There’s no shortage of tragedy in today’s world and, sometimes, tragedy comes and gets us right where we live, it comes into our lives, and it can shatter our hearts, it can make us afraid, bitter, mean or detached.
Here’s a blueprint for a way to transmute tragedy into peace, strength and confidence.
Listen to this to learn about how my childhood friend, Ann Hounchell, informs my every day life, and especially my work.
And yes, that’s me in the back row over Ann’s right shoulder.
I love studying the philosophy, technique and progress of anybody, from any walk of life, who manages to make impressive positive change. I study the leaders of the world’s most progressive, problem-solving, innovative companies, I study the managers and coaches who assemble, lead and motivate the world’s most winning teams, and I study psychology as it pertains to the architecture of change. I use in my own work absolutely everything I learn from studying the methods of the world’s most successful, accomplishes and productive professionals.
As an example, here’s a great piece from Western Michigan Head Football Coach P.J. Fleck’s from the Players’ Tribune, an online publication that I spend a whole bunch of time reading, and learning from.
Here’s my favorite quote from the P.J. Fleck piece:
“You have to look inward and challenge yourself to change your best — to truly go beyond the limits of what you think you’re capable of — every day, and not just when it comes to football, but also academics, your social life and your spiritual life.”
Read the pice and you’ll see that he’s talking about perpetually achieving excellence in life, and this exact strategy – changing your best – is what I teach conceptually in my Gap Filler course, and what I teach thoroughly and through implementation in my REVAMP | Professional Ascent Mentorship course.
Most people find “Changing Your Best” tremendously uncomfortable – that’s why it’s so lonely at the tippy top of any discipline or industry. Those who can occasionally “change their best” often have trouble sustaining the willingness – which I promise eventually becomes actual eagerness – that it takes to put everything on the line, every interaction, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year.
Like with any relationship, it’s the relentlessness that’ll buckle everyone but the most seriously and wisely committed, and in the context of “Changing Your Best” the relentlessness is between you and what you’re trying to accomplish, versus the entirely of the rest of the world.
The relentlessness hides in plain sight in the form of your responsibility that everything you do – every conversation you have, every interaction you are part of, every work product you produce, every fucking thing you do – demonstrates exactly the type of relationship you have with success, how you handle accountability, and the bounds of your self esteem and personal integrity. Regardless of the domaine, that’s what you’re really showing others by how you work, how you talk, how you move, how you behave, how you operate.
That’s why true excellence is so rare.
That’s why most people don’t follow through.
That’s why the world is full of mediocrity, get-along-go-along, good enough type results.
If you’d like to learn how to Change Your Best, bring unbridled ambition, a spirit too high to be concerned by the craziness of the world around you, and a desire to push yourself beyond any limits you currently recognize, and I’ll take care of the rest. I promise.
If you’re like me, you’ve spent thousands of dollars on your hair.
If you’re like me, you’ll eventually stop doing that.
Maybe reading this will accelerate your hair color full stop.
Here’s me from high school. I’m a blonde and although I have an absolute ton of hair, it’s really fine so it’s slinky but it’s got a bit of natural curl when it’s short enough to not be pulled straight by its own weight.
In my early 50s, I started messing around with the color of my hair.
For a few years, I had stripes of color put into my hair – 1″ swaths alternating blonde, burgundy, dark brown and a bunch of black underneath in the back.
I started having chunks cut into it so that bunches of it was shorter than the rest, sort of stacking layers instead of the traditional shag cut.
I don’t think anybody completely gets away with doing such unnatural color stuff like that so I wasn’t really surprised when my long-time stylist over-processed my blonde TWICE and – shocker! – all the blonde broke off and even though I suggested cutting it all off and starting over, my stylist convinced me to try and save my hair.
Good thing I love a challenge because things got worse – by a lot – before they got better.
Red is the hardest color to cover/recover so my stylist decided the hair equivalent of “can’t beat ’em, join ’em” and made all my hairs red. Nooooooo! But yes.
Take a moment to fully appreciate the ratty scorched brittle ends.
See the ghosts of the stripes?
I broke up with that stylist and took my ratty, brittle mess of a red mop on an expensive, self-esteem challenging daisy chain of a wild goose chase through a series of under-performing, confused and technically incompetent stylists before – happy ending! – I found, all on my own, a true hair genius who not only knew exactly what to do, but she specialized in doing it.
I spent almost 18 months in the hair hospital and thanks to the combination of a genius stylist – let’s call her the Hair Doctor – and her use of miraculous products from Organic Color Systems, I began to recover. Specifically, big product credit goes to OCS products Revamp and Moisture Boost.
NOTE: I know you want to know who the Hair Doctor is, and you know I’d tell you if I could but I can’t because both with me and with others I’ve sent to her, she’s proven unreliable in critical hair-centric circumstances, and she’s behaved unprofessionally, and because of that, I can no longer recommend her.
Back to my hair recovery plan.
My Hair Doctor set out a treatment plan that included me coming into her salon 3 – 4 times a month for her to fashion mini-intensive care units around my most damaged swaths. Eventually, me and my hair recovered.
And after my hair completely recovered, was dyed milk chocolate brown and was long, silky and shiny again,
I cut it all off and went back to my native color which, Holy Mother of Jesus, is still some shade of blonde only now, in the front around my face it’s mostly what they call platinum and the rest of it is what they call ash blonde. In the estimation of my current stylist – best so far, total genius, complete professional – this is my version of gray hair.
I am finally free from dependence on the salon because with $30 clippers, I can shave down my own sides, and using office scissors, I can hack the top so it’s heavy enough to flop, just so, when I spike it up.
NOTE: Ears and noses continue to grow. Look how huge my ears are! #shutupmontana Look how huge my nose is! #toastisburningidaho
Do you color your hair to cover gray?
Do you WANT to color your hair to cover gray?
Here’s commentary on the shift in cultural norms that will, hopefully, free you to think more openly about “White Hair, Don’t Care.”
My friend Trina has what can only be called “Miss America Hair” and she says, so many people “believe the lie” that stylists tell us about growing out our natural color. The NYT piece “White Hair, Don’t Care” includes an at-home recipe for recovering your own natural color, your own natural self.
If you’re ready for a more natural you, go for it. And send me pictures of you all along the way.
My grandfather died a few days after he had surgery on some veins in his leg. During the surgery, a blood clot formed when they tied off his femoral artery for more than 3 hours, and, while the surgery was technically successful, it took a few days for the blood clot to make its way through his system and hit his heart or lungs, or maybe his brain. We’ll never know exactly what the clot hit, only that it hit some vital organ causing powerful and grotesque convulsions followed by almost immediate death.
Popa died while Mom and I were visiting him in his hospital room, and we were all watching The Honeymooners on his hospital room TV. Mom was sitting in a chair near his bed and I was laying to his right in the bed bedside him, I had my left arm around his neck and he was holding my right hand. When Popa began convulsing, Mom wasn’t able to hold herself together so, as nurses rushed into the room to help Popa, some of them tended to Mom by getting her out of there.
Because of me being in the bed with him and because of the configuration of the bed in the room, I was trapped beside him as hospital nurses tried to revive him. For about 20 minutes.
After I called off the efforts to resuscitate him, the nurses helped me escape his “death grip” on my right hand and wrist, and I dealt with some paperwork out at the nurse’s station. I went to check on Mom who was in a room down the hall and, after being sedated, was asleep.
After that, there was nothing more to be done at the hospital.
Within about 30 minutes of Popa dying, I left the hospital and began to let down. I sat in my car for a few minutes wondering what to do next.. It’s one of the most bizarre feelings ever and one I experienced again after the deaths of both Mom and Daddy – just a few minutes after someone you adore dies, you’re supposed to get on with the task of living without them.
Where am I supposed to go and who am I supposed to be with?
Mom’s indisposed, Daddy’s not an option because he just doesn’t do this type of emotion plus he’s at my parents’ home cooking which is what Italians do when someone dies, my sister was not at the hospital visiting Popa when he died – Mom and I were – and she’s riding this out with her family which I’m not part of.
I didn’t want to go back to my flat and be alone so I went to my friend Roseanne’s house, she and I worked together and we were close.
She was older than me by about 10 years, she was big, happy, beautiful, smart and she had a boyfriend who had a rubber fetish. It was pretty common for her to come home from work and find him sitting on top of the dining room table which he would cover in a rubbery plastic table cloth, he’d be wearing rubber pants – the kind you’d wear for incontinence – and a plastic shower cap. Arriving unannounced, I knew I ran the risk of interrupting something I’d spend the rest of my life trying to unsee, but I was undeterred.
I got to her place, knocked on the door, she answered and I just lost it.
I sputtered out the words to tell her that Popa had just died, I started sobbing and I just sort of fell into the front of her big beautiful body, throwing my arms around her and hanging off her, like I might not be able to stand up on my own anymore.
She stepped forward onto the stoop, backing me up a step or two. She put her hands on my shoulders and moved me even farther back, and then she said . . .
We have company, you can’t stay.
So I left.
I sat in my car and here’s how I felt.
I’m alone in this and there isn’t anybody to help me. I’m broken all the way down and I need and want help but help is not available so I’m going to have to manage this by myself. I’m going to have to pull myself together.
When I tried to think of what I for sure had that might help me feel like I could get through it, the only things I could come up with were my faith in myself, and my faith in God, and at the very bottom of my faith was love.
Essentially, my strategy for dealing with the immense grief of how I experienced my grandfather’s death was for me to love my way through it. Love is what helped me start my car and safely drive it to my flat. Love is what helped me get through losing Popa, what helped me deal with the graphic nature of seeing how he died and love is what helped me find a way to neutralize the way he last held me.
Were there other options? Of course.
What’s the opposite of love?
Being angry wasn’t an option – I could never have produced enough rage to come close to expressing my devastation.
Could I have found someone else, anyone else, who would have ministered to me in that moment, who would have prioritized my needs over theirs? Maybe. But after the initial shock of Roseanne not being able to help, I realized it was tremendously unfair to blind side someone with such enormous emotion. In that moment, I accepted that I couldn’t rely on others to help me offload that or any other trauma that might come my way so, really, when you think about it that way, what else is there but love?
In the 45+ years since Popa’s death supercharged my ability to love, when shit gets real I’ve never relied on anybody to help me and I’ve never expected access to assistance.
I’ve gone through surgeries alone, I’ve been really really sick alone, I’ve spent birthdays and holidays alone, and I’ve continued to lose loved ones and go through the aftermath alone. I work alone. I live alone. I am alone. But I’m full of love, and I love being alone. See how that works?
And I’ve become quite practiced in applying the “love technique” across domains.
That’s the really cool thing about love – everybody wants it, everybody needs it, and every single situation you can imagine goes so much better with love, love, love.
Since Trump won, I’ve doubled down on love.
Since Trump won, for the first time average Americans know first hand what it’s like to have a country powerfully emotionally divided. Since Trump won, we all know and love a bunch of people who completely disagree about big, important, life-changing and world-changing issues.
Many of our friends feel destabilized by the disruption candidate winning and many of our friends feel destabilized by the disruption candidate disrupting – Hello Taiwan! Many of our friends feel boastful about their candidate winning – “lock her up” “drain the swamp” and defensive about the relentless attacks on Trump that come from pretty much all directions.
Politics in America has become an angry emotional mess and with the holidays coming up, our normally high stress levels are red lining.
What’s the answer? What’s the fix? What’s the solution? How do we cope? How can we manage?
Love. Love. Love. Love.
Please join me in unabashed, unapologetic, undeniable love of everyone.
IT’S A BUMPERSTICKER!
If you’d like one, PayPal me $15 domestic/$20 international, provide your postal address and I’ll mail one to you. My PayPal email address is [email protected]
Since Thanksgiving Day, I’ve been in Seattle where I lived for 24 years and where I’m visiting my dearest friend, Jimmy. If you’re familiar with the tv show Will & Grace, Jimmy’s Jack and I’m Karen, and you’ll understand why we refer to Jimmy as my Gay Husband, or “the Gay” for short.
In the late 1970’s Jimmy and I met in Florida, I left Florida to live in Bend, Oregon for 10 years before moving to Seattle and, although it took him a while to get around to it, almost 20 years ago, Jimmy followed me to Seattle and has lived here ever since.
It’s pretty crazy when somebody moves across the country to live near you. It’s kind of a big responsibility, even though the City of Seattle definitely had my back, because Jimmy not only moved to Seattle to be near me, he moved into the same building I lived in so we essentially recreated the living arrangement we had in Saint Petersburg – neighbors/roommates/neighbors.
Even though I moved back to Saint Petersburg over 5 years ago, Jimmy’s not going to follow me again because he has MS, thank God it’s controlled and it’s not worsening, but if you know anything about MS, heat is the enemy and Florida is nothing but heat so while Jimmy occasionally visits in our “winter” – when highs are in the 80s – he stays put in cool, wet Seattle where his heat-related MS symptoms are a non-issue.
Back to how we met.
In the late 70s, Jimmy was my downstairs neighbor at Coquina Key Arms where I rented 222H and he rented 222A Pompano Drive SE. Although we’d seen each other in our everyday comings and goings, we formally met one fateful night when I’d been out on the town and, through no fault of my own, I became separated from my pants, and, in the driver’s seat of my pimped-out white Honda Civic, I’d made it all the way across town, cleared the scrutiny of the security guard at the entrance to my complex, had parked and was sneaking into the common entry hall of our building when Jimmy came out of his flat, saw me in my panties and with a single look, it was on.
He invited me in, I put on pants, we started drinking and we’ve pretty much never stopped.
Jimmy’s short term memory is for shit but he remembers everything from the way-back when we were young and, together, were ruling our world.
He remembers my mom and dad and since both my parents died a long time ago, that means more to me than I can say.
Jimmy and I travel the world together and when we do, we like to set up house and stay for a while. We’ve rented flats in Venice, Florence and Paris. Even though I prefer Italy, Jimmy prefers France, specifically Paris, and so much so that after he retires from Macy’s in less than 2 years, he’s going to live there full time. For his next trip to Paris in April ’17, he’s rented the wheelhouse of a barge. He can’t swim and I’m certain he won’t float. Stay tuned for updates on that, m’kay? I’ll catch up with Jimmy in Paris in April, his wheelhouse sleeps 2.
My life is full of loving friends and I’m grateful for every single one of them but there’s something unique about Jimmy that separates him from everybody else. And it’s huge.
My whole deal about being alone, about being single, about never wanting a relationship, is because I’m never more interested in anybody else than I am my own interests and the pursuit of my own work. I’m happier alone than I am with anyone, no matter who they are, no matter what we’re doing.
It’s me, it’s not you. I orbit, I don’t dock. And it doesn’t have anything to do with me not loving you or caring about you. And although it sounds totally selfish, if you know anything about me, you’ll know I’m the opposite of selfish; I’m super generous.
It’s just that I’m a true loner. I’m a true introvert. No matter how much fun we’re having, being with other people slowly drains the plasma out of me and I have to recover in solitude.
I have to be alone to recover from not being alone.
When I’m with Jimmy, I feel like I’m alone. And I love to be alone. With Jimmy.
Our dear friend David Gould took these pictures of Jimmy and I yesterday after our extended, boozy lunch at Pink Door. I’ve been in love with David for over 30 years, he’s an enormously talented artist and if you find him on Facebook, you’ll absolutely love the photography he shares there. I promise.
How’ve you been coping with either your immense joy or your severe depression, or are you enjoying that “I didn’t vote because I don’t care” ambivalence?
Are you dreading the upcoming winter holidays because you’ve got friends or family on the “other side” of these divisive political and social issues, and there’s sure to be heat?
I don’t have a family and I love spending the holidays alone so, for my weird self, everything is super clean and simple, but for normal people, it’s just a huge challenge to find a way through what, even in good times, is an emotionally charged, difficult to navigate holiday season.
How about this.
Let’s back off of broad assumptions for now and work on realizing that the good people you know who voted for the candidate you didn’t are more like you than not. They’d help you if you needed it. They look just like friends of yours, maybe they look just like you. They want the same things you want. They work hard. They try their best. They believe as much in their candidate as you do in yours.
To help you enjoy the holidays, practice saying:
“thanks for letting me know how you feel, isn’t the pie delicious?”
“only time will tell how this turns out and I know we’re all hoping for the best”
“I’m needed in the kitchen, will you please excuse me?”
To help you enjoy the holidays, avoid saying:
“He’s going to start a war and it’s going to be your fault”
“America is the laughing stock of the world, happy now?”
“Mike Pence for President”
For more help in preparing for holiday interaction with “them” read this and this and this, which contains the gem “If he continued, she would hold her hand up, making a peace sign and signaling for him to stop.”
This Thanksgiving as you gather with loved ones, some of whom will surely be on the other side, here’s hoping you have the grace and decorum to flash that peace sign, excuse yourself and get busy in the kitchen or better yet, out in the yard where you can more easily enjoy the crisp air and marvel at the enormous sky as the world continues, as the world does, to spin.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.
PS I knew Trump would win.
UPDATE A day later: PPS A reader wrote that they thought my PS was snarky, and they were disappointed in me for that.
To which I responded:
First, I hope you’ll accept my sincere apology for having disappointed you; that’s obviously never my intent and in spite of purposely trying not to, having done it is especially, well, disappointing! Please forgive me.
I thought “snark/snarky” meant a kind of passive-aggressive, snide insult, so I’m not sure how my PS rises to the definition Urban Dictionary and I have been assuming.
Urban Dictionary: noun
Combination of “snide” and “remark”. Sarcastic comment(s).
Also snarky (adj.) and snarkily (adv.)
His commentary was rife with snark.
“Your boundless ineptitude is astounding,” she snarkily declared.
About how I knew Trump would win, I’m based in Florida which is a crazy kind of state for a lot of reasons but is crazy important in politics. In the final week of the campaigns, both candidates and surrogates were not only in Florida every day, but specifically along a corridor that runs right through my hometown – without that corridor, no White House. Weird, to think that could be true, but it is. Because of my proximity to that craziness, plus my awareness of early and pervasive Trump yard signs at homes all over town including our biggest waterfront mansions and, as more expected, all over my trailer park which, oddly, is mostly owned by rich Canadians. From home, I could see wide support across socio-economic strata. I also traveled a bunch during the summer and fall and in airports across America, I saw the same thing only demonstrated through Trump hats, t-shirts, and bumper stickers stuck onto carry on luggage. Absolutely nothing to that extent was being shown in support of Clinton. I kept reading the polls showing Clinton with a narrow lead and I’d think, that won’t hold, and, of course, it didn’t. That’s how I knew he’d win. There was nothing insulting or snide intended in my PS. When I have time, I’ll get back into the post and expand on it so that I don’t run the risk of disappointing anybody else by causing them to think I was being snide.
And just so you know, whenever I have something to say that’s considered to be counter, or confrontational, or oppositional, I’m direct, urgent and crystal clear. If you’ve been reading me for a while, you’ll already know that. If I’d meant to say anything substantive, candidate wise, I would have come at it straight on.
I’ll do a better job for you having reached out. Thank you for that.
Happy Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for you!
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of when I do engage for counter/correction/calling bullshit, you know the difference between what I meant by my PS and how I present when I have something counter to express. The opposite of passive aggressive/snark – I have a long consistent history of pragmatically addressing controversial subjects, keeping personalities completely out of it and strictly adhering to the facts as established scientifically by experts outside the unregulated, unsafe Pilates industry. I’m known for being direct, clear and absent personalization.
These are images of Galaxies from NASA’s Hubble telescope.
There are trillions of stars in some galaxies with over 100 billion galaxies in the known universe.
a Flash of Objectivity
If we’re lucky, we get a handful of moments in life where some seemingly mystical, random combination of circumstances converge around us, and we’re suddenly capable of true objectivity; of feeling and seeing and being at one with our place in the universal order of everything and everyone, of our place in line with everything and everyone that’s gone before us, and all that will come after, of how insignificant we are and yet how extraordinarily important we are.
Regardless of where or when they happen for me, when they happen for me, I’m insanely aware of everything and, simultaneously, of nothing.
Regardless of where or when they happen for me, when they happen for me, I’m able to realize the bounds of my utter impermanence, the bounds of my life and its utter insignificance in relationship to everything else but how I’m somehow an integral part of the physical space I occupy, on this physical land, on this physical continent, on this physical planet, in this physical galaxy, and how this physical galaxy is part of billions of other physical galaxies in our physical universe. To recap, while in Flash, I’m aware that I’m nothing while at the same time my nothingness is part of everything else that’s, at the same time, something and nothing.
Suggestion: Perhaps you should take a hit of pot because I’m only half way through the set up of this piece.
That’s what’s happening in my mind on/in Flash, but there’s a body-centric component of being on/in Flash, too.
My body doesn’t end, it blends, it merges, it is subsumed by the air around me. What I’m seeing is somehow not coming in through my eyes, it’s already inside me and I’m looking out through it, as part of it. For me, these Flashes of Objectivity almost always occur when I’m out in nature and when they happen, without exception, wind and light and sound pass through my body as if I had no mass. Instead of giving resistance or being impenetrable to wind and light and sound, my body seems to no longer exist as something separate from everything else.
During these Flashes of Objectivity, I am gone from what I know of myself and I’ve become part of everything else.
This type of transcendence is what the monks are capable of when deep in meditation or prayer. Surely, this is what drug addicts’ seek to control the repeat of. Surely, this is what it’s like to merge with all life forms, and with God.
You want more of everything, don’t you? Me too! I went and got us more of everything from the internet! More of everything is right here!
I have memories of those Flashes coming to me as early as 8 or 9 years old – while fishing, while riding my boy’s bike with a banana seat and cherry picker handle bars (I was gender fluid before we knew what it was!) – but I couldn’t describe them until I got into my teens.
In my late teens, I had one of my longest sustained Flash. Not surprisingly, a Fiat was involved.
I’ve always been a loner and one day, I drove my bright yellow Fiat X19 out to the Ten Cent Bridge where I parked on the sand just a few feet from the water’s edge, and I laid on the hood and watched the clouds float by.
Dolphins came to breathe with me, for me. Fish burbled to announce themselves, then jumped to show off for me. Waves lapped the shore trying to get to me. Heavy wet hot air carried the trace elements of the water that couldn’t quite get on me, and that heavy wet hot Florida air surrounded me with salt that left grit in my nostrils as I took it, with every breath, into my lungs. That heavy wet hot Florida air carried the grit of salt into my ears, and all through my waist length blonde hair. Bumble & Bumble, you’re a poser. The sun baked my skin, it heated my body from above and it came for me from underneath by heating the hood of my car beneath me. As I laid there in complete willful sacrifice and with the power of eternal nature surrounding me, I was being environmentally birthed, swaddled and nursed.
Today is Election Day in America. What a shit show.
I haven’t attended any rallies, I don’t talk politics, I did watch the debates but not for the same reasons most people might.
Yesterday, I walked the downtown waterfront and just so happened to arrive at my turn around point, the Dali Museum, just in time for a Joe Biden/Jimmy Buffett “get out the vote” rally in a waterfront park.
I’m still a loner and I had no intention of going to the rally – it was full of the dreaded “other people” – but I wanted to hear what the Vice President had to say, and who isn’t up for a little Jimmy? So I stood along the seawall railing just across the water from where the rally was being held and there, I fell into Flash and stayed there for I don’t know how long.
When I came out of it, I took pictures of the sky.
When I came out of it, I took pictures of the waterfront.
When I came out of it, Jimmy was singing this:
And with that, I stretched out my tight hips using the railing you see in the foreground of the marina shot, and as I draped my body over that railing, I released myself into the 12 knot wind and it took everything I don’t need and it brought me everything I do.
From this New York Times article on the World Series match up between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, we hear the Cub’s manager Joe Maddon talk about what’s on his mind, and the Indian’s 2nd baseman Jason Kipnes talk about how he feels being a Chicago native, playing for an opposing team in the sport’s ultimate competition.
“Cubs Manager Joe Maddon likened his drive to work, spent weaving around cars and pedestrians, to a video game.
“Thank God there’s not another round after this, I’ll say that,” Maddon said. “I’m ready for the family vacation. But it’s spectacular in all the best. Hyperbole definitely suits right now — whatever you want to throw out there, it really matches up to what’s going on right now.”
And now they threaten to provide another chapter of disappointment for the Cubs, breaking many hearts along the way.
“I love it.” Kipnis said. “Good. I hope I break all of them. I hope I break every single one of them. I hope I come home at Thanksgiving and the off-season, and I want to have a smile on my face when I look at all these Cubs fans.”
See the difference?
I’m not surprised that Cleveland is up 3 games to 1.
Let’s talk about what I call the “presumed order of death.”
If everything goes really well and things follow the presumed order of death, our grandparents die first, then hopefully many, many, many years later, our parents die, and then hopefully many, many, many, many years later, we die.
Daddy died in 1993.
Mom died in 2008 – 8 years ago today.
Here’s how I imagine Mom and Daddy in the great hereafter, their bodies young and perfect, restored to being the hipsters they were.
I know I’m next, but I also know that I’m still very much alive.
And on fire.
And in love with every moment of every day.
I miss Mom and Daddy but . . . I’ll be right along.
PS The order of death is randomly jumbled, leaving us without a shred of certainty about anything other than how we manage ourselves in response to the complete randomness of everything including the death order. Cheers!
Across all domains, excellence is excellence is excellence.
Across all domains, greatness fears no consequence.
Across all domains, the demands of greatness never rest.
Nor do the needs of the world, and the billions of people in it who are disadvantaged simply by the circumstances of their birth.
One of the most powerful ways I hold myself accountable to get smarter, be more effective and to work in greater service to others is that every single day I scavenge wisdom and enlightenment, from simple realization to full on revelation, from everything I see, hear, read or experience.
No matter how mundane, no matter how routine, no matter how insignificant, each moment of each day holds an embarrassment of riches when it comes to learning potential if you know what to look for.
Studying people at the top of their game is a cheater way to learn what to look for and fast track your own enrichment.
For over 25 years, I’ve studied Bill Gates. Together with Melinda and through their Foundation, they’ve materially changed the world for so much the better.
What do we have to learn from Bill Gates? Watch this.
In this speech Mr. Gates lays out for us a blueprint to follow for tackling the world’s most complex problems. To turn caring into action, we must overcome complexity and, here, one of history’s most effective problem solvers teaches us how we can solve our own problems, at our own scale, in our own lives, and within our own work. I’ve been lecturing on this speech since Mr. Gates gave it. Because I continue to follow their accomplishments and process in achieving them, I can honestly say that I owe a large part of my own success, and my unbridled happiness in achieving it, to Bill and Melinda Gates.
I’m not yet certain why, but Melinda Gates sent me a Facebook friend request and it was with a whispered prayer of gratitude, I hit “accept.”
That’s one example of who I study and why.
I study human performance, and I study it for 2 reasons.
First is because I’m an old jock – I predate Title 9 and in elementary school I played on boys teams because I was good enough to – but I also study human performance because athletes have to peak perform, then quickly move on to do it again, and again, and again.
There isn’t an elite athlete who isn’t masterful, whether studied or innate, at emotional separation and benign neglect of the past, and at moving on with a high spirit, and complete peace of mind that perfected preparation will deliver, at the moment of critical need, the performance of a lifetime. Over and over and over again. Day after day after day in training, and in peak performance competition after competition after competition.
I’ve learned tremendous lessons from this guy, Richard Sherman.
“So if I had to pinpoint the most difficult part of my job, I would say that it’s not any one thing I do on any given play.
It’s doing all of it, every play.”
“You may not see it on your TV screen at home because the camera always follows the ball, but if the play is away from me, and I’ve got a fresh backup receiver across from me whose job is to take off down the field and run me away from the play, I have to respect his route. I have to run with him, full speed, like he’s the No. 1 receiver and he’s getting the ball — because there’s always a chance he might. And if I get three different fresh guys off the bench running me off on consecutive plays, and I come back up to the line against their true No. 1 in a crucial situation where I know they like to hit him on a fade, I can’t stop the game and say, “Hold up, I gotta catch my breath.…”
I have to match up — and man up — against their best receiver and do my damn job.
“You probably remember the 2013 NFC championship game when we beat the 49ers — you know, the game where I batted the ball away at the last second to set up the game-sealing interception and send the Seahawks to the Super Bowl.
I made that play because I saw it coming. Because I was prepared. And I had been banged up — run off on the plays before that one and used up on the the drives earlier in the game. When you get to the fourth quarter, nobody is 100%. That’s when ballers ball. That’s when stars shine. So no matter what had happened previously, the reality was that it was first-and-10, fourth quarter, inside two minutes, and it was me vs. the 49ers’ wide receiver, and one of us had to make a play.
My job was to make sure it was me.
And that’s what I did.”
And with that, Richard could easily be talking about a professional, problem solving Pilates teacher who has to put aside all other matters – all stress, all distraction, all everything – and give their absolute best, to every single client, every single session, every single exercises, every single time.
In life, as in sports, what’s done is done, and all that matters now is your ability to do your best, to create amazing, to give it all, again. And again. And again.
THAT’S what separates the absolute great from everybody else.
Endurance, discipline, being unstoppable, relentless, smart and capable are all implied, assumed, expected, demanded.
By the world.
Simply because you’re here, and simply because the circumstances of your birth were so very favorable.
When I lead teachers to this realization and they get, often for the first time, that enormously powerful, mind blowing, intellectually and sensually seductive satisfaction that comes from creating a session that truly flows the teacher’s and client’s body, mind and spirit together as the single power source we were designed to live and work from and through, they almost always stare at me in disbelief – that this level of engagement was underneath all previous “sleepwalking sessions” they’ve taught – and ask, “how often do I have to do this?” and my answer, both fortunately and unfortunately, is always the same:
You have to be your exquisite best every fucking time.
Being inconsistently magnificent is far worse than being consistently mediocre.
The choice really is ours – choose to be great! – and that choice is informed, sustained and evolved by one thing, and one thing only; our level of tolerance for or, in the case of Mr. and Mrs. Gates, of Richard Sherman, and of, oh hell yes, Rebecca Elizabeth Leone, our level of embrace of all that’s implied in holding ourselves accountable for the demonstration of our greatness, every fucking time.
Make the most of your privileged birthright and be every bit as impactful as Bill and Melinda, and as Richard, but in your own exquisitely unique and exquisitely powerful way.