Blogpost, self-reliance

Am I Good? Is the Wrong Question

TestThe spring season brings rejuvenation and tryouts.  Soccer tryouts, hockey tryouts and I’m sure many others.  The constant evaluation of players is now a cultural norm.  While it may seem like a necessary evil, it is our job as the adults or forward thinkers to ensure that it doesn’t become pure evil in the mind of a young player.  The constant question can go swirling through their head “Am I good?”  While it may be a common question, it is probably the wrong question.

Comparison is all around us.  There are grades, likes, follows, rankings and so many other ways to compare people and anything else.  Some of them are objective and others completely subjective.  They are easy to focus upon because they feel real.  A sense of power and prestige can be derived from comparison but the opposite is also true.  It is often easier to feel powerless and insignificant because we are usually comparing our worst with our projection of other people.  Neither of these pictures is completely accurate but the feeling of inequity can be overwhelming.  So we often look for validation from others, such as coaches, teachers, parents or others with the question, “Am I good?”  The answer is never going to satisfy in the long term.  It becomes a button that needs to be hit every so often to keep things in balance.  Multiple choice is not your friend in most instances.

Although most people avoided them in school, it is two open ended questions that allow for a more compelling look at one’s self.  “How am I better than I used to be?”  “How can I progress forward?”  Both questions are asked with a leaning toward positive self discovery.  Our brains are an amazing piece of machinery that will answer almost any question that we ask of it, even if it needs to make the answer up.  Consistently asking “Am I good?” will inevitably lead to plenty of instances where the answer will be “No” because metric and competition change frequently.  However by asking the open ended questions, the question sends a subtle signal that in some small way you are better than you were.  Also there are ways to progress forward if you’re willing to look for them.

These are obviously not the only questions that can be asked.  They are simply two examples that can break the comparison chain.  Done consistently, proactive questions like these can be life altering because we are evaluating ourselves and our lives continuously.  Wouldn’t it be better to stack the deck in your favor?

Have a great day!

Pete

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

Blogpost

You’re a Plane, Not a Helicopter!

takeoffI have a friend who has pretty strong anxiety about flying.  It’s actually not so much the flying but specifically the taking off and the landing.  Proximity to the ground is the cause for most of the anxiety because hitting it in some unwanted fashion would be a real bummer.  I’m not sure how she would deal with riding in a helicopter.  With the liftoff being so instantaneous when compared with a plane, I’m not sure if it would be easier or harder to deal with.  I’ve never been in a helicopter but my guess is that the sensation of it is very different.  Since I’ve never been in a helicopter, I just assume that most people haven’t been either.

Despite that fact it seems as though people have a generalized desire for the Helicopter experience in their lives and work.  The overwhelming feeling that I get (and sometimes have) is that success should require effort for sure but then you just lift off from there.  While I recognize this is irrational, it does not stop people from wanting it.  The lottery winner type story seems almost ingrained in our consciousness to the point that it overrides our rational brain.  So it is time to embrace the fact that we need a runway.  As humans, we’re generally not going to reach the heights of our potential in a “straight up” way.

As you go out into the world to make big things happen, realize that you need to build a runway.  Reaching the highest heights is difficult when you’re running into trees, rocks and walls.  You need to clear a path for yourself to take off.  This may take a finding a new location or lots of elbow grease.  Regardless, building a good runway is better for the process of your takeoff rather than expecting your plane to be a helicopter.  The world tends to work in specific ways, so lay the groundwork and eventually you’ll be “ready for takeoff”.

Enjoy your flight!

Pete

Uncategorized

The Anatomy of a Cup

CupCups are an everyday thing that we rarely take much notice of.  They are a utility that must have a few very simple features.  They need to have walls of some sort and a bottom.  Without the bottom, it is just a cylinder.  The bottom is the essence of the cup.  It does not have to sit flush to the table.  It can be raised to any height within the walls that the designer wants.  Tops are completely optional.  Sometimes they are useful but the majority of cups have no need for a top.

It can be helpful to have a bottom in life as well.  A set of standards that you will not go below.  This bottom should not be a goal but a mental barrier that as you approach it, you start to build back up.  Upward movement creates space and the possibility of raising the bottom.  Cap the downside first.

In life and cups, tops are optional.  If you’ve put a limit on what you can be, do or accomplish, flip your perspective and use that top as your bottom.  Cap the downside first.  Perhaps you’ve already done this or maybe you just think that you have.  Regardless having a bottom to your cup is much more important than putting a top on it.  Stay away from the bottom and keep testing if there is a top.

Redefine the top today!

Pete

 

Uncategorized

Better Mediocrity

mediocreMediocre means “ordinary, average, middle-of-the-road, unexceptional, lackluster and forgettable.”  In many ways, I would put myself in the category of mediocre.  I’m 5 foot 9 inches tall and weigh 190 pounds.  My bench press and squat numbers are nothing impressive.  I got a 1060 on my SATs (the old version).  My yearly income is nothing to “write home about”.  By most accounts, I am pretty mediocre.

The thought of mediocrity has been one that has entered my mind several times over the past year.  The realization of my own mediocrity was nothing new.  I have little chance to become exceptional in most areas.  Even for my age, the benchmarks of excellence are pretty high.  This divide creates a chasm that stagnates improvement.  With the possibility of excellence off the table, it is easy to see why so many people lose their drive.  However it is actually in this chasm that I believe we actually have the greatest of societal opportunities.  As a collective (Athletes, Americans, Humans), we can choose to strive for better mediocrity.

In the past, I have written about the “Bannister Effect” and how the breaking of new ground creates possibilities for others to follow.  That is a concept that I still endorse wholeheartedly.  However as I thought about my own mediocrity, I came to realize that we need a “second wave”.  There must be another push from the middle.  The outliers pulling forward will only have an effect on those that are close to their level.  For example, the 10s only pull the 9s forward but the effect is almost unnoticeable by the time that it reaches the critical mass in the middle.

This second wave needs to be created as an individual and a  collective undertaking.  The mediocre individual competes for the most part with himself.  Improving with a partially selfish desire to take a step up one rung on the ladder.  Despite this selfish motivation, the individual also recognizes his membership of a collective (Athletes, Americans, Humans).  The “mediocre Americans” are getting better.  The middle of the road changes from 5 to 7 and there is a pride in self and the collective.

Better mediocrity would change so many things about our lives and expectations.  Perhaps mediocre would no longer be a slight insult but rather an identifiable force pushing the forerunners to greater excellence.  If you happen to be mediocre, choose to be better mediocre!

Pete