The Burnt Grilled Cheese Sandwich

grilled cheeseAbout 75% of the grilled cheese sandwiches that I’ve eaten in my adult life have been burnt.  The surprising thing is that I only burn about 40% of the sandwiches that I make.  Obviously my cooking needs some work  but even with that, it would seem that I go out of my way to eat burnt grilled cheeses.  Closer to the truth is that I refuse to throw away the burnt ones.  My wife and children get to eat the quality sandwiches.  A burnt grilled cheese sandwich is not a thing to be discarded when you are the cook.  The failure to find the correct temperature and timing is a learning opportunity.

Too often we look to forget, edit or deny our painful past.  We choose to throw it away as if it were a sandwich that had spent too long on the pan.  It is just too difficult to swallow.  We cannot face the fact that we made a mistake.  Silently we blame circumstances or other people for the charred mess.  So we discard it and move on to simpler things that require less skill or timing.  This world is filled with the prepackaged, no preparation, no thought products that will make us feel better.  Or better yet, there is a soup and grilled cheese restaurant that would be happy to do it for you.  In the end, your failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Your thought goes from “I didn’t make a good grilled cheese.” to “I CAN’T make a good grilled cheese.”  Or maybe worse, ” I can’t cook anything.”  This all seems a little extreme for one sandwich but it happens every day with so many things beside sandwiches.

Failure is not fun.  I’m not suggesting that you should enjoy it and it is completely unnecessary to live there.  However it is useful to digest the things that have happened.  Take what nutrients there is to be acquired and improve upon the next attempt.  PAY ATTENTION TO THESE TWO POINTS THOUGH!  1.) You should not feel obligated to eat everyone else’s burnt  sandwiches.  You’re eating your own ONLY in order to get better results in the future.   2.) Don’t get into a competition to prove that your sandwich is the worst.  Winning that competition gives you a prize that you don’t want.

So go out into that kitchen that you call your life.  Take the ingredients that you have and make the best things that you can think of.  When you burn something (and you will), don’t brand yourself a failure.  Swallow it down and move onto the next dish.  NOTHING that you make will be perfect but all of it will be yours.  Own it!  Make today perfectly imperfect!





Ice Pirates

icepiratesIn the 1980’s Robert Urich (not my uncle), starred in a poorly made B movie called “Ice Pirates”.  The story is based in the future where the only resource that matters is water.  The ice pirates are a comedic band of humans and robots who initially try to steal whatever water they can find.  However they end up stumbling into a bigger adventure to help a Princess find her father who was lost looking for Mithra “the water planet”.    There’s more to it but I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you.

The ice pirates in many ways are not what I would describe as role models.  However despite their shortcomings, they slowly but surely move toward their goal.  At the beginning, they never could have anticipated where they would end up.  They make several mistakes along the way.  They don’t have the right resources.  Obstacles and enemies keep coming up to stop them.  Their path is not a straight line but a series of unexpected turns and setbacks.  They are me and they are you.

If nothing else, the Ice Pirates had a clear vision of what they wanted.  Perhaps you’re not even there but it doesn’t have to be as life and death as water.  It could be as simple as a goal for the day.  Regardless of how big or small you choose to make your goal, the way of the Ice Pirates is completely acceptable.  Stumble forward through each of your missteps and be prepared to laugh at your past mistakes.  Although you may be striving for the promised land, you are not a mythical creature with superhuman abilities.  You are fallible and should expect to fail OFTEN!  Victory is not guaranteed to those that begin with the greatest advantage.  It is guaranteed to those that continue until the prize is won.


PS – Don’t watch Ice Pirates unless you have two hours to kill and go in with low expectations!


Mayan Activity

mayanThe Mayan people are an interesting historical group to study.  Their story is filled with impressive accomplishments and shrouded in mystery because of their sudden decline and disappearance.  They were highly skilled in mathematics and scientific discovery.  Long before Europeans set foot in the “New World” they had a working 365 day calendar and produced thousands of books using a type of paper made from bark.  Some of their cities contained sports arenas, schools, hospitals and libraries.  In terms of fashion, they were far ahead of their time with ear gauges and other adornments that are still practiced today.  As impressive as the Mayan accomplishments are, the thing that seems to make them most interesting is that they disappeared.

The story arc of almost any great person or society has an origin followed by a rise to prominence and an eventual fall or recession.  The Mayan people seemed to be at their peak when they all but disappeared.  There are theories about their decline but no one is completely certain.  It was in thinking about their decline that I began to face Mayan Activity (My Inactivity).

On some level the end of the Maya is most likely the same thing that brings the end of us all.  The things that are left undone.  Failure is very rarely a product of someone who did too much but rather the person or people who did not do enough.  The people who failed to prepare, to learn, to try, to understand or act.  We can stand idly by and blame our downfall on circumstance but the truly great people make circumstances bend to their will.  The rise of the Mayans did not promise them a future that would last forever.  They were only promised that moment and most likely their inactivity lead to their Mayan downfall.

So the question now comes to you.  Are you at your peak and ready for your decline?  Or have you just begun?  Is the height that you’ve reached only a stepping stone to where you will end?  It is not a question of when but a question of will that makes us great.  The story of the Mayans is the story of so many.  Unrealized promise.   Do you want to look back and think what might have been or revel in the glory of what was?

Reverse your inactivity today!



Blogpost, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

Soccer for the 21st Century

The 20th Century of the United States was largely dominated by an industrial economy.  The US rode the wave of the industrial revolution into prominence on the world stage.  Factories flourished thanks to interchangeable parts and largely interchangeable people.  Most workers in the 20th Century were able to earn a substantial living by doing simple repetitive tasks under the orders of their bosses.

In this system, it is no wonder that the sport of the century was Football.  In so many ways, football was representative of the American way.  It was progressive.  Moving forward was success and moving backward was failure.  It mirrored our historical land acquisition with its own “land acquisition”.  The decisions were made by a few bosses and executed by largely  interchangeable people.  The sport was the perfect corollary for the industrial age and both served the country well in their time.

Now that the industrial age has passed and we have moved into what many are calling the “Connection Economy”.  The people who create value in the market place are not interchangeable cogs in a vast machinery.  Cogs can be replaced, automated or outsourced to other countries.  True value in the modern economy is created by an individual whose contributions are irreplaceable and unique.

This change begs for a different representation in sport.  The football model of “run the play” holds little value when the rules of the game change so quickly.  Soccer’s flexibility and subjectivity require that players deal with complex problems and must make individual decisions for the betterment of the collective.  Since each player is a decision maker, principles rather than directives are the dictating forces.  No one person is in control.  Therefore players must learn to control themselves and direct themselves in an uncertain environment.

The beautiful game will become “America’s Game”.  It is just a matter of time.