Scarred for Life

IMG_0739 (1)On the thumb of my left hand, I have a scar that look something like a horseshoe.  It is the result of an accident when I was in sixth grade.  My family was putting an addition on our house.  We were not wealthy by any stretch, so we had to do much of the work ourselves.  My father and I were removing a window from the old part of the house.  I’m still not sure what happened but the glass shattered.  In a very lucky instantaneous reaction, I cover my face.  I felt myself get hit, turned and saw blood.

The one sidenote that I must make about this story is that my father had been known to pass out at the sight of blood.  So at that point, I stripped off my t-shirt and started screaming at my father to get away from me.  He thought I was mad at him but then I quickly explained that I was bleeding and I didn’t want him to pass out.  I ran to the front of the house and got my mother who took me to the hospital for 18 stitches.

I am quite literally scarred for life and I couldn’t be happier that I am.  It’s not the accident that I’m happy about.  Given the choice I never would want to have a window shatter on top of me.  However my reaction to the situation is why that memory creates such a positive feeling about that mark.  In a time of crisis, I was able to keep that problem from getting worse by having two people going to the hospital.  I was response-able.

In no way do I think that we should go out looking to accumulate scars.  However there should be no shame in having them either.  They are sign that you were not insulated from life.  Life has edges that can cut.  It’s very common in today’s world to avoid the edges and play it safe.  The problem is that you can’t dull every edge nor anticipate when you’ll get cut.  So what happens to someone who has spent a lifetime avoiding those edges and they mistakenly get cut?  That wound is catastrophic because they’re not ready to be hurt.

Failure, disappointment, upset, breakups, and breakdowns are all examples of the scars of life.  Don’t pursue them but don’t be afraid of them either.  Most of the time they are a reminder of who you have become by fighting through them.

Keep fighting through my friends.



Tattoo Yourself

Burning boyI don’t have any tattoos anywhere on my body.  However I know exactly what I would get if I were to ever change my mind.  Since I was a teenager “the burning boy” is an image that I had set as my tattoo of choice.  It is from the album cover of one of my favorite bands, Bad Religion.  I would remove the “crossbuster” logo from the back of his shirt.

The reason that the burning boy resonates with me is that it represents a feeling that I always want to have.  It’s not the searing pain but rather the idea of being “on fire” passion.  The things that I have been on fire about have changed throughout the years.  In high school it was soccer and girls.  In college it was soccer and travel.  In my adult life it has been soccer, my family and helping people.

So if I’ve known for years what tattoo I would get, why have I not gone through with it?  There are many people walking around with tattoos that did not put 20 years of thought into the “ink”.  There are two reasons that I have never gone to get this tattoo done.

The first is that I don’t want my wife to have to look at it.  I’m sure that I’ll get some comments about being whipped or something like that.  However I respect my wife very much and the ways that my decisions have an effect on her life.  I don’t have to look at myself very often.  She does, so I know it is something that would not improve me for her.

The second is even more important.  I’m already wearing it.  The reason I don’t need the ink on my skin is because it goes even deeper.  It penetrates into my bones and goes down into my heart.  Inside there is a burning boy that people see every day.  Perhaps people see a slightly different representation when they see me but the basic idea should be the same.  I want people to see the tattoo that I have put on myself.  Rather than paying an artist to put a skin deep impression on me to have people know who I am.  I need to show people through my actions and attitudes who I am.  I’ve tattooed myself as we all do.  Although the Chinese character that you’ve put on your arm may say “peace” or “serenity”, it’s not worth the price of the ink if that’s not the message you put into the world through your action.

So tattoo yourself.  Put the ink of your daily actions out into the world for everyone to see.

Keep being you people!


Eat What You Kill


Good perspective on the world.

Originally posted on Irrational Living:


One of my mentors was talking to me about a time when he worked in direct sales for an insurance company, and he said it was an eat-what-you kill way to live…in other words, he earned every sale, whether he paid in the time it took to sell, or the time it took to learn how to sell effectively. In a corporate position, if you don’t give your best, you still get paid. In a direct sales position in which you only earn commission, if you don’t sell, you don’t eat. But he said that when he got paid, he felt as though he had honestly earned it.

I was thinking about this and how it applies to all of our lives, and I think a lot of us feel we are entitled to certain things. This includes breaks during work, vacations, days off, raises, love, etc. The truth is…

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7 Words (you don’t know until you know)

About a year ago my son, Luke, and I went to a Red Bulls game.  He was eight years old at the time.  On the ride home we were listening to the music from my iPhone.  At one point, a song called “7 Words” by the Deftones came on.  I quickly switched the song because it is a hard and aggressive curse-laden song.  He asked why I changed it and I told him that the title of the song was 7 Words and that it had a lot of cursing in it.  He probed further about why it was called 7 Words.  I explained that there were seven major curse words that most people recognize as bad.

Much to my surprise Luke said that he thought he knew them all.  We seemed to be having a “man to man” discussion, so I gave him the green light to test his seven.  He started off two for two with the F and S.  Then he stumbled a bit with his next two selections.  There was another F in his seven, “frick”.  I informed him that it was actually a replacement for his other F.  Then he went to another S-word, “sex”.  Again I explained that sex was not a curse word which was unfortunately followed by the question “what is sex?”  I got instantaneously nervous that I was going to have to have “the talk” with an eight year old.  Luckily my explanation that sex was another word for gender or boys/girls seemed to appease him.

I was reminded of that incident several times today as I was speaking to the 8th graders of HMS.  It is extremely tough to know until you know.  That may seem like cryptic language but I’m being very literal.  Until you go through certain things for yourself it is difficult or even impossible to fully understand.  My goal was to give them some tools to work with and I hope that I did.  However there are things that you need to go through for yourself to understand like how to get over a broken heart or deal with the betrayal of a good friend.  We can put these things in the manual with instructions but they can’t particularly be taught.

Life has a series of missteps and pitfalls that we must go through.  We can avoid some through the help of others.  However some things we just need to experience for ourselves.  You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it.  You know?

Happy Birthday Luke!

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HMS Questions from 4-14-15

IMG_0663At the end of my talk today at Hackettstown Middle School, I didn’t have time to answer all of the questions.  Here are the ones that I missed.  They are in no particular order.

What is the moral of this presentation?/What’s your motivation for this?

The thing that I was trying to sell you on, is you.  I want you to buy into the idea that you are capable of great things.  There will be a lot of obstacles in your way.  However I want you to have some of the tools that you need to be able to get wherever it is that you want to go.

What’s your favorite food?

My mom’s macaroni and cheese.  Please don’t tell my wife.

How does this relate to moving on to high school?

In my eyes, the transition to high school is a step into a bigger “pool”.  After it is over, you can go to college or be dropped directly into life.  The tools that I suggested throughout the talk were intended to help you mainly do two things.  Begin a process of discovering who you are as a person and help develop some more self-esteem and self-reliance.  High school can be a difficult transition for many and worse for people who do not believe in themselves.

Have you ever been bullied through your time in school?

Yes, there were several times that people attempted to bully me.  I was fortunate though.  Every attempt to bully me was physical intimidation and I always pushed back (literally).  At that time they backed off because bullies want easy targets.  I’m not an advocate for violence but always felt I was right to protect myself.  Today’s cyberbullying is much more difficult to push back on.  As we talked about today, knowing who you trust with your “keys” is very important.

Do you like your job?

I have many jobs but the answer is yes for all of them.  I enjoy the things that I do.  When I stop enjoying them, I’ll most likely stop doing them.

What do you love about life?

There are so many things that I personally love about living: laughter, travel, learning, exercise and the list goes on and on.  The underlying theme is that I like to feel like I’m progressing.  That tomorrow I’ll be in a different spot mentally, emotionally or physically but that I enjoy the process.

What is the best part of high school?

For me, it was my friends and sports.  I really enjoyed being close with a bunch of people that I’d known for years.  Also I love soccer and track.  So those were fun times, getting to compete for the school and do it mainly with friends.

How did you find your strength?

I found my strength by taking some real stock of who I am.  There are many ways to do this but keeping a journal and writing were really important parts for me.  I also took time to figure out if I was following a map that was the right map or not.  In some ways I needed to redefine who I wanted to be.  I’m Peter Powell Huryk III.  So I am named after my dad and grandfather.  It was an important part of my identity for a long time.  I felt almost compelled to follow in my dad’s footsteps.  Sometimes that worked out well and others horribly.  Once I separated myself from that picture, it was easier to make decisions in line with who I wanted to be.

Is there really a freshman Friday?

I graduated high school in 1994.  That was over 20 years ago.  There wasn’t when I there.  I don’t know what it is either but I’m guessing it’s not good.

What influenced you to realize what you were doing to yourself was … different?

I’m guessing you’re referring to the “loser” self-talk habit.  It was actually in my parent’s living room when I was a sophomore (I think).  I remember having an argument about something with my mother and telling her that I was a loser.  It wasn’t her reaction but the instant when I said it out loud to her that I think jolted me.  I was arguing in favor of something that I didn’t want.  It was weird, like being a fan of the Yankees but wearing a Red Sox jersey.  I saw the fact that it didn’t fit.  It took a long time to get rid of the habit and the thought but that was the moment.

 Did you ever overcome the “loser” feeling?

See the answer above.  After that day I would make strides forward and fall back some times.  It was also different for all areas of my life.  For example, my academic confidence was pretty strong throughout HS.  However my confidence about girls took a long time to develop.

Can you do an Arnold Schwarzenegger impression?

No, the only impression that I pretty well is Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

What is life?

It is the search.  Trying to create and find meaning is what life is about for me.

What do you like to do?

There are a lot of things.   I love spending time with my family, playing soccer, coaching, running, hiking with my brother, swimming, reading, spending time with friends and the list goes on.

Who inspired you to talk?/What inspired you to do what you do?

My inspiration to talk/write was my son, Luke.  I started a journal before he was born.  My family is my inspiration for most of the things that I do.

Why are you recording this?

A few reasons.  First, I’m always looking to improve.  I enjoy speaking to audiences but I want them to enjoy it just as much.  I want to see what worked and what didn’t.  Also when people hire speakers, they don’t usually do it blindly.  Having some video to show someone is always a good idea.

First day of freshman year advice.

Breathe!  You’ve gone to school for nine years already and survived.  So you’ll survive this as well.  Wear something that makes you feel comfortable.  Know who you are before you walk in the door.  There are lots of people that will want influence you, decide if you want to let that happen or not.

Do you have any children?

Yes, I have a son and a daughter.  They and my wife are the loves of my life.

Do you have any pets?

Not at the moment.  My dog, Kelme, died about a year and a half ago.   He was my buddy.  My kids are asking to get a new dog.  We might this summer.

What happened to Mark, your friend?  How is he now?

He is doing well.  He lives in Pennsylvania.  He’s great supporter for what I do.  He was one of the first people that I sent a copy of my book to because his story is in it.

How did you make it through high school?

One day at a time.  I wish I could report that I had it all together in high school but I didn’t.  I had some real successes through my four years.  I felt really good about where I ended up.  However it wasn’t always easy.  Good friends were important.

How do you stop yourself from walking down the wrong direction?

I’m guessing that your question is about avoiding things that you know are wrong.  This can be easy or difficult depending on the thing that is tempting you to do wrong.  Most of the time I think about how I will feel after it is over.  Since feelings are what we’re truly after, regret is something that I want to avoid when I can.

What year did you gain back confidence?

My junior year in high school was probably the time when I got back to an equilibrium with confidence after the “loser years”.  However there were still ups and downs after that.  I really have hit my confidence stride in my 3o’s.  I know that seems old to you guys but I’m on an upward climb and don’t plan on stopping.

Who is going to win the NBA Championship?

I don’t know and honestly don’t care.  I haven’t paid attention to the NBA since Bird retired.  I love basketball but the NBA hasn’t been a league I’ve been interested in for a long time because it’s more about “show” than “substance”.

Where can I buy your book?

It’s available online.  You can go to this address:  Or I will have some at my talk on April 21st at 6:30 pm at the Warren County Library in Independence.  I’ve also donated a few to HMS.  Go see Mrs. Brotzman to borrow a copy.

How do you act on potential?

Consistently.  You have the potential to do a lot of things in your life.  Do the ones that are most important to you and you feel will get you closer to where you want to be in life.

I feel like I am as smart as my friends who are in higher classes as well.  I talked to the guidance counselor at the high school but she said I could not get into the college level classes.  This really shut down my self-confidence.  Do you have any advice for me?

If you truly believe that you belong in the college level classes, spend your freshman year getting high A’s in every course you take.  Prove to yourself and the counselor that you deserve to be in those classes.  You used the perfect word “SELF-confidence”.  The only person that can shut it down is YOU.  If this is truly what you want, then make it happen.  Don’t complain about being stuck, do everything within YOUR control to get where you want to go.

 If we’re one of the richest countries, why is there child poverty?

This is a tough socio-economic question.  I’m not fully qualified to answer it.  An economist might do a better job.  Wealth on a national level does not mean that wealth is evenly distributed.  I don’t think there is anyone in the world that wants to see children in poverty.  As human beings, I think most of us want to help other people.  I’m not sure if it is a problem of getting the help to the right people, the people not wanting the help or not enough help being given.  Identifying the problem is the first step.  If you’re truly passionate about this, maybe you’ve found your calling.


GPS Expectation

For well over a thousand years, the compass was a reliable tool used by travelers and captains to find their way.  In our technologically enhanced world, it is no longer enough to know what direction we are going.  Now the expectation is to be told the fastest route, when to turn, and an estimated time of arrival.  Given the choice I’m sure that Christopher Columbus would have opted for the GPS as well.

The problem is not with the GPS at all but rather the expectation that it creates.  There is an expectation that someone or something out there has the quickest route, will tell you when to turn and when you’ll arrive.  The user of the GPS is a slightly involved passenger who usually relinquishes decision-making power.  This would be no great concern if it were only relevant to driving directions.  However it is increasingly common in a variety of settings.

As you are traveling through your life, be aware of your reliance on GPS directions.  The ability to rely on your own compass is invaluable.  It makes you the driver of your life, rather than a passenger along for the ride.  Tools and technology are useful when mixed with a discerning human being.

The Fist

IMG_0671At one point in my coaching career a group of my players referred to me as “the fist”.  The reason for this nickname was a team talk that I gave.  It highlights the fact that in combat ten separated fingers can do minimal damage.  However combine the fingers into a fist and you can do some real damage.  Today I want to expand upon that idea but generalize it to life rather than athletics.

As I think about the fist of life, I would equate it to an inner circle of people who play particular roles.  Each role is distinct and important toward the inner balance of a person.  The organization of an effective fist may take a good amount of time and introspection.  However the positives to be drawn from the fist are immeasurable.

The thumb – This is the person that is your counterbalance.  They are strong in ways that you are weak.  They may seem different and may not exactly fit in with the rest of your fist.  However they are an anchor that allows you to grasp things and hold on.  My wife is my thumb.  She makes me better because of our differences.  Without her I feel off balance.  The thumb may be the most difficult for a young person to find because that person may be an non-obvious ally.

The pointer finger – This is the person in your circle that is where you want to be in many areas.  They act as a role model or mentor in some ways.  Sometimes it is difficult to get a personal relationship with the people that you want to be.  So modern technology is a great asset.  Use podcasts, blogs, books, videos or whatever other means you can find to get into the mind of someone that you respect.  Depending on your specific goals, this person may be intelligent, wealthy, athletic or inspiring.  If you are relying on resources rather than live people, it may be worthwhile to diversify your pointer fingers.  I’ve had many over the years for different reasons: Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins, Napoleon Hill, Teddy Roosevelt and Jack Canfield.  I try to avoid “hero worship”.  As you get a deeper picture into a persons life, you realize that we all have flaws.  So picking up the musical talent secrets of a figure like Kurt Cobain might be great.  Following him in other ways is less productive.  Take the good that fits within your model of the world and run with it.

The middle finger – This is the person who believes in your abilities with such confidence that they are willing to say “F___ YOU!” to anyone that doubts you.  I would prefer that this person be you but I realize that you might not be there yet.  The key to the middle finger is that it is your strength.  It stands above the rest in a prominent position.  It doesn’t need to flip off the world all of the time, just when it’s warranted.  Another reason why I’d like for your middle finger to be you is that it stands at the center of the fist.  You should be at the center of your world and all fist movement should be directed by you.  I wasn’t always my middle finger but I am now.

The ring finger – This is your support person.  This person is most like you in the world.  There is little chance that in any situation they won’t understand your point of view.  They are the person that you lean on in bad times.  Perhaps you can sit and watch TV with them just because their presence is comforting.  A good ring finger is worth its weight in gold because you don’t ever have to try.  My ring finger is my brother, Dave.  I never have to consider for a moment where we stand.

The pinkie – This is your comic relief.  The person who can always make you laugh.  Regardless of the situation, they are able to give you a chuckle when you most need it.  Often this person is a stark contrast to the rest of your fist.  No matter how different they may be, they are extremely important to the fist and your balance.  I’m extremely lucky because I met my pinkie in college.  My friend, Schaef, is the guy that I call when I need to laugh.  Even at myself.  We repeat the same jokes and it doesn’t matter.

Even though I’ve got my fist set at the moment, it is able to change and should at times.  For example, I am looking very deeply into finding a live “pointer finger”.  I think that interaction would be great for me to go to the next level.  So go find your fist or at least identify them and realize their importance.

Go get stuff done.



The Chase

The bed and the couch never try to escape. There is never a shortage of food that tastes good but is horrible for you. The distractions and setbacks are all around us. Yet we act as if these were the things that were fleeting or important.   When in fact it is the opposite.

Time is fleeting and opportunity is always on the run. Catching up to our dreams takes consistent pace that often looks like a sprint. The life that we want will run until we wear it out and find it resting from exhaustion.  Are you ready to chase what you want?  Or are you looking for an excuse to rest?  One is easy to find and will always be there.  Is that for you?

Make today happen.


The Hurdler’s Advantage

Mark Painter is one of the best soccer players that I’ve ever played with and he is also a great hurdler.  When he was in high school, he could run the 400 meter hurdles faster than I could run 400 meters.  That race is exhausting and takes technical skill as well.  The experienced hurdler does have one advantage over the rest of us: anticipation.  Hurdles are always set in the same distance patterns.  So there is a rhythm to hurdling and being in that rhythm is a recipe for success.

Imagine for a moment though if the hurdles were set at different distance for each race.  Or even worse, imagine if the hurdles were moving during the race.  This can be the way that racing toward a goal often feels.  We get into a rhythm that seems to be working for us but then we trip on a hurdle that we weren’t anticipating.  It can be disheartening and frustrating but life does not set up races to be fair.  Life sets up races with a difficulty level that is on par with your goal.  The beginning may be clear sailing but you know that the end is going to be filled with hurdles.

The trouble is that we don’t usually have the hurdler’s advantage in life.  Although there are many hurdles we can anticipate, others will pop up when we least expect it.  We need to make much of it up “on the fly” as we go in life.  So complaining about how life tripped you up is not going to get you anywhere because life’s race continues regardless of your complaints.  Know yourself as best as possibly can and run with a realization that the hurdles are coming.  If you truly want that thing at the finish line, you’ll find your way through the hurdles.

Keep going,