Sometimes the hardest things to see are those that are right in front of you. Your nose is always front and center but most of us don’t pay it any mind. The reason why we tend to forget about it is because it is always there. Our brains tend to discard or ignore those things that can be taken for granted. Air, light, food, water, friends, opportunity, etc. are just a beginning to the list of things that we take for granted each day. This is not to say that we should be spending major amounts of time contemplating air in a recreational effort. It is simply to point out that your brain is working at all times to determine what is worth your attention and what is not. This ability to ignore the inconsequential is wonderful until it isn’t. As they say, the dose makes the poison.
Although our brains were originally designed to act in our best interest, the operating system has not been updated in a long time. So if you do not intervene on your own behalf, your brain will protect you from things that are no longer relevant. Most of the fear and anxiety that you feel is supposed to keep you from being eaten by a bear or be kicked out of the tribe. The latter is more relevant than the former but both need to oversight. On its default settings, your brain will keep you alive and partially comfortable in the modern world. If you are looking for more than that, then you need to be more deliberate about the things that you see.
The invisible nose is just a representation of the things that you’re ignoring. More important things are out there that you should be aggressively pursuing but you just don’t see them. Opportunities pass you by or better yet you pass them by regularly. The reason is that you’re not programmed to notice them. That’s not safe! Stay where it’s comfortable! Don’t stand out! Don’t fail! These are all things that your brain screams subliminally everyday. Unless you take control and look for that which is most important to you. Those things may not be as obvious as you want them to be. Although they might be directly in front of you, they may be buried under a pile of societal and personal hard-wiring. Hacking your way through that will be difficult, time consuming and totally worth it once you’re on the other side.
So I’ve give you permission. Look at the world with fresh eyes and endeavor to see everything. Hack away at the beliefs that no longer make sense. Filter your vision to look for the ideal rather than the real. Your past low expectations will be there to catch you if you fall. It starts with a moment and builds from there. Make this your first moment!
Have a great day!
The world seems to be in a never-ending search for balance. While finding this balance is difficult it seems to come most naturally from the pull of opposing forces rather than the migration toward a middle ground. Magnetism, life cycles and so many other phenomena are based on the polarity of their systems. At a certain point human beings should be anticipating the balancing forces of nature but instead we seem to fight it at every turn. Such is the case with learning, especially in the modern world. I’ve encapsulated this concept using the fast moving but rigid rails of trains. The other part to the idea consists of trails which are more free-form. Until recently I was not able to articulate the balance inside of my own head or for outward expression.
Intuitively I know that the education system is at best flawed and at worst broken. Much like the rails of the train, it can only go to specific destinations and relies heavily on schedules and uniformity. There may be first class and express ticket options available but the destinations are largely the same. The conductors of this system scoff at those who travel by any other means because they’ve become so enamored with their efficiency that they accept its limitations.
The trailblazers on the other hand see a total lack of freedom on the rails. Despite their much slower rate of speed, they find joy in the terrain. The rocks, trees, streams and other impediments are part of the experience of doing it on your own. In the learning space, the free-form approach is looked down upon because its progress is haphazard and difficult to measure. Starting a business, project, movement, etc. and failing can be an extremely valuable experience but lacks the quantifiable data that the traditional system requires.
At no time in history has it ever been more apparent that both approaches are needed in some form of personal balance. A person who spends their entire life on the rails will be frustrated by the world that now requires them to do more than “follow directions”. Equally the person who is used to the DIY approach will become frustrated by their interactions with traditional agencies that have protocols and procedures.
So as you, personally, go into the future recognize when the rails will move you forward quicker and when the depth of trails will truly satisfy. Understand that just because you prefer one or the other does not make it the best way to travel. Learning is a lifelong pursuit that needs your oversight. Hybrid your way forward and never doubt that product that you’re working on is you!
Learn today to be better tomorrow.
Growing up in the 80’s, the desire to be a “rock star” seemed almost ubiquitous. Not everyone was in a band at one point but the numbers were high enough to take notice. The proliferation of MTV allowed for widespread exposure to a life that many people assumed that they wanted. In the end most of those dreams faded because the path was too difficult for most to bear. Constant practicing, trying to get signed, playing small gigs for no money and myriad of other obstacles were enough to teach “would be” rock stars to look for another direction. Another key obstacle was parental approval. Most parents saw the dream as unlikely and allowed their kids to pursue it but not overly invest themselves.
Fast forward to the present day where we have a similar situation surrounding professional sports. While kids have always aspired to be professional athletes, it has a much greater parental push than ever. Youth sports are a multi-million (probably billion) dollar industry. With the pervasive use of professional training, specialization and speed/agility work, one might think that every twelve year old kid was preparing for life as a professional athlete. The truth of the matter is that they already are.
Whether NBA, MLS, NFL or NHL, the business model is the same. The fans pay money for tickets which the owners then use to pay the players, coaches and for equipment. Sometimes sponsors help to offset costs but they usually reap an advertising reward. The only real difference is that the parents don’t receive a physical season ticket. They pay for the coaches and equipment but since this is a developmental league, the players don’t get paid yet. Although I am saying this with a little tongue in cheek, it is not far off.
The youth ranks seem to become more “professional” each year. So what explanation should be given to all of the players who don’t make it to one of the top levels? Is the justification for the capital investment going to be that it taught teamwork, confidence and other life skills? Seemingly it’s not teamwork, as parents move their kids in an almost mercenary fashion to different clubs for “exposure” or “better competition”. Not for confidence building as overly competitive teams focus on results rather than development so players are chopped and changed annually. Getting a kid to believe in themselves is tough when always under a performance microscope. Any life lessons that could be taught would have been administered as well by a parent with experience. Rather than a trainer whose interest in the kids may be based more on financial gain and results and not the kids personally. So how is the seismic shift toward youth professionalism going to be explained? Will it be an unfortunate memory like a bad hairstyle? Or will it be an core identifier of an entire generation?
At a certain point each of us must decide if we are on the right path. Supply is often based on demand. The demand for professional youth players may wane as the academy system matures and is less of a “cash grab”. Until then all of us must identify our desired outcome from sport. There is nothing wrong with chasing a life as a professional provided that it is done with open eyes. Traveling salesmen with miracle cures used to move from town to town selling their products. It’s easy to blame the salesman when he’s gone. It’s much more difficult to justify being hoodwinked by ourselves. So decide early which path you are truly on. It’s OK to change course but heading east to get to the Pacific is a bad strategy anywhere in the US.
Enjoy the week!
I remember it all too plainly. Sitting in a cramped seat on an airplane flying back from Europe after almost a month of traveling with my best friend. We had attended five games of the World Cup and visited a slew of sites and cities. It was truly one of the greatest times of my life! However on the plane ride back I repeatedly listened to the song “The God of Wine” by Third Eye Blind. Despite the amazing experiences that I’d just had, I was heading back into a world that I could feel was going to hurt me. For some reason this premonition got stuck within this song and I can return to any time that I hear the song.
The trip ended up being a deathblow to the multiple year relationship that I had forecast in my head to be “the one”. Returning home should have been a step back into a world of known entities but instead it was foreign. My girlfriend informed me that things were over on the night that I got back. Our plans to move in together and any other future we had were now gone. In many ways I was homeless. The person and the future that I had put at the center of my universe were both gone and picking up those pieces was going to be difficult. I’d love to say that the resilient part of me kicked in and I made instantaneous progress. Quite the opposite, there was a long period of self-doubt, reflection and possibly some depression. In the end I found myself sobered by the experience. The song is like a time capsule where I get to travel back to who I was. Looking back on that time I realize how appropriate the song was to the moment. In many senses I was intoxicated by the future that I wanted from the situation. I was running my life under the influence of what I wanted to happen but not acting in a way that was going to get me there. The crash was inevitable.
So as we all move forward it is most important for us to keep our hands on the wheel, foot poised near the brake or accelerator and eyes on the road. Issues arise when the idea of the destination overrides the moments of driving. The process is where we spend most of our time. Yet we allow where we want to be supersede where we are. Remember not to fall in love with your future so much that you forget to live in your present. There signs you must follow and detours you’ll need to take along your route. Becoming intoxicated with your picture of the future may just end you up in a ditch!
Drive safely people!
About a year ago, I took my daughter to a Devils game. To be honest, she didn’t seem overly interested in the game. It appeared that she was more excited by the cotton candy and Devil horns. I was extremely surprised when she said at the end of the game “I want to play hockey.” At that point we had only taken her ice skating a handful of times. I told her that I fully supported the idea of her playing hockey but that there were some steps she needed to go through first. She needed to spend this winter improving her skating and starting to learn how to play the game. This past weekend she had her first hockey tournament.
This is not a story about some miraculous discovery of talent that blossomed over the past year. My daughter spends a large amount of time on the ice. Literally, she falls down more than anyone on her team, usually during the handshakes at the end of the game. Her team lost all of their games this past weekend by an average margin of over 10 goals. They did not score once. I loved every minute watching her play! Not because she played great, she didn’t. Not because she gave it everything she had, she didn’t. I loved it because she went out there to pay the price of entry: FAILURE.
This is the thing that stops most people. They don’t want to feel bad or look foolish, so they move on quickly from things that invite failure into their lives. The truth is that failure is the “ante” that we all must put in to play the poker games of life. We must risk failure in order to play. It’s unfortunate that we’ve become so completely risk averse that people don’t want to play unless they’re guaranteed to win. The joy in a “for sure” victory is relatively hollow. It is only in those times where we truly risk failure that we are living fully. Taking the chance to learn from missteps, blunders and shortcomings is a major ingredient of later success. The leap is a prerequisite.
So as you go out into the world today and do whatever it is that makes you feel alive, do it with the joy of a 9 year old girl. One who had such a big smile on her face most of the weekend that no one would have ever known her team lost by large margins. I do not believe that you should want to fail. I just believe that you should be willing to RISK IT!