Blogpost, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

Financial Offside

For many people, the offside rule is the most confusing part of soccer. The concept seems difficult and it can be tough to track in real time but overall most soccer people understand the concept. The problem is that in the heat of the moment, our vision gets skewed by emotion. I recall distinctly saying to a group of my players at the college level, “By the way that you complain, we must never be offside.” The comment wasn’t lost on them and they became more discerning about whether or not they were being honest with themselves about the calls being made. Being able to see the objective truth, rather than our preferred truth is extremely important in a lot of areas, especially finance!

The idea of financial offside is a simple one that most people should see as blatantly obvious. Yet much like the players that I mentioned above, we tend to get blinded by our emotions in many situations. The simple version of financial offside is “don’t spend money that you don’t have!” Again! Like the offside rule, there are caveats to this pretty basic concept. Things like mortgages and other loans are “money that you don’t have” but are often necessary in many instances. The financial offside rule is more about those unnecessary purchases that are made out of desire and not necessity. The “shiny objects” that are going to fill an emotional hole for a moment but most likely will not fill a practical need. If you have unlimited means, absolutely buy to your heart’s content. However, if you’re like most people, you probably need to be aware of the invisible moving line of your finances. It moves on a daily, weekly and yearly basis. The line is drawn at the last dollar that you have liquid in your possession. Credit blurs the line slightly. So being aware of whether, you’re over the line, approaching the line or completely onside is something that you should know. Don’t make the assumption that my players did! You’re not always onside, just because it’s you! Your emotional justification of the reasons why you’ve crossed over have nothing to do with the cold hard fact. When you’ve spent more than you have, you’re creating problems for yourself!

So here are two simple ideas that can actually help to keep you “onside” in your finances. They are similar to ideas that work in soccer.

  • Wait! – Lots of unnecessary purchases are made out of the emotion of the moment. Let the moment pass. If you practice this strategy on a regular basis, it will become easier. Delaying a purchase until you’ve considered the financial impact will protect you from poor purchases.
  • Pay attention – You need to regularly check in on your finances. They are not one of those friends that you don’t see for years and just pick up where you left off. Depending on who you are, the check in may need to be as often as daily. Being afraid to face the truth is no excuse and once you know the truth, planning is easier.

Finances are a scary concept for a lot of people. Just like the offside rule, they can seem difficult but I’m trying to help fix that issue. Later in the summer, my co-author and I will be releasing a book that explains finances using soccer as a metaphor. Financial offside is such a simple concept that it’s not included in the book but I figured I’d put the idea out there as a bit of a “teaser”.

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Call Me “Mike”

When I played soccer in college during my freshman year, there was a player on the team from the Gambia named Ousman (pronounced “ooze mahn”). He was relatively quiet but an absolutely amazing player who had a rocket of a shot. Being in a new country for the first time, he did not always socialize with the team outside of practices and games. The one time that I do remember him hanging around someone asked about whether we were getting the pronunciation of his name right. The question “What do you say when people ask what your name is?” His response “I usually say ‘Call me Mike'”. His rationale to us was that it was easier for people to say. Even now, I’m not sure if he was joking or not because he only played that one year. However that incident came back to me this morning.

The strategy that Ousman used, is one that we all use from time to time. Change who you are in order to make others feel more comfortable. I’ll admit fully that I am guilty of it regularly. Now some of this cannot be escaped in the civilized world. We should not be our 100% authentic selves. Many of us would be walking around with wet pants etc. if we just reacted to our every impulse in the moment. More of what I’m talking about here is the tendency to be a “watered down” version of ourselves. Those little things that we do in order to fit in but that undermine who we are. The comfort that is gained usually doesn’t serve either person. Again, there’s a balance to be struck in all things but I am reminded of the passage by Marianne Williamson “Our greatest fear” (below). We do not serve others by playing small.

There is nothing wrong with being “Mike” if that’s who you truly are. However, if you’re Ousman, Fred, Ignacious, Isabel, Fahruz or anyone else, then don’t pretend to be Mike for the sake of others. Your individuality carries with it the power to inspire others and unhinge the doors that separate us. Perhaps the true incarnation of yourself will be too much for some people and that’s ok also. Our job in this life is not to fit in as well as possible. All of the people that you admire are held in that esteem because they do not fit in. They stand out! Embrace who you are because until you do, no one else has the opportunity to do so.

My name is Pete!

Our Greatest Fear —Marianne Williamson

it is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson

Blogpost, self-reliance

It Won’t Always Be Pretty

This is by far one of my favorite photos of all time! I’m fairly certain that I didn’t love the moment but I love the memory. My daughter was sitting on my chest and bam! Spit up on the nose, maybe up the nose and definitely a bit in the mouth. Luckily the camera crew got a quick shot of it. There’s nothing to do but laugh! She didn’t mean to do it and she was so darn cute, how could I be mad?

It’s not always going to be so simple to find the beauty in life’s “ugly” moments. We’d all (in theory) love to have everything come up roses but it rarely does. Also there is a bit of extra spice that comes with things that go wrong. Since 1998, when I attended the World Cup, my most commonly told stories are about the loss of a passport, filing a police report and getting pushed by a riot cop. I rarely talk about the games and I was watching my favorite sport with my best friend. Our desire for everything to go well and be easy is both unrealistic and inconsistent with our ability to find the good in bad situations.

So if you’re going through one of those moments when you have the “vomit” of life all over your face, rejoice in the fact that you’ve most likely got a good story for the future. Also it is good context for when things are going well. You’ll appreciate them that much more!

“Anything I’ve ever said is not as good as you”

Pete

Blogpost, posh, SoccerLifeBalance

The Half Frozen Pond (and POSH)

The fully frozen pond is a slick but relatively safe walking space. It can be used for all manner of frivolity including ice skating, hockey, ice fishing or even Curling. The completely unfrozen pond offers an equal measure of possibility with swimming, boating, fishing, diving or just floating. The dangerous pond is the half frozen pond. It offers nothing but uncertainty. At any moment, the surface can crack and leave you in a scramble for survival with hypothermia and drowning both being real possibilities. It is the one to fear and avoid.

The same can be said for commitment to a team. Fully committed players make a good team into a great one because they are not just in it for themselves. The completely uncommitted players are often put on the bench or removed from the team. Just like the ice, the half-committed players are the ones that are dangerous because it’s hard to tell when they’ll crack under the pressure. While players are the easiest to identify with this metaphor, it works equally for fans, management, ownership, etc. Commitment is not just for one group of people to rectify. It is something for all of the different groups who are attached to the club to consider and contribute their part.

This season has been a disappointment to say the least. The POSH looked promising at times early in the season, even without a recognized striker. As time wore on, the pond began to melt and became unstable. The manager was the one who fell through as he was given the cold shoulder by several of the players. Now Grant McCann has been given the task of mending the cracks. With twelve matches remaining and the POSH eight points (plus goal difference) adrift; the team, fans, management, and ownership need to be solid for that time. This is not a task for one or even a handful to complete. At best that is more of the half frozen status quo that has brought us to this point. Everyone who steps onto the pitch, all of the fans in the stands and the ones at home need to solidify in their commitment to the one and only objective: staying in the Championship! The opportunity is not gone. It is only difficult.

My hope is that Peterborough has a cold spring, not literally, you get the metaphor! Rock solid!

Pete

Blogpost, posh

POSH, We Have a Problem And…

It’s the end of an era and I am extremely sad. Each fan is allowed their opinion and this is just mine. This is not just a manager leaving. It is a crossroads for the club that so many of us adore. Although Darren Ferguson was one of many managers over the past two decades, he personifies what the ethos of the club has become. His brand of attacking football that regularly had the POSH near the top of the list for goals scored has become an expectation at the club. Therefore this is truly a monumental problem that the club must face. Bringing in any manager to “right the ship” will not maintain that ethos set during Ferguson’s tenure. Survival, no doubt is the aim but the long term health of the club will depend largely upon the way that things are done moving forward. I have an answer and almost no one is going to like it.

In order to keep the club from getting relegated and maintain a semblance of the club’s forward thinking style with the players that we have will take a particular type of person. Someone with a pedigree that will gain instant respect from the players but a willingness to take on a challenge of these proportions. In addition to these attributes comes the need for someone who recognizes the importance of giving opportunities to young players. Although I’m sure this will be written off as pure Americanism, my belief is that Jesse Marsch would be the best candidate that we could hope to get.

While I’m sure that most POSH fans have not studied Jesse’s career, I’ve gotten to see it develop over the past decade. His progression from my standpoint started at New York Red Bull. At that club, he helped to do a top to bottom overhaul of the club’s persona. The messaging that was used inside and outside of the locker room was consistent with the play on the field. His style of play was a combination of pressing with insurgent attacking that would be akin to what POSH fans would expect. He regularly brought players from the youth academy through to the first team. Several players, including Tyler Adams, were given their big break under Jesse Marsch. Although he could have continued to seek success in MLS, he chose to progress his career by moving to Germany as second in command at RB Leipzig. That opportunity was merely a waiting room for him to move to Red Bull Salzburg where he was very successful developing young talent while winning games along the way. This halftime speech may be mostly in German but the results that he was able to get from his players against Liverpool in the Champion’s League is exactly what we need. Based upon his success in Salzburg, he was given the reins at RB Leipzig. He was unable to find the same winning ways but that is probably the only thing that could give our club a chance at getting him. His last position could be viewed as a failure but having listened to Jesse speak many times, he will have used it as a learning experience. With something to prove and his Red Bull connection possibly severed, the opportunity to build up a small club in the Championship might be the exact type of challenge he wants.

My desire would have been that Darren Ferguson would have stayed. This season is not representative of what he is nor what he has meant to the club. His fate was possibly sealed when we did not sell JCH in the summer. His stock was at its highest and will not go that high again. Selling him for a few million to someone else would have funded many of the pieces that we needed to survive. Unfortunately the past is gone and Darren Ferguson is no longer the POSH manager. A fourth time around is not coming, so it is farewell and I wish nothing but the best for the “gaffer”!

Blogpost, posh, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

My Own Shame in the Beautiful Game

Over the years, I’ve claimed that I’m not “obsessed” with Peterborough United. Like so many _____aholics, I’m in at least partial denial about my addiction. Since our form has been poor for much of the season and goals have been lacking, I find myself desiring a bit of help from the football gods. When one of our players streaks forward, I find myself shouting “get in the box” to people on a computer screen who can’t hear me from across the ocean. Perhaps someone out there can relate. It’s not that I want my team to dive in order to get the penalty. I just know that the opportunity is there for an “easy road” to a goal. Torn by the desire for a score but not wanting the dive either.

The easy road mentality is one that we all adopt in different amounts. Lottery ticket buyers, crash diet enthusiasts and overnight success seekers are just the extreme versions of a person that we’ve all been in small or large quantities. We’ve all wanted the big reward for the least amount of effort before. There is nothing particularly wrong with it. It’s a natural inclination but it just cannot become an overarching strategy. The person or team that is relying on something for almost nothing will find that cash cow dead sooner rather than later.

Since I know that this type of thinking is not a long term strategy, my belief is that my team will start finding the net from open play regularly. When those lucky breaks come, I won’t lament them but I know that we cannot rely on them. The plan needs to be more than hope in this world. Hope is not a strategy! Even as a feeling, it seems a little flimsy to me. Hope feels almost desperate and passive. Belief is much more positive and proactive. Despite the positive connotations though, belief is not enough.

Once you believe, you need to act. Take the feedback that the world gives you and adjust. There is not one way to break down an opposing team or get to a personal goal. Literally thousands or even millions are possible but you need to find one. Once you find success, you can build upon it. Here in lies the problem of relying on the penalty. It requires other people’s input that is less than reliable. So believe in yourself enough to create your own results. The “easy road” is there but it doesn’t make you better. It makes you dependent.

Go for the goal with intention!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

MAN City: A Need for Change and Reflection

My distaste for Man City, the club, has been stated before but that’s not really what this is about. The second season of Ted Lasso had a great episode that did a masterful job of slaloming through stereotypes of male behavior and some of their antitheses. My love for this show is well documented but this is one time where the message hits a little deeper than the positivity that Ted disperses so willingly. Men are shown being the worst versions of ourselves while other moments are almost aspirational about what we could be. If you’ve not watched the series or the episode, there are spoilers below, so hop to it before you read farther or just deal.

Ted and his staff being vulnerable before a match.

Although Ted is the namesake of the show, several characters step up in this emotional episode. Jamie Tartt’s strained relationship with his father is one of the main storylines. Jamie’s need for a positive father figure was set up in the first season and put on full display in this episode. Although his father is an extreme version of a stereotype, he conjures the feelings that many of us men have had. The desire to make our father proud while also seeing their faults as we grow older. It is never as simple as a TV show must make a situation but all of the markers are there. The dynamic between fathers and sons is often strained due to the desire for independence and the inherent factor of emulation. Through the influence of Ted and Tartt’s own experience, Jamie sees his father’s negatives and begins to move in a different direction. Eventually he literally fights against his father’s way. At that moment, he is distraught, feeling the weight of what has just happened. Roy Kent, who usually puts forth a caveman-like persona, shows empathy and understanding by hugging his former rival. It’s a scene that jumps right out of a Brené Brown Ted Talk. Vulnerability is a superpower that men do not always employ.

Following along the vulnerability track, Ted opens up to his staff about the fact that a panic attack and not food poisoning had him running for the locker room in the Tottenham match. Each man in the group admits to something that he’s been holding back for some time. Ted’s vulnerability is seen as an opportunity by Nate who uses what he’s learned to expose and undercut Ted. This is the fear that most men have about vulnerability. It leaves us open to enemies, detractors and the like. The problem with this fear is that it is completely accurate. People can take advantage of a situation and many do. It’s a short term game but it works to their advantage enough to make it enticing. There is a balance to be struck here. Putting on the facade of invulnerability is an overall losing strategy. However, being vulnerable with everyone has its own perils that should definitely be avoided. It’s more art than science, like so many things.

Although Nate hasn’t fully shown his true colors in this episode, we get glimpses of the fact that he is employing a “fingers before thumbs” mentality which is the exact opposite of what I suggest regularly. Nate wants to blame others for anything and everything. He claims that he wants to be in charge. However, he lacks the mental fortitude to accept criticism when things go poorly despite wanting praise when they go well. His newly found power and fame make him into a bully who regularly victimizes people that he views as weaker. The willingness to see one’s own faults is a strength that needs to be developed over time. A mirror can be a powerful tool provided that it is not turned into a weapon used to self-flagellate. Another art of manhood is knowing when to point the thumb at one’s self before resorting to the finger. It’s more than likely that it will be employed incorrectly at times but my preference is always to find my faults before I start looking for others’.

Despite my dislike for Man City, the club, I am very happy with Man City, the episode. It brings to the forefront a discussion of modern roles of masculinity. By no means does it develop a definitive set of directives. However, it does juxtapose antiquated stereotypes with newer ideals. Being a man in a modern world can be a bit confusing. The messaging that is thrown at us from the past, present and future can sound like white noise. In the end, we need to see our responsibility to ourselves and those around us.

“Butts on three!”

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

Winning Championships: Soccer Life Balance

Almost everyone is interested in winning championships.  It’s a special feeling to realize that type of dream.  I’ve done it several times in my playing and coaching careers.  The most important thing about winning championships is that you cannot focus on getting the trophy.  The trophy is merely a symbol and what it represents is far more important than the metal, wood and plastic.  The symbol represents the willingness to prepare on a higher level than most and the fortitude to put a performance on the field at the key moments.  In all of the championships that I’ve won, I’ve never been conflicted about winning even though I know that in most cases we were not the “best team”.  We were just the best team on that particular day.  That is nothing to be concerned by.  Managing the moment is just as important as high level preparation but let’s begin with preparation.

To prepare for a championship run, an individual or team needs to put themselves through more than they think they will encounter.  A projection must be made about what a championship performance would look like.  Then preparation must be done to endure that and more.  Working backward from the projected championship, the road should be broken into sections.  Perhaps months or weeks, those chunks of time should have a goal or marker.  Each one of those periods then needs to be broken down to the daily.  Then broken down again into the hourly.  Then broken down again to the moment.  When you get your preparation down to the moment level, you’ll need to develop your ethos or principles.  You most likely won’t want to script your actions down to the moment but as you look at all that is in front of you, what are the beliefs and mindset that will aid you and propel you toward your championship run.  Before you can become a champion, you need to think like a champion.  Not about the person who has won the trophy but rather the person capable of winning on every single occasion.  Developing a belief system that will spur you on at the difficult times.  That will keep you grounded when success comes your way.  These “commandments” do not come down from a higher power but come from you and what you value most.  Just recognize that these beliefs need to be in line with the level of your ambition.  Leading with belief is key to any grand success.  Chasing an unknown future requires a belief so strong that it will not be broken by the mundane or the difficult.  Every day something will be required in your pursuit that you will not want to do.  Doing those things in spite of your feelings is a key indicator to whether or not you’ll make it.  Oh yeah!  That’s the gamble!  You need to be willing to do all of this work with the knowledge that you might fail.  It’s possible that you’ll put in all of the work, prepare to your utmost and still come up short.  Can you live with that?  I often jokingly say to groups “When the going gets tough, give up!”  For some people, actually quite possibly most people, this is the perfect advice for what they want.  They don’t want things to be hard.  So giving up is the perfect answer to their problem.  Don’t do the hard things, only do enough to meet the most minimum requirements.  Talk is cheap and doesn’t get you very far (ironic coming from someone who make a living giving speeches).  The statement is true however.  Words can be powerful but they will always come up short in propelling you forward without some form of action.  So take those beliefs and hone them, develop them.  “I quit when the reps are done, not when they hurt.”  These little types of statements will calcify your belief system if they are repeated over and over then followed up with action.  A statement like the one above means nothing coming from someone perched on a couch watching Netflix.  It means something from the person drenched in sweat and gasping for air. 

Your championship level is also something that you should consider.  Perhaps your championship is not a championship at all at the moment.  Perhaps it’s winning one game or scoring a goal.  The idea is not the trophy or the position in a ranking but more about who you become as a person or group.  The moment will fade.  The memory may not even be permanent but the person that you become from the experience will move forward into the world better prepared to take future steps. 

Blogpost, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

The Beautiful Game Has Become Ugly

“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” – Oscar Wilde

There are many people who would push back on me suggesting that soccer is an art form. That’s completely fine! A bunch of paint splatters or a urinal hung in a museum are not my cup of tea either. Given that art is subjective and mediums have change through time, I don’t think that I’m out of line to call the beautiful game, ART. Some of the best actors do not read from a script. Musicians jam and vamp with their bandmates far from the notes that are on the page. So in my estimation, a group of eleven people trying to find rhythm from chaos is a form of ballet as much as it is a sport. Whether you buy into my belief or not, at bare minimum, you understand where I’m coming from.

Painting of Pele by Andres Ramos.
Art imitating art!

Now let me take it back to the Oscar Wilde quote. Other people can dissect his words in any way that they like. For me, the idea that life imitates art comes from the fact that artists take their medium to extremes. Generally, life is not an extreme sport. In the beginning, humans needed to be conservative with their actions because our survival depended upon it. Even though there were cave paintings, they weren’t of spaceships or a flying squirrel suit. They showed hunters going after an animal. The art was in line or one step ahead of the time but it gave others something to imitate. As we progressed forward, the media of arts expanded and gave expression to the order of the day as well as more extreme ideas. Did the myths about the gods come about to explain them or give people license to emulate them?

Now that I’ve taken you through my thought process, I believe that our world is in distress due to our art. It’s not as simple as Tipper Gore would have liked. Her labels on explicit albums did not change the releasing of the art that she disliked. She simply made it taboo and therefore more desirable. Since the art that I care about is soccer, I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole. I am concerned about the artists on the field.

Soccer is called “the beautiful game” because it is a glory to behold when it is in its natural state. Eleven people trying to get the ball into the goal of the other team while defending their own. A match can have the highs and lows of a great symphony and all of the drama of a Greek tragedy. There is no lack of opportunity to raise the emotional experience to the heights that only artists can. An actor can give an audience chills when they personify a moment so perfectly with their earnestness. Unfortunately the hack actor can also nauseate an audience by faking it, not being true to the role and using tricks to skate by. It’s sad to see but that’s where we are. Players looking to game the system for the outcome rather than earnestly trying to get the result through their art. None of this is new and I know that my short musing about it will change little.

However, I truly believe that the flopping, diving and play acting has affected the world because soccer is art. Therefore, this writing, which is also an art form, could help to counteract it. A pebble in the pond, no doubt but I hope that it will ripple. If the artists who are playing at the highest level were to give up the hack tactics for a short time, would it change everything? Would kids stop flopping and taking the easy way? Would government officials stop taking shortcuts that hurt the people in their care? Would life again imitate art as it has so many times through history? I don’t know! I’d like to believe that it could. The problem is that so many things have become a business and art is a gift! So hopefully, some of the artists on the field can remember that they are making art to give to the world and it’s more than just the result. We’re all watching to be inspired toward our future selves. If you make “hack art” we’ll believe that that is en vogue. BUT if you give the gift of true expression with earnest effort, we’ll reflect that back as well.

Be an artist today!

Blogpost, posh, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

POSH Woes Away From Home Continue

I place the blame squarely on my own shoulders. So far this season, I’ve only been able to watch four matches and two have been POSH wins. My lack of commitment is a leading factor in the poor form. While I say this all in jest, people link results to a variety of factors which represent correlation and not causation. The away form is troubling and so are the goals in quick succession. Both are a symptom of an underlying problem that is easy to spot but more difficult to correct. Fergie put it very plainly in his post match interview. There is a lack of belief within the team that gets exacerbated away from home and when the team concede.

While it is simple enough to identify a lack of belief, it’s more difficult to correct considering all contributing factors. In order to have a squad that can withstand the workload, injuries and the level of the Championship; there needs to be competition at every single position. It is an absolute necessity but it creates circumstances where a player’s position within the team is always in question. As professional athletes, this is part of the job but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy.

If it were just the uncertainty of the position, there probably would not be such a grand issue at the moment. However each player must also internally wrestle with the question of whether or not, they are “Championship standard.” Obviously all of the members of the squad are eligible to play in the Championship because it is the league where the POSH are now. However there is a difference between being a Championship player and feeling like you belong at that level. Hopefully the players are smart enough to avoid looking at social media or player rating. That level of scrutiny is difficult to bear. Fans, pundits and journalists have the right to rate or not rate a player. It doesn’t mean that it’s helpful. Keeping one’s mentality straight with daggers being pulled for any play that is not up to snuff.

Finally the pressure of survival. This is one of the reasons that I’ve been a firm proponent of aiming higher than survival. Having taught for many years, I know that the individual who is just looking to pass will never get an A. The one who is willing to put in the work with high expectations will do far better than the bare minimum. Survival is not riding on every kick of the ball or even every match. It just feels that way and that feeling doesn’t help. The increased pressure produces anxiety that does not improve performance.

It’s simple enough to just say “get on with it.” These players are professional athletes who signed up for this pressure. True! However, any fan, pundit or journalist can tell you that a striker in the Championship needs to be more clinical because the number of chances are fewer and more difficult. So a player will train to improve their finishing skills. It’s necessary to perform at this level. How much training have players gotten on their mindset? Belief? Self-talk? Visualization?

I’m sure there has been some but if this truly is the missing component to success then it needs to be a core component to the training. A striker who is not putting shots on frame would not be told to just figure it out. There’s too much at stake. Each player would be different. Depending on their personality types, learning styles and modality preferences; they would need to develop skills to help them put legs under the “table” of their belief. For now they seem to be able to believe at home. That’s something! Unfortunately that does not scratch the true potential of this squad. They can make a real dent in this league but they need to believe it to their core. For now, they are waiting for the results to give them belief. That’s actually reverse of what needs to happen. Belief is a skill that they need to hone.

Up the POSH! I’ll do my part. I’m positive the players can do theirs.

Pete