Tag Archives: relationships

Exhausting the Thumb

IMG_2786I would not have been surprised if I annoyed the hell out of my former teammates.  It’s not that I’m a bad player, I’m actually OK (or was).  The annoying factor would come from two things in particular.  First, I never shut up.  I talk incessantly.  Almost as if I were the unofficial play by play announcer for our team.  The other would be my tendency to blame everything that went wrong on myself.  Regardless of how small of an influence I had on a situation, I tended to focus on my little component rather than anyone else’s.  If a goal was scored, it was almost always followed by an admission of guilt.  As an intelligent human being and player, I realize that not everything that went wrong was my fault.  It’s just not true.  However I always wanted to exhaust the thumb before I went to the finger.

In a world where almost everything is on video, accountability is an easy thing to track, especially in sports.  Who lost their mark or misplayed a pass is available in HD clarity.  I’m not particularly keen on accountability though.  It has its place.  However responsibility is a much more interesting quality.  People need to take responsibility.  Accountability can be handed out and often leads to separation.  Fingers tend to make enemies and excuses.  Thumbs tend to make leaders and solutions.  By continuously pointing the thumb at one’s self before resorting to the finger, a few very important things happen.

First, the thumbed individual sees him or herself a part of a larger whole which is influenced by the actions of all.  Like the butterfly that flaps its wings and contributes to an eventual hurricane.  A person willing to exhaust the thumb recognizes that they’re not working independently of the rest of the group, team, company or world.  Every action of the individual has the potential to influence a much larger whole.  Could a tiny gesture of kindness toward a neighbor influence the relations of an entire town or city?  Absolutely!  Especially if those actions are done consistently.

Second, the thumbed individual infrequently or never blames others.  This posture creates fewer separations between people.  Finding fault in others rarely creates better behavior.  It usually only creates resentment for the person doing the blaming.  Most people in this world are their own harshest critic.  Giving them the ability to rectify the situation without judgment can go a long way toward future success.  Fear of letting someone down is a much stronger motivator than fear of punishment.  It also has the added benefit of creating better relations between people who are giving their best to each other and know that criticism (if it comes) will come with understanding.

Like anything else that is really important in life, not everyone will do this because it’s hard.  It’s so much easier to lose your temper or “let off some steam”.  After all things are often other people’s fault.  Taking on this world view doesn’t change that.  However it does get you focus on the only person that you can fully control, yourself.  If you are in control of yourself, then it’s possible that you’ll end up where you want to go.

Have a great day!

Pete

80’s Hair Band Soccer Logic

PoisonAlthough the 1980’s were memorable for many reasons, the crazy hair is probably one of the most prevalent.  Big hair was all the rage at the time.  Many of the 80’s rock bands invested a lot of time and money on their hair.  Image was almost more important than the music.  I’ve even heard interviews with bands who tried to gain information on the hair products of more successful bands in order to copy their formula.  It’s a silly image isn’t it?  Grown men hanging their hopes of musical success on the type of hairspray that they use.  There is a disconnect that should have been obvious to all involved but sometimes people are too close to the situation to see their own ridiculousness.

A similar phenomena is rampant in the soccer world and a good hard look in the mirror is more than overdue.  Each and every week, millions of kids and adults practice their skills of passing, dribbling, heading and shooting.  Coaches spend hours trying to help these players improve their skills and coalesce the group’s talents into tactics.  Meticulous care is given to all facets of the game including set plays on both the offensive and defensive side.  After hours of preparation, game day finally arrives.  The first whistle blows and that training seems to take a backseat.  It’s overshadowed by telling the one person not displaying any soccer skill about how badly he or she is doing.  The referee takes center stage in a contest that should be focused on the soccer skills of the players.  Much like the hairspray obsessed rock bands, the coaches, players and fans have taken something that should be incidental and made it THE big deal.

Having been a high school and youth coach for years, I’ve seen the lower level of refereeing on display.  While frustrating at times, the arbiter of the game should not overshadow all of the preparation that has been done.  Here are some suggestions that I have to put refereeing in its proper context.

  1. Audit yourself – If more than 25% of the things that you say are directed at the referee, then you’re focused on the wrong thing.  Your players need guidance, your teammates need information, your children need encouragement.  The referee does not need more reminding that you have disagreed with all of his calls.
  2. Walk a mile – Not literally but figuratively.  Get certified and start refereeing some low level games.  Or referee a scrimmage between two teams that you’re not associated with.  Either way the experience will change how you view the job.
  3. Try a new strategy – Rather than berating the next referee that you encounter, try something new.  If you’re a player, in a calm voice during a stoppage, ask him or her to watch for something that has been happening regularly.  “Sir, could you keep an eye out for #15 fouling after the play.  Thanks!”  If you’re a coach, ask the referee to remember a particular foul or incident for discussion later.  If you’re a fan, concentrate on the play of your team.  This is what your team has worked for, see their play.  Otherwise it’s like going to an opera but spending all of your time focused on the conductor’s outfit.  He’s supposed to be invisible.
  4. Recognize the long term – Donuts in small quantities are not by themselves dangerous.  If they are a small part of an otherwise balanced diet, the occasional treat is not harmful.  However constant abuse can be destructive.  The same is true for our refereeing situation.  The constant abuse of referees has led to a shortage that eventually could cripple the game.  That position has to be held by a human.  Who would sign up for the pervasive abuse that referees receive?

So as you prepare for this weekend’s contest, make a decision to focus on the game rather than the official.  After over 35 years of playing and coaching there are exactly two things that I’m sure of:  1.  All referees make mistakes.  2. They don’t get better or change their calls because you tell them that they suck.  For the love of the game, let’s all try to do better out there.  The hair bands can look back and be amused.  Let’s not all look back and be ashamed.

Pete

It’s a bit older now but still a good message from the English FA.

At War with the Rainbow

TestImagine it.  A soldier walking through a jungle in a foreign land just as the rain stops.  In the distance there is a rainbow.  All of the sudden there is an attack from the enemy.  The attack is repelled and the soldier marches on.  The next day the rain stops, rainbow, surprise attack.  This pattern continues for a week.  On the eighth day, the soldier comes upon a beautiful waterfall.  With the water plummeting from a height of over fifty feet, a mist above the surface of the water forms a miniature rainbow and soldier discharges his weapon several times into the falling water.  There is no attack, so the soldier is sure that the enemy is dead.  It is ridiculous, isn’t it?  The soldier believing that the rainbow somehow caused or could help the prediction of the attacks.  The truth is that we all do it at one point or another.

The combination of two things that have almost no association whatsoever is quite common.  An undefeated streak and an unwashed pair of socks.  Traffic and the driver in front of you.  School and learning.  WAIT!!!!  That’s blasphemy!  Especially for someone who has spent years as a teacher and vehement proponent of learning.

The problem is that in many ways the statement is true.  School and learning have almost completely been divorced from one another.  People recognize that at one point in history they went hand in hand.  However that relationship has decayed in people’s minds.  School has become a pariah that people only endure because they have to.  Learning has gotten mistaken for its cousin, information.  Since information is everywhere, people have no need to engage in the relationship with learning.  So this once inseparable couple is now separated and only feign a relationship “because of the kids”.

This is an extreme picture of the present situation.  While not completely accurate, it is not altogether inaccurate.  School is in a precarious position because it only ever came into being because of learning.  The point of school was to learn (especially how to think).  In many instances that has been replaced with “The point of school is to get good grades.”  Like the telephone game that many of us played as children, over time the message has gotten garbled and disjointed.  Politicians, administrators, parents and teachers propped up a system that only partially meets its expressed purpose.  Like the situation of rogue traders who bet on speculative numbers with the life savings of others, this could leave many people bankrupt.

So for now, my suggestion is double, triple or quadruple down on learning.  If it happens at school, GREAT!  If it happens elsewhere, GREAT!  Learn about the things that are important to you and the people in your life.  Dive deep into learning about yourself.  How you work.  How your mind works.  How your emotions work.  Not so you can be self-centered but you can find balance with the world.  Learning is not actually the hard part as it happens all the time.  The key is learning things that are useful and meaningful to your world.  So if you are still in school, don’t think of learning as drudgery.  Seek out those opportunities when school style learning overlaps with your life.  If you’re already done with school, realize that you aren’t done with learning.  Don’t try to kill the rainbow just because it was lumped in with something that you perceive to be your enemy.

Have a great year!

Pete

 

Don’t Read This Blogpost!

If you’re here, that means one or more of a few things:

  • you have a problem with people telling you what not to do
  • you have a selective reading issue where you miss certain words
  • you clicked on it by mistake
  • you sensed that there was more to this than the title

I’m going to assume the final one because it will get us farther faster!

Don't readThe ability to see past the obvious and simple solution is not one that everyone possesses.  Judging books by their covers or even first chapters is not always the best strategy.  Not everything in the world is completely formulaic.  Even some chemical formulas require a catalyst to increase the rate of their reaction.  Despite these facts, there is a solid majority of people that believe the obvious answer is the only possible answer.  One of the main reasons is that it is comfortable.  Comfort is probably the ethos of our age.  So the reason that I asked you not to read this blog is that I want you act on it.

I’m asking you to be uncomfortable, see past the past and act in spite of any past failures that you might have.  We’ve all got something: talking to that special someone, losing weight, making the team, starting a business, writing a book or whatever.  At this point it has been written off.  You’ve either failed sever times or not tried because you believe that you can’t.  Either way make me (or anything else that you choose) your excuse.  You need to give that thing another go.  Not because you’re guaranteed success this time but because it’s still inside of you somewhere.  I don’t really care if you give up on a goal.  I just don’t want you to ever give up on yourself.

Every moment is a new opportunity.  Pile up the dead carcasses of your past selves and make a staircase to take you to the place where you know that you can get.  If you believe that you’re who you’ve always been, that’s exactly who you’ll continue to be.  But if you believe, even for a second, that you can be different.  You can be stronger, more determine, resourceful, patient, caring, aggressive or anything else that you’ve failed to be in the past.  That’s not who you are!  That’s who you were!  Today, right now before you finish reading.  Take a step!  No!  Take a leap and move yourself forward.  The you from six months in the future is BEGGING for you to do it!  Because he/she doesn’t want to be where you are now.  They want to be five miles down the road or ten thousand dollars richer or in a relationship.  So now I’m BEGGING!  Don’t read this blogpost!  Live it!  Step up and out into the world that you deserve and not the one that you’ve grown accustomed to.  DON’T READ!  DO!

Love you guys!

Pete

Wyatt Earp Is My Friend

img_20170805_0001.jpgIt is one of my favorite exchanges from the classic movie, Tombstone.

“Doc, you should be in bed.  What the hell are you doing this for anyway?” -Creek Johnson

“Wyatt Earp is my friend.” -Doc Holliday

“Hell I’ve got lots of friends.” – Creek Johnson

“I don’t.” – Doc Holliday

Our technology filled world has changed the way that we use certain words and their meaning.  If you do a Google search for the word “cloud”, the only reference to the white things in the sky is the dictionary definition.  Otherwise it’s advertisements and references to gigabytes of storage space that is elsewhere.  This is not the first time that this has happened in the history of language.  It actually happens all the time.  The technological cloud doesn’t make the sky cloud any less of a cloud.  Both have meaning in their own right.  I do fear for the word “friend” though.

SchaefandIMy fear is not that the word will only mean “people that you relate with mainly online” but rather that the word is becoming devalued.  It is common for people to have hundreds of “friends” online and this is great.  Keeping relations with people from great distance and from other life periods is an amazing advancement.  The concern is that all of these tiny and relatively “easy” relationships will make true, closer and more “difficult” relationships seem like too much work.  It’s easy to become intoxicated in the numbers game of friends.  Having more of something, does not particularly make life richer.  Perhaps even, the collection of a maximum number of “friends” might just mean that the collector doesn’t truly have any.  The word starts to lose all meaning when it is applied to basically everyone.

IMG_20170805_0002For me, I’d rather go the route of Doc Holliday.  Going all in on the people who truly matter.  Having those few but special people in life that you’re willing to go into war with (figuratively or literally).  Those types of bonds make us stronger people and better humans.  So have a social network by all means!  But never lose sight of the difference between your FRIENDS and your “friends”.  No matter how far the internet has the ability to reach, it is a worthless tool if it’s use means that no one ever touches your soul.  If the connection that you feel to the important people in your life is as weak as the Wifi at the local coffee shop, it might be time to double down.

Have a great day with your friends!

Pete

 

Dream Amnesia

amnesiaHave you ever woken up from a night of intense dreaming and not been able to remember much of anything about the dream?  Well that’s not what I’m talking about at all!  I’m talking about your dreams forgetting you!  Those things that you want to have in your life: a goal, a person, an item or anything else you can imagine.  It started as an image in your head.  Then you took some form of action to make it a reality.  You might have even got close.  But then it was gone.  Sorry to say, your dreams have amnesia!

Your dreams don’t know who you are and don’t care about you in the beginning.  Like the most popular girl in high school, your dreams could not pick you out of a line up.  What’s worse is that your dreams have a form of amnesia.  You can walk up and introduce yourself but the next day you’ll be forgotten.  Just like Adam Sandler in the movie “50 First Dates”.  You need to recognize this condition and not take it personally.  DO THE WORK!  The only way for your dreams to remember you and begin to accept you is through constant contact.  Don’t let a day go by that you’re not courting, coaxing and down right harassing your dreams (the last one doesn’t work well with people).  It won’t happen overnight!

I can’t even tell you how long it will take but if you’re consistent daily, hourly and minutely (is that a word?).  You’ll find yourself getting closer to your dreams.  Maybe one day they’ll welcome you with open arms.  Unfortunately that’s going to take a lot of work first.

Dream big and make yourself memorable!

Pete

 

Defence Against The Dark Arts (Bullying)

DarkArtsDespite being a 41 year old man, I really like the Harry Potter movies and watch them regularly.  My wife would say that it’s because of Emma Watson but that’s not quite the truth.  The story itself is what draws me in.  It’s a pretty classic story of good vs. evil with enough twists and turns to make it unique.  I’m also very interested in young people and how they learn to find their way through the world.  Obviously completely fictitious but in parallel to the real world, one major failing of Hogwarts is to maintain a consistent Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.  In that world, the imminent danger of Voldemort made that post important.  In our much less magical world, the danger does not come from a completely evil dark lord but rather other young people trying to find their way in the world.

Just prior to sitting down to write, I was watching the Today Show and their guests were the parents of the twelve year old girl who killed herself in Rockaway, NJ.  With an eleven year old son and many young people in my life, I truly feel for these parents as they’ve gone through the worst pain that a parent can bear.  That story is not fiction and no matter the result of the lawsuit, it will not end completely happily.

I do not believe that social media is inherently bad or evil.  It does create a loosely guarded gateway for evils to be perpetrated.  While most of the focus is on stopping cyber-bulling and the perpetrators, I’d suggest that young (and older) people need to learn how to defend themselves against the dark arts of bullying.  Let me say here, I am not condoning bullying in any way shape or form.  Schools and organizations need to respond to these types of actions.  Unfortunately the adults in a child’s life can only protect them so much.  At a certain point, a child (or adult) is going to need to know how to protect themselves; not just from bullies but from friends, strangers, rejection, failure and loss.  Knowing how to cope with and defeat these “dark arts” is crucial but rarely taught or even discussed.  The two best Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers were Remus Lupin and Harry himself.  Both were effective because they were practical in their approach.  They did not deny that their students might face dark times like Dolores Umbridge.  The beauty of the Order of the Phoenix is that students organize in order to protect themselves because they know that danger is out there.

InvisibleIn the real world, young people are increasingly living their lives in a virtual world where the perceived becomes as important or more important than the real.  So they are fighting in a world of perception when they are still learning how to perceive themselves.  If you know of someone who is struggling to manage the world, here are some starting points:

  1. Keep your phone/iPad/etc. in another room while you sleep.
  2. Do not log onto your device of choice for the first 30 minutes of your day.
  3. During that 30 minutes, take about 15 to do the following:
    1. Write down or think of people, things, experiences that you’re grateful for.
    2. Write down or think of the positive things that you’d like to have happen today (things that depend more on you than other people)
    3. Write down or think of the person you want to be in the future.  Don’t get caught up in the space between where you are and where you want to be.  Allow yourself to be in the future.
  4. After you’ve made these first 3 a habit, add in some form of body movement.  Enough to get your blood pumping above a resting rate.

The point behind all of these items is to focus your mind on the things that matter most to you before it gets distracted by the desires of others.  Decide what it is that you want out of your life/day before anyone else gets to add their input.  If you need a helping hand, my email address is pete@hurykunlimited.com.

Have a great day people!

Pete

Greatest Youth Soccer Fan of All Time

img_20170619_0001-e1501554153711.jpgThe discussion of the GOAT is always tough because it brings apples against oranges and people’s personal perspective weighs heavily on their arguments.  The comparison of Messi vs Ronaldo could be a more objective conversation but adding Pele into the mix makes things much more difficult.  Considering different eras and playing landscapes muddies the waters to the point where the argument says more about what the fan values rather than what the player meant in their own time.  With all of those points well established from the outset, I am not at all bashful about nominating my mom as the Youth Soccer Fan GOAT!  This is not a son’s love for his mother taken to the extreme.  In fact, I thought my mother was one of the worst fans at the time but given years to evaluate and compare, she truly was the best.

She didn’t know the game!  Some people might view this as a negative but it was a huge positive.  Her best things to say from the sideline were “Kick the ball!” and “Go!”  She didn’t know enough about the game to yell at the referee or opposing parents.  I’m not sure that she even really took them into account.  She was supremely focused on our (my brother and my) team.  Despite being our parent, she cheered “Kick the ball!” for anyone on our team.  Her support never wavered, even in the season where we lost every single game.

She told everyone except the coaches!  I’m being serious.  Everyone knew about my brother and I.  Toll booth operators, people working at Wendy’s, cute girls at tournaments and many more complete strangers heard about how her sons played for the “Taygers”.  We played for the “Tigers” but she always seemed to have this special pronunciation when talking about it.  She sang our praises up and down the east coast even out of season.  However this overwhelming promotion of her kids never reached the coaches.  It was before the internet was pervasive but it didn’t happen by phone, letter or fax either.  She knew better.

She always clapped at the end!  Now this is not an individual thing.  It was a team effort.  I was lucky enough to play together with a lot of the same guys through my youth and into high school.  That collective group of parents would always clap for my teammates and I upon leaving the field.  The result didn’t matter.  I’d like to believe that they were clapping our effort because I think we always gave that, even in the lean years.

At the time I probably took all of this for granted but now as a coach and a parent, I don’t.  My view may be skewed and my mother is not actually the GOAT but she definitely was great for my time.  My time as a player was better because of her.  She reflected only her love for me as her son.  The result of every single game was the same whether we won or lost, my mom was still my biggest fan.  I think that’s something that we’re missing today.  I’ve heard the words “My mom/dad is going to be so ___________.” far too often from players.  Parents need to be the North Star to a child, not a feather in the wind.  Even if a parent is trying to raise an elite athlete, their love should not be on the line every match.  There are more than enough people around to show a child how to play the game.  Parents are the first ones that can show the child how much they matter regardless of the game.

Cheers To The Soccer Name Game!

IMG_2492It’s official!  The paperwork just came in from the state and my son’s name is officially Lionel Messi!  I fully anticipate that his goal total will skyrocket in the coming seasons.  If you’ve not screamed “You’re an idiot!” yet, you’ve at least thought it.  I felt stupid just typing it!  A name is not particularly an indicator of quality, it’s a way to differentiate one person from millions of other similar people.  This truth is so easy to realize when talking about a person’s talent.  Then why do so many people trap themselves into the soccer club name game?  Like soccer, the answer is simple but at the same time complex.  Perception helps us form our reality.

In college, I worked at a beer and wine store.  On the beer side of the store, I got very few questions.  Occasionally someone would ask about a new micro-brew but generally people knew what they were looking for.  The Coors guy would rarely change things up and would walk in grab a case, pay and walk out.  On the wine side of the store, there were much more questions and a posturing of perception.  If a wine was highlighted in the “Wine Spectator” magazine, we were likely to sell out of it especially if it was priced under $30.  Most of the people looking for the popular wine.  Even if they had never tasted it and often it wasn’t even their favorite varietal.  They had been sold on a perception not their own reality.  Being seen as a person who knew about wine was much more important than getting what they wanted in a wine.

At the moment in the soccer world, we’re going through a similar perception economy.  Names are just a part of the equation that includes trainers, sponsors, equipment, etc.  The name is just the asset with no inherent value other than perception.  It’s a longstanding joke with a coach friend of mine that we are going to start a club with all of the standard soccer club cliches of quality.  My most recent version is “Select Elite Academy Soccer International Club Kickers” or S.E.A.S.I.C.K. for short.  I’m sure that the players of SEASICK would be bursting with pride in the fact that they were playing for an “elite academy”, though they might be neither.  Since they tried out, that would make it “select”.  Although they might be confused by the “international” tag but I’m sure we’d find an English or Dutch trainer to squelch that thought.  Finally I’m sure that they would have preferred to be an FC but let’s face it, you can’t fight the draw of a good acronym!  Again I’m being ridiculous but not inaccurate.

The youth soccer world is based heavily on perception but with more real consequences than my wine example.  This is not a mistake of serving chardonnay with steak (which is actually fine if that’s what you like).  It’s a mistake of hanging children’s self-worth on a false status.  It may not be prudent to invest a child’s one non-renewable resource (time) into a pursuit of athletic “excellence” rather than personal development.  Does an “elite” soccer player translate this time and financial commitment into love from his/her parents?  Do they have the tight bonds of friendship on their elite team that they have with kids from their school?  Are the elite coaches also elite role models of how to be a good person?  If these questions were all asked and well considered before the tryout, then stay the course.  However my fear is that many people have blinders on with a very narrow view of the course that they are putting their children on.  By age 25, most people’s playing careers are over but their lives are not yet close to half done.  Will memories of warm-up jackets embroidered with half true adjectives be enough to sustain them through their adult life?  Or are the actions, relationships and mentors of the individual the true creators of great memories?

Eventually the packaging fades away and the true substance of what’s been sold shines through.  Go in with an idea of what you really want and see past the packaging.  The world is filled with people who will sell you something for their own benefit rather than yours.   Not everyone is elite but anyone can receive the gifts that the game has to offer without a price tag.

Go play!

Pete

As usual Rocky has a good take on the subject.

 

 

I See France in the Mirror

Eiffel towerI have often wondered what history lessons are like in Germany about the period between 1900-1950.  From an outside perspective it is easy to characterize Germany as the villain of that epoch.  Is it viewed as period of shame?  Or glossed over as unfortunate past events?  Often people and nations have a hard time seeing themselves as others would see them.  When looking at others, it is easier to make judgment that we believe is right.  We can see their faults, shortcomings, idiosyncrasies and failures.  Or we laud their beauty, strength, courage or “perfection”.  Self-reflection is usually skewed in either a positive or negative direction.  People, just like nations, have a history that they must reconcile in order to move forward.  Recently upon thinking of Germany’s past and looking in the mirror, I reflected on what nation I represent.

At first I though Switzerland, a neutral state that is willing to keep the currency of others in secrecy.  It had some possibility but fell short.  Then I considered my ancestral homeland of Poland.  It has been overrun by many others and despite almost disappearing at certain points, it keeps coming back with resilience.  This would be nice and comfortable for me but unfortunately it’s not true.

Unfortunately I’m France.  Man, it pisses me off to write that!  There are many things to love about me but I give off an air of aloofness that puts people off.  At times, I’ve let my enemies take parts of me without much of a fight and needed the support of close friends to make me whole again.  I can be characterized as lazy but generally I work to live, not the other way around.  My reputation for being standoffish is justifiable but also location based.  If you truly want to get to know me, don’t do it where the crowds are.  I’m much better off the beaten path and rich in areas that you didn’t know were there.

What country are you?  Please don’t search Facebook for a quiz that tells!  Figure out that story for yourself.  If you don’t like what you’ve found (as I don’t), then make the necessary adjustment.  Despite being France, I can change my actions and therefore my story about who I am.  You can too.  Just because you were beaten, trampled, torn apart and considered unworthy in the past, does not mean that your history needs to continue on that path.  Your history cannot predict your future, unless you let it!

Have a great day!

Pete