Sunday, August 17, 2014

Entries Throughout A Book About My Hero

Everything written below was a collection of thoughts and feelings that reopened while reading my new book.


Since I started my new book, "Paterno Legacy," written by Joe's son Jay, a lot of emotions have recently stirred up.   Some that I probably buried intentionally, some that I didn't even realize faded away.   Within the first few pages, like a new pair of prescription glasses, I started see things differently.  Different but not new, old actually.   Thoughts and feelings that I buried away through pain and failures, of my own and then again when the scandal broke in November of 2011.  Maybe how some Catholics felt when the scandals involving the priests broke, their religion shook, maybe their foundation was in danger. Mine was.  I never realized how much Joe Paterno and the standards he set on and off the field were my religion, my foundation.  I've always been the kind of person that needed role models and heros, and Joe Paterno was always mine. So again, November 2011 changed it all and then when he passed a few months later, a lot changed for me.  I never really thought of myself as a "football guy," I was a "JoePa guy."    

I've been wearing navy blue and white for as long as I can remember.  First it was the logo of the Nittany Lion that had me hooked around 10 years old... Then I saw the helmets and the black Nikes while everyone else wore white or something flashy.   Then the solid colored jerseys w no names on the back.  Just the team.  Guys stood out, but there was stan no I, just team. 
Then as I grew up a bit and watched more Saturday afternoon football, I saw his black polished Nikes, the rolled up dress pants (because he didn't want to ruin them or make more work at home for his wife to clean) and the coke bottle glasses... A small man, leading a team.  Later I learned he not only lead the team, but the city and university and in some ways college football as a whole.
So as new and old thoughts and feelings float around, I'll be logging them below and possibly by the end of the book, I'll have figured something out about myself.

Day 1 
For the past couple years, everytime I wore a TShirt or hat or shorts, a joke soon followed by nearly anyone near... Makes me kinda wish I didn't come across so friendly.  A meaner mug would've deterred their ignorance.  
But it actually shows what a poor job done by the media.  I asked someone "remember the guys name who was found guilty?"  They didn't.  All they remembered was the scandal and headlines, the name and the face of the football program, which was never accused of any crime, or subject of any investigation, and handed over any and all info immediatly upon receiving it.  
How easy it is to forget facts and logic when scandal and conspiracies are so much more fun to talk about.

Day 2
I'm a little ashamed w myself that I've allowed my dreams to fade.  When I was younger, all I wanted was to find that one school, one team and never leave.  I wanted to emulate and teach, just as Joe did. I've let politics and society take that from me, I've let them weaken my vision... And the funny thing, to me now, is that it never faded, it was just buried away underneath the rules of their (politics and society) game. 
 I think you do have to have a rebellious soul and fearless heart to follow a dream through, a vision for a lifetime.  

Day 3
I wonder where our standards as a society started to slide.  Is it human instinct to push the boundaries of rules or to challenge traditions?  
Maybe in a lot of ways, things were better in the past....
The ones that I work with consistently don't really fall under this next statement, but look at teenagers these days (how old do I sound now?  Jeez).  But I don't see the drive or passion for athletics that I once did and I think that's a sign as to where things are headed.  Athletics are a great teaching tool for work ethic, team work, and goal setting.  If that's not as strong as it once was, is it safe to say we may be slipping into a lazier, sloppier brand of society?  
I think people used to want to change to become better.  Now they want change to make it easier.  
It's ok to have high standards in everything you do, in fact, you should.  I think kids now (in certain areas) look down on those who abide by rules and get straight A's.  I blame society (whoever society is) for making the Kardashians cool, or reporting on Justin Beibers driving record and following Miley Cyrus through a mall.  
Role models and heros are pretty hard to find these days. 

Day 4
Ironically, the topic of heros just came up when I watched Phil Knights speech at Joe Paternos memorial service on YouTube. He talked about having heros his entire life and had Joe for the last 12 years.  When Joe passed, he wondered "where will I find my hero now?"  
I assume feeling how I feel... Are there any left?  Where to look...

Day 5
It's funny reading locker room stories... Hearing the voices and playing out the scenes in your mind.
I definitely started coaching way too young.  I think I was 23 or so when I had my first taste and even though I think I was brought along properly in year 1 and 2, my head definitely inflated much too fast and for absolutely no reason.  I went from a scout to a head middle school coach to thinking I was ready for a head hs job... Typical me.  Then I coached a few more years in middle schools before heading up to varsity level... Unfortunately, still too young, still too big of a head and a total pain in the ass for the head coach.  But within a couple years, I was running defenses and finally started to settle down.  Getting your ass handed to you a few times is an extremely humbling experience and when your fancy little playbook takes a dump on a Friday night, it'll cause you to stay up late wondering what went wrong... And that's where the growing begins.   The best thing that ever happened to me was coaching those 1-9 and 2-8 teams.  (And for the record, probably my most memorable years and some of the most talented players I've ever coached).  
As Joe Paterno would say "Youth is a disease... Luckily, it's curable."  Experience is the cure.  For me, coaching is about teaching and preparing young people for life.  At 24, I had very few teachable experiences. Yes, I was still firey and intense, but lacked patience and empathy.
When you're young, you're cocky and you blast off with all this cocky energy.  But as you travel, those cocky rocket boosters fall away and now you're running on your real fuel and you find out who you really are. 
I learned that X's and O's aren't that important.  Every coach has them.   
I learned that you have to coach every kid on the team, not just the studs and not just the guys you relate to. Actually, now I probably give more attention to back ups than starters.   Plus backups usually work harder and want it more.  
I learned that every day, every drill is a chance to teach a lesson, some more lasting than others, but an opportunity anyway.   Don't waste the time.  That's why I credit those losing seasons.  As far as outsiders were concerned, we had nothing to play for.  But for us, we were playing to play hard.  To be in games.  To be respectable. In a backwards way, I think I loved being behind.  I loved looking up at the clock and thinking "only down 2 scores... Let's get a turnover and rally back," and then bring the guys in, speak from the heart and get their excitement up for the challenge... Dammit I miss that.  What I loved most about this team was their work ethic.  We had games where we were slaughtered, around 56-6 or something like that, and although it hurt that night and probably over the weekend, come Monday afternoon, we were back to work, full go. You'd never guess what the result was from the week prior.
 I coached a championship level teams few years after that and it didn't have the same appeal.  Still awesome kids, really good talent, but the wins hurt them.  The blowout victories, as good as they were hurt them.  And I knew heading into the playoffs that we'd be punished for not being battle tested... We had no battle scars.  So I knew when we faced a fire, it would be a new heat that we weren't accustomed to... How would we react?   
All in all... The majority of the guys faired well, real well, but football needs 11 players on both sides of the ball and we just didn't have enough.   Still no regrets.  Once I dropped my "rocket boosters," and became a coach, I haven't regretted a job yet.  
My only regret is that I'm not out there this year.  I've realized recently that it's the only place I truly belong.  Unfortunately, it's extremely difficult to lock up w a team when you're not a teacher.  Teachers and faculty get first dibs on contracts, understandably so, but I usually get a call in the summer like "hey, we need help on D," and I'm off.  This year, I declined for the sake of work... Ugh.   
(Pathetic job hunt:if there are any schools out there looking for a weight room instructor or any other paid position,  I'm your guy!  Email jason@bluechipstrength.com and I'll send a resume).
Obviously, my goal is to find one school and never leave.  To coach there for 40+ years.
Sidenote: I know I talk a lot of junk from time to time about what coaches should be, but I can honestly say that I've been extremely lucky to coach w some great guys.  Some may have yelled a bit too much or some may have been a little too soft, but all in all, the guys I've coached with always wanted to see the kids succeed.  I may not have appreciated them the way I should have and I'm sorry.   There were times where we'd debate or argue and that's needed.  We were never "yes men," to each other, we always challenged each other and that's important when you're trying to grow and come up w new ideas and to hold the ones accountable.   We may have made mistakes in a decision but never in full.  

Day 6
When my girls were younger, they knew the "kitty cat," logo.  The blue and white Nittany Lion logo of Penn State.  I wish it lasted long enough for them to see why. Why the logo was at every turn, on all my shirts, shorts, on pillows, glasses, stickers, and books. 
I'll tell stories down the road and maybe they'll sound how someone now talks about JFK or another great figure of the 50's or 60's.  We can tell the stories, but the feelings will never be properly captured.  

Day 7
Should it really take this long to read a book??
I've never been a quick reader... And with this one, I might be dragging my feet.  
I've heard people talk about their books and how they can escape to their fantasy land that the author lays out, they see the landscape and hear the voices... Smell the scent and feel as much as possible... Which asks the question "if it happens in your head, is that just as real as real?"
So here, w this book, I get to go back to Happy Valley everytime I open it up... Unfortunately, I know the ending.  I'm hanging on though, hoping the author is able to write something that changes history...

Day 8 
(Promise, I'll wrap up soon)
I was beginning to wonder how or when any of this will tie into anything you can relate to.  At first glance, it might look like some nutty guy, rambling away about his hero, on and on.  But then I remembered an interview that was going so-so until I was stuck on a question and my answer was "this might not make sense, but I am a Joe Paterno guy."  The interviewer broke a huge smile and said "I completely understand.. Say no more." And from there it went from interview to conversation and I was hired. 
I think it's a real possibility, that my work, my blogs, everything I've done, has been in attempt to say that same phrase, "I'm a Joe Paterno guy."
What does that mean? This is the hang up, because I really don't think too much about talking about myself or what I think I've done, I want the action to speak for themselves.  I think we should all want that for each other and ourselves.  Let your actions speak, "don't tell me - show me," type of mentality.  
It means being truthful, even when it hurts or it's not what you want to hear... A lesson hard learned. 
It means being fair, even when the outcome may not lean your way.
It means standing up for people that may not have a voice or not yet strong enough to use it. 

It means to think of WE, not ME... US, not I.  

Until Coach Paternos last days, all he wanted to see or help with, was the victims and the university.  He didn't quite know the university was preparing to isolate him and make him their goat. It was their PR move that the media w run with.  The media and the trustees found Joe Paterno guilty.  Guilty of not fulfilling a moral obligation, even though everything Joe knew was reported to the AD, the president of the university and then a grand jury and he was never once under investigation or found negligent.  He offered full disclosure at every turn and did the right thing.  It cost him his job and when his health slid away within months, you might say it cost his life.  He did the right thing, chose the right way, at every turn of his life, right til the end. 

 Day 9
This was a life changing book for me. 
It was a reminder back to the roots of my why.... Something I lost along the road.  
But it's clear again and I feel fresh air, new energy.  

I think there have been times where I've been too hard, too critical, too tough on others and myself and that's going to change.  We're all just people, constantly growing and moving and trying to do the best we can.  All we can do is be better today than we were yesterday.  Just little steps, over time make a big difference and I've often looked for too much, too fast.  Again, this book was a reminder as to what's important.  Here was a guy, one of the most powerful, most influential men in sports, in the world... That touched millions of people throughout his life and in his mind, he was just a football coach, father and grandfather.  

"You're never as good as your best or as bad as your worst."



(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Source: A Choice of Kipling's Verse (1943)

Watching practice

I can't put into words how good it felt to be in this building...

And witness my... Childhood?  I don't know.  I really can't explain it.  I could've moved here and just been an equipment guy and it would've been great just to be a part of it all.

Coach Paterno bringing out the guys before a game.
The outdoor practice field w Mount Nittany in the background.
The first time I saw Coach, I was standing near this field and my brother got my attention and motioned across the opposite field, and he was just standing there, looking out at the same range.  Gray sweat shirt, khakis, white socks, black Nikes, just as I would've imagined.  I remember thinking it couldn't be him.., it can't be... He's just standing there, like us.  No security, no one bothering him, just walking.  I couldn't approach him that first year... Or second. I just walked where he walked and watched him.  Every drill he oversaw, every player he pulled aside, I was in the background.  I just wanted to experience what the Lion was all about, just a piece if that's all I could.
Year 3, I told myself "that's it, I'm making myself known to all coach, and definitely Joe."  I never dreamed it would be my last trip.  
I was primarily there to sit in on the strength & conditioning sessions.  Over the years, I annoyed the staff so much w emails and questions, they eventually gave me an open invite to come up and watch whenever I could.  One strength coach even offered a place to crash.  Probably 60-70% of my training program/style comes from Happy Valley and a guy the National Strength & Conditioning Assoc calls a "master," John Thomas.  He was my "Joe," in the weight room, if he said it, it was golden, written down, and repeated.  
Anyway, mission accomplished.  By the time I left, I was on a first name basis w nearly all coaches I shadowed and even had the chance to talk about my defensive schemes w their defensive guru, Tom Bradley... Obviously he liked it, my playbook was his playbook.  
I did eventually shake Joes hand... I've never been more nervous.  Walking up I remember being scared he'd ask me a question and I wouldn't know the answer or I would've be able to get his attention w other coaches around.  I said "it's an honor," shook his hand and immediately turned away and towards his view to watch what he was watching.  We were on the game field in Beaver Stadium.  He asked "what do you think?" 
 Please be asking about the team... Please be asking the team... Oh shit.
"Fast... Really fast."
He agreed "I think it's the fastest team we've ever had."
And that was all, and all I needed.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Random Rant on Coaching

Fall is definitely feeling here, which means my annual mood has arrived as well.  The mood... Not sure what it's called. I'm a little nit-picky, my standards are on alert, and I'm pretty quick to address any and all areas of concern and attempt to do so, again w high standards.  I hope this doesn't read all "uppity," but I think it's something we all need to do, address our standards, assess ourselves, and raise our standards.  If we're not sticking to a core set of beliefs, of rights and wrongs with the intent to help and better people... What are we doing?

(Sidenote: I've been without internet for a couple days, thank you Time Warner for the excellent service, so I'm writing this on my iPhone.  Please excuse any typos or incorrect autocorrects that slip by).

1) I'm not very confident the best coaching candidates are teachers anymore.  At one time, yes, but not now.  I think there are too many angles, too much politics.  A coach can't be honest and complete if he's worrying about being undermined by the principle or another member of the faculty and unfortunately, it happens much more than you know.  I was part of a staff once that needed a serious overhaul in their strength & conditioning department. So I volunteered to run the off-season... For free.  The "staff," decided they had to go w the guy the school hired, who had zero lifting/training experience and recvd his cert at a weekend seminar, but in going a him "it would create less waves."  Was a decision made there to benefit the kids and the team?  Or to appease the AD and the board?
If a school wants to have good coaches, they need to have a better interview process, better pay and then observe from a distance.  Once the trust is there, step away and let the coach, coach.  I've worked w too many coaches who made decisions based on a conversation they thought they would have if they decided "x," over "y."

2) The role of the coach is very, very underrated.  I think it's most effective when there's some distance, to follow up my above point.  The kids already deal w family and teachers, those avenues are covered.  When the kids have another route, an alternate method of communication and expression, in an actual arena they enjoy (athletics), the opportunity for truth and expression thrive and blossom.  Many, many times I've know I was in the middle of a talk that just didn't happen anywhere else.  On the field w the guys, there's an honesty, a genuine innocence that is often lost in the chaos of their usual adolescent lives.  Being an open and honest communicator can change lives.

3) Too many coaches/parents/teachers are too worried about being cool.  They want to be the cool teacher, the cool mom, the cool coach that the kids can swear in front of and talk trash about othe adults and be disrespectful.   
The level of professionalism has fallen off greatly over the last 20 years.  The things I've heard coaches say, my coaches never would've said, or at least not out loud or in front of us.  There's no place in sports for an adult coach to unnecessary profanity. Yes, there may be a moment where a very timely "bullshit," can help strike a point home, but this language should never be used as common communication.

4) Coaches love to preach about standards but few challenge themselves to raise their own.  I never understood coaches who preach living a healthy life while walking around 150lbs over weight.  I completely understand the issues involved and the struggles we go through, remember what I do for a living, I'm just saying this person shouldn't be the one running conditioning drills or making decisions for pregame dinner. 

5) A lot of coaches, coach with their "dad," on their shoulder or someone in their ear... Stop worrying about pleasing someone else and develop your own voice.  Don't be an imitation.  Be you.  If you succeed while perfecting your imitation... Will there be any satisfaction in that?
Trust me, I went through this.  My first years, I was a mix of myself w a good dose of my coach and it took me a long time to just become ME.  Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong, but it's me and I'd rather be wrong being myself than right being someone else. 

6) Dont be afraid to ask for help.  If you're in over your head, get help.  If you can't do the job, there's no shame in removing yourself or stepping back.  Again, this is a very valuable position, often w the responsibility of helping raise 10-100 young men and women, it's not your hobby, it's a profession. 

7) Don't encourage or promote macho, alpha dog bullshit.  Encourage empathy.  It's greatly missing in sports and in schools.  Your team, under your guidance can have a positive impact on the entire school and community.  Do it.  Make an impact.  

8) Knowing a sport well doesn't make you a coach.  Being great at screaming from the stands doesn't either.  You have to care for the welfare of kids and their future, not necessarily who they are now but who they'll be down the road.  If you have a great player, but his grades are aweful or he/she's in trouble off of the field/court, and you ignore that, you're not doing your job.   
Too many guys/gals are in the position to fulfill their own ego and not really doing the job.  In most cases I'd say "that's ok, you have to have the bad w the good," but not here.  The job is too important, I said at the top that's undervalued.  I know A LOT of people, I've read about 1000's of people that wouldn't be where they are without their coach stepping in off the field.
(To be honest, that's the spark that's lit my ass up recently.  I'm reading a book about a coach I forgot about... A coach I wrote off too soon... A guy that changed millions of lives, millions... Across the world, literally.  I'll write on this later).

9) It's not your hobby, it's your profession.  Don't just do it for the extra $3500. Don't just do it because you think it's cool.  Do it because your good, do it because you can reach kids and having value to offer.  It's not about X's and O's, it's not about wins and losses and playoffs, it's all about the kids.  It's about teaching life lessons while using these sports as our analogies. 
Both in coaching linebackers and training in the weight room, it's all about finding those parallels where i can draw lines between the now and how this will come into play in 5, 10, 2( years from now.  We talk about effort, finishing drills, paying attention the details, having passion and enthusiam, being a great teammate, being a great student, and having goals and vision.  Imagine how powerful this young student-athlete will be if they're mindful and practicing that above list...
Effort, finish the drill, attention to detail, passion and enthusiasm, great teammate, great student, goal driven.  That looks to me like the blue print for an awesome husband/wife, mother/father, business owner/employee, student/athlete.  
What I'm saying is, if all your time is wrapped up in coaching your starters to get that W and you forget all those moments with your entire team (ya coach, you need to coach the kids that aren't so good as well), then you're doing the school and the community a disservice.  
I've always looked at every coaching job as though I work for the families, the school and the city, because even though the paycheck comes from the board, the results of my efforts with the kids will effect everything they encounter now and in the future. 

Coach with:
Coach like it's your kid, your brother or sister.  Coach like your talking to yourself.  Teach them everything they'll need to know to be a successful, respectful member of this world.  
I have two daughters and I think "I'm effecting people that will encounter my daughters one day..." Think about that.  You're coaching kids that will deal w your kids or your mom or sister... What kind of impact are you having?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

15 minutes of the first random thoughts while I wait for Chinese take out on a Thursday

Amy's probably only person that gets the joke of that title....

I've been through, taken myself through some experiences that have resulted in a really awesome outlook... I don't see much or maybe anything, as competition.   And actually, when I feel someone attempting to compete, I kinda feel bad for them.  And I don't mean it in an athletic arena but more in a "I'm smarter than you, I'm bigger than you, I'm more successful than you," kinda way.  I see guys that want to puff up their chest/wallet/ego... And I feel bad....

I see a lot of struggle and depression right now... Nearly every world I touch, it's right there.... So I'm working to offset it by addressing it and maneuvering through it, helping them maneuver through it, as best possible.   
Sometimes, depression can be too big to truly grasp... It can feel like a heavy blanket that covers over your eyes, your arms, it's on your back pushing your head down... Nothing feels right.  I know because I've been there and never really knew where the exit was... You just luckily find your way out or wait for the storm to pass... I don't know... I'm not a psych major, that's just how it feels.  It helps knowing you have friends... People that are on your team and support you.  
When you see a guy in a wheel chair, you don't say "hey man, just get up!"  So when you see a guy down, really down... Depressed... You can't say "just get up..." It doesn't work like that.

I don't think people are nice enough to each other... Nice just to be nice... A lot of people are carrying around their mood and their shit and we all overlap each other... Our energies overlap. If you're lucky, your good energy overlaps w someone else's.  

Sometimes I wonder "your instincts really pushed you to behave like an asshole?" because that's really weird.  

But often, it feels like I was born in the wrong place or wrong era... (@ home behind the sun, get it?)I don't understand the craziness.  We have a president launching robotic bombs at huts where a phone ping refistErs in some computer 1,000,000 miles away.  Pop music sucks.  Great artists are so rare.  Thinking of Robin Williams has made me tear up all week... 
We're not connected enough.  This system has us chasing money... Working too many hours... Our eyes are all over the place... We're loaded w schedules and anxiety...

This new book written by Jay a Paterno is so sad... What a story.  The media and Freeh really, really f'd up big and karma's a bitch.  

I like to think my training sessions are your one hour of mental vacation. 

And now my egg foo young is ready :)
Peace, love and empathy...
(Get it?)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

One Token

I was in the weight room today and things are going really well because of some new stretches that are really helping out my hips/back.  My squat is really picking up, which is something thats bothered me forever.  Because of back pain, I've been real shy about really attacking this movement but like I said, these stretches... Anyway, I was there and in the rack and some music came on that flipped a switch... eyes red... goose bumps.. and zero trouble squatting a weight heavier than anything I've attempted in 5 years...  And I think it'll make sense by the time you finish (but first check out the song)

So I started day dreaming again about that thought from the last blog and wanted to draw a picture...

Imagine you're playing a game...
No, not one of these..
One of these.
Yes, that is used as a video game system.

So you're playing this game and in the game, you control when your character wakes up and goes to sleep.  You control what they eat and when.  You control who they communicate with and how, you control relationships, the car they drive, where they work and how they dress.  It's like the Sims.  But in this game you also get to feel what they feel.  If you bump into a table, you feel that pain.  If it's cold in the game, you feel the chill.
You also get to feel their emotions of the situations and don't forget, you're still in control of the character, so just because your video game character has something go wrong, you're still playing.  You need to control the character.
Sound like a game you'd like to play?  Think about all you could experience.  All the places you could see... everywhere you could go and the experience is real.  You get do anything, you get to feel everything, you are free.
Obviously, there are rules to the game, so you cant just hop on a flight to experience Hawaii without paying 500 gold coins which means you need to do things to earn those gold coins.

See how this game goes?  Its your game to play and you're the only one in control of your character.
Want your character to have an awesome life?  Make it happen.
Want your character to have an awesome body?  Make it happen.
Want your character to have an awesome career?  Make it happen.
Want your character to have awesome friendships?  Make it happen
Do you want your "character," to play the guitar?  Make it happen.
Do you want your "character," to run a marathon?  Make it happen.  It's your character, you're in control.
Do you want your "character," to have an awesome house?
To drive your dream car?
To feel everything?
To have a full life of experiences?
Make it happen.
You're already playing the game right now... and dont forget, you only get one token.  There are no reset buttons... no "Start Over," and no cheat codes (well, unless you have a few million gold coins).
It's 100% your character to control 24/7 until the clock runs out.

So I heard a story about a friend who's clock is winding down... and it bothers me, obviously... more than I'll show... but it just brings it all into perspective and intensifies this "game," that much more.  It's never until a friend "stops playing," that we pause and adjust our "strategies," and how we play.
Winning doesn't mean $15,000,000, (oops, I meant gold coins) and losing doesn't mean minimum wage.
Winning isn't the Porsche and losing isn't a shitty raise when you deserve much more.
But we actually don't know how to win.. and I just laughed typing that, because that's the fun.  My "gold coins" aren't green dollars or checks... mine are moments.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Atmosphere/Game On

...the irony that it's taken me over 2 weeks to right this.

I posted -
(Not a dig at any other training facility.). 
I've never trained (myself or clients) in a facility as full or as complete as Everybodies Gym in Chardon. The people, the equipment, lay out, set up, and ATMOSPHERE is bar none the most motivational and inspiring situation I've ever been a part of. People tell me alllll damn day "I train here," "I do this at home," and it's all good, but I'm telling you, the ATMOSPHERE here is contagious, you can't stop yourself from going hard in here.
Truth, no matter happens during the day, I walk in here, the owner cranks the music, the gym starts to get moving and the place goes off. If you're within a 25-30 minute drive of Chardon, you need to be here."
And that thought has been surrounding me for a while, how important atmosphere is.  There are gyms and fitness centers all over the country.  Some are great, some are average, some are lacking.
The post/thread went on -
"Atmosphere is everything. A million gyms have similar equipment and all the above... But there's an intangible, an "x," factor that's hard to define. The IT, that this gym definitely has plenty of." 
Of what?  Whats the "x" factor?

As always, there's a common line bringing together the fitness world with our careers/jobs and home, so I started thinking about atmosphere across the board.
In the gym, there's an atmosphere that can be intense but relaxing at the same time, I think that might be what I feel at my gym.  It motivates you to work hard, really hard, and also to stay and work longer.  I've been in gyms where I just wanted to get in, get my work done and get out as fast as possible.  I did not enjoy being in these gyms.  So one thing I can see is the actual space... it helps create this particular atmosphere... we aren't all on top of each other, waiting in line for equipment or bumping into each other.  There's plenty of equipment and more than enough useful, functional space.

We all have (or hopefully have) a job or career going and atmosphere is cruuuucial, because we spend so much time there, most of us 40+ hours per week.  We're there with coworkers, we're performing our "task," following guidelines and procedures, etc.  We're eating meals there, we might be changing clothes there and we usually develop friends there.  So this is basically home #2, which means how we feel while we're there is everything.
An employer may say "Well, you get a pay check!  Don't ya?  The place is clean enough!  Isn't it?" and that could be true... but is it enough?  (If I ask "Is this enough?" or "Is that good enough?" I'm setting you up.)  Is getting a pay check enough?  For me, I see it as why be a 6 when you have the potential to be a 9 or a 10?  Why sand bag it?  Why be "just good enough?"  Why not strive to be great?
Again, I think atmosphere is a little abstract and open to interpretation.    But I also believe there are a few enormous common traits we share as human beings that ties into the last scenario.


Like the gym, the work place and home, we want to feel like we belong... we want to feel like we can grow and be ourselves... We want to feel comfortable (but not lazy).... We want freedom to grow, but at the same time, we do enjoy some structure.  We need schedules, we need a certain set of procedures, because without these procedures and rules and such, we wouldn't have a drive to push them... to expand and grow and evolve into new procedures, create new and improved rules.

I see it, us, as plants... and our atmosphere matches.  As a plant, there are things we need to grow and become strong, healthy and maximize our true potential.  If you plant your garden in the shade and never water it, never care for the dirt, if you don't protect it, your plants will fail and die.  You may get lucky and pull a few tomatoes, but you'll never reap the benefits you could have had you planted that same garden in the sunshine and watered it, put a fence up around it to protect it from animals, cared for the dirt so the plants had a strong foundation to reach down with their roots and find home.  The plants need clean, fresh air, not contaminated, polluted, toxic debris.
Same goes for us.  We need to be in environments that allow us to grow, that want us to grow, to evolve into the best possible human we can become.

For me, I like to think that's one reason why people enjoy training with me and working with me.  I'm always ready and looking for the opportunity to take us one step further down the path of development.  Doesn't matter if i'm talking to someone about going back to school, or entering a fitness competition or making even larger life choices.
Sometimes all we need is knowing someone has our back... that could be all the atmosphere we need.

Along those lines but totally different... something to think about.

I was listening to a podcast with two of my favorite podcasters, Duncan Trussell (comedian) and Aubrey Marcus (Owner of Onnit).  They were going back and forth on philosophical ideas as to what were all actually doing here... whats the goal... whats the plan... etc.
One said something like "What if this is all a game?  What if our real self is off somewhere playing this thing we're calling LIFE?  This game cost x amount of dollars are we're actually sitting in a game room... playing these characters."
They went on and eventually said "Who the F would choose to waste their game tokens watching the Kardashians?"
So on my drive home through beautiful Geauga County, I thought about that... Lets day dream for a second and think about decisions we've made, habits we have, things we currently do, and then what our plans are... If this were a game, would any of it change?
If's about control.  Its about not feeling like a slave, no?  Slave to debt, slave to money and again... freedom.   Because control would mean, absolute control of time and absolute control of time would mean we choose how and when we do what we do, the value on it.  
It would also mean control over every thought and action.  Our habits aren't really, real habits.  They're decisions that trigger "happy," chemicals, right?  We have a habit that makes us happy but we don't always know why... maybe a food or a show or a different drug, because actually food and television and anything that stimulates your brain to release particular chemicals (some of which are also found in certain plants, but are for some reason illegal) is a drug.  Crazy?

Jeez, thats off topic... point is, if this were a game... would you be playing it differently?
I had a friend who was obsessed with running off to do yoga alone in some mountain... I always thought how much he'd be missing out on.  Would he find happiness?  Maybe.  Would he be maximizing this experience?  No.
Aubrey and Duncan ended it joking about the monks saying something like "They think they're finding the meaning of life and nirvana by meditating all those hours... then the game ends and everyone back home mocks that thats how they used their game tokens... sitting in one room, breathing their life away, never really living... never getting the full gaming experience."

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fan of Greatness

"Bleh, if I hear or see another thing about LeBron James, I'm goign to puke!"

Well get the bucket ready, because here are the multiple angles you should be paying attention to.
Friday afternoon, the big announcement came.  We all saw it, heard it, heard about it, heard rumors of how it all went down, and eventually read his letter (if you didn't you absolutely should, right HERE).
Everyone immediately took to Facebook and Twitter to celebrate and post how awesome the news was!  I was at work with my friends and we all said "Downtown is going nuts!  Happy hour is going to be crazy!"
Why?  Because it IS that awesome.  Its actually underrated.
Then as the day rolled along, the haters came out... bleh.  I saw posts that read "People are dying in Africa and everyone is giving a crap about a basketball player!  Get a life!" and "Who cares?  He
just dribbles a ball!  He doesn't save lives!"
You sad little haters are so wrapped up in depressing lives, you cant see the greatness in this, so I have some questions for you.

A) Are you a fan of area businesses increasing revenue?
B) Are you a fan of seeing local servers and parking attendants making more money?
C) Are you a fan of seeing people wanting to move their business downtown again?
D) Do you have any clue how much money playoff basketball or a championship contending team will do for the downtown economy?
E) Do you know how many more jobs this creates?
F) Are you a fan of seeing people happy?
G) Are you a fan of greatness?

For me personally, WINTER SUCKS IN NE OHIO!!!! BAD.
Why?  Because our teams suck!  Flat out.  I can deal with the snow, I can deal with crappy roads, but knowing your team loses way more games than it wins just sucks.  When the Browns suck on Sunday, Monday sucks... and Tuesday.  And then you look ahead to Sunday and get depressed because you know, theyre probably going to suck again!  And then you're stuck with 17 weeks of mostly bad football.
Will Johnny Manziel be the answer?  You tell me.  Are you banking on a party kid who's more concerned with hitting the clubs than the weight room?  This kids partying like hes already made it, won the Super Bowl 6x and retired into the Hall of Fame.  So no, until he starts lighting it up on Sundays, I dont want to see him anymore unless its on the football field.

But now... We have LeBron back... our guy.  Read that letter, he brought all the giddy feelings right back and I am so looking forward to that first tip of the season!  How can people post their nasty BS hater crap when so many people are happy to watch sports again?  This NE Ohio and like it or not, this area is passionate about their sports, its in our identity.  We wear brown and orange, we wear Indians gear and we love the Cavs AND THEYRE ABOUT TO BE GREAT AGAIN!

My first few points above were all based on money and business... think about that.  When the Spurs whopped the Cavs a few years ago in the Finals, the TV commentator said something like "Every home game brings in an extra $500,000 per game."  Are you freaking kidding me?  That changes lives.  That changes business.  Thats incredible and should absolutely be celebrated.  Imagine being such an awesome employee that when you go to work, your company improves AND every company near you... you cannot relate.

When in the history of this city, has a great player chosen to come here?  Never happened.  Ever.  And we have the best in the game, possibly the best ever before he's done and even further... maybe the best athlete to ever play any sport.  Who's better?  I'd love to argue that.  In basketball, its LeBron and MJ, done.  Save the Magic, Larry, Kobe nonsense. LeBron smashes all them left handed.  And people argue that Michael might be trhe best athelte ever along with Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown, so if Michael is that conversation, LeBron must be.  And if LeBron passes Michael, LeBron must pass Ali and Brown... and why not?  AND HE'S HERE!  He's wearing a Cavs uniform!  As usual, he wont be recognized for his greatness until after he retires, when he leaves a crater of greatness behind.
This guy left, regretted how he left, regretted why he left, and came back with a letter than gave me freaking goosebumps.
He wrote - But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.
How can you hate that?  "Bleh, hes not a role model... hes done" this and this and that other rumor.  Shut up.  Are you a role model?  No ones looking for him to solve world problems, he inspires greatness, he inspires kids to dream and do more and play hard and work.  He brings hope of a better image of our beaten down city.  National media still rips the city and LeBron can change that.  Why?  How?  Pay attention to the downtown economy.
He goes on - In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.   I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.
WHAT?!?!  I'm going to buy my jersey, t-shit and Cavs pajamas right now!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Good enough yet?

I refer to this story often because I feel it truly epitomizes the essence of complacency.
I was a part of a staff that was coaching a team that happened to be ranked #1 in the state by news paper reporters.   I didn't care at all and if I had my way, there would've been zero mention of it on the practice field or I the locker room.  
On the field, I have two modes, Teaching Mode and Game Mode.  When it's teaching, it's slower, it's more thoughtful, we focus on form and footing, etc.   When it's game mode, it's everything we just learned in teaching mode but as fast as possible, as hard as possible, as intense as possible, as absolutely complete as possible, looking to explode and finish every single play, every single time, no matter what. In game mode, when the ball is snapped, I want the guys thinking one thing "Go get that f'ing ball right now." And if it doesn't happen, like a bank collecting interest, the next play we now want it 10% more than we just did, and so on.   So things get intense.
One day, I'm in Game Mode and I can see the guys are in Chill Mode... So I'm ready to explode.  Things come to a head, because their apathy is ready to make my head shoot off my shoulders and one guy says to me "coach, we're undefeated... We're number 1 in the state... We're working hard... You act like it's never good enough..."

I don't remember my response, word for word, but I told him he was right. 
Imagine being strong enough to rep 100 straight push ups, but you stop at 40 because... Well, it's good enough.
Or being able to run 10 miles but you just do 2 because... Well, that's good enough.  
Imagine running a company and you just made $15,000,000 but you could've made more, but... That's good enough, no need to improve.
Imagine having the ability and the opportunity to experience greatness, why would you settle for "good enough?"

I was working w a group of guys on a project and we had to measure some things out to get the job some right.  We'd tap pieces into place and someone would say "good enough."  I cringed.   Is it right?   When it's right, it's good to go, if it isn't, there's no "good enough."
When you have goals and you have a job to do, you have responsibilities, "good enough," is going to leave you broke or unemployed, underachieving and sitting at home wishing you'd some things differently.  
"Good enough," will give you regret. 
"Good enough," will leave you with nothing, you'll be worse than a has-been, you'll be a could've-been.   I'd rather be a has-been because at least they once had it.   Could've-beens a never had it, they just should've had it. 

Problem is, too many people are too quick to pass the buck, to lean on someone else when it gets too hard, when times are tough.  They want it easy and smooth and when it hits the fan, they want the "good enough," button and get out of there.  
Tough day?  Shoot, I'm going home and chilling... Good enough.
Didn't lose weight?  Forget it, I'm having a treat... Good enough.
Missed a goal?  Whatever... Excuses, excuses, excuses... Good enough. 

Good enough is a lazy trick your mind wants you to think so you can go home and watch television and not run, not workout, not study, not put in the extra hours.  

Without a goal list, you have no plan, no vision.  Without a vision, without a passion for success and doing things w greatness, you'll always live w "good enough," on the tip of your tongue and your dreams will never ever come true.   You have to work and work and work and work and plan and prepare and work and adjust and learn and go hard.   You can't do all that "good enough."  Full go, 100% or don't bother.

The other day, I'm training and working a leg circuit from a leg press to hammy curls to calf raise.  I wasn't even counting sets, I was just going til things felt like hell.  And every round, I had to increase the weight for every move.  I'd go through a round and think "well, that round was bullshit, add weight," and so on until I reached my goal, far surpassing "good enough."  "Good enough," happened when I was pressing 560,but I needed to fill the rack and go until my legs just shooook.  Same thing goes when I'm working w the dumbbells.  I refuse to NOT use the entire set of dumbbells, I'll use every single wright available.  Why not?  I have it in my range, so doing anything less is bullshit.

Would you want to be a fan of a "good enough," team?
Do you want to be in a "good enough," relationship?
Then start placing those same demands on yourself and live up to them.