Blogpost, self-reliance

The Nothing Guarantee

At the turning point in the movie “Tommy Boy,” Chris Farley’s character offers to take a dump in a box and mark it “GUARANTEED.” It is part of a sales pitch to undermine his customer’s confidence in other products that offer a guarantee. After that, he gets on a sales hot streak, saves the company, gets the girl and impales Rob Lowe’s nuts. Cinematic gold! Despite my love for the movie, my focus is really on the concept of a guarantee or actually the inverse of that, the “Nothing Guarantee.”

As a teacher especially, I see the effort to reward analysis happen constantly. From time to time, it is overtly questioned. “What do I need to get on the next test in order to bring my grade to an ‘A’?” The math isn’t that hard and the effort in extra study to achieve that feat isn’t either. However the calculating still happens in the student’s brain. “How much effort do I need to exert for the promise/guarantee of what I want?” My suggestion is that this calculation is occurring in the heads of far too many people and it’s almost dangerous.

In a world where we can measure almost anything, we have begun to do so and rely upon measurement. The problem is that many of the endeavors that are truly worth our effort and attention cannot be measured and have no guarantees. People, who start businesses, families, cultural movements and the like, often have no idea how much work is going to be necessary to make it a success. The success is also not guaranteed and that’s the point! The reason that something is worth pursuing is because it’s not a guarantee. If we knew for certain that it was going to work, then anyone could do it.

So as you are reading this, I’m asking you to embrace the idea of the “Nothing Guarantee.” The concept that you are willing to put effort into things that might not work but you are willing to give it a go. My suggestion would be that regardless of the success or perceived failure of the situation that you’ll be happier with the version of you that is created. However I need to be fully transparent that even that is not guaranteed. Farmers have to plant more than they need in order to compensate for some of those seeds not maturing. The same needs to go for you. You’re probably need to put in more effort than you think to get that result but do it! So that when you make that team, achieve that goal or become that better version of yourself, you have a story to tell more than “I knew it would work.”

Throw away that guaranteed crap in a box and scale that mountain!

Pete

Blogpost, posh, SoccerLifeBalance

Fanmnesia

In the 1980’s, one of my favorite shows was “The Dukes of Hazzard.” A show about two cousins and their jumping car. Despite the fact that the overall plot was mildly ridiculous, it was an enjoyable watch. One of the more memorable episodes dealt with Bo Duke having amnesia. The villain of the show, Boss Hogg, takes advantage of the situation and convinces Bo that he is Boss Hogg’s son. In the end, Bo’s cousins are able to save him from the trouble that Boss Hogg has conjured up for him. The crazy thing is that amnesia episodes were relatively common in the 80’s. I actually thought it would be a much bigger part of my life than it has been but it seems to be coming around again.

Although it is not full on amnesia, it is a close cousin (haha) “fanmnesia.” This is a complete loss of a fan’s memory regarding past performances of their team or individuals. It’s not exceedingly dangerous to the fan. However it seems to be contagious. Players also seem to be more likely to forget their own abilities. It may be transmitted through the internet and specifically social media. I’m obviously being ridiculous but so is the situation.

Athletes (even top level professionals) have poor performances, great performances and anything in between. A player who has been in a slump of form can rebound. Others who have been performing well can have an off game. They are all people who are variables within a larger equation. Teams win, lose or tie based on the combination of these individual variables into a collective. Each player has a floor and a ceiling. Their ability to access their personal ceiling consistently is often the difference between the players who “make it” and those who don’t. The key for the players is to remember and forget.

Players need to be able to gain confidence from success while learning from failure. One of John C. Maxwell’s books has the perfect title for this situation, “Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn.” Often that process is short-circuited by the ego. Maintaining objectivity is difficult for everyone. Fans can get away with having “fanmnesia” but players need to believe in themselves. They need to believe in their ability to reach the ceiling or even raise it. That belief can’t be a variable. It needs to be as constant as possible. As the manager and the fans forget their past successes, it’s their job to remember. Remember who they are and their value on the field. It’s a difficult equation but it’s made more difficult if a player get “fanmnesia.”

Another word for a fan is a supporter, more than anything that’s what those who aren’t playing need to be. It just makes more sense. These players are wearing our colors. We should want them to do well. We’re part of that equation that helps them to reach and break through their ceiling.

Up the POSH!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

WTFN!?!?

Although I’m able to understand text speech, I still tend not to use it very often. Since it is my fourth language, I just don’t feel comfortable with it. I was also raised in the 80s. So periods, commas, etc. were sold as important and old habits are difficult to break when you don’t really want to. Despite some similarities, I’m not Phil Dunphy. I know what the usuals mean. However, I do enjoy making up my own from time to time. WTFN?

The power of text speech is expedience but it can come off softer than the words themselves. In this particular case, I believe that brevity is everything. The message needs to get ingrained in your brain before it has time to formulate excuses, alibis, or arguments. Time is not your friend when it comes to action. The longer that you delay on goals, desires and dreams. The less likely it is that you’ll start. So now that I’ve built this up with too much explanation. Think of something that you want to do. Then ask yourself “WHY THE F%$# NOT!?!?”

Why not you? Why not now? Why not here? Usually the answers are just BS excuses that you’ve built up over the years. Their major purpose is to protect you. Protect you from the possibility of failure while also hiding the possibility of success. Those two go hand in hand. You cannot separate them. Am I suggesting that you completely throw caution to the wind? HELL NO! Forty-five years old is a bad time to start your NBA career. You’ll know the difference inside when your heart leaps and your head only half reacts.

So put it into regular use when a friend asks you to do something. WTFN? That way it’s on the tip of your tongue or thumbs when an opportunity comes your way. WTFN!?!? Give that thing a go because you’re more likely to regret not acting than you are the failure.

Give it a go! WTFN?

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Just Say It!

One of the more embarrassing moments that I had in high school was during my sophomore year. I did not possess anywhere near the self-confidence that I have today. There was a girl in my grade that I was interested in. I was walking down the hall during class time and serendipitously she was getting things out of her locker. It was just she and I in the hallway. NO ONE ELSE. The moment was perfect for me to strike up a minor conversation. Ask her about homework. Compliment her backpack. Say hello. Any one of those options would have been completely reasonable and probably effective. What did I choose to do? I ran into her with my shoulder as I walked by. We were the only two people in the hall! This was well before everyone had a cellphone, so I was not distracted by technology. I was just an unconfident boy who didn’t know how to get my message across. So I did something that made no sense other than it protected me from telling the truth out-loud.

High School Soccer from Senior Year
It may look foolish now but at the time, we LOVED these jerseys!

These types of situations happen everyday. The question is not whether you’ll have opportunities to act on the things that you want in this world. You absolutely will! More than anything, the question is whether you will succumb to the fear that surrounds that opportunity or will you act? I’ve not done a statistical analysis but anecdotally I can confidently say that I rarely regret acting fully rather than hiding regardless of the result.

Regret is the leftover debris from a losing battle with fear. Sometimes that debris is easy to sweep away because another moment comes to replace it. Other times that regret lasts a lifetime. Being true to yourself and putting efforts out into the world honestly is rarely a mistake in my experience. When we hedge to protect the little coward inside, we actually only make him feel smaller. Not because anything has really happened to us in the real world. It is because in that internal world we live a half life that is strewn with failures and successes but none of them truly happened. So we don’t get to know the truth about what was possible, if we had just given it a shot! Life is meant to be lived. Not dreamt about.

So let me be clear here! This is a call to action for you to push your best self in the direction of the things that you want. Not to be an a$$hole just because you’re being “authentic.” Consider the people around you. Whatever that thing is that is calling you, you may need help or you’ll want to share it or at least have people around to enjoy the time with. The real world does not revolve around you like the internal world does but you need to jump on the train before it passes you by. The opportunities are there. You just need to take them!

Go get ’em!

Pete

P.S. – Just in case you’re wondering, the situation from above is an embarrassing moment, not a major regret on the relationship side. We both ended up where we needed to be.

Blogpost, self-reliance

Don’t Assume You’re Weak…

As children we have a sense of misplaced optimism, we believe that we can do anything. Unfortunately as we grow, that overblown optimism is not tempered into realism. Usually it is downgraded into a form of protective pessimism. Either we overtly believe that we “can’t” do things or avoid trying the new and difficult due to judgement. The court of public opinion has a reputation for being harsh against people who are less than perfect.

This pessimistic viewpoint leads to adolescents and teenagers who believe that they can’t. Whether it is a lack of skill, nerve, smarts, money or anything else; falling short is not something to be endured. My message is very straightforward and clear.

Don’t assume that you’re weak just because you haven’t found your strength yet. The safe path of anonymity holds no prizes at its end. Every single one of us had dreams of being an astronaut, cowboy, movie star or a million other things. Some dreams deserve to die, no doubt. It shouldn’t be the ones that we wanted but were too afraid to breath life into them.

Don’t assume you’re weak, just because you haven’t found your strength yet!

Most likely it’s not too late! Pound on the chest of that dream! Blow air into its lungs! Get out the AED paddles and clear everyone away! Every moment that you delay, the less chance that you’ll have to revive it. Unfortunately you can’t expect a miraculous recovery, it will take time and persistence. You might be breathing life into this thing for years. Or you can let it die a quiet death because you labeled yourself too weak to save it.

You can do it or you can’t! More than anything that’s up to you!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

The Lasso Way: Being You First

I am a Ted Lasso super fan. Anyone who has had a conversation longer than ten minutes with me over the past two months has been told to watch the show. Somehow Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt and Bill Lawrence created the perfect TV show for me. At this point, I’ve watched each episode at least five times and I’m probably lowballing that number. Despite my love for the content, I’m not going to just sing the praises of the show. I’m focused on the biggest takeaway from the show.

The outside of my laptop. I’m a little obsessed.

Although it is in essence a sitcom, Ted Lasso works on a variety of levels. Laughs are intermingled with possible tears and new vocabulary. While the origins of the Ted Lasso character come from a commercial where he leads with stupidity, the show’s main character leads with caring and empathy. Despite being out of his depth in his job, he is (usually) unapologetically himself. This is a refreshing characteristic to find. In a world where so many people are in a constant state of posturing for their audience, being yourself seems to be a lost art in many ways. Accepting others seems to almost be easier.

The oddities, faults and curiosities that other people carry can be easily overlooked because “it’s not me.” Unfortunately being ourselves is often difficult because the court of public opinion is open 24/7/365 these days. It can be exhausting to maintain a public persona that is different from who you truly are. This tactic also erodes self-esteem over time because it’s hard to “esteem” someone that you’re hiding from the world.

Now this is not an excuse to have an Ally Sheedy in Breakfast Club moment and dump your metaphorical purse into the world’s lap. It is however a call to feel comfortable in your own skin. Live in at least a mental existence where who you are is OK. Then share that person that you most want to be with your world first. Your world is not the world. It’s the people that you love and trust. By doing those experiments at home first, you’ll get a sense of how you come across to other people. Again this is not a call for no filters but rather a bit more honesty. One of my favorite public figures, Tom Bilyeu, admits quite openly that he wants to be a Jedi. Not a lightsaber wielding spaceman but an influencer of people’s minds. That idea or dream of being something outside of the norm is uncomfortable for most of us. However admitting who we are, what we want and how important things are to us is a crucial piece of our development as people. Otherwise we’re a dancer in a Gap commercial. Not dancing for joy but because it’s a job. Not wearing khakis because we love them because that’s the costume.

So here is my public admission. I want to be the team psychologist for Peterborough United. The ridiculousness of this aspiration is not lost upon me. At the moment, I don’t have any of the credentials that a team might require. I’m an American who has mainly coached at the high school and college level. Much like Ted Lasso, I may be in over my head for that job. That doesn’t mean that I need to give up or apologize or lie about my desire to other people or especially myself. Perhaps I’m a fool to believe in this dream but I’d rather be the star in my own sitcom where I’m the butt of many jokes rather than a background character in a Gap commercial where I’m indistinguishable from anyone else.

So start inside your own head. Get comfortable in that skin of yours. It’s not going anywhere and neither are the basics of who you are. You’re not a background dancer. You’re a star! Shine for the people around you!

Be you!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Beautiful Betrayal

Son – “You promise that you won’t move?”

Father – “I promise.”

The son jumps into the pool and starts swimming toward his father who has backed up at least one step, maybe two. It is a simple story that has played out millions of times through the years. Here is a different version of the same story.

On December 28th, 2001, my friend, Gary, and I went out like we would on any other Friday night.  We ran into his younger brother, another friend and the friend’s sister.  The sister and I talked for a long time that night.  Although I was very interested in her, I didn’t ask for her number or anything.  The next day, Gary called me and I was told that she was very interested in me and she wanted to do something with the group again for New Year’s Eve.  Later that evening, I called her up in order to make plans for all of us to go out again. When she answered the phone, I said, “Hi, this is Pete.”

She said, “Pete who?” 

That’s when I found out that it was a lie.  My friend had conjured up most of the story just to get me to call her.  She was going to Philadelphia for New Year’s and had no plans to go out with us again.  However she was happy to hear from me and the rest is history.  She is now my wife and we’ve been married for 16 years.

Both the son on the edge of the pool and I were duped by someone we trusted. Honesty may be the best policy in most cases but from time to time, dishonesty is exactly what is needed. Although it was a lie, what Gary told me was more valuable than the truth.  It took away the fear that normally would have paralyzed me into inaction.  The lie made me act.  It made me believe with certainty that I was going to be successful.  It was a placebo of the best kind.  I had taken the drug of self-confidence and it work magic on me.

There are so few things in life that are absolute.  We tend to think of our thoughts as truth. Perhaps the “truths” that you’ve been telling yourself haven’t helped you very much.  The divide between the truth and a lie is often based on perspective.  So consider your perspective often. Rather than looking for the 100% truth, decide to believe the things that serve you. We usually need just a little push in order to get us started. Push yourself by believing the things that get you to act!

Go dive in!

Pete

Blogpost

Building Confidence: Exchange FEAR for MIRE

Recently I was asked by a young player to give some thoughts on building confidence on the field. Although the request was made with a very specific goal in mind, building confidence is possible for anyone. The component pieces are the same regardless of the specific pursuit.

The first step is to focus on skill acquisition. Competence leads to confidence. This should be an obvious step but it is overlooked by many. People generally do not want to take the time to become good at something. They want to believe in themselves before they have any reasons to support that belief. Take the time to develop the necessary skills. Do the work when no one is watching.

As the physical skills are building, it is also important to build a mental framework. The opposite of confidence is fear. Fear as an acronym is False Evidence that Appears Real. The reason why most people are not confident is that they have the pictures of all of the ways that it could go wrong in their heads. Combating these images takes deliberate practice. In order to get to the point where you can admire your own abilities, you must have Mental Images Rehearsed Everyday. It is important to see what you want in your mind’s eye before it happens. Before things happen in the external world, they have to happen in your internal world.

Finally there is a component of faith to any endeavor. A belief that things are going to work out. With this faith there is a certain amount of emotional equilibrium that one must possess. The ability to see setbacks and obstacles as part of the process is crucial. Ultimately humans lead with belief and the willingness to leap out into the void at some point is necessary.

The most confident people did not develop that ability in a day. Nor is it a super power that is kept from us mere mortals. It is simply a process like so many others. Follow the steps to get similar results. Unfortunately it is easier to succumb to fear than to take action. However even the most difficult things can become a habit if they are practiced enough.

So go out there today and face your fears. Build your skills and become confident based on your new abilities. Nothing is so big that it can’t be broken down into bite sized pieces. Be careful because if you picture it, you just might do it!

Go forth with confidence!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Don’t Assume That You’re Weak…

IMG_4454You are the ancestor of survivors!  Cavemen and women who braved the bitter cold, extreme heat and dangerous predators just to continue the species.  Their successors improved hunting and developed farming in order to make survival more probable.  Eventually they were succeeded by people who developed technological advances that gave us every advantage and the ability to bend many of the laws of nature to our will.  This is your lineage!

Despite that fact, you feel weak, uninspired, defeated or out of control.  For so long our species had one objective: stay alive.  Now that survival is less of a concern, we seem to have forgotten how to live.  The words “successors” and “succeeded” were used intentionally because they illustrate a point that has been lost in the shuffle of the demands of modern life.  Success is now an arbitrary term that people often conflate with money, possessions or other status symbols.  It was originally about passing something on to those who would come after.

So don’t balk at the opportunity that you have.  You are the descendant of people who were brave, resilient and strong.  They left us every advantage and that has tricked us largely into believing that we are weak that we are nothing without them.  That we can’t handle the cold or the heat or the difficult or uncertain.  DON’T ASSUME THAT YOU’RE WEAK, JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T FOUND YOUR STRENGTH YET!  Inside of your very DNA is the stuff that made survivors.  Now it is your turn to do whatever you can with the time that you have.  Your strengths, the things that you were meant to do are out there, waiting for you.  Your belief in them and your ability to find them will beckon them eventually but first you must act!  You must do things that take you outside of your comfort zone.  Test the limits to see where your strengths lie!

Go get some!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

King of Introductions/The Ultimate Success Formula


Ecuador28In my junior year of college, I traveled to Ecuador as part of a winter semester program.  I lived with a local family and took a class on literature.  It was a life altering experience on a variety of levels.  Although I went there to improve my Spanish abilities, I can link many of my fundamental beliefs back to that trip.  I changed as a person during my time there.  One of the simple ways that I changed was that I became the “King of Introductions”.  There was no official coronation!  It’s an unofficial title that I developed for myself but it was a key component to many later successes.

Two days after Christmas in 1996, I arrived in Ecuador.  After a few days of touring, I was paired with my ‘Ecuadorian family’ on New Year’s Eve.  For the next two days, I attended no less than three family parties.  If I had to guess, I was introduced to over fifty people in less than 48 hours.  Obviously all of those introductions were done in Spanish.  It was nothing that I had planned but the more times that it happened, the better that I got at introducing myself.  With the first few people, I was only saying ‘hello, nice to meet you’.  Eventually the conversations got more robust with full explanations of why I was in Ecuador and my thoughts about the country so far.  The repetitions were the key.  Even though all of conversations were slightly different, each one gave me another opportunity to organize, edit or add.  By the end of those first two days, I was definitely the “King of Introductions”.

It seems so simple but often people ignore this methodology.  People give up on things quickly because they’re not “good enough”.  The need to not look foolish is ingrained so strongly within us that we tend to avoid even chancing it.  So we never get past the peasant status much less reach to the level of king.  With something so simple, it would seem like everyone would follow this recipe but often we don’t.  Any success requires that you:

  1. Take action
  2. Notice what’s working/what’s not
  3. Adjust the approach
  4. Pay attention to those already getting the result you want

It’s almost too easy, isn’t it?  The problem usually isn’t a lack of role models to follow.  It’s a failure to take any action at all.  When there is no guarantee of success, a lot of work and a possibility of looking foolish; peasant status is what is chosen.  In the minds of so many, it is better to be the peasant that never tried rather than the one who went for the crown and failed.  The most important thing for you to recognize though is that the walls between you and the crown are usually built by you.  The world offers all kinds of riches and above is the plan for how to get any of them.  We just need to be willing to follow it long enough to get them!

It’s good to be the king!

Pete