Monthly Archives: March 2015

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.

Pete

 

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.

Pete

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,

Pete

As the World Turns

Depending on where you are on the surface of the Earth, you are moving around 1,100 miles per hour.  This scientific fact is hard to swallow because our senses tell us a slightly different story.  The extreme force that is acting upon us is imperceptible.  Despite being almost oblivious to it on a regular basis, it quite literally shapes our days and nights.

The realization of this fact brings this question to my mind, what other forces that I’m ignoring are acting upon me for the positive or negative?  This is an extremely long rabbit hole that may actually have no end.  However there are a few things that I’d like to put focus on for the next few days.

  1. Habitual facial expression – I’m very aware of the effect that physiology has on my mood.  However I am typically more of a “get the big muscles moving” kind of guy.  The subtle movements of the face can also have and effect on my mood and the mood of others.
  2.  Thought patterns – As most humans are, I am a creature of habit.  I’m setting an alarm on my watch to go off every hour or so.  When that alarm sounds, I will do my best to heighten my awareness of my surroundings.  What am I not paying attention to that could be important to me or those around me?
  3. Giving to others – I have a tendency to get stuck inside of my own head and life.  For the next few days, I will be giving to others in simple ways: conversation, compliments and acts of simple caring.

As the world turns, we turn with it.  However if we were to only measure ourselves by how fast we are moving, then we’re basically the same as everyone else.  If we find different measures to quantify our impact on the world, perhaps we’re moving the world as much as it moves us.

The Pendulum’s Swing

When I was in 8th grade, our class visited Washington D.C.  We visited many historical sites that moved me in one way or another.  One item that captivated my attention was a large pendulum that systematically knocked down pegs in specific time intervals.  I’ve also attached a video to a very cool pendulum science experiment.  The amazing thing about pendulums for me is not their scientific application but the way they mirror many of the human experiences.  Talk to any historian, economist or scientist and you will see that the cycles of humans often swing just like a pendulum.  Although these swings may seem inevitable, there are a few ways to affect the pendulum: change the point of equilibrium and create micro-swings.

Changing the Point of Equilibrium – Basically this means that if my weight swings between 190 lbs to 200 lbs throughout the year, 195 is the point of equilibrium.  It is the middle of the swing.  The reason for the swing over the year is based on several factors such as weather, holidays, exercise and other.  There is a daily swing as well.  So if I was to keep the swing (which I can’t fully stop) but move the equilibrium point to 193, I’m on a healthier swing at bare minimum.  Over time this new swing will become the norm and I won’t even give it much thought.

Creating Micro-Swings – Although I cannot completely stop the pendulum, I can reduce the arc of the swing to make it almost seem like it is standing still.  The issue with creating micro-swings is how large of a pendulum are you dealing with?  Maintaining something like hydration levels is relatively easy to do and track.  However creating a micro-swing for finances may be almost impossible.  The key to creating a micro-swing is an opposite force.  The pendulum wants to swing in its normal patter, you need to apply a slowing force to reduce the swing.

Why the long discussion of pendulums?  Something came across my news feed yesterday with reference to the “JFK Challenge”.  It was a physical fitness program instituted at La Sierra High School.  It impressed President Kennedy so much that he wanted to spread it nationally.  At the moment there is a campaign to do a film on the program.  Go to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/la-sierra-high-pe.

Although I am not sure that such a regimented physical education program will be adopted in the US, I do believe that we are at the wrong end of a pendulum swing.  Perhaps a national change in our Point of Equilibrium is needed.  A recognition that there is a correlation between physical fitness and many of the attributes that we desire such as happiness, confidence and longevity.  That change would be a great one to see in my lifetime and perhaps one day we could have a micro-swing.

Change for the better will almost never be a policy handed down to us.  Change for the better is a decision that needs to be made by the majority of us.

 

Dating: Playing With House Money

I’m not a gambler because I have a real resistance to losing my money.  The systems are set up in the house’s favor.  However I (I’d guess everyone else) would be happy to gamble if only playing with the house money.  The reason being is that it is extremely easy to bet when you have absolutely nothing to lose.

This same phenomena applies to the dating world as well.  From my own experience, when I was single, I found it almost impossible to get someone interested in dating me.  However whenever I had a girlfriend, I seemed to have no shortage of interested people.  Now part of this may be attributed to competition/supply in demand but I think one of the key factors is “playing with house money”.  It was always easier to make conversation and flirt when I already had a girlfriend because I had nothing to lose.  Rejection was impossible.

This creates a bit of a paradox because in order to “play with house money”, you need to have a significant other.  Not actually, the key component to “playing with house money” is a true belief that you have nothing to lose.  The fear of rejection that you feel is a feeling that you created.  How can you make the possibility of the date valuable and make the rejection worthless?

The way to make rejection worthless is to break it down into what it truly means.  The person that you have approached is not rejecting you.  They are rejecting their perception of you which may be way off from reality.  A rejection is not a finality, it is a learning opportunity.  As with anything else, improvement requires a degree of failure.  Since we don’t have virtual reality simulated dating programs (yet), you need to take these experiences head on without fearing rejection but fear of the loss of opportunity.  I cannot think of a time in my life where I regret telling someone how I felt about them.  However I’ve definitely got a few examples of regretting the fact that I didn’t tell them.

You’re playing with house money.  Someone saying yes or no to you does not change your value as a person.  Your worth is decided by one person and that is you.  The only way to lose that money is if you decide to give it away.

Dad’s Maxim

Long before Maxim was a magazine with pictures of beautiful women and articles for young men, it was a statement of general truth or rule of conduct.  My dad had a maxim and I don’t believe that I am exaggerating when I say that in my life I’ve heard it thousands of times.  While I’ve only said it hundreds of times, I’ve applied it regularly enough that I know its truth.  “Be nice to people, it doesn’t cost you anything but it can get you everything.”

This statement has been a major ingredient in many of the decisions that I’ve made throughout my life.  Although we live in a world where it is widely believed that “nice guys finish last”, I’ve never regretted my decision to follow this ideal.  The only issue that I have with the statement is that some people tend to focus too heavily on the last part.

The key to the world is give and take: exchange.  We live in a world that is based on currencies and they are exchanged regularly.  Some currencies are physical, like money or products.  Some currencies are emotional like love and respect.  Since most of our thoughts on exchange revolve around purchases, we want instantaneous results when we give out a currency.  This is a system that we understand in the physical world.  The problem is that in many of the invisible currencies, exchanges are not direct.  So people, who were not raised by my father, may read this statement expecting that their niceness will be rewarded soon after it is given.

The thing that I learned by seeing the application and not just listening to the words was that you need to be willing to give with no thought to receiving.  I would almost cut off the last part of the saying but no one does anything without a reason.  My belief in the eventual payoff or karma of my present actions is a necessity.  Although I never know how or when I’ll see my generosity repaid, my experience tells me that it will be paid back in greater quantities than I gave.

The Spectator’s Chance

There is a common dream that people have where they are a spectator at a sporting event or musical performance.  Suddenly something happens and it becomes necessary for them to become part of the game or performance.  Inevitably in this dream state, the dreamer is successful in this unlikely circumstance and then they wake up.

Personally I’ve had different versions of this dream in the past.  The only part that I dislike is the waking up.  It’s obviously a spectacular fantasy with no basis in reality.  Especially at my age, I’ll never make it as a professional soccer player and I don’t even play an instrument.  The allure comes from the sudden and unexpected success.  To go from zero to hero in the blink of an eyes is the dream of many.

The question that I have for myself today is “what if the waking up is the best part?”  Maybe by waking up after that glimpse of impossible hope we could take a step forward in the real world.  I’m never going to make it as a pro soccer player, this is true.  However there are many other dreams that my inner spectator can move toward right now.  But it’s not going to be a zero to hero moment.  Very few things in life ever are and why should that be the goal to begin with?  Most lottery winners end up bankrupt because they can’t handle the transition.

The spectator’s chance is in the waking up!  Realizing that it won’t happen in a moment.  And DOING IT ANYWAY!

 

You vs. Your Dream Self (a battle to the death)

In movies and books there is a concept called the suspension of disbelief.  It basically means that when you walk into the theater, you are willing to believe things that would normally be ridiculous.  Some of the most memorable movies have been set in completely unbelievable circumstances by everyday standards.  A teenager gets super powers from a radioactive spider.  There is a school to teach wizards and witches with a very special boy who was orphaned.  A farm boy from another planet becomes the hero of a revolution while redeeming his father who was the second most evil man in the universe.  These are all great examples of the suspension of disbelief.

The problem that many of us face is that we know our own back-story.  The back-story is the hero’s life before the movie or book started.  Sometimes we never discover their back-story.  The audience is always dropped into the hero’s life right before they are about to be thrust into their unbelievable adventure.  Imagine if you had to watch Harry Potter’s life from the moment he was dropped on the doorstep until his fateful birthday.  You would walk out of the theater before he turned three.  The back-story is not the point.  The moment that the hero decides to take on the adventure is the point.

So what about you?  One of the reasons that we don’t do the things that we’ve dreamed of doing is that we have an overwhelming back-story.  We have a lifetime of knowing what we can and cannot do.  Our ability to make a huge leap from where we are to where we want to be is unbelievable.  What if you suspended that disbelief?

Imagine that in the future there was a movie made about you because in the coming years you did amazing things.  What if today was the day that the audience was dropped into your life?  You look just like an ordinary person.  However you decide to take yourself into a new direction.  This does not need to be a huge shift.  There are no radioactive spiders.  However there is a half an hour per day.  For half an hour each day, suspend your disbelief.  Think, talk and act like your dream self would.  Do this exercise and see how you feel.  Forget your back-story.  Only focus on the future of what you want to be.  As it becomes more comfortable, let it spread like a virus.  Notice that feeling popping up in times when you did not expect it.  Eventually it can take over all twenty four hours.  When you’ve taken your dreams and made them your life, then you can tell people your back-story.