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Cheering for Someone Else’s Kid (An Exercise in Perspective)

Huryk-LukeEvery weekend the players line up on the field, the referee blows the whistle and the microscopes come out.  I’m speaking figuratively of course.  Although a fusion between youth sports and science would be great, I’m talking about the tunnel vision of the fans on the sidelines.  It’s actually not their fault.  It is in our nature to pay attention to the things that we care most about.  So a parent’s focus on their child at a time of high emotion is both normal and expected.  Our youth sports culture has definitely swung toward the extreme with cost, intensity and behavior.  The thing that we often lack as we go through life is perspective.  We tend to think that the way we perceive the world is the way that the world is.  It is only our version.  There are billions of others and none of them is completely correct either.  So it may be valuable to gain a different perspective.

Go to a youth sporting event of someone else’s kid, not a niece or a close friend’s son but two levels of separation.  It may just be a different age group at the club that your child plays for.  Choose a child that you’re going to “support” for the game.  If you’re a cheerer, then cheer.  If you’re the quiet pensive fan, then be quiet and pensive.  Whatever you would normally do at your own child’s game, do you best to recreate it (bring your spouse to bicker about the coach if need be).  I understand this will be uncomfortable and feel odd for most people but here are some things that will probably happen.

You’re probably going to lose focus on “your player” from time to time and watch the overall game.  All of the reactions that you would normally have will be slightly muted.  You may be able to look at the player and pick up on subtle cues about them.  Do they like the sport?  Do they play with joy and look like they are having fun?  Are they afraid to mess up/of contact/of trying too hard?  Are they embarrassed by the stranger cheering for them (keep it under control)?  At the end of the game, was success or failure based solely on the score/outcome?

The payoff in this experiment will be different for everyone.  If the difference between the fan that you are in the two situations is small, that’s probably a good sign.  If the difference between the fan that you are is vast, it might be helpful to consider why.  In the grand scheme of the world, both games probably meant about the same amount.  Sports bring out some of our best and worst characteristics as humans.  The kids are practicing regularly in order to be their best, let’s be at our best as well!

Go!

Pete

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Super Glue That Post It!

IMG_4201It’s odd the way that we think of things.  Often an effective story is a much better tool for creating change than the actual 100% truth.  I’ve run up the “Rocky Steps” in Philadelphia well over a dozen times.  Each time I felt a sense of accomplishment and kinship with Rocky.  The truth is of course that Rocky Balboa never truly existed and in that moment I’m play acting much like Stallone was in the 1970’s.  Regardless of those facts, the story gets me to where I need to go more effectively.  So my explanation below is not the 100% gospel truth but it is rather an effective way to exercise change.

Each moment of your life is like a Post It note.  The difference between the moments is how much of the “glue” that you put onto it.  Most moments are just paper with absolutely no glue whatsoever.  They don’t stick and quickly blow away in the wind of daily life.  This may seem sad to some but it is a necessity.  Your brain would be overwhelmed if it had to remember every moment.  So what is the glue?  The glue is emotion.  Feelings are the things that make memories “sticky”.  The more emotionally charged a moment is, the more likely that it is going to stick.

This is useful information because if you truly want to fashion the life that you want, you need to be deliberate about making particular moments stick.  Being able to manage your mind and emotion becomes an exercise in re-scripting your life.  If you don’t give an emotional charge to the things that you’d rather not have, then they will fade.  In the opposite direction, if you don’t truly feel or even celebrate the good moments, they’ll also fade.  So the creation of the life that you want comes down to how sticky you make certain moments.  You are the “Glue Master” and you can mindlessly slather it on.  OR you can choose to make the good stuff stick.

Have a great day people!

Pete

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Torn Apart by Your Cellphone

drawn and quarteredAs recently as 1781, the practice of dismemberment was used.  In the particular case I am referring, Tupac Amaru II (Incan King) was tied to four horses who were faced away from the victim and urged to run toward the four corners of the square.  It was a brutal and painful way to die.  Usually it was used as a way to “send a message” to other’s that would oppose the powers of the day.  In the end, these forms of execution were abandoned by civilized society.  I can’t even begin to imagine the immense pain felt by the victim and the horror of those who were watching.

Although the comparison may seem extreme, I believe that there is a correlation between this form of execution and the epidemic of cellphone addiction.  The execution is not a physical one but a mental/emotional one.  The death of the individual as well is not physical but experiential.  This is not a sermon on how cellphones are evil and should not be used.  These devices can be used as tools to accentuate life in meaningful ways.  However this is meant as a call for recognition if you are being “torn apart” by your device.  Know thy self is still as relevant today as it was when the Greeks etched it into stone.

Recognizing that your phone has taken your hand might be the easiest to identify.  Is your phone in your hand more than any other object?  It might be tearing you apart.  Does your phone have your legs?  Do you only move when reminded by a buzz, ding or bell?  It might be tearing you apart.    Then look to more important parts of the body.  Does your phone have your lungs?  Are the only times that you have your breath taken away produced through your phone?  It might be tearing you apart.  Does your phone have your mind?  Is your mind on the things that are contained in your phone more than the things that are in front of you?  It might be tearing you apart.  Does your phone have your heart?  Are the only times where you feel a rush positive or negative feeling happening through your phone?  It might be tearing you apart.  Do you have a life without your phone?  Could you exist, survive and thrive without it?  For a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a year?  It might be tearing you apart.

If you’ve become unsettled by the number of times that you felt uncomfortable with the questions above, don’t worry!  The first step to recovery is usually admitting that you have a problem.  Perhaps it’s a small problem or you want to look at it that way.  The key is to take control and let go from time to time.  You’ll see that you actually don’t miss that much that is happening on your phone when you detach from it.  You just catch a little more of the life that’s going on around you!

 

Have a great day people!

Pete

 

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Don’t Lose Your Virginity

LetstalkaboutsexLanguages are amazing to me on so many levels. Words and phrases can evoke emotions of all kinds and intensities. They can be both the weapons to hurt and the bandages to heal. Certain languages carry with them differing perspectives that color the way that we go through life. Despite this fact, we seem to be less inclined to use the magic that resides within language. The flourish of Shakespeare has been replaced by the convenience of the text message. While I don’t believe that we need to embellish the daily and mundane with flowery language, it may be helpful to say something more meaningful. Or say the things that have a meaning that will propel us toward a better future rather than maintain our status quo.
Along those lines, I’d like to suggest that no one “lose” their virginity. Depending on your particular background the phrase probably means one of a variety of things.  If you’ve been raised in some religious background, there may be twinges of guilt or sin involved with this idea.  If that is not an issue, the word “lose” can even create a feeling.  Loss is generally seen as a negative and therefore it evokes feelings of that kind.  Either because it was something that was supposed to be held onto until it was lost.  Or because it was something that was undesired in the first place.  In that case the losing is not the negative but rather the having has the negative connotation.  With all of this convoluted word talk, it should be evident that the phrase does not actually serve the action well.

Rather than “losing their virginity”, people should be “earning their sexuality”.  In the long past, the idea of losing virginity probably worked because of the pervasive religious beliefs about marriage and sin.  In a modern context the phrase no longer serves.  In fact it probably harms, more than it helps.  So rather than an instantaneous change from virgin to not, why not embrace the idea that this is a process.  Sex has been sold, contorted and embellished in so many ways that it’s perception barely resembles what it is.  Perpetuating this will only lead to disaster for young people.  So why not, “earn sexuality”?

The reason for “earn” is that it should not be viewed as a right.  Also the process of earning something does not usually happen in an instant.  Therefore it requires a more involved set of steps.  In my opinion, the initial steps should be small, subtle and unrushed.  At all times, it should be the individual and not the force of society that decides on the most comfortable pace to progress.  Again the reason for the use of the word “earn” is extremely deliberate because it suggests a transaction of other actions to eventually received the privilege of the next step.  Perhaps these actions will come from self-reflection or partner discussion.  Regardless it puts the idea of process to the forefront rather than bravado or shame.  So whether you’ve lost it already or not, perhaps consider the idea of changing the language around first sexual encounters.  Maybe the shift in wording will change the way that we think and that might be enough.

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Instead…

CoachingI’d like to blame Google because it would be so extremely easy to do.  However blame doesn’t really solve anything and this was a problem long before Google even existed.

When searching for something in the modern world though, Google is “the” place to go.  After the search is done, the results come in and there are usually thousands or even millions of them.  The problem is that most of us only look at the top result (after bypassing the ads made to look like results).  Finding a satisfactory result is “quick and easy”.  Isn’t that the way that we want all things to be?  Not hardly.  I don’t want my surgeon’s training to be quick and easy.  Every situation is different and we should want different parameters for what we’re looking for from each.  Unfortunately “quick and easy” seems to have become an almost societal norm.  In my usual arena of soccer, the desire for a quick and easy result is desired by many but rarely does that garner best results.

Let’s take some of the usual situations from the soccer world and break them loose from the quick and easy solution.  Possibly if we dig a little deeper, we’ll find that a slower and more difficult solution will have result that we should really want.

Game Time!  Your child is not getting the amount of playing time that you believe that they deserve.  If you decide to go the quick and easy route, you’ve got some options open.  Move them to another team.  Spend an hour crafting the perfectly worded email to the coach that will both highlight your child’s strengths and not question the coach’s past decisions.  Hire a trainer to sharpen your child’s skills to the point where they will not be denied.  These are all employed with regularity.  So much so that they are viewed as common practice.

Perhaps the uncommon practice would actually have a better result.  Use the hours that you would have used to email, search for a new team or working a second job to pay the trainer and do something different.  Go with your child to an open space and kick the ball with them.  You don’t need to do it well.  You don’t even need to do it right.  Actually it is probably better if you don’t know what you’re doing!  It will give your child the opportunity to be an “expert” on something that you aren’t.  Regardless of whether this activity results in any additional playing time on the weekend doesn’t matter.  The game that you are playing when you are a parent, isn’t the quick and easy variety.  It is the long and fulfilling type.  Recognizing the game that you actually want to win rather than the game that is being noticed by most.

Red card!  Every referee that you encounter is horrible.  The quick and easy path has several options attached to it.  Berate the referee at every perceived wrong call.  If there is an evaluation process available to you, employ it with fervor.  Or when you are really upset, confront them personally.  These are also common place and therefore accepted.

The uncommon practice is going to be far more difficult.  Saving your breath from the derisive comments and use it to power a whistle.  Take the courses and raise the level of refereeing because obviously with your extensive sideline knowledge, you’d be very good at that job.  This type of action could save the game because unless a change like this happens, who will be the referees of the future?  The constant abuse that referees receive will continue to result in an exodus from the profession.  In the end this is not the only area where people are willing to complain from the sidelines but less likely to step into the fray.  Our world has an almost infinite supply of spectators.  People willing to act are in much shorter supply.

As you live your daily life, you’re going to be confronted with all kinds of decisions.  Sometimes the quick and easy or common paths are just fine.  It may be time to decide if “just fine” is good enough or looking for better results is in our best interest.  There are many levels beyond just fine that we can reach.  The key is that we must be willing to search.  They are rarely going to be the decisions that everyone else is making.   You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.  You can do something else INSTEAD!

Make it a better day!

Pete

 

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I’m Afraid to Try

“You don’t want to get mixed up with a guy like me.  I’m loner Dottie, A REBEL!” -Pee Wee Herman (Pee Wee’s Big Adventure)

DannyZukoThis line is from the quite ridiculous but still entertaining Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.  And it was co-opted by the band The Get Up Kids as a song title in the 90’s.  The song outlines one perspective of a short term love affair where the singer refuses to give the relationship a chance.  In his own words, “because I’m afraid to try.”  It’s an old story that probably precedes Danny Zuko in Grease.  Boy meets girl.  Boy likes girls.  Boy wants to leave while things are still fun and casual because a relationship is just too much work.

It’s applicable to so many things but relationships are possibly the easiest target.  In a world where Tinder and OkCupid are facilitators of the present dating scene, this mindset will probably get more widespread.  The fast and easy wins out over the slow build (which is perceived as a grind).  Of course this is only perception.  Reality holds millions of possibilities.  For many, a life with one person is a much more joyous existence than the shallowness of singles life.  Regardless of which way you lean, it’s not really the point.  The point is the actual words.  “I’m afraid to try!”  It’s not, “I’m afraid to commit!” or “I’m afraid that I’ll get hurt!”  It’s “I’m afraid to try!”

This is probably the most dangerous thing that I see from not just young people but people in general.  There is a fear of trying.  Putting yourself out there has the perception of being difficult.  And in the younger generation, it is chastised because for some reason “try hard” is now an insult.  Much like nerd or geek of the past, this is a completely idiotic strategy as a culture.  Demean those who excel in order to make the average feel better about themselves.  (But I digress)  The thing is that people have become so accustomed to guarantees that effort toward an unknown is just too scary.  There’s no point in following a rainbow because a pot of gold is not waiting for us.

It’s time to buck the trend.  TRYING (no offense to Yoda!) is often the point.  Finding our limits.  Pressing up against what is possible.  Discovering new territory is exactly the point!  Imagine where we would be if through history, we were this risk averse.  We’d be dead!  Hunters wouldn’t have had any assurances of catching any prey, so why go out to hunt?

Your survival and progress as human being depends on THE TRY!  So go out there today with the intention and determination to try.  It doesn’t need to be something monumental.  It just needs to be outside of your comfort zone.  An experiment, an attempt, a risk, a small gamble.  That’s the only way to move forward.  One little try at a time.  And I’ll suggest that you deny the teenage ridicule by TRYING HARD!

Have a great day people!

Pete

 

 

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If Everyone Is Limping, Stop Going for the Knees!

wnn_kerrigan_140106_wgThe 90s had many memorable events and people.  Kurt Cobain, the OJ Simpson trial, Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton were all extremely noteworthy.  Both for their own unique reasons and the media circus that followed them.  It was not just that something happened but that it was perpetuated daily for probably longer than needed.  One of the most ridiculous stories of the decade was the ice skating scandal involving rivals Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding.  For those too young to remember, the major event was an attack on Kerrigan’s knee orchestrated at least partially by Harding’s ex-husband.  There was a movie released last year called “I, Tonya” that chronicles the entire episode.

Reality had to happen first in this case because even Hollywood could not have come up with a story as far fetched as this.  It’s easy to look back at a time that was truly “last century” and chuckle.  It’s no surprise that from such a chaotic decade sprang reality television.  A weekly public reminder that even though your life might have problems, you can feel good about yourself in comparison to “those people”.

Seeing the problem is always so much easier when it belongs to someone else.  Each of us has within ourselves the solutions to the problems of our friends and family members.  However we all struggle with our own issues that seem so difficult.  Time and distance both seem to have a clarifying effect on the problems of the world.

I’m sure that if the issue of youth soccer politics were someone else’s, each of us would have a plausible solution.  Since it’s now and it’s close to us, the issues of last decade persist with even higher price tags.  Children are pawns and commodities in a game that has nothing to do with soccer but rather egos and territoriality.  This coming fall, an unknown number of player who want to play soccer will not have a team.  Not due to a lack of resources.  Not due an insurmountable distance to travel.  The deciding factor will be a focus on “our club” rather than the kids.  These players end up being acceptable casualties to a soccer culture that is focused on prizes that are apparent and available now.

In so many ways we are now reaping the rewards of our fast food culture.  Rampant obesity, depression, anxiety and others are all symptoms of the NOW culture that we’ve begun to accept as normal.   Even though many people recognize that the ultimate prizes come from long term commitment to small improvements made over years or decades, it is so much easier to sell the cash grab of today.  Risking that small and almost insignificant prize of the short term seems to be almost unbearable.

US26_LogoSo I implore you.  Yep!  I’m talking directly to you because as I said last week, if the USMNT doesn’t win a World Cup by/in 2026, It’s my fault!  So I need some help.  If you have anything to do with youth soccer in this country.  Take the long term view.  See how more kids playing is better for them and better for “US”.  Understand that letting your best player move on to a more appropriate team may hurt your record slightly but it could also be the opportunity that makes that player’s life better, both on and off the field. Realize that your small pond is not actually a pond.  It’s part of a more expansive body.  Trying to keep it separate is an exercise in futility and may cause its destruction when the wrong current comes along.  BE the first person to do the right thing.  It’s often difficult because there is a culture of short sightedness.  People are so used to being hurt that they are either on attack or defense, rarely in a mode to assess.  And more than ever that’s what needs to happen.

I’m sure if this was someone else’s problem, we’d have it all figured out but it’s not.  It’s ours and it’s close to our hearts.  So we get blinded by the shiny thing that’s right in front of us but I swear the bigger jewels are down the road.  The hardest part is foregoing the prize of now because it feels like everything.

US26

Pete

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Creating Your Origin Story

Spider-man-origins-1-1024x512They are everywhere at the moment.  With the explosion of the Marvel movies, Silicon Valley startups and overnight superstars plucked from the internet; origin stories are all around us.  All of them, to a certain extent, are made up.  The comic book authors crafted those of the super heroes.  The others that exist in the real world cannot tell the story of every little thing that happened.  So they have to delete and adjust to a narrative that aligns with how they want to be seen by the outside world or by themselves.  Since all origin stories are created in one fashion or another, it may be helpful for your daily life to fashion your own.  Not pluck it out of thin air but rather weave some real events of your life in with a narrative that propels you forward.

My origin story goes something like this.  When I was 12 years old, soccer was definitely my fall sport.  However at that time, the term “travel soccer” had not really grabbed hold.  In fact, this was the first year in which my town participated in what we referred to as “spring soccer”.  My younger brother was going to play for the spring team at his age group and my father was going to help coach.  Unfortunately I had either missed the tryouts for my age group or there just weren’t any.  Regardless, the first day of practice came along for my brother’s team.  They were sharing a field with the team for age group right above mine.  I knew most of the players from school.  Although the team was already formed, I decided that I was going to get onto that team.  At that moment, I did the only thing that I could think of to get the attention of the coach.  I RAN!  Rather than sitting and watching my brother’s practice, I started running laps around the field where they were practicing.    For the entire 90 minute practice, I kept running around the field.  When my father and brother were finished, we packed up and went home.  Some time around 9pm the phone rang.  It was the coach of that older team, they wanted me to play for the team.  That was the beginning of who I became.  Someone willing to go the distance and use unique solutions to problems.

If you notice as you read that story, it all fits together relatively well.  It’s been 30 years since those events and I could not tell you definitively if that story is 100% accurate.  All of those events definitely happened.  However I’m not sure if there was a player who broke their leg, so they needed someone else.  Perhaps the call from the coach came a week later.  In the end, those detail DO NOT MATTER.  What truly matters is that the story fits my beliefs about who I am and who I want to be.  The event was chosen but the story was “created” because I want to see myself in a particular way.  I have millions of other events that have happened in my life.  I could have easily chosen to create my origin story using a huge failure and rehearsed an excuse around why I could never be a success because of “that thing that happened”.  People do it all the time.  The question that is most important for me about origin stories is, does it serve you?  Is your origin story going to make you or break you?

If it is not going to help, then change it!  Your life story is not objective truth.  It is a jumble of memories that have been given varying degrees of clarity and importance.  So decide on a moment in your life that can act as a catapult for the days that are coming.  It doesn’t need to be something from your childhood.  It could be this moment right now!  “I read this great blogpost about origin stories and I didn’t like mine.  So right then and there I decided that I was going to take action.  I….”  One of the main things about life is how you feel about yourself when you are alone and have a moment to reflect.  If you don’t feel good about yourself, then change your story.  Even Darth Vader was able to redeem himself, why can’t you?

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Better F%#$ Ups

cropped-hurykunlimitedlogolarge1Over the next week, I just plan to have better f%#$ ups.  As humans the question isn’t whether or not we’re going to F%#$ up, it’s going to happen.  Many of us spend so much time trying to avoid F%#$ing up so much that we never truly move forward.  So for this week, an experiment!  I’m not going to try to F%#$ up less.  I’m going to try to F%#$ up better!  Realizing that perfection is not a viable option, I am going to embrace the F%#$ ups in order to move from a humiliating strike out to a foul tip and see how far I can push it.  Always with the thought in mind that I’m swinging for the fences.

Thanks for the support!

Pete

self-reliance, Uncategorized

The Latest Version

IMG_3647
It’s so common to us that we are almost blind to it at this point.  The release of the latest version of something.  Whether it’s a car, an app for the phone or a video game; the old version is eventually replaced by the latest version.  Sometimes this comes with huge upgrades that revolutionize the way that we think about the product.  Other times it messes up something that was working to our liking.  The thing is that even if we don’t see the changes, they’re happening all the time.

It’s so much easier to understand with technology especially.  The cellphone does not change shape or size when you add a new app or update it.  It simply acquires the new programming and moves on.  Often bugs need to be fixed but I’m pretty certain that Bill Gates does not lament the fact that Windows 7.1 was not as good as Windows 10.2.  There is an understanding that each new version is intended to build upon the past.

In a very similar way, here you are.  Version 2018.193 of yourself.  You may look at yourself as the same person that you’ve always been but that’s most definitely not true.  You’ve learned new things since version 2015.125 (after the decimal is the number of days past in that year).  The question becomes whether or not you want to just maintain what is working or truly upgrade.  Unlike Windows, you’re not going to be rereleased.  Your bug fixes and big upgrades have to all happen at the same time.  AND YOU ARE THE LEAD DEVELOPER!  Only you can make changes to the system.

So what is the latest version of you going to look like?  Is it just like today’s you but with a few more miles worn off the treads?  I hope not.  I hope that you believe that you are capable of a big jump.  A leap from the version that you are today to the version that you’ve always wanted to be.  My hope is that you’re making the plans and putting in the code to launch yourself to a whole new level.  So that people who haven’t seen you in a while will take notice to the fact that the latest version of you is a huge upgrade!

Upgrade today!

Pete