If it ain’t broke, wait until it is and then try to fix it or reminisce about how good it used to be. Now I know that this isn’t the way that the old adage goes but it seems to be the thought process of today. There are so many services and institutions that dig their heals in against change. This reluctance is all about fear. Letting go of the old is much like letting go of a trapeze. It is not the other bar that causes the fear. It is the empty space in between. So why let go of this perfectly functional bar?
For some there will never be a good enough reason to let go. The risk is just too great. But what about for you? You know that the bar that you’re on is going fall or may even be on fire. Letting go is the only safe bet. You need to make progress or take the fall. But you’re hedging. Why? Because it’s not broken yet and you’re hoping that it won’t.
It’s all in the story that you’re telling yourself inside of your head. The story is broken. You’ve been served a fear sandwich that you’re unwilling to eat. Don’t tell yourself the story that you want to hear. Tell yourself the story that is true. The one that will get you to move forward. Write the script, don’t wait for it to be written for you.
The shoehorn*, crowbar and bulldozer; all use a combination of an inclined plan and a lever. While they all have the same base components, almost no one would ever use one as a replacement for the other. Using a bulldozer to get your shoes on could get messy really quickly! It’s overkill and everyone can see that.
As we go through the tumultuous times in our lives, it can seem easiest to bulldoze through challenges. As the “pressure” of daily life seems to be getting higher, bulldozing can become the default lever that people use to move forward. In the end this leaves a flattened earth with nothing living left behind. People are especially susceptible to being hurt in the process of bulldozing. Getting what you want from a personal situation is usually better served by using a delicate tool rather than a massively destructive one. In a world where we’ve become comfortable with possible heart attack from a drug intended to length your eyelashes (tongue in cheek), it might be that our tolerance for negative consequence has gotten too high.
Choose the right tool for the situation. Damage control is not something to be done after the fact. It can be done beforehand with even better results. Exercise your leverage without the destruction.
*A shoehorn may not be something that young people recognize. It is a tool that is used to help slide a shoe onto a foot. They used to be prevalent but I’ve not seen one since my grandfather passed away.
At one point in my life, ketchup was not a condiment, it was an ingredient. Ketchup sandwiches were a staple of my diet. Any undesirable food such as broccoli could be made digestible with an ample serving of ketchup. Obviously this is not an ideal system for a balanced diet. It was more of a survival tactic for an extremely picky eater rather than a conscious decision about eating good food. Eventually I learned that ketchup was not the answer to all of my food issues. It wasn’t versatile enough to be an everyday ingredient.
When putting together the ingredients for a great day, it is easy to think of all of the garnishes and forget about the main ingredient. If asked what are the ingredients to a great day, what would you say? Sunshine, a beach, friends, family, food, and drink are all things that I typically hear. People usually don’t lead off with the number one ingredient to every day of their life. You are the only person that will be there every single moment of every single day of your life. So shouldn’t you be the first and most important ingredient regardless of all of the garnishes. No matter the other circumstances that surround you, you should be the ingredient that defines the dish.
Despite the extremely broad reach that the internet gives us, people seem to feel as though they are at the effect of their circumstances. If circumstances were what made people, then a frail asthmatic doesn’t become a president revered for his adventures. A stutterer doesn’t become one of the most recognizable voices of his era. And an actor with a partially paralyzed face doesn’t become the face of multiple film series. The truth is that we all know that circumstances are only part of the recipe. It is just easier to use poor circumstances as an excuse for poor results. Or a lack of resources as a reason for no results. You may not have everything you need to make today great but you have the most important thing and that is you. You’re the ingredient that you’ve been waiting for! If you’ll step up to the challenge and be what today needs.
To a certain extent, I feel like I’m in therapy or at an AA meeting about to admit one of my biggest weaknesses but here it goes: I like a lot of Keanu Reeves’ movies. It really shouldn’t be that embarrassing because the man’s movies have made millions (maybe billions) over the years. Unfortunately he gets a bad rap because he’s pretty goofy and doesn’t have a lot of range. The interesting thing is that for the most part, this anti-Keanu sentiment comes from people who have never acted before and have paid to see his movies. So is it really that he is THAT bad? Or do people simply have a need to pick apart a mediocre swan because it’s easier than looking in the water to see an ugly duckling reflected back?
While wading through all of the photos, videos, memes, tweets and posts, it is possible that some of us get a little judgmental. It’s easy to forget when looking at a screen that the people on the other side are human. They have hopes, fears, idiosyncrasies, habits and faults. These are all things that we expect from the people that we are close to. However when looking at people on social media or especially people in the spotlight, all understanding goes out the window. The best of the best need to be as close to infallible as possible. If they fall anywhere short of that standard, then we of the judging majority can swoop in to point out their shortcoming.
But it is not the critic who counts*. The internet has given each of us a voice. That voice should be used to make your own special contribution to the world. Not to tear down that of another. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena*. So take that chance to put your own stamp on the world. Don’t worry about the haters because even Keanu has got them. Would you rather be the worst of the best or the best of the worst? Put another way. Would you rather have produced something that wasn’t great? Or never produced anything but gotten really good at calling out other people’s failures? One’s easy and one’s hard but the decision should be obvious.
*Lines from Teddy Roosevelt’s speech at the Sorbonne.
In 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.
It can be difficult to be positive at times when it seems like the world is against you. Each and every one of us has had a day that brings us to the point of cracking. When you have a moment like that, do you best to take a breath and remember that you won already!
This blog is only published online which means you have internet access. This puts you ahead of a large portion of the world.
You’re able to read the words and understand them which means that you’ve had some form of education. This again is a win regardless of how much you may have disliked school.
You’re reading this in English which means you are either a native English speaker (congrats US, Australia, England are all pretty great places) or you’re multi-lingual which means you’ve got some advantage over most people in the US 🙂
You weren’t born hundreds of years ago when survival for humans was much more difficult. Hunting is most likely a leisure activity or something you protest, not a means of survival.
You’re alive and picked up all of the things above which require as least a few years. The life expectancy of a mosquito is around 50 days for females and 10 days for males. So if you’re a male, you’ve got one fifth the life expectancy. Or worse if you’re a male praying mantis, the females might try to EAT you. What a horrible way to end a date!
Of the huge number of organisms in the world, you inherited so many advantages it’s amazing!
So with all of these advantages that you have, don’t let a poor experience with another overly advantaged creature ruin your day (less than 1 one hundred of your life). Perspective is an amazing thing. Keep your life in one that helps you, not hurts you! Have a great small percentage of your life!
Soccer in the United States is gaining undeniable momentum in American culture. While the progress of the sport in this country has been slow, its impact is becoming more widespread. Through the various parts of this “Manifesto”, I will plead a case for the reasons for the proliferation of the sport and the impacts on the country at large. Physical, social, psychological and philosophical outcomes can be reaped through the more widespread acceptance of soccer as a national force. It may be a difficult argument to the general public because as Tom Weir of USA Today wrote in 1993, “Hating soccer is more American that apple pie.” While this sentiment may be changing, a deep dive into the facets of a transition is in order.
The history of the kicking game has been chronicled at length by others. Therefore my historical narrative will not be about the development of the game in the country but rather a juxtaposition of our historically American sports’ positive impacts on the country at large.
Despite baseball being considered the “National Pass Time”, American football has largely been the dominant sport of the past century. This is due in large part to the sport developing during the emergence of the US as a world power while also sharing the American ethos of progress. Football (American Football)* served the country well in the 20th century as it ingrained ideals that were instrumental during the manufacturing age. The ideals of teamwork, coordination and positional hierarchy ran deep within the factory system and football. Plans and decisions were centralized to management and passed down for execution by the line. Statistics are used to track progress, performance and predict the emergence of talent. The school, industrial and sports models of the 20th century complimented each other in structure and values. Therefore football, baseball and basketball became dominating forces in the sports landscape of the United States. Their appeal was compounded because of the community component and inherent aspiration of the team. Professional sports teams created a sense of belonging to cities or regions. High schools fed players and students into colleges. Colleges fed players into professional leagues and students into jobs. The systems worked almost seamlessly for a long time.
Nostalgia is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. While nostalgia may feel good and there may be good reason to long for times past, the present is the only place where we truly exist. The past cannot be recreated. While this may seem sad due to things that are perceived as “lost”, there are many gains that have come from that passage of time. So where are we now?
As we progress even further into a new century and millennium, several of the rigid systems of the past are crumbling under the pressure of technology and the democratization of information. The old systems are being replaced for the very same reasons that they thrived a century ago. Cheap/efficient labor, mechanization, standardization and a consumer culture brought forth prosperity to the US. Now, cheap labor is found elsewhere or replaced entirely by machines. Standardizing of products has made many of them generic where cost and convenience become the most sought features rather than quality and craftsmanship. The model of consumerism has left many bankrupt financially, depressed emotionally and weighed down physically. The mantra “that’s the way we’ve always done it!” is the calling card of those primed for a fall to irrelevance or extinction.
The new economy of the United States is a connection economy that no longer depends on exclusively on commodity production but rather the unification of resources with opportunity. Entrepreneurship is not a buzzword of the silicon valley. It is an integral component of the new American economy that requires a more nimble approach to business. Bigger is not particularly better. Growth is not particularly the marker of success as people are often creating lifestyle businesses to balance work and life.
The traditional American sports do not fit as effectively into this new economic paradigm. The industrial model of tracking productivity in order to become more efficient in the name of progress does not hold. The measure of a good worker in the new economy is not a mindless cog that produces more than the other cogs. It requires a mixture of technical ability mixed with the emotional intelligence to make decisions based on varying factors. In the traditional American sports, these decisions were made solely by the coach, quarterback or point guard. Most other players were doing their assigned job as a part of an orchestrated unit. Divergence from the rules of the system was not desirable. The new economy needs more decision makers rather than rule followers.
This new system is more in line with the processes of soccer. Eleven people working toward a common goal with principles in mind rather than plays. Each individual must analyze what they see in front of them and decide what to do next. Although there are statistics available in soccer, they do not particularly indicate good or poor performance. The intricacies of the game are human. There is a balance between pushing toward a goal while not overextending to the point of being exposed defensively. While there is a coach with a certain amount of control, the players and their decisions are the key components to the performance of the team.
The individual has greater power to impact the world than ever before in history. Our games, systems and education should be centered around the improvement of the decision making faculty while maintaining an empathetic compass. Realizing how our individual decisions impact the rest of our team, community and world is a skill that needs to be developed in the generations to come. Although soccer is implicitly a sport, there are components to its play that can have a greater societal impact. This is not at the exclusion of the other sports but in addition to them. The 20th century American ethos has a place in the amalgamation of our future as a nation. It is through our diversity that much of our strength comes.
*From here on, I will refer to American Football as Football and International Football as soccer. I’m sure this will upset someone somewhere but it is not my intention to please everyone but be as clear to as many people as possible.