or a bunch of debt?

  1. Give back and be grateful.

I’m amazed that you can buy big things for yourself and yet feel more happy giving $5 to a homeless person. The good book says it best in Acts 20:35, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ After driving this beauty home, I wrote out several things I wanted to make sure I was giving after receiving something so amazing. I want my life to be full of amazing things and experiences AND genuine contribution.

  1. Make sure you are living a life you FREAKING enjoy and not just working to attain some far -off thing or goal. 

Because when that thing (a new car or promotion or girl or guy or whatever) comes along, it won’t make you happy and you will go back to your life as you’ve built it – like it or not!

The question I believe you should ask is this:

Do I like my life just as it is now? If not, change THAT. Don’t cover it up with a toy or a person and think they will change you. Nope! The car didn’t change my life – and I went back to the life that I love!

I train my staff. I encourage them to Grab Life Big. I give them opportunities. I kiss my beautiful girlfriend. I work out. I set new goals. I listen to music. I dance. I train martial arts. I forge leaders. I give back. I make a difference.

I do all the things I love to do because I love to do them and have designed a life I freaking loveIt’s not about the next thing – it’s about NOW.

Time for you to do the same. I hope you will call me if you are in a career that is not fulfilling or pays the bills but you hate. I can help with that. Come join my team!

Come change the world through raising up and forging people into leaders for life through martial arts!

 

 

 

What are your core values? Are you living them?

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Our country was founded on values – strong core value. We love a good story where the ‘good’ guy (usually who has stronger values than the other guy) wins over the ‘bad’ guy. We love a story where what is right wins. We want our kids to live with values. We all hate the guy in the movie who wants to win at any cost even if he has to compromise all of our commonly held values.

A black belt has values. A leader has values and holds them dearly. I’m convinced of it. An UpLevel leader has values.

Do you have a set of values to live your life by? What about the company you work for – do they have core values and do they live by them?

When you have to make a decision – what defines that decision? Is it a value or a feeling or personal gain? Feelings can change in a moment but values hold strong throughout time.

For me, my aspirational values are hard to live sometimes. I get caught up in the moment or the feeling or even just the busyness sometimes. Health is a value for me, one of my top ones actually, but eating pizza happens. Actually, that happened today. Living a value could be simple like deciding to eat pizza or not. It could be more complicated like you discover the cashier forgets to charge you for something. If you value integrity do you go back and pay or just leave it as is?

This is why I think having a list of values actually written down that you review often can be a huge support in making solid decisions in line with what you say you value. When I read through my values it sounds like this, ‘yes, this is what I value and, yes, I recommit to valuing this today and in the future in my decisions.’

When I come from a place of scarcity or fear I begin to make decisions that aren’t in alignment with our values. Something like, I might not have enough money to pay for that but I can download that illegally.

So before making any big decisions – stop for a moment to come from a place in your heart of gratitude and abundance.

I had a friend call me up one day and say that he was going back to everyone – artists, speakers, etc and was rebuying stuff he downloaded illegally. He was buying stuff he already had. He said it just wasn’t in line with his value of integrity anymore to have their stuff and not pay for it.

I have mad respect for this kind of person.

If you are committed to living life like a black belt leader than when faced with a tough decision ask, ‘what value or principle I hold dear is at play here?’ How does it apply?

I just finished creating the values of our tribe of martial arts instructors who dedicate their life to UpLevel Martial Arts (formerly Super Kicks Karate) and I wanted to share.

What are some of yours?

What I really want to know is – when emotions run high how do you make sure you follow them?

Our UpLevel Tribe’s Way

  1. Identity – we are martial artists forging leaders for life and living the UpLevel Way

>>We are passionate about the practice of martial arts

  1. Injoyment – we find the joy in every moment and live an epic adventure

>>We practice Presence and find joy both in each moment and in the epic adventure of life

>>we strive to thrive mind, body, and soul, finding joy in the small things while seeking out adventures

  1. Impact – we selflessly add value to others.

>>We work to make the world a better place. We are givers — we want to thrive so others can too.

>>It’s about giving to the people around us…we fill up so we have a lot to give.

  1. Improvement – we unleash and UpLevel NOT maintain

>>We are not content with stagnation: we are always seeking to UpLevel our lives.

>>We view our lives as a journey, always striving to improve. Stagnation is not an option!

  1. Income – we create financial freedom so we can focus on doing more. We get to work – we don’t have to work.

>>We create financial freedom so we can focus on what’s important to us: pouring into our mission and our tribe.

  1. Intimacy – we cultivate authentic relationships with God and others.

>>We cultivate relationships with God and others. We aren’t afraid to go deep.

>>We understand that vulnerability is essential to reap the rich reward of good relationships.

  1. Integrity – Our lives are an example of what we teach. We walk our talk.
  2. Inspire – we encourage and take a stand for each other to UpLevel.

>>We take advantage of the community at UpLevel by holding each other to the highest standard, encouraging each other to be our best.