How Bad Do You Want It?

One of my favorite books is Stephen King’s The Long Walk, which is the story of an endurance contest. This contest is best described as literally “last man standing” and is so popular that the 100 contestants are chosen by lottery. There is one winner and the other 99 aren’t just losers, they’re dead. (Before some of you close your eyes, put your fingers in your ears and start chanting, “nanananana”, I’m not giving the plot away by sharing it.) The point of telling you this is to talk about commitment. How committed do you have to be to outlast 99 other people in an endurance contest? How bad do you have to want it?

Speaking of commitment, our youngest son, Gus, has turned into a gym rat. I had worried he would be a couch potato all summer but he’s running around talking about TNDO, short for “There’s No Day Off”. Always athletic, he’s focused on putting some muscle onto his 6’2” frame before the next soccer season. Today, he played me the Eric Thomas success videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nw41UQU_J0A ) titled, “How Bad Do You Want It?”. It features a football player going through an impressive set of drills wearing a t-shirt with TNDO on the front and “How Bad Do You Want It?” on the back.

Think about what you do. How bad do you want it? How does it feel to go to work every day?  I know how my son looks when he stumbles in at bedtime, after his second daily visit to the gym. He’s sweaty, exhausted and glowing. (I know, don’t tell him I said so. So not cool of me.) I can tell he loves what he’s doing. I don’t have to remind him or nag him. He does it because he loves it. If you stumble in from work sweaty, exhausted and, well, not glowing, then what? This is one of my favorite topics when I mentor employees. I love helping them find the passion that will fuel the rest of their days, the work that they can’t not do. This is the work that will inspire total commitment.

One benefit of loving what you do is that your enthusiasm is contagious. People want to work around others who are successful and, even better, loving it. Not only are you at your best but you’re helping others be at their best, too. How awesome is that?

Although shorter, the player on the left manages to jump higher than his opponent. He’s so committed that he overcomes his disadvantage. My son, Gus, played with this young man for years and he was a joy to watch. He continues to play in another city and we miss him!

The New Normal

I received a newsletter this week that was headlined with “Corporate corruption is the new normal, Americans say”. That seems so jaded, doesn’t it? Or is it just realistic? The media is full of corruption scandals but does that represent the norm?

I struggle with two concerns in this area. On the one hand, I’m a born cynic. I question anything and everything, but more in the interest of learning than in challenging the speaker’s credibility. This makes me tough to be around because people feel I don’t trust them. That’s a painful experience for the people who love me or work with me.

On the other hand, I want to believe people and this puts me at risk for being a chump. Cynics will point out the folly in trusting people; they say there’s a risk that people will take advantage. However, when we trust people, the trustworthy treasure it and your connections are strengthened.

So, how do you choose between these two? The last few years have taught me that I can choose the type of world I want to live in. Said differently, I can choose my normal. I choose to believe that people are trustworthy until they prove otherwise. I choose to believe that the buzz over corruption isn’t representative of the whole. I choose to not only trust people but to have faith in humanity as a whole. Sure, I’ll be a chump sometimes but life isn’t perfect. I choose for my imperfections to be one of having too much faith and not too little.

Our dog, Ipo, who is begging for trust despite hiding in the drapes like she’s been doing something she shouldn’t have. (Ipo is pronounced “ee-poe”, it means sweetheart in Hawaiian)

Acting

I think it was Jamie Foxx who, upon accepting his Oscar for Ray, said he needed to thank his grandmother (Estelle Marie Talley) because she taught him to act. He said she would tell him, “Act like you got some sense. Act like you been somewhere.” Isn’t that what all parents teach us? To act like we know what we’re about?

One of my professors recently reminded us to Act As If. This acting is crucial to us peacemakers guiding others through painful conflict. We have to act as if we know it will work out despite all evidence to the contrary. We have to act as if all of this chaos and conflict are manageable. We have to act as if we are at peace, regardless of what we may really be feeling.

As the mother of two young men, one in college and one in high school, I’ve tried to teach them the propriety of our culture. These are things like using an inside voice (mommy-talk for don’t yell in the house), pick up after yourself and look adults in the eyes when you shake their hands. These are all well and good but I think I should have broadened my instruction to simply teach them to “act as if”. Acting as if you’re responsible leads to being responsible. Acting as if you have some sense leads to you actually having common sense and acting as if you know what you’re about leads to you actually knowing what you’re about. This implies confidence and passion, two critical emotions to achieving our dreams. And that is absolutely the gift we want to give to our children.

My father, who is still teaching me many things, including how to be loving and joyful.

Independence and other thoughts

Today is a US holiday celebrating our independence from the British. That’s all well and good, meaning independence. However, independence isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve been an independent cuss for most of my life, not wanting help from others, thinking it made me weak or vulnerable. I recently realized, however, that my family and friends feel closer to me when they are able to help. Letting them help is a form of love, isn’t it? And helping them back allows me to show them I love them as well.

More practically, no entity (human, government or otherwise) can do everything. This is why we have the barter system and money to trade for goods and services. We are usually expert in only a few things, and that is only if we’re lucky enough to find our calling and have the joy of practicing it enough to become competent or better. So if we’re to go on in a balanced manner, then we need to rely on others to help.

Returning to the matter of the US’s independence celebration, we celebrate not because we don’t need others but because we are able to make our own decisions regarding what we need and who we will ask to fulfill that need. Let’s all celebrate that form of independence for every human, every nation.

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The US flags flying outside of the then headquarters of SBC (San Antonio, TX)