Blogpost, self-reliance

Results vs Resluts

If I had been born about ten years later than I was, I’m quite sure that I would have been tested for and found as dyslexic. However due to my age and a few other factors, there was no diagnosis. It’s never been a major issue, numbers are my biggest problem. So it made perfect sense for me to start out as a math major in college. For the most part, I’ve just had to police myself throughout my academic career. Now I’m not sure if my recent typing issues are related or if my fingers have just gotten fumbled up. I’ve been having a lot more instances of typos where I only switch two letters in the middle of the word. From time to time, results turn into resluts! Despite the obvious error, I gave some thought to my error and its possible uses. My fear is that far too many people are going for resluts!

The thing about resluts is that anyone can get them. They are readily available with little effort. Like eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the resources needed to make that result happen are available to most people. It’s nothing special but it is still something. If they are needed in order to build confidence, habit or a streak of some kind, then by all means! Go get those resluts! Just don’t celebrate too much.

Results are what should be desired and chased. They inject enthusiasm and motivation into our lives. Although they are within our reach, they are elusive, coy or possibly aloof. They act as if they are too good for us and if we’ve lowered our standards drastically, they might be right. However it’s more than likely that we are more than good enough. It might take some extra effort, a bit more primping or charm but there’s no reason to let that stop us. Just because it’s not easy, doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it!

So as you go through your day, recognize whether you’re chasing real results or not. Are the things that you’re after worth pursuing? If you’re only after them because they are easy, then it might be time to move on to better things. You deserve the top level prizes in this carnival game we call life. But first you need to realize that you do! Don’t settle for the participation trophy because you can do more than just show up!

Go get your results!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Unpickle the Cucumber

One of my favorite places to eat in the entire world is called “The Sub Shack” in Hackettstown, NJ. As a kid, we would go there from time to time and as an adult I make it a point to go whenever visiting home. They had a barrel of pickles soaking in brine that were sold for one dollar a piece. As a child, I didn’t realize initially that pickles were cucumbers (or other vegetables). Traditionally it was done to prevent spoilage. In modern times, it seems to principally be done for taste. Once pickled, it is almost impossible to turn a pickle back into a cucumber. By soaking the cucumber in brine, that liquid permeates the entirety of the cucumber. Even if it is soaked in water for a long period of time, it can’t go back. Luckily humans are not pickles but we may be “pickled” to a certain extent.

The Sub Shack located on Main St. in Hackettstonwn, NJ.

This discussion of brining and pickles was brought about as I was thinking about my own mindset and habits. Much of who I am today is due to being immersed in a particular set of circumstances. My upbringing, education, friends, experiences, etc. form the brine that my mind has been soaking in for these forty-five years. Some components have been thrust upon me while others have been deliberately chosen. All of the “flavors” that I am can be changed on some level by “re-brining.” My American flavor would be affected to some degree by living in England for a decade. However it is almost impossible to completely “unpickle the cucumber.”

Just because you can’t start over, doesn’t mean that you need to continue on your present path. It is completely possible to change the you that people see everyday. However it takes more than an inspirational Instagram post or a week’s worth of discipline. You need to become immersed in the change that you want to create. People, location, media, schedules, etc. can all help to “brine” you in one way or another. The key is to figure out exactly what you want to taste like (did I take the analogy too far? That felt like a bit too far.) REGARDLESS the person that you are is who you will stay unless you immerse yourself in something different. You’ve already been pickled. Now it’s up to you to decide if you like the recipe that was used!

Bon Appetite!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

The Applause Comes Last

A round of applause, a pat on the back, a few well placed “‘at a girls” or “‘at a boys” are what many of us are looking for from our performance. We want someone who is willing to acknowledge the effort that we just put into that thing. Whether it is a piece of art, a business proposal or a well played game, recognition is something that people crave. It’s not a selfish thing, it is a biological desire that manifests itself in a variety of ways. We are hierarchical animals who survival used to depend heavily on tribal dynamics. Doing something worthy of positive attention from the tribe created such strong bonds between our actions and the approval of others that many are driven principally by praise.

Praise is not the only motivator in the world. People are motivated by all kinds of stimuli. The issue is not really what motivators are behind the actions of a person. It is the need for the reward to come at the right time. In our distraction prone society, a premature prize could lead to a decrease in motivation. The applause of the crowd, the bonus check or better yet that feeling of self-satisfaction cannot be awarded too soon because the whole result is the important thing.

It seems silly but people do it all the time. They come up with a plan for that goal and give up. A week of clean eating and the diet is over. The championship season is over after three wins in a row. Signing up for the gym is enough of a step, why would you go? Goals and objectives are not particularly the aim. The trophy may feel good in the moment but that instant fades over time. The feeling that endures much longer is the way that we feel about ourselves when it’s over. Tasks that we leave half done for no reason weigh on our souls because we believe that we’re capable of more. Despite that belief, the proof is in the pudding or the half-made pudding.

No one else needs to hear the applause but you need to give it to yourself when you’re done. And only when you’re done. That doesn’t mean that you can’t hear the occasional clap along the way but save the applause for the end. The most important thing is how you feel about yourself when you’re by yourself. If you left something on the table that could have been, you’ll know it. Make yourself proud!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Attendance Will Be Taken

I showed up on Senior Skip Day! That is probably the most pathetic thing that I’ve ever admitted in my blogposts. It’s pathetic for two reasons that I can think of. 1. Because of the fact that I went. 2. Because no one cares. There’s no moral judgment placed on the kids who don’t go. The valedictorian didn’t even show up if I remember correctly. It was the kids who had too many unexcused absences, the kids who got 100% attendance every year and me. Another sad fact is that I wasn’t one of 100% attendance kids. I would take days off from time to time, just not that day.

The 100% attendance kids were a bit of a mystery to me. I was never quite sure if their parents made them come everyday, they got some kind of prize, or they valued their education that much. Although I’m not going to ask you to follow directly in their footsteps, I am going to suggest that you have a stellar attendance record.

Your goals require a stellar attendance record. Every goal is going to have its own schedule. Some goals might be oncer per week. Others may be every day. Regardless of the schedule, there are going to be days when you don’t want to show up. Most likely those are the days that you need to show up the more than any other. We all desire comfort, a rest or a day off. The problem is that once those desires are exercised, they grow stronger.

If you wait for motivation, you’ll get very little done in this world. Motivation is neither a consistent state of being nor is it a power that is bestowed by God upon a select group. Those people who seem as if they are extremely motivated, just have better established habits. “First you make a habit, then the habit makes you.” Stolen from Trevor Moawad. So what do I have to do to make a habit? ACT!!! Don’t wait for motivation, until you feel like or someone tells you that you have to. Once you act, your mind will catch up to your body and send a message about why you are doing that thing. If you act consistently enough, eventually your mind will get ahead of your body and start calling on you to do that thing.

Just like me, it’s possible that you’re the only one who will remember that you showed up. There won’t be a gold star put next to your name. You’ll just be a step, an inch or a millimeter closer to that thing that you want. That stellar attendance record will eventually start paying dividends. The sooner you start, the farther that you’ll be along the path in a week, a month, or a year. So ACT NOW!!! No one else is checking to see if you show up. Therefore, you have to!

Bueller! Bueller!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Break Up With Yourself

A slap across the face, a bucket of tears, possibly even a few curse words thrown my way. These are all components of past breakups. Breakups are infrequently mutual, so at least one person feels like they are on the losing end. I’ve been dumped and I’ve been the dumper. Neither is particularly easy unless you have no soul. Despite the fact that it is hard, there are times when it is completely justified. Some people just don’t know how to treat another human being and it is time to say goodbye.

A breakup can be complicated by factors that make the connection linger. I once dated a coworker and that breakup made work difficult. Living together is probably the most complicated because someone has got to go. No matter what that sitcom with Pam from the Office might try to sell to you, living together after a breakup is no joke. However most people tend to live with the person who is most critical of them. Even worse, they can’t get away from them because that person is inside of their head.

It’s no surprise that the harshest critic is usually inside of our own head. That voice is usually a mismatched combination of different voices from our past mixed with our own self-judgement. Being self-critical is not difficult because we know our every shortcoming, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, etc. The issue is that neither party can leave. This is a true “til death do we part” scenario. As with any relationship, it’s possible to make it better but it requires the right communication.

How could you leave this good looking guy?

Since each of us has our own preferred way of communicating, it’s possible that one strategy will work better for someone than it does for another. My suggestion would be do them all and maybe increase the dose on your preferred way.

  • Write to yourself everyday. This doesn’t need to be a love letter (or maybe that’s a good idea) but it should be a positive narrative to you about yourself. Give the positive reinforcement that you would extend to someone that you care about. Also give thanks for all that you are and all that you will become. That’s right! Give thanks for things that have not happened yet. Keep it in the near future but still project outward from where you stand.
  • Tell yourself positive things. Again, this is a difficult thing to do when you’re on autopilot. So use that technology in your pocket for a better outcome. Record yourself talking to yourself in a positive manner about where you are and where you’re going. You may need a script and summon your inner actor to say these things with some emotion. Don’t say it monotone, like you don’t believe it. Put some feeling behind it. Once you’ve recorded listen to it twice or more per day. Ideally the two times would be right before bed and as soon as you wake up. However you may be embarrassed doing this with a roommate etc. Put in your earbuds and hear what you have to say.
  • Break the cycle of abuse. If you have a habit of using abusive language with yourself, inside of your head or out-loud. The first step is to get that voice to stop or at least detour it. Pay attention to the common phrases and when they come up. Practice thinking the negative thing and attach the inverse. For example if the habit saying is “I’m so stupid.” Flip the script by thinking the “I’m so stupid” and saying “when I’m not being brilliant.” Saying something out-loud gives it more power. The mixed message should scramble your brain a bit. If you’re also doing the other work, it shouldn’t be long until you’re talking to yourself differently.

I suppose I lied to you a bit with the title. You’re not truly breaking up with yourself. More than anything you’re training yourself on how to be a good roommate. If you want to stay in that abusive relationship for the rest of your life, then by all means stick with it. My guess is that if you’ve bothered to read one of my blogposts this far, you’re not going to stand still. You see the potential inside of yourself but also see the ways that you’ve held yourself back. Take off the anchor and propel yourself forward.

You can do it! I believe in you! And you should too!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Repeat Yourself, Continuously

As a father, it is almost my sworn duty to tell dad jokes. My grandfather was a well known joke teller in his neighborhood and the family. Most of the time when he would start telling you a story, you weren’t sure if it was the set up for a joke or not. Since his name was Pete, he would often introduce himself, “My name is Pete and this is my son, RePete.” He specialized in Polish jokes because we’re Polish by descent but he was always looking for new material. There were a quite a few that you would hear over and over again because they worked.

My grandfather, the joker!

Since we have so much choice these days, there is a desire for the new and unique. Despite all of this choice, I still find myself going back to the things that work over and over again: Shawshank Redemption, Knapsack and the Tim Ferris podcast with Robert Rodriguez. Predictability has its place in a world as volatile as ours. The important skill is being able to tell the difference between a track and a rut. The major distinguishing factor is that tracks lead someplace and ruts are formed because you’re just spinning your wheels.

So I suggest that you repeat yourself, continuously……..After you’ve decided who it is that you want to be. Consistency is a key to most endeavors. If you want to be a great version of yourself, that is going to require that you are a consistent version of yourself. Consistent action in a particular direction leaves tracks and people can understand who you are where you’ve come from. Unfortunately in our distraction culture, it’s easy to be led astray but the things that we believe are necessary tools. The latest thing is always going to be around because there’s always a new latest thing.

Even though he looked for new material, my grandfather knew which jokes worked because he had thousands of hours of experience. He didn’t recite poetry because that was not his thing except for that one about the guy from Nantucket…. But I digress. You don’t need to be all things to all people. You need to be you, everyday for the rest of your life. Make sure that it’s a decision and not an accident who it is that shows up.

Did I ever tell you the one…?

RePete III

Blogpost, self-reliance

Parade Float Existence

You’re not supposed to see the wheels of a parade float. The entire idea behind the “float” is that it gives off the illusion that it is above the ground, a piece of art suspended in the air. The right circumstances need to be in place to make a float viable. A relatively straight road that has been blocked off from regular traffic is paramount to a float’s functionality. There’s a reason why we don’t see floats on a daily basis. They are an impractical sham of existence that cannot persist much longer after the parade is over.

Despite these facts about floats, many of us try to drive our own float down the streets of our daily lives. We primp ourselves to hide all scars, blemishes, effort and fatigue. The systems that hold us up are well hidden from the world to give the illusion that we might be floating. Social media is the stop in front of Macy’s where we need to pause and pose or sing and dance like Mario Lopez. Realizing of course that it’s a sham, you’re only there because you don’t have anything more important to do. Millions of people might be “watching” but in all honesty no one is truly watching. You scroll by with the other people pretending to be pitch perfect and are barely noticed or remembered.

There is nothing wrong floats or parades but they should not be daily experiences. As individuals we need to be much more agile and fast moving. Maintaining the facade is at best impractical and at worst dangerous. When life demands more of us than a parade route, we will fall apart at the seams if we’re made of tissue paper and flowers. Keeping it together is impossible in that unnatural state. So only bring out the float on special occasions. There are so many other parade participants to be:

  • The balloon that need eight people to keep it from floating off into the ski.
  • The classic cars that would love nothing more than to ditch the parade for the open road.
  • The tanks that could take out a building if the situation called for it.
  • The high school band who had to compete to get there and are REALLY playing their instruments.

So if you’re trying to be a float, please remember that you’re not fooling anyone. We all know that underneath, you’re a type of farm vehicle. Unless it’s a special occasion, you can ditch the facade and be the real you. Just because we put a camera in everyone’s pocket, doesn’t mean we’re all on TV or need to act like second class stars. Our daily lives require people of true substance! We need the real you!

Show off your wheels!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

The Lasso Way: Being You First

I am a Ted Lasso super fan. Anyone who has had a conversation longer than ten minutes with me over the past two months has been told to watch the show. Somehow Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt and Bill Lawrence created the perfect TV show for me. At this point, I’ve watched each episode at least five times and I’m probably lowballing that number. Despite my love for the content, I’m not going to just sing the praises of the show. I’m focused on the biggest takeaway from the show.

The outside of my laptop. I’m a little obsessed.

Although it is in essence a sitcom, Ted Lasso works on a variety of levels. Laughs are intermingled with possible tears and new vocabulary. While the origins of the Ted Lasso character come from a commercial where he leads with stupidity, the show’s main character leads with caring and empathy. Despite being out of his depth in his job, he is (usually) unapologetically himself. This is a refreshing characteristic to find. In a world where so many people are in a constant state of posturing for their audience, being yourself seems to be a lost art in many ways. Accepting others seems to almost be easier.

The oddities, faults and curiosities that other people carry can be easily overlooked because “it’s not me.” Unfortunately being ourselves is often difficult because the court of public opinion is open 24/7/365 these days. It can be exhausting to maintain a public persona that is different from who you truly are. This tactic also erodes self-esteem over time because it’s hard to “esteem” someone that you’re hiding from the world.

Now this is not an excuse to have an Ally Sheedy in Breakfast Club moment and dump your metaphorical purse into the world’s lap. It is however a call to feel comfortable in your own skin. Live in at least a mental existence where who you are is OK. Then share that person that you most want to be with your world first. Your world is not the world. It’s the people that you love and trust. By doing those experiments at home first, you’ll get a sense of how you come across to other people. Again this is not a call for no filters but rather a bit more honesty. One of my favorite public figures, Tom Bilyeu, admits quite openly that he wants to be a Jedi. Not a lightsaber wielding spaceman but an influencer of people’s minds. That idea or dream of being something outside of the norm is uncomfortable for most of us. However admitting who we are, what we want and how important things are to us is a crucial piece of our development as people. Otherwise we’re a dancer in a Gap commercial. Not dancing for joy but because it’s a job. Not wearing khakis because we love them because that’s the costume.

So here is my public admission. I want to be the team psychologist for Peterborough United. The ridiculousness of this aspiration is not lost upon me. At the moment, I don’t have any of the credentials that a team might require. I’m an American who has mainly coached at the high school and college level. Much like Ted Lasso, I may be in over my head for that job. That doesn’t mean that I need to give up or apologize or lie about my desire to other people or especially myself. Perhaps I’m a fool to believe in this dream but I’d rather be the star in my own sitcom where I’m the butt of many jokes rather than a background character in a Gap commercial where I’m indistinguishable from anyone else.

So start inside your own head. Get comfortable in that skin of yours. It’s not going anywhere and neither are the basics of who you are. You’re not a background dancer. You’re a star! Shine for the people around you!

Be you!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Tip the Balance

Parents are preprogrammed to be proud of their children. It’s only natural that there should be that bias. At one point or another, we have all listened to a parent gush over their child’s big or small accomplishment. It may be annoying to people on the outside but it makes perfect sense. The scale between pride and disappointment is naturally weighted toward a parent’s pride.

Conversely our own pride and disappointment scale seems to be weighted in the other direction. It is often easier be disappointed in ourselves rather than proud. Since we spend every moment with ourselves and know our every thought and shortcoming, it makes sense that our “pride scale” might be weighted toward disappointment. This doesn’t mean that it’s helpful or the way that it should be. So it is your job to TIP THE BALANCE. This does not mean that you should feel proud of yourself for everything you do. Sometimes disappointment is exactly what the doctor ordered. My suggestion is that you celebrate your successes just a bit more. Allow yourself to get on a roll because the other option is a little scary.

We tend to avoid actions that are associated with negative emotions such as pain, embarrassment or disappointment. Generally speaking to reach even the most modest forms of success, some pain, embarrassment or disappointment is necessary. So avoiding the actions that create negative emotions and having a scale tipped toward them is a recipe for disaster.

Feel free to use this clip as a response to anyone who belittles your accomplishments. Maybe even you!

So celebrate yourself when you do something good. We’ve each got our own level. Getting out of bed and showing up to work on time may be your success for now. Or maybe you’re trying to break the world record for pull-ups and have failed twice. Give yourself a break because most people aren’t even trying that. The internet and social media have plenty of people for you to compare yourself to in order to undermine what we’ve just talked about. F$%& THEM! You’re you! Measure yourself based on your own standards. If you were still 5 years old, your mom would be bragging to everyone about how you stopped wetting the bed. So look at yourself through the most caring eyes that you can imagine. Get out there and start doing things. Some of it will work out and some won’t. Regardless, you have the potential to be one hell of a person. Just give yourself a break if you’re not yet!

I’m proud of you! Go make it happen!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

X Marks the Spot

Pirates! Those scurvy scoundrels that took to the high seas in order to rob other boats in search of treasure. According to movies and stories at least, they took that loot and buried somewhere. While this practice may be largely fictionalized, it makes for an interesting adventure: the treasure hunt. People trying to find another pirate’s treasure or retrace steps to their own. The use of maps, codes and booby traps may have been common place but the likelihood of an X marking the spot is doubtful. Why would you advertise where the treasure is? Their hope would truly be that no one else would be able to find it.

I’d like to give you a clue where all of the treasure that you’re looking for is buried. Even though the traditional pirates are gone, there are still people around who want to steal your treasure. They are looking to take everything that you’ve got and bury it in their own special spot. If you feel like you’ve lost your treasure and do not have a map to find it, then here is the X that you may need.

Everything that you’re looking for is inside of your own head. It is where everything that happens to you is processed. So regardless of whether you have a chest full of gold or not, you are in control of how you feel about that. Many people who have had “riches” felt poor because they did not know how to control that treasure chest between their ears. By comparison some people who seemingly have nothing, have lived a rich life based on their possession of the keys to their own mind.

While this is a simple idea, it may not be easy to access the riches that I’m talking about. Some people have buried their treasure under years of self-doubt, fear, anxiety, recklessness and other impediments which keep that treasure out of reach. So if you want to have all that life has to offer, dig into that place where everything is kept and demand the gold rather than the lead that weighs you down. The externals of your life are usually a reflection of what is going on inside of your own head. Don’t bury that treasure, use it!

Heave ho!

Pete

P.S. – If you liked this blogpost, sign up for my email list and get my book “Fill Your Boots” for free.