self-reliance

The Boy Who Cried Wolf (Revisited)

BoywhocriedwolfCautionary tales like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” seem to be less prevalent than in the past.  Perhaps that is just my perception or my own implementation of life lessons to my kids.  I remember exactly who told me this story and for what reason.  It had the desired effect.  In third grade, I would frequently “not feel well” in order to be sent down to the nurse’s office.  Once my visits became frequent enough, the nurse recounted the story of the boy who cried wolf.  My visits to her office became more legitimate.

Although the moral of the story is extremely clear, it might be worth a revisit because it could go further.  In the end, the boy gets hurt because the townspeople don’t believe him.  His dishonesty lead  to pain because it short-circuited the system that was intended to protect him.  While this moral has served me and countless others well, let’s go further.

The boy not only put himself in peril, he also robbed himself.  He robbed himself of the experience of watching how the townspeople dealt with wolves.  His deception was a short term diversion that took away his long term solution.  If he had been diligent in his duties, he may have seen that scaring off the wolves was something that he could eventually do on his own.  Developing this skill set over time could have saved his life in the future.

This revisited moral is possibly even more useful than the original now.  The world is full of alarms, warning devices and security systems that keep us safe from “wolf attacks”.  However with all of this “protection” are we going to be ready to act when things go sideways.  If we are always providing our young people with a “safe space”, will they know how to handle themselves when real dangers show up?  Hope is not a strategy.  Hoping that the systems in place will be enough to cover all eventualities actually leaves those on the inside helpless.  So don’t hope that nothing will happen, take steps to prepare for those possibilities.

Systems can be great and it is completely fine that we depend on them, until it’s not.  Following the credo of the Boy Scouts, “be prepared!”  You don’t know what is coming in your future but if you never consider what’s possible in either the positive or the negative, then you’re bound to be unprepared.    We’ve all got exactly one objective in life: FCO (Figure Crap Out!).  That’s it!  You don’t deserve a problem free life.  You can only create one.  Not by eradicating all problems but by preparing for so many eventualities that you’re never caught by surprise!

Get ready people!

Pete

Uncategorized

I Had To F%#$ This Up!

HHS Soccer
Not exactly the right year but the shorts tell the story!

I was in 8th grade and my school soccer team was playing against North Warren.  They were the only team that had beaten us all season.  It was late in the game and the score was still tied.  Someone passed me the ball as I was wide open in front of the unprotected goal.  I shot the ball and it sailed over the goal.  It almost defied physics!  I was so close to the goal that missing seems as though it was harder to do than scoring.  The memory of that shot is almost 30 years old and it still bugs me a little bit.  All of these years later though, I’ve come to realize that I had to miss that shot.  In all of our lives, there are things that we really have to f%#@ up.

No one wants to fail.  The disappointment, the shaken confidence and the negative memory are all reason enough to avoid failure.  People are always trying to give themselves the best chance for success in any endeavor.  Aiming for success is always crucial but always achieving it is both impractical and probably detrimental to future successes.

The path to where you are is probably filled with potholes, detours and the occasional breakdown.  Even though we think that we want a smooth and clear path to our destination, most of the fire that we have in our belly comes from past failures.  Learning how to live through and overcome failure are key ingredients to a growth mindset.  Although we live in a physical world, the beginning of almost everything in our lives starts in our mental world.  That is the space where failure can be taken, molded and turned into a stepping stone for future success.  I’m sure that you want whatever you’re working on right now to be a great success and I hope that it is.  However what if you need to F%#@ this up to succeed later.  Part of the equation is that you really want to succeed but recognize in the long term f%#@ ups are part of the equation too.

Give it your all today!

Pete

Uncategorized

The Beauty of the Strikeout

StrikeoutIn 1998, Mark McGwire hit more home-runs than any other player in MLB history.  I vividly remember watching the games to see if he would break Hank Aaron’s record and I’m not even a baseball fan.  At the time, I remember becoming personally moved by the chase for the home-run record.  It changed the way that I thought about several things in my life and it had nothing to do with home-runs but rather strikeouts.  McGwire lead the league in home-runs that year but he was also near the top of the leader board for strikeouts.  He struck out 2.2 times more than he hit home-runs.  In theory, the strikeouts are failure but in reality they are three more pieces of data.

From the outside, the strikeout seems ugly and unwanted.  I’ve never heard anyone say “that’s the best strikeout I’ve ever had!”  The beauty of the strikeout happens inside.  It’s the internal process of finding the next home-run from the mistakes made in the strikeout.  Personally I always attributed this to dating.  The strikeout/rejection was originally paralyzing and kept me from stepping up to the plate.  It was after McGwire’s record breaking season that I started to embrace the beauty of the strikeout.

Many of us go through life hoping that things will be easy.  We want life to pitch us as many “meatballs” as possible, so that we can get on base.  The problem with this hope is that it guarantees us a life in little league where you hit off a tee or a lobbed pitch from a coach.  If you want to play life at a higher level, you need to be willing to take some strikeouts and get back up to the plate to chance it again.  If they are considered data and not a death sentence for your self-esteem, then strikeouts are an amazing tool.  The key is that something must be learned from each one.

So become a strikeout analyst.  Don’t shy away from the opportunity that your failures give you.  Most failure is not fatal and is only negative if we do not see the lesson.  The beauty of the strikeout is expressed in that next home-run.  So take a swing and use your mistakes as ingredients for your next success.

SWING AWAY!