Blogpost, self-reliance

The Fear to Dream

There is an actual condition called Oneirophobia which is the fear of dreams, specifically nightmares or nigh terrors. That’s not what I’m talking about at all. I am worried that people are afraid of today are the more common place aspirations. Those things that we had when we were kids! We were all astronauts, cowboys or both! That’s not to say that we need to be fool-hearty or dimwitted. Reality is a factor that needs to be considered. However, there seems to be a space between jumping and flying that we are leaving largely undiscovered or even ignored. Not due to a lack of propulsion potential but a fear of not reaching the desired height.

As a former high jumper, I understand the mental blocks that exist with achieving certain heights. For well over a year, I tried and failed to clear 6 feet 0 inches. Incremental improvement on certain tasks can be time consuming and frustrating. However, I never stopped jumping. In fact, I probably had more attempts at 6’0″ in that year than any prior or since. The problem that I am so concerned with is the concept that if I can’t clear my goal, then I shouldn’t bother to jump. The desire for the result should be a form of fuel but the possibility of failure should not inherently be a brake or an anchor. Guarantees of success are hard to come by in this world and becoming dependent upon them is a strategy wrought with more disappointment than failure could ever offer. The simple and mundane are the only things that are guaranteed.

So be willing to risk failure, possibly even spectacular failure! That risk is the price that one must pay for anything worth having. Don’t fear to dream! Dare to dream! We are not the ancestors of idle dreamers. It is only because they did, that we get to continue to do. Change your dreams, sure! Adjust your plans, fine! But do not fear to dream! Otherwise you won’t have to dream about your tomorrow. It will look exactly like today or maybe a little worse.

We belong
In a world that must be strong
Oh, that’s what dreams are made of
And in the end
On dreams we will depend
‘Cause that’s what love is made of! – Dreams by Van Halen


Blogpost, self-reliance

Human Fruit

My first job was working at an apple orchard. My brothers and I were paid twenty-five cents per box of apples that we picked up from the ground. Since these apples had already fallen, they were not able to be sold for eating. So they were used to make cider. There was a decent amount of opportunity to make some money from this deal. If we were diligent about our work, filling a box was not too difficult or time consuming. Generally speaking though, we weren’t overly effective at our job. We semi-lazy preteens who spent as much time talking as we did picking, probably more.

Outside of Hackettstown, NJ. My first job was at Best’s Fruit Farm. It’s apple season now.

Although we were not titans of the cider industry, that experience held a lot of lessons in it. Recently I started thinking about the actual apples though. The most valuable apples are the ones that are picked at the right time and sold for eating. The ones that fall to the ground are worth far less as cider or possibly worth nothing if they rot. Although it doesn’t happen much with apples, there are fruits that “die on the vine.” Usually this is due to a lack of nourishment. While most of don’t give much thought to the growth of fruit, we just buy it at the store, have it sit on the counter for a week and forget to eat it before it goes bad. Or maybe that’s just me at the moment! Regardless, it is a great metaphor for our dreams and goals. It got me thinking about how most dreams die. Do they die on the vine due to a lack of nourishment? Or do they fall before they’ve been picked, essentially a lack of timing or attention.

It’s really hard to say because it depends on a lot of factors. However, if I was pressed for a guess, I’d say that it was more than likely that most dreams die on the vine rather than falling to poor timing. Humans are amazing creatures with so many positive attributes. Despite all of the positives that we possess, there is rampant pessimism within our species. We tend to see all of the things that could go wrong before we even start. Therefore we do not pump the metaphorical juice into things. Our preference is to only give resources to the fruits that we “know” will ripen. On the one hand, this is not a bad strategy. We do not have infinite resources: time, energy, attention, etc. These are only a few of the ingredients that are needed to bring anything to life. So the high probability (low hanging) fruit may seem like the right move. Unfortunately it tends to leave almost nothing for the low probability but more valuable dreams. So much of life is spent producing results that just about anyone could.

We watch as our dreams shrivel and die as they get none of our time and attention. Yet our boxes are filled with “cider apples” that do not inspire us or anyone else. They represent a variety of minimal effort endeavors that we do not long or ache for. We only chose them because they were basically guaranteed to work out. So maybe this apple season, it is time to let some of those easy dreams fall to the ground in favor of a few long shots. It’s possible that you’ll come up empty handed. Or maybe you’ll find that that sweet juices were worth the extra effort!

You won’t know until you try!


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!


self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

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?



Blogpost, self-reliance

We’re All Pretenders

IMG_3059Kids pretend all the time.  They turn sticks into swords, a backyard into a jungle and anything has the potential to be magical.  Then as we grow, it seems to be trained out of us.  We tend to see ourselves in finite terms.  Our limits are not those of our imagination but rather of our circumstances.  We don’t consider the impossible or even the improbable because it has been trained out of us.  Pretending is child’s play and most of us consider ourselves too mature to do that.  The truth is that we’re all pretenders, we’ve just bought into a more sophisticated game.

If you have a dollar in your pocket, take it out and look at it, try to come up with another use for it other than to purchase something.  Possibly a book mark or it could be folded to straighten a wobbly table.  Thousands of years ago, someone came up with the idea of money and got enough people to believe in it, that now it largely runs the world.  At home I have some Ecuadorian Sucre coins and bills.  They’re worthless to just about everyone in the world because Ecuador stopped using the Sucre years ago.  New pieces are used in the game that they’re playing.

There are systems that have been put into place for decades, centuries or millennia.  Learning to negotiate within those systems is extremely important.  However you must always remember that we’re all pretending on some level.  I’m pretending to be a writer.  If I do a good enough job, more people will buy into that role that I’ve imagined for myself.  If I do a poor job, I won’t get to play that game anymore.

So since we’re all pretending on some level, why not go out into the world with all of your guns blazing?  Pretend so hard on the things that matter to you that no one will doubt that you are exactly who you’re pretending to be.  The other option is to take the role that you’ve been dealt by your circumstances because your not willing to pretend anymore.  Acceptance of the boundaries of your life seems a lot like a cage.  The origin of the word pretend is Latin.  It means “before the stretch”.  It is the precursor to growth.  So keep pretending until you stretch to your actual limits, not the ones that were thrust upon you.

Have a great day!



Dream Amnesia

amnesiaHave you ever woken up from a night of intense dreaming and not been able to remember much of anything about the dream?  Well that’s not what I’m talking about at all!  I’m talking about your dreams forgetting you!  Those things that you want to have in your life: a goal, a person, an item or anything else you can imagine.  It started as an image in your head.  Then you took some form of action to make it a reality.  You might have even got close.  But then it was gone.  Sorry to say, your dreams have amnesia!

Your dreams don’t know who you are and don’t care about you in the beginning.  Like the most popular girl in high school, your dreams could not pick you out of a line up.  What’s worse is that your dreams have a form of amnesia.  You can walk up and introduce yourself but the next day you’ll be forgotten.  Just like Adam Sandler in the movie “50 First Dates”.  You need to recognize this condition and not take it personally.  DO THE WORK!  The only way for your dreams to remember you and begin to accept you is through constant contact.  Don’t let a day go by that you’re not courting, coaxing and down right harassing your dreams (the last one doesn’t work well with people).  It won’t happen overnight!

I can’t even tell you how long it will take but if you’re consistent daily, hourly and minutely (is that a word?).  You’ll find yourself getting closer to your dreams.  Maybe one day they’ll welcome you with open arms.  Unfortunately that’s going to take a lot of work first.

Dream big and make yourself memorable!




Anchor Someday to Today

Someday is a great concept with an infinite amount of possibility.  “Someday I’ll get that new car.  Someday I’ll meet that special someone.  Someday we’ll get that bigger house.  Someday I’ll feel better about myself.”  The problem with someday is that it is like a ship floating off in the distance.  The only way to get someday to come is to lasso it, anchor it to the spot where you stand and pull it in.

Today is all that we ever truly have.  So if we want someday to eventually become today, we need to connect the two.  I don’t know what your someday dream is but it will probably require a lot of pulling.  Each and every day you need to do something to get you closer to that someday.  At times it will seem like you’re making no progress.  It may seem like it is impossible.  Then you’ll find out which is more important: wasting today or using it to turn it into someday.


The Bannister Effect

BannisterOn May 6th in 1954, Roger Bannister broke the World Record for running the mile. He was the first man to run one mile in under four minutes. Many runners had attempted the run but all had failed until Bannister. Although he is remembered for “breaking” something, I contend that what he created was much more important: possibility.

The key to Bannister’s run is that he opened the door of possibility for other people to do the same*. He pushed the edge of what humans were capable of doing. All it takes is one person to show us that our limits are not what we thought they were. Lindberg, Edison, Robinson and countless others swept aside the past to show a brighter future with fewer limits. It seems to be the natural order of things that when the bar is raised, we rise to the occasion to meet it. From my own life, I know that my father was the first in his family to go to college. It is no longer a novelty. All of my brothers and I attended college. The Bannister Effect could be found in many people’s lives.

Is the difference between impossible and possible only a matter of time? How many people told Bannister he couldn’t before he did? How many people scoffed at Lindberg before he was cheered in Paris? How many people turned a blind eye to Edison before they saw the light?

The critics will always be there and their ridicule of your dream will be true, until it’s not. In the end if you give up, they’ll have their “I told you so” moment and everyone will move on. If you persevere and triumph, they’ll stand silent and everyone will move up. I would love to see you rise up rather than give up.

*Additional information: World Records for the mile date back to the 1850s.  The time slowly and incrementally decreased over the next ninety years when Gunder Hägg of Sweden ran a 4:01.4.  Then it took ten years before Bannister broke through the four-minute barrier.  Six weeks later, Bannister’s record was broken.  Today his time from 1954 is six seconds slower than the high school record for the mile.