I don’t feel comfortable sharing their names as I have not asked for parental permission. Nor would I ask because these people have definitely suffered enough. In my almost twenty years of coaching, I’ve lost no less than five former players to suicide, drugs/alcohol and avoidable accidents. This may not be statistically significant to some but it is something that I carry with me always. In the eyes of many, the job of a coach is to direct an individual or group in technique and tactics in order to win a particular contest.
While this may encapsulate what coaching is for some, I can define coaching in one word: PROGRESS! When broken down to the molecular level, this is what coaches should be striving for. The progress of an individual or a group in not only their sport of choice but also as people. At some levels, progress is measured by winning and it should be. Professional athletes and coaches are in the business of competition/entertainment. Their business model is dependent upon the sale of tickets, jerseys, food, etc. and winning is a key ingredient in that equation. The problem is that the base blocks of the pyramid are not supposed to look like to the top block or “pyramidion”. Basically 99% of all soccer played in the world is either true recreation or competitive recreation. The previous statement will probably stick in the craw of many people but this fact should be embraced rather than lamented.
Recreation is the main reason that athletics came to be. The battlefield was given up for the athletic field, where defeat did not mean death. Therefore the “vanquished” could improve and RECREATE themselves into a better version. Progress as an athlete meant facing your shortcomings. That self-analysis is a skill that overflows into everyday life. Recognizing one’s own weaknesses is not weakness. It is actually strength because it allows the individual the possibility of progress. Pain + Reflection = Progress is a formula coined by Ray Dalio (Bridgewater Associates). In it lies the secret that so many of us continually overlook. Failure is a key component to progress. Those who are unwilling or unable to see their own faults cannot hope to move past them. Since coaching is about progress and failure is a necessary ingredient to progress, then winning can’t be the point.
Having lost so many former players, I know all too well that the results of today’s game matter little compared to the results of a lifetime. The point is not to win the game but rather to have a dynasty of days that have been won by moving forward. So take the long term view with yourself and those that you care about. Decide that short term wins that lead to long term loss are not in your game plan. Recreate yourself regularly and recognize that the only person that you’re competing with is you.
Have great day!
At one point in history, I’m sure that superlatives meant something. I surely felt like they did during my childhood. Michael Jordan was definitely the best player in the NBA. You didn’t need to shout it louder to make your point. It could be said softly with a calm assurance that it was accurate. As the internet has given a voice to every two thumbed animal with a high speed connection, superlative seems to be a game for people who want to yell the loudest.
Since everyone can be heard, the time to say nothing may be here. Perhaps in the era of communication overload, it is the individual who does and says nothing that will truly stand out. Rather than doubling down on superlatives and expletives, it might be time to be more subtle.
Today when you go out into the world, do the simple and subtle. Smile a little more. Be a little more patient. Be forgiving to yourself. Home-runs can win games but so can singles. If we’re always swinging hard for the fences, we may strikeout on underhand pitches because we’re too jacked up.
Fantasy sports are a popular pass time for many people. It is no longer a young male adult game but something that any sports fan can attempt. For me, the only one that has ever held my attention was fantasy football. The scoring is easy to follow and the games are only once per week. The concept behind fantasy sports is a simple one, try to compile the best team that you can in order to earn the most points each week. There are many different perspectives on drafting players but the overwhelming concept is filling your team with as many “superstars/point getters” as you possibly can.
I have friends and colleagues who spend hours or even days planning out their draft selections. These choices are important. Getting the right players off the bench each week and into the game is the key to survival. It is natural for players to be dropped to the bench or even released from the team when more desirable players are available.
It’s easy to see when talking about sports and fantasy that compiling the best team in order to win is important. That you would drop players that are holding you back and look to add players that will bring you forward. Why don’t we do the same thing with our friends and acquaintances?
In many ways our friends are part of our team. They not only support us but they also shape us. There are acceptable norms within relationships. Depending on your friend group, it may be unacceptable for you to smoke cigarettes. Or if you are part of a different group, it may be expected that you smoke. These acceptable norms are not limited to simple things like smoking. They extend out to your expectations of life.
When you add a player like Tom Brady to your fantasy team, you do it because he is going to get you closer to what you want because he’s an all-star. Take a look at your friends. Are they all-stars? Are they helping you get to where you want to go? Do they hold you back?
Like it or not, your friends are influencing who you are. Did you pick them consciously and for the right reasons? Are you going in the same direction? Can you get where you want to go with them around?
Perhaps some of your friends need to be put on the bench or cut from the team. This should not be a decision that is made quickly. People can serve all kinds of purposes, so do your homework on why your friends are your friends.
Also in a very real sense the internet has made fantasy football possible when it comes to the people who influence you. In the past, you might have been limited to your town or school. Now you can listen to leaders of almost any kind, speak about almost any topic. Who are you listening to today?
The beauty of the art of Self-Rejection is that it is so easy. You only need yourself and the dream of something inside of your head. They are your paint and your canvas. Like an infant sitting in a highchair eating spaghetti, it is possible to create a beautifully horrible landscape of all of the things that could go wrong. You will be laughed at, shunned, ignored, or defeated. And there it is inside of your head, a masterpiece of nothing. Nothing real at least.
On the other hand, in the real world you can chance real rejection. Perhaps you do get laughed at, shunned, ignored or defeated but maybe you succeed.
The road of self-rejection always leads to regret. The road of taking the chance could lead anywhere but you have to travel it to find out.
In this extremely fast paced world, it’s easy to get distracted from that which is important in favor of that which seems important. It is the reason why we make shopping lists and set reminders for ourselves. Getting caught up in the moment is not only normal, it seems to be a way of life. Despite all of the technological and societal distractions, it would seem as though we might have accidentally thrown out all of our babies in order to make room for more bathwater. Perhaps it is time to decide what is truly important and focus on it.
There are plenty of people who will get married this year. They will painstaking search for a great venue, a photographer, delicious food, the right guest-list and register for the perfect gifts. But before they did all of that hard work, they forgot to find someone worth spending their life with.
We have access to amazing communication devices in our pockets and at our fingertips. There is the capability to reach the other side of the world, translate to almost any language and do it instantaneously. But we rarely say things that mean much of anything. There is so much coming at us that it all becomes devalued. We tend to only listen in order to respond, not to understand or empathize.
Students and teachers are no longer bound by the bricks in the walls of their buildings. All facts are available at a moment’s notice and the greatest minds are within reach. Yet our young people are worried about grades that will soon not matter and facts that have little value. The word educate comes from the root educe which means to bring out or develop. The cramming information in might not be the best way to draw out our young people’s genius.
These are just three examples where we seem to be so caught up in the process that we have forgotten why the process was invented. When broken down to the core, the world is a relatively simple place. We are here to survive first. Once that is taken care of we look to progress and we do both more effectively together. So get back to the core of what you do and why it is done at all. If you are in school, then learn, regardless of the grades. If you’re in a relationship, then relate, give of yourself and be willing to be changed. The superficialities of life can only sustain us for so long. Our true progress depends on depth of experience and it needs to be found again. Right now are you focused on ANYTHING BUT THE THINGS THAT MATTER?
There are plenty of commercials from my childhood that stick out. Growing up at the beginning of the Super Bowl Commercial craze gave us plenty of memorable advertisements. “Where’s the beef?” from Wendy’s. Bird vs Jordan shooting contest. This is your brain on drugs. These all caught my attention because they were either clever or memorable for positive reasons.
One commercial that stood out for another reason was for GOYA beans. The catch phrase “GOYA, oh boya!” was so inane that it stuck. Inevitably when I am food shopping for my family, the big letters G O Y A stick out and remind me of the stupid tag line. So I have decided to associate something new to that can and the beans that sit inside. GOYA is now an acronym. It stands for “Get Off Your ASS!”
It is a call to action and action is all that matters after all. The commercials that are running in our minds should be moving us forward. I’m sure that if you’re anything like me, there are commercials running for sleep, junk-food, relaxation, sex and beer… sweet beer. The commercials for these things are not hard to run because they represent our surface level desires. At a much deeper level, we want to have health, wealth and good relationships. These things require a much greater effort than the shallow desires of the moment. So it is up to us to stick deliberately put in those commercials for beans, ACTION BEANS. Those less than sexy items that we need in order to get where we really want to go. You’re running the show and when you stop for a word from the sponsors, make sure they’re the ones taking you in the right direction!
G.O.Y.A! And do it!
Stories are an integral part of our society and have been for thousands of years. Whether the Odyssey, the Bible, Star Wars or Romeo & Juliet, the stories of the present and past have almost all been intended to tell us something. Not particularly something about the past although many are historical in nature. More often than not, stories are trying to tell us something about the human condition. Although a form of entertainment, they can also be instructive.
Characters are not just imaginary people to play make believe for us real humans. They represent a myriad of possible traits, life courses and mindsets. Whether Han Solo, Jesus, the Lorax or Hector, each one offers the gift of possibility. The idea of a life slightly different from our own. They offer themselves up in front of us on the screen or the page in order for us to judge them and their value. At that point their power or lack there of is left up to us.
What’s missing from the story is you. If you only admire the heroism of Han Solo or the kindness of Jesus but never transfer it into your own life, then these characters truly are lifeless. However, if you’re willing to take up their plight from the page, then they truly do live. It is not enough for heroism, kindness and love to exist in movies and books because evil and hatred are alive in the real world. So if you truly love a movie or book, then show it by becoming an actor. A person who acts in the stead of those imaginary people. The world is waiting for your story to be told and you’re the only thing that’s missing.
In kindergarten (at least according to my recollection), I was the fastest kid in Mrs. Palma’s class. The reason that I know this is that we often had races across the blacktop outside of the classroom. I won everyone that I ran in. Although my memory is extremely fuzzy about that time period, I can make this statement for a few reasons with little fear of repercussion. First, it’s possible that it is true. I definitely wasn’t the slowest in the class. Second, everyone else’s memory is probably as fuzzy if not fuzzier than mine. Finally and most important, IT DOESN’T MATTER! While this may have been extremely relevant over thirty years ago, it’s importance has taken a nose dive down to zero.
Throughout our lives we re-calibrate the things that we build our self-esteem around. In a young person’s world, the focus is almost exclusively on short term races. Winning, the game, getting the right answer, having the newest outfit and other activities are momentary wins that give a quick burst of self-esteem. Most are not meant to be long lasting nor remembered years later. They are the icing on the cake because most of your life is about other things.
The real substance of life is made up by those things that we do on a regular basis. The more generalized self-esteem comes from all of the little things. Those thoughts, words and actions make us either proud or disappointed in who we are as people. It is not a competition to be better than someone else but rather a verification that we are living up to our own principles. Through the years the layers of who we are can either become a cake filled with robust flavor or a turd that needs to be covered in icing to hide its true taste. These are not the only two options but reality’s limits are informed by the extremes.
So the daily choice comes down to you. Choose who it is that you want to be and take the time to deliberately define the ingredients that you’ll allow into your life. Or use any icing that you can find in order to cover up the distaste that you have for yourself. Unfortunately both work but the latter will leave you malnourished and unable to run the long race of life with anything more than fits and spurts. Everyone needs to feel good about themselves but a life made mainly of fluff will most likely not sustain.
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.
You’re a big bear man!
It wasn’t a 100% binary equation. Gladiators could win, lose or “tie”. Not even all of the defeated were condemned to death. Despite these extenuating circumstances, one thing is most definitely certain, bad gladiators died. I have no desire to bring back gladiatorial games or anything of the sort but in some ways our pendulum has swung too far in the other direction.
In modern society the crowd would seemingly want every gladiator to feel like a winner. Swords would be made of foam rubber but helmets would still be worn just in case. Gladiators would be paired by skill level and the most likely death would come from boredom of the truly talented gladiators. While I am not a fan of truly “zero sum games”, there have to be stakes. Gladiators got good because they had to. Everyone knew that bad gladiators die, the gladiators knew this best.
By all accounts we do not live in a gladiatorial society nor would I truly want to. A bloodthirsty mob looking to revel in the pain of the vanquished is not where we need to go. However a world without stakes has no incentive to move forward. The same holds for an individual. What is at stake for you today? Have you set yourself up in a game where you can win, lose or tie? Or is nothing at stake today? Are you armed with your foam rubber sword hacking away at the same meaningless opponent that you fought yesterday? Bad gladiators of the past got to die quickly. Bad gladiators today die slowly while trying to reassure themselves that they would be lethal if not for this foam rubber. The price of finding out if you’re good or not is to risk the possibility of dying on the metaphorical sword. That might be embarrassment, finances, time or many other things but something needs to be at stake. So step into the arena, put something on the line and see what you’re made of!
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena!