I am imperfection personified. My teeth are crooked. My thighs rub together when I run. I resort to inappropriate humour when out of my comfort zone, which is often. I don’t chew my food enough. Everyday is a struggle to get out and exercise. Everyday I fail.
For much of my earlier life I viewed my failures with despair. My inability to hit a target, my lack of success in an endeavour, my natural talent at cocking stuff up, all seemed like total negatives. How could they have any redeeming features?
In a world that idolises the false sense of perfection – the faultless cover model, the family with the perfect kids, the photos of the ‘ideal’ homes – setting yourself up for ‘failure’ doesn’t seem very appealing.
This was a favourite of my dad’s. A man who knows a thing or two about mistakes. Blown up by a torpedo (he wasn’t even in a boat or in the navy), swan dived through a plate glass dining room table whilst shouting at me for arguing about who’d play Doc Savage, fell out of the loft hatch whilst shouting at me for imitating Jackie Chan in my bedroom.
Well Dad, it took a while, but I finally got it. It’s only at the edge of our limitations that we truly grow. Mastery only really comes to us when we understand how not to do something. If we have made no mistakes can we really claim true mastery of a subject, or have we just been lucky up to now? If we are practising a skill and it comes easy, are we really improving? For stuff to grow it needs a liberal application of shit.
This is where failure comes in. We don’t want to eulogise it or fixate upon, and it certainly doesn’t want to be our final destination. But failure is a good signpost that we are heading in the right direction of self improvement. It’s our own personal ‘Here Be Dragons’ sign, and what’s more heroic than taking on a dragon?
To use the training example, I’m always trying to impress upon clients that failure to be able to perform a movement or an exercise is in fact a positive thing. It tells us exactly where we are at and what we need to work on. I view it as our individual coal-face of fitness/health, the very place that we need to chipping away at.
Every time we fail at a task or activity, it is another opportunity to try again, only better. And again, and again. Sitting here beneath the glare of a florescent light, I am reminded of the quotes from Thomas Edison:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Sure, there are times when quitting is the right thing to do, but often it means quitting the way that doesn’t work and retrying it a different way. Performing back squats for me creates some issues, replacing it with the front squat negated these issues.
Ironically, if failure marks the frontier of our development, fear of failure is often acting like our boundary walls, keeping us contained. So often I have not done something, something that I really want to do, because I’ve been scared to fail, or look stupid, or doubt my ability. It can really hold you back.
We tend to stick to the things that we know we can do, and avoid that which is difficult. These little obstacles, these uphill struggles are often the very things we need work on in order to grow. I love to Deadlift. I feel sexy when I lift a big weight off the floor. But give me two 24kg Kettlebells to front squat and you’ll find me quivering like a whippet on a winters night, swearing profusely about how hard it is. Not so sexy.
I will continue to work on my deadlift, but the focus for me needs to be on the latter. To use a permaculture phrase, the problem is the solution.
I’ve long been an avid student of the Stoic philosophers and this idea is a fairly key one, with various proponents regularly putting themselves into awkward and troublesome situations.
Once a problem has been overcome, it ceases to be a problem. but we need failure and difficulties to highlight where these problems are. Marcus Aurelius, the Stoic Emperor says it best.
So don’t let failure stop you. Next time it hits take a breath, thank the universe for giving you a lesson and another opportunity to tackle it, and relish the challenge.
Remember if you’re not being challenged you’re not being changed.
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I love Pizza. I mean I absolutely love it. And when I start eating it there is no natural off switch from my brain, no auto regulation at all.
Pizza, sadly, does not love me. Shortly after eating it, bloating, discomfort and mild self loathing ensues.
I generally don’t eat grains at all, and definitely not bread. Pizza is my gateway drug to gastric oblivion. I need an alternative. I’ve tried cauliflower pizza bases, but they are a bit of a faff, and for me, just don’t cut it.
Enter the Meatza. A fabled dish, discussed in awe filled, hushed tones in crossfit boxes and Paleo meets. The bread base discarded and replaced with a firm, filling meat alternative.
At first this sounded wrong to me. So entrenched was I in conventional pizza wisdom that I shunned this Primal endorsed chimera, this Frankenstein-esque freak of nature.
Finally after a pizza dough fuelled episode of rolling around on the floor in discomfort, I gave in to the idea.
Now this is obviously not for everyone. Non meat eaters probably don’t need to read on. Check out Girl Gone Primal’s Cauli base above (sorry not Vegan). she has a load of great recipes.
Meatza is essentially very simple. We are just replacing the classic dough with a base made of of quality ground/minced meat.
So here goes
Gluten Free Meatza
Prep Time: 15-20 mins
Cooking time: 15-20 mins
Servings: 2 *
(*Should easily be enough for 2 with a nice side salad. I still manage to not auto regulate my pizza consumption and can easily eat the whole lot. I am working through this)
approx. 500g of minced meat (beef, chicken, turkey, pork. I’ve not tried lamb yet but any should work).
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Garlic powder or a chopped clove
Any kind of dried herbs you like.
What ever the hell you like. Choice is limited only by your own imagination and the human gag reflex. But this is what I like:
Tomato sauce/topping. I just use a decent puree
Cheese – Mozzarella (i like simple chedder)
Good quality local Chorizo (yes, meat on a meatza is excessive)
Mix up the the mince meat with the salt and spices.
Lay some baking parchment onto a shallow sided baking/pizza tray.
Flatten out the meat onto the parchment and press it out until it covers the tray to a thickness of about 1cm. I just use my hands, but you can cover it with another piece of parchment and use a rolling pin.
Bang this into a pre-heated oven at 200 degree C for 10-15 minutes. When it looks cooked through take it out and carefully drain of any of the liquid in the tray.
Load it up with whatever toppings your heart desires and pop it back in the oven until the topping is cooked to your desired finish. I like my cheese starting to crisp.
It is immensely filling so try not to get too carried away.