Blogpost

Facing The Super Villains

SuperVillainsMarvel and DC have been churning out movies for years now.  For many reasons, the Marvel Universe is leading the charge in this genre.  One of the main reasons is that they don’t just have the heroes face the obvious Super Villains.  They also continually show their heroes struggle with the more difficult Super Villains that are hiding within themselves.  Whether it is Tony Stark battling his own ego, need for control and alcoholism* or Captain America’s conflicting values of friendship with right and wrong; these are all battles that we as mere mortals can relate to.  So what do you do when the enemy that you must face resides within you?  Identify your foe.  This is usually the most difficult step.

It’s easy to identify an alien invasion through a wormhole in the sky above New York.  It’s a problem that needs immediate attention and the longer that you ignore it, the worse it gets.  Often the same is true of our internal Super Villains but since they reside within us, we excuse them or think that they’re the reason we got this far in the first place.  Regardless of the story that we tell ourselves, they are nevertheless an enemy.  And you’ll need to do battle.  Battling the villain inside is the more difficult and subtle battle.  Drop a nuclear bomb on that villain and the hero dies too which is not what we’re looking for at all.  So it requires deliberate thought and often daily work.  Some of these villains can be tamed but others must be destroyed.  So it is important to remember that you’re a starfish!

Of course I only mean this in the metaphorical sense.  In reality, starfish can regrow parts of their anatomy that are cut off.  In the practical sense for us, this is also true.  You can “cut off” a band habit, poor thought pattern or addiction BUT something is going to grow back in its place.  If you’re not deliberate about replacing it with something more constructive, the villain will come back and be stronger.  So as you are doing battle with those things that you want to change about yourself, have a plan to replace them.  None of this is easy but it is necessary to get you to the super hero status that you deserve.  And that is usually first battle that people have to fight, BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE SPECIAL IN SOME WAY AND DESERVE BETTER.  You won’t sprout wings tomorrow but maybe you can find another way to fly!

Suit up!  And fight the good fight!

Pete

 

Blogpost

Travel Sites Never Suggest the Barcelona Police Department?

BarcelonaMetroIn 1998 my best friend and I traveled to Europe for the World Cup which was held in France.  Despite our main goal being to watch soccer games, we also made side trips to other cities inside and outside of France.  One of our stops was the Spanish city of Barcelona.  It’s a beautiful city on the coast with the architecture of Gaudi, the shopping of Las Ramblas and hosted the Olympics only a few years prior.  Despite all of those  magnificent characteristics, whenever I talk about that trip, I usually talk about the Police Department.  Let me explain!

My friend and I were staying in a hostel* about a mile from the beach.  So we usually took the metro from our hostel to other parts of city.  On our second to last day in Barcelona, we were at a metro station waiting for the train to come.  My friend was rearranging items in him money belt when the train arrived.  We hopped up and got onto the train.  After the train pulled away, he realized that he’d left his passport on the bench at the station.  By the time that we got to the next station and took a train back, the passport was gone.  This was early internet days, so we relied on maps and locals to make our way to the US Consulate in Barcelona.  Upon arriving there, we realized it was closed because it was a Saturday.  The only person there was a guard who only spoke Spanish.  Luckily I was able to use my Spanish to explain the situation and he put me on the phone with someone to help.  Since we were traveling to France the next day, he explained that we needed to go to the Barcelona PD and file a police report.  With that and a copy of his passport, we would be able to cross the border and get a new passport in Paris on Monday.  Luckily our visit to the Barcelona PD went off without a problem and we made it to Paris as scheduled.  The Barcelona PD is not actually a tourist attraction!  However it is one of the places that I mention whenever I talk about this trip.  The reason is simple, the destination matters but the road is more important.

Almost none of the stories that I tell from my travels are about the view from the Eiffel Tower or standing in front of the Mona Lisa.  They are the stories of what went wrong, things that were odd and personal.  If the point was to see the Mona Lisa, then Google is all that you need in order to have a fruitful life.  To the contrary, the journey to get to the Mona Lisa is more relevant and full of impact.  We spend so much of our lives chasing goals and that is clearly the point.  Goals are merely the excuse that we have for going on a magnificent journey.  The mistake that most people make is that they forget to enjoy the journey.

Every day is your chance at adventure.  If you choose not to see it, then you will be swallowed up by all of the petty and seemingly insignificant crap that you encounter.  Or maybe, just maybe going to the Barcelona PD could be one of the best times you’ve ever had!

Hit the road!

Pete

*If you’ve never traveled abroad, a hostel is like a VERY bare bones hotel.  You sleep in a room with many other people and have shared bathrooms etc.

Blogpost

You’re a Plane, Not a Helicopter!

takeoffI have a friend who has pretty strong anxiety about flying.  It’s actually not so much the flying but specifically the taking off and the landing.  Proximity to the ground is the cause for most of the anxiety because hitting it in some unwanted fashion would be a real bummer.  I’m not sure how she would deal with riding in a helicopter.  With the liftoff being so instantaneous when compared with a plane, I’m not sure if it would be easier or harder to deal with.  I’ve never been in a helicopter but my guess is that the sensation of it is very different.  Since I’ve never been in a helicopter, I just assume that most people haven’t been either.

Despite that fact it seems as though people have a generalized desire for the Helicopter experience in their lives and work.  The overwhelming feeling that I get (and sometimes have) is that success should require effort for sure but then you just lift off from there.  While I recognize this is irrational, it does not stop people from wanting it.  The lottery winner type story seems almost ingrained in our consciousness to the point that it overrides our rational brain.  So it is time to embrace the fact that we need a runway.  As humans, we’re generally not going to reach the heights of our potential in a “straight up” way.

As you go out into the world to make big things happen, realize that you need to build a runway.  Reaching the highest heights is difficult when you’re running into trees, rocks and walls.  You need to clear a path for yourself to take off.  This may take a finding a new location or lots of elbow grease.  Regardless, building a good runway is better for the process of your takeoff rather than expecting your plane to be a helicopter.  The world tends to work in specific ways, so lay the groundwork and eventually you’ll be “ready for takeoff”.

Enjoy your flight!

Pete

Blogpost

We Lived In Castles

castleAt certain point in history, in particular parts of the world, the wealthiest people such as kings lived in castles.  I’m sure many people have fantasized about living in a castle.  The fantasy probably does not mirror the reality of what it was like hundreds of years ago.  By comparison, the comforts of most of our modern day houses outshines castle living.  Castles were made of cold stone without heat or air conditioning.  Although they served as protection from the elements in some ways, there was no escaping the fact that survival was the order of the day and not comfort.

In the past month, I’ve challenged myself to take cold showers every morning.  This has been an eye opening experience for a variety of reasons.  Although I started it for a variety of health benefits, it has actually been the change in perspective that I’ve noticed the most.  The key to making it through the cold exposure is control.  Not control over the external world but control over the internal world.  Recognition of the discomfort that you are in and finding a way to become comfortable with it is a revelation.

WE LIVED IN CASTLES!  The wealthiest people used to live in a discomfort that we don’t really understand but they survived.  The human body, mind and spirit are actually set up to endure much greater discomfort than we put ourselves through on a daily basis.  The thing is that we’ve lured ourselves into the comfort trap.  We’ve trapped ourselves into a 10 or even 5 degree window of comfort.  It’s not the circumstance but rather our perspective on it that traps us.  We believe that we cannot handle the discomfort, so we live as if it were true.   The space between where you are and where you want to be is filled with the discomfort that you think you’re not ready for.  So the question becomes, do you want to live in comfort of your present life or in the castle of your dreams?  Neither of them requires your circumstances to change, the latter requires that you do!

Get moving!

Pete

self-reliance

Prove It!

Geometry was probably one of the easiest classes for me in high school.  Despite its relative ease, I had trouble staying engaged with it.  I found it tedious to give all of the reasons why something was true.  It was usually pretty obvious whether a problem was going to withstand the scrutiny of the different theorems that we were learning at the time.  So it seemed like a relative waste to my teenage self to write out all of the steps in proving or disproving a problem.  Especially when the answers (to the odd problems usually) were in the back of the book.

In our every day lives, there aren’t a lot of ‘proofs’ to be done.  Very few things are black and white.  So regardless of how SURE you are of your argument, there’s someone out there with the exact same information screaming the opposite (just think of our present political situation).  So if we have nothing to prove, maybe the aim should be to improve.

Although there are few cold hard truths that we encounter daily, we do have a sense of who we are personally and what it is that we want for ourselves.  So recognize the fact that you have nothing to prove.  Even if you were to prove something, the circumstances of tomorrow may wipe away the thing that your proved today.  However, each day we have the ability to improve.  In small and subtle ways, it is possible for you to see progress in yourself, your life and your circumstances.  Almost nothing about you is going to stand the test of time like Pythagoras’ Theorem.  That does not mean that your life is meaningless.  You are a sand castle that can be improved and enjoyed for the time that it exists.  Get digging and sculpting because when the tide comes in, you’ll wish that you had!

Have a great day!

Pete

 

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

self-reliance, Uncategorized

This Is What You Wanted

MarathonAs we are moving past the time when most people have given up on their New Year’s Resolutions, I offer this subtle reminder.  THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED.  It is sometimes a difficult thing to swallow.  Goals and resolutions are pretty and shiny when we create them.  Everything will go great!  You’ll be able to maintain this level of excitement until you get to the end!  The problem is that we usually forget or don’t know the following.

When you set up a goal or make a resolution it is much like ordering your favorite dessert.  For me that would be the classic chocolate milkshake.  Unfortunately you forgot to read the fine print.  Before you will be served your delicious dessert, you have an appetizer of pain coming.  That will be followed by a main course of discipline with self-sacrifice sauce and side order of humility.  Once you are able to choke down those mammoth size helpings of something that YOU DIDN’T ORDER, you’ll finally get that thing that you wanted.

Just remember that THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED, all of it is part of the deal.  Embrace it.  You’ll actually find at some point  halfway through the main course that you like the taste of it.  Those things that you overlooked on the menu are actually something that you want for yourself.  The problem is that most people retreat too early because THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED!  At the end of the meal you’ll have to settle up the check.  If you stuffed yourself full with meal and goal, the bill is paid with PRIDE.  If you left your meal unfinished, then you have a debt of REGRET that is difficult to wipe away.

Decide on what you want from the menu!

Pete

Uncategorized

Obvious Words Now Intentionally Tattooed

Things are obvious until they’re not.  Then they become obvious again.  The world was obviously flat until it wasn’t.  Now it’s obviously round and some people want to go back again.  Obviousness is not a measure of truth but an accessibility to proof.  Meaning that the proof is so easily accessible anyone can see it.  The problem with the obvious now becomes that everything is now easily accessible.  Both the proof of the true and the false can be found with a few swipes of the finger.  Like a bank vault filled with half counterfeit and half legitimate money, it is no longer the receptical that matters.  We are going to basically the same place for most of our information.  It is our ability to discern the fake from the real that matters most.

zeusPersonally I am not interested in making my beliefs, your beliefs.  I put my words out there in the hopes that they resonate with some people, not everyone.  For example, I’m not sure that they exist but I think it would be really cool if there were people who still believed in the Greek gods like Zeus.  It’s obvious to me that those gods don’t work for me but for someone else, they may work great (provided they’re not hurting others).  One of the keys to this life is figuring out what works for you, not what the “best practices” or “top ten tips” are.  No one else can live your life and therefore no one else should.

Whatever it is that you decide to do, you need to OWN IT.  If you believe in it, don’t shy away from it.  The words that you say, especially to yourself are important.  They are almost important enough to tattoo on your body but make sure that first you tattoo them in your mind.  Obvious Words No Intentionally Tattooed!  Whether it’s a dream or a lifestyle or relationship, you must OWN IT.  Regardless of what the rest of the world wants.  Because the rest of the world is not your world.

Oprah Winfrey Network Internal Technologists was the original name that I had in mind for this post.  I’m an odd bird but my oddity is mine.

Thanks.  Make today your day!

Pete

Uncategorized

Dividing Your Fire Power

unforgivenEach of us has a potential amount of fire power in a given year.  If you think of your energy to finish projects as gunpowder, some of us have a barrel full and others could barely fill one of those Chinese novelty snap pellets.  While knowing how much powder you have is helpful, it is also important to divvy it up intelligently.  Even the barrel-full may not be sufficient if divided a thousand times and put into the wrong weapons.  By contrast, an intelligently used pinch could be life-changing.  So how much firepower do you really have and where are you going to use it?

red-ryderAt the end of this year will you be basking in the glory of your successful hunt?  Or will you be left standing with your Red Ryder Carbine in denial that you’re full of hot (but compressed) air?  That’s completely up to you and it starts right now.  Pick out your targets, if you haven’t already.  Write them down and decide how you will take them down.  Although truly ‘How’ is very rarely the problem.  It is usually getting the focus and commitment to the target that people fail to do.  So write them down now!

caddy-shackOnce you have your targets, then you can plan out how to systematically deal with each one.  It’s a simple enough process once you commit to it.  What you need to do is “fall back on superior firepower and superior intelligence.  And that’s all she wrote!”

 

Uncategorized

He’s Got a Bad Motivator!

badmotivatorIt’s a throwaway line from Star Wars: A New Hope.  The purists will point out that the actual line is “This R2 Unit has a bad motivator!” but either way it is enough to stop the red droid in his tracks.  At that point, it’s back in the sand crawler with the Jawas.  There is something all too familiar about this situation.  At times motivation seems like an illusive force that some people have the power to wield while others struggle to find it.  There is nothing supernatural about it.  The reason to do or not do something (don’t get me started on trying) is a mixture of chemicals that are released in our brains and the story that we tell ourselves.   So if you’re not doing something that you want to (or know that you should), it’s because you’ve got a bad motivator.

In our society, we are rarely threatened by starvation, predators or a lack of resources.  These were the things that motivated our ancestors.  Theirs was a life linked heavily with necessity.  Our needs have been replaced by our desires.  Unfortunately for those with bad motivators, most of the things that are easily acquired come with bad side effects.  Also the things that have true value often require a decent amount of effort.  So the choice becomes do very little  to gain the trivial or find the motivation to get the things that matter.  The motivation that you seek is in the story that you tell yourself about your desired outcome.  If you don’t have it, then your story sucks!

The story has to be consistent, compelling and relevant daily in order to get you to act.  For example, many people continue to smoke despite the impending health risks.  The story that they have for smoking must be very strong while their quitting story must be weak. Since the story that you have is made up by you or at least approved by you, you also have the power to change it.  The power is in your belief.  If you believe that you need to lose 20 pounds before October 15th or you need to donate $100 to an anti-charity, you will (I did that).  It was surprisingly simple once the story was in place.  I didn’t change the story for anyone.  The monetary amount was enough to make it compelling.  It was an important part of each and every day.  I’d made myself the main character in a success story that I wanted to see come true.  That was enough.

So do you have a bad motivator?  Tell yourself a different story about that important thing that you want.  It’s the most important thing to get this right because you’re the main character in the movie of your life.  Why in the world would you settle for a crappy script?  Start small with the chapter of today then build on that success.  Most likely the only person stopping you is you.

Pete