Blogpost, self-reliance

5 Advantages I Have Over Bill Gates

Recognize as you begin to read that I am fully aware that Bill Gates has far more advantages over me. However, if all you do is dismiss the points below, then you forfeit access to the gift that comes from reading to the bottom.

  1. Years – Bill Gates probably doesn’t have as many years left on the planet as I do. It’s possible that I could have some tragic accident but in lifespan possibility, I have the upper hand.
  2. Scrutiny – I have the major advantage of fewer eyeballs watching. When I make a mistake, it’s possible that no one knows or is affected. When Bill makes a blunder, it’s possible that it could be broadcast worldwide.
  3. Expectation – Uncle Bill has far more people counting on him for their livelihood and well-being. He’s also set the bar extremely high for himself. Sure! He can kick back and vacation for the rest of his life but any project that he takes on needs to be epic.
  4. Villains – It’s far easier for me ward off leeches and frenemies because there are very few people in this world looking to sponge off of someone at my station in life. Mr. Gates, on the other hand, probably has a team of people who are in charge of defending, deflecting and disabling threats inside and outside his circles.
  5. Ceilings – Billy boy has far less room to improve in his areas of core competence. He’s already been the “best in the world” at one point. The chances of his returning to that level is unlikely.

Obviously these are all based on the simple premise of finding the weakness in something that most people would consider a strength. With the exception of time which is an opponent that we all must face; fame, responsibility and talent are all things that people desire. Am I just trying to blow sunshine up my own rear end? Hardly! This is an exercise in perspective. It’s an extreme one to be sure. Finding the chinks in the armor of someone who revolutionized the computing world and is now a humanitarian isn’t easy. However, each of us has our own advantages and disadvantages. One of the greatest is our own perspective. Rich people make themselves poor, strong people make themselves weak and beloved people feel alone because of their perspective on what they see from the world. The reverse can also be true and any gradient in between.

So it’s really on us! We have to see the world in a way that helps us move forward or lifts us up rather than holds us back. There’s evidence for both. If you look long enough, you’ll find all of the reasons why you’re disadvantaged, unlikely to succeed and useless! The same is also true that if you look long enough, you’ll find all of the reasons why you’re special, a juggernaut of talent and resourceful! It’s all in the perspective that you decide to take and no matter what anyone else tells you, you can discount them. It’s all happening upstairs! So whether you’re Bill Gates or not, you’ve got advantages that need to be used for the betterment of your life and the people that you care about. See them, believe them and be them!

Think differently! (whoops isn’t that an Apple thing?)


Blogpost, self-reliance

The Ingredients of Your Future

At a very young age, I started helping my mom bake. In the beginning, my brothers and I were given the ability to use the cookie cutters to make our favorite designs for Christmas cookies. Eventually, we added ingredients, used the mixer and all other jobs associated. My comfort in a kitchen probably comes from the fact that I’ve been doing it for so long. There are sometimes when my mom would have to follow a recipe and others when she would just “wing it” because she’d done it so many times before. After years of baking, she had all of the basic ingredients at the ready and specialty items were available when the recipe called for it. The kitchen had a spice everything that it needed. Our job was simply to add the right amount of each ingredient to get the desired result.

Life surprisingly is about the same. The problem is that most of us have gotten so used to making the same recipe that we don’t ever set ourselves up for much else. There are certain items in both baking and life that are almost always going to show up.

Flour, salt and sugar– Much like breathing, drinking and eating; these are constants in almost every single successful recipe. The question is how much and the quality of that ingredient. It’s possible to get by with poor quality in all of these but the end product is bound to suffer. Getting these right won’t particularly win you a place on the podium at the county bake-off but it can balance out mistakes in smaller quantity ingredients.

Other Ingredients– Taking on a new recipe requires looking at the list of ingredients and making sure that you have what you need. Often in life, we’ve gotten so used to making the same things, day in and day out. We never even consider or conceptualize the fact that life could be any different. The thought of breaking from that which we did yesterday is not considered because we are largely on autopilot. We are running a thought, emotion and action program that we’ve run for years possibly decades. Humans have thousands of thoughts everyday. The problem is that most of the thoughts that we are having today are the same ones that we had yesterday and the day before. The same thoughts and emotions largely lead to the same actions. Therefore change is highly unlikely unless something breaks us from our cycle. This is why traumatic events often lead to people making life altering shifts. It breaks the cycles of familiarity but we don’t need or particularly want trauma to change.

The other ingredients that are crucial to deliberate change are meditation and visualization. They do not particularly have to come in that order but both are necessary. Meditation is critical, especially today, because we need to regain control of the mind. With all that is being thrown at us in the way of stimuli, we need to take the time to detach from all of the demands that others have for our attention and put it back into the moment. If we are able to detach from all of the noise outside and get our mind quiet and it is more possible to inject new thoughts and emotional patterns.

Visualization is also a key ingredient for change because we need to be able to see a new future in our mind’s eye before it shows up in reality. The world is full of secondhand products because almost everything had to be created in the mind of someone first. The phone or laptop that you’re reading this on was an idea before it became reality. The words that I’m writing. The wire that’s carrying electricity to the light bulb where you are. It was all conceived in the mind first. If you are able to get your mind still, then focus it intently on the things that you want, you’re more likely to see that end product arrive. Of course there is action to be done! Since the thoughts and feelings need to fall into place first, they are the necessary step that brings about the action.

There are so many possible outcomes for a day. Like baking a cake, cookies or any other thing, it is your job to take the ingredients that you have and put it together into something palatable. If your situation is distasteful then you need to envision something else and take action in that direction. The ingredients cannot put itself together. That’s your job and you’ll continue to get the same old, same old until you’re willing to see something different inside of your mind.

Bon appetit!


PS – One of my favorite comedy bits!

Blogpost, self-reliance

No Meatballs Are Coming!

Not sure if it was a term that was used anywhere else in the world or just in my neighborhood. A slow pitch down the middle of the plate that was primed for being smacked out of the park was called a “meatball”. Definitely not my term but it worked for elementary school kids to get their point across to each other. Sometimes a meatball was an accident and other times it was given. Regardless, you were always thankful for a meatball when it came your way. In the adult world, there aren’t many meatballs served up by the universe. That’s not the way that it works. The universe serves up opportunities, not sure things!

It’s an interesting situation in which we live! On the one hand, we’d love for things to be easy but we inherently know that something won easily is valued little. So we’re caught in some level of false hope. The hope is that big prizes are going to come to us with little effort, the lottery mentality! Unfortunately, it’s a hope that is rarely if ever realized. It is far less likely than the “meatballs” that we were sometimes served up on the playground. So if meatballs aren’t coming, can we embrace the idea that hard fast curving pitches are coming our way? That life is going to challenge us each and every time that we step up to the plate? It’s much better disposition to take because the anticipation of a meatball makes the fastball overwhelming. However, when you’re prepared for that big league style pitch, your possibility to hit it goes up and the meatballs (if they come) are welcome gift.

The opportunities are coming your way but that doesn’t mean that they will be prepackaged perfection! More than likely, they are going to challenge you in some way, shape or form. Be ready for it! Embrace it! Don’t anticipate the meatball because it takes no talent to crush it. You’re also going to feel less satisfaction about it than you will for that amazing pitch that you hit out of the park anyway!

Batter up!


Blogpost, self-reliance

Theme Songs

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it before but for a few years now, my unofficial theme song has been “The Fixer” by Pearl Jam. It was a huge departure from my old one “Paranoid” by Ozzy Osbourne but… changing times! What can I say? I’m not even fully sure if theme song is the right name for it. The Fixer is just a song that partially encapsulates the way that I like to think of myself. Despite the fact that The Fixer is my “theme song”, there’s a completely different one that I’d choose as my ring entrance song. “The Pretender” by Foo Fighters… man! I must really like definite articles! Regardless there’s a different feeling to the song that encompasses you generally versus what you need to hear before moments of action.

Despite the fact that we are singular human beings with one consciousness, there are different versions of us that show up in each moment. Maintaining consistency across all facets of life would be both difficult and problematic. Being the person that you are with your best friend might be counterproductive with your father-in-law. The music of our lives would need to change with the situation. It’s not a question of inauthenticity. Each song to be played could represent a true disposition or emotion for the moment. Unfortunately the way that humans are wired means that songs that we play more often become easier to access. If we go through a prolonged period of playing sad songs, it’s completely possible that one becomes a generalized “theme song” without us meaning for it to be. The buttons on the Juke Box get conditioned to play those songs that may or may not be the greatest hits. If it were the radio, your iTunes or Spotify, that was continuously playing songs that you didn’t like, you’d probably change the station, playlist, etc. It’s not always that easy with our brains! So many of our systems are on autopilot that we sometimes forget to question whether that is getting us where we want to go. Are the songs in your head creating a life that’s a symphony or a mosh pit? I’m not judgmental! Sometimes the mosh pit is exactly where you want to be. But take note and decide!

If you’re in need of action, it’s probably not time for Franks Sinatra! If you’re in need of joy, it’s probably not time for the Cure. If you’re in need of depth, it’s probably not time for Katrina and the Waves. There’s a way that you need to be showing up in this moment of your life. Perhaps you’ve got on the wrong theme song! Give some thought to where you are and where you’re going, get the playlist ready and turn it up (or down)! You’re playing a complex concert with so many different audience members and venues. The set list isn’t always going to be perfect and you might even get booed offstage. Just be sure that you’re not lip syncing your way through life!

Check one two!


Blogpost, self-reliance

Good Frames Won’t Save Bad Paintings

It’s a line from a largely unintelligible song called “New Noise” by Refused. Despite being completely wrong for the time period that was portrayed in the movie, it featured in the film Friday Night Lights. The words are powerful once understood past the screaming. Good frames won’t save bad paintings! A frame is nothing more than an accessory. It’s not the point and never will be. Although this fact may be extremely self evident, people do their own version of it all the time. They spend a majority of time and effort on the things that are not truly the point but justify it to themselves as important. This is not a judgmental thing as usual. My finger is not wagging at anyone. I’ve done it before. Spending minutes, hours, days on the least important component because I’m afraid to focus on the truth. This painting sucks! Since I’m not a painter, that would be true.

This is Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali. It’s not a bad painting in a good frame!

Recognizing that your painting is shit will get you so much farther than putting a great frame around it! By accepting the fact that it is not your masterpiece, you have the chance to improve it. Ignoring the painting in favor of the superfluous is a waste of time and it fools no one. So why then would anyone engage in this foolishness? Because we’re not actually worried about the painting being garbage. It’s us! We’re trying to protect ourselves from the self-scrutiny! We do not want to look into that other framed rectangle that shows back exactly who we are. Whether the mirror is figurative or literal, we find it difficult to stare at because it’s us that’s imperfect and we know it.

Let me fill you in on a secret, you’re never going to be perfect. No one is! Despite that fact, you have the opportunity to be a masterpiece. It probably will take a long time to get it right. Several different iterations and tweaks will be necessary. But that’s the point! Don’t try and shortcut yourself by settling for being a bad painting in an excellent frame. Be the masterpiece that we all know that you can be!

New art for the real people!


Blogpost, self-reliance

Ticks and Leeches

Spring has definitively sprung and the ticks are everywhere! In the past twenty-four hours alone, I’ve removed six from my body. Despite the fact that they are my jumping off point for this post, it is actually the song by Tool that is the inspiration. Even though the song is about people who are parasites, the line “this is what you wanted” is overwhelmingly powerful at the moment. How many times in life do we think that we want something? Only to end up getting exactly what we asked for and being disappointed, frustrated or angry. It’s obviously happened to enough people that it’s now cliche, “be careful what you wish for.” It’s usually not the full package that we lament but rather the unexpected side-effects or difficulties.

Life offers up a myriad of possibilities but each of them comes with costs, circumstances or even problems attached. Like ticks and leeches, these parasites that we didn’t anticipate can drain us. We forget about that thing that we wanted and only see the difficulties when we notice them hanging on. It’s not easy! Our imaginations don’t usually include all of the issues that are coming along for the ride. Regardless though, this is what you wanted! You don’t get to line item veto out all the unwanted circumstances. They’re along for the ride!

So now the time has come to accept the fact that, this is what you wanted! You wanted all of it! Ticks, leeches, problems, chaos and anything else because it can’t be separated out. Your desire for a perfect life has nothing to do with reality. That’s just not the way that it works. Perhaps you can find a way to get the parasites to work for you or even learn to love them for what they do. It’s a major shift in thought process but it’s far better than being disappointed with a reality that should be expected.

This is what you had in mind! So this is what you’re getting!


Blogpost, self-reliance

If I’d Only Known

One of the best job interviews that I ever went on was for a position that I didn’t know anything about. Before you judge me too harshly, this was about twenty years ago. At the time, I don’t even think I had a cellphone and the world was very different. I wanted to get out of teaching for a variety of reasons but didn’t have any strong convictions about where my career should go next. My friend Matt’s father was pretty high up at the New Jersey Department of Transit. Matt told me that his dad could get me an interview for something entry level. One day I got a call from the NJDOT that I had an interview scheduled for the next week. I tried many times to call Matt, got the answering machine. On the day of the interview, I walked into a high rise building in Newark, NJ and took the elevator up to the twelfth floor with no idea what job I was interviewing for. As I walked into the conference room faced with a conference table and four professional people staring at me, I debated intently what I should say. In true Pete Huryk form, I told the truth. I had no idea what job I was interviewing for. For the next forty-five minutes, I had a great conversation with the people who were not as upset as I’d have expected them to be. The people part of the process went pretty well. Afterward, I had to take a written examination of traffic code and writing accident reports. It turns out the job was being a field agent who would go to accident sites of NJDOT vehicles to assess the state’s liability. A week later, Matt called me. He and his dad had been on vacation. I didn’t get the job and I’m pretty sure that I’m fine with that.

Recently, I got into another situation where I had no idea what was going on. The problem this time around was that I thought I did. I saw the situation through my own lens and basically said every wrong thing and made every wrong move. My naïveté was not endearing this time around. It just took an opportunity off the table. Perhaps it wasn’t anything worth pursuing or maybe it was. When you’re in the middle of a wooden court with a hoop at each end, showing off your foot skills isn’t getting you anywhere! It’s important to know what type of game you’re in.

The world/people/situations are not always going to give you all of the information. Filling in the blanks with your own agenda isn’t always the best strategy. Opportunities will come and go. Some are completely right for you. Others are completely wrong. The rest are possibilities that need more attention. Believe in yourself enough to know that you can do almost anything but that doesn’t mean that you should try to do everything. Many opportunities are meant to be left behind regardless of how good they may look on paper. As I tell my students often, “you are the product”. So do and be the things that make you the best version of yourself. That job at NJDOT was perfect for someone, just not me.

There’s opportunities everywhere. Find the ones that are for you!


Blogpost, self-reliance

Keep Rollin’!

It is one of the most ridiculous but still extremely cool (in my own head) memories from my twenties. I had just bought my first new car! Later that week, I had an appointment to put a six disk CD changer into the trunk. However at that very moment, all I had was the car’s cassette player to blast music. Another problem was that I hadn’t planned ahead with the perfect “New Car Mixtape”. With limited options, I went into Walmart in Newton, NJ and picked up the Limp Bizkit album with the song “Rollin'” on it. So there I was in my green FOUR DOOR Honda Civic with the censored version of Rollin’ playing at full blast. I was boppin’ my head like I was the coolest person on the planet. My guess is that at least one or two people heard me coming, took a look and thought “what a f’ing idiot?” That scene is probably less ridiculous than me bopping my head to the same song walking down a nature path with joggers and mom’s with strollers walking by. My twenty something self had the excuse of youth. What’s my forty-six year old excuse? I don’t need one!

Yep! I was a guy in my 20’s with a 4 door car because I was planning ahead! SMH 🙂

Those “new car smell” moments don’t come along often. There’s often a long time between the standout memories of our lives. Some of them we don’t see coming and others are so scripted and planned out, they might even lose their luster. The imperfections of that day actually make it that much better in my mind. If I had done it all perfectly, then it might not have stuck in the same way. All of the ridiculousness of my actions made it mine and I didn’t really care what onlookers thought. Isn’t that what the best moments are like? When you don’t give f%$# what anyone else thinks because this one is important to you.

Thousands of filtered pictures, perfect poses and choreographed photos are nothing compared to that moment when you actually feel alive. Where you know exactly who you are and what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. From the outside it may look like a dumpster fire next to a manure pile but who cares? If you are being yourself in the moment and people don’t fully get it, that’s fine! Keep rollin’! More than likely, the people who are looking at you with shock and horror aren’t your people anyway. The way you feel about yourself when you’re by yourself is extremely important. I know for my own part, I’m going to keep going after those authentic moments. Even if I do sometimes “look like a fool.”

Alright partner! Keep on rollin’ baby!


Blogpost, self-reliance

The Bow and the Archer Must Bend

Archery is largely a lost art form. At one point, it was a staple of combat and a desired practical skill. Now it is largely relegated to a summer camp activity or something hunters do to “challenge” themselves. Although anyone could pick up a bow and arrow, very few people do. The skill is not as useful as it was and it’s not easy! The bow does not do all of the work. It is a force multiplier for sure but the archer needs to put everything in motion first. They must pull back against the tension and aim precisely at a target before allowing the arrow to fly! All of the power comes from the tension of the bow but the archer must bend as well.

Occasional interaction with a child is one of the best ways to see the changes in people. They morph into different versions of themselves over time. If you see them infrequently, the metamorphosis is obvious but they do not notice. We are in a constant state of flux. You are not the person that you were yesterday or even five minutes ago. How much of a difference there is between each version is up to you. No doubt the change that can happen in five minutes is minuscule regardless of the tension. However multiplied over time, any consistent action “bends” us. Like a tree in an area with constant wind, we begin to lean in a particular direction. There are all kinds of leanings that we can take but the person who bends often doesn’t notice the changes.

Life changes almost never come as fast as we may want. Rarely are we shot like an arrow toward our “targets”. Over time, the tension that we create brings slow results followed by bigger ones. The concentrated effort for an extended time period becomes a force multiplier. We are all bending in every moment. The question becomes whether or not we’re bending toward something with reason or if we are simply bending to the circumstances of our lives. Use the tension between where you are and where you want to be in order to fire yourself forward. Nothing and no one can do it for you. It’s on you to bend!

We are arrows to the action!


Blogpost, self-reliance

What Are You Waiting For?!?!

“Just Do It” is the slogan from Nike shoes that most people know. The origin of the slogan is less well known. It was the final words of a death row convict before he was executed. Although the phrase has been on billboards and advertisements for decades, it’s not that simple! Is it? Doing anything takes a bit of will. That will can falter depending on what’s at stake. Everyday activities or actions of low consequence are easy! But what about the things that really matter? JUST do it! has two different perspectives depending on where the phrase is coming from. If it comes from outside, it seems to imply simplicity as if doing it is no big deal. Unfortunately when that voice comes inside of our own head, it tends to carry a different tone. One of pressure, possibly even anxiety because we know we’re capable and the only thing that’s stopping us is us!

The actions necessary to garner the prizes that we want in this life are usually not a surprise. We know exactly what we need to do or at least have a good idea. It’s also more than likely that we can estimate our possibility of success. So why do we hedge, delay, or even doubt? Because our present comfort is easier to accept than the consequences of leaping into the void! Unfortunately, humans can get comfortable with all manner of things. Certainty is the drug of choice for many people. It’s why watching the same movie over and over is a thing. The predictable outcome is intoxicating! It’s also less than fulfilling. It leaves us asking the question “what if?” That question is not an easy one to swallow because it conjures images of what might have been. At that point, the comfort of the known become less desirable. It’s an ache that is not easily soothed.

So what is there to do? Just do it! You know all of the reasons and the possibilities. What are you waiting for? At no point are the things that really matter going to show up without a price tag! There will always be something at stake. Possibly a bit of comfort, some effort or yes! Even a bit of your old picture of yourself. You cannot expect to get better things into your life while remaining the same. It just isn’t realistic. So let’s you and I agree right now that tomorrow we’re all in! Just do it! Because I can’t see any of the reasons not to but I can absolutely see why it’s necessary!

I’ve been afraid of changing!