Blogpost

Five-O-U

50UThere are plenty of nicknames for the police.  The most common comes from the city of Chicago where the badges were made out of copper.  So eventually the name “copper” became associated with the job.  That of course got shortened to the word “Cop”.  Whether it is the fuzz, popo, Five – O or any other version, the code is usually developed by someone who is doing something wrong and trying to hide the discussion of the over-watching force.  So with all of that code in mind, it is probably time to Five – O – U.

In a combination of code for police and text speech, I’m suggesting that you police yourself.  It’s easy to put the responsibility onto someone or something else.  Police, parents, teachers, trainers, coaches and so many other overseers can be used to keep us away from our lesser self.  However the only person that is there 24/7/365 is YOU!  So the absolute best person to put on watch is you….”BUT THAT’S HARD!” I can hear it now.  The cries from the people that are only half committed scream through the silence of inaction.  Somehow we delude ourselves into believing that the time when we’re on our own counts less or not at all.  Those calories don’t count, the skipped reps or workouts don’t count, the lies that I tell myself or others about what I’ve done or not done DON’T Count!  This is at least partially true because in many cases our internal police have been asleep on the job for so long, they don’t even recognize the things that should count.

So the challenge has been put forth, Five – O – U!  Police yourself!  You’re the one who reaps all of the rewards and pays all of the prices.  If there are people who care more about your results than you do, take a long hard look at what you’re doing because there is an imbalance somewhere.  Remember that you can only control one person in this world and you should!

Make today great because you can!

Pete

self-reliance

Prove It!

Geometry was probably one of the easiest classes for me in high school.  Despite its relative ease, I had trouble staying engaged with it.  I found it tedious to give all of the reasons why something was true.  It was usually pretty obvious whether a problem was going to withstand the scrutiny of the different theorems that we were learning at the time.  So it seemed like a relative waste to my teenage self to write out all of the steps in proving or disproving a problem.  Especially when the answers (to the odd problems usually) were in the back of the book.

In our every day lives, there aren’t a lot of ‘proofs’ to be done.  Very few things are black and white.  So regardless of how SURE you are of your argument, there’s someone out there with the exact same information screaming the opposite (just think of our present political situation).  So if we have nothing to prove, maybe the aim should be to improve.

Although there are few cold hard truths that we encounter daily, we do have a sense of who we are personally and what it is that we want for ourselves.  So recognize the fact that you have nothing to prove.  Even if you were to prove something, the circumstances of tomorrow may wipe away the thing that your proved today.  However, each day we have the ability to improve.  In small and subtle ways, it is possible for you to see progress in yourself, your life and your circumstances.  Almost nothing about you is going to stand the test of time like Pythagoras’ Theorem.  That does not mean that your life is meaningless.  You are a sand castle that can be improved and enjoyed for the time that it exists.  Get digging and sculpting because when the tide comes in, you’ll wish that you had!

Have a great day!

Pete

 

self-reliance

The Boy Who Cried Wolf (Revisited)

BoywhocriedwolfCautionary tales like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” seem to be less prevalent than in the past.  Perhaps that is just my perception or my own implementation of life lessons to my kids.  I remember exactly who told me this story and for what reason.  It had the desired effect.  In third grade, I would frequently “not feel well” in order to be sent down to the nurse’s office.  Once my visits became frequent enough, the nurse recounted the story of the boy who cried wolf.  My visits to her office became more legitimate.

Although the moral of the story is extremely clear, it might be worth a revisit because it could go further.  In the end, the boy gets hurt because the townspeople don’t believe him.  His dishonesty lead  to pain because it short-circuited the system that was intended to protect him.  While this moral has served me and countless others well, let’s go further.

The boy not only put himself in peril, he also robbed himself.  He robbed himself of the experience of watching how the townspeople dealt with wolves.  His deception was a short term diversion that took away his long term solution.  If he had been diligent in his duties, he may have seen that scaring off the wolves was something that he could eventually do on his own.  Developing this skill set over time could have saved his life in the future.

This revisited moral is possibly even more useful than the original now.  The world is full of alarms, warning devices and security systems that keep us safe from “wolf attacks”.  However with all of this “protection” are we going to be ready to act when things go sideways.  If we are always providing our young people with a “safe space”, will they know how to handle themselves when real dangers show up?  Hope is not a strategy.  Hoping that the systems in place will be enough to cover all eventualities actually leaves those on the inside helpless.  So don’t hope that nothing will happen, take steps to prepare for those possibilities.

Systems can be great and it is completely fine that we depend on them, until it’s not.  Following the credo of the Boy Scouts, “be prepared!”  You don’t know what is coming in your future but if you never consider what’s possible in either the positive or the negative, then you’re bound to be unprepared.    We’ve all got exactly one objective in life: FCO (Figure Crap Out!).  That’s it!  You don’t deserve a problem free life.  You can only create one.  Not by eradicating all problems but by preparing for so many eventualities that you’re never caught by surprise!

Get ready people!

Pete

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Secret Admirers

IMG_3202It’s Valentine’s Day!  One of my most memorable Valentine’s Days was in my sophomore year of high school.  At the time, I was single but not completely happy about that situation.  So it came as a huge but welcome surprise that I received two red carnations in homeroom.  The card didn’t say who they were from.  It just said, “Someone loves you!”  The rest of that day, I spent trying to figure out who could have sent them.  I’ll fully admit that I had a slight strut to my step throughout school.  My hope was that my secret admirer would reveal herself by the end of the day.  Unfortunately she did not.

So I went home and later that evening my mom asked me, “Did you get the flowers that I sent you?”  I was crestfallen to say the least.  I remember getting on my mom’s case about sending red carnations rather than pink or white.  But in all honesty it should not have mattered.  At the time I didn’t have the confidence or worldview to realize what I know now.  So if you’re one of those people lamenting “Singles Recognition Day”, take some time to consider my perspective.

If you are interested in eventually being in a relationship, recognize that you have a secret admirer someplace.  Perhaps you actually have someone that’s interested in you that you just don’t know about their feelings.  I know that I’ve found out after the fact several times.  Or there is someone out there who is looking for someone like you and they just haven’t found you yet.  And the final but toughest one to face is that perhaps you’re not a good enough version of yourself yet to attract that person you want.  THAT’S HARSH!  But may be completely accurate.

I went to high school with my wife and we did not date until after graduating college.  This was probably the best thing that could have happened.  If we had dated in high school, I doubt we would have ended up together.  I had to become a much better caliber of person in those years, so that I could attract someone like my wife.  My hope, in high school, was that someone was secretly watching and thought I was great.  In reality, I needed to work on being great so that someone great would be watching.

So if you’re not there yet and you’re lamenting your single life, write yourself a letter.  Write down a description of your ideal person.  Describe them in every small detail that you can.  Then write down who you need to become in order to deserve a person like that.  Once you’ve written them both down, put the description of your ideal person in an envelope and seal it.  Write next year’s Valentine’s Day’s date on it.  Take the description of who you need to become someplace where you’ll read it regularly.  If you follow through with this, I’m sure that you’ll be happy with the results regardless if you’re single next year.

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Bathroom Logic

IMG_2726To my toilet, I’m either a dick or asshole.  To my shower, I’m varying degrees of dirty.  To my mirror, I’m vain or self-obsessed.  And you can just imagine what the toilet paper thinks of me.  All of these perspectives are completely accurate but taken from a narrow view

Each day we live our lives and show particular sides of ourselves to people.  None of them is 100% accurate but also they are not 100% inaccurate.  We cannot control other people’s perception of us.  That is in their control.  What’s within our control are the actions that we take and the words that we use.

I’m completely comfortable with my toilet thinking of me as an asshole.  However that’s not the message that I want to send to everyone.  Being the person that you want people to see takes effort and forethought.  Decide to give your best to the people who matter.  That way you know they’ll be there when you’re at your worst.

Have a great day people.

Pete

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Transparencies

transparencyAt one point in my educational career, transparencies were the height of technology.  By today’s standards they are obsolete but at the time they were extremely helpful.  The ability to manipulate and project for a group to see was used daily.  My most vivid memories of them were from history class.  A territory could be shown with a variety of borders and other influencers.  Depending on the transparency that was placed onto the territory, a force like the Roman Empire could be all encompassing or completely inconsequential.  The territory was always the same but the translucent lines of borders and boundaries changed.  Even though the transparency projectors have all but disappeared, the influence of invisible and imaginary lines has not.

They are truly all around us, the transparent lines that often direct our lives.  The boundary lines, goal lines, bottom lines, traffic lines and party lines are subtly informing our every day experience.  So many different ways that we can choose to box ourselves in or direct our movement by using these lines.  The issue comes when the lines become walls that imprison.

Many of us have constructs that we have developed or have been developed for us.  Some are almost invisible until we look for them.  For example you are reading this blog in English.  If it is your first language, it changes the way that you look at the world compared to other languages.  A simple sentence like “I dropped the plate.” illustrates the point.  There is an underlying sense of responsibility attached to action because of the subject “I”.  Conversely the Spanish representation of the situation, “Se me cayó el plato.” literally translates to “The plate fell from me.”   For better or worse, the influence of simple things such as this can monumental and often taken for granted.  So the first step is to recognize as many of the lines that are influencing you as you can.  Then decide what makes sense.

When you peel back the layers of transparencies from your life, you will most likely find things that you’ve taken for granted that just don’t make sense.  Driving on the right side of the road may be a useful constraint to keep.  However there are probably others that can be amended or dropped in order to better service you in the pursuit of what you want today.  Perhaps you’ve always believed that you’re not smart, that planning isn’t important, that sex is REALLY important, that you need to make it on your own or a million other things.  Maybe you’ll keep most of your beliefs but it is worth the examination to see if you’ve painted yourself into a corner with beliefs that don’t make sense anymore.  If you want to be a millionaire but think that making minimum wage is the best you can do, you’ve got a problem.  Do the lines that you’ve painted for yourself point you in the direction that you want to be going?

img_1844Physically, mentally and emotionally; what do you believe about yourself, people and the world?  Write it down in your notebook, iPhone, laptop or anything else that works for you.  Then pick through it to see what you’re keeping, tweaking or tossing.  It’s up to you to clean up whatever mess you might have.  If you’re honest in your assessment, you’ll be able to see through the person that you need to read better than anyone else: yourself.

Go get your hands dirty boys and girls!

Pete

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The Air Conditioning Farce

heatIn these hot summer days of New Jersey, an air conditioned house, store or office is a sanctuary.  Relief from the pounding heat and humidity seems as if it is a necessity.  I often think about our “pre-AC” ancestors and how they reacted to days like this.  Most likely, they had to be slightly more intelligent about breaks, shade and water.  The prospect of artificial cool was long off in the future.  Like so many of our modern conveniences, the advancement of technology seems to come attached to a double result: the desired effect and it’s opposite.

An air conditioner is thought of as a cooling mechanism, unless you visit the back end of the unit.  There you will realize that the AC unit is producing almost as much heat as cold.  So the cool factor is for a selected space and temporary.  When the heat and cool reunite, the entire equation is most likely a wash.   The effect for us as the recipients is not particularly a wash.  The perception of cool and hot becomes skewed.  While we have in theory “beaten the heat” by creating air conditioning, we’ve made ourselves less able to adapt to it when it is thrust upon us.  This inverse relationship is evident in many areas.  The internet has connected us all but we are losing our ability to communicate.  Everyone has a phone in their pocket but people are talking less.  We have more information than ever about the human body and how it works best but obesity and diabetes are rampant.  It is as if we have forgotten something that could bring us back to the center.  The thing that we have forgotten is that we are animals.  Specifically we are mammals who were intended to find an equilibrium with our surroundings in order to survive.

The technological advances that we have created have brought us off of our center where we feel like we need to adapt.  The world is supposed to adapt to us, right?  Not quite, when we forget our heritage, not too subtle reminders will be visited upon us.  So my message is pretty simple: Find out, without!  Find out who you are without all of the gadgets that you use to cause comfort.  Think, plan and execute some time in an outdoor environment that slightly tests who you are as a human animal.  An overnight hike, a day without air conditioning, a period of time with no cell phone or any other exercise that allows you to come back to a natural center.  (Yes!  I realize that I’m asking you to unplug while writing an article over the internet.  Hypocrisy?  Only if I did this without doing what I prescribe.)

So find out, without!  Find out whether or not you can have a face to face conversation with one of your Facebook friends.  Find out if you really would shrivel up in this heat or do you just need to have a plan for hydration and find shade.  The human animal has conquered this world and found now that his biggest adversary is himself.  Don’t get crushed by your comfort!

See you along the path!

Pete

 

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Temporary Real Estate

RealEstateA plot of sand at the beach, deck chairs at the pool, a spot in line, a seat toward the back of the class and hundreds of other locations are the temporary spots that we mark out for ourselves.  They are important to us only as long as we need them.  Although we know that they are just for now, we defend them and sometimes ruthlessly.  The territoriality of humans and the individually made rules associated with it are complex and seemingly inherent.  We want to have a space to call our own and defend it with fervor.

This phenomena was on full display for me in the past few days when I visited three different amusement parks.  The defensiveness of the space is heightened as the density of people increases.  Also the perceived stakes of the space comes into play heavily.  The value that the individual puts on the space is largely influenced by the scarcity of the “prize” that the space provides.  People waiting in line for entrance into the park are much more defensive than the people in the wave pool waiting to get hit by a wave.  Although it is all temporary, the ownership feels very real.

Ultimately almost all of our space is temporary and will eventually belong to someone else.  Houses, apartments, cars and even our burial plots will eventually belong to another person, creature or to nature itself.  Despite our very temporary hold on these forms of real estate, we spend time protecting and preserving them as if they were indefinite.  There is one place only you will ever own.  Yet many people allow easy access to this space as if it were just a blanket on the beach.

Your mind is your own and will be as long as you defend it.  Like holding your place in line, you need to be aware of those who are trying to sneak in.  Much like the owner of a house who has teenage children, you must be aware of people that you trust having a party at your expense.  No one will care for this space as much as you.  So mark your territory!  Be aware of who is allowed in and who needs to be kept out.  This is your real estate, don’t put it up for auction.

Have a great day!

Pete

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Yesterday Man

Yesterday man was strong, intelligent and lauded.  He could have run for days, lifted 100 pounds or more over his head and knew better than most of his contemporaries.  The unfortunate thing is that he has lost all of his powers.  In the present day, Yesterday Man is just a shadow, a myth that gets brought up from time to time.  All that he left behind was Today Man.

Today man looks a lot like Yesterday Man but not as swift and sure.  He has to grind out the problems of the day in order to build on Yesterday Man’s legacy.  The choices he makes are difficult and he cannot even be sure if they’re right.  If only Yesterday Man were here!

Today will quickly become your yesterday and that process never stops.  Although your today was built on the foundation of your yesterdays, today is the only day that you have.  Make it great, be that superhero that you’ll want to talk about in 10 years.

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Be a Definite Article

Salisbury 1994
Salisbury 1994

In my freshman college dorm, I was known as “Soccer Pete”.  The reason for the name was pretty obvious.  There was another guy named Pete who lived in Pocomoke Hall and it cut down on the confusion.  Since I was on the soccer team and mildly obsessed with the sport, it stuck.  The nickname spread to the point that when I would meet new people, I sometimes heard “Oh you’re ‘Soccer Pete'”.  This all happened organically and through no influence of mine.  However I knew the importance of standing out from one of my soccer coaches earlier that summer.

My coach, Tom Zingale, had a successful soccer career and was trying out for the United States Olympic team.  On the first day of tryouts, each player was given a white uniform and a red uniform.  Tom knew the competition was going to be tough on the field, so he did something to make himself stand out on  the field.  He did his laundry right away!  This was a stroke of genius!  The reason that it was brilliant was that he washed his red uniform and white uniform together.  His red uniform’s colors ran and turned the white one pink.  So when Tom stepped out on the field, he looked like walking cotton candy.  The other trialists  gave him plenty of inventive nicknames but at the end of the tryout he had the last laugh.  He made the team and in a conversation with the coach it became obvious to all that his strategy had worked.

Coach: “We’ll need to find someone to help you with your laundry.”

Tom: “I know how to do laundry.”

Coach: “Yeah right!  Then why is your uniform pink?

Tom: “What’s my name?”

Coach: “You’re…..”

In that silence it became evident that Tom had made himself standout.  Now obviously if he had no soccer skill, then his plan would have failed.  However with the right combination of skill and individuality, he was able to get exactly what he was after.

So my suggestion to you is to be a definite article!  Be THE one that people think about when they think of your thing.  This should be a combination of skill and individuality.  Make yourself the undeniable choice for one reason or another.  DO NOT JUST DRESS UP IN PINK unless that’s you’re thing.  You can stand out by being the definitive best in your field.  Being the only one who is using technology to solve problems in your industry may be your way to standout.  Own it completely and be comfortable with the choice to be you.  This may include having to say “I’m not for you.”  Punk rock is my favorite type of music.  When given the choice, it is THE one that I pick most often.  However it’s not for everyone and embracing that fact is better than being a watered-down version of everyone else.  So go out today, in your work, in your relationship and in your life and be THE YOU that you want to be.  The world won’t know that they were looking for that you until you’ve shown up!

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