25 Black & White Rules

Dave Thomas San Diego Performance360By Dave Thomas
Owner, Performance360

A lot of life’s situations are grey and hazy in that they call for a multitude of possible responses based on different circumstances.  Others are a bit more black and white.

I consider myself to possess many flaws and am constantly trying to improve in many areas of my life (some of which are a struggle). These are the cornerstones in which I make every attempt to hold myself accountable, some a work in progress.

Most of these are scheduled as full blog posts.

1. Tip the barista.  One dollar.  Every single time.  If you can’t afford to, make it at home.

2. Be nice to telemarketers.  I’ve had this job before.  Trust me, they don’t want to be calling you and offering you a fifth Visa card or a weekend in Vegas anymore than you want to be getting the phone call.  But, they are doing what they can to try and earn a living.  It sucks taking the call but being a dick will ultimately just ruin a person’s day and leave you no better off.

3. Speak up.  Nine people out of ten won’t tell the smelly friend in class that he should try deodorant.  Be the one person who isn’t afraid to pull him aside and say, “Greg. You stink, dude. And it ain’t cool”.  Don’t be afraid to organize amongst chaos or express an opinion of substance.  While most will cower in the corner and mislabel this one out of ten an asshole, I say he’s the only true friend of Greg’s in the bunch.

4. Respect the elderly.  They have most likely seen some a thing or two and can school us six ways ’til Sunday.  Chances are decent they served in the military as well, or supported someone who did.  When you find yourself about to become internally frustrated that granny is stroking a check at the counter of Von’s, ask yourself, “What if this was my grandmother?”

5. See the sun set or rise once per week. I am not a very “one with nature” person but this is a sure fire way to inspire you.

6. Be a sponge.  Soak up knowledge from those who are smarter than you and rinse it over dirty dishes that need it.

7. Don’t judge a book by its cover.  Not everyone shops at the same store you do.  Not all who wander are lost. Not every person with tattoos is a hippie or a malcontent.  In fact, most aren’t.  I can’t tell you the amount of times I felt like an idiot for internally presuming something about a person that walked through our doors at the gym for the first time, only to find out I was massively incorrect.

8. Don’t be try to everything to everyone.  You are not going to be everyone’s friend and appeal to everyone.  Be yourself.  Be with people you truly care about.  So what if some people don’t like you?

9. Be Purposeful. Getting under a heavy squat.  Handing someone your resume.  Opening a small business. Embarking on a new journey.  Grabbing that girl and making her your babe.  Do it full bore or don’t do it all.

10. Order the creme brûlée.  Kind of another version of stop and smell the roses.  Slow down and enjoy life.  Order dessert every now and then and do so guilt free.  If you read this blog, you are most likely very active and very aggressive with your training.  So smell the damn roses every once in a while.

11. Rejoice in your toil.  Too many people want instant gratification.  Too many people approach life one mile marker at a time.  “If I can just get to this”, or, “I have that to look forward to so I can make it through the next six weeks”.  Learn to appreciate the grind.  The labor.  The dirt on your hands.  Learn to let the the hard work you put into life reward you. To hell with the 4-Hour Work Week. Like Jimmy Dugan said of baseball, “it’s the hard that makes it great.”

12. Pay attention.  Know what’s going on within our planet.  Read books.  Learn more.  Knowing how to coach someone in the second pull of the snatch is worthless if you can’t have a half way decent opinion about current events.

13. Build yourself up through others.  If there is one single thing I have learned the past few years it’s that you get places by promoting the success of others.  Congratulate people.  Share their hard work.

14. Mean it.  Build others up, but don’t be the person that says ‘great job’ to everything and everybody.  People can see right through that shit. Be positive when you mean it but no need to be superfluous about it.  Too much sugar and you end up not ordering another one.

15. Loosen your tie. We all have our own metaphoric tie we wear, even if we don’t don a suit to work.  When you’re off the clock, be off the clock.  Put your feet up.  Have an IPA.  Don’t be a passionless wanderer. Don’t be a workaholic, either.  Commit to your personal and social life as well as a life of hard work.

16. Have calluses. Get out there and see the world.  As I continue to get into my thirties I have developed an amazing appreciation for money spent seeing a part of the country I’ve never seen and going to do something I’ve never done.

17. Carry your weight.  Chip in for gas money.  Buy a round when it’s your turn.  Refill the water.  Bring beer to the party.

18. Be physical.  Put your body through test and rigor every now and then.  Find out what you’re made of.  Do things that are physically uncomfortable.

19.  Say please and thank you.  You don’t have to be the friendliest person in the world for basic manners.

20. Take your athleticism seriously.  Evolution discards the weak.

21. Appreciate the arts.  Creativity is a dying breed in America.  Go see live music.  Take a painting class.  Learn an instrument.  When you can, help support those who make a living by creating. That’s the true talent in this world.

22. Be capable.  If a catastrophe struck and without warning we permanently lost power, would you survive?  I recently asked myself this question and came up with a resounding, ‘no’.  Know how to change a tire, fix things, do things on the fly, be self reliant.  This is a huge source of improvement for me in 2014.

23. Be about it.  Not against it.  Promote what you enjoy, not the negatives of what you don’t.

24. Find your dinosaur.  There’s the scene in Step Brothers when Dale and Brennan meet in Catalina.  Dale is working the catering buffet and Brennan is selling helicopters.  They are both miserable.  Mr. Dobek steps in, pulls them together and recalls the story of how when he was a kid he pretended to be a dinosaur and it was the happiest time of his life.  He pleads for them to find their dinosaur and rediscover their own happiness.  Don’t go through life working an unhappy job in a toxic relationship. Find your dinosaur.

25. Earn your medal. Everyone gets a medal in today’s society.  We are no longer allowed to sit little Joey down and tell him, “son, you came in last place today.  What are you going to do about it?”  When I was 12 years old, I skipped all of tryouts for my select basketball league in order to play video games.  I thought I was a shoe in for the team since my best friend’s dad was the coach and my own dad was a helper during tryouts.  Come end of tryouts when we all stood on the baseline, my head was not tapped to be on one of the teams.  As I sat embarrassed in the car my dad simply said, “That’s what happens when you don’t put in the work, son.”  Best lesson I ever received.  Quit with the excuses.  Good things don’t come to those who wait.  Good things come to those who go out, meet the beast in the middle of the road, wrestle it to the ground, cut its fucking head off and place it above their mantle.

Those are mine and most continue to be an enormous work in progress, but they further my advancement to the person I ultimately want to be when I grow up.

Do you have a list of rules that guide you, too?

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think, and if you liked it, please hit the SHARE button below.


  1. Approach all unsolicited calls with a smiley face because you know how it is to be on the other end of those calls is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Telemarketing may be tough, but so is smuggling drugs. Just because it is your only means of making a living doesn’t make it any more respectful. If you don’t want us to ruin your day, then don’t ruin ours with your unwanted solicitations.

  2. Seriously are you some kind of sadist? Asking coffee aficionados to stay away if that can’t tip the barista is a very effective way to get anyone laid off due to slow business.

  3. As for #3, there are times when it is better to be straight-forward. I’d appreciate it if you told me something that would serve in my best interest like:

    I’ll be direct with you, you are standing below an anvil.

    There are places and ways to place an opinion with honesty. But it should never be used as an excuse to be a jerk, insensitive, unkind or to bully people around.

    1. Dave, your list resonated well with me, especially as I am training for my first triathlon. I live in San Diego, hit he up let’s train!

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