Friday

THE IRONMAN HAS PURSUITS AND HOBBIES

If you determine that you're spending too much time, too many nights hanging out with the guys, find some alternative pursuits. They don't have to be overly intellectual or boring. In fact, they should be things that have always interested you but inertia or a sense that it was not the "thing to do" have kept you from pursuing.

For example, if you'd like to have more money and have always been vaguely interested in the stock market, take a course in investing. A lot of the bigger brokerage houses like Paine Webber and Merrill
Lynch offer them for free.

I have a friend who's always been a pretty good amateur electrician. Other than what he'd learned in science class in high school, he'd never had any real education in the field. Nevertheless, he's always had a "feel" for it, being the one guy in our crowd who could hook up your VCR or attach an extra set of speakers to your stereo.

Anyway, about two years ago he got a cataglogue of adult education courses from the local high school and decided to take a course in basic electricity. From the first minute he was hooked. He'd never realized it before, but he had a natural predilection for things mechanical, electrical, automotive. He did so well in his course, in fact, and enjoyed it so much that he took advantage of his company's policy in splitting higher education costs with employees and enrolled in a part-time Masters program at a local college in civil engineering.

His boss was almost as excited about it as my friend was himself and helped him over the ensuing year to switch from sales, where my friend was doing okay, to research, where in a matter of months he began truly to distinguish himself.

'Now what,' you might ask, 'does this have to do with excelling with women?' Almost everything. My friend went from being a sort of aimless guy who hung out with the gang seven nights a week at Stanley's Bar to someone who traveled for his company, went to engineering conferences in Europe, loved his job, and participated dramatically more fully in life. He began making considerably more money, got a better car, apartment, and clothes. And he approached life with a far, far greater sense of optimism and possibility.

And, of course, this was reflected in how he looked, talked, carried himself and, most important to our subject, related to women. Before long they were viewing him in a whole different light. Instead of one of the tired old regulars down at Stanley's, he was a man who stood out. A man on the way up. A man who carried himself with a growing sense of confidence and accomplishment. A man who in a very practical way no longer had much time for Stanley's.

Today, five years after my friend took the first small step by taking a course one night a week at the local high school, he's a vice- president at his firm and engaged to an extremely pretty and bright chemical engineer whom he met at a conference in Europe.

Let me conclude by saying I know how difficult it is to take that first step, to overcome inertia, to break away from the pack which can be so comfortable and seductive. That is why I recommend doing something formal like taking a course or buying a subscription to a local theatre company. This way you're obligated to spend time away from the pack. Or volunteer to feed the homeless at a shelter or read to ill children at a nearby hospital.

And if you enjoy this and are meeting new people and discovering new dimensions to your personality, program something for a second and a third night a week. You'll be astonished at how much pleasure and energy you'll derive from breaking free from a tired and stultifying routine. You'll find your confidence growing and your ability to talk about things other than who's the reigning darts champion at Stanley's a source of real strength.

And don't worry about what the pack is thinking back at Stanley's. Of course, they'll be jealous. My eldest son and I discuss this phenomenon all the time — the pack calling you back. It takes guts to break away and decide, T don't give a damn what they're saying behind my back.' But, hey, that's no problem for you. You made the decision to buy this book. You're on your way to becoming an Ironman.

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