Blogpost, self-reliance

Amazon Doesn’t Work Like The Amazon (The Balance of Being Human Today)

RightNowThe past was a simpler time in many ways!  There’s no doubt about it.  The complexity of the world has jumped exponentially.  Despite its complexity, human beings remain relatively the same.  The complexity is around us, not within us.  So it is possible to keep the effects of the world at bay if we remember that we are part of the “natural order” of things.  In most cases we act much more like animals than machines.  Despite this fact, we expect ourselves to work similar to machines or want results to show up machine time.

Our ancestors understood that the amount of time spent hunting was far greater than the amount of time spent eating.  This proportion is a natural occurrence.  Obviously there would be times when a quick hunt would happen but it could not be relied upon.  The same was true of the harvest.  While the farmers did less “intense” labor than the hunters, it was stretched out over a longer period of time.  Again the time and effort spent obtaining the desired outcome was far greater than the time enjoying it.  However these proportions were in line with expectation.  So people prepared and adjusted for them.  Now we live in the world of Amazon, INSTAgram, SNAPchat and Uber.

These services and other recent cultural norms are not bad if they are kept in context.  The separation of modern expectations from “natural” phenomena is the key component to surviving the complexity of our world.  Trust is not one click away.  Overnight shipping is not available on love.  Physical fitness is not dependent on an application but rather dedication over time.  Keeping the expectations for the enjoyment of results in correct proportion to the necessary inputs to obtain those results is the key.  This balance can be difficult for people to maintain because the call of the modern context is so enticing.  Why would you spend months going to the gym when you can swallow a pill?

My hope for you is that you’re able to see past the false advertising.  Many of the things that you want are not available “On Demand” and that’s OK.  If everything were as easy as one click shopping, it would cheapen the peak experiences of life.  Time, struggle, intention, effort, passion and so many more ingredients are the appropriate price tags for what is truly important in this world.  It is those people that keep in line with their nature as humans who will avoid the trappings of the modern world.  So go out there today and get whatever it is that you want but don’t click on “one day shipping”!  Enjoy the process instead!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

The Challenge for June!

RunningI’m continuing to challenge myself going into the month of June.  Last month I did not eat until I posted a blog.  This month, my focus is on my exercise routine.  Each day I will do what I refer to as 2 out of 5.  I’ve developed a list of 5 exercises to choose from each day.  In order to meet my requirement each day, I must complete two of the five from the list but cannot repeat the same exercises two days in a row.  The intention is to build consistency into my regimen while maintaining some variety.  We shall see what this does.  Below is my list of five:

  • Run 2 miles or more.
  • Do 250 push-ups or more.
  • Do 125 air squats.
  • Run 10 sprints or more (100 meters)
  • Do St. Johns for 25 or more. (AB rotation: Each exercise done for 25 reps or more, crunches, jack knives, one legged jack knives (each leg), scissors, heal touches, mason twists, 1 minute plank)

While I’m putting this out in public to hold myself accountable, I’m also happy to help anyone else looking to challenge themselves.  If you’d like to take the month of June in order to get a little more consistency to your workouts, feel free to reach out.

Get things done!

Pete

Blogpost

A Month on the Hook

IMG_4495For the month of May, I decided to commit to publishing a blog post every day.  The stipulation was that if I did not publish a post, I would not eat until I did.  Today is the last day of my successful endeavor.  I was able to hold true to my word for the entire month.  There were definitely hours of hunger where procrastination seemed like the only thing that was on my plate.  But each day the publish button got pressed before the food went in.  Below are some reflections on the experiment and things to consider moving forward.

Stakes matter! – There were definitely times during the month that I would not have published a post under normal circumstances.  In the past, I’ve averaged about five posts per month.  I would only post when I felt “inspired”.  Even though I forced myself to go back to the keyboard every day, there was always something there to put out because there had to be.

Rules need to fit the actual outcome you want – For this experiment, I wanted to get my production up for sure.  The rules definitely did that but…  If I were to set up rules for posting a certain level of quality more often, I’d amend the rules in order to focus more on quality rather than quantity.  Such as I would require myself to write a blog post every day before eating but the publishing would be done more sparsely.  That way there is more of an editing process.

What’s your word worth? – Holding one’s self accountable is difficult.  Some people have trouble keeping their word when it is only them who knows.  They need an accountability partner or some other form of public pressure.  The key is to know who you are rather than assuming that what works for others will work for you.  I make deals like this with myself often, the other running one is about my consumption of iced tea.  If you need that extra push of being accountable to others, don’t worry about it.   The tools that work in the real world are the ones that matter, not the ones that work in our imagination.

Going the distance – As with any other endeavor, it’s best to sign up for a game that you have a marginal chance of winning.  As a first time experiment, a year would have been an overwhelming amount of time.  I’m not even sure that I would have made it a month if the length was a year.  It would have been too much too soon.  Now that I know that I can make a month, if it fit in with my life goals, setting a six month challenge for myself would be reasonable.  There’s no reason to set impossible goals for yourself just to impress people.  Your results are more important than your intentions.

Results – By writing every day, I was able to beat my average reads for the past year by 400% and the last day of May is not quite over yet.  Now I recognize that I raised my posting by 600% but I can definitely say that there was a positive impact.  My international numbers went up in certain areas.  I also had more “LIKE” and subscribes in the past month than any prior.  Also the number of old posts that were viewed by new readers was impressive.  So overall, I am chalking this experience up as a success.  I’m going to take portions of it and continue using them to improve my blog output.  However next month, I think I’m going to move my focus to my exercise routine and see what improvement I can make there.

Thanks for following!

Pete

Blogpost

Make UNTIL a Power Word

Until is usually a middle of the sentence kind of word. Something to be overlooked. However when used properly, it has real power. It takes self control though.

Until puts something that you want to do up against something you need to do. When until is used this way, it can be life altering. But you don’t get to reap the rewards UNTIL you use it!

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The Thirteen Year Safety Net

HighWireWalkerIn the 1970’s Philippe Petit walked a high wire strung between the Twin Towers in New York City.  It was an amazing feat that was a result of a slow but steady progression of skill and daring over years.  The film “Man On Wire” is a great documentary about the planning and execution of his walk.  A slight warning that if you are afraid of heights, you may feel uneasy.  Even though you are safe from any imminent danger, you may feel dizzy or tingly based on the images.  I cannot imagine how Philippe Petit felt during the walk, over one thousand feet in the air without a net!  Sure, he had years of experience and successful walks but the scale of this endeavor dwarfed everything else.  It is easy to look at Philippe and say that he is special, talented or even crazy.  Closer to the truth is probably that he was passionate about pursuing something to an extreme level.  The use of a net negates the entire reason that he was walking in the first place.  Under no circumstances and am I suggesting that a tight rope walk from dizzying height should be be in anyone’s future (I’m one of those people who tingles just seeing the photos).  I am suggesting that the intersection of passion and stakes is a place of power.  It’s someplace that we need to become more comfortable going to.

Unfortunately at the moment, we seem to be faced in the opposite direction.  The formative years of youth and adolescence are spent with nothing but safety nets around.  Whether it is literal foam padding to avoid injury or systems that are meant to insulate young people from failure, responsibility or any other stakes that could injure physically or emotionally.  The dichotomy of these systems are interesting because they protect in the short term and potentially injure in the long term.  Finding the balance of those two extremes is the name of the game.  Philippe did not start out on the roof of the World Trade Center.  Those stakes would have been overwhelming.  His passion for walking the tight rope also would not have grown if he never went higher than six inches off the ground.

For each one of us, we have things that could grow into passions but we are afraid to raise the stakes.  Failing, looking foolish and uncertainty are being trained out of our young people.  We have given many young people a “safe space” but the counterweight needs to be put into place as well otherwise we do not have a creative space.  All creation is messy, uncertain and possibly even dangerous.  We are born from a series of chances taken with an element of risk.  So to protect our future generations from that risk is robbing them of what is to be human.

As I often say to my players, “to be a leader, you need to go first”.  So if you have young people in your life, be a model of a balance in both passion and risk.  Perhaps you also need to break out of the foam rubber because comfort and security are things that many of us desire.  Unfortunately they also allow for little emotional intensity which is what passion is all about.  Go!  Take a chance!  Maybe even a small one and be an example for those onlookers who need someone to show them what is possible!

Philippe didn’t leap but he had to take a step off the edge and you can too!

Pete

Blogpost

My Biggest Regret As a Teacher

IMG_4128I was raised in the Catholic faith but have some major misgivings about the history and present of the religion.  Regardless of those feelings there are certain things that stick out from my childhood experiences of religion.  One phrase that always stuck out for some reason was part of the act of contrition.  When repenting for sins, the prayer asked for forgiveness “for what I have done and what I have left undone.”  The second part is what always hit me.  That I was not only responsible for seeking forgiveness for the actions that I had committed but also the ones that I had omitted as well.

Several years ago, I had a student in one of my classes.  He was one of those kids that was smart but did not care about the class enough to put forth much effort.  Since he was a senior, his only goal was to graduate.  So that he could get into the army and get away from the problems at home.  On a particular day, he and I got into a conversation about his lack of effort.  He said “Mr. Huryk, I’m not worried about this class.  I’m worried about what I’m going to eat today.”  After class I asked him to hang around for a minute.  I took out the container that held my lunch and handed it to him.  He refused but thanked me for the gesture.  After that day, I paid a lot more attention to his mood and weight.  It became pretty obvious that he wasn’t lying.  He had gotten skinnier.  So I packed up a brown paper bag with a loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly, Clif Bars and other low maintenance foods and put his name on it.  I had the secretary in the office call him down right before the end of the day and tell him that someone dropped it off for him.

No one knew who had sent the food but there was no secret that problems ran deeper than just hunger.  I talked to my wife about it and she knows how much I try to help people who need it.  She said if the situation was that dire, I could offer to give him a place to stay temporarily.  I just didn’t know him well enough to take that step.  Besides the year was almost over.  He was going to pass my class and be able to graduate in order to get into the army and move on.  On the last day of class, he asked me if I had been the one who had given him the food.  I admitted that it was.  He thanked me and said he appreciated it.  At that point, I thought I had done my part and I would never see him again.  I was right on half of that equation.

Upon returning to school in the late summer, the secretary who had helped with my covert food operation informed me that he had passed away over the summer.  The combination of his poor circumstances and some poor judgment sent him to a far too early grave.  All he wanted to do was escape the situation that he was in but it just didn’t happen fast enough.

I know that I shouldn’t tear up every time that I think about this.  In reality it was not my responsibility to make sure that this kid got off to the army safely.  I was almost inconsequential in his life.  The issue is that I know the outcome now and can see all of the things that I left “undone”.

We cannot do everything.  We cannot save everyone.  Regardless of how hard we try.  Bad things are still going to happen to good people who deserve better.  The reason why I relive this story in my mind often is because even though we can’t save everyone, I want to live in a world where we try to or at least want to.  Hate, malice and indifference are easy because they take nothing from the person who puts them out into the world.  Kindness, generosity, caring and love require that you give something of yourself and may not get it back.  That is a bargain that many people are just too afraid to make.  However the easy road ends with us all being alone and separated because the caring muscle atrophies when you use it infrequently.  So although it is a painful memory, I will continue to dwell upon what I left undone because I don’t want to believe that it’s not my responsibility to care for my fellow man.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are!

Pete

Blogpost

Would You Know a Good Ref If You Saw One?

refereeToday my son’s game had an extremely good referee group.  The center referee and his two linesmen called the game very well.  Despite the fact that they did a great job and got the majority of the calls right (even the ones that went against my son’s team), there were still complaints from parents.  Which made me wonder if people really have any idea what makes for a good referee or if they just want calls to go in their team’s favor?  Here are some thoughts to consider.

The level matters – Recognize that the job of a referee changes as the age and the level of play changes.  At the lowest levels, the referee is part of a learning process.  Their job is more about managing the understanding of the game rather than calling “fouls”.  Often the sidelines are complaining about things that are poor body control and not actually a foul.  The higher levels require much more reading of the flow of the game.  A good referee will identify possible problems developing in the play.  Their use of cards, advantage, player discussions and fouls called/not called will depend largely upon their reading of the game and individual’s roles within in it.  So as you are watching a game, give some thought as to the level of soccer being played and what the referee’s role truly is at that level.

Perspective matters – By design, referees are intended to be a neutral third party at the game.  So they are not carrying the bias that most of us bring to the game.  Their decisions are based upon what they see and not what they feel.  This creates another issue for most fans because their vantage point is completely different from that of the referee’s.  So it is not only possible but actually completely accurate to say that fans and referees have seen a different game.  Most of the time this is done with no instant replay, no VAR with different camera angles.  This is done live with twenty two players running in all directions and possibly screening the view.  Despite these major obstacles, perfection is the standard that many expect.

The Laws are the Laws – A good referee will call the game based on the laws of the game, not public perception of what the laws are.  There are many things that are commonly shouted from fans or even coaches about things that do not apply to the Laws of the game.  “Winning the ball” for example does not make a player immune from having a foul called against them.  If the play is deemed to be reckless, then a foul is appropriate regardless of who won the ball.  A large number of players, fans and coaches have only a cursory knowledge of the Laws that are based more on hearsay rather than actual study.

Obviously this is just a small sample but each is worth considering.  The game requires referees and the good ones need to be identified, praised and promoted.  I fear that many people involved in the soccer world would not be able to identify a good referee if they saw one.  That is unfortunate because that means that people are unable to see past their own desires.  Most of the soccer played in this country is youth soccer.  Therefore the majority of children are getting a skewed view of right and wrong.  Right means in my favor and wrong means anything else.  The ability to be objective could be lost.

Blogpost

An Open Letter to My Future Players

To Whom It May Concern:

VESPhotoI am your new coach.  That’s a role that I take very seriously.  It’s a mixture of teacher, mentor, psychologist, personal trainer, confidant and many other jobs that coalesce into a position of great possible influence.  The word possible is in there because people are put into roles like this every day but just because someone leads does not mean that anyone will follow.  A position of power does not make someone a leader.  Leaders must be willing to go first.  My hope is that I am able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am.

At this point, I could list all of my past experiences and accolades but they are only slightly relevant.  Prior success is not a guarantee of future success.  Also that term is something that we will have to define together.  So what am I offering?  Commitment…  A similar commitment to the ones that I make to my wife and children.  I take it that seriously.  The commitment to do what I believe is best in the long run.  Not particularly today.  Not the things that are easy.  Not the things that most people would do but rather the things that few people would do.  Things that may lose games but improve lives.  Ultimately that is the game that I care the most about: LIFE.  Eventually everyone’s playing career comes to an end.  The things that we carry with us after the games are over are the true victories.  The friends, confidence, self-discipline, self-awareness, and so many others are the trophies that we not only carry with us but can rely upon for years to come.  In the end, your ability to control a ball will probably amount to very little but your ability to control yourself will give you everything.

So where do we go from here?  Forward!  We are going to take the necessary steps in order to prepare for what lies ahead.  There is no way to predict what those things might be.  Every team and every season is different.  So we will do our best to anticipate the challenges and prepare for them.  We will endure hardships.  Face opponents external and internal.  Enjoy the successes but no matter what it will be done together.  Every one of us will contribute to whatever we accomplish.  From the starting captain, all the way down to the last person on the bench of the lowest level team, we all have something to give.  It may not be goals, saves or minutes but there is value in all of it.

I could go on but rather than talking about starting, we should just start.  So for now, let me just say that I am extremely excited to be working with you.

See you soon!

Coach

P.S.  Below is something that I wrote a few months back.  Not sure how it will play into my plans but I’m putting it here for your consideration.

“Toward Full Stature”

I go out today in search of victory,

Not over the opponent who stands in front of me

But the lesser self that resides within me

Before I can conquer anyone or anything else

I must first conquer and control myself

And if today I am able to stand victorious,

I know that tomorrow will bring a new challenge

Each day my ability to stand tall will be tested

But I am confident that I will reach my full stature

Blogpost

Leveraging the Dark Space Inside

High School Soccer from Senior Year

My overall purpose in this world is to help people get the best out of themselves.  Whether I do that work in the classroom, soccer field or elsewhere is irrelevant.  Most of the time it is done through helping people see the possibility within themselves and breaking through the self-imposed limits that they have.  Although my messages are usually positive in nature, I’m not against the idea of leveraging the dark space inside each of us.  It is probably the reason that I’ve been a successful coach for many years.

It was my senior year in high school and there were no big expectations for our soccer team.  There had been lots of talent in the prior year’s senior class and the season had no trophies or accolades.  My senior class had only a couple players of impact.  The junior and sophomore classes were full of talented but untested players.  As the only senior captain, I believed it was my role to help get every last bit of effort out of our team.  If we kept the idea that we were all in it together, we’d do OK.  In all honesty, we shocked a lot of people, even me.  We had an impressive record with only one loss and one tie as it was getting close to the playoff portion of the season.  Our record was good enough to win the conference title.  Against all odds in a penalty kick shootout we were able to beat a much bigger school for the county title.  We were ranked highly by the papers in the area and the number one seed for our section in the state tournament.  I’m not sure if it was one factor or a combination of things but we lost in the first round of the state tournament.

That was over twenty five years ago.  Despite that fact, it is one of the reasons that I have so much to give to my athletes from the sidelines.  Winning and losing are not actually my concern.  The reason why that is such a hole inside of me is that we didn’t give it our all.  I, as the leader, was possibly complacent and overly confident going into that game.  Sure there were other things that impacted the outcome but I know inside that it was at least partially my fault.  So I’ll have this hole inside of me forever because I can’t rewrite the past.

The only option that I have is to leverage that dark space into something positive.  That cautionary tale that I lived through is a driving force on the mundane days where no one feels like giving their best.  It is that pain that gives me the energy to work harder than others and leave it all out there.  I don’t talk about it often or even replay it in my head.  I don’t have to, it’s just there in the background.

We all have these experiences.  There is nothing particularly special or unique about mine.  The question becomes whether or not you can use it toward a future positive end.  Even the greatest lose from time to time but it is what you do with that setback that matters.  No moment is a definitive statement for the positive or negative on who you are as a person.  We are what we’ve done consistently.  With todays challenges you should absolutely give them everything you’ve got.  But if you come up short, take the lesson from it and allow it to propel you forward.  Sometime you win and sometimes you learn!

Have a great day!

Pete

 

Blogpost, self-reliance

Don’t Assume That You’re Weak…

IMG_4454You are the ancestor of survivors!  Cavemen and women who braved the bitter cold, extreme heat and dangerous predators just to continue the species.  Their successors improved hunting and developed farming in order to make survival more probable.  Eventually they were succeeded by people who developed technological advances that gave us every advantage and the ability to bend many of the laws of nature to our will.  This is your lineage!

Despite that fact, you feel weak, uninspired, defeated or out of control.  For so long our species had one objective: stay alive.  Now that survival is less of a concern, we seem to have forgotten how to live.  The words “successors” and “succeeded” were used intentionally because they illustrate a point that has been lost in the shuffle of the demands of modern life.  Success is now an arbitrary term that people often conflate with money, possessions or other status symbols.  It was originally about passing something on to those who would come after.

So don’t balk at the opportunity that you have.  You are the descendant of people who were brave, resilient and strong.  They left us every advantage and that has tricked us largely into believing that we are weak that we are nothing without them.  That we can’t handle the cold or the heat or the difficult or uncertain.  DON’T ASSUME THAT YOU’RE WEAK, JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T FOUND YOUR STRENGTH YET!  Inside of your very DNA is the stuff that made survivors.  Now it is your turn to do whatever you can with the time that you have.  Your strengths, the things that you were meant to do are out there, waiting for you.  Your belief in them and your ability to find them will beckon them eventually but first you must act!  You must do things that take you outside of your comfort zone.  Test the limits to see where your strengths lie!

Go get some!

Pete