Just about every year on Father’s Day, I take a short hike with my children and wife to a little waterfall at a local park. Although my wife and kids are aware that it is one of my favorite places in the world, I’d never really given an explanation as to why we return to the same spot. The tradition is based on a quote from Heraclitus. “A man can never step into the same river twice because the river has changed and so has he.” Although I usually don’t set foot into the stream near the waterfall, I recognize the change in us both.
This tradition is meant as a time of reflection for me to realize the changes in my life, my children and the world that surrounds me. Personally I find this to be very helpful because I don’t take for granted the many things that have changed. My son growing taller is an obvious change but juxtaposing our past visits against yesterdays I more clearly see the man that he is becoming. I cannot freeze these moments to keep them from flowing by like the water. The only thing that I can do is notice them. It is my job to remember that each time we return to this place to be grateful for the time that we have had. Unlike the stream that is sourced from a large lake, there is no telling when this time will run out.
So as you go out into your day, take a moment to appreciate the people in your life that really matter. The time of your life will keep flowing by no mater what you do. However you can take this moment to appreciate all that you have. There is not a lack of beauty in this world. There is just a greater amount of distraction. So it is up to us to look for the beauty before it passes us by.
Have a great day! And Happy Father’s Day to the Dads out there!
It’s extremely easy to get caught up in your own narrative. Look at it as if it is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. History is often told from only one perspective. The English probably don’t spend much time on the Battle of Bunker Hill in their history books. However there are always at least two sides to the story, if not more. It is difficult to avoid getting caught up in one narrative because we experience the world from only one perspective. No matter how difficult it may be to remember, it is key to relationships to understand that people are fighting a battle that you probably don’t understand.
The convenient thing about history is that there is too much of it to uncover every single situation and devote pages in books, areas of museums or time in documentaries. So historians must edit history to fit a narrative about a nation, people or group. We do the same things in our minds but our editing faculty can be skewed by emotion. We are rarely objective about the importance of the moments of our lives. So it stands to reason that we would have even more trouble being objective about someone else’s experience or stepping into their subjective experience and the emotion that goes with it.
So it is in all of our best interest to see the people around us as fellow soldiers. We are all in a fight of some sort. Although we may think we have a front row seat to the battle that other people are fighting, there is a layer that we cannot cross without letting go of our own struggle to reach out with understanding. Recognizing that we have common ground as soldiers but separated by a distance that cannot be measured in miles. It doesn’t matter if you’re fighting “The Great War”, every battle matters most to the ones who are in it.
George Costanza would not accept it! Upon being dumped by a significant other, she tried to employ the most common of breakup cushioning. “It’s not you! It’s me!” This is an age old ploy to deflect a super direct hit to the ego of the person being dumped. Rather than telling the person the real reasons that they no longer want to be with you, the softener is used. While it may cushion the short term blow, it does nothing for the long term development of the person as a viable mate. Costanza, as usual, is an outlier in his stance on “It’s not you! It’s me!” He doesn’t want to hear it. He wants to know that it is his fault that the relationship is falling apart. While a little aggressive in his approach, maybe it’s time to learn from George.
The finger of blame is wielded around like an oscillating sprinkler head. It blankets the surrounding area effectively enough but the source never becomes a target. It creates a two-fold problem that compounds over time. People, who are unable to hear the truth of their shortcomings, never get beyond them. Despite being adept at avoiding the mirror’s reflection, they usually become better at noticing the faults of others. From a perch of perfection, the mere mortals that surround you seem almost foolish in their daily mistakes. So the cycle of delusion and dispersion continues. Until there is that extremely uncomfortable face to face meeting with the reality of imperfection.
The way to combat this is to cut it off at the beginning. Assume that it’s you! At least partially, if not wholly. You’re to blame. You didn’t do enough or did too much. Put it onto yourself first because at least then you’re in control of it. You can change something: an action, a habit, a relationship or even just your outlook. When you take total responsibility for yourself and the things you can control, you’ll find yourself on much more stable ground to influence the people around you to do the same. You’re not a victim! You’re a contributor! If all you have to contribute is blame and excuses, then you’re going to end up alone on your perch of perfection. Waiting for it to fall!
During my sophomore year of college, my two younger brothers were in high school together. One was a senior and the other was a freshman. At one point during the school year, there were “Drug sniffing” dogs brought in to do a search of the school. Students stayed in their classes while the school was swept. If your locker was tagged, you were supposed to report to the office in order to have your locker searched. My freshman brother’s locker had a tag on it. Completely panicked, he went and found his senior brother. One question from the senior brother, “Do you have any drugs in your locker?” The response was “no”. The senior brother went straight to the office and reported that his locker had been tagged. He brought the officials to the locker for it to be searched. The school officials questioned whether this was really his locker or not because it was in a freshman hallway. My brother was adamant! This is my locker! Upon being opened and searched, the locker did not contain any drugs. There was however a half eaten box of crackers at the bottom which the dog must have smelled. I wasn’t there and no one has discussed that incident for years but I still get choked up when thinking about it.
As I am going through preseason as a coach, I am always trying to instill in my players through my words and my actions, the exact sentiment that my younger brother displayed that day. I’LL GO FOR YOU! The idea that I’ll put myself in harm’s way for the good of others. It’s one of the main reasons why I’m still involved in sports after all of these years. It’s not the championships, trophies or victories. It’s those moments when you can truly see that people throughout the team have that simple idea tattooed on their brains “I’ll go for you!” I’ll give you everything that I’ve got and then some because I know that you’d do the same for me.
The ironic thing is that this has become so very rare in our society but the teams that I’ve seen do the best had this. People are usually worried about what’s in it for them and when will they get their due. In my experience, it seems to be that when you are willing to give everything and expect nothing, is exactly the time when you get more than your due. This can be a difficult concept for a large group of people to buy into but when they do, it can be magical.
The best example of this idea that I’ve ever heard of was when Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers had his father pass away. There was some doubt whether or not he’d play the next game. It’s not his decision to play that I find extraordinary but rather his teammates commitment to him. In this video clip about the game at 2:19 Donald Driver (Wide Receiver) describes exactly what I’ve been talking about. “Whatever he throws, we catch.” In a time of pain for their teammate, they were not going to let him fail. That’s what being a teammate and a family member is about.
Now don’t misread my words! Not everyone deserves everything you’ve got but if no one is willing to go first then we all lose. So be the one who is willing to give into the unknown. Tell the people who truly matter with both your words and your actions; “I’LL GO FOR YOU!” Most of the time you’ll find, they’ll go for you too!
“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)
This 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!
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!
Marvel and DC have had a long term duopoly on the Super Hero. They’ve got teenagers bitten by radioactive spiders all the way to a billionaire orphan vigilante. These characters have been cultural mainstays for decades with their popularity reaching a crescendo at the moment with big budget movies. These heroes capture the imagination because of their exceptional abilities. Each has their personal foibles but in the end the world depends on them to put things right in extreme situations.
There are two problems with the Super Hero though. First, the world is very rarely in the kind of peril that requires Super Heroes. Second, they’re not real! Even the Super Heroes, with no super powers whatsoever, bend all kinds of rules of reality. So if we don’t have those big problems and these individuals don’t exist, why are we so obsessed?
It is really quite simple. Super Heroes are a distraction. A way for us to be let off of the hook. Since I’m not able to do anything EXTRAordinary, I only need to do the ordinary. Being a hero is just too far out of reach because I don’t have a magical hammer, futuristic body armor or a utility belt. It’s just me! What can I do?
You can be a small time hero! You just need to do a little more than the ordinary person and that by definition makes you EXTRAordinary. Be a little kinder. Be a little more resilient. Be a little more intelligent. Love your family a little more. BUT what difference will that make? Almost none.
UNTIL a few people around you catch on. Then it has the possibility of developing super power. Because small time heroes stacking up their little powers together becomes a force multiplier. It’s not particularly easy! Nor is it blockbuster movie worthy but it really is the only way. Super Heroes are not coming! The people in “power” generally worry about two things: keeping the power they have and leveraging it to their own ends. So it is up to us, the small time heroes to save the world from………us! Go suit up!
With the World Cup only a week away, the passion of nations is about to be put on display for the world to see. The line between ecstasy and exasperation will be measured in moments and inches rather than hours and yards. Preparations for this spectacle have been going on for years because for most of us, it is just that big of a deal. Soccer truly is its own religion. The problem, however, is the same as it is with most religions. When people care that much about something, they tend to leave their ability to reason at the door. Passion trumps perspective and people lose sight of what is TRULY important. This is extremely evident in soccer’s hate triangle*.
This past weekend at my son’s game, it became evident that there are a lot of negative feelings swirling around the soccer fields these days. There is obviously plenty of excitement and passion to go around but the negative feelings are also ubiquitous. Most of the time these feelings are directed at a particular group of people involved. Every game has the potential to become a powder keg as tempers (both expressed and unexpressed) flare up. Three groups represent the biggest sources of animosity and project it outward toward one or both of the others. Coaches, Parents and Referees are the adults surrounding a game. While stuck in the middle are the young people that the game is supposed to be for. Obviously not every parent, coach or referee has these negative feelings toward the other groups but it is so ever-present that most kids are affected.
So in the name of the children that we are supposed to be helping navigate this game and life, here are some suggestions on how to break the hate triangle:
Walk a mile – It’s so extremely easy be an expert on something that you’ve never done. Perspective is a game changer. So if you’re a parent or coach who regularly finds fault with referees, sign up for a course or volunteer to “referee” a scrimmage game within your club. These simple actions can give you the perspective of the other party. Empathy is a key component to breaking down the walls between opposed people. One of the best ways to cultivate empathy is through a different experience.
Communicate only when emotion is low – Do your best not to say (or scream) what you’re thinking in that heated moment. Pause and wait for a time when you and the other party are calm to discuss situations.
Remember people – More than likely you’re not dealing with the reincarnation of Genghis Khan. This person is not a demon. They are another human that has a family, friends and a job. It’s easier to judge someone else as bad based on one moment of their life. While I’m sure that you’ve handled every situation of your life perfectly, it might not be fair or helpful to hold everyone to a standard of perfection.
Be a person you’d like to meet – If the roles were reversed, would you want to deal with you? Putting the best version of yourself forward gives an example for the other side to live up to. At bare minimum in these tumultuous times, people might not show you their best side. You should never lower yourself to become a person that you don’t like.
These are not the only strategies but they’re a start. In the end we need to remember every single weekend that the World Cup is most likely not at stake in the game that we’re involved with. Something more important is. The future of how our young people relate to one another is being formed at every moment. How many more generations do we want to keep in soccer’s hate* triangle?
Break the cycle!
*(I use the word hate on purpose. It is more to describe the depth of feeling rather than pervasiveness of that feeling.)
Man 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!
Imagine there was a Happiness Lottery. Once per week some lucky person would be awarded a lifetime supply of happiness. Of course there would need to be some payment for the ticket. Since the normal lottery requires a small amount of money in exchange for the chance at the big cash prize, it stands to reason that the Happiness Lottery would require a small happiness sacrifice to get into the big drawing. How many times would you play? How much of your daily happiness would you sacrifice on the long odds of Happiness Lottery? My hope is that you wouldn’t hang your hope for happiness on luck but rather come up with a systematic plan to create happiness and compound that which you already have.
The first step would be to take stock of what assets you already have. Be grateful for the people and situations that are already in your life that cause happiness. Write down the happiness assets that you have in your life. The more grateful you are for what you already have, the less likely that you are to squander it.
The second step would be to look for ways to create more. Accentuate the areas where you are creating great happiness and put more time into happiness areas that may be lagging.
Diversify your portfolio. Don’t expect all of your happiness to come from one area. If you lean to heavily on one happiness source, tough times in that area will leave you living very thin. Friends, family, hobbies, entertainment and a slew of other possibilities exist for you to have a balance to happiness.
Cut down on waste. Recognize where you are putting in great efforts but getting little returns. Perhaps an area that used to be your biggest happiness producer is now a leach but you don’t see it.
Watch out for thieves! There will be thieves looking to steal your happiness if you let them. With money we use banks, vaults and safes to protect our assets. With happiness we need to vigilant watchers of our world and who we allow access to it.
Happily ever after is a nice idea for the end of a fairy tale but it’s not a realistic plan. The lotteries, both monetary and happiness, are not a plan. They are a pipe dream. Happiness and finances both need to be cultivated through some strategic planning. Very rarely are either the result of the luck of the draw.