Blogpost, SoccerLifeBalance

Soccer In America: The Question of Lagging Behind

There is a desire among soccer fans to understand why the USMNT is “lagging” behind other nations. “We have great facilities and coaches. Why are we still behind other nations that are much smaller and less equipped?” A colleague asked me to respond to this perspective which I’m happy to do but as we begin, remember that this is not a problem of simple math where 2+2=4. This is an equation of multivariable calculus. The solution is not as simple as everyone would like for it to be but it is there nonetheless.

Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The French Hockey Variable – If you were to research all of the characteristics of the best hockey players in the world, you would most likely find that a large percentage of them speak French. Therefore any hockey club that is looking to build a superior program should teach their players French. Obviously this is a ridiculous idea. However underlying the concept is a nugget of truth that needs to be realized. French is not the common denominator but it is an indicator. The indication is that a large number of the best hockey players come from French speaking Canada. The French is irrelevant but what is extremely relevant is the cultural implications. These players come from a place where success in that particular sport is nurtured and encouraged. The love for the sport is felt through their entire existence.

Largely the United States is still learning French. We are hoping that by playing Frankenstein’s Monster with soccer that national team results can meet the expectations of the few hardcore fans. Unfortunately that is not likely to work. Cultural shifts take a long time especially in a nation as large and diverse as the US. A small nation like Iceland has a much better chance of achieving a cultural overhaul that produces notable results on the international stage. Turning a motorboat is easier than turning an ocean liner. The United States will eventually hit a “tipping point” where an avalanche of cultural practices will reap benefits at the highest level. Again my prediction is 2026 but let’s keep moving on those variables.

The Distraction Variable – Unfortunately many people within the system of soccer are more interested in personal gain rather than altruistic motives for the improvement of the sport. An Icelandic youth player is probably separated from a national team player by a few degrees. So the dream of playing for the national team is real. Also the meaning of playing for the national team is potent with pride because basically everyone in the country cares. Kids in the US have so many more “shiny objects” to distract them before the USMNT is even a consideration. Elite teams, scholarships, academies, etc. are a confusing system of hoops that have some meaning but are not particularly a path leading to the USMNT or the betterment of soccer in this country. Since the system is difficult to decipher, kids and parents need to rely upon people who know the game. Since solidarity payments are not made to developmental clubs, the motivation for lower level clubs is to gain status by keeping talent rather than selling it up the pyramid. This system is changing slowly and many of the “fākademies” are being revealed as nothing more than profit centers rather than rungs on the soccer ladder. Once parents and players can see a direct path from the youth to professional game, the inflation of youth soccer will level off.

The En Vogue Variable – Although soccer is gaining popularity overall, Major League Soccer is far behind the upward trajectory of the sport. There are many reasons for this but eventually they need to break down. At one point, the Serie A was the most popular league in the world. At the moment, the English Premier League holds that moniker. In the future, MLS needs to hit that level and I believe that it will. However before it can, the league needs for soccer fans in the US to embrace it. Lack of great players, lack of history, lack of American superstars, and all of the other excuses that fans give for not supporting this league will eventually fade away. At that point, MLS will become like Marvel. Once something becomes popular then everyone “was always a fan.”

The Generation Variable – One or more of these variables could tip and cause the avalanche that brings the results that hardcore soccer fans want. This variable could have the strongest influence but also would be the hardest to track. My father didn’t play soccer. I started that tradition in my family. So I refer to myself as a first generation soccer player. My son now plays which makes him second generation. He is more educated about the game than I was at his age. The thing about a generational impact is that it is exponential growth. A player has three kids and that has potential of 3X growth. Since the US flirted with soccer throughout the 1900’s and especially in the 1970’s, it’s hard to pinpoint the generational effect. However it exists and if it hits at the right time with some of these other variables, THE WORLD WON’T KNOW WHAT HIT THEM!

Soccer in the US is not lagging behind other countries any more than we are lagging behind in consumption of chocolate. We ranked 8th in that statistic in 2019. Switzerland led the way by doubling our per capita consumption. There are some things that are difficult to determine about the US. One that I am never in doubt about is that we will find a way to achieve whatever we deem important. At some point, we’ll decide that soccer is important and this perceived lag will be history.

USMNT World Cup Champs 2026!

Pete

Blogpost, SoccerLifeBalance

Soccer Is Not a Zero Sum Game

lukesoccerThe youth sports culture (especially soccer) is in need of change.  The needed change is not one of rules or procedures but culture.  The norms and beliefs surrounding youth sports are largely influenced by the adults that administer the delivery of the sport.  This article is not a complete plan on how to fix all of the problems.  It is the beginning of a conversation to be had on an individual, team, club and national level.  Are we giving our children the experience that they deserve?

A Zero Sum Game: Look at the Goal Differential table for any league from the Premier League all the way down to a U8 Flight 9, the table always adds up to zero.  By this mathematical analysis of soccer, there is balance that delineates some teams as “winners” and some “losers”.  By taking this viewpoint, a team that ends up at the bottom of the table receives less from the game than the one at the top.  While this may hold true in accolades and trophies, it completely discounts the majority of reasons why young people and adults play soccer in droves every year.  Winning is not the point!  If it were, then the key to being a successful team or club would be to join the weakest league possible.  

In Search of Something More: The game is not the result.  The game is a process that is intended to bring out more of what makes us human to begin with.  Many clubs are fully committed to the Zero Sum Game.  Putting all effort into getting better at winning.  Replacing players each year with better players, investing in trainers who look to win but not develop and charging a premium price for a sport that is mostly for recreation.  The problem with aiming to be at the top of the Zero Sum Pyramid is that the cups that are received there are largely empty.  The reason why sports and specifically soccer are so popular is that they can mirror and enhance the human condition.  Unfortunately many have fooled themselves into chasing some elusive prize while sacrificing most of the value that they aimed to get from the sport.  Although this process of empty cup chasing may be pervasive, it does not need to be.  We can go after more.

Breaking It Down:  Electrical signals and chemical reactions are all that we are looking for.  This is taking the human experience down to the smallest pieces but it will bring clarity to what we are doing.  The four major chemicals that cause good feelings or “happiness”.  

The “Selfish” chemicals can be produced without anyone else.

Endorphins – Their major purpose is to mask physical pain and are regularly released during physical exercise.  Soccer and most other physical exercises are a great source of endorphins.  Although endorphins are a great start, their production is only dependent upon the individual.  Go for a jog and the same endorphins get produced.  It’s a start but soccer is merely one endorphin producer.

Dopamine – This is the achievement chemical.  It is a reward system for moving closer to goals.  It is not particularly linked to physical activity but can be attributed to physical goals.  This can be a useful tool for progress but can be an extremely addictive chemical.  Dopamine “hits” can be caused by things such as completing a task or achieving a goal.  Unfortunately they can also be caused by getting a text or email message regardless of its importance.  In our modern culture, no one needs to go out of their way to develop a dopamine addiction.  It is everywhere.

The “Selfish” Chemicals can be dangerous if they are not kept in balance.  The “Community” chemicals are aimed at the survival of humans in a group setting.

Serotonin – This is the leadership chemical.  It produces feelings of pride and status.  Serotonin in the veins increases confidence of the person.  Pride and status were extremely important in a hierarchical society.  Desire to be acknowledged by the community helps to reinforce the actions that are in the best interest of the group.  This chemical helped to strengthen tribes because it biochemically rewarded the individual for putting forth effort in the interest of the common good.  The problem in the modern world is that status can be bought and manufactured.   It is however an essential ingredient to effective group living that humans have serotonin releases based on real pride.

Oxytocin – This is the chemical of love, trust and friendship.  There are many ways to get oxytocin.  Physical contact is one of the key releasers of oxytocin.  Acts of generosity also release oxytocin into the system and encourage more acts in kind.  Oxytocin inhibits addiction and boosts your immune system.  It is a gradual chemical that builds up over time due to the inherent relationship dynamic.  It is the chemical that is released during childbirth that makes mothers feel an overwhelming sense of bond with their newborn.  Although our society is interconnected like never before, the separation between us seems to be widening.

Good for the caveman but not the modern man.

Cortisol – It is the chemical of stress and anxiety.  This is the chemical of fight or flight.  It prepares the body for dangers that are threatening.  Although the release of cortisol into the system can be extremely useful in the short term, its long term use is devastating.  The side effects of cortisol release are paranoia about possible threats and inhibition of the immune system.  

Club Culture

Our present club culture is aimed at systematically creating better soccer machines through the help of the “Selfish” chemicals and Cortisol.  The system is ingrained throughout almost the entire country.  Teams are formed by annual or seasonal tryouts.  Clubs use names like “Elite”, “Select” and “Premier” in order to advertise status.  While competition is an integral part of soccer, the club culture is unbalanced in its approach toward the development of our young players (who are more importantly people).  In essence we’re trading our human equity to rent falsified prestige.

The present club model will create better soccer players over time.  The competitive cauldron that we have cast most of our players into will incrementally produce better soccer in the US.  While that may be an objective for the USSF and other agencies invested in player improvement, is better soccer without regard for other consequences truly the aim?  

From a biochemical standpoint, our present club model is relying principally on Endorphins, Dopamine and Cortisol in order to move soccer forward.  While this method will be effective in getting players to perform, it is not a fertile field in which to grow confidence, connection, empathy and trust.  When viewed from a national level through a soccer lens, these attributes are not particularly the recipe for success.  However the majority of our youth who are playing soccer today will not be part of a National Team or a Professional Academy.  They will play club soccer through the years of their youth and at some point their playing career will end.  Even the longest professional careers only last into the early forties.  So the competitive cauldron ends for everyone with the message, “you’re no longer good enough”.  Whether early or late the player becomes what we all are on some level, a member of a community.  Since they will live a majority of their life interacting with other people and not a ball, it is the interpersonal skills and self-realization that should take precedence in a majority of our clubs.  Rather than treating the vast majority of our youth as if they are heading to a storied career of individual glory, focus on the team dynamic and each player’s contribution to that collective.

Suggestions for change

  1. Recognize the level – Teams and clubs can be broken up many ways but in terms of competition: Elite, Competitive Recreation and Recreation.  The competitive cauldron has its place but should not be everyplace.  If a team or a club is truly “elite”, then they are competing at state or regional level or have a proven gateway to professional ranks.  Most teams/clubs are “Competitive Recreation”.  Recognizing this fact is a great opportunity for parents, players and coaches to embrace the best of what both worlds have to offer.  The moniker of “Recreation” almost has a negative connotation in most sport circles today but it is something that needs to be embraced again.  Playing for the joy of the game is not a bad thing.  
  2. Act appropriately within the level –  Elite clubs need to be pushing their players and re-evaluating their talent levels regularly.  The level of expectation is higher because the ultimate desired destination is also higher.  Most Elite clubs do not have a problem setting this higher expectation.  The issue is usually that a club is trying to keep Elite expectations without being Elite.  At Competitive Recreation clubs there can be high expectations but the long term growth of the person should supersede the short term desire for “success”.  Simple changes like holding tryouts every second or third year would allow players, coaches and parents a period of team building.  This long term view allows players and all others involved to develop both on and off the field.  Professional trainers are still an option to develop players soccer skills.  However as we head into a third or fourth generation of soccer players in this country, the knowledgeable parents will begin to make this less of the norm.  The Recreation level should continue to be fun with friends.  
  3. Remember what’s at stake – Often the famous line from Bill Shankly used by people to discuss the sport’s importance. “Some people think football [soccer] is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”   In terms of game results, I would disagree wholeheartedly with Mr. Shankly.  Game results are a moment in time that may be remembered or forgotten.  However in terms of societal impact, he is absolutely right.  This game has the ability to give and take life both literally and figuratively.  The passion for the sport has unfortunately taken life in several tragedies.  It has also given life by stopping violent conflicts in different parts of the world and giving a pathway to many poor children who would otherwise succumb to their impoverished beginnings.  In the US, the game is rarely a matter of life or death.  It can be a catalyst toward a better life.  Using the game as a vehicle toward better living involves a conscious recognition of short and long term impact of the game on the young person.  Pushing all of our youth into a “one size fits all” system of sport kills most of the inherent positives of participation.

The conversation does not end here.  The difficult thing is not recognizing a problem.  People see problems every day but generally wait for someone else to do something about it.  The answer is usually much closer to home.  Each individual needs to contribute to see the cultural shift that is needed in the beautiful game here in the land of the free and home of the brave.  There is a reason why “We The People” are the first three words of Constitution.  Change is brought by regular people, doing the right things consistently.

 

Blogpost, SoccerLifeBalance

Cheers To The Soccer Name Game!

IMG_2492

It’s official!  The paperwork just came in from the state and my son’s name is officially Lionel Messi!  I fully anticipate that his goal total will skyrocket in the coming seasons.  If you’ve not screamed “You’re an idiot!” yet, you’ve at least thought it.  I felt stupid just typing it!  A name is not particularly an indicator of quality, it’s a way to differentiate one person from millions of other similar people.  This truth is so easy to realize when talking about a person’s talent.  Then why do so many people trap themselves into the soccer club name game?  Like soccer, the answer is simple but at the same time complex.  Perception helps us form our reality.

In college, I worked at a beer and wine store.  On the beer side of the store, I got very few questions.  Occasionally someone would ask about a new micro-brew but generally people knew what they were looking for.  The Coors guy would rarely change things up and would walk in grab a case, pay and walk out.  On the wine side of the store, there were much more questions and a posturing of perception.  If a wine was highlighted in the “Wine Spectator” magazine, we were likely to sell out of it especially if it was priced under $30.  Most of the people were looking for the popular wine, even if they had never tasted it and often it wasn’t even their favorite varietal.  They had been sold on a perception not their own reality.  Being seen as a person who knew about wine was much more important than getting what they wanted in a wine.

At the moment in the soccer world, we’re going through a similar perception economy.  Names are just a part of the equation that includes trainers, sponsors, equipment, etc.  The name is just the asset with no inherent value other than perception.  It’s a longstanding joke with a coach friend of mine that we are going to start a club with all of the standard soccer club cliches of quality.  My most recent version is “Select Elite Academy Soccer International Club Kickers” or S.E.A.S.I.C.K. for short.  I’m sure that the players of SEASICK would be bursting with pride in the fact that they were playing for an “elite academy”, though they might be neither.  Since they tried out, that would make it “select”.  Although they might be confused by the “international” tag but I’m sure we’d find an English or Dutch trainer to squelch that thought.  Finally I’m sure that they would have preferred to be an FC but let’s face it, you can’t fight the draw of a good acronym!  Again I’m being ridiculous but not inaccurate.

The youth soccer world is based heavily on perception but with more real consequences than my wine example.  This is not a mistake of serving chardonnay with steak (which is actually fine if that’s what you like).  It’s a mistake of hanging children’s self-worth on a false status.  It may not be prudent to invest a child’s one non-renewable resource (time) into a pursuit of athletic “excellence” rather than personal development.  Does an “elite” soccer player translate this time and financial commitment into love from his/her parents?  Do they have the tight bonds of friendship with their elite teammates that they have with kids from their school?  Are the elite coaches also elite role models of how to be a good person?  If these questions were all asked and well considered before the tryout, then stay the course.  However my fear is that many people have blinders on with a very narrow view of the course that they are putting their children on.  By age 25, most people’s playing careers are over but their lives are not yet close to half done.  Will memories of warm-up jackets embroidered with half true adjectives be enough to sustain them through their adult life?  Or are the actions, relationships and mentors of the individual the true creators of great memories?

Eventually the packaging fades away and the true substance of what’s been sold shines through.  Go in with an idea of what you really want and see past the packaging.  The world is filled with people who will sell you something for their own benefit rather than yours.   Not everyone is elite but anyone can receive the gifts that the game has to offer without a price tag.

Go play!

Pete

As usual Rocky has a good take on the subject.

Blogpost, SoccerLifeBalance

An American Soccer Manifesto (Part 1)

lukesoccerSoccer in the United States is gaining undeniable momentum in American culture.  While the progress of the sport in this country has been slow, its impact is becoming more widespread.  Through the various parts of this “Manifesto”, I will plead a case for the reasons for the proliferation of the sport and the impacts on the country at large.  Physical, social, psychological and philosophical outcomes can be reaped through the more widespread acceptance of soccer as a national force.  It may be a difficult argument to the general public because as Tom Weir of USA Today wrote in 1993, “Hating soccer is more American that apple pie.”  While this sentiment may be changing, a deep dive into the facets of a transition is in order.

History

The history of the kicking game has been chronicled at length by others.  Therefore my historical narrative will not be about the development of the game in the country but rather a juxtaposition of our historically American sports’ positive impacts on the country at large.

Despite baseball being considered the “National Pass Time”, American football has largely been the dominant sport of the past century.  This is due in large part to the sport developing during the emergence of the US as a world power while also sharing the American ethos of progress.  Football (American Football)* served the country well in the 20th century as it ingrained ideals that were instrumental during the manufacturing age.  The ideals of teamwork, coordination and positional hierarchy ran deep within the factory system and football.  Plans and decisions were centralized to management and passed down for execution by the line.  Statistics are used to track progress, performance and predict the emergence of talent.  The school, industrial and sports models of the 20th century complimented each other in structure and values.  Therefore football, baseball and basketball became dominating forces in the sports landscape of the United States.  Their appeal was compounded because of the community component and inherent aspiration of the team.  Professional sports teams created a sense of belonging to cities or regions.  High schools fed players and students into colleges.  Colleges fed players into professional leagues and students into jobs.  The systems worked almost seamlessly for a long time.

Identity Crisis (My independent film about soccer’s place in the US)

Times Change

Nostalgia is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.  While nostalgia may feel good and there may be good reason to long for times past, the present is the only place where we truly exist.  The past cannot be recreated.  While this may seem sad due to things that are perceived as “lost”, there are many gains that have come from that passage of time.  So where are we now?

factoryAs we progress even further into a new century and millennium, several of the rigid systems of the past are crumbling under the pressure of technology and the democratization of information.  The old systems are being replaced for the very same reasons that they thrived a century ago.  Cheap/efficient labor, mechanization, standardization and a consumer culture brought forth prosperity to the US.  Now, cheap labor is found elsewhere or replaced entirely by machines.  Standardizing of products has made many of them generic where cost and convenience become the most sought features rather than quality and craftsmanship.  The model of consumerism has left many bankrupt financially, depressed emotionally and weighed down physically.  The mantra “that’s the way we’ve always done it!” is the calling card of those primed for a fall to irrelevance or extinction.

The new economy of the United States is a connection economy that no longer depends on exclusively on commodity production but rather the unification of resources with opportunity.  Entrepreneurship is not a buzzword of the silicon valley.  It is an integral component of the new American economy that requires a more nimble approach to business.  Bigger is not particularly better.  Growth is not particularly the marker of success as people are often creating lifestyle businesses to balance work and life.

entreprenThe traditional American sports do not fit as effectively into this new economic paradigm.  The industrial model of tracking productivity in order to become more efficient in the name of progress does not hold.  The measure of a good worker in the new economy is not a mindless cog that produces more than the other cogs.  It requires a mixture of technical ability mixed with the emotional intelligence to make decisions based on varying factors.  In the traditional American sports, these decisions were made solely by the coach, quarterback or point guard.  Most other players were doing their assigned job as a part of an orchestrated unit.  Divergence from the rules of the system was not desirable.  The new economy needs more decision makers rather than rule followers.

This new system is more in line with the processes of soccer.  Eleven people working toward a common goal with principles in mind rather than plays.  Each individual must analyze what they see in front of them and decide what to do next.  Although there are statistics available in soccer, they do not particularly indicate good or poor performance.  The intricacies of the game are human.  There is a balance between pushing toward a goal while not overextending to the point of being exposed defensively.  While there is a coach with a certain amount of control, the players and their decisions are the key components to the performance of the team.

The individual has greater power to impact the world than ever before in history.  Our games, systems and education should be centered around the improvement of the decision making faculty while maintaining an empathetic compass.  Realizing how our individual decisions impact the rest of our team, community and world is a skill that needs to be developed in the generations to come.  Although soccer is implicitly a sport, there are components to its play that can have a greater societal impact.  This is not at the exclusion of the other sports but in addition to them.  The 20th century American ethos has a place in the amalgamation of our future as a nation.  It is through our diversity that much of our strength comes.

*From here on, I will refer to American Football as Football and International Football as soccer.  I’m sure this will upset someone somewhere but it is not my intention to please everyone but be as clear to as many people as possible.

Blogpost, self-reliance

Duality

It’s such a difficult thing to balance especially in English! The equilibrium between opposing forces that we need to consider. At least in Spanish, they have the verbs SER and ESTAR which both translate to mean “to be”. However they are used very differently. SER is used for things that are either permanent or consistent, while ESTAR is used for things that are temporary. This may seem like a simple distinction but we run into these dichotomies daily and they trip us up. Focusing on the moment is a crucial component to our success. However, long term planning and attention to the horizon is also prudent. How do we balance?

The recognition of the duality is probably the first step. I’m not so sure that perfect balance is possible. It’s one of the many reasons that I’m such a proponent of soccer as a teaching tool. A team that is committed to the attack is now more susceptible in defense. Risks must be taken in order to get to the goal but throwing all caution to the wind is a poor strategy in most instances. Formations and tactics change with time in order to exploit or counter the status quo. The same is also true within our culture as the pendulum swings in one direction or the other, it tends to swing back.

As an individual, it’s on you to recognize the duality within the world and within yourself. Recognizing that there are very few silver bullets for us to use means that we must be conscious. Conscious to the fact that the world is ever changing and there are so many things that are still true from a thousand years ago that it’s staggering. Our job remains, as I’ve put it before, FCO (Figure Crap Out!). Just remember that the answer of today may not work tomorrow.

Good luck and good planning!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

An American Soccer Manifesto (Part 2)

In Part 1 of the Manifesto an argument was made for the proliferation of soccer in a historical context.  The processes of traditional American sports were well suited to the industrial age while soccer seems to be more in line with the present state of business and society.  So I am making my argument for soccer to be the national sport of the USA.  In this second part, the physical aspects of the argument will be explored.

While we are dealing with a virus that has risen to the level of a pandemic, the health and wellness of the USA has been on a downward trajectory for a while.  The number of people who are considered obese or morbidly obese is staggering.  Partially this is due to our diet but also a sedentary lifestyle that dominates our adult lives.  From the sports side of the equation, the traditional American sports of football and baseball are geared toward the short term acquisition of “bulk” with long term consequences.  Linemen make up almost half of the players on a football field at any given time.  Their weight is often an asset.  While baseball is less prone toward mass without reason, the sport is not based on heavy caloric burns.  It is a pass time.  Large portions of the sport mirror the sedentary lifestyle that will be coming later in life.  Both of these sports are usually left behind after high school.  Or a watered down version is implemented with lots of post game brews for good measure.  

Soccer on the other hand requires a more diversified athletic ability that lends itself toward generalized and possible lifelong fitness.  It promotes cardio-vascular fitness, flexibility, strength and heart rate variability.  In addition to these positive attributes, soccer can be played until the later stages of life.  The game may be a bit slower but it remains largely the same.  Like any sport or activity, it is not a panacea.  Injuries happen and overuse can be an issue.  Generally speaking though, the positives tend to outweigh the negatives.

So much like the argument in my initial post, soccer needs to be embraced.  I know that it is already on a variety of levels.  However, it has not become a truly “American” sport just yet.  Perhaps it will take another decade but the argument is there.  America needs soccer much more than it realizes!

I believe!

Pete  

Blogpost, self-reliance

Realizing Your Potential

It’s an interesting turn of phrase when you think about it. When you “realize” something, it was always there but you were possibly ignorant to it. Often it takes experience, reflection or the influence of others to “realize” something. The same is true with potential.

Most of us are ignorant to what we are capable of doing. Our potential in any given area is an amorphous concept that we probably give little thought. We are who we are and will improve a bit here and there. Overall it’s a very linear type of idea. While that is the general way that things work, we all have the possibility to leap into the void. Give an endeavor everything that we have regardless of past success or failure. The reason that we usually don’t go for these types of leaps is that it comes with an inverse “realizing a lack of potential”. Crashing to the ground in a heap with dashed hopes landing on top of you is not easy. So why risk it?

We are all have great potential for a variety of things. That’s not in question. The only question is whether or not we’re willing to risk the foray into our ignorance of ourselves. Can we truly bet heavily on the person that we know best in this world or hedge those bets for the safe incremental wins? It’s a tough decision to make but it’s one that only we can. Because no matter how much another person make see our potential, it’s not until we realize that they’re right that change can actually happen.

Double down on you today!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Motion to Suppress

Most of my understanding of the law comes from TV and movies. Therefore it may not be completely accurate but for the sake of my discussion, it will be sufficient. A lawyer can have a lot of reasons why they might want to suppress evidence. The optimist in me would like to believe that evidence is being suppressed because it is not genuine. The pessimist in me knows that it is often a tactic used to exclude something valid but damaging. Although there is the common quote “the truth will set you free”, it does not apply to all people. Sometimes the truth will prove your guilt. Regardless, each of us has evidence of a myriad of things from our past. Who we are contains it all. However, since no one (even us) will know of or remember every single instant of our lives. The things that are introduced into evidence when we are arguing for who we are or aren’t become extremely important. Suppressing the right things at the right moment might be exactly the right thing to do.

As we go through our lives, there are patterns that develop. A trial is used to determine someone’s guilt or innocence usually for a singular instance of a crime. The truth of that one instance is based on sometimes minuscule pieces of evidence. However as we are determining who we are as people, it is the pattern of consistent behavior that makes us who we are. Getting drunk once does not make someone an alcoholic. Nor does holding the door open for a person make someone a saint. The consistent action tells someone who they are. While some acts carry the weight to supersede a lifetime of poor or good behavior, most of us are dealing in the aggregate. The compounding of results over time in order to determine an overall leaning. This leaning tends to impact our self-esteem, public image and host of other perceptions that are at best incomplete and at worst inaccurate. We are not a sum total of all of our actions, just the ones that we’ve given weight.

So give yourself the ability to “suppress” some of those things that you hold against yourself. The mistake that you made, the wrong thing that you said, the blunder that still bothers you. Please recognize that just because you’re giving yourself a clean slate, doesn’t mean that everyone else will. However, the relationship that you have with yourself is by far the most important. So in the court of public opinion, you may not be exonerated but perhaps you’ll not judge yourself so harshly. It’s both difficult and unwise to go through life without any mistakes or failures. However, they don’t need to be an albatross around your neck. Set yourself free from that weight and see how much faster you move forward without the burden!

This is your story! Dun dun.

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

Ride the Moment

“Zardes will score in the 86th minute.” Those were the words that I said to the guy next to me as I watched the US Men’s National Team play against Qatar last year. Getting the timing and the player right were a bit of luck. However the momentum of the game was pretty easy to read. It’s often easier for people on the outside to see as it develops. Because momentum requires the person or people to exist in the moment. Most of the blunders and shortfalls in sports or life come from a diverted focus. Rather than staying in the here and now, the performer gets concerned with the outcome or some other factor that distracts from the moment.

There is no doubt that people want results! Rightfully so, they are not expending time, energy, focus and other resources to come up empty. However, one of the easiest ways to insure against results coming is to focus too heavily upon them. They are a part of the equation, no doubt! A form of fuel that keeps the engine running but too much fuel at once creates a grand explosion (or in performance terms implosion). We are prehistoric creatures built for prehistoric times. Our brains are built to help us survive in a tough environment of life and death. Now we live in a world that is often built on success or failure. The consequences that we reap are a form of reality that we’ve created. So are the pressure and the stakes. But they feel overwhelmingly real because that’s what we’ve made them. Since it is all in our heads, maybe it’s possible to control them in the moment. Put them on the back burner in the moment and stay in the moment!

The moment is all we get. Every single living soul gets the exact same amount of time, the moment. Quibbling over how many moments one person gets versus another is irrelevant. Many people have done nothing with a heap of moments while others lived fully with a select few. It’s not the number that counts but rather the focus, attention and stacking of the quality ones. In the end, your life is not measured in years. It’s measured in moments and people will remember them when you’re gone, if you made them count.

Now stop reading and make the next few count!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Whatever It Takes

That was the message on the back of a t-shirt that I saw recently. Obviously that’s not meant to be taken 100% literally. There are plenty of things that the t-shirt wearer wouldn’t do to achieve their goals. Most likely murder, theft and a variety of other caveats could be made to the very blanket statement. There are plenty of people who would rather quibble about the exceptions than buy into the spirit of the message. Why? The reason is that it’s easier! Criticizing and picking apart something is a much more comfortable task than getting something done. Much like my favorite quote from Teddy Roosevelt’s speech at the Sorbonne, “it is not the critic that counts!”

So let’s ignore the fine print for the moment and only deal in big bold letters that you put on the back of a t-shirt. What are the things that warrant that level of dedication in your life? What goals do you have that could incite that commitment? It’s easier not to ask that question! By far it’s much more simple to not try to discover those limits of your capability! Not because you’re going to get anywhere near to the fine print items that the nit pickers would worry about. Quite the contrary! It’s the comfortable situations that we’ve grown accustomed to. Risking the known for an unknown that comes with some doubt. It’s not about the fine print or sacrificing our code of ethics. More than likely it’s a risk analysis that spikes our fear response.

So figure out what it is that you would put that level of commitment into and then do it! Regardless of the critics! Regardless of the fear that you feel inside! It’s necessary to avoid becoming a “cold and timid soul”. The one fact that you cannot avoid. No matter what your particular goal is. Whatever else it might take, IT’S GOING TO TAKE YOU!

Whatever it takes!

Pete