Tag Archives: self-esteem

Daily Diet of Cake Icing

IcingoncakeIn 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.

Happy birthday!

Pete

 

You Don’t Know Me!

IMG_2967It 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!

Pete

Rails and Trails: The Duality of Learning

IMG_2082The world seems to be in a never-ending search for balance.  While finding this balance is difficult it seems to come most naturally from the pull of opposing forces rather than the migration toward a middle ground.  Magnetism, life cycles and so many other phenomena are based on the polarity of their systems.  At a certain point human beings should be anticipating the balancing forces of nature but instead we seem to fight it at every turn.  Such is the case with learning, especially in the modern world.  I’ve encapsulated this concept using the fast moving but rigid rails of trains.  The other part to the idea consists of trails which are more free-form.  Until recently I was not able to articulate the balance inside of my own head or for outward expression.

RailsIntuitively I know that the education system is at best flawed and at worst broken.  Much like the rails of the train, it can only go to specific destinations and relies heavily on schedules and uniformity.  There may be first class and express ticket options available but the destinations are largely the same.  The conductors of this system scoff at those who travel by any other means because they’ve become so enamored with their efficiency that they accept its limitations.

The trailblazers on the other hand see a total lack of freedom on the rails.  Despite their much slower rate of speed, they find joy in the terrain.  The rocks, trees, streams and other impediments are part of the experience of doing it on your own.  In the learning space, the free-form approach is looked down upon because its progress is haphazard and difficult to measure.  Starting a business, project, movement, etc. and failing can be an extremely valuable experience but lacks the quantifiable data that the traditional system requires.

At no time in history has it ever been more apparent that both approaches are needed in some form of personal balance.  A person who spends their entire life on the rails will be frustrated by the world that now requires them to do more than “follow directions”.  Equally the person who is used to the DIY approach will become frustrated by their interactions with traditional agencies that have protocols and procedures.

So as you, personally, go into the future recognize when the rails will move you forward quicker and when the depth of trails will truly satisfy.  Understand that just because you prefer one or the other does not make it the best way to travel.  Learning is a lifelong pursuit that needs your oversight.  Hybrid your way forward and never doubt that product that you’re working on is you!

Learn today to be better tomorrow.

Pete

 

Manufacturing the Rolling Stones

Rolling stonesThe Rolling Stones are iconic and endured long past most of their contemporaries.  That type of longevity mixed with commercial success is worth noting and aspiring to but not manufacturing.  Trying to manufacture the Rolling is not only impossible, it feels foolish to suggest trying.  Despite this realization in the folly of trying to manufacture the next Rolling Stones, people seem obsessed with being the next Uber, AirBnB, Amazon or Lebron.  Either individually or organizationally at certain point, we all must break away from the icons that we adore in order to stand in our own right.

Twentyone pilotsFor the moment, my daughter is listening to Twenty One Pilots.  I’ve enjoyed their music because much like the Rolling Stones, they have their own style.  It has been a long time since a musical group has not sounded like some derivative of a style or past performer.  It’s possible that I missed who they are copying but for now I’ll stay impressed.

The mixture of uncertainty and pervasive broadcasting of “success” through social media leads to a desire to impersonate.   Trying to emulate the airbrushed life of a quasi-celebrity is an exercise in futility and disappointment.  Regardless of the person, what you see is not 100% of who they are.  It is the public version or the highlighted reel.  Holding yourself to that standard will end in failure.

So hold yourself to your own standard!  Can you be influenced by others?  Absolutely!  Borrow, experiment and test but in the end your product is going to need a huge helping of YOU at its core.  Keeping that in mind from the outset will allow you to be a much happier version of yourself.  Comparison can be a killer because you know everything about only one person in the comparison, you.  You know every thought, fear, desire and screw up.  No matter who you’re comparing yourself to, you’ll never know all of that.  So you’ll either be too hard on them or yourself and usually it’s the latter.

So go out there and be you today.  Wear your flaws and shortcomings like they’re some of your best accessories because in all honesty, THEY ARE!  Just imagine, there is probably someone out there who would love to be you and the message to them is the same.  They can’t be.  So go be yourself.

Have a great Monday!

Pete

Are you a Black Diamond?

black-diamondThe sport of skiing is one that I did not acquire until I was well into my twenties.  My wife took me for the first time while we were engaged.  I enjoy it but because I learned to ski later in life, I feel a certain amount of hesitance about pushing my limits.  Skiing is an activity that allows for a good amount of self-policing.  Generally speaking, there are no official representatives of the mountain telling you what trails to take.  You need to have enough self-awareness to know if you’re a green circle, a blue square or a black diamond.  Incorrectly gauging your level could have disastrous consequences.  Despite this possible peril, most people make it down the mountain unscathed because they accurately police themselves.

It is amazing to me that in certain areas, the idea of self-awareness is ingrained and almost automatic.  While in other places people are seemingly unable to see themselves at all.  Perhaps it is the number of variables in the given situation.  Or it is the perceived risk of bodily, emotional or social harm.  Whether it is in sports, dating, business, school or any other area, we all know someone who does not know their own level.  Either they think they’re an expert when they’re truly a novice.  Or they think they should be on the bunny hill when they could truly handle or deserve so much more of an experience.  Regardless of the situation, there are rewards to reaped from self-awareness.

So where do you belong in a particular area that means something to you?  Are you a green, a blue or a black diamond?  Take a real look inward and decide where you think you belong?  Then take your self-assessment and bring it to people that you trust.  Depending on the area, it may be worth it to take it to the streets and see what the common person thinks.  Regardless of the outcome, the exercise is valuable because a map of Chicago is worthless if you’re lost in New York.  Having a knowledge of where you are is a key component to getting where you want to go.  Denial is not a strategy for progress.

So go out there and hit the slopes!

Pete

 

Be a M.O.M.

meaningI was heartbroken!  Disappointed!  Slightly angry and my self-esteem had definitely taken a hit.  It was 1998 and my best friend and I had just returned from a month in Europe.  The trip had been amazing!  Despite the US playing horribly, Schaef and I had enjoyed a great World Cup.  We had toured England, Spain, France and Germany seeing five World Cup matches along the way.  The only downside to the trip had been that my girlfriend and I were never able to connect on the phone.  Either we were traveling or she was working but we kept missing one another.  Then when Schaef and I got home, the worst possible scenario came true.  She was breaking up with me and was possibly seeing someone else.

After a month of pure joy, I was paying the price with pure agony.  My life had basically fallen apart.  I had lost my girlfriend, my place to live (we were moving in together when I got back) and my future (in my head marriage was the next step).  Now I was left with nothing and all alone to build things back up again.  As much as I would love for the theme song from Rocky to start playing in the background and tell you that I got myself right in about a week, it took about a year.  The details of my rise from the ashes are not as important as the recognition of who/what turned me into ashes.  The person who was responsible for my agony was me and the tool that I used to inflict it upon myself was meaning.

There are many things that happen throughout life.  Although some may have positive or negative connotations to them, most are subject to interpretation.  It is not particularly the situation that causes the most pain but the meaning that we associate to the event.  My breakup meant all kinds of things at the time.  It meant that I was worthless, hopeless, helpless, lonely, a loser and a bunch of other things.    It took time to gain perspective and put new meaning onto that experience.  It was freeing, challenging, educational and the best thing for both of us.  Obviously this all came with time but it didn’t need to.  That experience did not need to be so destructive, had I been a Master of Meaning (M.O.M).

At the time, life happened to me more than I influenced it.  For better or worse, the events of my life would happen and THEY made me feel good or bad.  This is of course nonsense.  The events of our lives can influence but do not completely control how we feel.  Any event can be made to feel like it is positive or negative based on the meaning that we attach to it.  A million dollars is nothing but currency with pictures of dead presidents on it.  How someone reacts to receiving a million dollars is based completely on the meaning that they attach to it.  For many it represents possibility, happiness and freedom.  For others it means obligation, mistrust and greed.  The meaning that we put onto any event is crucial to how we feel about our lives.  Our habits of making meaning will make our lives seem like it is heading in one direction or another.  Until we take our power to decide, we are at the mercy of circumstance.  That is a difficult life to lead!

What will today mean for you?

Pete

 

Life of Unopened “Cans”

cansIn my parents’ cupboard when I was a kid, there were canned products that we used all the time.  Chicken noodle soup, tomato paste and green beans were in heavy rotation toward the front door.  They would come in, go out and be replaced by their can cousin at the next shopping trip.  Toward the back of the cupboard were the ancient staples like the can of cream of mushroom from 1985 or its even stranger companion, evaporated milk (no idea what that is).  These cans were born with purpose and hope.  However their lives never reached fulfillment because they were forgotten after they were crossed off of the grocery list and standing by for “someday”.  Having the can in the cupboard was enough.  We never actually had to do anything with it.

As I edge ever closer to 40 years old, I look at my unopened “cans” and I am awestruck by what I’ve left behind.  I’m no longer talking about tin and aluminum but rather the things that I left undone because I know that I can, so I don’t have to.

  • I can lose 15 lbs, so I don’t have to.
  • I can run that 10 mile race in 1:15:00 or less, so I don’t have to.
  • I can reach out to great friends and family at any time, so I don’t have to.
  • I can be a great husband, so I don’t have to be all the time.
  • I can go to the gym daily and get into great shape, so I don’t have to.
  • I can make something better of myself, so I don’t have to.

The knowledge that “I can” has kept me from doing so many things that I know that I should.  The problem with most of these cans is that I know that I can because I’ve done them before.  If these unopened cans were put into regular use, my life would be exponentially better.  Perhaps it’s time to open some of these cans and see, not what’s inside of them but what’s inside of me.  (Note: not everything that you can do falls into the “SHOULD” category.  Some cans are better left on the shelf.)

Is your cupboard full of dusty cans?  Did I just open up a “can of worms”?  Or do you now feel the need to open a “can of whoopass” on yourself and your life?  As you find the courage to do the things that you know that you can, you’ll also see the possibility of doing some things that you thought you could not!

You can!

Pete

I’m a punk soccer nerd

breakfast clubHigh school is a tough time for many reasons.  It is a time when young people are looking to solidify their independence from their parents.  At the same time they create new relationships that tend to define those years in so many ways.  It is extremely cliche but generally you are the company that you keep.  That is why cliques and labels become so widespread in high school because it is easier to lump people in with a group rather than take each person as an individual.  With everyone looking to discover who they are, they are not all that interested in finding out who everyone else is.

Perhaps I was fortunate that I had absolutely no idea who I was in high school and became quite comfortable with that fact.  I played soccer and ran track, so despite being athletic I wasn’t considered a “jock”.  My best friends smoked and listened to punk, so they would be considered “burnouts”.  Fortunately I liked the music but didn’t wear the uniform or pick up the bad habits.  My other circle of friends included at least four guys in the top ten of our class.  I got decent grades and loved learning things but refused to join the National Honor Society.  The adjective “normal” was used to describe me once and I took major offense.  At the time, I was just hoping for a better label.

In the end I’m not sure who the labels help more.  Does the label give the outside world a quick grouping system that allows them to dismiss the different?  Or does it give the individual a sense of self because they at least know their classification within the social class structure?

No matter who it helps more, it definitely has more possibility to hurt the individual.  This may not be in the “bullying” sense but rather a surrendering of self.  At this vulnerable time of life and in a society of pre-scripted paths, young people are capable of following to the point of almost non-existence.  They become the persona rather than a person.  None of this is particularly new nor likely to change quickly but in a world of almost infinite choices shouldn’t we be getting closer to being able to choose ourselves?

Let me know what you think.  Click here.

Be you today people!

Pete

7 Words (you don’t know until you know)

7WordsAbout a year ago my son, Luke, and I went to a Red Bulls game.  He was eight years old at the time.  On the ride home we were listening to the music from my iPhone.  At one point, a song called “7 Words” by the Deftones came on.  I quickly switched the song because it is a hard and aggressive curse-laden song.  He asked why I changed it and I told him that the title of the song was 7 Words and that it had a lot of cursing in it.  He probed further about why it was called 7 Words.  I explained that there were seven major curse words that most people recognize as bad.

Much to my surprise Luke said that he thought he knew them all.  We seemed to be having a “man to man” discussion, so I gave him the green light to test his seven.  He started off two for two with the F and S.  Then he stumbled a bit with his next two selections.  There was another F in his seven, “frick”.  I informed him that it was actually a replacement for his other F.  Then he went to another S-word, “sex”.  Again I explained that sex was not a curse word which was unfortunately followed by the question “what is sex?”  I got instantaneously nervous that I was going to have to have “the talk” with an eight year old.  Luckily my explanation that sex was another word for gender or boys/girls seemed to appease him.

I was reminded of that incident several times today as I was speaking to the 8th graders of HMS.  It is extremely tough to know until you know.  That may seem like cryptic language but I’m being very literal.  Until you go through certain things for yourself it is difficult or even impossible to fully understand.  My goal was to give them some tools to work with and I hope that I did.  However there are things that you need to go through for yourself to understand like how to get over a broken heart or deal with the betrayal of a good friend.  We can put these things in the manual with instructions but they can’t particularly be taught.

Life has a series of missteps and pitfalls that we must go through.  We can avoid some through the help of others.  However some things we just need to experience for ourselves.  You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it.  You know?

Happy Birthday Luke!

Keep reading people and subscribe!

Pete

HMS Questions from 4-14-15

IMG_0663At the end of my talk today at Hackettstown Middle School, I didn’t have time to answer all of the questions.  Here are the ones that I missed.  They are in no particular order.

What is the moral of this presentation?/What’s your motivation for this?

The thing that I was trying to sell you on, is you.  I want you to buy into the idea that you are capable of great things.  There will be a lot of obstacles in your way.  However I want you to have some of the tools that you need to be able to get wherever it is that you want to go.

What’s your favorite food?

My mom’s macaroni and cheese.  Please don’t tell my wife.

How does this relate to moving on to high school?

In my eyes, the transition to high school is a step into a bigger “pool”.  After it is over, you can go to college or be dropped directly into life.  The tools that I suggested throughout the talk were intended to help you mainly do two things.  Begin a process of discovering who you are as a person and help develop some more self-esteem and self-reliance.  High school can be a difficult transition for many and worse for people who do not believe in themselves.

Have you ever been bullied through your time in school?

Yes, there were several times that people attempted to bully me.  I was fortunate though.  Every attempt to bully me was physical intimidation and I always pushed back (literally).  At that time they backed off because bullies want easy targets.  I’m not an advocate for violence but always felt I was right to protect myself.  Today’s cyberbullying is much more difficult to push back on.  As we talked about today, knowing who you trust with your “keys” is very important.

Do you like your job?

I have many jobs but the answer is yes for all of them.  I enjoy the things that I do.  When I stop enjoying them, I’ll most likely stop doing them.

What do you love about life?

There are so many things that I personally love about living: laughter, travel, learning, exercise and the list goes on and on.  The underlying theme is that I like to feel like I’m progressing.  That tomorrow I’ll be in a different spot mentally, emotionally or physically but that I enjoy the process.

What is the best part of high school?

For me, it was my friends and sports.  I really enjoyed being close with a bunch of people that I’d known for years.  Also I love soccer and track.  So those were fun times, getting to compete for the school and do it mainly with friends.

How did you find your strength?

I found my strength by taking some real stock of who I am.  There are many ways to do this but keeping a journal and writing were really important parts for me.  I also took time to figure out if I was following a map that was the right map or not.  In some ways I needed to redefine who I wanted to be.  I’m Peter Powell Huryk III.  So I am named after my dad and grandfather.  It was an important part of my identity for a long time.  I felt almost compelled to follow in my dad’s footsteps.  Sometimes that worked out well and others horribly.  Once I separated myself from that picture, it was easier to make decisions in line with who I wanted to be.

Is there really a freshman Friday?

I graduated high school in 1994.  That was over 20 years ago.  There wasn’t when I there.  I don’t know what it is either but I’m guessing it’s not good.

What influenced you to realize what you were doing to yourself was … different?

I’m guessing you’re referring to the “loser” self-talk habit.  It was actually in my parent’s living room when I was a sophomore (I think).  I remember having an argument about something with my mother and telling her that I was a loser.  It wasn’t her reaction but the instant when I said it out loud to her that I think jolted me.  I was arguing in favor of something that I didn’t want.  It was weird, like being a fan of the Yankees but wearing a Red Sox jersey.  I saw the fact that it didn’t fit.  It took a long time to get rid of the habit and the thought but that was the moment.

 Did you ever overcome the “loser” feeling?

See the answer above.  After that day I would make strides forward and fall back some times.  It was also different for all areas of my life.  For example, my academic confidence was pretty strong throughout HS.  However my confidence about girls took a long time to develop.

Can you do an Arnold Schwarzenegger impression?

No, the only impression that I pretty well is Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

What is life?

It is the search.  Trying to create and find meaning is what life is about for me.

What do you like to do?

There are a lot of things.   I love spending time with my family, playing soccer, coaching, running, hiking with my brother, swimming, reading, spending time with friends and the list goes on.

Who inspired you to talk?/What inspired you to do what you do?

My inspiration to talk/write was my son, Luke.  I started a journal before he was born.  My family is my inspiration for most of the things that I do.

Why are you recording this?

A few reasons.  First, I’m always looking to improve.  I enjoy speaking to audiences but I want them to enjoy it just as much.  I want to see what worked and what didn’t.  Also when people hire speakers, they don’t usually do it blindly.  Having some video to show someone is always a good idea.

First day of freshman year advice.

Breathe!  You’ve gone to school for nine years already and survived.  So you’ll survive this as well.  Wear something that makes you feel comfortable.  Know who you are before you walk in the door.  There are lots of people that will want influence you, decide if you want to let that happen or not.

Do you have any children?

Yes, I have a son and a daughter.  They and my wife are the loves of my life.

Do you have any pets?

Not at the moment.  My dog, Kelme, died about a year and a half ago.   He was my buddy.  My kids are asking to get a new dog.  We might this summer.

What happened to Mark, your friend?  How is he now?

He is doing well.  He lives in Pennsylvania.  He’s great supporter for what I do.  He was one of the first people that I sent a copy of my book to because his story is in it.

How did you make it through high school?

One day at a time.  I wish I could report that I had it all together in high school but I didn’t.  I had some real successes through my four years.  I felt really good about where I ended up.  However it wasn’t always easy.  Good friends were important.

How do you stop yourself from walking down the wrong direction?

I’m guessing that your question is about avoiding things that you know are wrong.  This can be easy or difficult depending on the thing that is tempting you to do wrong.  Most of the time I think about how I will feel after it is over.  Since feelings are what we’re truly after, regret is something that I want to avoid when I can.

What year did you gain back confidence?

My junior year in high school was probably the time when I got back to an equilibrium with confidence after the “loser years”.  However there were still ups and downs after that.  I really have hit my confidence stride in my 3o’s.  I know that seems old to you guys but I’m on an upward climb and don’t plan on stopping.

Who is going to win the NBA Championship?

I don’t know and honestly don’t care.  I haven’t paid attention to the NBA since Bird retired.  I love basketball but the NBA hasn’t been a league I’ve been interested in for a long time because it’s more about “show” than “substance”.

Where can I buy your book?

It’s available online.  You can go to this address: http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?contributorId=1248605  Or I will have some at my talk on April 21st at 6:30 pm at the Warren County Library in Independence.  I’ve also donated a few to HMS.  Go see Mrs. Brotzman to borrow a copy.

How do you act on potential?

Consistently.  You have the potential to do a lot of things in your life.  Do the ones that are most important to you and you feel will get you closer to where you want to be in life.

I feel like I am as smart as my friends who are in higher classes as well.  I talked to the guidance counselor at the high school but she said I could not get into the college level classes.  This really shut down my self-confidence.  Do you have any advice for me?

If you truly believe that you belong in the college level classes, spend your freshman year getting high A’s in every course you take.  Prove to yourself and the counselor that you deserve to be in those classes.  You used the perfect word “SELF-confidence”.  The only person that can shut it down is YOU.  If this is truly what you want, then make it happen.  Don’t complain about being stuck, do everything within YOUR control to get where you want to go.

 If we’re one of the richest countries, why is there child poverty?

This is a tough socio-economic question.  I’m not fully qualified to answer it.  An economist might do a better job.  Wealth on a national level does not mean that wealth is evenly distributed.  I don’t think there is anyone in the world that wants to see children in poverty.  As human beings, I think most of us want to help other people.  I’m not sure if it is a problem of getting the help to the right people, the people not wanting the help or not enough help being given.  Identifying the problem is the first step.  If you’re truly passionate about this, maybe you’ve found your calling.