Author Archives: larzgold

Heroes and what happens when we find they are not perfect.

I have always looked at people who carry themselves in a certain manner.  Those who walk with confidence, don’t seem to have an insecurity in the world.  These famous people who are idolized, seem to be untouchable.  I always wondered why can’t I be like them, why do I feel so insecure, why do I have some demons that are on my mind.  But as I dig deeper there are stories of my Heroes and see they have fought demons and some that brought them down.  A few months ago I watched a documentary on Bruce Lee, well it was more a detailed autopsy.  They were trying to find out “why he died.”   Low and behold, the most likely reason was he was addicted to certain types of drugs, which although helped him be as leans as he was, but caused other issues.  It was not an allergic reaction to migraine medication.

Recently in the news, I have seen more people who were “stars” fall out of the sky.   It started making me think, what to do with all these fallen heroes, and the confidence they walked around with is more of a facade.   Now comparing demons to people who did horrible things is not what I am talking about.   But those who seem to find themselves losing the wars with their problems.

A few years ago, we often joked about the NFL, and how many of them were finding themselves in legal trouble.  I quick check of Congress and the Senate, and many of them have been caught doing illegal things.  If you look, we are often hunting for the worst in people, whether it be our heroes, or even more our villains (Who can be other people’s heroes,)    I had a coach once tell my daughter, it is not what you do when people are looking, it is what you do when people are not.   I think some of these people are learning, there isn’t a time when people are not looking.

But now to look at the title…   What to do when we find out they are not perfect.   To me learning Bruce was not perfect was something i knew already.   It didn’t change the way that I felt about him, as I still use his sayings for motivation, and to try to get better.  A heroes faults should not define the good they do.   You as the one who puts someone up as a hero, have the choice what to think.  All Heroes in movies/comics have a weakness, many are flawed, which is intentional.   We often still think they are heroes, people have not stopped watching superhero movies, in fact, we are inundated with them.

Separating the hero good traits from their flaws is what we need to do.  And not idolize the person, but the traits that we want to have.  Our goal should be to find a way to add those traits to our own lives and have others look up at us, and something to strive for..   I hope all the things that hold me back, the things I fight every day I can overcome, and I hope others can find the same…

 

 

I am not unique… But at least I have a plan… and another plan…

Growing up I was given the usual story from my parents, that i was unique, i was special… That i could do anything I put my mind to.  The world was my oyster, and only hard work stood between myself and success.   In fact that generation then imposed that will over the years and changed the landscape as much as they could.   The US was a superpower, and nothing was going to hurt us, hell we upset the Russians in hockey in 1980, what could go wrong.

Now that isn’t to say there were a true few who were special and stood out.   But it wasn’t everyone who stood out, and it was not everyone who was born for stardom.   The question became, then what was I born to do, what my plan, what was I destined to do (if you believe in destiny)  And also, what do I say to my kids, who want to be something/someone.    It has been 50 years of my life, and guess what, I still do not know the answer to any of those questions.

I really thought from a young age, the story we were told was true, go to college, get a degree, get a job, have a career and a family, and you will be happy.   My path was never that straight forward, I didn’t think I was ready for college when I went, I had no idea of my disability (more on that on other writings) and no Idea what the difference between success and failure was.  My younger life was filled with setbacks and tragedy, that a family motto was “It is only a minor inconvenience”  Please note, this was used to describe my sister battling cancer.

Now before I get the “oh poor you…” do not bother, because it was a part of my daily life, it didn’t bother me.  I knew what I had to do, i had figure out what it was to survive.  One of the best stories I remember was I came home from school/tennis practice and in front of my house was a fire truck and several police cars.  I walked past all the people into the house to make my dinner and get on with my evening.    When my parents asked why i didnt ask what was going on, I said I saw them, figured my brother did something, and figured they would tell me later.

I think at this age, I should have ruled out making plans, that someone was trying to tell me, that we are going to throw curve balls at you, no matter what you do.  I still set my sights on going to school (Carnegie Mellon) working in AI and getting a job etc.   Well most of you know my life story, I did not follow that path directly.  And every time a curve ball came, and came up with a new plan.  I felt like Pinky and the Brain trying to take over the world, just the plans were more realistic in my mind.   And as each one failed, I guess I should have been more phased that I was, I usually freaked out for a while, then figured another plan.

Up until May of this year, I thought what I had was great plan.  I married the perfect person for me,   We had 2 beautiful daughters, and were planning out life after they left the house.    My Wife unexpectedly passed away, and again I was stuck trying to figure out what the next plan is going to be.   Its Five months later, and I am taking it to day to day.  I have a sorta plan, just a plan to get thru the next few months.  For the first time I have not planned out to the future.  It is not that I dont want to, but for the first time I think the lesson I never learned was that don’t plan to far ahead, instead dream and try to make your dreams come true.  Between those two there is a fine line, but they are different.

And the second lesson I learned over the last few months, is that I am not unique.  I knew this, but what i didnt know was how hard everyone I know lives have been. How they have overcome a lot.   Many of my friends who became doctors were told, they wouldnt make it as a Dr, many paths were just as wiggled as my own.  And when someone tells my Samantha she wont make is as a Doctor, my response has been, lets talk to a few, and let them tell you what they were told.  The typical response, they were told “do something else, you dont have what it takes” …   When Ariel is told she is too small to be an athlete, I tell her “Prove them wrong”  “Stuff it in their faces…” and in many cases she does.   Just ask the Colonials a few weeks ago.

Maybe at 50 years I do know the answer, and I do know what to say…    And maybe people should take a quick look around, the journey for many has not been easy, and maybe since we are in this together we should look at becoming better people, and help each other a little more.    I know I try to do the best I can, and hope others are willing to do so.

 

I thought the Internet was going to be better….

I was incredibly lucky growing up, that my parents encouraged my use of computers.  They bought me one when i was barely in my teen, and even bought me a modem (Micromodem IIe for those who know what that is) –  I had access to a whole world of people who were like me.  It was a great experience exploring.  Soon services like CompuServe, Genie, Prodigy were around.  I got access to them all.  To me the world seem smaller, I was in this bubble that no one in my town really had access to it, and I was  interacting with adults and kids  who had this privilege.

Fast forward to being an adult, and hearing about the internet.  I do not remember the exact day i went from using connected services to dialing up with Netcom (my ISP) and searching the internet, but what I did see happening, was what I thought was the new normal.  HTML was not hard, it didnt take a rocket scientist to do make a page.  Anyone could have a voice, the playing field was the same, NYTimes was on par with John/Jane Doe.   Now it would take years before everyone could get online, but once they did it was going to be wonderful.  A new generation of people could speak their mind freely.

What I didn’t know, is that if everyone has a voice, everyone has a voice.  That is good, bad  etc.   I have written previously about sunlight being the best disinfectant.  My hope when I wrote that was that given people the ability to shine  their real colors would shine, and people would see them for what they are, good and/or bad.  The same on the internet, if people posted something that was truly off color, and really bad, that they would be exposed.  The collaborative internet would shut down hate, violence and all the “bad stuff.”

I think what has done is closer to the opposite.   It has given a voice to the negative, and allows them to find like minded individuals and amplify their voices.  Although that voice maybe in the minority, enough people agree to make it more like a megaphone.  Now of course to me amplification of voices sometimes is a good thing, like when people are truly oppressed.  But now the same amplification to hate, this really doesn’t make for a better society.   What I never expected was how this would all surface, and it is probably because I don’t understand it.

I have mentioned before how privilege I am, as well as most of the people I know are in the same boat.   Now I don’t mean in the way some will think that have a beach house, multiple luxury cars etc. My privilege was more how  I was raised and what i was able to learn as I grew up.   I was able to understand many sides of the story, gain empathy for my fellow people, and eventually understand my own ignorance to gain wisdom.   To me that is a whole world of privilege.  I don’t fear being wrong, and although sometimes i struggle through it, eventually I can change.

Now, please do not take this as defending anyone who supports hate and violence.  Not everyone has grown up in the same world as I.  But, take any of the current hate groups, and allow them to publish their views on the internet, and now they seem to find like minded people which was harder to find locally.  And although what people believe by showing “facts” is simply enough to change someone.  Apparently it makes people dig in harder to their beliefs.  I was really stunned to understand this.  But is is not possible to win some arguments.   I am not defending anyone who doesn’t see when they are wrong, just understanding that I and others may not be able to change their opinion.   And the notion of ganging up on them once they are exposed doesn’t solve the problem.

No, I do not have a solution, as the Pandora’s jar has been opened (yeah its not a box, look it up.)   I wish I did, I hope someone does and we should be discussion how to fix it.  Having companies take content down is not going to be the answer, at some point someone will be willing to take money.  Google is in one of the biggest spots, if it hides post and information, it doesn’t exists , or at least finding it is a bit harder. My understanding of Law is that the Government cannot interfere with free speech, but I don’t think the law states companies have to allow others free speech.

Maybe my wish is that we discuss the right course of action in any case instead of having a mob mentality.  There will be cases when ideas or thoughts should be squelched, but then how to we convince those with the ideas, that they are wrong.  How do we get them to accept the better idea.  How do we bring up the next generation not to hate?  Too much for one issue to be the champion of, but at some point, we need to address root cause, other wise our children, and our children’s children will be asking the same questions I am asking.

My generation was the one who was going to fix all of this, and now its my kids generation that again has to pick up the pieces of the broken world.   I just hope its not beyond repair.

Self Preservation vs. Realizing you have a problem

What took my close to 50 years to understand was that many of my reactions to situations are about one thing, Self Preservation.  Our brains, in in fact every living organism, is about self preservation.  I (and many of the people I know personally as well as those reading this)  are extremely lucky and blessed to have most of our basic needs met, food, shelter, and air.  After that everything else is just extra.  Although my kids thing a Range Rover is a necessity, I have to remind them nope, its extra.

But with basic needs met, what do our self preservation instincts do?  Most of the time it helps you while crossing the road (unless you are looking at your cell phone) so you don’t get hit by a car that you notice movement from your peripheral vision.  But what has become the new twist on the brain you react to change, as well as wanting to keep the status quo in your life the same.  Now there are people who are actively going for change, like a new job etc.  But in many cases most of the people I know, want to keep their lives moving forward, slowly with little alternation.

When life throws a monkey wrench in to what is your world, you then act out.  Your world can be your job, your relationships, even the election.   I found myself a long time ago over reacting to something, that was not in my control, and not even anything I could affect, because I was afraid of what it would do to me.  Why my personal life was going to be miserable, and because of social media I was able to find like minded others.  Posting my anger got me likes, and I didn’t care about who I alienated, as it was about me not anyone else.  It took me a while to realize it shouldn’t have been that way, that no matter what was wrong with what was going on, others are not you, and have their own problems that they perceive as their world that needs fixing.

I grew from that situation, and took stock.  I learned that I don’t attack someone posting in a space whereas there is more than one side, I don’t retort in my posts either (sub-tweet as they say) as I understand things around me will change.  Bruce Lee once said, “To Change with Change, is a Changeless state” – and yes, if I want my changeless state, I need to change with what is going around me, not fight to keep my current status.

Besides social media being this outlet for self preservation, there is a second one that also shows (mainly because of where I work) it head to often.  During the economic downturn many people lost their jobs.  So often, people react to issues at work with the notion of how do I keep my job.  How do I do what I am doing so that I can survive.  I need to provide food and shelter, so what do I need to do so that my homeostasis is continued.  Only thinking about my self preservation, the company is second, so what is the proper solution to problems where I look good, or I come out of issues not looking bad, someone else does.

This view of wanting to put the self first, leads to a plethora of bad decisions at work.  From technology choices, direction choices etc.  I have seen people argue about moving forward even though whatever is working isn’t working properly, but its less scary than going to the unknown.  Or people spending more time figuring out how to cover their ass instead of taking the risk, trying to get the company better.  The goal of this action is “who to blame” when a decision is made if it goes wrong, as opposed to putting all effort into making it succeed.   I work with software developers, and many would love the chance to put in effort to get the best stuff working, instead of patching the old thing over and over again, even though it often is just putting a duct tape on a problem.

This self preservation may lead to also those not seeing their deficiencies.  When making the decisions, if one constantly goes to their strengths, there is no way for you to grow.  Technology is moving faster, and making those decisions is often balance between what you know, and what is right going forward.  I have learned to hire people around me that are in my blind spots, my weaknesses.   I have also told them, after I hired them, this is what I need your help in.  The ones who step up and do it, are the keys to our success.   I know that I am not perfect, that every year when I get a review, often my deficiencies are swept under a rug, and it is up to myself to figure out what is not going right, or what am I not doing well enough to either change, or build my team to resolve.  But it has become that, as my new self preservation vs. the old me who would lash out and figure out who was to blame, who was at fault, and who needs to be punished for my actions.

It is unfortunate we teach high school students many things that are not of value, instead of teaching them how to constantly learn and change.   To think of self preservation not as a survival instinct that needs a reaction like it used to, but one that needs to extend as a learning experience for yourself to get better.  Yes, it does not mean get hit by that car, but and I am not talking about that, but the same basic instinct needs to be updated so that we often do things that are better for the common good, than just ourselves.  We do have the ability to adapt, and as things change around us, we can alter our lives to keep moving forward.

Revisiting Gorilla’s and Bananas real quickly…

Every time I see an article looking at something that has done traditional, and unfortunately will not change no matter what is said or day, and keep remembering my gorilla’s and banana post.  Today I read an article and how bad the Jewish high holiday services are, and know my kids hate going.   Making them go, makes it worse, its like more of a punishment than a celebration.   I wish religion would take advice from this article.

I don’t think I will need to say any more.

I always wanted to be a hero…. never knew I already was

As a kid I had heroes, from athletes, to musicians, to actors.   I would dream about being a hero, being successful having everything I ever wanted in the world.  From reading books of swashbuckling swordsmen, to winning a Stanley Cup, to singing in front of fifty thousand fans what else would anyone want in a hero. There are even times later in life that I would daydream about it.  It seemed the world would be perfect if I could just be one of these superstars, it seemed like their lives were perfect.  They seem to do everything right, the worked out, looked awesome, made money, got the girls etc.

Every so often i would hear about chinks in the armor.  Finding out that the ripped athletes were taking drugs, professional wrestlers who were sworn enemies were actually best friends, and learning musicians were ‘taking drugs’ to write songs started to wear on me.  One of my favorite heroes Bruce Lee smoked marijuana and was most likely hooked on cortisone and there was no way he could reach the body fat he was without it.

So if heroes aren’t what they seem to be maybe I should be looking at it in a different way.  In the movie “A Bronx Tale” the dad shouts at C letting him know what real heroes are, stating the working man is the real hero.  I saw his argument, but didn’t think he was one hundred percent complete.

Three months ago, I lost my wife, and I knew I had to hold it together, it took everything I knew to not completely freak out.  What I found out that I had, or I should say we have a lot of good friends and family that stopped their world to be by my side.  It was overwhelming, it was unbelievable, and still is ongoing.  What took me three months to realize, I had been there for my friends in their darkest hours (and their brightest days) and will continue to try to be.  My sister has been helping out in my house, and many of my friends have been doing anything I ask.

Today I went to visit someone in the hospital, a friend who i saw at Shiva, but had not seen in a long time before that.  I didn’t think twice about trying to make some time during my crazy day to get there.

The notion of friendship, how to be a good friend, and to surround yourself with the right people.  That is what is makes a hero.  And its the ability to do the little things to make someones day, to help one another, In a book my father read to me Alexandre Dumas wrote “All for one, and one for all..”  The three musketeers were one of my heroes, and to realize I have grown up to be like them, or at least to follow what they have found in each other.   I have become one of my heroes, as well as my sister, many in my family, and most of my friends.  We may not carry swords and fight a bad king, we fight for one another.

 

The Blind Squirrel Theory… or Blind Pig Theory?

I have heard this saying thousands of times “Eventually a Blind Squirrel finds a nut.”  But even as I say this, I know the saying is wrong.  The original saying was even a blind pig finds a nut.  Blind Pig I remember the origin of when i learned the saying.  I was in high school, and was playing tennis.  I had to play a girl Sandy Stein.  All I heard was that she was going to beat me etc.  Well somehow I managed to beat her, and my friend Scott said “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut”  Yep it might be true, but for that day, I had a blind squirrel day.

I later heard Dennis Conner use the line “Eventually a Blind Squirrel finds and Acorn” was he was able to managed to win the 4th race against the Aussie’s winged keel boat in 1983.   Liberty (Dennis’s boat) won the first 2 races because of equipment failure against Australia II.  Australia easily one the 3rd race.  The forth race Liberty managed to win by under a minute, and led to Dennis Conner making the quote.  He knew they had a far superior boat.   It also led to Dennis Conner to saying sailing was on it way to becoming more of a science then an art.

There are dozens of other variations and stories I heard about blind squirrel/pig, and some compare the saying to a broken clock is right twice a day.  To me this is different, the blind squirrel gets lucky, the clock has the exact right combination, its just waiting for the world to come to it.    To me being right or victorious once does not mean much, but it definitely can make some interesting results.  What make march madness (for those who don’t know what it is, just google it ) so exciting is that anyone can beat anyone on any day.   My dad used to say this to me all the time.  And in March Madness, you do not need to be the better team, you just need to be the better team for that one game.  Sports that have the best of 7 series, its harder for a lessor team to win.

Being good or great means consistency.   Having a great game or great year is wonderful, but strive to be consistently good throughout your career.  This truly will make you the opposite of a blind squirrel.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  I do moderate all comments, and try to remove anything that is not in the spirit of the site.  Thanks for reading

Sometimes you paint the fish, Sometimes you paint the car..

When I was in college i heard a story about one of my favorite cars, the Mako Shark corvette.  In particular how the paint job was finally agree upon.  You can see the story here  The jist of the story, Bill Mitchell the head of the team, wanted the car painted like the Shark he had on the wall, and the team tried.  Each time Bill would compare the fish to the paint job, and say it wasnt good enough.  At one point the team took the fish, painted the fish and the car the same.  When Bill went to compare the two, they were a perfect match, and he said “finally you got it…”

What does this mean, any time you are asked to compare two things, make sure you are changing the right thing.  Know your target, and sometimes you need to change your target.  One example was we once built a new system, and we were told that we need to compare it to the output of the old system.  For days we were struggling, but then we took a step back.  We looked at the code and calculations of the old system, and realized the calculation was wrong.  Getting the business to compare the old versus the new, would be useless when one is completely incorrect.   We finally were able to convince the business to start comparing it to what the answer should be, not the old data, and got back on track.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  I do moderate all comments, and try to remove anything that is not in the spirit of the site.  Thanks for reading

 

Bruce Lee… And Defeat…

In April of 2017 my daughter was playing in the semi-finals to win a national championship for hockey in Michigan.  The team was tired, a short bench, and younger kids playing up in age group.  The survived the round robin, and won a quarterfinal game.  In the round robin game 2 we find ourselves down by 1, and managed to strike back.  In game 3 we were down 2, scored one late in the second, tied in the third, and won in over time.  But What does this have to do with Bruce Lee, we will get to that later.

Which leads us to the semi-final game.  Before the game, the coach was told that due to our record in the round robin, we had secured a bronze medal already (if we lost.)  In the semi-final game we found ourselves down by 2, how we got there is not material.  We had come back from down 2 before, so it should not have been the end.  But in between the 2nd and 3rd period during the ice cut, one of the players announced we were going to lose the game.   This was from one of the girls who was looked to as a leader.  Needless to say, other than 1-2 girls we came out flat and lost the game.

Once i heard the story I remember what Bruce Lee once said “Defeat is a state of mind; No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.”    The game was not over, yet once there a player or two decided it was, there was no chance to win.  And even in defeat to those who quit didn’t see any victory.  For those who fought hard till the end, who left it all on the ice trying to win, celebrated the bronze and can look back on the success.  For those who quit, will never look back and have that enjoyment, as it they will be reminded of what they could have tried to do.

My daughter was incredibly upset at losing, but more upset of those who quit, and others that serve to place blame.  Within hours she realized how far the team came, and what a successful season it was, and no longer accepted it as a defeat, but a victory to how far they got.  She turned to find a way to celebrate the season instead of harping on the loss.  Even Kurt Warner said his biggest regret was after losing the Super Bowl with the Rams was not celebrating how far they had gone that year.   Here is hoping the team gets together to celebrate what they achieved and will not be defeated.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  I do moderate all comments, and try to remove anything that is not in the spirit of the site.  Thanks for reading

How many “List of Successful things people do are there”….

In my twitter, facebook, email and other feeds I get a least one “Top X things Successful people do” Articles, and like a sucker I read each one.

  • http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/10-things-successful-people.html
  • http://www.businessinsider.com/what-successful-people-do-friday-afternoon-2016-10
  • and over 3 million other links.

I don’t know why I read each one, hoping there is some magic pill that makes me turn from who I am to uber successful.  Then I woke up.   I finally realized, these articles are no better than the “fitness” in a bottle, or even lose weight on a DVD.   It does not take a genius to realize that you cannot lose weight by taking a pill, that no workout is going to rescue you from eating a crappy diet.   There is no study ever proving any of it, no matter what Dr. Oz or other idiot on the TV says.  Losing weight is purely about 1 thing, finding a calorie deficit, aka. burning more calories than you take in.  (If you read my fit.lrau.com blog you will see there are some questions about what is a calorie and a lot of interesting side thoughts but I digress)

So if you cannot lose weight in a $19.95 purchase, what made me think, I can suddenly become successful by reading an article and suddenly giving myself 10 new traits/practices etc.  And yeah it took years of reading these articles to wake up.  I woke up to the reality that anyone can find dozens are so successful people, find a few things they have in common and say “Hey guess what, do these or act like this” and you will be successful.   I chose to see what I hide in common with Bruce Lee to prove a point.  Lets assume we are both “successful” here is what i found we have in common.

  • We both took fencing
  • We both believe our children are our greatest accomplishment
  • We believe the relationship with our spouse is one of a team
  • We both had a miniature schnauzer for a pet
  • We both read a to on non-fiction to learn
  • We both multi-tasked often (reading / listening to music)
  • We both were constantly fidgety

Now of course I went for stuff that really seems insignificant, and that was done intentionally.  Success does not happen due to having some list of traits.  In fact I wish the articles would find people that had the same 10 traits and were not successful.  To me it would be like athletes are musicians.  I know 100s of musicians that I think are really good at playing or singing.  But very few “made” it.  Same with Athletes, 100s that are talented, work hard and look like they should be playing at the next level.   But only few of each ever make that ‘next’ level, and fewer stay there.

So what are you supposed to do.  Later in life my daughter had a hockey coach who carried around a saying in his wallet.  “My name is Josh Esformes, and I make a living being myself”  To me it is something that sank in, to be successful, you need to be yourself.  Taking the athlete example again, look at Borg, McEnroe and Connors as tennis players (Google them if you don’t know who they are)  They were as different personality as they could be, Borg was quiet, and just went to work, McEnroe somehow had to get enrage and angry to play well, and Connors needed energy from the fans and pumped his fist often.  Yet they were all successful.  You don’t have to be someone else to be successful, you need to be yourself, who that is, you must find out.  It is your inner journey, and Bruce Lee would be proud of that, as he always believed reaching up and learning (guess that is another thing we have in common)   I now carry that same saying in my wallet (changing the name of course)  and will let others determine how successful I am.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  I do moderate all comments, and try to remove anything that is not in the spirit of the site.  Thanks for reading.