Tag Archives: comfort

Subtly The Best

MostBestAt one point in history, I’m sure that superlatives meant something.  I surely felt like they did during my childhood.  Michael Jordan was definitely the best player in the NBA.  You didn’t need to shout it louder to make your point.  It could be said softly with a calm assurance that it was accurate.  As the internet has given a voice to every two thumbed animal with a high speed connection, superlative seems to be a game for people who want to yell the loudest.

Since everyone can be heard, the time to say nothing may be here.  Perhaps in the era of communication overload, it is the individual who does and says nothing that will truly stand out.  Rather than doubling down on superlatives and expletives, it might be time to be more subtle.

Today when you go out into the world, do the simple and subtle.  Smile a little more.  Be a little more patient.  Be forgiving to yourself.  Home-runs can win games but so can singles.  If we’re always swinging hard for the fences, we may strikeout on underhand pitches because we’re too jacked up.

The Power of a Poor Start

RockyMy soccer career started on a team called the Orange Crushers. I didn’t know what “irony” was at seven years old but our name epitomized it. We crushed nothing and it seemed as though our purpose in the league was for us to be crushed by others. My memories of that season are a complete blur except for one game. In one of our final games of the season, we won and I scored. I was so glad when it happened. The other team from town, Blue Bombers, was filled with friends and classmates and they were undefeated. So that lone victory was important for me because I’d received some ribbing at school.  Perhaps that lone victory kept me hanging on despite the poor start to my soccer career.

As the years went on, there was a slow dance that went on between winning and I. One year my team would be a success. The next we were knocked back down a peg. By the time I reached my senior year in high school, I had figured out who I was as a player. I was one of the kids who wouldn’t quit. That was my first year as a complete “success”. Conference and County Championships were the first two real trophies that any of my teams had ever won. As I thought back to that team, I realized that not one player from the Blue Bombers remained. They had all stopped playing soccer or switched to other sports.

Knowing how to lose and not quit or to persevere through tough times are skills that you acquire from a poor start. These skills are invaluable because no one maintains success forever. Using memories of our failures as stepping-stones is the way we make a staircase toward our success. The examples of poor starts are woven throughout the history of the United States. Lincoln, Ford and Carnegie are three that instantly pop to mind but one of my favorites from the present day is Stallone.

When Sylvester Stallone sold the script of Rocky, the studio wanted to make the film but with someone else playing Rocky. At the time he was completely broke and refused a series of offers from the studio for hundreds of thousands of dollars. He stuck to his guns. He knew how to survive and live with failure but he saw this film as his one ticket to ultimate success. So with very long odds, he bet on himself and won. I used to watch the Rocky films regularly when I was in high school. Later I learned just how much the movies mirror Stallone’s life. In Rocky Balboa, Rocky tells his son that life is about “how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” My guess is Stallone learned this early and never forgot.

A poor start is not something to be embarrassed about. It is something to be embraced. The power of a poor start comes in the fact that you know where you began is not where you’re going to end. The power of a poor start comes from realizing that failure did not put poison inside you, it put fire inside you. The only negative to a poor start is if you quit and make your start, your end.

It’s ok to start poorly, if you finish strong.


The Art of Self-Rejection

NOThe beauty of the art of Self-Rejection is that it is so easy.  You only need yourself and the dream of something inside of your head. They are your paint and your canvas. Like an infant sitting in a highchair eating spaghetti, it is possible to create a beautifully horrible landscape of all of the things that could go wrong. You will be laughed at, shunned, ignored, or defeated. And there it is inside of your head, a masterpiece of nothing. Nothing real at least.

On the other hand, in the real world you can chance real rejection. Perhaps you do get laughed at, shunned, ignored or defeated but maybe you succeed.

The road of self-rejection always leads to regret. The road of taking the chance could lead anywhere but you have to travel it to find out.

Stop Believing!

StopI inadvertently ruined Santa Claus for my son this morning.  Late last night I typed up a letter to a former professor and friend.  This morning my son asked to use my laptop to look up something for school.  I had completely forgotten to close out the document where I had talked about our holiday season and our kids still believing in Santa.  Ultimately it could have been a lot worse because he is old enough to move on from that belief.

Our beliefs are extremely important tools that we use to form who we are and who we can be.  Although the title of this blog may seem negative, it is intended to have a positive outcome.  It is intended to add some inner dialogue that will help you to achieve a goal, create something, improve something, change a habit or any other endeavor that is difficult.

Stop believing that it will be easy!

Stop believing that anyone will do it for you!

Stop believing that it’s too big for you to pull off!

Stop believing that “You Suck” voice inside your head!

Stop believing that you need to wait for the time to be right!

Stop believing that you’re too tired!

Stop believing that people will laugh at you!

Stop believing that anyone is going to help you more than you help yourself!

Stop believing that there are too many obstacles!

Stop believing that your past failures matter enough to stop you from trying again!

Stop believing that there’s nothing you can do!

Start believing in you, in possibility, in the future!

Stepping on the gas pedal of life may get you there fast but without the steering wheel, you don’t get to decide where that is.

Everything But…

IMG_3064In this extremely fast paced world, it’s easy to get distracted from that which is important in favor of that which seems important.  It is the reason why we make shopping lists and set reminders for ourselves.  Getting caught up in the moment is not only normal, it seems to be a way of life.  Despite all of the technological and societal distractions, it would seem as though we might have accidentally thrown out all of our babies in order to make room for more bathwater.  Perhaps it is time to decide what is truly important and focus on it.

There are plenty of people who will get married this year.  They will painstaking search for a great venue, a photographer, delicious food, the right guest-list and register for the perfect gifts.  But before they did all of that hard work, they forgot to find someone worth spending their life with.

We have access to amazing communication devices in our pockets and at our fingertips.  There is the capability to reach the other side of the world, translate to almost any language and do it instantaneously.  But we rarely say things that mean much of anything.  There is so much coming at us that it all becomes devalued.  We tend to only listen in order to respond, not to understand or empathize.

Students and teachers are no longer bound by the bricks in the walls of their buildings.  All facts are available at a moment’s notice and the greatest minds are within reach.  Yet our young people are worried about grades that will soon not matter and facts that have little value.  The word educate comes from the root educe which means to bring out or develop.  The cramming information in might not be the best way to draw out our young people’s genius.

These are just three examples where we seem to be so caught up in the process that we have forgotten why the process was invented.  When broken down to the core, the world is a relatively simple place.  We are here to survive first.  Once that is taken care of we look to progress and we do both more effectively together.  So get back to the core of what you do and why it is done at all.    If you are in school, then learn, regardless of the grades.  If you’re in a relationship, then relate, give of yourself and be willing to be changed.  The superficialities of life can only sustain us for so long.  Our true progress depends on depth of experience and it needs to be found again.  Right now are you focused on ANYTHING BUT THE THINGS THAT MATTER?



G.O.Y.A! And Do It!

IMG_2971There are plenty of commercials from my childhood that stick out.  Growing up at the beginning of the Super Bowl Commercial craze gave us plenty of memorable advertisements.  “Where’s the beef?” from Wendy’s.  Bird vs Jordan shooting contest.  This is your brain on drugs.  These all caught my attention because they were either clever or memorable for positive reasons.

One commercial that stood out for another reason was for GOYA beans.  The catch phrase “GOYA, oh boya!” was so inane that it stuck.  Inevitably when I am food shopping for my family, the big letters G O Y A stick out and remind me of the stupid tag line.  So I have decided to associate something new to that can and the beans that sit inside.  GOYA is now an acronym.  It stands for “Get Off Your ASS!”

It is a call to action and action is all that matters after all.  The commercials that are running in our minds should be moving us forward.  I’m sure that if you’re anything like me, there are commercials running for sleep, junk-food, relaxation, sex and beer… sweet beer.  The commercials for these things are not hard to run because they represent our surface level desires.  At a much deeper level, we want to have health, wealth and good relationships.  These things require a much greater effort than the shallow desires of the moment.  So it is up to us to stick deliberately put in those commercials for beans, ACTION BEANS.  Those less than sexy items that we need in order to get where we really want to go.  You’re running the show and when you stop for a word from the sponsors, make sure they’re the ones taking you in the right direction!

G.O.Y.A!  And do it!


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!


Bad Gladiators Died

gladiatorIt wasn’t a 100% binary equation.  Gladiators could win, lose or “tie”.  Not even all of the defeated were condemned to death.  Despite these extenuating circumstances, one thing is most definitely certain, bad gladiators died.  I have no desire to bring back gladiatorial games or anything of the sort but in some ways our pendulum has swung too far in the other direction.

In modern society the crowd would seemingly want every gladiator to feel like a winner.  Swords would be made of foam rubber but helmets would still be worn just in case.  Gladiators would be paired by skill level and the most likely death would come from boredom of the truly talented gladiators.  While I am not a fan of truly “zero sum games”, there have to be stakes.  Gladiators got good because they had to.  Everyone knew that bad gladiators die, the gladiators knew this best.

By all accounts we do not live in a gladiatorial society nor would I truly want to.  A bloodthirsty mob looking to revel in the pain of the vanquished is not where we need to go.  However a world without stakes has no incentive to move forward.  The same holds for an individual.  What is at stake for you today?  Have you set yourself up in a game where you can win, lose or tie?  Or is nothing at stake today?  Are you armed with your foam rubber sword hacking away at the same meaningless opponent that you fought yesterday?  Bad gladiators of the past got to die quickly.  Bad gladiators today die slowly while trying to reassure themselves that they would be lethal if not for this foam rubber.  The price of finding out if you’re good or not is to risk the possibility of dying on the metaphorical sword.  That might be embarrassment, finances, time or many other things but something needs to be at stake.  So step into the arena, put something on the line and see what you’re made of!

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena!




Wish You Were Here (and I wasn’t)

WishYouWereHereIt is not an uncommon thing at all to wish for a future that is yet to come or a past that is long gone.  Humans have the blessing and the curse to be able to mentally exist in the past and future while ignoring the present.  It is a blessing because it allows us the freedom to live in the most useful plane.  The curse is the propensity to relive or project the worst of experiences or possibilities.  At all times, the mind has the capability of transporting the self elsewhere.  With this ultimate power to determine much of our existence, surprisingly most people defer control to the moment or to their “monkey mind”.  Imagine if you will driving a car with no steering wheel.  The gas and the brake are great tools but without the ability to steer, one is at the mercy of the terrain and the tires.

So the key to moving forward in a direction of your own desire means developing a steering mechanism.  How long would you drive that car without a steering wheel?  Not long at all before you or someone else added that key component.  The key to your mental steering comes down to practice.  Pulling your mind in the direction of your choosing on a regular basis.  When it wanders, you must take control again.  Under no circumstances is this easy.  It’s easy to be swayed by right now.  It’s easy to run the patterns that you’ve been running for years or decades.  Those are the paths of least resistance but I assure you that they will not get you to your destination in a timely or comfortable manner.

So take this moment to decide.  Decide who you are now and who you want to be in the future (you can’t fix the past but you can change its meaning).  Once you have those in mind, start with a half hour each day where you think and act only in line with that vision.  If you mind wanders, bring it back!  As you get better and better at completing that half hour, it will begin to dump over into the other hours of the day.  Eventually the you from the vision and your reality will be one in the same.  The only question for now is, are you willing to take control?

Bon Voyage!


Left Turns Required

lefthandI’m fully willing to admit that I’m a relatively passive driver.  It’s almost to a fault.  Most of the driving routes that I take for local trips are based on their lack of difficult left turns.  It’s not that I’m incapable of making the turns nor do I lack the patience to wait for openings.  My overarching thought process is that I don’t engage with unknown chaos if I don’t need to.  Overall I’m happy with the strategy.  However recently I’ve been forcing myself to do more left turn heavy routes.  Just to demonstrate to myself that my passivity is a strategy that I want and not character flaw born out of fear.

In many areas of our lives, we tend to become accustomed to things.  There is almost an autopilot type of function that we employ to the regular and presupposed.  This is not a problem until it is.  Often the need for comfort keeps us anchored to the known.  Most of the time the known is a positive but eventually you may end up driving in circles.  “Big Ben, Parliament!”

People have an ingrained need to feel safe and comfortable.  Unfortunately those emotions do not usually help you move forward in the most direct route.  The road to your ideal life is not lined with rose petals, rainbows and unicorns.  It is going to require grit, determination, unwavering faith in that unseen and YES!  Hard left turns through major traffic!  This realization is necessary to reach new destinations.  If you’re happy going where you’ve always gone with path of least resistance, then by all means keep going that way.  If not, then it’s time to recognize the power of the left turn and accept that they are going to be integral to you reaching your destination.

For my international reader who may drive on the left hand side of the road, just reverse all that I just said! :p

Go get there!