Carla’s curiosity…

The discovery of Einkorn wheat reads like a movie script. You may remember back in 1991 when the world discovered “Otzi,” a frozen man from 3400 BC that was found intact high up in the Italian Alps. Scientists have been studying his remains ever since. In his grip and in his pouch were Einkorn wheat seeds. We had no idea what they were…

Carla Bartolucci was born into a poor but productive American family, lost both her parents very young, studied abroad in Italy and discovered more than her love for food (found her husband too). When her daughters were born, however, her passion took a turn. One of her daughters was sickly from the start and nothing seemed to help. Carla, like most Mom’s, tried everything and went to all kinds of doctors in search of a cure. Nothing seemed to work until Otzi stumbled along. Carla heard about the ancient grain found in his hands and like the bold entrepreneur that she is, she picked up the phone and called them. The scientists were more interested in studying the grain than in making anything out of it, so they agreed to give some of the seeds to her to play with in her kitchen. So, play she did. This grain is very different from the hybridized product we’re all familiar with, it’s much harder to work with but much denser in nutrients – much denser. In fact, Einkorn wheat is loaded with proteins and minerals that make it a kinda super food.

Fast forward to today. Jovial foods is the name of Carla’s thriving Einkorn wheat business. She has product sold around the world both online and in Whole Foods markets and other grocers. Her daughters ailments and chronic illness symptoms are gone since Carla began to cook only Einkorn pasta, breads, pizza, and other Italian goodies for her. Countless others have found her products superior, all because Carla was curious.

Full circle.

We’re here with Carla because Miss has a mind very much like Carla’s. My bride, you see, had been ill for over a year when her curiosity connected her with Carla and Eikorn wheat. We’re here as a celebration of Missi’s return to a healthy/physical life that we weren’t sure was possible 18 months back. Last night, with 21 newfound friends, we made three Eikorn wheat based pasta dishes that were absolutely delicious. If you haven’t checked out Carla’s products at Whole Foods, you are missing a key ingredient to your wellness. The junk we market as grain is a joke. Get her cookbook at Jovialfoods.com. You’ll be better fed and better for it. Food, remember, is our first medicine.

Einkorn is back in use because of Carla’s curiosity. Fact. Take a page from her and my Miss, friend. Stay curious. Be well. Good…

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Lucca and being with…

Today started early as I clipped into my pedals and headed down the mountain to meet up with Alison from Lucca Cycling Club, her new company. She greeted me with a smile and a quick wave to follow her as we turned to the left and headed up the river valley. We talked business and family as I tried to keep my breathing normalized (she goes fast easily as a recent Canadian National Champion). After about an hour we turned to the right and started up the first mountain of the day. As we rounded the 6th of 7th switchback the legs felt the lactic burn as muscles were being called upon in unfamiliar ways. Alison did a great job of throttling her pace down to mine (no way was I able to amp it up to hers). We talked, I mostly listened on the way up. It was beautiful to look out at the vista’s around every corner, so beautiful.

Three and a half hours later, we arrived back at our Villa. My legs were toast but my soul was soaring. There is nothing like climbing mountains to settle and sear me in regard to my place in this vast world. We said our goodbye’s and she pointed out some other climbs for me to do on my own. Miss, Tay, and I are now heading in to town to rent some bikes and tour the city wall, all while eating gelato (I’m told this is the way to do it). Later this afternoon we’ll be back at our Villa learning how to bake Eikorn wheat into tasty treats. Chef Carla, our host, will be teaching the class and it will be good. Day two in Lucca is not half complete but I somehow feel more whole already. Cycling mountains is spiritual. Cycling around the city on top the city walls is surreal. Being with twenty two strangers who are becoming friends in Carla’s kitchen is sublime. Being with my Miss through it all – simply the best.

Remember, friend, there is nothing more soothing to the soul than simply being with those you love and those you are learning to love. Being with. Good…

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Laureate…

I didn’t know the term baccalaureate was derived from the bay leave. I did not know that jeans made it over to America with Columbus. I didn’t know Peter and Paul were martyred on the same day in June, 67 AD. I didn’t have any idea that way back in the day, 80,000 Romans would proceed through the 80 gates of The Colosseum in less than five minutes. I didn’t know Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel standing upright, not lying down. I learned so much over these past two days from a 32 year old named Antonio Sorentino. He is part neuroscientist and part architect. He’s currently studying how the brain is changed by architecture. I know my friend, Brett, would have loved to hear all of Antonio’s stories about the affect good design has on the brain. So cool to walk Roma with someone so curious.

In fact for the past two days we’ve spent 8 hours with Antonio learning all about Ancient Rome. He was quite the informative teacher. I asked him, toward the end of our tour, how much of his learning came from University vs from his curiosity. You already know the answer, don’t you? He told me, of course incredulously, that 90% of his education has been satisfying his own curiosity. The university only teaches us how to learn, if that. So, friend, if you want to build mastery in your domain, don’t forget to follow up whatever professional development you’ve had with your own sense of curiosity. Ask yourself what you want to know more about and get busy getting after it. Find your Antonio and ask away. At the end of our tour, we hugged and thanked each other for our passion to learn.

Thank you, Antonio, for your insatiable curiosity toward mastering your craft. I will never look at a laureate the same…

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The missing piece…

Today, during my last practice prior to departure (Italy), I stumbled upon another piece of ccd magic. I’m not sure how this stuff develops into crystal clarity in my mind, leaps out of my mouth, and makes the connection to a few other crazy craniums. I just know it does. And, I know it’s like speaking a foreign tongue to most. Normal. Here’s the missing piece, for the few of you, if you will.

The number one piece toward lasting peace is patience.

The enabler of patience is clarity of priorities. You cannot master thirty priorities. The clarity of your priorities comes from knowing who you are and what’s your aim. BTL core, opus, pop (playbook of PA). Don’t forget the clarity that comes when you don’t have to think in your MOT (moment of truth). Do your realize how peaceful it is to not think when the pressure mounts? Freakin’ magic, friend. Instead of overthinking and getting all caught up in your head, you simply respond to the input of life with internal alignment, toward your external aim, and with an uncommon discipline of your baby step of PA (productive action). Peace is found on the other side of acute pain and it takes patience to sit in the hard stuff for what seems like forever but, in reality, is only for a short while.

The number one piece toward lasting peace is patience. That, friend, is the missing piece. Good…

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Use the gift…

There’s an ancient, African proverb that goes something like this – “Western man wears God on his wrist.” My dad noticed this firsthand back in the 60’s when he took a prop plane from Salina, Kansas and flew to the Congo to do the Missionary/doc dealio abroad. He came back a changed man. I was four years old when he left and turning five when he returned. Traveling has always brought new perspectives to humankind. The Jewish people (world’s first nomads) gave us this gift, as well as many others. Thank God…

This week, Miss and I begin a journey within our journey. We’re headed someplace new and it’s very old. We’ve got some of it scheduled and some of it not. We’ll have twelve days away and come back anew, at least that’s our plan. We love plans and think that with our best laid ones, we’ll someone maximize our time. We have next to no idea.

Here’s a truth about our lives, friend. First off, it’s not a race. We do not remember the start line and have no idea when we’re done. Ever been in a race like that? It’s not a course either. There are not 18 holes laid out for you to measure against. In the end you’re not even gonna know your score. In fact, friend, the most meaningful aspects of life can’t be measured. I mean come on man, what metric tells you you’ve been an excellent father or mother? How do you measure that you’ve been an excellent lover, is it the quantity or quality, or is it something altogether else? How do you know you’ve worked to your potential and discovered your purpose along the way? Is there some measurement for meaning? If so, how do you measure that you’ve discovered who you are and lived as an untethered soul, comfortable in more than your own skin?

Today, during a freakin’ magic one on one practice, I jolted a young lad with this clarity. You see, friend, life is a gift. Our gig as humans is to fully appreciate the gift. A year ago, I gave PJ a gift – my old bike. I could sense he was loving our rides but couldn’t quite keep up on his old heavy. So, it was my great pleasure to give him one of mine. It wouldn’t have been much of a gift, however, if he just let it sit in his garage instead of mine. The giver experiences joy only when the receiver enjoys and uses the gift. Make sense?

Think of life like this. Use the gift. Good…

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Practice 75…

Today, we kicked off practice 75 with the three freshmen sharing what they learned from practice 74. We practiced 7 good minutes toward two newbies and the room was electric with energy. I reminded the team that the master EI (Emotional Intelligence) skill is the ability to resist impulse. If you want to go through life smack dab in the mediocre middle, just do what comes naturally. It’s kinda funny to think how we humans are supposedly this most advanced animal, yet if we just follow “our instinct” we aint even coming close to being great. Sit with that one for awhile, friend.

If your aim is excellence, you’re gonna have to actively fight your nature. All virtue, remember, is second nature. Thank God, Captain Sully didn’t do what came naturally when his Airbus 320 was transformed from a jet to a glider, back in the day over Manhattan. You see the reason Sully pulled off the “Miracle on the Hudson” was because he had built the mastery within to toggle between glider and jet as if it came naturally. It did not. Sully had spent countless hours flying both and was even a glider instructor par excellence as his side hustle. Thank God…

Whatever your aim, friend, you’re gonna have to build a better nature to master it. Stop making excuses and start practicing better disciplines. As Kyle Snyder shared with me on the way out of BTL team practice today, most of his reactions to his opponents go against his nature. He’s had to learn to do just the opposite of what “instinct” told him to do when he’s under attack on the mat. He joked it’s funny how going against our instinct is required to go the distance. So friend, don’t listen to me. Take a word from the world’s best wrestler – fight your instinctual urge. Mastering your craft requires the ability to resist impulse. Build skill playing to your strengths and build skills going against what comes so naturally to you. Complex, not complicated. Simple, not easy. Discipline required. Lots of love too.

Practice 75 was freakin’ magic. Eight more great ones over the next two days and then Miss and I are gonna glide on over to Italy. Correction. We’re gonna fly…

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Season five…

Today, Miss and I are putting the final touches on our dream trip coming up to Italy. She greeted me with all the opus (labor of love) she completed last night regarding the last two days of our trip in Florence. The statue of David, Michelangelo’s masterpiece, took something like four years to complete. Modern man seems to have forgotten that mastery, of any kind, isn’t happening in the blink of a swipe or two. Mastery requires you to marry the mundane and embrace the long, rugged climb up whatever happens to represent your Tuscan terrain. Masters, remember, resist impulse. Masters keep showing up and see the goal beyond the grind, focus on faith more than fear, and find meaning and purpose in the seemingly mundane.

This afternoon, Grappy and I will meet just north of OSU campus. We’ll share a smile, laugh, and compare our notes for BTL team practice 74 with his team of Olympic and NCAA champion hopefuls. You see, we are beginning season five together. This year, we’re starting the incoming class with a jolt of BTL just by themselves. So this afternoon a bunch of 18-19 year old grappling greats in the making, are going to get their first exposure to mastering the art of living. Grappy and I are gonna wake them up to the reality that there is more to life than simply leaving it all on the mat. You see, unlike most normal leaders, Grappy believes it’s his job to do more than coach world class wrestlers. Grappy believes he’s in the business of building men.

Whatever business you believe you’re in, leader, you better believe you’re in the business of building individuals, teams, and leaders into ONE, distinct and deeply connected. Deep unity within and with others is the elixir of the elite. You cannot build this kinda trust without deliberate practice aimed at this most misunderstood objective. Today, a team of freshmen are getting their first taste. Today, we begin season five together – Grappy and me. We go much deeper today than we did when we held practice one. We’ve had to fight to unite. We’ve learned each other’s language and can now finish each other’s sentences. We’ve learned to accept our differences and play to each other’s strengths. We plan to build men together for as many seasons as we have left. You see, friend, together, we’ve been transformed.

What kinda team are you building? One you can’t wait to get tired with or one you’re growing tired of? BTL team practice gets you tired together and it’s good, really good. BTL team practice is meant for masters like Grappy who see beyond building championships. Grappy is not satisfied with simply winning. He’s aimed at mastering his craft and bringing meaning beyond the mat. Season five, here we come. We’ve got some good work to do. Kinda like Miss and my trip to Italy, I can hardly wait…

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