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Episode One – “The Greatest Adaptation Is Between Your Ears” | Gregory Amundson

Show Notes – “The Greg Amundson Show / Episode One”

Welcome to The Greg Amundson Show. This is a podcast where Greg will educate and inspire you to live with purpose, passion and a burning desire to develop strength in your mind, body, and spirit. Through a disciplined use of our words, thoughts, awareness and attention, we can achieve a mindset of positive expectancy, personal belief and an unshakable faith in God.

Hello, friends, and welcome to the very first full episode of The Greg Amundson Show. This is awesome. I am just so pumped to be able to share with you in this format some of the lessons that I am absolutely passionate about. For the longest time, I’ve had an opportunity to share these lessons, these messages, these concepts in a very public setting. For years I traveled all around the world teaching the CrossFit Goal Setting Course of which thoughts, words, goals, intrinsic motivation were a huge part of the course content. I’ve also written extensively about these concepts in the CrossFit Journal. These topics are written about in my new book Firebreather Fitness. I’ve discussed these concepts at great length on a variety of shows, in interviews and on podcasts. Yet, what I think is going to be so exciting is to now share these concepts in a bit more of an intimate learning environment. It’s my hope and prayer that through the podcast and through the online show, I can essentially become a mentor for you.

Keeping in mind, with the most humble heart do I consider myself to be a mentor because the majority of the time that I’m not teaching, do you know what I’m doing? I’m spending time with my mentors. So even teachers need teachers. Even mentors need mentors. And on the journey that you and I are all on, we all have an opportunity to be that mentor in the life of someone. In fact, my mom told me once, and I’ll elaborate more on this, it was such a beautiful sad moment in my life. She told me, that everybody can be supported and encourage somebody at the same time. Isn’t that brilliant? So this is an opportunity for me to encourage and support and mentor you, and you will then have an opportunity to do the same for a loved one in your life as well.

Without further ado, I want to dig in to one of the stories that I absolutely love sharing because this story captures a very important moment in my life. You see, it’s been said that if our life can be influenced or changed by even one degree, our life will never be the same. That one degree change happened for me in 2004. I was with Coach Greg Glassman, a dear friend of mine, a mentor of mine. I was with Coach in Seattle at a gym at the time known as CrossFit North, one of the world’s very first CrossFit affiliate gyms, and Coach Glassman and I and a few other leaders in the CrossFit community were at that gym to teach one of the first CrossFit certification courses that was not hosted at headquarters in Santa Cruz. This was a big deal.

Now, let me take you back in time because, you see, in the old days, the original CrossFit certifications were a little bit different then they are currently taught. In the old days, believe it or not, it was a three-day course. Each day we would average three workouts. These were big workouts. Imagine in the same day doing Fight Gone Bad, Helen, Tabata squats, and Fran. My gosh, all in one day? The joke that Glassman had in those early days was that on Sunday evening, if you were still standing, we grabbed a spatula or a shovel and put you onto a plane, train or automobile and sent you home a brand-new certified CrossFit trainer.

[0:05:26]

Things have obviously changed due to the influence and the great leadership of Dave Castro and Nicole Carroll. Now we have an ANSI accredited today CrossFit trainer course. Amazing how far the program has come. Yet, from these early days, some really important moments evolved, and one of these moments is woven into the story that I’m now going to share with you.

So go back in time with me. It’s Sunday evening, the course is drying to a close. During the three days, there were two male athletes that had been going head to head together in all of the workouts. These two athletes, although they had never seen each other before, they could have been identical twins. These guys look the same, they talk the same. When the shirts came off, they had the same musculature build. It appeared they had the same command physically of the foundational CrossFit skills. It’s amazing. And these two athletes were finishing workouts within one or two seconds of each other. It was impossible to tell who would have the lead, who would be victorious in any given workout.

And on the final day, these two guys are going head to head and we think between Coach Glassman and I, this final workout might just be a tie. The reason we think that is that this workout had two key stations. One of those stations was barbell clean and jerk. The other station was the muscle-up, and these two athletes finished the clean and jerk station at the exact same time.

Then they started to run across the gym floor en route to the rings at the exact same time. Glassman and I are standing off to the side, arms crossed, really enjoying and taking this all in, watching this competition unfold. Glassman looks at me and he says, “Hey kid, it might be a tie.” Well, the first athlete runs right by Coach Glassman and I on their way to the rings because they’ve still got to do ten muscle-ups to finish this workout. As they run by Coach Glassman and I, the athlete says with a great deal of enthusiasm and personal belief in his words, he says this, he says, “I’ve never done a muscle-up before. Today I’m going to get my first one.” Whoosh, off he goes to the rings.

Now, the other athlete is like a shadow next to this guy, right next to him. And as he runs by Coach Glassman and I, he also uses his words in a very specific way, in a self-affirming way. However, what he affirms is something entirely different. Yet, nevertheless, he affirms it with that same level of personal belief and certainty in his words. What this athlete says is “I’ve never done a muscle-up before. There is no way I can complete this final workout.” Whoosh, off he goes to the rings.

Well, these athletes arrived at the ring station at the exact same time. They set up under the rings at the exact same time. They reach up at the exact same time and both of these athletes simultaneously secure a false grip on the rings. Now that’s important. You see, if you’re not sure what a muscle-up is, a muscle-up in the words of Coach Glassman is the world’s highest pull-up and the world’s lowest dip combined into the same movement. And in order to perform the skill, you need to secure a false grip. So what’s so interesting is that even though these athletes claimed they’d never done a muscle-up, they technically knew how to set the skill up. And, my friends, that’s going to be very important as we dig into further content on the first season together. Knowing how to do something is important, very, very important. Yet, what’s more important is applying the principles that we know in our life.

[0:10:08]

So both these athletes secure a false grip. With a deep breath and a strong contraction of the upper back and arms, both of these athletes start to pull themselves high onto the rings. The athlete that had said just moments before, “Today I am going to get my first one,” they pull, they pull, they get high on the rings, and then, whoosh, they make that critical transition from pull to push. They arrive in the bottom of the dip. A look of surprise on their face, a huge smile and then they extend their arm. They have completed exactly what they said they would, their first muscle-up. The crowd goes bonkers, especially those people that had heard him make the claim that today I will get my first one, like Glassman and I did. I was clapping my hands. I was overjoyed. It was a miracle.

Well, meanwhile, the athlete that said, “There’s no way I can complete this workout,” that athlete is pulling and pulling. In fact, they’ve even got the height on the ring, but they never make that critical transition to the bottom of the dip. Now, as that athlete is getting more and more frustrated, the athlete that spoke with positive expectancy and assured themselves of their own bright future continued to cycle nine more muscle-ups in a row, only stopping briefly to re-secure that critical false grip. When it was all said and done, the athlete that had used their words in the positive tense and said, “Today I will get my first one,” does ten muscle-ups, wins the workout. The athlete that limited their ability in a self-defeating way, using their words to create a boundary and a limitation in their life by saying, “There’s no way I can complete this final workout,” that athlete ultimately gives up. They do not complete the workout.

Well, here’s what’s interesting. A group of people ran around the athlete that had won the workout to congratulate him. And he continued to use his words in a self-affirming way, essentially building in his mind the certainty that in the future, when he spoke in the positive tense, he would once again, be able to assure himself of the victory he was imprinting in his mind. Because he said, “Thanks, guys. I knew I could do it.” Meanwhile, the other athlete was being comforted by a few of his friends. Sadly, he was using his words in a continual self-defeating way. He said, “Oh, guys, it’s okay. I knew I couldn’t do it.”

Following that moment, Glassman looks at me. Here’s what he says my friends. Here’s what he said. He said, “Greg, the greatest adaptation to CrossFit takes place between the ears.” Now, listen to that one more time because, my friends, just like it was for me, perhaps this is the first time you’ve heard this story. Or maybe you’ve heard it before yet now you hear it for the first time. Glassman said, “The greatest adaptation to CrossFit takes place between the ears.” My friends, my life was changed in that moment. Because, you see, up to that moment, I’ve been training CrossFit diligently day in and out under the mentorship and coaching of Glassman. Yet, I had been focused mainly on the physical adaptation. And in that moment, Coach and I both realized, wow, there is much going on here than physical adaptation. In fact, as Glassman so eloquently said, the greatest adaptation will take place between our ears, in our mind. Imagine that. So whether or not you’re doing CrossFit is irrelevant because what Glassman said is universal. The greatest adaptation to any physical endeavor is mental.

[0:15:00]

And I’ve learned something else, my friends. It gets better. You see, because really what we are all desirous of is not only physical, not only mental, but spiritual development as well. We’re all desirous of an integrated physical, mental and spiritual adaptation to everything that we’re doing.

I want to share another story about my dad. My mom and my dad, as you may know if you watched the inaugural introduction to our first season together, are incredible mentors and role models in my life. I only wish they were still alive. If they were alive, believe me, my friends, they would be on the show with you and I right now. They would be a regular recurring guest. Sadly they passed away, but they’ve left me with an incredible assortment of memories. Woven into the memories I have of my mom and dad are some amazing lessons that I’m now desirous of sharing with you.

When I was very young, I was always fascinated by my dad’s bookshelf. My dad was an avid reader and himself, along with my mom, an avid storyteller. In my family, we did not have television. Instead after dinner, we would gather in the living room, and we would share stories. It’s been part of my life since my earliest childhood memories. One day there I was, young boy standing in front of my dad’s bookshelf looking at the different books and I noticed one book. One book caught my attention. The title of the book is The Tongue – A Creative Force. I looked at my dad and said, “Dad, what’s that book about?” He said, “Oh, son, let me describe it to you this way. Imagine the world’s largest naval vessel.” My dad was a former naval officer, and he loved sharing stories with me about his time in the Navy. He said, “Imagine the world’s largest naval vessel at sea.” He said, “Greg, what turns that massive ship any direction the captain wants it to go?” I thought for a moment. He said, “Yes, son, it’s the rudder.” He could see the wheels turning in my mind. He said it’s the rudder.

And I remember thinking of myself, “Yeah, but the rudder is so small. How can the rudder possibly steer and turn the world’s most massive ship?” But that’s what it is, my friends. The captain at the helm of the world’s largest ship can turn that ship any direction by influencing the wheel which turns the rudder. And my dad explained to me in a way that I could understand at that time in my life that the rudder is an analogy, a metaphor for our tongue, for our spoken word. You see, our words turn the direction of our life any way we wanted to go. And I often reflect about the combined lesson, that moment in my childhood with my dad explaining to me, through the book The Tongue – A Creative Force, the power of the tongue and of our spoken word. And that moment in Seattle with Coach Glassman, when the spoken word in the context of athleticism proved to be the dominant force in what allowed one athlete to succeed and another athlete to fail.

Now, another story regarding the power of the spoken word, the power of our tongue. This is an awesome story. I come back to the story time and time again when I’m studying the Bible. It fascinates me, it fires me up. This is awesome, my friends. Get ready for this. When Jesus was teaching, there were a group of spies who were set out to condemn him and to set him up for persecution. One day these spies noticed that when Christ and his apostles were eating, they were not washing their hands, which was a grave offense of violation of the law at the time. And one of the spies challenged Christ and said, “We’ve notice that when you eat you do not wash your hands. Do you think you are above the law?” Now, what Christ said for that period of time was absolutely radical. Christ said, “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; it’s what comes out of your mouth that defiles you.” What Christ said is it is what you say that can either set you up in life or bring you down. [Matthew 15:11]

[0:20:44]

So here we have three unique ways of viewing this immense power of understanding this immense responsibility that you and I have: an amazing story from Coach Glassman, story from my dad, and perhaps most importantly, a story from the bible, from the life of Christ.

My friends, you and I have an amazing power. We have the ability to in a moment direct the course of our life through what we say. Everything we say takes on life. So we have an opportunity to speak life or speak death. We have an opportunity every time we speak to speak with positive expectancy or negative certainty, one or the other.

As my dear friend, great mentor and leader in my life, Mark Divine, explains this principle. We’re either in any given moment, feeding the dog of courage or the dog of fear. And the primary fuel source that either the dog of courage or the dog of fear is desirous of is our thoughts and our words. And if you want insight into what you or someone else is thinking, just listen to what you or that other person is speaking. Yeah. You see, our spoken word is a little insight into what’s taking place in the temple of our mind. That greatest adaptation Glassman was referring to, it’s evident how far we’ve come on our path, on our journey by how well we have begun to harness and master the power of our spoken word.

Again, to look to the Bible for analogy and inspiration, this is why in the Book of James, the author is describing the means by which a rider can control a horse by the bit and therefore the reins in the mouth of the horse. My friends, with practice, just like any other skill we’re desirous of learning, you and I can learn how to harness the power of our spoken word. It’s a skill we can learn. It’s a skill we can practice. You see, repetition is the first law of learning. So we have to simply repeat for ourselves the correct pattern of speech. It’s really no different than learning a physical skill. If you are desirous of learning any physical skill, you need to practice. Yet, if you’ve ever heard practice makes perfect, that is incorrect. Any good law enforcement officer of military operator will quickly correct you and say it’s perfect practice we have to utilize in order to ensure that in that critical moment we are able to command our body in space and time with the right movement pattern. Therefore, it’s through disciplined practice of our spoken word that in those critical moments in our life we are able to speak with the authority, with the awareness, with the compassion, with the discipline of a true modern-day warrior.

[0:24:45]

I use that word warrior with the utmost conviction and respect. You know you’re in the presence of an evolved warrior by the way they speak. A warrior, in fact, seldom speaks, and when they do, their words move mountains. Mountains. It’s like that when I’m in the presence of some of the great mentors in my life. One I’ve already mentioned, Commander Mark Divine. Another really incredible mentor, very powerful speaker is a gentleman named Dan Brule. Dan Brule is the author of a brand-new book called Just Breathe. Mark Divine introduced me to Dan. Dan is a breath master. How does someone become a breath master? Well, by taking a lifetime of conscious breaths. You know you’re in the presence of a breath master because when I’m in Dan’s presence, here’s what I do my friends. I go like this. [Breaths deeply] I just take a deep breath. And it’s that way when I’m in the presence of Mark Divine. Suddenly my pattern of speaking slows down. The precision of my words becomes crystal clear. And you better believe when I’m in the presence of one of my physical adaptation coaches like Coach Glassman the quality of my movement improves.

One of the jokes that Glassman and I and many of the early CrossFit athletes had was that, when Olympic lifting guru Mike Burgener walks into the gym, you know what happens to everyone’s record in the clean and jerk and snatch? Everyone gets a new record. Everyone gets five more pounds on their barbell, just because he’s in the room. And, my friends, the good news I want to share with you is that as we practice and as we refine our ability to speak, we have that effect on other people. That’s what so beautiful about the message of my mom, the words of wisdom she gave me. Everybody can encourage somebody and be supported at the same time, and our words can be that very source of encouragement to other people.

And in terms of intrinsic motivation, what’s so important to understand is that sometimes, my friends, I’ve realized the greatest voice of encouragement we need to hear in any given moment, you know whose voice it is? Yes, it’s our own voice. It’s the voice in our mind and it’s our spoken word. Because just in the event we should notice that we might be entertaining in our mind the dog of fear does not mean we need to further feed that dog by speaking the dog of fear. I elaborate on this in great detail in my book Firebreather Fitness. It’s actually those times when we become aware that our self-talk is feeding the dog of fear that we have to be extremely vigilant about speaking out loud to the dog of courage. That can have a radical imprint on our subconscious and conscious mind. The spoken word is extremely powerful. We know that we’re beginning to harness the spoken word when we use the spoken word in a self-affirming way regardless of how we feel. Just because we’re feeling a certain way, you’re thinking a certain way does not mean we have to speak in that same fashion. Our words can change the vibration, the calibration of our mind, of our emotions, of our feelings by speaking positively.

So let me end this first episode by some examples of positive speaking so that you can begin to practice this because just like any other skill, speaking in the positive tense is a skill that we have to practice. The ritual that I encourage you to adopt is what I call First Words. I’m so excited to share this with you because I honestly believe, based on the feedback from thousands of people that I’ve coached and mentored over the years, this, my friends, could very well be that one degree directional change in your life. When you intimate the First Words practice, this can have a life-changing effect in your life, my friends. That’s how powerful this is. You ready? All right, so here’s the way it works. Every morning when you wake up, when you become aware of the fact that you are now awake, remain silent. That silence should extend through not only your spoken word yet any other type of engagement with the word. Therefore, upon awakening, no speaking, no Facebook, no Instagram, no engagement with the word. Keep your mind clear.

[0:30:34]

With that clarity, get out of bed. Go pour yourself a glass of water. When you drink that water I want you to conjure up the feeling in your mind, in your body, in your spirit. Just feel immense gratitude as you drink that water. Be grateful for the water; be grateful for your ability to receive the health benefits of that water. Just drink that water in. Feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

Then move to a place in your home that you might be able to reserve for this what will become sacred practice of First Words. Reserve this space. Always go to this space so energetically you associate this place in your home with spiritual power, a power that you possess. Go to that place and get comfortable, whatever that means to you. Perhaps there is chair that you can sit in. I like to go into child’s pose. That’s a very grounding comfortable yoga pose. Perhaps you sit cross-legged or take any other posture or seat that is comfortable for you. Yet, find a seat that allows you to become still. You see, we’re developing stillness. In the Bible it says be still and know. There’s this part of us that is always still and there’s a part of us that always knows. This practice of First Words is helping us get in touch and cultivate that stillness.

So now that we’re still, just begin to become aware of your breath. My dear friend Dan Brule who I already mentioned told me that you can have a breath practice if every day you just take one mindful breath. What’s a mindful breath? Well, another mentor in my life, Rolf Gates, world-renowned yogi warrior, author of several bestselling books, he described to me this as a mindful breath. He said, “Greg, when you breathe in, know that you are breathing in. And when you breathe out, know that you are breathing out.” Know, spelled K-N-O-W, to know something with absolute certainty. So when I breathe in, I know with certainty because I am 100% focused on that inhalation. Everything else fades into the background. I am 100% aware of the fact I am breathing in. When I breathe out I’m aware of the fact I’m breathing out. Nothing else matters.

After taking those deep breaths, begin to become equally aware of the quality of your thinking. Begin to feed the dog of courage. Bring in to your consciousness a statement in the positive tense. This could be a Bible verse. This could be an affirmation or a mantra. Ensure it’s in the positive tense. It could also be a singular word you’re desirous of experiencing or manifesting or strengthening in your life. It could be the word courage, faith, kindness, love. It could be a mantra: I believe in myself, I love myself, I constantly reaffirm my ability to succeed. It could be Bible verse: My God supplies all I need according to his riches in the glory of Christ Jesus. Popular Bible verse in CrossFit: I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me. It’s up to you. Any positive tense statement, mantra, affirmation or Bible verse. Repeat it first in your mind. Then shift from thinking to speaking, break the sacred silence of the morning by speaking your First Words.

[0:35:16]

As I teach in yoga, your First Words create a rippling effect through every corner of your life. They ripple through eternity, through God’s very fertile universal soil. Also, as you carry through your day, those First Words follow you and you find it much easier to continue to speak in that same positive self-affirming way. Your First Words, therefore, take on the quality of every word that you speak for the remainder of your day.

Well, my friends, I hope that you have enjoyed this first episode as much as I’ve enjoyed recording it and sharing it with you. Remember, The Gregory Amundson Show airs the first and third Sunday of every month. Until we speak again, may God bless you and keep you safe. I look forward to speaking with you again soon back here on The Greg Amundson Show.

Thank you for listening to the show. Please subscribe, rate and share this podcast. You can find more info at gregoryamundson.com. Take care and God bless.

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