What are your goals?

Craig: Thomas, what are some of your current goals? And by that, I mean, it can be work goals, like I know you’re working on your business in New York City. But also, people have a lot of personal goals, relationship goals, goals with your kids. Or if you want, goals specific to Parkour.

Thomas: I like all of those.

Craig: Okey-dokey. [00:12:00] I try.

Thomas: Yeah, I only have one real goal at this point in my life and maybe that’s smarter than I used to be, I hope, which is to just continue to evolve and explore. And even though that sounds really simple, I apply it to everything.

Craig: That doesn’t sound simple to me. I don’t know what the listeners are thinking, but that sounds complicated.

Thomas: So, I’m writing this book, it’s just about done. It was a great exploration for me to write a book, [00:12:30] and to be in that space and take my thoughts about bodywork and put them all down.

Craig: Actually, word-smith, is that your first book that you’re –

Thomas: It’s my first non-fiction book, anyway. And it’s the first one I’ll publish, so that makes it my first book, really, out in the world.

Craig: I was just fishing to see if you were like a novelist under a pen name that I didn’t know about.

Thomas: I am, but not a published pen name.

Craig: Oh, okay.

Thomas: We’re not going to get into that book though. But the book that’s going to come out, it’s called “Elemental Bodywork,” [00:13:00] and the funny thing is I used to say that it was the book I started because I thought it would be the safe book to write, and the book that I really want to write is this other book that’s more on the spiritual transformation path that we all walk through in life called “The Field.” But it turns out that as I’ve written this bodywork book, which forced me to really admit to myself what I think is important about bodywork and what I think is not important, and the way that my mind [00:13:30] works is that when I try to understand something, I look for the through lines in it that fit in with everything else that I know and that are true through every aspect of a thing. So, when I went into the bodywork book, I found these six principles of all bodywork, everywhere, and then I was like, “Oh, okay. So everything exists within these. That’s easy. I can handle that.”

Craig: And then it’s just word-smithing. Not.

Thomas: And then from there the five elements are the rubric upon [00:14:00] which we look at different bodies, and minds, and spirits, and how they come in and out of balance, and that’s what the whole book is. But the thing that happened, unexpectedly I guess, was that as this goal keeps pushing me up and down the sine wave of development as I’m writing the book, suddenly elemental bodywork also shows me elemental medicine, and elemental Qigong, and we practice in New York at the [00:14:30] Element Center. And at some point I realized that I could create a through line through everything I do connected to the –

Craig: The book is just one point of the… uh-oh.

Thomas: … elemental transformations and that makes every time I approach something it has this central theme, and so then I just started to see the whole thing as the periodic table. And each thing was just a different element. And then I thought about Chinese Qigong, which is all about internal alchemy and the elemental charts, and I was like, “Oh, so I see. This is like the alchemical [00:15:00] transformation of life that you move through in these different practices.” And all that came out of writing the book. So, the goal of writing the book, which was to –

Craig: What you thought was a, “This is a straightforward goal. I can do this.”

Thomas: Right. And then it turns into this other thing, and that’s how it always happens, for me. I think it’s pretty common that it happens to us that way, even if we don’t realize it.

Craig: I agree. I was trying to write. I write short form stuff. I was trying to write about goals, and I quickly realized it’s like, you know what works best? When I have a bunch of goals, then they’re [00:15:30] out in front of me in a spread, and they basically pull me in a certain direction. But as soon as the path I’m on is veering, “Oh, I’m going to go that way,” it’s time to move the goals. And you never want to get to the goals.

There’s this great story about the Apollo program, and they tried to run the first simulations on the computer programs, and the computers crashed before they got the space craft to the goals. They realized, “Well, it’s a problem of finite adjustments and as the time goes to 0, everything blows up.” So, they just moved the goals. It’s like that’s why there are all these scenes in movies about them stopping and having to re-key [00:16:00] their positions, because they would just reset the computers, and like, “Well, if we get any closer to the goals, it’d’ve been a problem.” So, I was like, “Oh, once again, somebody else figured this out before me.” So, yeah, I think having those multiple goals and letting this goal, I’ve injured my shoulders trying to reach little goals, and just like learning to, yeah, move toward the goal, and then when you feel you need a new goal just move the goal post.

Thomas: Yeah, I mean, you plan a trip, right, to go somewhere? The doing of the trip is never what you think it’s going to be. And that’s why the trip’s [00:16:30] interesting. The plan’s fun because you set this whole structure up of what you’re going to do, but you know after you’ve done it once, that the doing of it is a whole other animal.

Craig: Yep. Life is a journey.

Thomas: Life is a journey.

What are your goals?

Craig: You touched on some of your goals before, so I want to circle back to talking about what your goals are.

Adam: Sure.

Craig: You are obviously an extremely busy person. Do you set objective goals for yourself? By objective I mean “I’m gonna do 437 pushups in an hour by November 3rd.” Do you set objective goals, and how do you stay motivated on longer-term projects, whether they’re personal projects, work projects, PK Gen projects, and how do you measure your progress?

Adam: The answer to that is a surprising no, [00:13:00] and as much as any person will tell you that specific goal setting, smart goals starts with specific. So you should have specific goals set out, and there is absolutely truth to those methodologies. However, you have to know yourself, and you have to know what your motivations are. I happen to know that the more specific my goals are, the less motivated I get about them because I like to deviate from goals when I see an opportunity to do something a little bit different or a little bit better.

So I set broad goals. I say “I want [00:13:30] to be better at X,” for the purpose of example. I’d say “I want to be better at breathing while I’m moving. I want to be able to control my breath better during movement and not be panting and be out of breath. That’s a goal that I want to have accomplished soon.” I’ll set a goal like that for myself, and what that does is I’ll wake up in the morning and go “Okay, how do I want to go about this exactly?” I’ll say “Well, why don’t I start by going for a run and seeing what my breathing’s like and how many breaths per step and for how long I end up doing.” I’ll pay attention [00:14:00] to that and give it my full attention and intention.

At the end of that run I’ll go “Okay, that’s where I’m at.” Maybe it’s better than I thought, maybe it’s worse than I thought. Then I go from there. I go “Okay, how can I improve this?” I’ll go out and maybe do some route training or I’ll go swimming and discipline myself to only breathe on every four or sixth stroke for as long as I can, or I’ll do some breath holding training or Google how to improve your lung capacity. Having the freedom to investigate different opportunities not only gives me more knowledge, more experience, and more fun frankly, but it also [00:14:30] gives me the tools that I can then share with other people.

So, again, my motivation isn’t necessarily just to improve myself. It’s to gather resources that I can share with the community around me. I learn a lot more by leaving myself open than I do by going “Must do X plus B divided by C equals my end result.” Either I got it or I didn’t.

Craig: Okay, and then you probably wind up with a constellation of those little goals that you’re working on. So obviously you don’t just have two, you have 57 different [00:15:00] things that you’re going in different directions. If this one calls to you today, that’s where we’re going today.

Adam: That’s exactly right.

Craig: That’s great. People that I’ve talked to have very very different ways of answering questions about goals. I’m like “I have a millimeter ruler.”

Adam: As it should be, Craig. As it should be. We’re all different people and we’re all motivated by different things. Any behavioral psychologist will tell you that motivation is one of the greatest variances of human behavior. You just have to know yourself well enough to know what motivates [00:15:30] you because setting a specific goal might be exactly what you need, or it might be exactly what tears you down.

Craig: Yeah.

Adam: So you just have to know yourself.

Craig: That’s an excellent point.

What are your goals?

While it has improved noticeably even in the two years since I began training, there’s still a big lack of diversity in parkour, especially among coaches and other highly visible practitioners. As welcoming as everyone was when I started training, I couldn’t help noticing that when I looked around, I didn’t see anyone like me. It took me a long time to start feeling comfortable talking about myself, because there were no conversations happening, nothing to give me any indication of how people might react. The story I hear over and over again from people who fall outside the archetype of young, athletic and masculine, is “I loved it so much that I stayed, even though…” And every time, all I can think is, what about the people for whom that wasn’t enough, or the people who never tried in the first place because the images they’ve seen don’t include anyone like them?

The parkour community is amazingly accepting, and really does believe that there is room for anyone, but it’s not always very good at showing that when someone comes to train for the first time, feeling overwhelmed and out of place among a lot of people who don’t look like them. I’m working towards coaching myself, and in doing so I want to talk more openly about my own differences, to provide what bit of visibility I can. I also want to start conversations, with coaches, community leaders, and the community at large, about what we can do better to support people from underrepresented groups. Parkour has changed my life, largely in ways directly related to how I deviate from the popular image of a parkour practitioner, and I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to have that experience.

What are your goals?

The saddest thing anyone has ever told me was after I asked them how they were doing: “Same shit, different day.” I hope to live a life with minimal routine (at least where it counts). Financial stability is nice too, though.

I also want to go to grad school for visual anthropology, so that I can become a professional people watcher and make movies about them.

What are your goals?

My goals are numerous and many are for the long term. I’ll only list a few to spare you from boredom.

First and foremost my goal is to graduate college. Education is something that is immensely important to me and I tend to soak up knowledge like a sponge. It’s still going to be at least three years before I meet my goal, but I can see a clear destination and I know exactly how to get there.

My next goal is something that’s a little more short term: Train. Train. Train. Since I have finished with college until August that leaves me a little more free time to train, something that I tend to neglect when I’m waist deep in papers and final exams. I want to get a more regular training schedule and stick to it, which will hopefully help me progress at a more consistent rate.

My final goal is to one day spread parkour and it’s message. Specifically by getting more females involved. For some girls it can be scary going to a testosterone filled class for her first time and see all these buff athletic guys jump crazy distances or run up walls. (Sorry guys, but it’s true). I’ve already attempted to begin to achieve this goal by starting the LVPK Women’s Group. (LVPK stands for Lehigh Valley Parkour if you didn’t know) We meet once a month to train and hangout. We want to create a supportive environment where women can come and try parkour for the first time and they don’t have to feel intimidated and get turned away.

There are many more goals than these, but for now these three are the ones that are the most important to me.

What are your goals?

My goals are to continue to develop Parkour as an agent for social change. Parkour’s strongest suits are that it is available to everyone regardless of physical ability or financial access. This means that the resulting social infrastructure developed around parkour is potentially one of the greatest systems of diversity possible. It is important to me that ideas and entities existing within parkour are helping to catalyze this growth, because this is one of the things that makes parkour as amazing as it is.