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!
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.)
It’s such a common conversation that in each instance, I really need to work to not get fired up. A player (or a parent) will complain to me about the fact that their coach is not playing them for __insert reason here____. Usually it is some combination of “playing favorites” or “doesn’t know what he/she is doing”. The reason why these conversations are so difficult is that the player almost invariably refuses to see that they are choosing the bench. That sentence and the title of this post must sound ridiculous but I’ll do my best to make my argument for its accuracy.
The player who is complaining about playing time is almost always ignoring the fact that they have control over the key component to their PT, themselves. When people don’t get what they want, the easiest thing to do is blame someone else or circumstances. While this is the easiest thing to do, it rarely has positive results. In these situations of complaint, I usually direct the player’s attention to how much extra time they’re putting into their skills, fitness, tactical awareness, relationship with key players, etc. Upon asking about these things, I usually get a blank stare or a halfhearted explanation of their “extra” work.
In all of my years of playing and coaching, I’ve never met a coach who kept talent on the bench without a reason. Therefore the equation of playing time becomes quite a simple one. GET SO GOOD THAT YOU CAN’T BE IGNORED! The truth of most of these situations is that the player only wants to do enough to get what they want. They do not truly want the playing time because if they did, they’d be doing all of the work to get it and a ton extra. The obstacle of the coach is just an excuse for them not to do the work.
“Thumbs before fingers!” has been a mantra of mine for years. It simply states that you need to acknowledge your contribution to any challenge before you blame someone else. By seeing your faults first, you have the power to change them. If you ignore the fact that you have any fault, you become powerless. You are completely at the mercy of the person or situation. So I implore you! Don’t put yourself on the bench! Become so good that you can’t be ignored! Give so much effort that the coach has to feel guilty about taking you off the field! Then other people can talk about you being “the coach’s favorite” but you’ll know the truth of how hard you worked to get there.
Unless you are brought to the hospital in an ambulance, the first place that you visit is triage. It’s the station where the severity of your injury or illness is determined in order to prioritize treatment. Broken bones take precedent over upset stomachs and so on. People who can wait, often do, for long periods of time in the waiting room. However no one stays in triage for very long. Once your situation is determined, it is time to move on to get the help that you need or wait your turn. Triage is not an outcome!
This is so apparent when dealing with a medical emergency. No one would forego seeing the doctor so that they could stay with the triage nurse longer to describe their situation. However when it comes to our lives, many of us seem to desire eternal triage. Describing the horrible situation that we are in with excruciating detail to friends, family, classmates, coworkers and even strangers. Rather than doing something about the situation that we lament, we pile on more and more description. The unfortunate thing is that many people seem to want to turn their paper-cut into a shotgun wound. This situation is at the forefront today because it is Monday. A day that many people dread because it is just too far away from the weekend. Does this day carry with it any particular issue? No, it is just the story that we’ve made up in our heads.
So here we are at the door to the emergency room. What are you going to do today? Spend the entire day describing your issues to the triage nurse in order to make your headache seem like a stroke. Or check yourself for bullet holes and if you need real help, go get it. Or most likely, you can handle this on your own/with the help of those close to you. Describing the problem with more clarity is rarely the answer. Moving forward takes action, no matter how small. Clawing your way toward a destination is far better than hoping it will be attracted by the sound of your complaints!
Some people get very offended by particular four letter words. Others use them so much that they cease to have any power whatsoever. Despite their semi-taboo nature, the things that they represent are quite common place. The teeth of the matter can be taken out by substituting a word. It’s the word that makes it vulgar and repellent.
By contrast, the word “DO” has almost no connotation whatsoever. It shows up in so many contexts that its meaning is somewhat of an afterthought. When it’s not holding up space at the beginning of a question, do implies some form of action. Therein lies the problem with this seemingly insignificant word. People are not afraid of the word, they’re afraid of what it represents. ACTION that will take them out of their comfort zone or cause them to face their inadequacies. Do may only have half the characters of the four letter words but it has ten times the bite. People are paralyzed by their do’s.
So just like the foul mouthed people who drop the F bomb way too much, the key to reducing the potency of something is to increase the frequency. DO until you’re not afraid to do anymore. Give it a shot! Try! (That’s right Yoda, I said TRY! Go F#%$ yourself.) Succeeding/Failing do not matter anywhere near as much as the feeling that you have about who you are when you unshackle yourself from fear.
Life can often feel a lot like walking a dog. You’re getting pulled forward by a force that you only partially control. All the while, you’re carrying bag of crap that you’ve picked up along the way. If you don’t ever look up and enjoy the scenery, this can feel like a huge chore. However if you’re able keep what you’re doing in perspective, it can be a truly enjoyable way to pass the time.
Most of the time soccer is a noun but today I’m going to use it as a verb. Of course when you are creating a new word, it’s important to define it. Here is my explanation of the term.
The action of “soccering” is not the act of playing soccer. We already know how to say and do that. And NO! It doesn’t mean acting like you’re injured when no one did anything to you. The action of soccering is the real life application of the virtues that are possessed within the game. In soccer, players must make real time decisions about what to do, based on the stimuli that they take in from both teammates and opponents in order to achieve the outcomes of simultaneously reaching a goal while defending their own. The soccer paradigm puts the impetus of decision onto eleven individuals acting as a collective rather than following the pre-scripted orders of an overseer. Although positioning and style of play may be directed, principles and judgment are the main directors of decisions.
America needs to soccer! It needs to take back the very impetus that this country was founded upon. Regular people doing things as a collective that move us all forward and protect us against failing. We need regular citizens who want to be self-determining within the existing system and help to influence that system. At the moment we seem to be overwhelmingly passive and extremely willing to look for someone else to be accountable rather than looking to be responsible ourselves.
We can soccer by trying to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. We can soccer by changing our perspective from a “they” to “we” mentality. We can soccer by doing the right thing even if we know that no one else will notice but us. We can soccer by deciding to take a chance on something that might not work, rather than doing it “the way we’ve always done it.” There are so many ways to soccer but the thing about soccering is that it has to start with you. You can’t tell someone else to soccer. You can only show them how by doing it first and being an example.
Below is a long description of the historical paradigms where this thought came from. If you are inspired to do something right now, then don’t read the bottom, act now, read later.
Why do I believe that America needs to soccer? The historical successes of the United States have in large part been attributed to a football paradigm. Land acquisition and forward progress are the hallmarks of the All-American sport. In the past, both politically and economically, we have pushed forward in the name of progress and it has served us well. Manifest Destiny is the perfect example. Presidents and other decision-makers laid out a playbook for the American people to score a touchdown on the Pacific coast. Americans led the charge across the continent through wars and promised economic success, the way football players might listen to a play called from the sidelines. The Space Race, the Arms Race, the Cold War and Industrial Revolution were all perfectly suited to the football paradigm. So why change?
The reason for change is that the football paradigm is fundamentally flawed in a few different areas. The idea of neverending progress is unrealistic. At some point stock prices level off, profits decline and progress slows and stops. In a paradigm that preaches forward motion as the truest indicator of success, it is not surprising that we have: insider trading, big CEO bonuses for bailed out companies and strategic layoffs to protect profits. Individuals, companies and the government have all pushed toward their given marker of success whether it be money, land, power or prestige. These success markers are not inherently evil or negative but their acquisition without thought to the human equation has created an imbalance in our perspective on success.
There are also the separations in the football paradigm. The coach is the one who calls the plays. The offense scores the points and the defense stops the other team. Although all are members of the same team, it is easy to point the finger at another individual or group when things go wrong. In the Industrial Revolution this system was completely acceptable. Henry Ford brought forth the assembly line. He took men who were making fifty cents per day and paid them five dollars per day because of his efficiency. People were more than willing to be a cog in that machine because it was a better life than what they expected. They were linemen but were happy to be that. Now with modern technology and globalization that deal doesn’t work anymore. That deal is being shipped overseas and no one wants to be a lineman anymore. Everyone thinks they’re a quarterback and expects to be paid like one.
America needs to soccer because you’re part of the problem and part of the solution. You’re on the field. The decisions that you make on a daily basis matter. The President, the senator, the governor, your boss, your wife, your children, your friends, your teachers are part of it all but so are you. So before you point the finger, point the thumb. What can you do today to SOCCER?
Kids pretend all the time. They turn sticks into swords, a backyard into a jungle and anything has the potential to be magical. Then as we grow, it seems to be trained out of us. We tend to see ourselves in finite terms. Our limits are not those of our imagination but rather of our circumstances. We don’t consider the impossible or even the improbable because it has been trained out of us. Pretending is child’s play and most of us consider ourselves too mature to do that. The truth is that we’re all pretenders, we’ve just bought into a more sophisticated game.
If you have a dollar in your pocket, take it out and look at it, try to come up with another use for it other than to purchase something. Possibly a book mark or it could be folded to straighten a wobbly table. Thousands of years ago, someone came up with the idea of money and got enough people to believe in it, that now it largely runs the world. At home I have some Ecuadorian Sucre coins and bills. They’re worthless to just about everyone in the world because Ecuador stopped using the Sucre years ago. New pieces are used in the game that they’re playing.
There are systems that have been put into place for decades, centuries or millennia. Learning to negotiate within those systems is extremely important. However you must always remember that we’re all pretending on some level. I’m pretending to be a writer. If I do a good enough job, more people will buy into that role that I’ve imagined for myself. If I do a poor job, I won’t get to play that game anymore.
So since we’re all pretending on some level, why not go out into the world with all of your guns blazing? Pretend so hard on the things that matter to you that no one will doubt that you are exactly who you’re pretending to be. The other option is to take the role that you’ve been dealt by your circumstances because your not willing to pretend anymore. Acceptance of the boundaries of your life seems a lot like a cage. The origin of the word pretend is Latin. It means “before the stretch”. It is the precursor to growth. So keep pretending until you stretch to your actual limits, not the ones that were thrust upon you.
It was an absolute revelation! Never before and not since had I ever seen a short part of a movie and instantly gone to Blockbuster to rent it (Even more difficult to do now that BB is out of business). The movie was Swingers and the scene was when Mike’s friends are trying to help him with his abilities talking to women. The scene is mildly inconsequential but the idea could be life changing.
Mike had just failed at an attempt to make conversation with a girl at a bar. He returns to his friends dejected, saying that “she didn’t like me.” His friends, Trent and Sue (a guy), explain that he’s a bigger catch than he thinks (in a much more comical way). They compare him to a bear and the girl to a bunny. Armed with this new perspective and self-image, he goes back up to the girl and is able to get her phone number. Watch the clip for the full picture.
This scene was extremely helpful from two perspectives. First, I got a clearer picture of how I was presenting myself in those situations. Second, I recognized that in those situations, the girl was not rejecting me but rather her perception of me. I could do some things to influence that perception but ultimately accepted or rejected, it was only a perception.
The only person who knows every single: thought, action and intention of yours is you. Keep that in mind at all times. Your life is going to be filled with people who will pass judgment on their perception of you, not the real you. So choose deliberately who you will and will not allow to affect your perception of yourself. It’s the most important relationship that you have, so know yourself as best as you can. Maintain a positive relationship and know yourself well enough to be able to predict your own behavior. When someone gets the wrong idea about you, consider their perspective but only let them change your perspective on you if it’s in your interest, not particularly theirs.
Idols are supposed to be held in high esteem, the very personification of the things that we want to be. It hit me like a lightning bolt this morning that Mr. Magoo is truly an American idol for so many people. For those youngsters out there, Mr. Magoo was a cartoon character whose poor eyesight routinely got him into precarious situations but he always escapes unscathed and sometimes falls into good fortune. Feel free to watch one Mr. Magoo cartoon on YouTube. Once you’ve seen one, you’ve basically seen them all (minus little details). The overarching idea behind Mr. Magoo is that his problem would be easily fixed if he were just to put on his glasses but he wants to deny his problem rather than face it.
Although it isn’t pretty, this seems to be a scarily accurate description of how many of us live our lives. We recognize our problem but are too damn stubborn, lazy or indifferent to do anything about it. Seemingly our greatest hope is that we can meander through life blind to our inadequacies and not have them bite us in the ass. While this makes for a mildly amusing cartoon, it is a disastrous strategy for living a life of fulfillment and progress.
Rather than turning a blind eye to your inadequacies, stare at them with crystal clear vision, even put them under a microscope if need be. Decide what you truly want: to feel good in the moment or feel good long term. If you want the Magoo life, then by all means turn the blind eye. BUT if you want more from your life, then you and you alone will need to make the decision to systematically work on your areas of weakness until they can no longer hurt you. Maybe it’s something as simple as putting on glasses but perhaps it will take years or even decades to overcome. Regardless, it’s up to you to Magoo or not.