Economic Multipliers (24)

Do you know what these are?

They help CREATE wealth in systems.

Knowing you can be different is an economic multiplier for you (IF you make it work for you).


When I get groceries, I always think about how odd I must seem to the checkout and bagging people. In a commuter community (cars mostly), I am usually walking and don’t mind carrying groceries home in a backpack or sacks. There are no mountains that surround me (and I have no plans to climb any in the near future) but always think I should be ready to do so.

At various points in my life, people have called me to do things like climb the 14,000 foot peak Mount Harvard in Colorado (and I did), hike the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area and climb the Matterhorn in Oregon (and I did), and bike many miles up and down 'mega' hills in Colorado (and I did).

Each of the individuals who called me to do these things knew me well enough (because we had done other things before) to know that I was not like them: I did not climb eight to twelve 13,000 and 14,000 foot mountains every summer, I didn't know how to 'technical' climb, and I didn't bike over 100 miles per week for ‘fun.'

But when they called, I thought … wow, what an incredible opportunity for me. They must need a break and I hope I'm in good enough shape.

I know these people wouldn’t want to share their recreational challenges with me routinely: I’m not ‘good enough.’ And, when you’ve known someone who qualified for the Olympics (in rowing) and know a teenager (unrelated) today who you think might qualify in the future (in karate), you don’t expect them to.

MY first karate instructor (in Maine) listened to his student explain that they couldn’t throw double punches until they became coordinated enough to throw single punches. Fortunately some sports are ‘self-paced.’ I’m glad I got the single punch down first because when I picked up karate again in Colorado a few years later, my body had not forgotten: the coordination and even a bit of speed were still there.

Interestingly, people who always hang out with people who are equally skilled lose a sense of 'normal.' It's harder to appreciate that you are one of the best in the world when all your friends are the best in the world too.

In athletics, a person like me gives a person like them a better gage of 'normal.’ But I’ve always known that I had to at least be in good enough shape to be able to say ‘yes’ when they called.

When I climbed Mount Harvard, I picked a steady ‘talking’ pace and told the guy I was hiking with that he should pick his own pace and wait up for me when he thought he was getting too far ahead. He did.

This worked very well until I needed a break and realized he was always getting one and I was not. Not a problem. I explained the situation and got some breaks too. We made it to the top and back and I had an enjoyable time because I didn't try to keep up with him. We hiked together several more times before he headed east and found his 'soul mate.'

When I hiked the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area, I got new hiking boots. Fortunately the woman I hiked with brought along a large section of moleskin (something you cover blisters with to protect the skin … if you're prone to getting blisters, you put it on before you start hiking).

If she had not brought along the moleskin, I might have ended up seriously disabled in the middle of a wilderness area and had to limp back to the parking area (I did end up with several large blisters). Her advanced planning (and willingness to share her medical supplies) created an enjoyable trip for both of us.

Since she had known me for years, I figure she overpacked on the medical supplies. I'm not prone to getting injured but she had much more knowledge related to how you could whereas I was the one hauling a water pump with a carbon filter. Both of us ended the trip healthy (other than my healing blisters).

On this trip, I was woefully overpacked and underprepared. My pack was approximately 75 pounds (to start - always heavier with food) and the first day was all uphill. By the time we got to the first campsite, the best I could do was put up the tent, collapse inside and lay still while I felt cramps building up in my muscles.

Any time you're doing extra exercise, you need to pay particular attention to your fluid intake (and I did). Years later I found out (accidentally) that if had done Tai Chi (a meditative exercise that is quite relaxing for the muscles and the mind) when I arrived at the site, I might have avoided the cramps.

It’s counterintuitive that you'd do MORE exercise to compensate for a problem that was caused by OVERexercise but I have a philosophy: If it works, it works.

I’ve tried to do Tai Chi daily for the last 10+ years. After an abnormal (this older version of me) day of heavy physical labor, I ended up with cramps in my calves. I hadn't done Tai Chi and didn't think my legs could feel any worse so I figured I might as well get it done. About 1/4 of the way through, my muscles had 'readjusted' to normal (my accidental discovery).

At the end of the bike trip, I explained to my biking companion (because I knew he was in far superior physical shape in comparison to me - a black belt karate instructor who did a lot of mountain biking - but our trek didn't reflect it) that the reason he was so tired in comparison to me was because I didn't have a mountain bike and he did. Due to my restriction, we biked paved roads that day.

My used bike was originally owned by a woman who trained for racing (which meant that it was VERY well machined). As a result, I would glide down hills and coast 1/4 to 1/3 of the way up the next. With his mountain bike, he sometimes had to start peddling before he got to the bottom of the hill (his whole mechanical system was far less 'efficient').

I wasn't complaining of course but thought it was unfair that someone who was that in shape didn't get to fully enjoy it while they were hanging out with a 'leisure biker.' I wasn’t a useful gage of ‘normal’ that day – although hopefully a good biking companion.

Even the used bike has a 'story.' One month, I was in Topeka, Kansas and my bike was in storage. I justified (economically) buying the used bike because I wouldn’t need to use the car.

Most of the places I went were within walking distance but this was at a point in my life where I could easily be convinced to hike 15 miles in the mountains or through a wilderness area but be too lazy to walk 6 blocks to the local library! I knew I'd bike there though (and did).

If you're like me, lots of things you think about and do don't really make a whole lot of sense.

Over the years, I adopted a walking / biking strategy that works for me: I make time for walking and try to get it in while I'm thinking about projects and preferably while walking somewhere I'd like or need to go. If I've done enough walking for the day but have time and don't mind some extra exercise, I grab a bike. Automobiles are my last resort but I'd never want to live in a world without them: They are tools. Used well, they have extraordinary value.

Sometimes the trick in life is to adopt a strategy that gives you what YOU need … and if what you need is different than what other people need, you will seem (and probably be) different.

Being different (from my perspective) is only great, though, if you make it work for you.

If everyone in the world started doing the same things I do, I wouldn't change my ways but know that then, I would no longer seem different: I might still BE different - I just wouldn't SEEM so.

Now, the opportunities above (in total) covered less than one week of my life. I had them because I said yes. I felt I could say yes because I’ve tried to stay in moderately good physical shape.

If you want opportunities, always be (at least partially) prepared to do things you'd enjoy with people you'd enjoy.

And I’d personally recommend that you have no expectations: Expect to learn LITTLE along the way but know that because you're taking the time to prepare for and actually DO things, you'll probably learn a LOT: Some of the most interesting learning comes along when you're not trying to learn anything at all.

I sometimes wonder how many people in the world believe you should strive to lead a ‘dull’ life … a life filled with daily achievement where you just ‘enjoy’ the fact that you’re doing your best to make a positive contribution.

I know that ‘normal’ collectively accomplishes extraordinary things when it sets out to accomplish it … and know that the people who accomplish things ‘normally’ feel like they are having pretty good days.

From my perspective, the luckiest people you'll ever find in this world are the ones who go to bed every night and think WOW, this was a pretty good day – whether they are different or not.