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Snap Judgement – George Floyd

“What we do now echoes in eternity”

Marcus Aurelius

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

George Floyd’s death was tragic, as is any death of an unarmed person caused by people employed to protect society.

To some, the murder of George Floyd could be seen as a societal issue, where poorer members of society are the victims of a system which is rigged against them. However, when an overwhelming majority of that social demographic is black, directly or indirectly it does become a race issue – particularly when you look at the historical influences upon that race.

According to the US Census Bureau, black people represent 13.4% of the population in 2020, yet account for 24% of police deaths. They are 2.5 times more likely to die at police hands and are 1.5 times more likely to be unarmed when killed (Statistica, 2020).

‘But black people commit more crime, so obviously more will die’. Yes, statistically they do commit more crime. But why is that? Across the world crime rates are highest in communities suffering from the highest levels of poverty, and the overwhelming reason why people of colour are in poverty is because of the system. Even after the abolition of slavery, black people were second class citizens. One crucial example of this was the inability to gain a mortgage, build generational wealth, and increase levels of education. There simply hasn’t been time to catch up. This is even seen in a different way in the UK, where the majority of wealth is still held by descendants of the 1066 land grab by the Normans (The Guardian). Wealth flows through generations and it will take a long time to catch up.

Young people born into poverty are more likely to get dragged into crime and ruin their future prospects. Even the legislation by which they are sentenced is rigged against them – as seen through the federal mandatory drug sentences: 5 years for 5 grams of crack cocaine (used in poorer areas with higher levels of black people), as opposed to 5 years for 500 grams of powder cocaine (used by wealthier, predominantly white people). Future job prospects are then limited and the cycle of crime and poverty continues. When police can easily arrest dozens of people in a day driving through a ghetto, it exacerbates the problem.

It is easy to see how anger builds. A common chorus online is ‘yes he shouldn’t have died, but the rioting is bad’. Imagine watching time after time police getting lenient sentences, if a sentence at all, while simultaneously watching the wealth gap increase and getting regularly stopped just for being black. People have been marching in protest since the days of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, and not much has really changed for some people, except the KKK have stopped hanging black people from trees. Now they’re just hunting them down when they jog through a white neighbourhood.

There are many cases where sometimes, rightly or wrongly, people feel that upping the violence is their only answer. As seen when our military resort to violence to defeat a regime that refuses to change, or when people tell children to punch the bully square in the face if they don’t stop. I am not saying that it is the answer, I am saying I can empathise with people that see it as their only option left.

I can also empathise with good police men and women which are now in a position they don’t want (or for many, deserve) to be in. As well as business owners suffering damage at the hands of opportunist looters of all races.

Yes all lives matter, of course they do. By agreeing black lives matter, it doesn’t mean other lives don’t. It is like somebody raising money for breast cancer and us saying ‘oh, so you don’t care about prostate cancer then?’. It just doesn’t make much sense.

The riots, for many, are a build up of years of frustrations. The solution isn’t going to be simple and of course, on both sides, there are legitimate arguments. But burying our heads in the sand under the premise that by agreeing black lives matter, then others don’t, is just going to fuel the divide.

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Resetting the target

This pandemic has given a lot of us time to reflect, and if you are anything like me, you are starting to realise something I’m sure we’ve all known for a long time – we’re looking for success in the wrong places.

I took a pause on Breaking the Norm, despite it being much more enjoyable and fulfilling than other work I undertake. In a time when I was focussing on money, I could not afford time to focus on this. However, due to reasons outlined below, I will be picking up where I left off.

Many of us are brought up thinking that the aim in life is to get your qualifications, get a good job, a house, a mortgage etc and you will be happy. But at what price? Many people sacrifice time with their family, time with their friends, time on their hobbies and self-development, just to keep earning money, and in turn keep living the life they don’t truly desire. Obviously, we all need money to survive, otherwise our mate Rishi Sunak wouldn’t be trying his best to give us all a safety net. We also need to make sacrifices to achieve things – without sacrifice there is never success. But I have realised, that these sacrifices must be justified by achieving things in areas that bring happiness, and fulfilment, not just money.

The illusion that getting a job with a big firm will bring you stability and success is incorrect. It is in these times that you see what management is made of. Some firms are doing their utmost to support the lower levels, and other firms are more worried about protecting the higher earners, at the expense of those at the bottom. In times of despair, it very quickly becomes apparent that the supposedly stable position you have taken years to build, isn’t as stable as you initially thought. Therefore, the question must be asked, are you sacrificing for the right things?

Covid-19 has forced many of us to take a break. Although I am still working full time at home, there is no commute, no rushing around in the evenings, no wasting time on the weekend. Suddenly, many of us have more time to read, listen, watch, and enjoy spending time with our housemates or family. We are all craving the simple things, like freely walking, going shopping, meeting our friends down the café or pub, and not staring at everyone with a cough like they’re going to kill you. Things we all once took for granted. I have realised with the slower pace, that it is the small things that make us happy. Of course, while some of us have been forced to take our foot off the pedal, many others are working tirelessly to keep our country safe, and to save lives. The one common thing between these people is a sense of fulfilment from what they do, and a sense of duty in doing it.

Even the richest people in the world are now confined to their homes (granted they probably have a nice gym and pool) but their millions can’t buy them immunity, can’t let them bypass lockdown, and can’t fix this problem we all face. Money can buy happiness through experiences, travel, and helping people. But if you’re not fulfilled, it doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank. Research even suggests that CEOs may be depressed at more than double the rate of the general public (Forbes, 2015). So why do many of us see that as the target?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to strive to earn money and achieve my goals – I’ll just make sure that I do it in such a way that even if the world’s economy collapses, I’ve still had fun. With all the devastation that Covid-19 has inflicted, I’m sure a few positives can come from it – mainly a change in perspective, and an increase in gratitude for the small things.

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Memento Mori – The biggest motivator

Memento mori is loosely translated as ‘remember you must die’.

As Benjamin Franklin famously wrote, the only certain things in this life are death and taxes. Not many people forget the taxes part, but most seem to forget the death part – even when it surrounds them.

I have become increasingly aware of death, it seems to be everywhere, despite the mortality rate actually dropping on average. However, illness and death is still everywhere we look.  We are more connected now, and therefore more aware of the all the tragic losses of life, and people dying before their time. But many people don’t seem to pay attention to it. I’m not saying we should all be depressed about it – quite the opposite. Surely the fact we are going to die is the biggest motivator there is? Every day wasted is a day closer to death and ultimately not achieving our goals.

One thing I often saw at university which confused me, was people paying £9,000 a year to waste their time. Most people were sat in the library pulling all nighters to reach the next days deadline, totally oblivious to the fact they’d spent 8 hours that day on FIFA. I’m sure there are benefits to FIFA, but I doubt it’s going to improve the essay writing skills…

This isn’t to say that every minute of the day needs to be regimented. But the excuse people often give for not reaching their targets or goals is that they don’t have time. Whether the goals are related to fitness, academia, travelling, starting a business or any goal you can possibly think of, it will only be achieved if the time is committed. And every day, week, or month that it isn’t worked on is a day, week, or month closer to it never being achieved.

Some people may see the fact we’re going to die anyway as a reason to stay in the comfort zone, or constantly go out drinking, binge watching Netflix (we’re all guilty of this one), or generally dossing about. There’s nothing wrong with that, but just know that the goals won’t be achieved – simple as that.

One of the most common things guests on my podcast mention is that simply following the process will yield the results. What you put in is what you will get out. If you want to start a business, or hit a fitness target but ‘don’t have time’, get up half an hour earlier or cut half an hours TV. Just 30 minutes in a day will be 3.5hours a week of concentrated effort. Nowadays that is enough to open a business bank account online, register at Companies House, set up a business email address, and start creating a basic website; all of that would be done in the first week of getting up 30 minutes earlier. If you’re not interested in business, in 30 minutes you could also fit in a Duolingo lesson (language learning app), 10 minutes meditation, and a 10 minute kettlebell workout.

Once most objectives are broken down to daily or weekly tasks, they’re really quite small. Take deadlifting for example (as mentioned in the podcast with Lindsay Bruce). If you walk into the gym and want to double your deadlift, it won’t happen straight away. But if you increase the weight in small increments every week, you’ll double it in no time.  These principles are the basis of everything. Want to lose weight? Just make sure you’re in a calorie deficit, simple. Want to improve cardio? Make sure you increase your aerobic work. Stronger = lift more. Better informed = read/listen more.

Every single successful person on the planet, still only had 24 hours in the day. From Arnold Schwarzenegger, to Barack Obama, Einstein, and Darwin. They all had the same time, and unless you’ve got access to a time machine (or some very good growth hormone), there is no turning the clock back.

“Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day…The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.” – Seneca

If you enjoyed my first ramblings please subscribe and share. And if you haven’t already checked out the podcast, you can find it on Apple Podcast or any Android App.

Thanks,

Jack

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The Beginning

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After some deliberation, I have finally invested what little money I have left (after university fees) into producing this podcast and blog. The aim of Breaking the Norm is to give first hand experiences from people who have broken the norm in their respective fields and achieved success. I am fortunate enough to know (either directly, or through family and friends) a number of highly driven and successful people which will be the starting foundation for this podcast. Our guests will range from Premiership Rugby players, to CEO’s, doctors, professional martial artists and coaches, special forces veterans and everything inbetween. Regardless of profession, there will no doubt be common themes between how the guests have reached success, and this podcast will aim to give an insight into perceptions of success and how it can be achieved regardless of the industry, sport, or profession. There will also undoubtedly be some very interesting stories along the way.

So who am I?

My name is Jack and I have a (probably annoying) obsession with business and sport. I have run many schoolyard ‘businesses’ from a young age, whether it be wheeling in suitcases full of sweets to school to sell or randomly supplying tennis racket grips during the Wimbledon craze. Since leaving school, I have gone on to study a Quantity Surveying degree (boring I know) but have managed to set up small, relatively successful, businesses that operate on the side to fund me through university.

I have always had an interest in sport, particularly rugby and martial arts. I have trained and competed in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the past 10 years and have trained Muay Thai on and off for the past 6. These interests will no doubt be reflected in the guests invited to the podcast however I will do my best to keep a balance between different professions and industries.

I am a great believer in the benefits of a positive mental attitude and the law of attraction. Therefore, as well as podcasts with guests I will also aim to do a 2 minute positive news round up each week to start off your weekend.

The first podcast will be recorded soon, I hope you enjoy it!

 

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