Tag Archives: Friends

Kryptonite As Fuel

supermanThe story of Superman becomes very boring without Kryptonite.  A man who is super strong, fast, invulnerable, can fly and shoots lasers from his eyes is not a compelling story.  His abilities make him unbeatable.  So defeating evil-doers is not a matter of ability, it’s a matter of time.  Without Kryptonite, Superman’s story becomes one of an interplanetary janitor who is here to clean up our biggest societal messes.  A completely infallible hero is difficult to sell but exposing his Achilles heel makes him a star.

The recognition of Kryptonite as the fuel that drives the story of Superman is not just comic book pontificating.  It is the realization of exactly what makes our own lives worth living.  Our Kryptonite is death.  It may seem like the enemy but it is the thing that makes the moments of our lives matter.  Without death, time is an inexhaustible currency that has no value to us personally.  Frittering away minutes, hours or even years would be meaningless to the person who will live forever.  The intrigue is gone because there is nothing at stake.  This is great news!

The time that you do have is a gift.  It has value to both you and the people that you touch throughout your life.  Don’t become crippled by the fact that you will die some day.  Be empowered by the fuel that it can give you to live with purpose and passion.  Your existence is only a drop in the ocean of eternity.  Make that drop count!  The fact that your Kryptonite is out there somewhere in the future makes you both: powerful and meaningful.  You’ve got one shot at this .  Go for it!

Have a SUPER day!  (Yes!  That was cheesy!  But what the hell!)

Pete

The Credit

arenaFor most of my life, I’ve had a portion of Teddy Roosevelt’s speech at the Sorbonne memorized.  “It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.”  It’s moving.  It moves me in the sense that I actually take action when I think of it, hear it in my head or in my heart.  The issue is at the moment, the critics have such a large megaphone that it becomes hard to hear our heads and our hearts.  The echo of other people’s point of view tends to linger, burn and even cut the ones who are actually in the arena.  The credit may belong to the man in the arena but that credit is hard earned because people want you to lose and never let you forget it.

The only thing to do is go deaf.  Deaf to the jeers, the criticisms and the negativity.  The volume of the critic does not matter if you pay no attention.  Besides the only reason the words of the critic ever penetrated is because you believed them at least partially.  Their message about you being a failure or a loser resonated with you on some level deep within.  So the inner critic is actually the one that has the power to take you down.

The way to silence the inner critic is to run.  Run straight into the arena.  Sleep there, eat there, get your ass kicked there but at least in the arena, the inner critic has to stay in the stands.  He can’t get his hands on you as long as you stay fixed in the center of the ring.  Perhaps in the end you’ll find out that the critics were right and you didn’t have the stuff.  But at least you’ll know for sure, while they’re left wondering about themselves.  Outwardly chastising but inwardly envying the chance that you took to gain the credit of the arena.

Have a great weekend!

Pete

Accidentally Mummifying Yourself

KilimanjaroThe world is filled with things that cut.  Like walking through a patch of thorn bushes with exposed skin, injury is an almost certainty.  In the short term, bandaging the cuts is the right strategy.  In time, the wounds will heal.  If too many cuts pile up, the bandages become wrappings.  You become a mummy.  Movements constrained by the bandages on wounds that never healed.  Avoiding cuts completely is an impossibility but choosing a new path and learning how to wield a machete are both options.  Band aids are not a long term solution, they are a short term fix.  This concept is obvious when thinking about real wounds but with metaphorical wounds, this is a common strategy.

The key has always been preventative medicine/measures.  Solving old problems with solutions that minimize or eradicate the issue is the best way to get better problems.  That is an understanding that everyone needs to have: PROBLEMS AREN’T GOING AWAY!  The most that you can hope for is to have the best problems possible because you’ve solved the old and boring ones.  Why would you choose to flail around in that same old thorn bush when you can figure out how to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

I know that many of you out there are bleeding and it hurts.  My heart goes out to you and I hope that this message will help you move on.  Break free of the thorns and find the path to the mountain where you can see for miles.  It won’t be easy but it may be worth it!

Have a great day!

Pete

 

Small Amoeba Syndrome

The life of the single celled organism, the amoeba, must be tough.  In order to survive, it needs to change its shape in order to “absorb” its food.  It is the ultimate “go-getter” in the microscopic universe.  It’s survival is completely predicated on how much and how often it “puts itself out there”.  A lazy amoeba would be a dead amoeba.

amoebaLiving in the world of higher order organisms, we are not as dependent on stretching ourselves in order to survive.  In fact over the past century we’ve been rewarded for being small amoebas.  Stretching or standing out was discouraged.  Get good grades, get into a good college, do your job and follow the rules.  Being a small amoeba is not as smart as it used to be.  The systems that rewarded the small amoeba are breaking down all over the place and we’re being asked to stretch again.

The opportunities to stretch are all around.  The problem is the same as the amoeba “Am I stretching in a direction that will help me survive?”  The trial an error method is probably a big part of the amoeba’s life and may be required of you.  This is uncomfortable.  The old system was predictable, repeatable and safe.  Even becoming a big amoeba only required adherence to the system that almost told you where to stretch.

The question is not whether the world will require you to stretch or not.  The question is whether you’ll allow yourself to be stretched, pulled apart or reach of your own volition.  Do you believe that you are a small amoeba with very defined limits?  Or are you consistently able to reach out into the void and find what you need and stretch yourself?  You are much less rigid than you think.  Most of your limits are not based on DNA but rather WTT (Willingness To Try).  The old rule book is slowly being torn apart.  You don’t need to go with it.  Reach out into the void and see what you get.  Then do it again!

Keep the Nucleus Strong!

Pete

 

The Championship Photo

ChampionshipPhotoIn this country and around the world Champions are lauded for their accomplishments.  Usually the scene of victory is filled with a trophy to be kissed, confetti falling, champagne popping and players/fans rejoicing.  The reason that this scene is so easy to recreate in one’s mind is that it is pervasive throughout sport.  Depending on the particular sport, one could be even more specific about the scene.  Regardless of which championship is one there is an invisible specter that is ever-present but has seemingly been forgotten by many who are watching.  The fruits of the labor are on full display but the labor often gets overlooked.  In a world where instant gratification is becoming more of the norm will we be seduced by the empty triumph of getting the small reward now or choose the labor that creates real results?  The answer is that both will happen.

There will be many people who get swept up in the power of the “Now Economy”.  They will take the short term rewards and overlook some of the long term consequences.  It is not a surprising phenomena that people take the easier path.  On a biochemical level, our reward system is easily seduced by the immediate regardless of its hollowness.  It takes time and training to override this system.

The greatest of all time were able to train themselves to be long term greedy.  Rather than giving in to the temptation of the moment, they put in the work now in order to reap the benefits later.  Often that was months or even years later.  The prize at the end may have been what drove them but the process of attaining greatness is won daily.

Each of us has the power within to choose.  There probably won’t be a championship trophy at the end for most of us.  Our accomplishments won’t be on ESPN.  It will almost all happen on the inside.  The triumph will be over self and circumstance with only a few fans (friends and family) there to celebrate.  Will you be able to hold your head high based on what you have done?  Or will you be looking down at the path of shortcuts that you took to run yourself in circles?  You have the power to choose and you’re choosing right now.  Choose wisely!

Pete

 

Your Part of You’re Problem

ObesityIt’s Mr. Baxter from 7th grade science class that started my tendency toward being a spelling/grammar Nazi.   Two times receiving a 99.5% based on spelling errors was enough frustration to get me to pay attention.  I fully recognize that language is a fluid and live thing.  Every day we can influence it for the better or worse.  Outside of church, very few people are using “thine” and “thou”.  These words have been morphed and replaced with their more recent counterparts.  Change is not my concern.  It is laziness and apathy.

Widespread education and technological advances have democratized access to knowledge and the overwhelming response of the public has been indifference.  There was a time in this country when only a select few could hope to become educated.  The huge supply of knowledge seems to have caused an equally huge plummet in demand.  While this lowering of expectation has happened in the realm of language, it is just as obvious in personal health, civic responsibility and many other areas of life.  As the challenges of life have become easier, we seem to be less inclined to meet them head on.  Instead we have found a degree of comfort in social proof.  If “everyone else” is holding a low standard, then it makes us feel that we are OK.

What if you were the one to hold the line for yourself?  Not to tell the world that it is wrong but to do what is right for yourself and those around you.  If you held the line on your health, your marriage, your relations with people or yourself; what kind of a ripple effect could you have on your family, community or even the world?  Even if no one else took up your particular cause, how would it feel to be the answer to your own problem?  Deciding for yourself, exactly what you would and would not stand for could be liberating.  Rather than looking at those around you to find the path of least resistance, you could look inward to find the strength to hack out a new trail.  Our world is filled with more possibility and less hardship than every before, so are you going to sit there and bask in the glow of what our forefathers built?  Or are you going to do your own work?  The choice is yours!  And that is probably the biggest kicker of all, we get to choose to step up or not.

So I hope that you find within yourself a desire for better than most.  Be a leader by doing first.  Utherwhys whee May knot bee aybl two reklame wut weave lust!

Make today better.

Pete

 

 

Biting the Cow’s Ass

GalileoIf you go to a fine restaurant and order a steak, you will probably enjoy a fine meal and receive no side-ward glances from anyone.  The location and timing are everything.  On some level you must realize that months earlier, that steak was part of cow.  If you got dressed up, went out into the field and bit the cow’s ass, you’d definitely get a reaction especially from the cow.  There’s a place and time for almost everything.  Getting that combination right is the difference between being cheered and ridiculed.  To a certain extent, Galileo was considered a “cow-biter”.  The things that he was saying and doing were so far ahead of their time that no one understood them.  He was even excommunicated from the church for his beliefs.  People were not ready to hear what he was saying because they were too invested in their worldview.

The entire world is never going to cheer or ridicule you but it feels that way when those close to you do either.  In order to become the best version of yourself, you will need to change some things.  While some may be subtle, others may be drastic and misunderstood by your “world” (friends, family, colleagues).  The people close to you are invested in who you are now.  That better version of you is something that they might not be ready for.  Your actions may force them to see things in themselves that they do not like.  That’s not your burden to bear.  It is your job to decide if you’re a cow-biter or Galileo.

Can you see a future that you want to create for yourself?  If you’re a true believer in that future, then don’t worry about the people who think you’re a cow-biter.  They are invested in your yesterday and you’re using today to build a better tomorrow.

Sink your teeth into today!

Pete

 

Bock-rottom

bockrottomAbout a year ago, I was having a discussion with a friend and she said she had hit “bock-rottom”.  It was a moment of mental dyslexia.  I really liked the word but wasn’t sure what it should mean.  This morning on my run it became obvious what bock-rottom was.  Rock-bottom is the place lowest point that a person can hit.  “Hitting bock-rottom” is the act of hitting your lowest point, bouncing up and hitting the lowest point again.  It is so disorienting that it mixes up the letters.

Negative circumstances can be so discouraging that they thwart positive action.  Even worse is the discouragement of getting up from poor circumstances only to be knocked down again.  Look at that word again “discourage”.  Break it apart “dis-courage”.  The situation has taken away courage.  The thing is that courage is not created by circumstance, courage is created by people, INSIDE.  It is a choice to be courageous and one that can be made at any time.  Even in the worst of circumstances, courage is possible but are you really at bock-rottom?

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’re not at bock-rottom.  You’re most likely in the “pit of perception”.  You’ve made the hole that you’re in seem deeper inside your head.  Or you have a negative situation but you’re ignoring all of the positives that are working in your favor.  If you’re reading this, you have advantages that you’re probably ignoring because you’re focused on how bad it is.  You can read, you have internet access, you probably live in the US (but a shout out to my friends in India & Brazil), you have a mind that is searching for answers.  These are all advantages that can be used as weapons in the battle with your poor circumstances.  Complaining, whining and sulking are not going to help you.  Depression is not a strategy!  It’s an emotional state.  Just like a hole, you can climb out of it.

So take a moment to see where you are, since most of us are not truly at bock-rottom.  We’re in a bad spot that we need to get out of.  The fight is yours to make.  Is there any value in giving up?  Don’t surrender to circumstances.  Make your circumstances!  Here’s the theatrical version!

Make today a better day!

Pete

 

Completely Focused On Being Scattered

In 1925 President Calvin Coolidge famously said that “The business of America is business.”  Almost a full century later, those words are still quoted often enough for it to be recognized.  Since the proliferation of the internet to most households, the pace of information exchange and communication has continued to increase almost exponentially.  The problem is that with so much information flying around, very few people are taking the time to communicate or do anything to the best of their ability.  It seems that with technology as our guide “The business of America is BUSYness.”   There is no soap box under my feet.  I am not chastising, judging or pointing a ridiculing finger.  This post is as much for me as it is for anyone who reads it.

focusDistraction is a way of life in the country at the moment.  Not only is completing tasks without getting distracted difficult but the fear of missing out (FOMO) seems to be an almost pervasive issue.  People have divided their focus between too many activities and are simultaneously getting distracted from them.  It’s a recipe for disaster no matter how you slice it.  No one can be everywhere for everyone every time.  Distraction always comes with a price tag and it is not you who is profiting.  The losses are felt by you, your family, your friends, your colleagues and classmates.  The people who are actually in your life are the ones who are missing out on a key component of their experience and that is you.  All of you, not the partial you that has a technological device in hand “JUST IN CASE!”  The cyborg version of you that cannot let go of the phone, tablet or computer has a distinct weakness, it is never fully present.

So many of our systems are built largely upon attendance but that model is at best flawed and at worst catastrophically broken. Absence, attendance, presence, engagement and immersion are very different levels of an inverted pyramid of human involvement.  While attendance is a nice start, it is just barely above absence and meets only minimum requirements.  Showing up is just not enough.  To really take full advantage of this life that you have been gifted, you must strategically move up the pyramid with the things that you have decided really matter.  And there lies the problem we must DECIDE.  Decide comes from the Latin meaning to cut off.   We must cut off the things that don’t matter in order to preserve the things that do.    Our focus needs to be cut down to that which we value most.

The only person who can win this focus battle for you is you.  Anyone can suggest, plead or punish you to do it but you do not have to comply until you choose.  In the end there are so many companies and individuals who want your focus.  It is your job to divvy it out as you see fit or scatter it without a care.  Where you put your focus determines your life.  If you decide to immerse yourself in Facebook, that is your choice and far be it from me to judge.  As long as it is a decision and not a resignation to the world of distraction.  Choose what you want for yourself before others choose for you.

Pete

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.  -Theodore Roosevelt

Invisible People

InvisibleAs a teacher, I take pride in the fact that I learn all of my students’ first and/or last name within the first three days of class.  Learning the names of over 100 people in that amount of time is not always easy but it is good for building a rapport with people.  There are plenty of tricks to acquiring information that quickly.  Unfortunately the honest truth is that I don’t remember all of the names after the year is over.  The other day a former student came to visit and it took about five minutes for me to remember her first name.  While I’m not proud of this event, I don’t feel all that badly about it either.  The information was in there but just not near the top of the filing system.  I feel much worse when I first meet someone and less than a minute later, I don’t remember their name.

There are many reasons why this happens but a major one is that new people aren’t usually important to us yet.  In English class you may remember your teacher talking about the “first person”, “second person” and “third person”.  That basically represents the way that we used to define people’s importance.  In a pre-technology world, the most important person in our lives was ‘self’.  This was followed by the people we had contact with directly.  Finally there was the rest of the world that held up that third position.  Now there is a third class of people, invisible.

Invisible people are all around us.  Of course they’re not truly invisible.  We can see them if we look hard enough.  The reason we usually don’t see them is because we’re looking at our phone, TV or tablet.  In theory these should be “third person”, people that are there but you are not directly interacting with.  The problem is that position has now been replaced by the “second person”.  These are the people that we are in direct contact with but today they are almost universally ignored in favor of the digital.  The digital second person is basically the default contact that we reach to before anyone else.  For some, it seems as though all people have become invisible people.

So this weekend, give life back to the invisible people.  Take the time to see who is there.  Engage with people you know and don’t know on human level.  Remember that a hug is better than text.  A smile is better than a like.  Time with an old friend is better than a new Facebook friend.  Technology is a tool just like a hammer.  Used correctly, both are intended to build.  Used incorrectly, both have the possibility to destroy.  Be human this weekend and visit with the invisible people.