Blogpost, SoccerLifeBalance

POSH Need a New Drug

I wrote this before the announcement of the postponements but figured I’d post anyway.

With Peterborough being reclassified as a tier 3 area before this weekend’s fixture, it takes away the fans as an influence on the match. Although POSH were able to go on a long unbeaten streak without fans earlier this season, some performances lacked the energy and commitment that will be required to continue their climb up the table. There is definitely not a lack of talent within the squad. It basically comes down to the emotional/mental state of the players at game time. Ferguson and the players have proven that they can play with energy from the first whistle. Unfortunately the government has sucker punched the POSH (and all clubs) by taking away the fans that just got back to the ground. This undesired circumstance forces the POSH to find a “new drug.”

Before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, I’m not talking about any illegal substances. Everything that human beings do, we do in order to produce or reduce some form of feeling. These feelings are caused by chemicals (drugs) inside of our brains/bodies. The good feelings that are produced during a football match by players and fans are generally from four chemicals: endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. My post “Soccer is not a zero sum game” outlines these in greater detail.

Regarding the POSH situation, it has been suggested that the team and some players in particular thrive off of the crowd. This is most likely due to a rush of serotonin. It is the chemical that causes several feelings but in particular it is responsible for the feelings of pride and status. In normal seasons, this is a perfectly appropriate feeling to chase as a footballer. Even at away fixtures, there would normally be handful of fans who would cheer on the players giving them a quasi-hero status. In COVID times, that pursuit has been taken away and it is difficult to say when it will be back. While I recognize that this is an opportunity to get angry at an outside entity that has taken something away from the boys in blue (or pink depending on the day), it may not be the best answer on its own. A healthy dose of oxytocin is the drug that I’m suggesting.

My son and I at London Road. Oxytocin creating moment.

Oxytocin is the chemical that we would normally associate with “love.” A large amount of oxytocin is released during childbirth in order to create a connection between mother and child. This is probably a little more “touchy feely” than footballers would probably prefer to be. So the recognition that similar types of oxytocin filled bonds can be made between soldiers at war or friends with a close relationship. Due to the fact that thousands of fans will not be there to cheer on the successes of the players, they need to double or triple down on each other. The Sammie and Frankie show was born out of friendship. Those feelings need to transfer to the field and spread throughout the squad. Each member of the squad needs to celebrate the success of his teammate as a success that he takes part in. This shared feeling of accomplishment and desire for the good of everyone needs to become an “addiction.”

While I am a huge proponent of the positive, there is a power to the dark side of our emotions. The problem is that anger and other emotions like it become corrosive if they are overused. So my major suggestion is to triple down on connecting with each other but leveraging the power of the negative situation could be useful in spirts. Even though it is not fully true, taking the view that the government and EFL are both against POSH and their fans gives extra juice and unites the group even more. El Presidente named this the “Revenge” tour which goes in line with this perspective although it may lean a bit too much toward a victim’s mentality. My slant would be that this is the “Confirmation Tour.” Confirming the idea that POSH were truly on the promotion trajectory when the season was ended. Other teams are on their own journey confirming the reverse.

So if fans continue to be kept away, it is vital that the players leverage the unity within the group to confirm who they are: the best squad in the division. The obstacles that are thrown in front of all of us need to become the path that we trend. Lamenting and complaining only create an emotion barrier to overcome. Embrace the obstacles and help each other climb over them. They are not impediments to be feared. They are the staircase that leads to the top!

Up the POSH!

Pete

P.S. Had to link this at the bottom. “I want a new drug!”

Blogpost, self-reliance

Kill the Deer or Plow the Field

No one can deny that we’re a long way from our ancestors. A caveman would be completely baffled by our world. Even our relatives from 100 years ago would find our confusing. Things that they would have considered challenges have been completely conquered. While things that we consider relevant would be laughably inconsequential to them. At the tip of the spear of time, survival is much less of a concern than it has ever been even in a pandemic. Despite the huge difference between our worlds, we exist with basically the same hardware as our ancestors inside of our heads.

Mother nature was smart when she set up the human animal. We are wired to get pleasure out of the things that are going to keep us alive. It’s almost comical that now that we don’t have to “survive” as much, many of those joyous things are the ones that are killing us. But I digress. Historically speaking, humans have been largely hunters or farmers/gatherers. Keeping the simplicity of this in mind, recognize that these are two different skill sets. Both require a form of patience but one is more active. Tracking and hunting often took days. Planting and harvesting took months. Both take skills. Some that were innate and others that were learned. Despite never having experienced our modern perception of a computer, our ancestors had both an operating system and “apps.”

By looking at it in a similar fashion, you need to realize that you have a similar operating system. However the applications that you’re running, don’t always work well with the system. Things tend to develop glitches when your apps don’t align with your basic programming (no computer language pun intended).

Your body/mind want to survive: physically, mentally and socially. Keeping this in mind is important. Even though you’re unlikely to perish in your day to day existence, your basic programming is still trying to avoid it. So whatever problem it is that you’re having, it is probably a disconnect between your modern life and your body/mind’s prehistoric programming.

That assignment or paper that you’re avoiding. It’s not a bear or a lion or even chipmunk but it still causes fear. Not because it is going to kill you. It’s a disconnect between your modern view of school and your prehistoric brain’s need to live in a tribe. If you do something that offends the chief or hurts the tribe, you might be banished and you’ll never make it alone. It’s the possibility of planting seeds that you need for the winter and a drought coming.

The extra pounds that you’ve put on are a disconnect between your modern sense of “attractive” and your prehistoric mind’s need to take on calories whenever they’re available. Set up a system for getting food after a successful “hunt.” Remember that chasing down a deer might have taken days. So our ancestors were probably working on light food until they hit the big score.

Regardless of what you’re struggling with, there is most likely a portion of it that can be traced to a mismatch of your operating system with the world that we live in. On the one hand, this is slightly annoying. On the other, it is liberating. Freedom can be found in the fact that you’re almost never in as much danger as your brain is interpreting. So you’re starting from a place major advantage. Knowing what signals to ignore and how to leverage the helpful ones is your job as a modern day human. Set your mind up so that you can win the ancient game of survival that you’re playing.

Good hunting!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Pack Your Bags (Or Don’t)

BaggageIn about a month and a half, I’ll be moving to Virginia.  It’s an exciting time!  Filled with all kinds of possibilities.  While we’re looking forward to that future, we must first deal with the daunting task of moving all (or most or some) of our stuff.  The process of packing is a necessary evil where you must decide what is going with you and what things just need to go!  Some people have trouble letting go of the things that they’ve accumulated over the years.  For better or worse, we get attached to things from the past and have trouble letting go.

The same holds true for the events from our past.  Some are vital and need to be packed in bubble wrap to make sure that they never get damaged.  While others should be sold at a garage sale or taken to the dump.  It’s difficult though.  Somehow the events of our lives feel like part of us and letting go of anything seems like a mild betrayal to who we really are.  Much like the physical moving, the weight of carrying the past into the future is a consideration to be made.

Since we are talking about emotional weight rather than the physical, the process for unloading or putting old memories into deep storage is different.  It is actually the process of making the memories that support the new future bigger/more important or re-purposing those unhelpful memories.  Talk about, envision and feel the stories from your past that you want to carry forward with more intensity and belief that it is who you are.  Let the less than helpful ones fade or flip them to support where you are going rather than where you’ve been.  That breakup or firing does not need to be a scar on your self-esteem.  It can be a rallying cry for better performance in the future.  Those “small” accomplishments that you overlook when you discuss what you’ve done can be made larger and more vivid.  It is simply a process of focusing on it in a different way.

So regardless of who you are or what portion of your life you are in.  You’re always packing for the future.  What are you going to bring with you?  Are you going to allow yourself to be weighed down by things that are probably insignificant to where you want to go?  Or are you going to be selective about the “baggage” that you carry with you?  It’s all your baggage but you don’t need to carry it all.

“It’s my industrial strength hairdryer.  AND I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT!!!”

Pete

 

Blogpost, self-reliance

Bio-Chemical War on Yourself

cannonI just wept in front of a room of teenagers.  It wasn’t part of the lesson plan but every once in a while, you just have to go with it.  Whenever I talk about a particular former student, it is bound to happen.  It has almost gotten to the point where the waterworks start before I even tell the story.  That’s because I’ve let it happen.  The memory does not have to be painful.   It is a combination of factors that make it so and they’re all within my control.

It seems as though many of us have a very hands off relationship with emotions.  They are things that happen to us rather than our creation.  Emotions are the effect of some cause outside of ourselves and all we can do is point the finger at the guilty party.  As we become more tethered to technology it seems to be getting worse.  Rather than the local humans and situations that can impact how we feel, there is now a virtual world that can impact us day or night, instant by instant.  So we deflect, deny or deliberate on why we feel this way regularly.  But as is usually the case, the answer is all inside.

The chemicals coursing through our brains are there to make the feeling happen.  So in a sense, you are in bio-chemical warfare at all times.  Bringing out the big guns of oxytocin and serotonin to combat the overwhelming attack of cortisol.  It’s not the stuff that they make movies about but it is the reason that we watch movies.  Our brain and body are in a constant feedback loop with each other.  The secretion of these chemicals are what makes feelings happen but we have our hands on the release valves and need to pay attention to these things in order to influence them: physiology, focus and inner dialogue.

Physiology is the way that you use your body.  It includes movement, food, sleep and many other factors but movement is crucial.  Exercise, facial expressions, posture and any other movement that you can think of influence your feelings through your physiology.

Focus is the things that you pay attention to.  At any given moment, there are thousands or possibly millions of stimuli coming in through your senses.  We can only pay attention to a finite number.  So we either pay attention to the obvious things or we need to take control of our focus.

Inner dialogue is the things that we say to ourselves inside of our head.  For good or ill the consistent things that we say to ourselves affect how we feel.  Being mindful of habitual self-talk is extremely important.

These are the ways that we can turn the tide of the chemical warfare that we have going on inside.  It is by no means an easy fix.  Each of these component pieces takes diligence and practice but we are not by any means helpless.

You’re fighting for your life, literally!

Pete

 

Blogpost

Steam Is Contagious

Huryk-LukeIt was many years ago but I’ve still not encountered a better example.  I was the field marshal at a youth tournament in Pennsylvania.  The players were under twelve years old and engaged in a very back and forth game.  One team was extremely adept at the offside trap.  Late in the game, there was a corner kick.  The cross was cleared out of the penalty box and the defense pushed up.  The ball fell to the foot of a offensive player about 30 yards from goal.  He shot.  The ball rocketed toward the goal and hit the post.  The rebound fell to a forward who was slow getting back onside and he scored.  The referee instantly called offside and awarded a free kick to the defense.  The coach of the team that had the goal disallowed went ballistic.  He screamed about how “ridiculous” the call was and asked about the referees sight, etc.  As the field marshal I felt that it was my job to diffuse the situation in order to avoid it interfering with the game.  I said, “Coach, if you’d like, I can explain to you why that was the right call.”  He responded, “I know it was the right call!  I’m just blowing off some steam.”

In most cases, soccer is not a life or death situation.  It’s a passion, diversion, recreation, fun or even a teacher.  The game has the possibility to do so many things because it garners the emotions of the people around it.  There is nothing inherently wrong with emotion.  We need them to live and color our lives.  However emotion without any sense of reason is problematic.  The word was chosen very deliberately.  REASON!  The reason why we’re there in the first place gets lost when we cannot control our emotions.  Referees become demons.  Opponents become enemies and sense of our self-interest overrides the judgment that we use elsewhere.  This is not so much of a problem when it is a single person.  However it seems to have become a societal norm.

The steam that so many people are letting off is clouding our vision.  The ability to see what is right in front of our faces.  Children.  Children who are looking at us for how to act.  Not just on a soccer field on Saturdays or Sundays but in their daily lives.  When something doesn’t go their way, they’re supposed to have an emotion freak out session because that’s what you do.  You don’t take a breath and refocus on the task at hand.  You don’t see the bigger picture.  You don’t recognize that human error is part of life and needs to be coped with.  Those things aren’t done because they’re hard.  They require effort, judgement and self-control.  These skills are difficult to develop, especially when you’re a child, watching the adults act like children.

So don’t breathe in the steam, just breathe!  Recognize that the children on the field have spent hours this week trying to improve their skills in order to perform for you.  Put your focus on that.  Double, triple or quadruple your focus on the fact that these are kids, trying to do something that is difficult.  AND DIFFICULT THINGS ARE THE ONLY ONES WORTH PURSUING!  So don’t produce steam, produce esteem for what everyone on that field is trying to do.

See you on the field!

Pete

 

Uncategorized

The Pepsi Challenge

pepsiLast century (specifically in the 1980s) Pepsi had commercials and other advertising with the “Pepsi Challenge”.  An “unbiased” consumer was asked to try two different colas and give their preference.  Of course the on-camera participants always chose Pepsi.  Perhaps it was what they truly liked or the entire thing was rigged in some way.  In all honesty it doesn’t matter that much to me because I preferred Pepsi to Coke without the seeing choices of others.  It does make for an interesting discussion on why we choose the things that we do.

In a given day, you have literally thousands and possibly millions of choices to make.  Some of these choices are simple and probably automatic.  For example “Am I going to wear clothes today?”  No matter whether the answer is yes or no, it is an easy choice based on your daily life.  Other choices are much more complex and require major deliberation.  Choosing to go to college or the military is life-altering and for many would demand some time and attention.  In the middle of the automatic and grandiose decisions are many moment to moment choices that need to be made by you.  There are many people who treat these mid-level choices as though they were huge.  Others put all of their choices on automatic pilot letting others decide for them.  The worst scenario is that people forget that they are choosing at all.

In each moment, you have choices and some of the most important are about how you are going to feel.  Believe it or not, it is a choice.  If you are feeling sad, it is a choice.  Perhaps there are very good reasons for you to choose that but it is your choice.  By taking the physical state of your body, your mental focus of the moment and your inner dialogue, you determined the feeling that you were going to produce.

So now I put a new “Pepsi Challenge” on to you.  Let’s call it the “Huryk Challenge”.  Can you choose to feel good in all circumstances today?  No matter what life throws at you, can you CHOOSE to feel good.  You do not need to like the circumstances but you choose your feeling despite the poor situation.  I challenge you.

Choose to have a great day!

Pete

Uncategorized

Smart TVs

At this point there is large portion of people who own a “smartphone”. Other smart items exist or are being developed.  I own a TV that says it’s “smart” but I’d like for you to imagine a specific type of smart TV.  What if your TV learned your viewing habits and changed the channels for you at different times of the day?  At 6 pm Seinfeld would come onto your screen because that was the show that your TV learned that you watch at 6 pm.  Your viewing schedule might look like this:

TV Schedule

 

At this point you realize that your TV life is now automatic.  This might be a great thing.  Automation can make things much more simple and less stressful.  The problem arises when the TV dictates a schedule that you no longer want.  Obviously when it is TV programs, it is easy to see that if you no longer like Seinfeld or the particular episode that you can change the channel.  The problem is when it is something inside of us, we have greater trouble “changing channels”.

Are your emotions on auto-pilot?  Does school or work put you into a stressed state?  Do you live your daily life with emotions that you want on the screen or are you a victim of your own “programming”?

Human beings are not immune to automation.  We have so many things to think about that our mind automates many things.  This can be a great thing but it can also be terrible if we are not deliberate about our automation.  Fear, jealousy, envy, anger and depression may be programs that have been automated into your system.  Do you want them there?  Or would you prefer to replace them with joy, hope, love and pride?  It is not as easy as changing the channel but it is way more important.