Tag Archives: school

The Latest Version

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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!

Upgrade today!

Pete

The Javelin Thrower

lance-150317_960_720This story comes directly from a dream that I just had.  I was brought in to help a javelin thrower with some issues that he was having.  Despite his great potential that everyone could see, he was underachieving and plagued by injuries.  As we started to talk about his issues, we walking near a lake.  He was confused and upset by all of the issues that he was having.  As he talked, he picked up a stone and hurled it into the lake.  His words became more heated as he described his disappointment in his lack of progress.  Another stone farther into the lake.  Then his disappointment turned to anger as he focused in on how many opportunities he’d wasted.  Stone lake farther.  In a crescendo of shouts and rage, he picked up a rock larger than all of the stones that he’d hurled so far.  With three steps forward and a shout of “why?”, he threw the rock as far as he could but it did not reach the water.  He winced slightly in pain and stared at his failed effort.  I woke up.

Everything was a javelin.  He had taken his own existence and reduced it down to one thing.  Nothing else mattered.  Farther, stronger, better.  These were the ways that he was judging himself.   It was not that he was on a path of progress that would get him to: farther, stronger, better but rather that those were metrics.

Measuring yourself by metrics is not always a negative thing.  There are all kinds of things that we can use to quantify aspects of our lives: grades, weight, time, distance and many others.  The issue comes from using those measurements as a punishment device rather than a measuring stick.  Dissatisfaction with where you are because it is not where you’ll be is a recipe for disaster.  The process of living is just that, a process.  Each step has inherent value as it leads you toward your destination or destiny.  To devalue the step because it is not the destination is devaluing the destination.  Because in the end you have sacrificed all of those steps for a moment.  The joy of accomplishment is compounded when the process is enjoyed.

So go out there today and pursue something that you love.  But pursue it with the joy of a child chasing a butterfly, not the angst of a man paying his taxes.  Most of life is the process, so enjoy it!

Pete

Bubbles and Boxes

BubblesMan has created several “boxes” to travel in. They have been created to make certain types of travel quicker and safer. The most literal box is the elevator. It makes travel between floors of a building faster. In the beginning there was danger of cables breaking or other malfunctions but elevators have become ever faster and safer over the years. We have several other boxes, which gain in speed and safety as we pass through time: the car, the train, the airplane and the list goes on. Traveling in boxes has become a way of life for most people. We depend upon them heavily.

As we progress further into the modern world, we seem to desire for all things to be safe and efficient. We sanitize everything to protect us from unseen germs. Our laws call for the use of helmets, belts and harnesses. Parents do their best to keep their kids from all kinds of harm by watching their every move. Some schools don’t give an F as a grade because it might hurt a child’s self esteem. It is almost as if people want a bubble to protect them from any kind of danger.

The problem with bubble living is that it takes away our humanity. All things worth having involve some form of risk. I’m not a thrill seeker by any stretch of the imagination. So I’m not talking about life and death risk but rather the risk of failure, discomfort or embarrassment. It is only when we take those chances that we are truly alive. Trees were not created with elevators because you need to chance the fall in order make the climb. Only in the climbing do we find out what we are truly capable of. Look for the people who stretch beyond comfort and safety, you will find the people that you admire most. Look for the people who live inside “the bubble” of safety, decide if they are the model for what you want for your life.  Most likely you’ll want to burst the bubble and get outside the box!

Break out today!

Pete

America Needs to SOCCER!

pulisicMost 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?

Thanks!

Pete

Stop Believing!

StopI inadvertently ruined Santa Claus for my son this morning.  Late last night I typed up a letter to a former professor and friend.  This morning my son asked to use my laptop to look up something for school.  I had completely forgotten to close out the document where I had talked about our holiday season and our kids still believing in Santa.  Ultimately it could have been a lot worse because he is old enough to move on from that belief.

Our beliefs are extremely important tools that we use to form who we are and who we can be.  Although the title of this blog may seem negative, it is intended to have a positive outcome.  It is intended to add some inner dialogue that will help you to achieve a goal, create something, improve something, change a habit or any other endeavor that is difficult.

Stop believing that it will be easy!

Stop believing that anyone will do it for you!

Stop believing that it’s too big for you to pull off!

Stop believing that “You Suck” voice inside your head!

Stop believing that you need to wait for the time to be right!

Stop believing that you’re too tired!

Stop believing that people will laugh at you!

Stop believing that anyone is going to help you more than you help yourself!

Stop believing that there are too many obstacles!

Stop believing that your past failures matter enough to stop you from trying again!

Stop believing that there’s nothing you can do!

Start believing in you, in possibility, in the future!

Stepping on the gas pedal of life may get you there fast but without the steering wheel, you don’t get to decide where that is.

Everything But…

IMG_3064In 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?

Pete

 

G.O.Y.A! And Do It!

IMG_2971There 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!

Pete

Bad Gladiators Died

gladiatorIt 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!

Pete

 

 

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

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