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On Your Feet!

ConnorWhen I was a kid, my grandparents were one of the only families that I knew who had HBO.  After we were supposed to be asleep, my brothers and I would hide on the steps and watch whatever movie the adults had on.  This was the 80’s so we got to see some great stuff like Star Wars etc.  One time the movie was the Terminator which terrified me for weeks to come but there was always one scene that struck me from that movie.  For basically the entire movie, Sarah Connor is being hunted by the Terminator and her protector from the future, Kyle Reese, is her savior.  It isn’t until almost the end of the movie, when Reese is barely able to keep himself up that Sarah takes over as his protector.  She yells at the almost lifeless man, “On your feet soldier!” and does her best to support him as he struggles to move forward.  This morning as I was running this scene popped into my head.

It gives a great example of the step that many of us need to take in our lives.  We need to get ourselves up on our feet.  Eventually we must realize that it is our responsibility to save ourselves.  People can help us along the way but relying on someone or something else to carry us forever is unrealistic.  Our parents, friends, teachers and government are not responsible for carrying us through life.  At some point it is our responsibility to take that scary but necessary step of self-reliance.  Deciding to take charge rather than play the victim is not an easy choice.  It is so much easier to lean on and blame others for the lives that we lead.  The problem with the completely dependent life is that it robs us of all of our power.

So my suggestion to you is exactly that, “On your feet!”  Only you can carry yourself through this life.  That’s your job.  Only you can lose those 10 lbs, exercise every morning, start that new business, ask out that special someone or write that screenplay.  Other people can help and support but if you don’t consistently act then it won’t last.  There is always something out there that is trying to kill your dreams.  Only you can keep them alive by staying on your feet and moving forward.

Live today like it’s on purpose.

Pete

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Filling the Void

voidIn evolutionary terms, humans have not changed much in a long time.  There is talk that redheads might disappear from the human race eventually.  This is a relatively small change in the dominant (in certain ways) species of the world.  Our historic and prehistoric ancestors generally lived an existence more focused on survival.  Their lives were based on filling the void in their stomachs before anything else.  Some civilizations began to fill the void in understanding the world around them and the heavens above.  Regardless of the time period, man has been trying to fill a void in his life.

Today in the hyper-individualized world of the 21st century, each person seems to have their own personal void which needs filling.  Generally speaking in the US, we have conquered the void of the stomach to an alarming amount of overkill.  The internet has given many the excuse of bypassing the void of the mind.  Since all knowledge is available, it becomes less important to know it.  In a world where the stomach is full and the mind is subject to whims of the shiniest things that shows up in front of us, it’s no wonder that people are struggling.  They are not struggling with staying alive but they are struggling with truly living.  Survival is a 24/7 job.  What do you do when that job is no longer necessary?  How do you fill that time that used to be spent surviving?

It should be spent living the life that you want.  You have ten, twenty, sixty more years of void.  What are you going to do with it?  That is the true question.  I do not stand in judgment of what you want for yourself.  It is after all, your life.  The thing that I ask is for you to truly consider what it is that you want, rather taking what you are given.  Fill your life, fill your time, fill your mind, fill your heart with the things that truly want.  Do more than just stay alive.  Live as if you’ve only got one shot at this.

Thanks guys!

Pete

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Better Mediocrity

mediocreMediocre means “ordinary, average, middle-of-the-road, unexceptional, lackluster and forgettable.”  In many ways, I would put myself in the category of mediocre.  I’m 5 foot 9 inches tall and weigh 190 pounds.  My bench press and squat numbers are nothing impressive.  I got a 1060 on my SATs (the old version).  My yearly income is nothing to “write home about”.  By most accounts, I am pretty mediocre.

The thought of mediocrity has been one that has entered my mind several times over the past year.  The realization of my own mediocrity was nothing new.  I have little chance to become exceptional in most areas.  Even for my age, the benchmarks of excellence are pretty high.  This divide creates a chasm that stagnates improvement.  With the possibility of excellence off the table, it is easy to see why so many people lose their drive.  However it is actually in this chasm that I believe we actually have the greatest of societal opportunities.  As a collective (Athletes, Americans, Humans), we can choose to strive for better mediocrity.

In the past, I have written about the “Bannister Effect” and how the breaking of new ground creates possibilities for others to follow.  That is a concept that I still endorse wholeheartedly.  However as I thought about my own mediocrity, I came to realize that we need a “second wave”.  There must be another push from the middle.  The outliers pulling forward will only have an effect on those that are close to their level.  For example, the 10s only pull the 9s forward but the effect is almost unnoticeable by the time that it reaches the critical mass in the middle.

This second wave needs to be created as an individual and a  collective undertaking.  The mediocre individual competes for the most part with himself.  Improving with a partially selfish desire to take a step up one rung on the ladder.  Despite this selfish motivation, the individual also recognizes his membership of a collective (Athletes, Americans, Humans).  The “mediocre Americans” are getting better.  The middle of the road changes from 5 to 7 and there is a pride in self and the collective.

Better mediocrity would change so many things about our lives and expectations.  Perhaps mediocre would no longer be a slight insult but rather an identifiable force pushing the forerunners to greater excellence.  If you happen to be mediocre, choose to be better mediocre!

Pete

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Know Thyself (Protect Your Baby)

emily 60608 010This is by far one of my favorite pictures.  It seemingly represents a father “asleep on the job”.  The parenting books say that you shouldn’t do this.  However I have this identical photo with my son and I never had a mishap.  There are many reasons why I love this picture.  One is that it is a reminder of a period of time when I learned a lot about myself.

The learning curve for a first-time (and even second time) parent is pretty steep.  Your life is filled with turmoil and you work on less sleep than seems humanly possible.  A key to survival as a parent is self-knowledge.  My wife and I were a good team through the infant stages because we knew our own and the other’s strengths.  My cuddle naps were a piece of the puzzle that made a difficult time more manageable.  I knew that I wouldn’t roll because the cargo was too precious.  Raising a child is a mixture of trial and error with a complete belief that you will not fail no matter what.

Babies teach you a lot about yourself because you can’t bargain with them.  They let you know their needs on a constant basis.  Your complaints, excuses and convenience do not matter to a new born baby.  They will test your limits and then retest them the next day.  Ultimately you end up finding strength that you never thought you had before.  It is inevitable because you have no other choice.

What is your baby?  Is it making the varsity team?  Is it singing a solo in the concert?  Is it running a marathon?  Is it asking that special someone to prom?  Is it finishing that book that you started six months ago?

Take care of your baby.  Keep it warm and safe.  Feed it with the best fuel that you can find.  Help it get on its feet.  Stand it back up when it falls flat on its face.  Help it find its legs and walk on its own.  Protect it from the ridicule of others.  Watch it grow and be proud of what it becomes because it is yours.

Sea Isle City 089Take care of your baby!  Even when it throws up in your face!

Pete

 

 

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Life is…

1998In 1998, my best friend, Schaefer, and I spent a month in Europe.  We truly went to watch five matches at the World Cup but we also traveled to England, Spain, Germany and France.  In many ways you could not have picked a more perfect vacation for me: soccer, best friend, Europe and soccer.

We actually arrived prior to the Cup starting and did some traveling in England and then headed to Barcelona, Spain.  After spending about three days in Barcelona, we were scheduled to take a train to Paris on Sunday in order to pick up our ticket and start the soccer part of our trip.  That Saturday, we were taking the Metro down to the Las Ramblas area.  We sat on the bench waiting for the train.  Schaef was rearranging some things between his money belt and backpack when the train arrived.  Thirty seconds after the train pulled away, Schaef realize that he’d left his money belt on the bench with his passport in it.  (Don’t judge Schaef here, out of character moment.)  At the next stop we turned around and went back but the money belt and everything in it was gone.

We figured out where the US Embassy was and took the train to get there.  Please bear in mind that the internet was not as widely accessible at the time.  Upon our arrival we were hit with the next problem, it was Saturday and the Embassy was closed.  The only person at the Embassy was a guard who only spoke Spanish.  I explained the situation to the guard and he put me on the phone with an official from the Embassy.  In order to cross the border into France (pre European Union), we needed a copy of his passport (we had) and a police report explaining that the passport had been stolen.  My Spanish abilities were put to the test by filling out a police report.  So the next day we went to the train station with our flimsy documents and a great deal of hope.  Luckily we made it across the border.

On Monday morning we had our next hurdle to clear.  We needed to pick up our tickets before 5pm at a hotel on the outskirts of Paris.  Since the tickets were in Schaef’s name, we needed his passport first.  We went to the US Embassy in Paris and spent hours waiting.  I don’t recall what time we got there but I know what time we left 4:30pm.  As fast as we could run with our large packs on our backs, we got to the Metro.  We found the street we needed on the Metro map.  There were two stops on that street but we had no idea which would be closer to the hotel.  50/50 chance and we blew it!  The hotel was about a mile up the road and it was 4:55.  So again, we ran as fast as we could and with our packs on our backs did about a 7 minute per mile pace.  At 5:02, we reached the hotel!  Upon entering we were informed that the pick up time for tickets had been extended two hours.

From a month long trip to Europe with my best friend, going to the biggest soccer event in the world, this is the story that I’ve told the most.  I remember who won all of the games that we saw but I can’t remember the scores.  How is it possible that my favorite part of the trip is when everything went wrong?

Life is not a spectator’s sport.  It is intended for people to take what God, Allah or nature has given to them and do the most that they can with it.  The times when you are going to figure out what you are truly made of are the times when things fall apart.  ANYONE can take the guided tours at the Louvre or Prado.  It takes little thought or ingenuity and it teaches you very little about yourself.  The limits of you are not found on the guided tours.  Easy, comfortable and failure-free are the lives of spectators.

We spend much of our life avoiding something that we call “failure”.  Usually failure is associated with mistakes and we try to avoid making big ones at all costs.  Schaef made a pretty big mistake.  It wasn’t fatal and it allowed us to live in a scenario with an outcome that was uncertain.  Uncertainty is something that we need at times in life.  Balance between certainty and uncertainty is what makes life interesting.  The thing is that we spend so much time trying not to fail that we often fail to live.  Anything that is truly worth having is a gamble on some level.

Life is a scenario where the outcome is uncertain.  That is part of the deal.  If you are looking for a life without failure, discomfort and difficulty, then you are looking for boredom.  Don’t go looking to fail but don’t avoid it either.  Failure is often where you learn the most about yourself and what you’re made of.  Make yourself better by learning from failure.

Get out there people!

Pete

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The Pepsi Challenge

pepsiLast century (specifically in the 1980s) Pepsi had commercials and other advertising with the “Pepsi Challenge”.  An “unbiased” consumer was asked to try two different colas and give their preference.  Of course the on-camera participants always chose Pepsi.  Perhaps it was what they truly liked or the entire thing was rigged in some way.  In all honesty it doesn’t matter that much to me because I preferred Pepsi to Coke without the seeing choices of others.  It does make for an interesting discussion on why we choose the things that we do.

In a given day, you have literally thousands and possibly millions of choices to make.  Some of these choices are simple and probably automatic.  For example “Am I going to wear clothes today?”  No matter whether the answer is yes or no, it is an easy choice based on your daily life.  Other choices are much more complex and require major deliberation.  Choosing to go to college or the military is life-altering and for many would demand some time and attention.  In the middle of the automatic and grandiose decisions are many moment to moment choices that need to be made by you.  There are many people who treat these mid-level choices as though they were huge.  Others put all of their choices on automatic pilot letting others decide for them.  The worst scenario is that people forget that they are choosing at all.

In each moment, you have choices and some of the most important are about how you are going to feel.  Believe it or not, it is a choice.  If you are feeling sad, it is a choice.  Perhaps there are very good reasons for you to choose that but it is your choice.  By taking the physical state of your body, your mental focus of the moment and your inner dialogue, you determined the feeling that you were going to produce.

So now I put a new “Pepsi Challenge” on to you.  Let’s call it the “Huryk Challenge”.  Can you choose to feel good in all circumstances today?  No matter what life throws at you, can you CHOOSE to feel good.  You do not need to like the circumstances but you choose your feeling despite the poor situation.  I challenge you.

Choose to have a great day!

Pete

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Full Throttle All the Time

BoltWe are not machines.  It seems as though we wish that we were at times.  However the human animal is not infallible and fatigues just like any other creature on earth.  If you look at the World Records for running events, there are a few truths that you can learn about humans.

World Records for varied differences.  Please check my math, it’s late and it might not be perfect.

100 meters – Usain Bolt – 9.58  (23.37 MPH) (2 min 34.14 sec per mile)

200 meters – Usain Bolt – 19.19 (23.31 MPH) (2 min 34.38 sec per mile)

1 mile – Hicham El Guerrouj – 3:43:13 (16.13 MPH)

5K (3.12 Miles) – Kenenisa Bekele – 12:37.35 (14.83 MPH) (4 min 02.74 sec per mile)

Marathon (26.2) – Dennis Kiprutto Kimetto – 2:02:57 (12.78 MPH) (4 min 41.68 sec per mile)

After all of those numbers, names and information, what is my point?  You need to know what race you’re running in order to determine “full throttle”.  Each of these amazing athletes ran their race as fast as they could for the distance that they had to cover.  Usain Bolt’s 100 meter record is amazing but his pace is completely unrealistic over a 26.2 mile race.  Dennis Kiprutto Kimetto’s pace for a marathon is astounding but if he ran a 100 meter at that pace, he’d be considered “slow”.  The key is to know the race that you are in and what “full throttle” means for that race.

This is applicable to many areas of real life.  For example intimate relationships.  If you are looking to get married, recognize that it is a marathon.  Expect that the pace is slow and steady in order for it to last for years.  High school relationships are usually over in a few months, so the sprinter’s pace of spending every moment together is natural.

So what kind of races are you in at the moment?  Recognize what “full throttle” means for each of those races.  Perhaps there’s a project that is a sprint, then sprint that project.  Maybe at the same time you need to take control of your health, which is a marathon (figuratively).  Then you need to marathon your health.

Regardless of which form of “full throttle” you are in, realize that you are human.  The expectation that you can maintain Usain Bolt speed for 26.2 miles is ridiculous.  Don’t set yourself up for failure with unrealistic expectations.  Recognize the race and go after it intelligently!

Go full throttle today!

Pete

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Where the hell are you going?

directionFor several years, I was a a pizza delivery guy.  I’m good with directions and my eyesight didn’t start to go until I was thirty, so it was a great fit.  Every once in a while, I would completely “zone out” as I was driving.  I would be halfway to my destination when I realized that I was giving absolutely no thought to where I was going.  This form of “auto-pilot” never interfered with my job because the destination was set-up someplace in my subconscious mind.

Life can often feel like this.  You have no idea where you are going but you’re traveling down the road at 50 MPH without a care in the world.  This might not be a problem if you’ve defined your destination and have set up systems to keep you on course.  Unfortunately it is usually not the case.  Especially for young people, speed seems to be more important than direction.  If distance covered is your goal, then speed is your friend.  However reaching the correct destination requires, direction first and speed second.

So it might help to ask “Where the hell am I going?”  Today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, in general.  Once you know where you are going, it is much easier to check in with yourself each day to see if you’re going in the right direction.  Then you can decide to go faster.

Sidenote: The GPS has made asking for directions a rare occurrence.  However if you are ever lost, don’t go to a gas station to ask directions.  Go to a pizza delivery place, they actually know how to get places.

Get focused and get going!

Pete

 

 

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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

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The Goonies

GooniesI recently watched a movie from my childhood called “The Goonies”.  If you’ve never watched it, it’s worth a look.  It’s the story of a group of misfit friends who are thrown into an amazing adventure.  Like so many of the movies from my childhood, it is something that is timeless to me for a variety of reasons.  Although it’s been almost thirty years since I first saw it, I know what attracted me to the movie at the time.  It was foul mouthed kids that weren’t too different from me that fell into adventure on their own.

In my early teen years, my friends and I were always getting into low level Goonie adventures.  We never found a pirate ship or fought off criminals but we did a lot without supervision.  I’m not sure if the movie inspired us to test the limits or if we would have done that anyway.  Our boundaries slowly but surely expanded from our backyard to as far as our bikes would carry us.  It was a slow and steady process of discovery over years.  These years gave us a sense of confidence that we could handle things on our own and avoid getting into trouble at the same time.

The world is a different place and I feel as though the ability/desire to find and handle those Goonie adventures is being lost.  The process of creating adventures and responsibility for the consequences is an exclusively adult job these days.  Kids have little ability to make minor mistakes much less big ones.  At some point they will be faced with the world and I wonder if they will recoil due to a lack of experience or rise to the challenge.  The self-reliance that we gained is something that I cherish.  Where would I be without it?  I really don’t want to know.

Go and have an adventure today.  Also tell me about one of your Goonie adventures by clicking here.

Pete