Blogpost, self-reliance

Focus Is a Muscle

There are so many things that need to be exercised these days. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by it all. So many things are coming at us from a variety of directions. Knowing what’s important and what isn’t can get confusing. Even when the priorities are established, our world is one of distraction. It takes a strong focus muscle to get anything done.

The first step to strengthening any muscle is recognizing that it needs work. Assuming that it’s fine because it’s easier to ignore it makes no sense. Any rationalization is more than likely an excuse. “I’m a good multi-tasker” or “I’m just not good at _____.” may make you feel better in the moment but carry little weight overall. The truth is probably closer to “I’ve not practiced focus, especially on things that are difficult or ‘boring.'” Life is not likely to cater to your preferences any time soon. So it is on you to work out this weakness.

Just like any workout program, it takes consistency and overloading. That doesn’t mean create an environment of distraction. Isolation of the focus muscle is key. Take away all of the distractions possible. Focus on the task at hand, perhaps for only a few moments. If that muscle has atrophied to the point of non-existence, it may feel more like rehab that working out. Regardless, do not judge yourself for where you are. Just focus on the progress that you want to make. It may not come as quickly as you’d like either. One of the reasons that most people are not fit is that they want their muscles to develop quickly and they lose focus. Whether real muscles or the focus muscle, these things develop at their own speed. All you can do is the work!

Focus!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Being Around Older People

When I was a teenager, my grandparents lived with my family in an addition that we built onto the house. Like so many of the experiences that we have in life, it didn’t hit me until much later what a gift I’d been given. Initially they were both there but then my grandmother passed away. It brought mortality directly into the house. After her passing, I started doing a bit more with my Pop Pop. I would go to church with him from time to time on Sundays and breakfast afterward. Not exactly the preferred activity of a teenager but I don’t remember complaining much. It was an exercise in perspective.

Our society is moving at a pace and has a “newness” that seems relatively content with discarding people who can’t keep up. While I understand that the shiny things are exciting, there exists a foundation on which things are built. It’s easy to ignore the building blocks when admiring the heights that we’ve achieved. Unfortunately or fortunately, those blocks are integral to the structure. Whether it is recognized or not, the building topples without them. As it is with our older generation. We did not arrive at Instagram in an instant. It took generations of grandparents looking at family photos with their grandkids before we got the idea of valuing our memories through photography. Now we think that our “stories” are the full story. They’re not. Just a flash in the pan.

History doesn’t repeat itself but it tends to echo. So when you get the chance to talk to someone older than you, don’t rush. The echo of your future may be heard within their past. The telegraph is the telephone. Just like the radio is the television. Human beings are still here experiencing life as an organism intended to live in the wild but existing in relative comfort. Ask the questions that you might need answers to in ten years! An older person may not understand Snapchat but they have seen enough of the world to know what things are worth chatting about decades later. Maybe it’s time to sit and chat.

Ah-sasoo!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Who saves the hero?

In the 1978 movie Superman, Lex Luther’s lackey Miss Teschmacher saves the Man of Steel from certain death as he almost drowns with a kryptonite necklace weighing him down. She sneaks a kiss before releasing him from the kryptonite’s dark power because she knows it’s not going to happen later. A relatively minor character with a soiled past takes an opportunity to save an almost invincible superhero. Certainly it’s a movie but often truth is stranger than fiction.

Most of us are not running around with a cape or a utility belt filled with gadgets. It can get a little uncertain who the real heroes are. With Superman and Miss Teschmacher, the equation is simple overall but in that moment she gets to be the hero. A moment of generosity and caring when it really mattered flipped the script on who she was. That’s the opportunity that we all have.

Each and every day we walk past would be heroes. There are people with greatness lying dormant within them. They are weighed down by their own form of kryptonite. Drowning in tears of the past or fears for the future. Perhaps, you could help to save them. I say help because we are all at least partially responsible for saving ourselves. But with the right word, right action, right support, just maybe, the kryptonite could be lifted from their neck long enough to get their bearings. They may not notice you or thank you but it might just be enough.

Superman is the hero because he consistently does the right thing. Miss Teschmacher has no ability to fly but she has the ability to choose. She could choose from that moment forward to do the right thing. Capeless but no less a hero. Since Halloween is over, your standard clothes will have to suffice as you go out into the world. Movember is upon us. A kind word or a quick check in may be all that it takes to save a hero that could save another!

It’s bird! No! It’s a plain old person doing what’s right!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Duality

It’s such a difficult thing to balance especially in English! The equilibrium between opposing forces that we need to consider. At least in Spanish, they have the verbs SER and ESTAR which both translate to mean “to be”. However they are used very differently. SER is used for things that are either permanent or consistent, while ESTAR is used for things that are temporary. This may seem like a simple distinction but we run into these dichotomies daily and they trip us up. Focusing on the moment is a crucial component to our success. However, long term planning and attention to the horizon is also prudent. How do we balance?

The recognition of the duality is probably the first step. I’m not so sure that perfect balance is possible. It’s one of the many reasons that I’m such a proponent of soccer as a teaching tool. A team that is committed to the attack is now more susceptible in defense. Risks must be taken in order to get to the goal but throwing all caution to the wind is a poor strategy in most instances. Formations and tactics change with time in order to exploit or counter the status quo. The same is also true within our culture as the pendulum swings in one direction or the other, it tends to swing back.

As an individual, it’s on you to recognize the duality within the world and within yourself. Recognizing that there are very few silver bullets for us to use means that we must be conscious. Conscious to the fact that the world is ever changing and there are so many things that are still true from a thousand years ago that it’s staggering. Our job remains, as I’ve put it before, FCO (Figure Crap Out!). Just remember that the answer of today may not work tomorrow.

Good luck and good planning!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

White Knuckles

“You were white knuckles, but it wears you down. Hold on hold on!” Like so many songs by bands that Blair Sheehan has fronted, I’m in from line one. Even though I heard this song years before it’s lyrics really took hold of me, the song was a favorite from the first listening. We’re all holding onto something. Often it’s too tight. We’re white knuckled and it’s not good for us but we persist. Usually because we’re invested in the sunk cost. We’ve held on for this long and to let go now means more than it would have earlier. However, we can’t go back to when we should have truly let go. It’s a downward spiral. So now what?!?!

Most likely, the answer is let go. The things that are meant for us and are truly important usually have a hold on us as much as we are holding onto them. Like an embrace or interlaced hands, there usually isn’t a struggle because holder and the held are both invested. The white knuckle situation is a struggle and it’s evident. Often this expression is used with vehicles that cause passengers to hold on too tight out of fear. That’s usually what causes the extremes of the human experience, fear. Fear of the unknown. That thing that we’re holding onto may not be good but it’s known. Therefore it is better than the fearful alternative. Or is it?

We can only do what we can do in this life. With all of the advances that humans have made in recent centuries, we may want to believe that we can control everything. We can’t! Especially when dealing with other humans. So hold onto those things that are important, for sure. But perhaps it’s time to release the things that are causing the white knuckles. Believe in the possibility of better things coming your way. This world is filled with almost infinite possibilities. It’s very unlikely that this thing is the end all and be all of human existence. Once freed, your open hand may just find another that’s reaching out.

“Get in or get out, and stop waiting around!” – Racquet Club

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Better Tomorrow

Amazon and lots of things like it have completely messed us up! We can get that thing that we want and often it will show up tomorrow! That’s amazing but not pervasive. For thousands of years and for many specific portions of life, that’s not how the system works. Yet we’ve become accustomed to it at a level that may not serve us. Each of us has problems, challenges, issues or conflicts and for the vast majority of them, they’re not going to be “Better Tomorrow”. The solution or resolution is probably not coming via overnight shipping. It will take longer.

Despite the fact that this may be frustrating to the impatient, it’s not a reason to lose heart. Our perfect solution is probably not on its way but that shouldn’t be the focus. The incremental improvements that built most of our society still suffice if we don’t discount them. Most upsets are caused by a mismatch of expectations. So when the real world doesn’t meet the speed of the internet, it can be frustrating to those who expect it all now. The focus needs to be put on making tomorrow better rather than making everything better tomorrow.

Yes! It’s a small semantic shift but a powerful one if used properly. People want it all right now but in the time that they spend complaining and lamenting; they could be progressing and refining. The struggles of life are real! No doubt about it! However, the tried and true method of breaking problems down into smaller chunks is real as well. That incremental progress of making tomorrow better is powerful when it becomes a habit. Choosing it is far more practical than lamenting the lack of instantaneous perfection.

So make tomorrow better! And do it again! And again! Then eventually that problem that stifled you will be better tomorrow but the process is what got you there, not the perfection!

See you tomorrow!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

An American Soccer Manifesto (Part 2)

In Part 1 of the Manifesto an argument was made for the proliferation of soccer in a historical context.  The processes of traditional American sports were well suited to the industrial age while soccer seems to be more in line with the present state of business and society.  So I am making my argument for soccer to be the national sport of the USA.  In this second part, the physical aspects of the argument will be explored.

While we are dealing with a virus that has risen to the level of a pandemic, the health and wellness of the USA has been on a downward trajectory for a while.  The number of people who are considered obese or morbidly obese is staggering.  Partially this is due to our diet but also a sedentary lifestyle that dominates our adult lives.  From the sports side of the equation, the traditional American sports of football and baseball are geared toward the short term acquisition of “bulk” with long term consequences.  Linemen make up almost half of the players on a football field at any given time.  Their weight is often an asset.  While baseball is less prone toward mass without reason, the sport is not based on heavy caloric burns.  It is a pass time.  Large portions of the sport mirror the sedentary lifestyle that will be coming later in life.  Both of these sports are usually left behind after high school.  Or a watered down version is implemented with lots of post game brews for good measure.  

Soccer on the other hand requires a more diversified athletic ability that lends itself toward generalized and possible lifelong fitness.  It promotes cardio-vascular fitness, flexibility, strength and heart rate variability.  In addition to these positive attributes, soccer can be played until the later stages of life.  The game may be a bit slower but it remains largely the same.  Like any sport or activity, it is not a panacea.  Injuries happen and overuse can be an issue.  Generally speaking though, the positives tend to outweigh the negatives.

So much like the argument in my initial post, soccer needs to be embraced.  I know that it is already on a variety of levels.  However, it has not become a truly “American” sport just yet.  Perhaps it will take another decade but the argument is there.  America needs soccer much more than it realizes!

I believe!

Pete  

Blogpost, self-reliance

The Best of Both Worlds

Peter Diamandis, author and CEO of multiple companies has developed a set of rules that fly in the face of “Murphy’s Law” that he calls “Peter’s Laws”. One of my favorites is “when given an option, take both.” It’s contrary to our relatively limited thinking but that is exactly the point. Our minds have been trained in a multitude of ways. From what we expect our lives to look like on a daily basis to the things that are possible. Possibility is something that we struggle with as humans. We know what we know and don’t what we don’t. Therefore we hedge our bets. Take one of the options and run with it because it’s all we can expect.

What if our training was all wrong? What if Van Halen were right to want the “best of both worlds”? It’s worth at least the consideration of a moment. In a world where you can talk to someone on the other side of the planet in an instant is it so ridiculous to consider that you could have more. Whatever that is for you. I recognize the need for gratitude and humility. They have their place and need to be employed to balance desire. However, a single celled organism that waits for food to run into it will surely die. It needs to reach out into the world to find what it’s looking for. And maybe that’s the point. The best of both worlds may not be going for everything but rather being thankful for what you have while going for what you want. Perhaps that’s the heaven here on earth that Mr. Hagar was talking about.

So be thankful. You have things in your life that you should be grateful for and hang onto. At the same time, your life is not limited to the known. This world has so much to offer and a lot of it is within your reach. “Something reached out and touched me!” Now it’s your turn to reach out!

Take both!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Realizing Your Potential

It’s an interesting turn of phrase when you think about it. When you “realize” something, it was always there but you were possibly ignorant to it. Often it takes experience, reflection or the influence of others to “realize” something. The same is true with potential.

Most of us are ignorant to what we are capable of doing. Our potential in any given area is an amorphous concept that we probably give little thought. We are who we are and will improve a bit here and there. Overall it’s a very linear type of idea. While that is the general way that things work, we all have the possibility to leap into the void. Give an endeavor everything that we have regardless of past success or failure. The reason that we usually don’t go for these types of leaps is that it comes with an inverse “realizing a lack of potential”. Crashing to the ground in a heap with dashed hopes landing on top of you is not easy. So why risk it?

We are all have great potential for a variety of things. That’s not in question. The only question is whether or not we’re willing to risk the foray into our ignorance of ourselves. Can we truly bet heavily on the person that we know best in this world or hedge those bets for the safe incremental wins? It’s a tough decision to make but it’s one that only we can. Because no matter how much another person make see our potential, it’s not until we realize that they’re right that change can actually happen.

Double down on you today!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

You Are World Class

At one point, Larry Bird was a world class basketball players. Despite his age and present club situation, Ronaldo is still a world class soccer player. Tom Bilyeu is a world class speaker. And all of them are world class in at least one other area. The other one came for free and everyone gets it.

The one thing that you, I and everyone else is world class at is being themselves. It’s the free pass that we all get! It’s guaranteed! As soon as you come out of the womb, no one is going to be as good at being you, as you are. Even when you mess it up, you’re still getting it right better than anyone. It’s something to hang your hat on for sure but it’s not everything. Things that come cheaply are not usually held in high esteem. So the idea behind this revelation is not to rest on your laurels. Do not be satisfied with that foundation. Expand upon it! Being you isn’t hard and being someone else is impossible. Take the tools that you have and run with them. Be the best you on your own terms and some that are valuable to your interaction with the world.

Many people want to run to the crowded spaces in order to gain their world class status. The problem is that math is against them. You’re world class at being you because there is exactly one of you. If you want to be the best basketball player in the world, there is plenty of competition. Being the best kazoo player is less crowded but do you care enough about the kazoo to do it? The first step is to fall head over heals in love with the idea of being you. After that, take it wherever you can. The road to world class in anything but you is difficult and crowded. So don’t get discouraged if you never get there. The journey is worth just as much as the destination or possibly more. More than likely the destination is fleeting. So pursue something and do your best to enjoy all of the spoils that come from being a world class you!

You’re the best!

Pete