Yesterday, “annoyed” was the descriptive word of the day. I woke up annoyed because I had to finish a report with positive conclusions about a third-party transaction while I have this inexplicably intense negative feeling toward the principal involved. I was annoyed (and frowny, to boot) during practice because I was thinking about work. I was super-duper annoyed when my hair dryer blew up. Mostly, I was annoyed with myself for letting a bad feeling impact me, and then my indecision about whether or not to speak up vex me even further.

At lunch I discussed the report with my client, giving him the highlights and summary of what was in his email to actually read, as well as telling him what my instincts and gut were saying about the other man pursuing the partnership. Client is a good guy and respects my opinions and instincts, and he is very kind to remind me my openness about what I think, how I feel about everything is a huge bonus to him and a big part of why he wants to keep me on his consulting payroll. People who are completely straight with him are pretty rare in his world. Even if he proceeds because the deal looks too good not to, I felt infinitely better (and far less annoyed) having shared my powerfully negative emotional reaction. I know my reservations are only as real as I can articulate my feelings in words, and the responsibility for action and decisions rests with him.

Friend J had told me I was being ridiculous for not leading with this feeling. As a consultant for this particular client, I am paid not just for my particular niche of expertise but for my reactions and feelings about the subjects under research, analysis, discussion. Numbers can be spun and massaged and presented in ways to sell the client, and if the pitch is good and client really wants to buy, he’s going to hear what he’s going to hear and justify it no matter what I or anyone else in his advisory village has to say about it being a bad idea. But what I see and feel about the presenter is also part of the equation and needs to be factored into my analysis, even if it not written down or has no empirical basis.

I feel better for having spoken up, and I wonder what it was this time that set me off down the rabbit hole of indecision and insecurity about what place feelings have in the overall deliverable. Telling M and friend J about how the meeting went down last night, my only conclusion is that sometimes I doubt my own instinct and judgment and am not completely sure why. I can typically pinpoint what it is about the other party that raises that stranger-danger instinct – something about the way they look, how they speak, even the way they smell – but not always. Sometimes it is just a feeling of revulsion that I cannot identify clearly and I simply have to go with it and trust its authenticity.

For the most part, I am pretty good about picking people and friends. I suppose people do not really change all that much, but I think we become more aware and more or less tolerant of quirks that bug us about others as we move along through life. And sometimes our initial judgments and prejudices are incorrect and become more aligned with reality as time passes and experience is amassed.

Such is the case with friend J and his perception of trainer J. Oh my how things have changed in the last year, as memorialized in this text from friend J this morning:


Yep, that is friend J’s version of admitting he was wrong and is now eating crow. And I am absolutely loving it.

I know his heart is in the right place. I know he mostly trusts my judgment. I also know my last experience with personal training made him very, very angry, because I withdrew from all forms of exercise after less than a dozen sessions left me feeling like a complete and utter failure, as if my efforts were feeble and I were not trying very hard to learn. When she called me stupid (as in – what are you, stupid? – because I was not able to perform or understanding how to perform some version of a squat), I never scheduled another appointment with her, quit going to the regular gym where M and I held memberships (she was at a private personal training studio), and basically let her ignorance eat me up inside. M was angry as well, and I told him it was a mistake and a poor fit, which is realistic and truthful. But it was a number of years before I went back to the gym. And then quit again after a few months of going it alone.

That was then, this is now. While I would like to say I have been far healthier and capable of making rational choices about whether or not to continue with training or not, in the beginning I was a little (okay – a LOT) riddled with anxiety and insecurity about the gym and the training. Getting out of my own way enough to learn for sure that I had the capability to develop skills with exercise did take some work. I have always given trainer J huge kudos and props for engaging with me in ways that made the value of training apparent to me, essentially erasing my prior poor experiences. And now here we are, a year later, and not only am I thriving in the gym, I am sharing what I am learning and other information I glean from conversations with J with friends and family.

Sharing with friend J more than anyone else. M hears a lot about my practices and training days, and of course he’s interested, but rarely does he want the nitty-gritty details like friend J, who wants to know everything. Of course, his interests align with weight lifting and resistance training, where M is all about running. The questions he (friend J) would ask me at first – do you think you’re being pushed to hard? (No, never.) Is he (J) nice to you? (Always, and very patient.) Has he ever made you cry? (Of course not!) – have gradually faded and become more about how much weight I’m moving and how I feel about the process and am I warming up adequately before every training and every practice. From conversations we have I know I sound (and am) happier and healthier, and from reading the blog and the weight information (when I can remember) he knows I’m not doing bench rows with a 2 lb. dumbbell in my hand. I cannot fathom the idea of picking up the 50 lb. dumbbell that was in the rack yesterday, but then again, 6 months ago I could not fathom regularly using a pair of 25 lb. dumbbells either. My future with weights remains a murky, undiscovered country, and for me, that is how it should always be. I do not want to set goals to be worked at and achieved within some defined period of time, because falling short tends to demoralize me. In all ways possible of gaining and losing, I absolutely know the next 5 lbs. will happen in its own time. I am doing the work. I am consistent in my exercise, improving my eating habits. The more tangible measurements of benefit will happen.

Now trainer J’s interest in Scott Abel has been transferred to friend J. Somewhere in Zurich, friend J is sweating away with an Abel program that trainer J recommended he purchase and try. Within the next couple of weeks, Friend J will be starting a second Abel workout he purchased this week, all part of some new method to his planned training madness of switching off between the 2 programs. I am leaving it to him to figure it out and share his results with me as he progresses.

Most important takeaway for me is that friend J sounds more like his animated, fully engaged self, less bored and frustrated and disconnected with his own training and somehow living vicariously through mine. Sometimes I think we get stuck in a rut, sort of pigeon-holed into something that we once felt passionate about and now cannot muster much interest for. While friend J still likes to test drive any new workouts I am doing (only with significantly heavier weights that make sense for a stronger, fitter man), he has got his own gazelle-intense focus going on with his own training. In the last few weeks he is finally back to sounding like the regular, f-bomb-dropping guy M and I both adore.

And did I mention that I am unabashedly LOVING friend J’s eating a little crow about his initial distrust of trainer J? I presently plan on never letting him live it down for as long as we both shall live. After all, part of the reason for enduring the younger brother I never wanted and am now stuck with (the characterization he relishes and utilizes regularly) is reminding him endlessly of the rare incidents incidences where I was absolutely spot-on right and he was judgmental and absolutely wrong misguided.

Yep, I’m loving it, so much so that I am not even annoyed anymore about having to hunt down a replacement hair dryer.

2 thoughts on “Eating crow

  1. You are having too much f-ing fun at my expense. Crow pics blowing up my f-ing text and email accounts. Enjoy it while you can. Cause you know I will get even.

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