“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
I really like this clip (for the full video, go to MotivationGrid). I know a lot people don’t like publicly sharing their dreams for a variety of reasons, but I can’t help but think the biggest reason is fear — fear of being laughed at, fear of being told they can’t do it, fear of not really believing themselves that they can do it.
Connor MacGregor’s dreams were ridiculous. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s dreams were ridiculous. The Wright brothers’ dreams were ridiculous.
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
― Abraham Lincoln
Given that it’s been a while since I posted anything here, my intent was to write something eloquent and meaningful — in other words, something completely different from my previous posts.
But as I was doing some other work — work that actually pays the bills — a video came on that grabbed my attention (often, when I’m in my office, I’ll play YouTube videos, sometimes for motivation and sometimes just for background music or sound).
Before I discuss the video, though, a little background information is in order.
Contrary to the view of Charles Barkley in the famous — or infamous, depending on your point of view — 1993 Nike commercial, I’ve always wanted to be a role model and to help people if/when I could. In fact, this desire in me is so strong that psychologists even have a name for it — the “savior complex”.
According to the People Skills Decoded website, “The savior complex is a psychological construct which makes a person feel the need to save other people. This person has a strong tendency to seek people who desperately need help and to assist them, often sacrificing their own needs for these people.”
Now, lest you think I believe this is a good thing and that I start each day with a smile on my face for being such a great person — I don’t. In truth, I think my need to make people happy is often counterproductive and even destructive… which brings me back to the video.
It’s three and a half minutes long and features Will Smith discussing the difference between fault and responsibility. The whole thing is worth listening to, but the part that really got me was when Smith said: “Your heart, your life, your happiness is your responsibility and your responsibility alone.”
You will face your greatest opposition when you are closest to your biggest miracle.
— Shannon L. Alder
I’ll be rooting for the New England Patriots today.
Not because I’m a fan, mind you — I’m a Seattle native and a longtime Denver resident — so rooting against the Patriots has felt as natural as wheezing in the Mile High City’s thin air after a five-block run… not that I would ever attempt such a ridiculous feat.
No, I’ll be cheering on New England for a different reason — to celebrate success.
Since Sept. 30, 2001, when a 24-year-old Tom Brady took over as the starting quarterback from Drew Bledsoe, who was injured in the previous game, the Patriots have accumulated a 220-65 regular season record and have been to the playoffs 16 times — with a 29-10 record and five Lombardi trophies to show for their efforts.
In the new millennium, no other team has even come close to that level of achievement. New England’s 29 postseason wins since 2000 is nearly double the 15 recorded by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, who are tied for second. In fact, the Patriots’ all-time playoff winning percentage (they were 7-10 prior to the arrival of Brady and head coach Bill Belichick) is the highest in history.
Think about that. The Patriots have a higher postseason win rate (64.3 percent) than the Green Bay Packers (60.7 percent), San Francisco 49ers (60.0 percent), Pittsburgh (59.0 percent) and Dallas Cowboys (55.6 percent).
As former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson might say: “How ‘bout them Patriots?”
Yet, despite this, the boys from Boston are largely despised.
A 2017 poll found that not only was New England the most disliked team in the NFL (right ahead of the Cowboys — sorry, Jimmy), the Patriots were thought of “negatively” by 42 percent of the poll respondents as well.
Of course, folks will come up with all kinds of reasons for the lack of love — from the Patriots videotaping opponents to deflating their balls — but I think most people abhor Brady and his New England teammates for one reason: they’re too good.
And being too successful is a red flag to many in our country.
In a column that appeared in The Washington Post, authors Charles Mathewes and Evan Sandsmark viewed this as a good thing and lamented the fact that attitudes on the subject seem to be changing.
“We used to think that having vast sums of money was bad and in particular bad for you — that it harmed your character, warping your behavior and corrupting your soul. We thought the rich were different, and different for the worse,” they wrote.
“Today, however, we seem less confident of this. We seem to view wealth as simply good or neutral, and chalk up the failures of individual wealthy people to their own personal flaws, not their riches. Those who are rich, we seem to think, are not in any more moral danger than the rest of us.”
Mathewes and Sandsmark aren’t speaking out of their rear orifices either. According to a 2012 Pew Research Center poll, 55 percent of the U.S. population believed rich people were “more likely” to be greedy, while 34 percent believed they were “less likely” to be honest.
Yet, recent surveys also show that over half the country’s adult population plays state lotteries — presumably so they too can become greedy and dishonest.
This is especially amazing when one considers that, according to yet another poll (sorry for going George Gallup on everybody) only 13 percent of Americans say “being wealthy” is “very important to them.”
So, is there confusion over the lottery prizes? Do people think winning Powerball means a free package of Slim Jims and a Big Gulp? (Granted, I’d play for that, but only because I really like Slim Jims for their artery-clogging properties.)
Tom Brady is a good-looking guy with a model wife, a lot of money and seemingly ageless talent. The New England Patriots are a football dynasty in a salary-cap system specifically designed to prevent such dynasties.
Far from booing the Patriots, we should all be cheering them.
Brady was a sixth-round draft choice said to be too “skinny” and lacking “physical stature and strength,” while Belichick toiled for 15 years as an assistant coach before getting his first NFL head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns — where he was promptly fired after five years and a 36-44 overall record.
Frankly, I’d be happy to share a package of Slim Jims and a Big Gulp with either one of them — but they’re paying.
“Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.”
Because I’ve been so busy trying to get my new website up and running (more on that in a future post), I’ve been working a lot of hours. Consequently, prior to this evening, I hadn’t been to the gym in three days — a rarity for me.
But after my workout tonight, I was left wondering if longer breaks might, in fact, be a good thing. Not for the first time, I was amazed by how good I felt. My typical aches and pains were gone and I was tossing the weights around like fish at the Pike Place Market.
Even complete strangers noticed.
After one of my sets on the bench press, a guy nodded at me. “What was that,” he asked, “30 reps?”
“35,” I responded. (He later told me he’d just been released from prison, making me question the wisdom of correcting his math — but, damn it, don’t short me reps!)
According to bodybuilder Chris Zaino, rest is a key to making constant progress and, perhaps more importantly, avoiding injuries. Zaino suggests taking a week off after every 2-2 ½ months of steady training.
“After 8-10 weeks of continued training, you should give yourself a whole week off to fully recuperate. Physically, this will help the body heal any minor strains, sprains, tears, and joint pain you may have or are on the road to having,” wrote Zaino on the bodybuilding.com website. “It is not always that easy for a compulsive fitness warrior, such as many of you readers’ out there, to allow yourselves to take the time off. Some people may fear they will ‘de-condition’ if they take a week off.
“Trust me you will not. It takes around 3-4 weeks of total inactivity for your muscles to start atrophying, or breaking down muscle tissue. In fact, I guarantee that you will come back stronger and more refreshed than ever,” Zaino said.
Tanner Baze, a writer at brobible.com (with a website name like that, you know you can trust the guy), was even more adamant. After training two hours a day non-stop for an extended period of time, Baze discussed a beach vacation he took.
He noted that he “drank a ton of beer, ate enough Whataburger to clog up 5 toilets, and didn’t do a damn thing but sit in a lawn chair on the beach.”
“I didn’t do anything that amounted to physical activity other than carry a cooler,” Baze wrote. “I came back into the gym the next week and had pretty much accepted that I’d lost all my gains thanks to that beach trip.
“What I noticed was that I was actually stronger than I was before I left. Not only was I stronger, but my nagging little injuries were nonexistent,” Baze concluded.
Minus the Whataburger issues, I can totally relate to what Baze said. That is exactly what I experienced tonight.
So, the next time I skip going to the gym, I won’t feel guilty. I’ll just tell myself I’m taking a much-needed rest.
Now, if I could only find a legitimate reason to eat pie…
“I do the very best I can to look upon life with optimism and hope and looking forward to a better day.”
One of the toughest things about doing a blog like this is that I can’t always be completely upfront about everything that happens in my life — at least not as it is happening. (Obviously, discussing certain things requires diplomacy.)
That said, the whole intent of this project is, as I wrote at the outset, “… to document my life’s journey over the next year, as I attempt to redefine my life goals.”
This entails that I be as forthcoming as possible, that I share the good, the bad and the ugly. My biggest complaint about so many self-help/motivational books, blogs and videos is that the daily, weekly and even monthly struggles are typically glossed over — not because the authors are disingenuous, necessarily, but because they are relating their stories after the fact.
I don’t want to do that.
So, let’s just say that I received some very bad news this morning — news relating to the article I did on excuses. There are also some things in my personal life that are weighing on me today, making it what I call a “grind day”.
What is that, you ask (and if you didn’t, please just play along)? It’s one of those days that you just do what you need to do to achieve your long-term objectives — you grind, you persevere, you “man up”.
Yeah, today was a bust, but Annie assures me that the sun will come out tomorrow.
“Today I escaped from anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions — not outside.”
So, I saw this today:
Now, I know my view on this will be unpopular with some, but I fail to see how showing one’s vulnerability in times of crisis — emotional or otherwise — is helpful. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want to be on a plane headed to the ground at 9.8 meters per second squared and hear the pilot blubbering over the intercom about his anxieties, especially if those anxieties include guilt over fudging his flight school records.
Look, I’m not trying to be insensitive here. I’ve been known to get teary-eyed watching Hallmark Christmas movies, so I’m not exactly John Wayne, but I think a certain degree of stoicism is a good thing. As the great football coach Lou Holtz once said: “Don’t tell your problems to people — eighty percent don’t care; and the other twenty percent are glad you have them.”
Personally, I’m inspired by both men and women that can “man up,” that don’t flinch when the going gets tough. As a society, we used to admire such people; many of us — myself included — wanted to emulate them.
When I was a little kid, the Six Million Dollar Man was a popular television series. It was about a former astronaut named Steve Austin — not the wrestler — who, after a tragic accident, was rebuilt with various bionic parts, which gave him superhuman strength and speed. If you think Usain Bolt is fast, you should’ve seen Austin back in the day. The dude could run over 60 miles per hour — in bell-bottom jeans, no less!
I wanted to be just like Austin.
So, one day, I put a bunch of cardboard under my clothes, along with some random wires — which I was convinced would make me bionic — and I hit the neighborhood streets, imploring my friends to throw rocks at me.
Sure, looking back I can see some flaws in that plan, but, at the time, I was pretty sure I was going to be lauded as a hero when the rocks bounced off me. Perhaps I’d even get my own television series!
My friends were tentative at first, concerned that I would get hurt — but my confidence soon won them over and rocks began whizzing about like flies around six-day-old meatloaf. I think even some of the parents got involved, but my bionic eye had swelled shut by then, so I couldn’t be sure.
Suffice it to say that I learned I wasn’t the Six Million Dollar Man that day — although my gallop back to the house (and safety) may have reached Austin-like levels.
“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.”
―Edward R. Murrow
It’s been a very eventful past couple of days. And, during those 48 hours, I was reminded why so many self-help books miss the mark. We’re always told that there are “no excuses” for not getting fit, finding love or making oodles of money… yet, there are.
A friend of mine, who is studying to be a doctor, recently told me that he’s had trouble making it to the gym on a regular basis, and it bothered him. Well, yeah, that’s the reality of going to medical school — time is limited.
Even “fit mom” Maria Kang, who drew the ire of many for her “What’s Your Excuse” mantra after giving birth to her third child in 2013, subsequently realized that the playing field is not always even — sometimes there are valid reasons why people fall short of their goals.
After separating from her husband (not sure where that stands now guys, so, by all means, barrage her with e-mails and pictures of you shirtless in the gym) and dealing with depression, Kang took to Instagram to express her remorse.
… I am 10lbs [sic] up since I shot that ‘What’s Your Excuse’ photo! So here I am,” she wrote, in part. “This is a raw photo with absolutely no retouching, no preparation and no shame. I’m finding my beauty again, I’m discovering my strength again and I’m relearning what it means to be brave, bold and unapologetic about where I am in my life’s journey.
Suffice it to say, the photo, which has since been deleted, was hardly the stuff of nightmares, but folks seemed to appreciate Kang’s softened tone.
In my own case, I know my career has been hurt by the fact that I can’t easily relocate from my home in Colorado. If it was just me I could live in my car — which is one of those tiny Smart cars, built for Hobbits — down by the river, but I have a family to think of. As a result, I’ve had to turn down a lot of potential opportunities. Some days, the “what ifs” haunt me like Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart”.
Today is one of those days.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that one should throw in the towel or use excuses — even legitimate ones — to justify failure. Ultimately, I believe, as Michael Jordan does, that “obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
I will do just that. But, today, I will ponder why I took the road less traveled by and how different my life might be if I’d taken a surer path.