Enjoy the Process

So I'm back to the old blog site, writing for Beach Major Series didn't pan out this season, but don't worry, that won't stop my word vomit from reaching the screen. Not sure if humans are even capable of reading lengthy articles these days with our attention spans dwindling the way they are. I'm already beyond 280 characters, so I could probably stop writing and no one would even notice. But I must be old fashioned because I still like to write them, even if they're just for me. And that's more than enough reason to keep doing so as far as I'm concerned.

The same can be said about most of life, for that matter. If it makes you happy, then it's worth doing, it's a very simple concept. So simple, that I've probably talked about it before, but I've written a lot of blogs now and senility (I'm almost 30 after all) is creeping in, so who knows. One of these days I'll go back and read them all again, but that's for another day. For today, I'm thinking about living that happiness life.

In theory, everyone should be happy all the time, no exceptions, but obviously that's not quite possible. If you make every decision based on immediate happiness, you'll have some good moments right away, but you're bound to go on an emotional roller coaster ride. On the other side of the coin, if you can only be happy once you hit a long term goal, then it could be quite the grind until you get there. Either way, there will be moments of happiness in your life, but once those moments have passed, then what? Then you start all over, and the hunt for the next happiness high is on.

There is no wrong way, that's not what I'm trying to say. Everyone can find those enjoyable moments in every kind of way, but in my opinion, the best way to make the happiness last from moment to moment, is to make the path that gets you there the most enjoyable part. Make any accolades the cherry on top, but let the process be the ice cream sundae (or sorbet, or whatever my lactose intolerant readers want to substitute). 

For me and blog writing, it's about putting my fingers on the keyboard and seeing where my words can take me. I don't go in with a plan, because I find it fascinating to see which direction my brain is flowing on any given day (it varies greatly between the dumbly humorous to the mildly inspirational), and that fascination brings me to repeat the process, regardless of whether the end product ends up being any good. Any kind words received after the fact are bonus.

In our modern age of information it's pretty easy to get caught up in chasing the cherry on top (I'm certainly guilty of it). It's so simple to put something out there with no thought behind it, specifically to for that feeling of instant gratification from a like or a thumbs up. But if you're willing to put in the time to share something you truly enjoyed creating, then it no longer matters how your followers react, because you've done it for the person who's opinion should matter the most. Your own.

And I'm not finished there. This doesn't have to end in cyberspace. In case you were worried I was going to go a whole blog without relating it to volleyball, then fear not! Here we go! Athletes always talk about being "Never satisfied", and again, that's one way to approach it. I'm a strong believer that there is no single right way to do anything. But what I will give you is a different mental angle to look at training and sport:
-It makes me happy to continue learning and improving at my sport.
-I really enjoy comparing my ability to learn and improve against opponents in competition.
-It thrills me to add a skill or technique to my game that other teams have yet to master.
-I'm excited each time I see my opponents improve, because it means that I get the opportunity to do the same.
-When I win, I look forward to how I can be even better the next time.
-When I lose, see above.
-When I play my sport, I am ALWAYS SATISFIED, because I love the process! The results and the praise are the cherry on top.

And if you don't enjoy it, then change it. The beauty of making the process the focal point of your happiness, is that there are so many ways to adjust, without having to alter the end goals. If you think training would be better in a warmer climate, go train in California (for example). Obviously, you should still keep your goals in mind when making alterations, however. Eating 5 Cheeseburgers a day might give you immediate pleasure, but it also might make your path a little less efficient. It's creating that perfect balance to make the best method for you where you'll find the most benefit as well as the most enjoyment. I prescribe to the Ben Saxton training regimen, feel free to emulate it, but it likely won't be as effective until you've made the tweaks that fit you.

Enjoying the process makes me happy. Whatever I do, I try to bring the same attitude, be it blogging, beach volleyball, relationships, snow sculpting, making pizza, eating pizza, the list goes on and on. No matter what I do, I want to do it well, and the best way for me to keep motivated, is to be just as interested in the ice cream sundae, as the cherry on top. 

Ben Jammin

PS: The Ft. Lauderdale Major Series event happens this week, and Grant and I are excited about it. It's a great venue, the Beach Major Series tournaments are always the highest quality. Hope to see many of you there!


Come out and Play!

I haven't blogged on this page in a while, thanks to this last year's arrangement with Swatch Major Series, and possibly for the future season as well, but only time will tell. And by now you may have heard of some changes on the horizon in terms of team composition, but that's not why I'm writing right now. Today this blog is being used for promotion purposes, for an event that's very near and dear to me as a founding member of the West Coast Beach Volleyball Society:
The 2nd Annual Play with the Pros.

First, a quick description of the event:
Basically it's meant as a tournament for anyone (truly anyone) who happens to be in the vicinity of Vancouver on December 2nd and is interested in beach volleyball. Teams of 4 will play off against each other as they would in any other rec tournament but with the added bonus of getting a different pro player on their team for each match. The selection of Pros ranges from the studs of the local Kits Beach tours to Canadian and American Olympians (Including the myth, the legend, April Ross). Another bonus from last year's event is that this time around each team is guaranteed a minimum of 8 matches, so you'll get your money's worth. The details in full, including how to register, can be found at https://www.wecobevo.com/2nd-annual-play-with-the-pros
Just try to do so before November 10th, because that's the early bird cut-off and it gets a little pricier from there, plus you may be eligible for early bird surprises.... just saying.

Now if your excuse for not playing with the pros is "I'm not good enough", then you don't know what the event is all about. The funny thing is, this is the most common comment from everyone we've asked to play, including the pros oddly enough, who would all still be awesome with their eyes closed (go ahead, test me). The fact of the matter is, this beach event is not about being good, it's about enjoying the game from top to bottom, and about supporting the growth of the sport in the west coast of Canada.

It's a rare opportunity, where someone can be discovering the sport for the first time alongside a full time player who lives and breathes volleyball. Where a super fan can share the court with their hero. Where a local volleyball junkie can get their fix with or against an international contender.

The basis of the event is not to exploit those who "aren't good enough", it's to encourage everyone to want to get better by highlighting the most fun parts of the game - being active, getting dirty, and flailing your limbs at a little round object. New players will see that those with just a bit more experience aren't so far away and might be encouraged to join an Urban Rec league or similar. Mid level or youth athletes might look at the local pros and find incentive to compete next season on the KBVA or KWVC or the Vancouver Open. Most important of all, in my mind, is that anyone at all might see the passion and enjoyment that the highest level pros bring to the court when they play, and it will inspire them to make beach volleyball a bigger part of their lifestyle. And that's just one way that Play with the Pros can help to grow the game.

The charitable aspect is another reason to want to participate. All proceeds from the tournament as well as the silent auction (available to all who attend), will go towards the development of the sport in Western Canada. The mission of West Coast Beach Volleyball Society is to develop a training hub on the west coast to give all athletes in our very large country a chance, and an incentive, to keep playing the sport beyond the recreational level. It would give those athletes in the west with a massive drive the chance to pursue the highest level of beach volleyball without needing and equally massive bank account.

So that's my spiel, hopefully I've convinced you to be a part of our big night. If you're unable to play but still want to be involved, we are still accepting auction item donations. Donate over $300 worth and you can be featured on the website, so please feel free to reach out to us if you have something to offer. Maybe I'll donate 1 blog post to the auction, to see if my musings have become worth a little something, Start the bidding at 1 beverage.

See you December 2nd?
Ben Jammin


Comfort food for thought

Comfortability is a strange thing. So many yearn for it, love to have it and keep it close. Comfort is often what people strive to achieve in their every day lives and routines. Yet as nice as it is to be comfortable, comfort itself is a plateau.

Over the last few years, I've had the opportunity to talk to many high level athletes from many different sports. I won't name names, and I won't go into specifics about any particular program. I'm not looking to get anyone in trouble, just giving my opinion on the mindset of sport (Sorry to those of you who got really excited to hear some juicy gossip). Actually, I find this pertains to many walks of life, but I'm an athlete, so if I relate it to sports, people might actually think it's insightful. Back to the point, after talking to all of these experts in their respective fields (sports), there always seems to be a story of a coach, or trainer, or administrator, or official, or teammate, sibling, parent, local legend, superfan, pizza guy, etc. that told them, in some way or another:

"This is the way it has to be done" "This is how it's always been done, it'll be too hard to change" "This is what funding partners are looking for" "I've seen a lot of [sport], and this is how most people do it" "If you were truly dedicated, you would do what everyone else is doing"

To which my response (at least in my head) is always "Oh yeah? Let me prove you wrong." In my opinion, these are the people who are happy to reach the comfort plateau, and remain there. It is possible to grow substantially, by doing things the way they've always been done, and I do agree there is some value in it. But at a certain point the growth will slow down, and if you continue doing things the same way as everyone else does them, you likely won't surpass any of them. Hence the plateau. Now I'm being a little misleading with this plateau metaphor, because it will undoubtedly lead you to believe that the ultimate goal is to go beyond the plateau and find the peak of a mountain. Actually, to those seeking excellence, the peak doesn't exist. Those striving to be the best are not climbing mountains, they're climbing the Penrose impossible staircase (below). There is no endpoint to development, so suggesting there is one single method to reach it seems a little too good to be true.
Now maybe I'm just the stubborn 2 year old who loved to say "No", but when I look at athletes at the highest level, I don't often see the people who complied with "the way it has to be done." In fact, most often the difference between the best athletes and those trailing, is how they innovated their training regime. They went beyond the ordinary way of doing things, and came up with something new that helped to propel them forward. Often surrounding themselves with the coaches and trainers, etc. that are willing to innovate and develop their techniques right alongside them. The people who stand out are the ones who find a way to be different, and use it to their advantage.

Now obviously I don't condone going so far outside the comfort zone that it would be considered illegal. Steroids = bad, sabotage = bad, ignoring rules/laws = bad. I merely suggest finding multiple methods of climbing the staircase until you find the way that suits you. Everyone learns and develops in a different way, and so it makes sense that every process should be different. If there was an easy way to become a champion, everyone would be one, everyone would coach one, everyone would administrate the program that develops them, etc. (Participation trophies don't count).

What I've found myself preaching at various clinics that I've coached over the past few years, and especially quite recently thanks to the newly formed West Coast Beach Volleyball Society is to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, because that's where the big changes are made.

And trust me, I know a thing or two about being uncomfortable

Ben Jammin