Matters of Life and Death by max el-hag

This post was originally supposed to be about the athlete coach relationship. I’m sure many of you might be upset that I am writing about something non-directly training related. But, someone important to me died last week and it got me thinking. The thing about this man who passed, Gerald Maloney, is that I never met him. But, his death had a direct impact on someone I consider family and an integral part of the development of my business and future. Death, as I’ve said in one of my previous posts, has always been somewhat of a fascination for me. It seems to be something no one wants to talk about. So many people live their lives internally denying it will happen to them, distracting themselves with sensory experiences. But to me, it has always been a conscious eventuality. I fight every single day as hard as I possibly can to ensure that I won’t feel a sense of regret, like I could have done better with the short time I was given. Gerald Maloney’s life and subsequent death led me to contemplate many different things. The first thing it reminded me of was the importance of the team you surround yourself with.

'Team' building

Generally I’m not comfortable putting my emotional “self” out there and thanking people publicly for what they’ve done. Social media/blogging has always felt strange to me, as if it is a way to fake intimacy and connection in your life. It feels to me as if it allows for a lot of ‘communication’ without any of the struggle or vulnerability of the organic direct human relationships that take place in your real life. Ironically I find myself in control of a business that requires a public platform to share the things I’ve learned along the way. Instagram likes are important in some cases. I hope to continue to grow and expand and build my vision into a reality, which requires me to spend some time focusing on those platforms. But the most important lesson I have learned thus far as an entrepreneur, athlete, coach, and person who seeks meaning in their life is to surround myself with a team. My team and the people I consult at TTT make me and my experience better is so many ways. They help grow the business, they help me learn through teaching methods, they challenge my conventional thought patterns, they push me to stay up late and work harder, they are there with me to share in successes, and I know as the business opens up new possibilities, they will be the people for whom I lay it all on the line because we share a dream. To me, self-inflicted suffering for the betterment of something greater than just yourself is not altruistic sacrifice, but a necessity in the creation of a life worth being lived. My team, both present and future, is the key to any success that I may enjoy in this life.

A Specific Member of the Team

Gerald was John Maloney’s father. Anyone who is an actual client of TTT, has taken a seminar, or reached out to us knows John as the man who responds to and coordinates EVERYTHING. Most people don’t know anything about John and I’m pretty sure he prefers it that way. I’m equally sure he will hate the fact that I’m posting about him in my blog, but there are downfalls to every job and I guess I am the job hazard for anyone wanting to be involved with TTT! John came out to Arizona a little over two years ago and met with me when Training Think Tank was just an idea in my head. I had created PowerPoint slides, projections, pages of incoherent writing, a make shift payment-processing system, and was barely making things work on my own. I was in a desperate place. I had a lot of financial obligations to meet, and while I had a way out through a pretty well-paying consulting job, in order to cultivate my dream of TTT and simultaneously accept the job, I needed a lot of help. I needed someone to help me create more time in the day. There was a zero percent chance I could work full time in an office, then return home and attempt to build TTT by myself. He came on with no contract and no real set job responsibilities, and helped me survive. Even with his help, my physical health deteriorated quickly from the amount of strain I was putting my emotional/mental self through. I was short on sleep, barely training, and almost always working on something. He offered to prepare my food, take care of my animals, do my taxes, schedule my appointments, book my travel and pretty much ensure my survival during that time. John believed in me and my vision before anyone else even knew about it, and was willing to get into the trenches with me to build the foundation of the future of TTT. This was commitment at a time when I would have laughed at myself for suggesting he come on board with me. He gave up a much higher paying job, took on responsibilities that no one would want to have, went above and beyond what was asked of him, was forced to live with me because I couldn’t pay him enough to have his own place, dealt with all the apparel and visual stuff, and more often than anyone should have to in a lifetime sat across the dining room table from me and listened to me blab endlessly about new ideas, humanity, training concepts, and my own misery. John is the definition of a right hand man. There are days I want to kill John, and I always make fun of him for trying to act as my ‘helicopter parent’ as he protects my time. But, he does exactly what I asked him to do, and better than I asked him to do it. That is what good teammates are all about, synergy. John is a part of my vision for life, or for as long as he wants to be a part of it. I do not give my loyalty easily, but when it is earned I will do everything in my power to protect it.

Comments on Gratitude

I struggle more frequently than I would like to admit with darkness, misery, hopelessness, and disdain for humanity. I go through these tremendous swings of happiness followed by periods of intense frustration that I’m not good enough, can’t make things happen fast enough, can’t learn enough to understand everything, and can’t help everyone who needs it. But, when I am settled and reflect, I am grateful for so many things. Gerald’s death made me grateful for the chaos producing a set of circumstances that allowed my dreams to begin to manifest and unfold before my eyes. Is it possible that someone would have come along to fill the same role that John does, and my path was predestined to go in a certain direction? Maybe. But, I realize how many seemingly insignificant things happened to put in motion the journey to my present existence. I continue to realize that I NEED to strive to be better. There was a time where I tried to make peace with what was and ignore my desires. But, that was a futile pursuit. I recently watched a movie (Particle Fever) in which a world-class physicist said “…once you have curiosity, you can’t control it.” That is how I feel about my quest now. I used to work hard for a specific outcome (success, power, endurance, sport accolades, strength, etc) hoping that it would change my sense of self-worth. Now, I am on a meandering journey to continue to feel grateful for all that I do have, while still maintaining my intense desire to build and create a positive change for humanity and myself. Gerald’s death reminded me to be appreciative that I am able to spend my time being paid to help people reach their dreams as athletes, build education in order to mentor coaches, have the power to hire people who are smarter than me to improve my quality of work, and to build into the real world something that was once a figment of my imagination. I realized through his death that much of our legacy and life quest is about creating a life you are grateful to have, and relationships are the crucial part of that.

Comments on life

Most things in life are defined by dualities. Death is simply the cessation of life, and without it death would lack meaning. And what is so great about life? Life can be a short and sometimes nasty experience. If your mind seeks to make sense of life you soon realize it is an unsolvable puzzle that will drive you into a state of perpetual madness trying to solve. We don't know why we're here even when we pretend with certainty we do. One thing that is certain is that life is bigger than we are. Even the most famous people on the earth will be worm food at the end of their lives. The money you make won’t come with you, the attention you receive for your greatness will eventually go away, your ‘selfies’ will eventually be things you’re embarrassed you took, and everything you cling to will fade over time. I believe life is about the legacy you build through the people you touch. Each one of your decisions, actions and conversations that may seem unimportant can lead to a changing of the entire collective future; a butterfly effect if you will. Whether or not Gerald Maloney is in a place where he can consciously comprehend, his life started a cascade of events that allowed me to live my dreams out if only but for a brief period of time. He is a man I never met, never spoke to, never saw, and will never know. But, his life’s choices will have consequences that tear through the chaos and produce things he was not even aware of during his life. If I have any business success or help any other people, his life will have been integral in allowing that to happen. I am thankful for the fact that he lived so that I can be grateful for the experiences I am currently having. In his Eulogy the last line was: "In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to your local animal shelter." This was a man who was consciously aware he was approaching the end of his mortality and instead of thinking about people remembering him, he was thinking about the well-being of living things instead of focusing on his impending death.

This post was not about training. But I hope it helps you remember why you train and why you strive for anything in life. Let this post be a tribute to Gerald’s life. If anyone is inspired to show tribute to him or thank him for creating the life of someone who has allowed me the time to invest into writing blogs, mentoring coaches, creating courses, coaching you, or touches you in any way, please honor his life as he and his loved ones last requested by giving to a local animal shelter. And remember that ultimately you will pass as well. Death can remind you of the fragility of life and put all your values into perspective to ensure you don’t take yourself too seriously. Remember as you make choices about how much effort you invest in your training, who you hire as a coach, who you spend your time with, what sacrifices you make, or why you do anything you do, that...

your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of otherpeople's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown outyour own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to followyour heart and intuition. -Steve Jobs

~ Max

Created By
Max El-Hag
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