Tag Archives: books

The Latest Version

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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

The Javelin Thrower

lance-150317_960_720This story comes directly from a dream that I just had.  I was brought in to help a javelin thrower with some issues that he was having.  Despite his great potential that everyone could see, he was underachieving and plagued by injuries.  As we started to talk about his issues, we walking near a lake.  He was confused and upset by all of the issues that he was having.  As he talked, he picked up a stone and hurled it into the lake.  His words became more heated as he described his disappointment in his lack of progress.  Another stone farther into the lake.  Then his disappointment turned to anger as he focused in on how many opportunities he’d wasted.  Stone lake farther.  In a crescendo of shouts and rage, he picked up a rock larger than all of the stones that he’d hurled so far.  With three steps forward and a shout of “why?”, he threw the rock as far as he could but it did not reach the water.  He winced slightly in pain and stared at his failed effort.  I woke up.

Everything was a javelin.  He had taken his own existence and reduced it down to one thing.  Nothing else mattered.  Farther, stronger, better.  These were the ways that he was judging himself.   It was not that he was on a path of progress that would get him to: farther, stronger, better but rather that those were metrics.

Measuring yourself by metrics is not always a negative thing.  There are all kinds of things that we can use to quantify aspects of our lives: grades, weight, time, distance and many others.  The issue comes from using those measurements as a punishment device rather than a measuring stick.  Dissatisfaction with where you are because it is not where you’ll be is a recipe for disaster.  The process of living is just that, a process.  Each step has inherent value as it leads you toward your destination or destiny.  To devalue the step because it is not the destination is devaluing the destination.  Because in the end you have sacrificed all of those steps for a moment.  The joy of accomplishment is compounded when the process is enjoyed.

So go out there today and pursue something that you love.  But pursue it with the joy of a child chasing a butterfly, not the angst of a man paying his taxes.  Most of life is the process, so enjoy it!

Pete

Bubbles and Boxes

BubblesMan has created several “boxes” to travel in. They have been created to make certain types of travel quicker and safer. The most literal box is the elevator. It makes travel between floors of a building faster. In the beginning there was danger of cables breaking or other malfunctions but elevators have become ever faster and safer over the years. We have several other boxes, which gain in speed and safety as we pass through time: the car, the train, the airplane and the list goes on. Traveling in boxes has become a way of life for most people. We depend upon them heavily.

As we progress further into the modern world, we seem to desire for all things to be safe and efficient. We sanitize everything to protect us from unseen germs. Our laws call for the use of helmets, belts and harnesses. Parents do their best to keep their kids from all kinds of harm by watching their every move. Some schools don’t give an F as a grade because it might hurt a child’s self esteem. It is almost as if people want a bubble to protect them from any kind of danger.

The problem with bubble living is that it takes away our humanity. All things worth having involve some form of risk. I’m not a thrill seeker by any stretch of the imagination. So I’m not talking about life and death risk but rather the risk of failure, discomfort or embarrassment. It is only when we take those chances that we are truly alive. Trees were not created with elevators because you need to chance the fall in order make the climb. Only in the climbing do we find out what we are truly capable of. Look for the people who stretch beyond comfort and safety, you will find the people that you admire most. Look for the people who live inside “the bubble” of safety, decide if they are the model for what you want for your life.  Most likely you’ll want to burst the bubble and get outside the box!

Break out today!

Pete

America Needs to SOCCER!

pulisicMost of the time soccer is a noun but today I’m going to use it as a verb.  Of course when you are creating a new word, it’s important to define it.  Here is my explanation of the term.

The action of “soccering” is not the act of playing soccer.  We already know how to say and do that.  And NO!  It doesn’t mean acting like you’re injured when no one did anything to you.  The action of soccering is the real life application of the virtues that are possessed within the game.  In soccer, players must make real time decisions about what to do, based on the stimuli that they take in from both teammates and opponents in order to achieve the outcomes of simultaneously reaching a goal while defending their own.  The soccer paradigm puts the impetus of decision onto eleven individuals acting as a collective rather than following the pre-scripted orders of an overseer.  Although positioning and style of play may be directed, principles and judgment are the main directors of decisions.

America needs to soccer!  It needs to take back the very impetus that this country was founded upon.  Regular people doing things as a collective that move us all forward and protect us against failing.   We need regular citizens who want to be self-determining within the existing system and help to influence that system.  At the moment we seem to be overwhelmingly passive and extremely willing to look for someone else to be accountable rather than looking to be responsible ourselves.

We can soccer by trying to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.  We can soccer by changing our perspective from a “they” to “we” mentality.  We can soccer by doing the right thing even if we know that no one else will notice but us.  We can soccer by deciding to take a chance on something that might not work, rather than doing it “the way we’ve always done it.”  There are so many ways to soccer but the thing about soccering is that it has to start with you.  You can’t tell someone else to soccer.  You can only show them how by doing it first and being an example.

Below is a long description of the historical paradigms where this thought came from.  If you are inspired to do something right now, then don’t read the bottom, act now, read later.

Why do I believe that America needs to soccer?  The historical successes of the United States have in large part been attributed to a football paradigm.  Land acquisition and forward progress are the hallmarks of the All-American sport.  In the past, both politically and economically, we have pushed forward in the name of progress and it has served us well.  Manifest Destiny is the perfect example. Presidents and other decision-makers laid out a playbook for the American people to score a touchdown on the Pacific coast.  Americans led the charge across the continent through wars and promised economic success, the way football players might listen to a play called from the sidelines.  The Space Race, the Arms Race, the Cold War and Industrial Revolution were all perfectly suited to the football paradigm.  So why change?

The reason for change is that the football paradigm is fundamentally flawed in a few different areas.  The idea of neverending progress is unrealistic.  At some point stock prices level off, profits decline and progress slows and stops.  In a paradigm that preaches forward motion as the truest indicator of success, it is not surprising that we have: insider trading, big CEO bonuses for bailed out companies and strategic layoffs to protect profits.  Individuals, companies and the government have all pushed toward their given marker of success whether it be money, land, power or prestige.  These success markers are not inherently evil or negative but their acquisition without thought to the human equation has created an imbalance in our perspective on success.

There are also the separations in the football paradigm.  The coach is the one who calls the plays.  The offense scores the points and the defense stops the other team.  Although all are members of the same team, it is easy to point the finger at another individual or group when things go wrong.  In the Industrial Revolution this system was completely acceptable.  Henry Ford brought forth the assembly line.  He took men who were making fifty cents per day and paid them five dollars per day because of his efficiency.  People were more than willing to be a cog in that machine because it was a better life than what they expected.  They were linemen but were happy to be that.  Now with modern technology and globalization that deal doesn’t work anymore.  That deal is being shipped overseas and no one wants to be a lineman anymore.  Everyone thinks they’re a quarterback and expects to be paid like one.

America needs to soccer because you’re part of the problem and part of the solution.  You’re on the field.  The decisions that you make on a daily basis matter.  The President, the senator, the governor, your boss, your wife, your children, your friends, your teachers are part of it all but so are you.  So before you point the finger, point the thumb.  What can you do today to SOCCER?

Thanks!

Pete

Mediocrity Man

lhvmarathon-e1497924664977.jpgHollywood is regularly churning out super hero movies and their sequels. At the moment they seem to be almost a sure thing at the box office. Iron Man, Spider Man, Batman and Captain America all seem to capture the imagination of the people as they pay big movie theater prices to see these super humans. It is obvious that “super” is what the people want to see.

What if there was a hero named Mediocrity Man? He had super powers that were inside of him but he was afraid of them. Any time that he saw himself do something out of the ordinary, he would instantly recoil and deny his abilities. Rather than keeping his secret identity from everyone else, he would hide or deny his powers to himself. What if Clark Kent never changed into Superman? Would you watch that movie? Of course not.

If this hero existed, why would he hide his powers? The reasons would be the same that you or I don’t do the things that would produce greatness.

  • It’s too hard.
  • It will take too long.
  • I might not succeed.
  • Or worse, I might succeed and the people would expect more out of me.
  • I don’t want people to make fun of me.
  • No one in my family, town, state or country has ever done it before, who am I to be first?

Imagine the Earth being filled with superheroes. What if people were getting most out of themselves every single day? What would that look like? I’ve been Mediocrity Man. I’ve traded in my cape for a t-shirt on a regular basis. Feeling comfortable in the cape is difficult because I know all of my faults, all of my weaknesses and every way that I have ever screwed up. The hero in the movie never falls for long. He gets his super powers and continues on until the world is safe again. For us regular heroes, it’s not a magic movie moment involving a radioactive spider or the destruction of Krypton that begins our ascent. It’s a consistent decision to be the best form of ourselves.

Missing From the Story

MissingStories are an integral part of our society and have been for thousands of years.  Whether the Odyssey, the Bible, Star Wars or Romeo & Juliet, the stories of the present and past have almost all been intended to tell us something.  Not particularly something about the past although many are historical in nature.  More often than not, stories are trying to tell us something about the human condition.  Although a form of entertainment, they can also be instructive.

Characters are not just imaginary people to play make believe for us real humans.  They represent a myriad of possible traits, life courses and mindsets.  Whether Han Solo, Jesus, the Lorax or Hector, each one offers the gift of possibility.  The idea of a life slightly different from our own.  They offer themselves up in front of us on the screen or the page in order for us to judge them and their value.  At that point their power or lack there of is left up to us.

What’s missing from the story is you.  If you only admire the heroism of Han Solo or the kindness of Jesus but never transfer it into your own life, then these characters truly are lifeless.  However, if you’re willing to take up their plight from the page, then they truly do live.  It is not enough for heroism, kindness and love to exist in movies and books because evil and hatred are alive in the real world.  So if you truly love a movie or book, then show it by becoming an actor.  A person who acts in the stead of those imaginary people.  The world is waiting for your story to be told and you’re the only thing that’s missing.

Act today!

Pete

Defence Against The Dark Arts (Bullying)

DarkArtsDespite being a 41 year old man, I really like the Harry Potter movies and watch them regularly.  My wife would say that it’s because of Emma Watson but that’s not quite the truth.  The story itself is what draws me in.  It’s a pretty classic story of good vs. evil with enough twists and turns to make it unique.  I’m also very interested in young people and how they learn to find their way through the world.  Obviously completely fictitious but in parallel to the real world, one major failing of Hogwarts is to maintain a consistent Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.  In that world, the imminent danger of Voldemort made that post important.  In our much less magical world, the danger does not come from a completely evil dark lord but rather other young people trying to find their way in the world.

Just prior to sitting down to write, I was watching the Today Show and their guests were the parents of the twelve year old girl who killed herself in Rockaway, NJ.  With an eleven year old son and many young people in my life, I truly feel for these parents as they’ve gone through the worst pain that a parent can bear.  That story is not fiction and no matter the result of the lawsuit, it will not end completely happily.

I do not believe that social media is inherently bad or evil.  It does create a loosely guarded gateway for evils to be perpetrated.  While most of the focus is on stopping cyber-bulling and the perpetrators, I’d suggest that young (and older) people need to learn how to defend themselves against the dark arts of bullying.  Let me say here, I am not condoning bullying in any way shape or form.  Schools and organizations need to respond to these types of actions.  Unfortunately the adults in a child’s life can only protect them so much.  At a certain point, a child (or adult) is going to need to know how to protect themselves; not just from bullies but from friends, strangers, rejection, failure and loss.  Knowing how to cope with and defeat these “dark arts” is crucial but rarely taught or even discussed.  The two best Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers were Remus Lupin and Harry himself.  Both were effective because they were practical in their approach.  They did not deny that their students might face dark times like Dolores Umbridge.  The beauty of the Order of the Phoenix is that students organize in order to protect themselves because they know that danger is out there.

InvisibleIn the real world, young people are increasingly living their lives in a virtual world where the perceived becomes as important or more important than the real.  So they are fighting in a world of perception when they are still learning how to perceive themselves.  If you know of someone who is struggling to manage the world, here are some starting points:

  1. Keep your phone/iPad/etc. in another room while you sleep.
  2. Do not log onto your device of choice for the first 30 minutes of your day.
  3. During that 30 minutes, take about 15 to do the following:
    1. Write down or think of people, things, experiences that you’re grateful for.
    2. Write down or think of the positive things that you’d like to have happen today (things that depend more on you than other people)
    3. Write down or think of the person you want to be in the future.  Don’t get caught up in the space between where you are and where you want to be.  Allow yourself to be in the future.
  4. After you’ve made these first 3 a habit, add in some form of body movement.  Enough to get your blood pumping above a resting rate.

The point behind all of these items is to focus your mind on the things that matter most to you before it gets distracted by the desires of others.  Decide what it is that you want out of your life/day before anyone else gets to add their input.  If you need a helping hand, my email address is pete@hurykunlimited.com.

Have a great day people!

Pete

If School is Prison, Be Andy Dufresne…

ShawshankThe thought of school being like prison is not a new one.  I’m sure that most students have thought it or said it at one point.  It’s an easy enough correlation to make: brick walls, questionable food, time to be served and other ne’er do wells in the same boat.  Although I’ve visited a prison before, most of my frame of reference comes from books and movies.  The most prevalent being The Shawshank Redemption.  While this book/movie is completely fictitious, conceived in the mind of Stephen King, there is value in the exercise of comparing the fiction to the reality.

Most prisoners in the story are simply waiting out the term of their sentence.  Like the character Brooks in the movie, they wait for many years and then are utterly lost when they are released.  This is not unlike many high school students.  Their years in captivity are spent waiting for their time to be up but not fully conceiving what they might do with their freedom.

Bill_Gates_June_2015The one outlier in Shawshank Prison is Andy Dufresne.  A former banker that does not endure his time in the prison but uses it.  Although his sentence is life, he always has an idea of what he’ll do with his life when he gets out.  Slowly and methodically he uses time as his ally to dig his way out of prison and to his desired future.  While this makes for a good movie, it is just fiction, isn’t it?  A quick read of the story of a young Bill Gates shows a great example of art imitating life imitating art.

Prison is a place where a person is confined.  It is possible to be in physical prison and be free mentally.  The much more common situation seems to be people that are physically free but mentally imprisoned.  They are shackled to self-limiting thoughts and habitual attitudes that keep them from living freely.  If you feel like you’re in prison, take a look around and try to find the warden.  There really isn’t one.  Just systems that can be endured or used to improve your station when you’re done with your time.  Don’t let a situation that you don’t like turn your life into one that you don’t like.  The only one who can give permission for your mind to be a prison is you.

Be free today!

Pete

 

Fatherhood Entrance Exam

FatherhoodI have a very clear recollection of the day that I passed the test that told me that I was ready to be a father.  I was on the bottom floor of my in-laws’ house on a lake in Virginia.  A strange sound came from outside that I didn’t recognize.  A few seconds later my wife screamed my name.  It was the kind of scream that I knew something was wrong.  I jumped up and sprinted out the door.  When I reached my wife on the deck outside, I quickly found out the source of the sound and why she screamed.  Our dog, Kelme, was pinned down by another dog that was attacking him.  The two dogs were about ten feet below the deck on the rocks that sloped down toward the lake.  Without a moment’s hesitation, I jumped over the deck’s railing and dropped the ten feet landing next to the two dogs.  Luckily my sudden appearance and loud shouts were enough to scare the dog off without my having to fight him.  I picked up Kelme and raced him to the vet with my wife.  His wounds were very minor and he made a full and energetic recovery.  It was after that incident that I knew for sure that I could be a father.

KelmeNot everyone gets that type of real life test that tells them something important about themselves.  Generally people have to take a leap of faith that they can handle the situation.  The phrase there is not unimportant, “leap”.  I can’t say for certain whether I would have gotten the same type of self-assurance from that situation had I run down the stairs to Kelme’s aid.  The jump was important because it separated me completely from safety and put me directly into harm’s way: both from the rocks and the dog.  The willingness to take the risk of the leap was key.  Lives don’t need to be at stake.  Broken limbs and dog attacks don’t need to be risked.

The keys to any endeavor of creation: child, book, movie, relationship, song, poem, etc. are the leap and the foregoing of self.  Neither is particularly easy to do.  Leaping requires a detachment from the stability of the known world for something much more uncertain.  Putting something else before ourselves is also an exercise in chance.  With both, fear is a major opposing force.  While fear is an emotion that is intended to protect us from pain, it is often the force that keeps us from living fully.  A full life is one that requires creation and therefore risk.  There are no diplomas, courses or tests that can prepare you to live fully.  It is something that needs to be done on the fly everyday with consistent action.  The act of leaping may never become completely comfortable but it may just become completely worth it.

Leap today!

Pete

The Myth of Keyser Söze

usualsuspectsOne of the best movies from a pure story standpoint that I’ve seen is “The Usual Suspects”.  The film takes you on a ride where you’re continuously led down paths for particular reasons.  A main reason for the perplexing nature of the film is the doubt surrounding the myth of Keyser Söze.  For those unfamiliar with the film, Keyser Söze is a purported crime boss who controls the sale of drugs, weapons, etc. from the shadows of anonymity.  At one point he is portrayed as a “spook story” that thieves tell their children, “Rat on your Pop and Keyser Söze will come get you.”  

RedRidingHoodPersonally I never heard that version of spook story when I was a kid but I can see its usefulness to some people.  The fairy tales and legends that we are told as children vary greatly depending on the desired outcome from our upbringing.  Aspirational and cautionary tales alike are used to push the child in particular directions.  Keep on trying courtesy of “The Little Engine that Could”.  Be prepared by “The Three Little Pigs”.  Don’t be sexually promiscuous by “Little Red Riding Hood” (Didn’t know until I talked to a German teacher).  These stories were all fashioned to get a result.

The thing about all of these stories is that they are made up.  Complete fabrications from the imagination of someone long ago.  They’ve been changed, updated, amended, forgotten and remembered.  The reason that they still exist is that they were effective through the years.  “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” got me to stop going to the nurse’s office every day in 3rd grade.  So since stories are effective if they’re told enough and have the desired message, what is the story that you tell yourself about yourself?  The Myth of Keyser Söze was that he was an almost superhuman figure who was powerful and ruthless.  Before that story could be spread, he had to at least partially tell it to himself.

Now it is your turn.  Tell the story of you to yourself.  Adapt it, amend it, change it to fit your needs.  The endpoint that you desire to have should be attained through some form of work mixed with an optimistic attitude to never give up.  The story is out there in the realm of possibility.  Now you just need to write it, tell it and live it.

Tell your story!

Pete