Blogpost, self-reliance

Crowd Surfing

A few weeks back, I went to a rock festival. It was a great experience! A few bands that I knew and like. Quite a few more that I’d never heard of but really enjoyed getting to know them. The crowd was extremely energetic despite the rainy weather. Mosh pits and crowd surfing were happening continuously through most of the acts. Although moshing can be “aggressive” and lead to injury. There’s usually not much malice behind it. Equally so, crowd surfing is not meant to be dangerous. People riding on top of the crowd is supposed to be fun but it is truly putting your safety into the hands of strangers. There are no guarantees that they won’t drop you, intentionally or otherwise. Yet this seems to be the way that many people are traveling through the world nowadays.

Of course, I’m not speaking 100% literally. The point behind the comment is the way that we exist digitally. Many people are putting their very real self-esteem and self-image into the hands of “virtual” strangers. Most of the time, they are actual strangers. The virtual is there for emphasis on the not completely real world that we exist online. These people almost never truly touch us but they impact many people through their likes, comments and shares. As social beings, we thrive on the acceptance of the tribe and want to be recognized. The problem comes from the disconnection. Despite being connected in some sense of the word, a large portion of the people who are “holding” us up will never know us in the traditional sense of the word. At least the people at the concert feel the weight and see the aftermath of someone who is dropped. The people online are much less invested. Anything or nothing can change the connection there.

So beware of crowd surfing in the virtual world. The likes, shares and comments should not be the things that keep you floating through the day. At best they should be icing to a cake that is already filled with the flavor of things of substance. There’s plenty to be gained from the interconnectivity that we have today. Unfortunately, a true sense of self is probably not going to be found there without some dangers attached. Let the people who truly know you carry you through the day, especially the one that you spend every second with (hint: it’s YOU!).

Keep rockin!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

The Couch of Your Relationships

If you’ve ever moved, there are several items that require help. Since I graduated high school, I’ve lived in 17 different residences. Some moves were light and others were heavy but very few were done alone. The help is either hired or friends who were enlisted. Couches are not the most difficult to move but they’re a crucial piece of furniture for comfort. Just like so many items, it’s difficult to carry alone. This exactly like any relationship.

Obviously we want for our relationships to be comfortable like a good couch. However in order to move them forward, it takes both people to do the lifting. If one person is basking in the comfort of where things are, then it’s extremely difficult for the other person to take it anywhere new.

Couches are also awkward to move at times. The people carrying them are doing it from opposite perspectives and rarely is there enough space for both people to be walking forward at once. It is often a tradeoff of one person slowly moving backwards while the other walks normally. Stairs, tight corners, obstacles, etc. may require pivoting and heroic effort to make it through those tight spaces in order to get back to enjoying the comfort again.

Unlike couches, there is very little uniformity to relationships. They come in such a huge variety that any list would be woefully incomplete. In addition to that, they are an extension of ourselves. At some point, all couches get left behind and the same could be said for relationships. The couch is not usually changed by the carrier but the same is not true of relationships. Each person has the potential to be changed by the carrying that they do. Hopefully those changes lead to a more comfortable place for both people and stronger individuals.

So as you go into the coming week, take stock of whether you’re carrying your weight or just lounging. We are social animals and our relationships with other humans have gotten us to the place where we are as a species. On an individual level, your relationships have the ability to make your life better. It just takes a bit of agreement on when you’re lounging and when you’re lifting. Almost no one wants to move a couch on their own!

PIVOT!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Watching the Movie, Living the Movie

I don’t remember how I got introduced to the Rocky series of movies when I was a kid. However I recall very plainly being a fifth grader who was running a mile or more each day as part of some “training montage”. No one had told me to do it. There was no coach, parent or other person telling me to get up early and put in this work. I’d simply taken something that I saw on the screen and put it into practice in my own life. That formula continued as I grew with movies like the Matrix. I took things from the theater and applied them.

This is not a unique situation. Actually it’s the way that everyone lives their life. The only difference is the input source. Every child takes in what they see on the “screen” whether that is a literal screen or just the movie that is playing out in front of them called life. They watch parents, sisters, brothers, friends, neighbors, strangers and all manner of other people acting in certain way and mimic some of what they see. It’s how we learn and sometimes it’s how we grow as people. The very public theater of life is filled with a chaotic mess of people acting in such a variety of ways that sometimes the right people to mimic are hard to identify. The big screen of movies and TV often makes things simpler because characters are idealized versions of humans that can be identified as good or evil. While these are both places to get inspiration, the most powerful theater is the private one. The one inside of your own head that no one else can access. Before you can do anything in the outer world, you must first see it on the private screen. Frequently the movies that are played on the private screen are re-runs of past patterns or expectations based on what we’ve always known. That is why people tend not to improve their station in life. They have a set of films that they see inside of their head and introducing a better moving picture of themselves is difficult.

It’s difficult because there is a good possibility that the private movies don’t always make it to the public theater of life. Getting them from the private screen to the reality screen takes work, dedication, patience, etc. and those are tough ingredients to put in when the outcome is uncertain. Spending a few minutes or more, envisioning the outcome that you want each and every day may feel like a fool’s errand. Visualization is something that we tend to do but usually it is reruns of past events. The projection of a future that is disconnected from our present and our past can feel unsettling, like leaping off some sort of cliff. However in order to move forward, we must separate ourselves from the ground and propel ourselves forward. Therein lies the difficulty. Creating a picture of one’s self that is different from the present version can be a challenge but that vision of separation allows the new character of you to emerge.

The world is not going to offer you a starring role, even in your own life. You need to imagine it on the small private screen first before pitching it to everyone else. Fortunately the movies give us the perfect word for bringing your new vision for yourself out into the open. So come up with your vision, see it as clearly as you can. Whether the cameras are rolling or not!

ACTION!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Turning the Page

Children do it with so much fervor that they often tear the pages of their books. The two books that I read the most to my children were The Lorax and The Sneetches and Other Stories. Each had pages that were repaired several times. I had each of those stories memorized because I had read them so often. I didn’t need to see the words or turn the pages because I’d read them so often that I knew every word that was coming.

It’s a very adult disposition to want to know the outcome before it arrives. As we grow older, the wonderment that we had as children is either trained or drained out of us. We get experience and become comfortable with the things that we know well. Turning the page is no longer something to do with fervor because it represents the unknown. The story is perfectly fine as it is! Most of it is predictable sure! But big plot twists and challenges are not something that we’re particularly ready for. The status quo is perfectly fine. So why mess with it by turning the page?

As the author of your own story, it’s completely up to you if you want to keep repeating the same page “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” However, time tends to turn the page on us if we do not turn it on ourselves. So meeting it with childlike anticipation seems a better perspective than fearing every turn of the page. Our stories are largely made up by the way that we show up consistently. So show up today looking forward to the next few chapters because the old ones have passed. Get that fervor back if you can!

“From the far end of town where the grickle grass grows…”

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Motion to Suppress

Most of my understanding of the law comes from TV and movies. Therefore it may not be completely accurate but for the sake of my discussion, it will be sufficient. A lawyer can have a lot of reasons why they might want to suppress evidence. The optimist in me would like to believe that evidence is being suppressed because it is not genuine. The pessimist in me knows that it is often a tactic used to exclude something valid but damaging. Although there is the common quote “the truth will set you free”, it does not apply to all people. Sometimes the truth will prove your guilt. Regardless, each of us has evidence of a myriad of things from our past. Who we are contains it all. However, since no one (even us) will know of or remember every single instant of our lives. The things that are introduced into evidence when we are arguing for who we are or aren’t become extremely important. Suppressing the right things at the right moment might be exactly the right thing to do.

As we go through our lives, there are patterns that develop. A trial is used to determine someone’s guilt or innocence usually for a singular instance of a crime. The truth of that one instance is based on sometimes minuscule pieces of evidence. However as we are determining who we are as people, it is the pattern of consistent behavior that makes us who we are. Getting drunk once does not make someone an alcoholic. Nor does holding the door open for a person make someone a saint. The consistent action tells someone who they are. While some acts carry the weight to supersede a lifetime of poor or good behavior, most of us are dealing in the aggregate. The compounding of results over time in order to determine an overall leaning. This leaning tends to impact our self-esteem, public image and host of other perceptions that are at best incomplete and at worst inaccurate. We are not a sum total of all of our actions, just the ones that we’ve given weight.

So give yourself the ability to “suppress” some of those things that you hold against yourself. The mistake that you made, the wrong thing that you said, the blunder that still bothers you. Please recognize that just because you’re giving yourself a clean slate, doesn’t mean that everyone else will. However, the relationship that you have with yourself is by far the most important. So in the court of public opinion, you may not be exonerated but perhaps you’ll not judge yourself so harshly. It’s both difficult and unwise to go through life without any mistakes or failures. However, they don’t need to be an albatross around your neck. Set yourself free from that weight and see how much faster you move forward without the burden!

This is your story! Dun dun.

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

Ride the Moment

“Zardes will score in the 86th minute.” Those were the words that I said to the guy next to me as I watched the US Men’s National Team play against Qatar last year. Getting the timing and the player right were a bit of luck. However the momentum of the game was pretty easy to read. It’s often easier for people on the outside to see as it develops. Because momentum requires the person or people to exist in the moment. Most of the blunders and shortfalls in sports or life come from a diverted focus. Rather than staying in the here and now, the performer gets concerned with the outcome or some other factor that distracts from the moment.

There is no doubt that people want results! Rightfully so, they are not expending time, energy, focus and other resources to come up empty. However, one of the easiest ways to insure against results coming is to focus too heavily upon them. They are a part of the equation, no doubt! A form of fuel that keeps the engine running but too much fuel at once creates a grand explosion (or in performance terms implosion). We are prehistoric creatures built for prehistoric times. Our brains are built to help us survive in a tough environment of life and death. Now we live in a world that is often built on success or failure. The consequences that we reap are a form of reality that we’ve created. So are the pressure and the stakes. But they feel overwhelmingly real because that’s what we’ve made them. Since it is all in our heads, maybe it’s possible to control them in the moment. Put them on the back burner in the moment and stay in the moment!

The moment is all we get. Every single living soul gets the exact same amount of time, the moment. Quibbling over how many moments one person gets versus another is irrelevant. Many people have done nothing with a heap of moments while others lived fully with a select few. It’s not the number that counts but rather the focus, attention and stacking of the quality ones. In the end, your life is not measured in years. It’s measured in moments and people will remember them when you’re gone, if you made them count.

Now stop reading and make the next few count!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

You Have to Earn My Keys!

The example is simple and I’ve been using it for years. Think for a moment. Who would you trust with your keys? The list is pretty easy to come up with quickly. Close friends, family members and a few others are the usual suspects. They’ve earned the right to have your keys because you trust them. Most likely there are friends and family members that you wouldn’t trust with them. You’re going to be discerning because of the possible negative impact.

The keys question is so extremely simple because it is tangible. For some reason, we have a much more difficult time with deciding on the people that we’ll allow to influence our thoughts. Especially our thoughts about ourselves. These days there is a constant stream of information coming from the outside world. Much of it is aimed at influencing our thoughts and decisions. From the marketers who are trying to sell us something to the trolls who leave a random comments to make us feel badly, these people have most likely not earned the right but often they get let in anyway. So it’s important to stand guard at the gate of your mind.

This isn’t an easy task. We are bombarded constantly and therefore must be at the ready to deflect or accept. So here are a few things that you might want to consider doing in a quiet moment when you’re not overwhelmed by stimuli.

  • Decide on who and about what: have a list or an idea inside of your head of who you trust and on what topics. I trust my best friend with my secrets but not particularly my diet.
  • Decide on non-negotiables: there are some things about you that aren’t up for debate, regardless of who is talking to you.
  • Consider the intent of the source: people will sometimes act altruistically but often people are self-serving. If their self-serving desires also serve you, WIN-WIN. If not, then beware.

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to choose who you’ll trust with your “keys” but it’s necessary to lead a life on your terms. Although the keys analogy is not a perfect one, it’s a helpful starting spot. If you wouldn’t let this person drive your car, why are you going to let them drive your thoughts?

Buckle up! It’s a bumpy ride!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Whatever It Takes

That was the message on the back of a t-shirt that I saw recently. Obviously that’s not meant to be taken 100% literally. There are plenty of things that the t-shirt wearer wouldn’t do to achieve their goals. Most likely murder, theft and a variety of other caveats could be made to the very blanket statement. There are plenty of people who would rather quibble about the exceptions than buy into the spirit of the message. Why? The reason is that it’s easier! Criticizing and picking apart something is a much more comfortable task than getting something done. Much like my favorite quote from Teddy Roosevelt’s speech at the Sorbonne, “it is not the critic that counts!”

So let’s ignore the fine print for the moment and only deal in big bold letters that you put on the back of a t-shirt. What are the things that warrant that level of dedication in your life? What goals do you have that could incite that commitment? It’s easier not to ask that question! By far it’s much more simple to not try to discover those limits of your capability! Not because you’re going to get anywhere near to the fine print items that the nit pickers would worry about. Quite the contrary! It’s the comfortable situations that we’ve grown accustomed to. Risking the known for an unknown that comes with some doubt. It’s not about the fine print or sacrificing our code of ethics. More than likely it’s a risk analysis that spikes our fear response.

So figure out what it is that you would put that level of commitment into and then do it! Regardless of the critics! Regardless of the fear that you feel inside! It’s necessary to avoid becoming a “cold and timid soul”. The one fact that you cannot avoid. No matter what your particular goal is. Whatever else it might take, IT’S GOING TO TAKE YOU!

Whatever it takes!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

I’m Not Completely Certain….

About so much!

  • If we’re living in a simulation.
  • If jobs will still be a thing when AI becomes pervasive.
  • If I can maintain a weight of 175 lbs for more than a few weeks without it negatively affecting my mood.
  • If cats are really spies for aliens.
  • If the president really has anywhere near the influence that people think.
  • If beer before liquor will make me sicker (although I’m pretty sure).
  • If the sun will rise tomorrow.

There are so many things out there that I’m not 100% certain about. It could be daunting. So knowing what you’re certain about becomes more important. It is the foundation on which those wobbly bricks can be laid. That stability is priceless.

  • I love my children.
  • Gravity is pretty consistent on this planet.
  • Tough times are going to show up but I can figure them out.
  • Good times don’t last forever but they don’t stay away forever either.
  • I’m not the best at anything except for being me.
  • Soccer is the best sport on the planet.
  • There are people out there who love me and generally I know who they are.
  • Han Solo was right, knowing your odds almost never helps.
  • I can handle more than I realize.
  • Most people are mostly good but mostly act in their own interest the most, MOSTLY.
  • Mike Birbiglia is a great comedian.

This is not an exhaustive list and some of them are mainly there for comic relief. This world is filled with both certainty and uncertainty and we need both. A life of full certainty is boring but total uncertainty would be maddening. Mostly they are choices though. People doubt things all the time that are “self-evident” to others. My metric for this level of belief is whether or not it serves me.

Since my general message is self-empowerment, I implore you to believe in yourself. Not that you can handle anything but that you can handle most things that life brings to you. It’s going to serve you much better than the opposite.

I’m pretty certain about that!

Pete

Blogpost, posh, self-reliance

The Deep Dive and I Might Be an Alien

For some reason that I cannot fully explain, when something catches my interest, I tend to go to extreme lengths to understand and appreciate it. I’ve done a “deep dive” on a lot of things through my life based on passing experiences that could have amounted to almost nothing. But I decided to go far beyond the call of the moment and explore that thing to its depths. Below are a few examples:

  • In first grade, I received a flyer with a picture of Snoopy heading a soccer ball. Forty years later, I have been playing, coaching, watching and studying the game consistently.
  • In seventh grade, I went to a concert where the opening act was the band, Tesla. I’ve not seen them again in concert. However I know quite a bit about their namesake, Nikola Tesla. His feud with Edison and his work with electricity are just the tip of the iceberg on a fascinating man that I know a bit too much about.
  • After playing the FIFA video game for many years and finding it too easy to win the Premier League with teams like Liverpool, I decided to bring a lower league team up to the Premiership. Almost two decades later, I’ve made two trips to England, subscribe to the team’s streaming service to watch games, write blogs about them and have their crest on more of my clothing than I’d like to admit. No tattoos yet!

These are just a few simple examples of deep dives that I’ve made through the years. Teddy Roosevelt, the band Knapsack and so many other could be added to the list. Everyone has their own areas of interest. Often it is based on the influence of peers. Sometimes it is a societal thing that makes someone go “cuckoo for cocoa puffs” (never liked them). The reason that I bring all of this up is that I’m slightly worried that I’m an alien. There are so many cool things in this world! And it seems like we’re skimming the Cliff Notes!

In no way am I telling anyone what they should like. If the Dolly Parton, ornithology or the A-Team are your thing, then go for it! We have so much access and information at our finger tips but the lowest common denominator is where we often end up. It’s not about the deep dive! It’s the new trend of the moment that will be replaced tomorrow by another. Jumping from one puddle to the next, we have less bandwidth or desire to do a “deep dive” into anything. This isn’t bothersome to me because people are not studying the ins and outs of turtles as much as I’d like. My fear is that it’s going to become pervasive.

Perhaps if we’re not willing to take a deep dive into something, we’ll all become shallow copies of similar puddles. Therefore we’ll stop wanting to do deep dives on each other because we’ll know there isn’t much there. It will be easy to dismiss others after cursory interaction because we’ve met people like them before. We all have the potential of depth and maybe even a predisposition toward it. However it takes time, effort and focus. All three of these seem to be in short supply because we’re trying to get to the next thing faster. What if the thing that’s in front of us right now deserves a deep dive? Would ever realize that we missed it?

Dive deep today people!

Pete