Life Lessons Part 1: Incremental improvement and seeking comfort

calvin-life-lesson

Over the last few days I’ve had the chance to listen back to the first 4 episodes of my podcast. I learned a few lessons from my second listens. I’ve distilled these lessons into three posts; life lessons parts 1 & 2, and podcast lessons. This post relates to Life Lessons Part 1 and covers my first 2 episodes, I’ll post Life Lessons Part 2 over the next few days.

Life Lessons 1: Incremental improvement.

Owen ‘Rowdy’ Roddy was my first interview and took place in my kitchen late one Monday evening. Owen is a recently retired pro Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter and I’ve known him for over 2 years as my coach at jiu-jitsu and Muay-thai classes I attend. Owen has a great story about his journey through the world of MMA, from mopping the mats to winning European championship belts. Roddy paved the way for many of Ireland’s current mixed martial artists, including his team mate, Conor Mc Gregor with whom you can see him hitting the pads below.

Owen, like a lot of combat sportspeople I’ve known, has great humility. It’s a humility born from knowing that even at your best you can be beaten. He also has an intelligence and honesty that I knew would impress people who still think of MMA as barbaric. Owen is quiet and unassuming but any time I’ve mentioned his name to people involved in the martial art world they speak about him in the highest possible terms as a fighter.

One of the things that struck me most about Owen’s message was the idea of incremental improvements. In his early days competing in his club he didn’t mind losing daily once he lasted slightly longer than the day before. His philosophy is that if you keep improving you’ll eventually be good, maybe even great, at what you’re doing. Simple. Simple, but not easy. Imagine if we could apply this principle to all areas of our lives how much our world would change. Decide what’s important to you and each time the opportunity presents itself try to be slightly better at it than you were the last time. The secret is that there is no secret.

Life Lessons 2: Seeking comfort in strange places

Maggie ‘Ex Call-Girl’ Mc Neill was my second guest on the show. I had planned to interview a call girl who had spent a lot of her career in Ireland but she stopped answering my mails inexplicably. This left me guest-less but a quick twitter search luckily led me to Maggie. I read her blog, spoke to her on the phone, and knew she was going to be an excellent guest.

Maggie has totally changed the way I view this type of work. Prior to speaking with Maggie my categories of sex workers were; drug-addled unfortunates, air headed strip-club bimbos, or trafficked sex-hostages. While these stereotype-fitting sex-workers do exist they are not the majority, in fact they’re a tiny minority. What the mainstream media generally fails to portray is that many women who get involved in what Maggie calls the whore-archy do so out of choice. She certainly did and further reading from her blog shows that she’s far from the exception. She was no victim.

Maggie spoke a lot about why men came to her. One of the main reasons was comfort. Men often wanted no more than to be held by a pretty, compassionate woman. She told a beautiful story about one of her clients in post-Katrina New Orleans and how he cried in her arms. These men, for whatever reason, needed a place they could allow themselves to be vulnerable and fully human. We all seek comfort in strange places. Some find it in the bottom of a glass, others online with people they’ve never met, some of us in books, or, if we’re lucky, in the arms of someone we love.

It's good to talk

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