Tag Archives: culture

I’m Afraid to Try

“You don’t want to get mixed up with a guy like me.  I’m loner Dottie, A REBEL!” -Pee Wee Herman (Pee Wee’s Big Adventure)

DannyZukoThis line is from the quite ridiculous but still entertaining Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.  And it was co-opted by the band The Get Up Kids as a song title in the 90’s.  The song outlines one perspective of a short term love affair where the singer refuses to give the relationship a chance.  In his own words, “because I’m afraid to try.”  It’s an old story that probably precedes Danny Zuko in Grease.  Boy meets girl.  Boy likes girls.  Boy wants to leave while things are still fun and casual because a relationship is just too much work.

It’s applicable to so many things but relationships are possibly the easiest target.  In a world where Tinder and OkCupid are facilitators of the present dating scene, this mindset will probably get more widespread.  The fast and easy wins out over the slow build (which is perceived as a grind).  Of course this is only perception.  Reality holds millions of possibilities.  For many, a life with one person is a much more joyous existence than the shallowness of singles life.  Regardless of which way you lean, it’s not really the point.  The point is the actual words.  “I’m afraid to try!”  It’s not, “I’m afraid to commit!” or “I’m afraid that I’ll get hurt!”  It’s “I’m afraid to try!”

This is probably the most dangerous thing that I see from not just young people but people in general.  There is a fear of trying.  Putting yourself out there has the perception of being difficult.  And in the younger generation, it is chastised because for some reason “try hard” is now an insult.  Much like nerd or geek of the past, this is a completely idiotic strategy as a culture.  Demean those who excel in order to make the average feel better about themselves.  (But I digress)  The thing is that people have become so accustomed to guarantees that effort toward an unknown is just too scary.  There’s no point in following a rainbow because a pot of gold is not waiting for us.

It’s time to buck the trend.  TRYING (no offense to Yoda!) is often the point.  Finding our limits.  Pressing up against what is possible.  Discovering new territory is exactly the point!  Imagine where we would be if through history, we were this risk averse.  We’d be dead!  Hunters wouldn’t have had any assurances of catching any prey, so why go out to hunt?

Your survival and progress as human being depends on THE TRY!  So go out there today with the intention and determination to try.  It doesn’t need to be something monumental.  It just needs to be outside of your comfort zone.  An experiment, an attempt, a risk, a small gamble.  That’s the only way to move forward.  One little try at a time.  And I’ll suggest that you deny the teenage ridicule by TRYING HARD!

Have a great day people!

Pete

 

 

The Latest Version

IMG_3647
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

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

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

Accidentally Mummifying Yourself

KilimanjaroThe world is filled with things that cut.  Like walking through a patch of thorn bushes with exposed skin, injury is an almost certainty.  In the short term, bandaging the cuts is the right strategy.  In time, the wounds will heal.  If too many cuts pile up, the bandages become wrappings.  You become a mummy.  Movements constrained by the bandages on wounds that never healed.  Avoiding cuts completely is an impossibility but choosing a new path and learning how to wield a machete are both options.  Band aids are not a long term solution, they are a short term fix.  This concept is obvious when thinking about real wounds but with metaphorical wounds, this is a common strategy.

The key has always been preventative medicine/measures.  Solving old problems with solutions that minimize or eradicate the issue is the best way to get better problems.  That is an understanding that everyone needs to have: PROBLEMS AREN’T GOING AWAY!  The most that you can hope for is to have the best problems possible because you’ve solved the old and boring ones.  Why would you choose to flail around in that same old thorn bush when you can figure out how to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

I know that many of you out there are bleeding and it hurts.  My heart goes out to you and I hope that this message will help you move on.  Break free of the thorns and find the path to the mountain where you can see for miles.  It won’t be easy but it may be worth it!

Have a great day!

Pete

 

Small Amoeba Syndrome

The life of the single celled organism, the amoeba, must be tough.  In order to survive, it needs to change its shape in order to “absorb” its food.  It is the ultimate “go-getter” in the microscopic universe.  It’s survival is completely predicated on how much and how often it “puts itself out there”.  A lazy amoeba would be a dead amoeba.

amoebaLiving in the world of higher order organisms, we are not as dependent on stretching ourselves in order to survive.  In fact over the past century we’ve been rewarded for being small amoebas.  Stretching or standing out was discouraged.  Get good grades, get into a good college, do your job and follow the rules.  Being a small amoeba is not as smart as it used to be.  The systems that rewarded the small amoeba are breaking down all over the place and we’re being asked to stretch again.

The opportunities to stretch are all around.  The problem is the same as the amoeba “Am I stretching in a direction that will help me survive?”  The trial an error method is probably a big part of the amoeba’s life and may be required of you.  This is uncomfortable.  The old system was predictable, repeatable and safe.  Even becoming a big amoeba only required adherence to the system that almost told you where to stretch.

The question is not whether the world will require you to stretch or not.  The question is whether you’ll allow yourself to be stretched, pulled apart or reach of your own volition.  Do you believe that you are a small amoeba with very defined limits?  Or are you consistently able to reach out into the void and find what you need and stretch yourself?  You are much less rigid than you think.  Most of your limits are not based on DNA but rather WTT (Willingness To Try).  The old rule book is slowly being torn apart.  You don’t need to go with it.  Reach out into the void and see what you get.  Then do it again!

Keep the Nucleus Strong!

Pete

 

Your Part of You’re Problem

ObesityIt’s Mr. Baxter from 7th grade science class that started my tendency toward being a spelling/grammar Nazi.   Two times receiving a 99.5% based on spelling errors was enough frustration to get me to pay attention.  I fully recognize that language is a fluid and live thing.  Every day we can influence it for the better or worse.  Outside of church, very few people are using “thine” and “thou”.  These words have been morphed and replaced with their more recent counterparts.  Change is not my concern.  It is laziness and apathy.

Widespread education and technological advances have democratized access to knowledge and the overwhelming response of the public has been indifference.  There was a time in this country when only a select few could hope to become educated.  The huge supply of knowledge seems to have caused an equally huge plummet in demand.  While this lowering of expectation has happened in the realm of language, it is just as obvious in personal health, civic responsibility and many other areas of life.  As the challenges of life have become easier, we seem to be less inclined to meet them head on.  Instead we have found a degree of comfort in social proof.  If “everyone else” is holding a low standard, then it makes us feel that we are OK.

What if you were the one to hold the line for yourself?  Not to tell the world that it is wrong but to do what is right for yourself and those around you.  If you held the line on your health, your marriage, your relations with people or yourself; what kind of a ripple effect could you have on your family, community or even the world?  Even if no one else took up your particular cause, how would it feel to be the answer to your own problem?  Deciding for yourself, exactly what you would and would not stand for could be liberating.  Rather than looking at those around you to find the path of least resistance, you could look inward to find the strength to hack out a new trail.  Our world is filled with more possibility and less hardship than every before, so are you going to sit there and bask in the glow of what our forefathers built?  Or are you going to do your own work?  The choice is yours!  And that is probably the biggest kicker of all, we get to choose to step up or not.

So I hope that you find within yourself a desire for better than most.  Be a leader by doing first.  Utherwhys whee May knot bee aybl two reklame wut weave lust!

Make today better.

Pete

 

 

What Won’t Be on the Test

TestThe other night I had dinner with a former student/player of mine.  We ran into each other a few months back.  Our common love of books and podcasts started the conversation.  He’s freshly out of college and we’ve been talking about life and career lately.  This dinner was a eye opening conversation for me and I’m hoping that this post will help someone who may be in the same spot as my friend.

The phrase that he uttered the most was “I don’t know.”  In some ways this could be viewed as a positive.  Moving from the teen years where young people tend to think (or project) that they know everything, “I don’t know” could be a sign of positive motion.  In this case (and possibly for this generation) there was a definite sense that his need to know was a bit of a surprise.  His GPS had gotten him to the restaurant.  He mirrored my choice in beer and our conversation followed that theme of uncertainty.  While I know that this is not completely his fault, he needs to deal with the consequences.  The finger of blame will do nothing to give him direction or satisfy the remainder of his life.  So how does one find the answers for the test that’s not coming?

The first step is recognizing that the answers are your answers, not right or wrong answers.  While the majority of a young person’s life may be spent in a very regimented existence today, the “real world” is becoming less definite each year.  The internet has changed the rules of almost every facet of our lives.  Industries that did not exist ten years ago are major components of our everyday life.  The economy, geopolitics, the job-market and many other areas of life are variable at best and regularly volatile. While this amount of change may be disconcerting to some, the way to avoid being swept away in a tumultuous seas is to have an anchor.  In a world that is always changing, it is important to find consistency in something that is under your control: YOU.

Perhaps the hand that you were dealt is not what you wanted, you still have to play it.  For most of us, mom and dad can’t be relied upon forever.  At some point we all must take responsibility.  Break that word down into “response” and “ability”.  Having the ability to respond to the good, the bad and the ugly of your life rests completely with you.  Is your response going to be “I don’t like this”, “I hate this”, “I’m not ready for this” or “I can work with this”?  Regardless of your circumstances, the only one that makes any sense is to work with the ingredients that you have.  Stop comparing your life to some celebrity’s airbrushed picture perfect life or some other source that detracts from your pure power.  No matter what comparison is a waste of time.  No one has exactly your set of unique ingredients, so the only person that you’re competing with is yourself.  There comes a time in each of our lives that we realize that this life belongs to only us.  It is not your teachers’, parents’, professors’ or bosses’ life.  If you choose to give them control, it is still your choice.  So no matter what the question, the answer is yours to choose.

The second key is realizing that time is on your side and patience truly is a virtue.  If you’re in your twenties or teens, you’ve got the time to figure things out.  Just because you don’t have the answer right now, doesn’t mean that you won’t eventually.  Amazon does not do “same day delivery” on the perfect life.  Even the most incredible stories of overnight success usually have a less known story of hardship and patience.  Unfortunately in a 140 character world, it’s easy to have expectations that surpass what the world actually consistently delivers.  The only thing that you can get RIGHT NOW is the opportunity to plant seeds that you can reap in a year, five years, ten years or more.  Climbing the mountain is not an instantaneous process and even if you could teleport there, you’d miss all of the good stuff that comes with the climb.

So take these two points out into the world and use them.  Anchor yourself with an unshakable belief that you can figure out your life on your terms.  Then be patient with your pursuits because nothing worth having comes without effort.  With those two concepts in mind, I’m sure that you’ll do well on this art project called life.  Enjoy it!  It’s yours!

Pete

Early Seinfeld

SeinfeldSeinfeld is one of my favorite TV shows of all time.  It has so many memorable episodes and characters.  Despite my love for the series, I’m not a huge fan of the early episodes.  Many of the episodes, I just don’t find funny at all or they feel forced.  This is not surprising in the slightest.  It took those early episodes in order to get to the later ones.  Early failures lead to better episodes later.  A few of the story-lines were even repeated with better effect the second time around.  The early episodes of Seinfeld were not a good indication of where the series was going.

JKRowlingDespite all of the examples of enduring early hardship, there is still a pervasive desire for instantaneous results.  People want to be hit right away, if not sooner.  The perception of overnight success is usually due to the glossing over of the hard work done before the big break.  Sylvester Stallone was a breakout start with Rocky!  After he was a starving actor who had to deny a big pay day in order to star in his own movie.  J.K. Rowling had the blockbuster Harry Potter book series followed by movies.  After she was on welfare and had her book rejected by many publishers.  Most of us are looking for the triumph without the trials.  It seems that it doesn’t usually work that way.

The road to success in anything will most likely be filled with potholes, detours and poorly constructed bridges.  The sports car or limo that you’ve imagined yourself arriving in will probably not make the trip.  In fact you’ll probably have to go most of the way on foot.  Are you willing to make that trip?  Or will you take the easy road to Nowhere Near Where You Want To Be?  It sounds like a town that many people live in while they dream about being someplace else.

Get on the road today!

Pete