The past was a simpler time in many ways! There’s no doubt about it. The complexity of the world has jumped exponentially. Despite its complexity, human beings remain relatively the same. The complexity is around us, not within us. So it is possible to keep the effects of the world at bay if we remember that we are part of the “natural order” of things. In most cases we act much more like animals than machines. Despite this fact, we expect ourselves to work similar to machines or want results to show up machine time.
Our ancestors understood that the amount of time spent hunting was far greater than the amount of time spent eating. This proportion is a natural occurrence. Obviously there would be times when a quick hunt would happen but it could not be relied upon. The same was true of the harvest. While the farmers did less “intense” labor than the hunters, it was stretched out over a longer period of time. Again the time and effort spent obtaining the desired outcome was far greater than the time enjoying it. However these proportions were in line with expectation. So people prepared and adjusted for them. Now we live in the world of Amazon, INSTAgram, SNAPchat and Uber.
These services and other recent cultural norms are not bad if they are kept in context. The separation of modern expectations from “natural” phenomena is the key component to surviving the complexity of our world. Trust is not one click away. Overnight shipping is not available on love. Physical fitness is not dependent on an application but rather dedication over time. Keeping the expectations for the enjoyment of results in correct proportion to the necessary inputs to obtain those results is the key. This balance can be difficult for people to maintain because the call of the modern context is so enticing. Why would you spend months going to the gym when you can swallow a pill?
My hope for you is that you’re able to see past the false advertising. Many of the things that you want are not available “On Demand” and that’s OK. If everything were as easy as one click shopping, it would cheapen the peak experiences of life. Time, struggle, intention, effort, passion and so many more ingredients are the appropriate price tags for what is truly important in this world. It is those people that keep in line with their nature as humans who will avoid the trappings of the modern world. So go out there today and get whatever it is that you want but don’t click on “one day shipping”! Enjoy the process instead!
Things were different before the internet. There’s just no denying it. I told a group of young people recently about how we used to caravan to soccer games. Most of the group of parents would meet at a predetermined spot and follow each other to the location of the game. It may seem ridiculous by the modern day standard. Ten cars following each other down the highway to reach a youth soccer game. That was just how things were done. The positive side was that we combined cars a lot. People would ride together. One of my best friends from that time came from the fact that his mother didn’t like to drive on highways. So he and his mother would ride with us. So even though it’s not how we do it now, it had its virtues.
The convenience of the GPS has made for less people getting lost but we’ve lost our sense of people. The chance to become part of a clan that travels together has dwindled. We are a species that has historically worked together in order to reach our greatest heights. Will we find the convenience to be a consolation for traveling alone on the road? It’s not particularly how fast we get there. It is a question of whether or not we got there well. Bringing people together is a key to our survival. Let’s find ourselves by coming together.
We’ve all got them. They lurk around and create mischief in our daily lives but we have trouble letting go of them. Bad habits. The things that we realize that we should not do at all or possibly overindulge in them. There power over us can be based in our childhood, boredom or addiction. No matter who you are, you’ve probably got a habit, vice, addiction or pattern that is less than favorable.
On the other hand you’ve got those good things that you cannot seem to get yourself to do. You know it! If you did that thing, it would help you in either the short or the long term. Regardless of how much good you know that you’d get from it, you still don’t do it. Perhaps you make up excuses about time. Or you tell yourself that next week would be the right time to start or you need some other resource. Again you’ve set yourself up to not follow through because your reasons are just not strong enough.
If you’re like me and you have this scenario in your life, I’m going to suggest that you use the bad to create the good. Most recently I’ve been publishing, my blog on a daily basis. In order to facilitate that happening, I do not eat until I have posted (WARNING: This is not a good course of action for everyone! Eating disorders are a real thing for millions. Know yourself and your issues. Act responsibly!) For me it is putting my bad habit of overeating against my need to follow through on my positive. This requires a level of self-control but it is completely doable.
So if you are in need of a positive kick in the butt from yourself, try it. Don’t use your cellphone until you’ve gone for a walk or run in the morning. Don’t have that morning cup of coffee until you’ve done the laundry. The habits don’t even have to be “bad”. You just need to leverage the things that you do in order to have yourself take action on the things that you would normally skip. It can be a powerful tool if you’re willing to hold yourself to it.
We live in a modern world but humans are prehistoric creatures. Obviously we have acquired skills and knowledge that our ancestors did not have. So I am not suggesting that we are on their level in that respect but I do want to point out that we are using the same hardware. The same brain structure that caused us to run from saber-toothed tigers is now tasked with managing a world that moves faster than we were intended to go. We’re overwhelmed and stressed because we created an environment that stresses and overwhelms our prehistoric brains. This is not a blog to suggest that we go back to living in caves. Rather it is intended to point out the fact that there are limits on our bandwidth, therefore we must manage ourselves so the prehistoric brain does not go into overload.
The odd irony to our situation is actually that in a modern world, very few things are trying to kill you. This is an important thing to realize. Our prehistoric brain’s major functions were centered around keeping the self and the species alive. So things like fear and sex were major priorities, while general happiness was farther down the list. The world that we live in requires very little self/species preservation. Despite this fact, the “wiring” for the old world is still intact. So a modern “threat” feels very much like a situation of life or death without any of the true peril. The signals will continue to be sent in this fashion, until we are willing to “re-wire” ourselves.
This process is not like the re-wiring of house. It doesn’t require a professional or a lot of money but it does require time. Humans generally don’t change without time and/or major incentives. A methodical approach to managing your mind can go a long way to creating a better life for you. Regular practice at calming your prehistoric brain will go a long way. Taking the time to recognize that your response to situations is not based on what will help but rather things that are pre-programmed will help you to re-program those responses. Remember that you don’t have to act like a caveman even if you have the same operating system as one.
Go make history by reprogramming your prehistoric systems!
The 90s had many memorable events and people. Kurt Cobain, the OJ Simpson trial, Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton were all extremely noteworthy. Both for their own unique reasons and the media circus that followed them. It was not just that something happened but that it was perpetuated daily for probably longer than needed. One of the most ridiculous stories of the decade was the ice skating scandal involving rivals Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. For those too young to remember, the major event was an attack on Kerrigan’s knee orchestrated at least partially by Harding’s ex-husband. There was a movie released last year called “I, Tonya” that chronicles the entire episode.
Reality had to happen first in this case because even Hollywood could not have come up with a story as far fetched as this. It’s easy to look back at a time that was truly “last century” and chuckle. It’s no surprise that from such a chaotic decade sprang reality television. A weekly public reminder that even though your life might have problems, you can feel good about yourself in comparison to “those people”.
Seeing the problem is always so much easier when it belongs to someone else. Each of us has within ourselves the solutions to the problems of our friends and family members. However we all struggle with our own issues that seem so difficult. Time and distance both seem to have a clarifying effect on the problems of the world.
I’m sure that if the issue of youth soccer politics were someone else’s, each of us would have a plausible solution. Since it’s now and it’s close to us, the issues of last decade persist with even higher price tags. Children are pawns and commodities in a game that has nothing to do with soccer but rather egos and territoriality. This coming fall, an unknown number of player who want to play soccer will not have a team. Not due to a lack of resources. Not due an insurmountable distance to travel. The deciding factor will be a focus on “our club” rather than the kids. These players end up being acceptable casualties to a soccer culture that is focused on prizes that are apparent and available now.
In so many ways we are now reaping the rewards of our fast food culture. Rampant obesity, depression, anxiety and others are all symptoms of the NOW culture that we’ve begun to accept as normal. Even though many people recognize that the ultimate prizes come from long term commitment to small improvements made over years or decades, it is so much easier to sell the cash grab of today. Risking that small and almost insignificant prize of the short term seems to be almost unbearable.
So I implore you. Yep! I’m talking directly to you because as I said last week, if the USMNT doesn’t win a World Cup by/in 2026, It’s my fault! So I need some help. If you have anything to do with youth soccer in this country. Take the long term view. See how more kids playing is better for them and better for “US”. Understand that letting your best player move on to a more appropriate team may hurt your record slightly but it could also be the opportunity that makes that player’s life better, both on and off the field. Realize that your small pond is not actually a pond. It’s part of a more expansive body. Trying to keep it separate is an exercise in futility and may cause its destruction when the wrong current comes along. BE the first person to do the right thing. It’s often difficult because there is a culture of short sightedness. People are so used to being hurt that they are either on attack or defense, rarely in a mode to assess. And more than ever that’s what needs to happen.
I’m sure if this was someone else’s problem, we’d have it all figured out but it’s not. It’s ours and it’s close to our hearts. So we get blinded by the shiny thing that’s right in front of us but I swear the bigger jewels are down the road. The hardest part is foregoing the prize of now because it feels like everything.
It’s so common to us that we are almost blind to it at this point. The release of the latest version of something. Whether it’s a car, an app for the phone or a video game; the old version is eventually replaced by the latest version. Sometimes this comes with huge upgrades that revolutionize the way that we think about the product. Other times it messes up something that was working to our liking. The thing is that even if we don’t see the changes, they’re happening all the time.
It’s so much easier to understand with technology especially. The cellphone does not change shape or size when you add a new app or update it. It simply acquires the new programming and moves on. Often bugs need to be fixed but I’m pretty certain that Bill Gates does not lament the fact that Windows 7.1 was not as good as Windows 10.2. There is an understanding that each new version is intended to build upon the past.
In a very similar way, here you are. Version 2018.193 of yourself. You may look at yourself as the same person that you’ve always been but that’s most definitely not true. You’ve learned new things since version 2015.125 (after the decimal is the number of days past in that year). The question becomes whether or not you want to just maintain what is working or truly upgrade. Unlike Windows, you’re not going to be rereleased. Your bug fixes and big upgrades have to all happen at the same time. AND YOU ARE THE LEAD DEVELOPER! Only you can make changes to the system.
So what is the latest version of you going to look like? Is it just like today’s you but with a few more miles worn off the treads? I hope not. I hope that you believe that you are capable of a big jump. A leap from the version that you are today to the version that you’ve always wanted to be. My hope is that you’re making the plans and putting in the code to launch yourself to a whole new level. So that people who haven’t seen you in a while will take notice to the fact that the latest version of you is a huge upgrade!
Most of the time soccer is a noun but today I’m going to use it as a verb. Of course when you are creating a new word, it’s important to define it. Here is my explanation of the term.
The action of “soccering” is not the act of playing soccer. We already know how to say and do that. And NO! It doesn’t mean acting like you’re injured when no one did anything to you. The action of soccering is the real life application of the virtues that are possessed within the game. In soccer, players must make real time decisions about what to do, based on the stimuli that they take in from both teammates and opponents in order to achieve the outcomes of simultaneously reaching a goal while defending their own. The soccer paradigm puts the impetus of decision onto eleven individuals acting as a collective rather than following the pre-scripted orders of an overseer. Although positioning and style of play may be directed, principles and judgment are the main directors of decisions.
America needs to soccer! It needs to take back the very impetus that this country was founded upon. Regular people doing things as a collective that move us all forward and protect us against failing. We need regular citizens who want to be self-determining within the existing system and help to influence that system. At the moment we seem to be overwhelmingly passive and extremely willing to look for someone else to be accountable rather than looking to be responsible ourselves.
We can soccer by trying to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. We can soccer by changing our perspective from a “they” to “we” mentality. We can soccer by doing the right thing even if we know that no one else will notice but us. We can soccer by deciding to take a chance on something that might not work, rather than doing it “the way we’ve always done it.” There are so many ways to soccer but the thing about soccering is that it has to start with you. You can’t tell someone else to soccer. You can only show them how by doing it first and being an example.
Below is a long description of the historical paradigms where this thought came from. If you are inspired to do something right now, then don’t read the bottom, act now, read later.
Why do I believe that America needs to soccer? The historical successes of the United States have in large part been attributed to a football paradigm. Land acquisition and forward progress are the hallmarks of the All-American sport. In the past, both politically and economically, we have pushed forward in the name of progress and it has served us well. Manifest Destiny is the perfect example. Presidents and other decision-makers laid out a playbook for the American people to score a touchdown on the Pacific coast. Americans led the charge across the continent through wars and promised economic success, the way football players might listen to a play called from the sidelines. The Space Race, the Arms Race, the Cold War and Industrial Revolution were all perfectly suited to the football paradigm. So why change?
The reason for change is that the football paradigm is fundamentally flawed in a few different areas. The idea of neverending progress is unrealistic. At some point stock prices level off, profits decline and progress slows and stops. In a paradigm that preaches forward motion as the truest indicator of success, it is not surprising that we have: insider trading, big CEO bonuses for bailed out companies and strategic layoffs to protect profits. Individuals, companies and the government have all pushed toward their given marker of success whether it be money, land, power or prestige. These success markers are not inherently evil or negative but their acquisition without thought to the human equation has created an imbalance in our perspective on success.
There are also the separations in the football paradigm. The coach is the one who calls the plays. The offense scores the points and the defense stops the other team. Although all are members of the same team, it is easy to point the finger at another individual or group when things go wrong. In the Industrial Revolution this system was completely acceptable. Henry Ford brought forth the assembly line. He took men who were making fifty cents per day and paid them five dollars per day because of his efficiency. People were more than willing to be a cog in that machine because it was a better life than what they expected. They were linemen but were happy to be that. Now with modern technology and globalization that deal doesn’t work anymore. That deal is being shipped overseas and no one wants to be a lineman anymore. Everyone thinks they’re a quarterback and expects to be paid like one.
America needs to soccer because you’re part of the problem and part of the solution. You’re on the field. The decisions that you make on a daily basis matter. The President, the senator, the governor, your boss, your wife, your children, your friends, your teachers are part of it all but so are you. So before you point the finger, point the thumb. What can you do today to SOCCER?
Fantasy sports are a popular pass time for many people. It is no longer a young male adult game but something that any sports fan can attempt. For me, the only one that has ever held my attention was fantasy football. The scoring is easy to follow and the games are only once per week. The concept behind fantasy sports is a simple one, try to compile the best team that you can in order to earn the most points each week. There are many different perspectives on drafting players but the overwhelming concept is filling your team with as many “superstars/point getters” as you possibly can.
I have friends and colleagues who spend hours or even days planning out their draft selections. These choices are important. Getting the right players off the bench each week and into the game is the key to survival. It is natural for players to be dropped to the bench or even released from the team when more desirable players are available.
It’s easy to see when talking about sports and fantasy that compiling the best team in order to win is important. That you would drop players that are holding you back and look to add players that will bring you forward. Why don’t we do the same thing with our friends and acquaintances?
In many ways our friends are part of our team. They not only support us but they also shape us. There are acceptable norms within relationships. Depending on your friend group, it may be unacceptable for you to smoke cigarettes. Or if you are part of a different group, it may be expected that you smoke. These acceptable norms are not limited to simple things like smoking. They extend out to your expectations of life.
When you add a player like Tom Brady to your fantasy team, you do it because he is going to get you closer to what you want because he’s an all-star. Take a look at your friends. Are they all-stars? Are they helping you get to where you want to go? Do they hold you back?
Like it or not, your friends are influencing who you are. Did you pick them consciously and for the right reasons? Are you going in the same direction? Can you get where you want to go with them around?
Perhaps some of your friends need to be put on the bench or cut from the team. This should not be a decision that is made quickly. People can serve all kinds of purposes, so do your homework on why your friends are your friends.
Also in a very real sense the internet has made fantasy football possible when it comes to the people who influence you. In the past, you might have been limited to your town or school. Now you can listen to leaders of almost any kind, speak about almost any topic. Who are you listening to today?
In this extremely fast paced world, it’s easy to get distracted from that which is important in favor of that which seems important. It is the reason why we make shopping lists and set reminders for ourselves. Getting caught up in the moment is not only normal, it seems to be a way of life. Despite all of the technological and societal distractions, it would seem as though we might have accidentally thrown out all of our babies in order to make room for more bathwater. Perhaps it is time to decide what is truly important and focus on it.
There are plenty of people who will get married this year. They will painstaking search for a great venue, a photographer, delicious food, the right guest-list and register for the perfect gifts. But before they did all of that hard work, they forgot to find someone worth spending their life with.
We have access to amazing communication devices in our pockets and at our fingertips. There is the capability to reach the other side of the world, translate to almost any language and do it instantaneously. But we rarely say things that mean much of anything. There is so much coming at us that it all becomes devalued. We tend to only listen in order to respond, not to understand or empathize.
Students and teachers are no longer bound by the bricks in the walls of their buildings. All facts are available at a moment’s notice and the greatest minds are within reach. Yet our young people are worried about grades that will soon not matter and facts that have little value. The word educate comes from the root educe which means to bring out or develop. The cramming information in might not be the best way to draw out our young people’s genius.
These are just three examples where we seem to be so caught up in the process that we have forgotten why the process was invented. When broken down to the core, the world is a relatively simple place. We are here to survive first. Once that is taken care of we look to progress and we do both more effectively together. So get back to the core of what you do and why it is done at all. If you are in school, then learn, regardless of the grades. If you’re in a relationship, then relate, give of yourself and be willing to be changed. The superficialities of life can only sustain us for so long. Our true progress depends on depth of experience and it needs to be found again. Right now are you focused on ANYTHING BUT THE THINGS THAT MATTER?
If you’re here, that means one or more of a few things:
you have a problem with people telling you what not to do
you have a selective reading issue where you miss certain words
you clicked on it by mistake
you sensed that there was more to this than the title
I’m going to assume the final one because it will get us farther faster!
The ability to see past the obvious and simple solution is not one that everyone possesses. Judging books by their covers or even first chapters is not always the best strategy. Not everything in the world is completely formulaic. Even some chemical formulas require a catalyst to increase the rate of their reaction. Despite these facts, there is a solid majority of people that believe the obvious answer is the only possible answer. One of the main reasons is that it is comfortable. Comfort is probably the ethos of our age. So the reason that I asked you not to read this blog is that I want you act on it.
I’m asking you to be uncomfortable, see past the past and act in spite of any past failures that you might have. We’ve all got something: talking to that special someone, losing weight, making the team, starting a business, writing a book or whatever. At this point it has been written off. You’ve either failed sever times or not tried because you believe that you can’t. Either way make me (or anything else that you choose) your excuse. You need to give that thing another go. Not because you’re guaranteed success this time but because it’s still inside of you somewhere. I don’t really care if you give up on a goal. I just don’t want you to ever give up on yourself.
Every moment is a new opportunity. Pile up the dead carcasses of your past selves and make a staircase to take you to the place where you know that you can get. If you believe that you’re who you’ve always been, that’s exactly who you’ll continue to be. But if you believe, even for a second, that you can be different. You can be stronger, more determine, resourceful, patient, caring, aggressive or anything else that you’ve failed to be in the past. That’s not who you are! That’s who you were! Today, right now before you finish reading. Take a step! No! Take a leap and move yourself forward. The you from six months in the future is BEGGING for you to do it! Because he/she doesn’t want to be where you are now. They want to be five miles down the road or ten thousand dollars richer or in a relationship. So now I’m BEGGING! Don’t read this blogpost! Live it! Step up and out into the world that you deserve and not the one that you’ve grown accustomed to. DON’T READ! DO!