Tag Archives: technology

I Was TeamSnap

Youth SoccerIt was around 1988 when I started making the phone calls.  On Friday nights, it was my job to call all of the players/parents from my soccer team. The information that I had to tell them was where the game was and what time the “caravan” was leaving A&P’s parking lot.  It wasn’t a fun job but it was a necessary one to make sure that everyone got to the game.  Today we have TeamSnap and other services to take care of this job.  While I’m sure that my fourteen year old self would have jumped at the chance to have this service available.  I’m glad that I suffered through that weekly chore.

There are so many little inconveniences that have been taken off of our plates.  At a quick glance, it may seem that we’ve gained in time by their removal.  The question that I’m asking at the moment is what was lost at the same time?  If you take that job away from my young self, he loses a sense of responsibility, ownership in the team concept, ability to talk to adults on the phone, a knowledge of our surrounding area and other things that are worth a half hour per week.

I’m definitely not anti-technology.  The thing that I’m trying to maintain in my own life is a sense of being human while utilizing technology.  We can become more human by using technology as a tool to enhance our lives.  Connect with people that are far away.  Learn and grow at times that are more convenient.  Save time in order to spend it with friends and family.  Some of the best things in life are inconvenient.  I would never replace my brother with an app just because it is more reliable and remembers my birthday.

What You Wanted Is Here

SearsBefore Amazon, there was (at least in my world) the Sears Catalog.  It was a huge “magazine” that had just about every product in the Sears store.  It was a place that my brothers and I would peruse some time before Christmas to find things we wanted.  I remember that I always focused in on the guitars.  They weren’t overly expensive at the time and I fancied myself as a future guitarist.  Despite my desire, I never told my parents nor did I save up money to purchase one.  In hindsight, I really didn’t want the guitar.  I liked the idea of the guitar but if I had truly wanted it, I’d have found a way.

That’s the way that life really works.  Look down and look around.  For the most part, the things that you have are the things that you really want.  They are your musts, non-negotiables, have to haves.  People often think that they have wants but most of the time they have dreams or fantasies.  I have a fantasy of weighing 170 lbs again.  Unfortunately I don’t really want it.  If I did, I’d be there.  My weight is a direct reflection of my true wants: taste, dietary freedom, comfort food and convenience.  When I truly start wanting that ideal weight, I’ll take the actions that will get me there.  Until then, it’s not true.  I don’t want it unless it’s easy.

The things worth having are never easy.  Value is usually associated to scarcity or uniqueness.  This is a tough thing to remember in a life of convenience.  There are so many good things that are easily accessible that we bury ourselves in the good, foregoing the truly valuable because it’s inconvenient.  What you wanted is all around you.  If you truly want for more, you’ll find a way.  In five years will you be surrounded by more mediocre trinkets?  Or will you have something better?  In the end you’re going to find the ultimate thing that you’re looking for is that best version of you.  It won’t come easy and it’s not in a catalog or on Amazon.  So get what you want by being who you want to be.

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

 

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

 

 

What Won’t Be on the Test

TestThe other night I had dinner with a former student/player of mine.  We ran into each other a few months back.  Our common love of books and podcasts started the conversation.  He’s freshly out of college and we’ve been talking about life and career lately.  This dinner was a eye opening conversation for me and I’m hoping that this post will help someone who may be in the same spot as my friend.

The phrase that he uttered the most was “I don’t know.”  In some ways this could be viewed as a positive.  Moving from the teen years where young people tend to think (or project) that they know everything, “I don’t know” could be a sign of positive motion.  In this case (and possibly for this generation) there was a definite sense that his need to know was a bit of a surprise.  His GPS had gotten him to the restaurant.  He mirrored my choice in beer and our conversation followed that theme of uncertainty.  While I know that this is not completely his fault, he needs to deal with the consequences.  The finger of blame will do nothing to give him direction or satisfy the remainder of his life.  So how does one find the answers for the test that’s not coming?

The first step is recognizing that the answers are your answers, not right or wrong answers.  While the majority of a young person’s life may be spent in a very regimented existence today, the “real world” is becoming less definite each year.  The internet has changed the rules of almost every facet of our lives.  Industries that did not exist ten years ago are major components of our everyday life.  The economy, geopolitics, the job-market and many other areas of life are variable at best and regularly volatile. While this amount of change may be disconcerting to some, the way to avoid being swept away in a tumultuous seas is to have an anchor.  In a world that is always changing, it is important to find consistency in something that is under your control: YOU.

Perhaps the hand that you were dealt is not what you wanted, you still have to play it.  For most of us, mom and dad can’t be relied upon forever.  At some point we all must take responsibility.  Break that word down into “response” and “ability”.  Having the ability to respond to the good, the bad and the ugly of your life rests completely with you.  Is your response going to be “I don’t like this”, “I hate this”, “I’m not ready for this” or “I can work with this”?  Regardless of your circumstances, the only one that makes any sense is to work with the ingredients that you have.  Stop comparing your life to some celebrity’s airbrushed picture perfect life or some other source that detracts from your pure power.  No matter what comparison is a waste of time.  No one has exactly your set of unique ingredients, so the only person that you’re competing with is yourself.  There comes a time in each of our lives that we realize that this life belongs to only us.  It is not your teachers’, parents’, professors’ or bosses’ life.  If you choose to give them control, it is still your choice.  So no matter what the question, the answer is yours to choose.

The second key is realizing that time is on your side and patience truly is a virtue.  If you’re in your twenties or teens, you’ve got the time to figure things out.  Just because you don’t have the answer right now, doesn’t mean that you won’t eventually.  Amazon does not do “same day delivery” on the perfect life.  Even the most incredible stories of overnight success usually have a less known story of hardship and patience.  Unfortunately in a 140 character world, it’s easy to have expectations that surpass what the world actually consistently delivers.  The only thing that you can get RIGHT NOW is the opportunity to plant seeds that you can reap in a year, five years, ten years or more.  Climbing the mountain is not an instantaneous process and even if you could teleport there, you’d miss all of the good stuff that comes with the climb.

So take these two points out into the world and use them.  Anchor yourself with an unshakable belief that you can figure out your life on your terms.  Then be patient with your pursuits because nothing worth having comes without effort.  With those two concepts in mind, I’m sure that you’ll do well on this art project called life.  Enjoy it!  It’s yours!

Pete

Leaders and Followers

LeadButtonIn a world where almost anyone can have 1,000 or more followers, who is doing the leading?  It seems as though there should be a connection between the two: leaders and followers.  Unfortunately the act of following has such a low threshold for involvement that many have it as the default option.  Following is easy, semi-rewarding and comes with little to no responsibility.  The problem is that just because people are following, doesn’t mean that anyone intends to lead.  Following the car in front of you is a good strategy if you’re going to the same place.  It’s a horrible strategy if your intentions are different than the person you’re following.  Leadership should be an intention, not meandering with followers in tow.  So the question is, who should be a leader?  You!

You should be a leader of at least one person if not more.  Leadership is needed now probably more than ever before in the history of the world.  The reason that leadership is in such high demand is because we as a people got so damn good at following.  We’ve become so exceedingly talented at following that we barely recognize our power to lead.  That power starts with you and your choices.  Are you leading your own life or following the rules, path or suggestions from someone else?  There is nothing wrong with following the path, if it leads where you want to go.  The issue comes from following out of complacency, fear or doubt.  These are not usually the emotions that cause greatness.

Desire, courage and self-belief are the kindling that begin the fires of greatness.  We were all meant to be leaders of at least one person.  Lead yourself in the direction that you most desire to go.  Have the courage to take steps forward.  Believe in your ability to string enough of those steps together to succeed.  Perhaps when you’ve developed the leadership muscle enough, you’ll be ready to take on followers.  Just make sure that they are following you with intention.

Pete

Good song below!

 

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.

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.

Who Deserves It?

Nothing is infinite regarding human beings and our lives.  Time, money, love, adoration, fame and respect are all commodities that run out at some point.  Since we know that all of these are meant to deplete, why don’t we spend them more wisely?  Shouldn’t we be asking regularly, who deserves it?

The world travels at such a fast pace that many of our daily interactions seem to be reactionary or on some form of auto-pilot.  It may serve us in some ways by helping us to get things done but we need to make sure that important things are not left behind.  Our Facebook timeline, Twitter feed and Snapchats may seem important at the moment.  Perhaps they connect us to the people that we love most because they are far away.  The technology is not inherently evil or disruptive.  We make it that way by our choices.  Do you have a better relationship with your cell phone than your: mother, father, brother, sister, best friend, boyfriend or girlfriend?

We are surrounded by devices that are “connection tools”.  Are we using them to connect or to distract?  Take a moment and use your phone or a piece of paper and a pen.  Write a list of the five most important people in your life.  Within the next five days, contact each one of them in the most human way that you have available to you.

1. Face to face

2.  Facetime, Skype, Google Hangout

3. Phone Call (that thing actually makes calls still!)

It doesn’t have to be the most Earth shattering conversation.  You just need to relay the message however subtly or bluntly that you can, “You’re important to me.”  In a world of unlimited connection, shouldn’t we spend most of our time connecting with those we love rather than with strangers who are “Trending”?  Make these five people trend for a few days and notice how you feel.