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

Everything Is Process

Your life will have milestones! There is no doubt about that. However at only one point in your life will you reach any sense of complete finality, at your death.  In my estimation, that is not a goal to move toward as quickly as possible.  So therefore the thing that is left is PROCESS.  Even the games, matches and contests, that we compete in are steps along the path to becoming.  Becoming what?  That is up to you. 

If you put in the requisite effort, then you are becoming better, stronger, faster, smarter, leaner, calmer and the other er’s in your life don’t ever have to stop.  They are always capable of being improved based on your potential.  Reaching milestones is not a reason to stop, unless that is what you want.  If your appetite is satiated, then by all means, take a bow, revel in your success but don’t believe that it is all you have in you.  That is not something that you will ever reach.  For some people that is daunting. The endlessness of your own capability can intimidate because comfort can be drawn from familiarity. 

In my belief it is liberating to believe in endless potential because no matter what level you’re at there is room to move.  You are not boxed in by a ceiling.  Bowling at the professional level gives me no excitement because it only allows for a certain level of performance, beyond that you can’t do any better.  Perfection or bust is not anything I’m interested in.  The pursuit of something beyond what is now known is interesting. The you of right now is a rung of a ladder for tomorrow’s version to climb upon. Give yourself sturdy shoulders to stand on by believing in the process of every day!

One step at a time!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

No One Cares About Your Problems (and neither should you)

This may come off a bit harsh but honestly, no one cares about your problems. Whether you’re overweight, your pet just died, your spouse left you, your candidate lost, or a thousand other issues, nobody cares and they shouldn’t! The truth of the matter is that your friends, family, co-workers, etc. don’t care about your problems, they care about you. So regardless of how many bad situations have aligned themselves against you, no one cares. Once this realization is solid inside of your head, the other shoe must drop. You shouldn’t care about your problems either. “But my debt….my dog….my boss….the election….the pandemic….”

My statement isn’t that you don’t have any problems. It’s only that you shouldn’t care about them. People tend to become invested in the negative situations that surround their lives. They invest tons of emotion into a situation that they wish would go away. It’s like giving keys to the person who keeps breaking into your house. Regardless of the situation, your attention and emotion are only feeding the problem itself or your perception of it. So is the answer to just ignore them? Not exactly! You shouldn’t care about your problems but…

You should care about the solutions because they need your time and attention. Much like a newborn baby, solutions don’t just take care of themselves. Someone has to keep them alive and allow them to grow until they are self-sufficient. Friends and family can definitely nurture a solution for you but let’s be honest, they are less likely to do it if they see that you’re in love with your problem.

People tend to get more of what they focus on, whether in perception or reality. The key is to focus on the things that you want and give only the attention that is necessary to the things that you don’t. The big bucks aren’t earned by people who are best at describing the problem. They’re earned by the people who find the solution.

Love your solutions today!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Short But Not So Sweet

There are many things in our lives that we wish were true. Many that we hope are true. The others that we know are true. The other side also exists of things that we want to not be true. Let’s cut out the wishing, hoping and wanting for just a moment and get to what’s true true.

You are a contributor to 100% of your successes and 100% of your failures. No one else can claim that much influence on your life. You are an accomplice in everything that has happened to you. That trend is going to continue until the day that you die. At a certain point then the realization needs to be made that any complaints that you have about where you are, should be laid directly at your own doorstep. So if you like where you are, GREAT! Pat yourself on the back. If you don’t, then you need to change you because no one else has the amount of influence that you do. Get to it. Today! You can’t turn this ship around on a dime but you can do it!

You’re up!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

The Offside Trap

Blunt honest, I’ve never been a fan. Although using the offside line to a team’s advantage is an extremely important tactic. Most teams that employ the trap tend to rely on it far too heavily. It is their defensive savior UNTIL it is their demise. From my perspective, defense is all about solving problems and neutralizing threats. The trap turns the multivariable problem of defending into a true or false question. Either the trap worked or it didn’t. When it fails, the team is engaged in the worst game of all, catchup. The success or failure tends to depend on doing one thing well or it all falls apart. The world that we live in is filled all kinds of multivariable problems that continue to get more numerous and complex.

Despite the fact that the challenges are more complicated than ever, we still seem to want the solutions to be simple. A drug exists to fix everything from short eyelashes to testosterone. The internet is full of people ready to tell you how to get rich quick. If anything is going wrong in your world, you can blame the politicians on the other side of the aisle. Despite the fact that these responses to the problems that we face may be convenient, they are not effective in the long term or come with dangerous consequences.

The trap is in thinking that the solutions are supposed to be quick and easy. Applying one size fits all responses to problems is bound to bite us in the end. This is all pretty obvious to say and probably to read as well but I know that I’m guilty of it. We want the world to simple but it’s not. And we want to always get things right but we don’t. The key to avoiding the trap is to stay proactive. Problems aren’t going anywhere and they’re not getting any simpler. Each day we can get ahead of our future challenges: communicate, learn something, don’t assume you’re right, take in differing perspectives, and don’t expect others to solve your problems for you.

The trap in soccer hopes for opponents who can’t break it and referees who will be in position to call it. That’s throwing away a large portion of the available influence on the situation. In life your opponents are going to be numerous and skilled, you need to be prepared for that. The officials in place are rarely going to be adequate. So you need to police yourself. The world is complex but I know you can handle it. Just remember, it’s always a trap!

It’s a trap!

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

Day Three of My New Life

With the season of New Year’s Resolutions descending upon us quickly, I thought it was time to give an alternative. “Day Three of My New Life” is actually the name of one of my favorite albums of all time. The band Knapsack released it while I was in college. Through my weekly radio show, I got introduced to the album and the band. None of this is why you clicked on this post, so I’ll move on but the album is worth a listen.

Knapsack – Day Three of My New Life

Several times I’ve dissected the title of the album for myself and attributed a thought process to it. For the moment at least, I’m going to say that the following is what I believe about change which is what resolutions promise. It’s unfortunate that the word resolution has gotten associated with so many failed enterprises by people over the years. The definition of a “firm decision to do or not do something” is a powerful alternative to the impotent leanings that most people have. So even though New Year’s Resolutions tend to be weak, the word is intended to be strong.

Day Three of My New Life plays perfectly into this thought process as it puts a line of demarkation between the past self and the present. Humans tend to lead with belief and therein lies the power of this thought process. Normal resolutions fail because it is the same old version of you, trying to do a new action. Unfortunately the life that you lead is resistant to change, especially when giving up something that is coveted. At this time of year, change is all the rage. So it is not truly a resolution but a form peer pressure that most fold under. It is crucial to birth a new version of yourself. So rather than the first, maybe it’s better to start on the number day of your birthday. That makes it personal. A part of your identity that you get to carry forward.

In addition to the decision there need to be reminders of the new you built into the day. You need to have arrows to the action that you recognize and utilize. Few of us have the willpower to overcome all of the obstacles in our way, so we need to be set up for success. Running shoes put next to the bed, reminders in the cellphone, post it notes on the refrigerator or the simple favor of having a friend as an accountability partner are all possible ways to point you in the right direction. No answer will be perfect but functionality is the key. Every day of your new life, you’ll need to put on the boxing gloves and fight the old habits off. It’s a balancing act to be sure but the shape of the fear that you feel is always your own shadow. The feeling that you are not enough to fill the new shoes that you’ve fashioned for yourself.

So as we move into the new year and new possibilities, choose the new life that you want to lead. If you want to stay true to form, that’s great! It means that you’re happy with this version of you. If not, then resolve to adopt this new life and go well past day three!

Happy New Year!

Pete

PS – My favorite song by Knapsack is “Arrows to the Action.” Even though Day Three… was the main topic here, This Conversation Is Ending, Starting Right Now is possibly a better album but it’s really close!

Blogpost, SoccerLifeBalance

First Touch Philosophy

A player’s first touch is crucial to their success as they progress to higher levels of playing. Although speed, a great shot, tactical knowledge, etc. may be desired, a quality first touch is a foundation that can enhance any skill stacked upon it and mask defects that would otherwise be apparent. Just like any other skill, a first touch requires physical practice but the skill in and of itself is heavily intertwined with being proactive. The ability to control the ball is not particularly a good first touch. It is the combination of control with the vision to see where it would be most advantageous to put the ball. Many players possess the skill to control the ball in open space. However amongst the chaos of small space, little time and huge pressure is the true proving ground for a quality first touch.

Although I would love for each of us to use this post as a catalyst for improving our first touch on the field, like always, I’m thinking to the bigger game of life. In life, the rules, skills and strategies are more subject to interpretation. That is why I put the word philosophy in the title. Each of us must develop our own stance on how we progress in life. Therefore it is not for me to say what is best for you, the philosophy part is up to you. However I am going to suggest some of the places where you might find opportunities to take great “first touches.” Below is a video of Frank Lampard (not my favorite player) scanning the field during his days with Chelsea (not my favorite team). Although I do not love the player, it’s easy to appreciate the preparedness. Being aware of your surroundings enough that you can make a better decision when the opportunity arises.

First Touch Opportunities

Here are some opportunities for you to set yourself up for success. The decision about how to approach these situations is up to you depending on your goals and strategy.

  • First thing in the morning. This is the truest of all “first touches.” What do you do when first wake up? Are you reactive to the way you feel? Proactive based on decisions made beforehand?
  • Meeting new people. This is another spot where you get to choose who it is that you want to be. This person doesn’t know you and no matter what you do, they will never know you 100%. They will only ever get a small percentage of who you are based on what you show them. Do you want to show them your BIG personality? Or are you sending the message that you are more interested in them? This may change based on the circumstances but is there a thought process behind your interactions?
  • Walking into a room. It’s true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. However I am huge believer in the fact that you should not trust what people say, nor what they do, trust the pattern. So every time that you walk into a room, you have a new opportunity to be the version of yourself that you want on display. What is your pattern? How do you show up regularly?
  • After making a mistake. This is a crucial time where chaos may be upon you. Perhaps not external chaos but internal chaos. A first touch is all about control and setting yourself up for success. How do you react to mistakes? Do you tear yourself down internally? Externally? Do you relive it in your head? Do you evaluate it in order to prevent it from repeating? Worst case scenario, do you even see your mistakes? Amidst the chaos of life, it is easy to get turned around. If you’ve not defined which goal is yours, it is possible that you’re heading in the wrong direction and don’t know it.
  • After someone hurts you. Looking for retribution is easy! Sometimes it might be the right answer. More often than not, it isn’t! Usually the people that are given the power to hurt you, have it because you share a relationship. Two ends of a “ship” taking shots at one another almost guarantees that the “ship” is going down. Is it a mistake? Does hurting the other person make you feel better? Do you even need to be hurt by this? In the chaos of the moment, these are hard questions to ask. So it may be helpful to rehearse some situations inside your head before they happen. See yourself acting in a way that will help you.

Obviously this list is not complete. There are plenty of places in your life where you can employ control and a vision for where it is advantageous to go. Just like a first touch on the field, it takes practice before the chaos. Practice is something that starts when you are on your own. Meditation, visualization, journaling and self-talk are some of the best tools that you can use to develop control and vision. These skills need to be honed over time. Then much like Lampard in the video clip, you need to be scanning the field to make opportunities out of the openings that you see or avoid the hard tackle coming from your backside. Life is inherently “out of control”. The only thing that we can control is ourselves. Make the best of the touches that you get today.

Go for goal!

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.

Blogpost, self-reliance

Beautiful Betrayal

Son – “You promise that you won’t move?”

Father – “I promise.”

The son jumps into the pool and starts swimming toward his father who has backed up at least one step, maybe two. It is a simple story that has played out millions of times through the years. Here is a different version of the same story.

On December 28th, 2001, my friend, Gary, and I went out like we would on any other Friday night.  We ran into his younger brother, another friend and the friend’s sister.  The sister and I talked for a long time that night.  Although I was very interested in her, I didn’t ask for her number or anything.  The next day, Gary called me and I was told that she was very interested in me and she wanted to do something with the group again for New Year’s Eve.  Later that evening, I called her up in order to make plans for all of us to go out again. When she answered the phone, I said, “Hi, this is Pete.”

She said, “Pete who?” 

That’s when I found out that it was a lie.  My friend had conjured up most of the story just to get me to call her.  She was going to Philadelphia for New Year’s and had no plans to go out with us again.  However she was happy to hear from me and the rest is history.  She is now my wife and we’ve been married for 16 years.

Both the son on the edge of the pool and I were duped by someone we trusted. Honesty may be the best policy in most cases but from time to time, dishonesty is exactly what is needed. Although it was a lie, what Gary told me was more valuable than the truth.  It took away the fear that normally would have paralyzed me into inaction.  The lie made me act.  It made me believe with certainty that I was going to be successful.  It was a placebo of the best kind.  I had taken the drug of self-confidence and it work magic on me.

There are so few things in life that are absolute.  We tend to think of our thoughts as truth. Perhaps the “truths” that you’ve been telling yourself haven’t helped you very much.  The divide between the truth and a lie is often based on perspective.  So consider your perspective often. Rather than looking for the 100% truth, decide to believe the things that serve you. We usually need just a little push in order to get us started. Push yourself by believing the things that get you to act!

Go dive in!

Pete