It’s always tough to say whether or not things will translate from the States over to the UK. 7 Eleven is an almost ubiquitous convenience store that was bordered on a cultural phenomena at one point. The local bodegas tended to get overrun by the chain store that had all of your immediate needs on the shelves. It was relatively cheap and predictable but not fulfilling or meaningful. Although there is a time and a place for a 7 Eleven, there are places where they just cannot survive.
The reason that I bring up the historical king of quick stop shops is the number combination. Although it has nothing in particular to do with soccer/football, it represents one of the issues of the mighty POSH at the moment. Seven out of the eleven players on the field seem to be completely committed to the cause of the club. Today Dembele departed for AFC Bournemouth which takes one player who was indifferent away from London Road. This mathematical representation of the player commitment is not 100% accurate. It can change game to game but it identifies something that most POSH fans should recognize. Teams with high priced players can afford to have a 7 eleven type of commitment and still get results. Unfortunately for the moment, we cannot! Our present situation requires an 11 out of 11 or possibly 15 out of 11 type of endeavor from the group. It’s not going to be easy and especially not convenient! No one is going to hand over any points to us for free. The price is first going to need to be paid in the minds of every single player that steps onto the field. Belief is the currency and without it we’re bankrupt. Everyone needs to believe and then put forth an effort and compete. Not work hard, compete! Here’s a video about it. It’s not due to a lack of talent.
Peterborough may eventually have the resources to field a 7 Eleven team but for now, it takes everyone, even the fans. Every player that makes the squad needs to believe that they can help the cause even if it is for two minutes. No ask is too small or too large. I’m sure that the new signings can help but unless they are part of a squad that is at least 11/11, nothing is going to change.
There was a time when language did not exist as it does today. Communication was a series of grunts, groans and gestures (I work with teenagers, so this still exists). Over time, those simplistic sounds became consistent enough that meaning could be attributed to a particular sound or set of sounds. That developed into words, then phrases and you get the idea. We were once dealing on a very simple level and now we are much more complex. A caveman would not understand our language but might eventually get there after much frustration. As a language teacher, I see this frustration regularly. People tend to want to jump from knowing nothing to being fluent in an instant. That’s not the way it works. We need to go through the grunts and groans.
As each of us looks to begin a new endeavor, the grunts and the groans are almost a right of passage. That time where you know absolutely nothing, everything is hard and you have the added frustration of not knowing if you’ll ever get there. This is part of the deal but that doesn’t make it any easier. The question that you need to ask yourself is whether or not the fluency will be worth it. If you project out to the future and you’re achieve your goal, how would you feel about the grunts and the groans period? Would you still feel ashamed or would there be a sense of pride about what you accomplished? My guess is that there would be all kinds of positives gathered from the experience. Self-esteem from persevering, learning about the process, pride in accomplishment and so many more. Those grunts and groans were not meaningless! They were necessary and valuable. We can wish that they weren’t necessary at the beginning and sometimes forget them after the fact. However, much of our lives are grunts and groans. Trying to make something out of nothing when we don’t fully understand.
So if you’re in a time of grunts and groans, try not to get frustrated by them. You need them! Everyone who has ever done what you’re doing had to go through them. It may take longer or shorter for you but that’s not for you to decide. Keep on going! You’ll find your way eventually if you want it badly enough.
Although I’m sure that I don’t speak for everyone, most people love their mom. It’s inherent to the relationship with the person who brought you into this world. Even when that connection is strained, there is almost always a recognition of her importance. For around nine months, she gave you a beginning. Then she kept you alive for a number of years before you were able to do certain things on your own. The more that you progressed, the less that you felt like you needed her but she was always in the background. None of us would be anywhere without moms.
In the acquisition of any level of success, the mom that is most important is MOMentum! Anyone can do something for a day or intermittently. It’s the consistency of action that truly carries one through those beginning stages toward results. Unfortunately, people often hope that some mom type of figure is going to cradle them through the tough times to the other side of what Seth Godin calls “the dip.” This unrealistic view is almost the exact opposite of the truth. The person who is craving the success needs to recognize that they are the “mom”, giving life to a dream, keeping it alive and setting it up for success and sustainability. Being a mom and building momentum can both feel like thankless jobs at times. The key is to look for the instances where progress can be seen. Much like a small child, the milestones are great to see but mostly it’s feeding and dealing with crap! Monumental growth doesn’t usually happen overnight, no matter how much we may desire it.
So if you have a goal, it is your turn to be “the mom” in order to build momentum. It will be more difficult than you ever anticipate that it could be. However if you are willing to put in the time and effort, it is possible that you’ll be able to breed life into the dream that you have. Mom’s not coming to save you. This one is on you!
It is so funny to me at times that life exists in such duality. Humans are odd creatures who desire two things at once and finding a balance within them is difficult. We want things like certainty about our lives but as soon as we know what is going to happen regularly, we get bored! Uncertainty is another desire that we value. In our relationships, we want connection and togetherness but if you’ve ever spent too much time with someone, you know that space is also necessary. So it is unfortunate that I must state very plainly that GRATITUDE for what you have is an absolute superpower. However desire is also necessary to move someone forward which creates a bit of friction with the idea of being grateful. This friction is most likely not a problem because friction makes the world more functional rather than slippery.
Keeping this duality in mind, I’m going to use the same acronym to help people who are stuck in the hamster wheel looking for “success” while also speaking to those are content but know there’s more out there. The silly acronym is D-TECT.
D – is for DECIDE. Decide to be thankful for all that you have. This is not particularly easy but it is a necessary step. Even the “problems” in your life are probably worth being thankful for at some point. Either your problems are a better version of challenge than other people’s. OR this obstacle that you deride is actually making you a better version of yourself.
D – is also for DIRECTION. If you don’t have all that you seek in this world, its is very possible that you have not defined a direction with laser-like accuracy. You have preferences but haven’t really settled on that thing that you really want. Hitting a target is impossible if you don’t know what it is. Being surprised by your desire is possible but its impact will be less because you didn’t actually do anything to pursue it.
T – TAKE STOCK! It can be extremely easy to lose sight of all that you have. Our minds instinctively tend to ignore the familiar or at least value it slightly less. Unless there is some consistent reminder to bring all of our blessings into focus, they can get overlooked.
T – TIME is a necessary ingredient to any endeavor. In our next day shipping culture, it can be easy to forget that things of value often take time. It’s so obvious yet often forgotten. People want results yesterday and it can be frustrating to wait for things that we desire. However that price of time is one of the prerequisites for achievement that will feel like it has value.
E – ENJOY the simple things. Beauty, meaning, joy, etc. can be found in the most common of places. However if we do not take the time to enjoy the moments that exist in our everyday, it makes us addicted to the grandiose. Therefore our life is a series ratchets where we become less satisfied with what we are getting.
E – EFFORT is a requirement for any goal or objective but it also works as an eventual indicator of value. People tend to esteem something greater if it was difficult to attain. That’s why actions like cheating actually erode a person’s self-esteem over time because even though they attained the desired outcome, it came without the necessary effort.
C – COMPARE? This is a bit dangerous for creating gratitude. I’ve heard it said before that “comparison is the thief of joy” and I fully understand the sentiment. Therefore it is important that comparison be used to uplift rather than drag down. No matter who you are, there is always someone who has got it better and someone who has it worse. Seeing yourself on a spectrum can help to underly the fact that you have a lot to be thankful for.
C – CONSISTENCY is a crucial part of any endeavor of meaning. Anyone can do the necessary thing once. It is the person who is able to consistently show up in the world with intention that is able to breakthrough. A rocket heading toward outer space requires the consistent propulsion of its engines until it breaks free of gravity’s pull. The same is true to people looking to have some form of success.
T – TRANSFORM everything in your life into something to be grateful for. This is not an easy exercise. It is difficult to look at things that you did not want with gratitude. However, most people have had the experience of seeing tragedy turn into triumph over time. The recognition that trying past events are often the ingredients to our own greatness is transformative.
T – TRACKING is a key component to the acquisition of any goal or objective. Action is a spectacular step but it is possible that your actions are moving you away from your goals. Assessing your progress or lack of it is extremely important.
I’m sure that my setup for this blog was frustrating for someone. The reason that I put each item next to its counterpart is that is how we live. At times, the need for gratitude is going to be directly juxtaposed to our ambition. Most of us do not live at the extreme of either disposition. Every day we are trying to move forward in our lives and feel fulfilled at the same time. Both are skills worth developing and honing.
Time passes without us. We are incidental passengers riding through time. The future is coming regardless of our disposition toward it. The future just showed up… and there it goes again! Despite the fact that the future arrives without our help, what future will show up for us is very much dependent on us. A future that looks worse than the present need minimal effort, probably even a little carelessness. If you want tomorrow to look like today, keep doing what you’ve been doing. A better future is a BATTLE!
When I use the word battle, I don’t mean literal war or something ugly and distasteful. I just mean that it will take more effort than we may want to give but it’s about survival. If you want the better future that is off in the beautiful horizon, it needs to be taken. The horizon doesn’t come to you, you must go to it! People hope that the future is going to be improved just through happenstance. That the planets will just align without any real effort or focus applied. Unfortunately that future that you desire is not a willing hostage. It is going to fight against capture then it will try to escape. Anything worth having is going to take this type of effort. Be prepared for it and enjoy it in the moment. Despite the horror that is war; intense bonds, lifelong friendships, feelings of accomplishment, etc. have all come from those times of intense fighting. In the metaphorical battle for your best future, even better outcomes are available.
So now it is your turn to “fight”! Perhaps it is not physical but more mental and emotional. Regardless, the future that you want is not going to lay down at your feet and surrender. It is going to demand that you pursue it until you eventually win the day. And if you haven’t realized it yet, sorry to tell you that the battle never ends because another future is right around the corner! It’s never over! “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” Heck no! The battle for your better future never ends but it is possible for you to move the front forward today.
Over the years, I’ve claimed that I’m not “obsessed” with Peterborough United. Like so many _____aholics, I’m in at least partial denial about my addiction. Since our form has been poor for much of the season and goals have been lacking, I find myself desiring a bit of help from the football gods. When one of our players streaks forward, I find myself shouting “get in the box” to people on a computer screen who can’t hear me from across the ocean. Perhaps someone out there can relate. It’s not that I want my team to dive in order to get the penalty. I just know that the opportunity is there for an “easy road” to a goal. Torn by the desire for a score but not wanting the dive either.
The easy road mentality is one that we all adopt in different amounts. Lottery ticket buyers, crash diet enthusiasts and overnight success seekers are just the extreme versions of a person that we’ve all been in small or large quantities. We’ve all wanted the big reward for the least amount of effort before. There is nothing particularly wrong with it. It’s a natural inclination but it just cannot become an overarching strategy. The person or team that is relying on something for almost nothing will find that cash cow dead sooner rather than later.
Since I know that this type of thinking is not a long term strategy, my belief is that my team will start finding the net from open play regularly. When those lucky breaks come, I won’t lament them but I know that we cannot rely on them. The plan needs to be more than hope in this world. Hope is not a strategy! Even as a feeling, it seems a little flimsy to me. Hope feels almost desperate and passive. Belief is much more positive and proactive. Despite the positive connotations though, belief is not enough.
Once you believe, you need to act. Take the feedback that the world gives you and adjust. There is not one way to break down an opposing team or get to a personal goal. Literally thousands or even millions are possible but you need to find one. Once you find success, you can build upon it. Here in lies the problem of relying on the penalty. It requires other people’s input that is less than reliable. So believe in yourself enough to create your own results. The “easy road” is there but it doesn’t make you better. It makes you dependent.
My distaste for Man City, the club, has been stated before but that’s not really what this is about. The second season of Ted Lasso had a great episode that did a masterful job of slaloming through stereotypes of male behavior and some of their antitheses. My love for this show is well documented but this is one time where the message hits a little deeper than the positivity that Ted disperses so willingly. Men are shown being the worst versions of ourselves while other moments are almost aspirational about what we could be. If you’ve not watched the series or the episode, there are spoilers below, so hop to it before you read farther or just deal.
Although Ted is the namesake of the show, several characters step up in this emotional episode. Jamie Tartt’s strained relationship with his father is one of the main storylines. Jamie’s need for a positive father figure was set up in the first season and put on full display in this episode. Although his father is an extreme version of a stereotype, he conjures the feelings that many of us men have had. The desire to make our father proud while also seeing their faults as we grow older. It is never as simple as a TV show must make a situation but all of the markers are there. The dynamic between fathers and sons is often strained due to the desire for independence and the inherent factor of emulation. Through the influence of Ted and Tartt’s own experience, Jamie sees his father’s negatives and begins to move in a different direction. Eventually he literally fights against his father’s way. At that moment, he is distraught, feeling the weight of what has just happened. Roy Kent, who usually puts forth a caveman-like persona, shows empathy and understanding by hugging his former rival. It’s a scene that jumps right out of a Brené Brown Ted Talk. Vulnerability is a superpower that men do not always employ.
Following along the vulnerability track, Ted opens up to his staff about the fact that a panic attack and not food poisoning had him running for the locker room in the Tottenham match. Each man in the group admits to something that he’s been holding back for some time. Ted’s vulnerability is seen as an opportunity by Nate who uses what he’s learned to expose and undercut Ted. This is the fear that most men have about vulnerability. It leaves us open to enemies, detractors and the like. The problem with this fear is that it is completely accurate. People can take advantage of a situation and many do. It’s a short term game but it works to their advantage enough to make it enticing. There is a balance to be struck here. Putting on the facade of invulnerability is an overall losing strategy. However, being vulnerable with everyone has its own perils that should definitely be avoided. It’s more art than science, like so many things.
Although Nate hasn’t fully shown his true colors in this episode, we get glimpses of the fact that he is employing a “fingers before thumbs” mentality which is the exact opposite of what I suggest regularly. Nate wants to blame others for anything and everything. He claims that he wants to be in charge. However, he lacks the mental fortitude to accept criticism when things go poorly despite wanting praise when they go well. His newly found power and fame make him into a bully who regularly victimizes people that he views as weaker. The willingness to see one’s own faults is a strength that needs to be developed over time. A mirror can be a powerful tool provided that it is not turned into a weapon used to self-flagellate. Another art of manhood is knowing when to point the thumb at one’s self before resorting to the finger. It’s more than likely that it will be employed incorrectly at times but my preference is always to find my faults before I start looking for others’.
Despite my dislike for Man City, the club, I am very happy with Man City, the episode. It brings to the forefront a discussion of modern roles of masculinity. By no means does it develop a definitive set of directives. However, it does juxtapose antiquated stereotypes with newer ideals. Being a man in a modern world can be a bit confusing. The messaging that is thrown at us from the past, present and future can sound like white noise. In the end, we need to see our responsibility to ourselves and those around us.
It’s a quote that I like on so many levels, “The man who invented the ship, also invented the shipwreck.” There is often a duality to things that people want to ignore. Complexity exists to the way that we all show up in the world. We tend to turn a blind eye to the outcomes that we do not like or make us feel uncomfortable. There is a pretend part to the things that we do. Power can be found in recognizing the fact that life is not a straight line, nor free of pitfalls. Building a fire feels like a creative process but as soon as the match is lit, destruction is following and eventually burnout. It’s not all warmth and light!
For a positive person, this may seem like a pessimistic slant to things. In my eyes, it is nothing of the sort. The fact that your parents gave you life and death in the same moment is not tragic, it’s beautiful! Scarcity is one of the criteria that creates value. An infinite supply of something reduces its value to almost nothing. It is in the lack of permanence that we gain urgency. We are invited to press forward because there is a constant state of breaking down. Every time that we eat, we are satiated for a moment. Only to become hungry again! This duality of creation and destruction being bound together is part of our cyclical lives. While we would love to be able to workout once and be fit, the system of constancy allows for us maintain purpose over time rather than needing a new one at all times.
So now that we know that building a fire is a degenerative creation that will require our maintenance for as long as we look to keep it alive, what are you willing put that effort into? What is so important to you that you realize that you must FIGHT to keep it alive? Who are the people that you desire so fervently to be connected to that you are willing to travel long distances and chance contracting a pandemic level virus to be near? These are the questions that we need to be asking ourselves! Since nothing is forever and all of our endeavors are dying as soon as we birth them, we need to be sure that we are creating with care!
This new year, like so many others, gives us the idea of a fresh start. A line of demarcation between the old and the new. So as you begin this new year, what are you willing to create and keep alive for as long as possible? The fire within you needs to be built as well. We do not become ablaze with passion without reason. It needs to be created and stoked. So decide in this moment, where are you building those fires? You have limited time and limited resources. Be intentional with both!
Freshly fallen snow puts a blanket of white over the landscape. It can look almost magical. Icicles hanging from the trees and buildings add to the spectacle. The sun doesn’t shine brighter but the reflection off of the white makes it seem that way. Snowmen, sledding, eating snow, snow angels, snowball fights and forts are all possible. It almost makes the world look as though it is brand new. Unfortunately, none of that lasts for too long.
Two days after the snowfall is less picturesque. There are yellow and brown spots in the snow that are not meant for tasting. The salt from the roads has made the plowed snow look grey and ugly. Snowmen lean to one side or the other unless they’ve frozen into icemen from the frigid temperatures. The freshness and sense of renewal have devolved into a chaotic mess that is less than ideal.
We live most of our lives in the “two days after snowfall” world. It’s not ideal but reminders of more perfect times are all around us. Honestly, those times weren’t perfect either but we have nostalgia for those moments that we’ve chosen to remember. Everyone has had a moment like a wedding, championship winning season, perfect date, theatrical performance or any other memorable occasion. There’s a desire to live in those moments forever but you can’t. That pristine world does not exist for long, if it ever did. So the choices come down to lamenting the “imperfection” of most of our lives or embracing it.
Since most of life is going to be chaos with spots of urine, feces and salt strewn about, perhaps it would be better to see the beauty in those days. They are not devoid of their own glory. It just may be harder to see because there is so much variety to take in. The beauty and awe doesn’t smack you in the face! You have to work to see it. Despite that fact, the effort that is taken to endure the chaos until the next perfect moment is much greater. Seeing the world with its pock marks and still loving it is a skill that is worth developing. Otherwise you’re in a perpetual state of fourth grade where you’re hoping for a snow day, only to be disappointed by people forcing you to learn and grow! Damnit! Develop the eyes to see the daily beauty. It will make those perfect days even better!
Almost everyone is interested in winning championships. It’s a special feeling to realize that type of dream. I’ve done it several times in my playing and coaching careers. The most important thing about winning championships is that you cannot focus on getting the trophy. The trophy is merely a symbol and what it represents is far more important than the metal, wood and plastic. The symbol represents the willingness to prepare on a higher level than most and the fortitude to put a performance on the field at the key moments. In all of the championships that I’ve won, I’ve never been conflicted about winning even though I know that in most cases we were not the “best team”. We were just the best team on that particular day. That is nothing to be concerned by. Managing the moment is just as important as high level preparation but let’s begin with preparation.
To prepare for a championship run, an individual or team needs to put themselves through more than they think they will encounter. A projection must be made about what a championship performance would look like. Then preparation must be done to endure that and more. Working backward from the projected championship, the road should be broken into sections. Perhaps months or weeks, those chunks of time should have a goal or marker. Each one of those periods then needs to be broken down to the daily. Then broken down again into the hourly. Then broken down again to the moment. When you get your preparation down to the moment level, you’ll need to develop your ethos or principles. You most likely won’t want to script your actions down to the moment but as you look at all that is in front of you, what are the beliefs and mindset that will aid you and propel you toward your championship run. Before you can become a champion, you need to think like a champion. Not about the person who has won the trophy but rather the person capable of winning on every single occasion. Developing a belief system that will spur you on at the difficult times. That will keep you grounded when success comes your way. These “commandments” do not come down from a higher power but come from you and what you value most. Just recognize that these beliefs need to be in line with the level of your ambition. Leading with belief is key to any grand success. Chasing an unknown future requires a belief so strong that it will not be broken by the mundane or the difficult. Every day something will be required in your pursuit that you will not want to do. Doing those things in spite of your feelings is a key indicator to whether or not you’ll make it. Oh yeah! That’s the gamble! You need to be willing to do all of this work with the knowledge that you might fail. It’s possible that you’ll put in all of the work, prepare to your utmost and still come up short. Can you live with that? I often jokingly say to groups “When the going gets tough, give up!” For some people, actually quite possibly most people, this is the perfect advice for what they want. They don’t want things to be hard. So giving up is the perfect answer to their problem. Don’t do the hard things, only do enough to meet the most minimum requirements. Talk is cheap and doesn’t get you very far (ironic coming from someone who make a living giving speeches). The statement is true however. Words can be powerful but they will always come up short in propelling you forward without some form of action. So take those beliefs and hone them, develop them. “I quit when the reps are done, not when they hurt.” These little types of statements will calcify your belief system if they are repeated over and over then followed up with action. A statement like the one above means nothing coming from someone perched on a couch watching Netflix. It means something from the person drenched in sweat and gasping for air.
Your championship level is also something that you should consider. Perhaps your championship is not a championship at all at the moment. Perhaps it’s winning one game or scoring a goal. The idea is not the trophy or the position in a ranking but more about who you become as a person or group. The moment will fade. The memory may not even be permanent but the person that you become from the experience will move forward into the world better prepared to take future steps.