Friday, February 26, 2010

The Cue Ball

I always was a big fan of billiards and I spent many years trying to perfect the game. Throughout the years,  you would hear people talking about how incredible the professionals were. Most of the comments were focused on how they could make any shot. As I learned more about the game, I found out it wasn’t their ability to make the difficult shots that made them great but instead, it was their ability to never have a hard shot to take. This is not to say that the professionals are not perfectly capable of making difficult shots but more that they never needed to. The real pros, would masterfully manipulate the cue ball after every shot, leaving it right where it needed to be for the next shot. In turn, they rarely were faced with difficult shots.
 Do we spend our lives trying to master difficult shots or master the art of manipulating our lives so that the difficult shots are not needed? We need to take more time in reading the table and preparing for the next shot as oppose to just getting up there and banging away with a stick, hoping for something to fall in and watching the cue ball run around afterwards In the hope that our next shot will be an easy one. Lastly, all masters of their craft take time to reflect. Reflecting gives us an opportunity to learn and it must be done not just after every game but after every shot.

Our choices, though similar to the choices on a pool table, have one big difference, you don’t get a re-rack.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Understand Their Game

We have all heard the saying, “don’t hate the player, hate the game”. I would suggest, “don’t hate the player, understand their game”. All of us have different gifts that we are born with. We see people with the gift of gab, comedy, intelligence, street smarts, beauty and many more. From an early age, we learn to use these gifts and some come more naturally than others. We learn which ones are the most effective for us and naturally tend to focus on those more than the ones that are not.

Since all of this seems to make perfect sense, why is it that we get down on people for using the very things that they have learned work for them? I hear some people talking down about others that may only use their intelligence and are uninterested in their appearance. Just the same, I hear the opposite complaints about people being so concerned about their looks while paying little attention to intelligence. What do you expect from either party? Would you expect someone who is extremely intelligent but not particularly good looking, to focus on looks? That wouldn’t make any sense. What would you expect from a major league pitcher, who can throw 103 MPH? Yeah!!! a fast ball. You wouldn’t criticize him for not throwing his mediocre curve ball, you would admire his fast ball and understand why he throws it. He would also be a fool to throw anything else.

We need the variety of people in the world like the, Bill Gates, the Eddy Murphys, the Mike Rowes and yes, even the Paris Hiltons. I say,
Don’t hate the player, understand their game”.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Setting Goals, Bad?

Although I am the first one to profess that setting overall goals is a must, I also believe that setting short term goals can be dangerous. This is not to say that all short term goals are dangerous but we need to recognize whether or not we are setting ourselves up to fail.
Recently, I was asked about how to stay motivated about a diet plan. During the conversation the person mentioned things that they had done in the past to be motivated and I noticed that most were driven by short term goals. Below are a few typical short term goals that people tend to use:

1. Lose weight for the summer to look good at the beach
2. Lose weight for an event (Wedding, Prom, etc..)
3. Family or school reunions (To look good for others)
4. I need to lose ten pounds (fixed weight amount)

The problem with setting these types of goals is that from the day you begin to diet, there is already a finish line set. Once the event occurs, the need disappears and with it, so does the dieting. You are better off setting long term goals with smaller milestones along the way to monitor your efforts. Notice I used the word efforts instead of progress because progress would imply a finishing point. Below are a few long term goals which will help to achieve a permanent change in your outlook and in return your eating habits.

1. I want to improve and maintain my quality of life.
      a. If you want to look young and feel young, you have to have the physical ability to act young.
      b. Educate yourself on the affects of the way you currently eat.

2. I want to set an example for my children that they can follow.
     a. Children learn everything even mannerisms, from their parents. What message are you sending to them about how important it is to take care of yourself?

3. Self control is a sign of strength and I want to prove that under any circumstance, I am strong enough to overcome.
    a. Challenge yourself to prove that you have the same strength you admire so much in others.

Hopefully through the examples above we can see how the short term goals are somewhat self defeating, while the long term strategy , empowers and is long lasting.
Keep in mind that we are not just talking about dieting. This way of thinking is true in all aspects of our lives.
Think about your current goals and then ask yourself if they sound like “Dead Lines” or “Living Choices.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Open Minded

Having an open mind, allows us to be open to new opportunities, new people and new ideas. Having a closed mind, closes our opportunities to learn, meet new people and  new adventures. The difficulty in having an open mind is that it also opens the idea that some of the things we are doing may not be 100% right. Of course, we all know how much fun being wrong can be, so we become closed minded in an attempt to avoid that feeling and the possibility that we made need to change. Maybe we think that when someone is telling us to be more open minded, it is just their way of trying to manipulate us into doing things their way. Someone may think being open minded is something that we do to be nice.
The truth is that being open minded is a freeing experience. It’s something that benefits us a lot more than it benefits others. It welcomes in new people and ideas and most importantly allows us to learn and feel fulfillment. Because we all have our prejudices and preprogramming it is not easy to do but once you have experienced the benefits of having an open mind, you will find it rewarding and it will start to come naturally.

Example: I know a girl who has no prejudice whatsoever towards anyone. She doesn’t let race, color, weight, looks, social/economic status or anything else; influence her relationship with the people she meets. She truly sees everyone she meets as just another person and knows that they have the potential to share life with her and hopefully teach her something new. As a result, she lands on her feet wherever she goes. She makes friends instantly and those friends are long lasting. Her peers are always saying, “There is just something about you.” That something, is her lack of prejudice and openmindedness. It makes others feel  comfortable to be themselves.

If a person were completely close minded, I would imagine a lonely person, sitting in a room alone, as life passed them by. Wouldn’t it only make sense that if you were completely open minded, it would be the opposite? That same person would be outside surrounded by others, engulfing life.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Momentum = a quantity that expresses the motion of a body and its resistance to slowing down. It is equal to the product of the body's mass and velocity.

Keeping our positive momentum going is not always an easy thing to do. Although strangely enough, it seems as though negative momentum requires less effort and in addition is harder to control. We have all been in the zone. It’s the feeling that everything is going right and it seems as though we will never get knocked down again. Then something happens, distracts us and suddenly a shift occurs. We find that we have lost all of our positive momentum. As desperate as we may try to stop the shift from happening, it just takes on a mind of its own and starts building momentum in the opposite direction. Before long we can’t even remember how to get back to where we once were.

Since momentum has a compounding effect, it becomes like a snowball that rolls down hill out of control with us standing in front of it. As it continues to roll it grows in size and speed. Soon we find ourselves overwhelmed and it engulfs us. It would have been best to stop the snowball before it made it too far down hill. Unfortunately, as we feel the shift coming on, many of us will only focus on the immediate snow that is being added to the ball, when in fact it would be better to focus on the bigger picture. To stop the momentum from building we would need to recognize the overall effects of allowing momentum to build in the first place. If we could stop the ball the second we saw the slightest of movements.

A person goes to the gym on a strict schedule of 3 days out of every week, for several months. During the third month, he or she has a day where they are finding it difficult to go to the gym (slightest of movements). They decide to not go that day.

1. Deciding not to go by rationalizing that this one day will not change their body and or the hard work they have done over the last several months would be focusing on “the immediate snow” mentioned above.
2. Recognizing that not going is the beginning of a momentum shift that may lead to eventually not going to the gym and then deciding to go at any cost is the “bigger picture”.

The momentum can build in either direction but once you stop pushing the snowball up the hill, it will roll back down twice as quick and take you with it along the way.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pushing Yourself

If I find it easy to diet but you don’t, am I accomplishing something by maintaining my weight? If I effortlessly get good grades while someone else works endlessly to get the same grades, should I be proud of my grades? Should I look down upon and criticize those who can’t do the things I can do, while doing those very things with little sacrifice and effort? It’s the effort that should be respected and admired. It’s the effort that one should take pride in. We are all capable of different things and some of us excel in some, more than others. We shouldn’t beat our chest at the accomplishments we have been able to achieve but instead, push ourselves on to the ones we struggle to accomplish. Too many times, we bask in the glory of things that we have done with little effort because we compare them to the effort it may take others, to do those same things. Instead, we should push ourselves to accomplish the things that are not easy for us, while they may be easy to others. It’s at this point that we become more understanding and forgiving of the things that others may not be able to accomplish as easily as we can. Our disapproval fades and makes way for understanding and compassion.
“When you spend your day pushing yourself, to do the things that don’t come easy, you will find more compassion and less time, to push others, for the things that don’t come easy to them.”

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


How old are you today? What is your health like today? What’s special about today? What is happening in your life today that you will look back fondly on tomorrow?

The other day I was talking to a friend and she said, “Remember how cute the kids were when they were little. Remember when they would run up to you and you could pick them up and hug them. What I wouldn’t do to have them young again.” I saw her face and her expression was one of sorrow. Then I asked her what about today? What can you share with your children today, that you couldn’t share with them back then? I reminded her that looking back at the past can be a selective process. We don’t always present a clear representation of how we felt at the time. “I am sure it wasn’t all fun and games when they were little either,” I said. We must embrace the present more. Look around at all the great things in our lives now. This has to be the best year of your life because in present or realistic terms, it’s the only year of your life. For that matter, it’s the only day of your life. The past, once was. The future, may be. Today is forever.

I have heard it put in a little stronger way:

“If you have one leg in yesterday and one leg in tomorrow, you’re pissing all over today.”

Monday, February 8, 2010

Self Mutilation

Everyone hates to get a bad cut or scrape and when we get one, we all suffer through the pain of it. Some of us may have a higher tolerance than others but we all suffer to some degree. What is the first thought that crosses your mind immediately after the wound opens? My guess would be, stop the pain and stop the bleeding. Based on the things you have learned about stopping pain and bleeding, you would immediately use some sort of pain medication and bandage the wound. As time passed, you would continue to care for your injury until it would eventually heal.

Now imagine that instead of taking medication and bandaging the wound, you spent your days talking to others about how it happened, how much it hurt and then every time it started to show signs of healing you would pick at it until the pain came back and it started bleeding again. Would that make any sense? Why would you want to relive the accident? Why would you pick at it, recreating the pain? Why would you not let it heal and just learn from the incident?

It may sound like something a crazy person would do but this is what we do sometimes with the things that happen to us in our lives. We retell the stories of pain over and over. We pick at our emotional wounds until they hurt almost as much as the first time. Once we are bleeding again, we stand around wondering why we these things happen us.

Let time heal the wounds. Use what you know, to make it heal faster. Once it has healed, let it be and use the experience to learn and move forward.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Communication of the Third Kind

Communicating is so incredibly important and it is something that we all can underestimate. We all know the two basic forms of communication, the first being language. When you speak a language fluently it is easy to communicate and the chances of being misunderstood are slim. On the other hand, you may attempt to learn a second language and become instantly aware how easy it is to offend someone inadvertently because of your lack of mastering the subtleties of that language. Moving on, the second most commonly known type of communication would be physical communication. Physical, would include something as structured as sign language or something as simple as pointing or waving to get a message across. Here again, one could send the wrong message and offend someone from one culture, while the same gesture would be seen as a compliment in another. While most of us recognize the “thumbs up” gesture as positive, in Iran, Iraq and Thailand this is considered an obscene gesture. These two forms of communication are easy to understand and for the most part, we are aware and pretty good at using them to communicate however the third kind is a different story.

The third kind of communication I refer to as “Behavioral Communication”. Starting at birth we are deprived of the first two forms of communication and therefore become dependent on using the third, “Behavioral Communication”. We learn that by changing our behavior we can communicate with those around us. Crying would be the first form of behavioral communication. It doesn’t take long before we learn that when we cry we get attention. We rely on behavioral communication for quite some time and our parents teach us what works and what doesn’t work, through their responses. From there, the natural progression would be that physical communication would be introduced to alleviate the frustration that can occur when only behavioral communication exists. We begin to point and make motions with all of our extremities to communicate. Within a short period of time, language is introduced and things become much easier for everyone.

So what’s the point?

Many of us overlook the behavior language that still exists between all of us as adults. We continue to reward the same type of behaviors that we don’t want in our lives. We respond behaviorally to language and sometimes communicate only through language instead of speaking behaviorally. In other words you wouldn’t answer someone in Japanese, if they spoke to you in English. If you want to change someone’s behavior you need to change your response to that behavior. Talking to them about it and how it may hurt you won’t work (Japanese). What is overlooked is that your behavioral response to their behavior, is talking to them in a very primal way. Some might say that it sounds reactionary or vengeful but it’s not anything more than another form of communication.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Good Decisions vs Bad Decisions

Over the years it has become obvious to me that good decisions, breed good decisions and bad decisions, breed bad. What I mean by this is that the first good decision you make will create a good result and from that result, more good decisions are made. Just the same but in the other direction, you're bad decisions will also show their bad results which will usually be followed by more bad decisions. Even though it would take pages to show a really thorough example, take a look at the simplified example below:

Your friends ask you to stay out late on a work/ school night for just a few more drinks and a little more fun:
You decide to go. (Knowing it’s not in your best interest)
I could write out the rest of the night for you but as everyone knows, it is not usually in your best interest. The next morning you have a hard time getting out of bed. You may show up late to work. You may be more confrontational and defensive than normal, due to the night before. You may make a mistake at work or school you normally would not have, not to mention the hundreds of other things that will happen throughout the day, as a result of your decision to stay out later ,the night before. As if all that was not enough, you throw your schedule off and when you come home from work instead of going to sleep, you might decide you’re ready for round two.
As you go through the night and following day in your mind, you see all of the negatives and bad decisions that followed and where a result of the first.

You decide not to go. (Knowing it is in your best interest but worrying that you might miss out on something)
You go home, follow your routine and go to bed peacefully, without the worries of spending extra money or worse a night in jail. The next morning you wake up as usual and go to work. You have a productive day as usual and feel good about yourself. During the day many good things follow and because of your attitude and clarity you continue to move forward in a positive direction.
As you go through the night and following day in your mind, it becomes obvious that everything was a direct result of your good decision.

Heres the bonus:
A good decision requires short term sacrifice up front with long term rewards. In the example above it required sacrificing the potential fun for the night but the long term reward was the following day.
A bad decision is easy to make short term but requires long term sacrifice. In the sample above it was easy to stay out late but you paid the price the following day.

This illustrates that even if you are not motivated by good or bad, the smart decision(good) cost you less in the long run.