Month: July 2023

Finding Nemo, No Finding Forrester, no Finding Myself.

I started this as a blog in 2016, but most of the stories and posts go further back and were written in various notebooks. Though it may seem I am a writer if you asked any of my teachers in high school, I was not even a reader, let alone a writer. In parent teacher conferences they would say I was bright and underachieving. There are stories that my classmates tell (some of them are true) including the one about a classmate calling me at like 9-10pm at night reading me the physics problem, and my ability to tell him thru solving it, and at the same time i wrote the answer down. It saved me from carrying a heavy physics book home nightly. And some other stories about how I solved math problems in ways that were also not in the book.  

But now I look back at over 150 posts, and 30 plus more in draft state I wanted to know how far I came. Well, the first writings were poor, compared to my later works. The topics and my thoughts may be just as good, but the writing was awful. Why? I had to find my voice in writing, as and find myself. I thought about the books that I was able to read and what I liked about them. My ADHD makes it hard sometimes to absorb information and I find authors who write as they speak, in a conversational voice easier to read. I started looking at my writing as it has changed over the years, and the best ones are lessons or topics that are tied to my personal stories and spoken as a conversation to my reader.  

I honestly did not know I was looking for my voice. In fact, when I started writing some of these when I was in my twenties it was more about ego, that I knew better than you and my book and thoughts were going to change the world. Thank God I was not given the green light to write it. As I started writing, I found the why I write, and then I started to find my voice. Visiting and reading some of my posts, I can see the ones where I was on this tall tour lecturing, and others where I find myself humbled by lessons I learned and link to stories of my life.  

So how do you find yourself, and how do you find the why? It really is a series of trying things, some which may succeed and others that may fail. It is not chasing the vision of success, but more challenging yourself to succeed. It took me years to figure out my why, as stated I started writing more of ego. Later I found writing therapeutic and helped me with my day-to-day life. From dealing with how challenging work is, to struggles when I lost my wife the ability to have a creative outlet that was just for me seemed to keep myself grounded.  

Finding myself was harder. This blog is an insight into the journey. I remember when I was younger, I was told how bright I was, and what I was good at, but it is not what I wanted to be good at. I wanted to be a famous athlete or musician. What most people do not see is the work that those top 1% put in to get there. The hours of practice, the loss of other things (social life etc.) to gain it. And just like starting a company, there is no guarantee of success. For every Michael Jordan there are hundreds of thousands of players who did not make it. For every Billy Joel there are hundreds of thousands of Larry Golds who enjoy playing music but do not hit heights.  

While trying to be those and failing I was able to find the things I was good at. I was asked by someone how did I find Technology. I realized later in life that it was related to my ADHD. I was fortunate that my parents could afford get buy me a PC (in the early 80s) At that time you could not download software from the internet but there were magazines which printed source code and you could type it in. I found myself doing this often and getting excited when things worked. Then you would tinker a little to see what you could get it to do beyond what you typed. And little did I know these small shots of excitement were dopamine hits. This continued from building PCs, to getting crazy infrastructure to work till this day when I play with some AI stuff and get it to succeed. The excitement of building something is what got me to where I am. The connection between ADHD and what I do was a revelation.  

The managers who got the most out of me gave me short assignments, less than a day or so, because they seemed to understand how I worked. Other managers who tried to get me to do long term things did not work out as well. Even now for me to achieve things I break them into smaller tasks, often ones i can do in an hour or so and get that hit when done. Even cutting the lawn I break into two parts, cutting the front/back and later going out and doing the edging. This way I get to victories for what is really one task.  

What is only obvious in retrospect is all the things I failed at were things that I was not getting enough positive feedback, not seeing the instant results and thus I was not willing to put the effort needed to get the results I wanted. I see it in myself now from a song that I wanted to learn in guitar that the difficulty was so high I could not get past the first few bars and gave up. I keep telling myself to try again, and maybe I will learn it. I need to remind myself of the post from last week, that failure is not something that should hurt me, but should teach me.  

So now at the ripe old age of fifty-six I have found my voice, I have found myself and I try to work with the gifts I have to reach my goals. I will eventually learn that song, I will eventually write some fantastic post that is known outside my circle, I will go to sleep one night not thinking I have imposter syndrome but for now I get to smile as the last words of this post has given me another dopamine hit. 

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information.Images without notes are created using and AI tool that allows me to reuse them. 

If you succeeded in everything you do, you are lazy….

Last week I wrote about lessons from a goalie parent, but it was missed a few, and well this one was in draft for 2 years (writing another one about my draft problem) and figured hey this is a good time to finish this. When my daughter was first playing hockey competitively there was a notion you most wins or play on a winning team or in some cases play on the highest level of hockey in your age group. I will go into parents ruining youth sports another time, but inside the tornado of youth sports it is a bit crazy. The truth is at the youngest age you want to be on a team that wins equally as many as it loses (whatever level you are in.). The reason, if you are winning all the time, you are not being challenged, if you are losing all the time, you might get completely discouraged. 

Some of the greatest athletes of all time talk about their failures. Michael Jordan once said “I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” What do people remember? Most of us remember the shot of MJ hitting the shot with no time left on the clock. Not only did he fail many time at it, but I am sure (like thousands of other kids) played in their driveway/school yard etc. pretending to make that last shot. I know I did, and I missed the shot a lot, but the one time I hit it I celebrated like I won the NBA Championship. What I didn’t realize I was learning from the missed shots and worked on getting better. 

Bruce Lee (yeah quoting him again) said “Don’t fear failure. — Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” I wish many times I followed this in my personal life. Simple in words and great in thought, like many other quote from Bruce (Note the 20th of July was the 50th anniversary of his death) show a simple philosophy that many struggle due to inertia to break thru. And the fear of failure and the reaction of others around us to that failure adds to the forces against taking risks. There are few who can escape the stigma, may fail more than the rest of us, but their successes may far outweigh someone who takes not chances. 

I once complained that in school that you could get an A for a failed experiment, as you proved something could not be done the way you thought. I was wrong, in life and in many work situations the notion of moving out of your comfort zone should be celebrated. In real life, whether it is work or your personal life there is a need to ignore the stigma of failing, look forward to the possibility of learning something even in failure. Those standing in the same spot may laugh at your attempts, but they will be in the same spot when you succeed and go past them.  

Now remember what I said about hockey, you need to have equal wins and losses. You can’t lose all the time in life and work. So, moving out of your comfort zone all the time is as bad as not moving out at all. Picking the time to take risks comes with experience and wisdom. Back to hockey, the goalie with the greatest number of wins in hockey also has the greatest number of losses. He had to go out and play with the risk of losing each time, but obviously 691 wins and victories were definitely lessons learned from those losses. In sports sometimes you can’t pick the risk you take, in life you can. Stick your neck out at work, take the new role that is out of your comfort zone, change careers, ask that person out you never met, say yes to something you would normally say no to… but do it with the experience gained from your earlier failures.  And don’t be so lazy, you might fail, but you might succeed.

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information.Images without notes are created using and AI tool that allows me to reuse them. 

Life lessons from a goalie parent..

My daughter played between the pipes from the Age of 4 thru just recently when her “playing career ended.” We use the expression she was a special kind of stupid as she played goalie not only for hockey, but for lacrosse. Apparently, she liked people shooting objects at a rapid velocity at her head and did not have the reflect to duck! How did it start, well she saw Martin Brodeur playing for the NJ Devils at the age of about 2, and from that day forward that is what she wanted to do.  

She did choose arguably the GOAT to be her idol, and such began a long journey. She was not going to have a shot for anything as her height estimate was going to be well short of 5′ and in both sports size matters. Martin Brodeur is 6″2, Darcy Kemper who won the Stanley Cup for Colorado in 2022 is 6″4, Aidan Hill who won for Vegas in 23 is 6’6″ and the 2022 Women’s Olympic Goalies all over 5’5.  

This is not going to be a long story about her from Mites -> Winning a Bronze Metal at Nationals (as a 15 year old for 19U) and committing to play lacrosse in college. This is more a piece about the biggest lesson along the way. One of the things about being a goalie is that you are the last line of defense, in hockey the puck goes thru 5 others to get to you. But if you are the Goalie – you are going to get the blame no matter what. It is your only job, to stop the puck (or ball.) 

You can see young goalies get upset, as well as the teammates sometimes blaming the goalie. As teams mature (kids get older) and in hockey, the more get together as a group and talk about what went wrong and who to pick up. In lacrosse (lax) you will see the goalie huddle with her defense and talk. It is interesting to see the maturity, but that is not the best lesson.  

Goalies still give up goals, and even in pro games you hear announcers say “that is going to haunt them.” Well, that is the lesson, it can’t. In Marty Brodeur’s autobiography he talks about what he calls the “next shot.” His only focused on stopping the next shot and mentions “you cannot stop the puck that is already behind you.” That simple wisdom is what goalies learn, they take a sip from their water bottle and refocus and getting the next one.  

And if you have not been following closely, the question is how does this relate to real life. It should be obvious.  

  • Stop blaming when things go wrong. Work the solution, only way to move forward (there is time for what is called retrospective later)  
  • Mistakes are going to happen, when someone calls you to admit one, the first thing is “do we have a plan to fix it” (notice the word We – there are hockey commercials that show that, there is no I, just we)  
  • In Agile, it is why we have retrospectives, we can review what went right/wrong/missing. If something goes wrong, it’s fine to identify it (Mark it as stop doing)  
  • Learn from what happened, don’t dwell on it.  
  • And you can’t just Learn, you need to work on correcting it. Perfection is a journey and, in some cases, won’t be hit.  
  • Build a culture where people are willing to bring mistakes and issues up, the sooner the better. 

As a goalie parent watching this allowed me to bring the same team building back to my office. The key is to build the culture. My daughters playing career may be over, but the lessons hopefully will stay with her. 

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information.Images without notes are created using and AI tool that allows me to reuse them. 

What makes you a success…

As a child we developed a warp vision of success, and mine was up there. growing up in the 70s and early 80s I viewed successful people as those who were famous nationally, and then around my area those who had the nicest car. My parents drove a 1973 Ford LTD station wagon (yellow) affectionately called the ambulance (another story) but I saw one neighbor with a blue Corvette, and another with Cadillacs. In car magazines you would see the Ferraris of the world, but no one in my town had one. 

I had previously written about the notion asking a child what they want to be when they grow up is a dumb question, and the answers are what kids see as successful and or exciting jobs. I wonder if you asked a kindergarten student what determines success at that age what their answer might be. The downside of information being at our fingertips could result and the current generation saying success is having one million followers on the current social media app. That is no worse than my childhood idea of success. 

Why this idea of success was in a conversation with some people there was a discussion of someone who made a fortune and retired a lot younger than I am right now and how successful.  He was bright, hard to quantify if he brighter than me, but that was not the question that came up, the question came up is why aren’t you rich like he is?   Note this is a group of adults and we resorted to our childhood definition of success, money.  

I shook off the conversation with some comments, but I realized that still is the definition. The notion of having good friends, being able to give back and trying to be a better person is not the definition of success. None of those are as measurable is how much money do you have in the bank, what kind of car you drive, did you raise your children right or how many Armani suits you have in the closet. Being the nutcase I am, I had to think about it for a few days. I stared at my ceiling and thought what I should do now to become successful. 

The definition of success in the dictionary is “accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” It does not say anything about money or fame. The Atlantic has a good article on the history of this. Looking at the change it was not till the mid 19th century that the US started to value money and move towards a capitalistic society. Thus, one hundred and seventy years it continued to evolve, including the 1970s shareholder value, and the consumer generation of the 80s. So, the definition of success continued to be linked to money. 

An updated definition might include for human’s desire to accumulate wealth. Linked In has an article on 9 reasons why money does not equal success, but at falls apart starting with number 2 and 3. Money cannot buy family is number 2. But Family is a lottery, you are born into a family, and it is possible that your parents could have died young, or not be the greatest. You as a person may not want a family. Number 3 states Health is your most important asset. What if you are born ill or get some chronic disease, and if you like health to success those people can’t be successful? And often can money afford you to be healthier? The article does make other good points, but again put stipulations on the definition. 

Is successful being happy? A Princeton study states that making $75,000 (usd) as the amount of money that allows you to provide for your family and making more does not add to your happiness. A study at Harvard I mentioned before that started in 1938 found that happiness is not about money either. Success at work does not make you happy, it is the connections you make. If you read my series on team building, you would understand that building a team is what I believe makes me a success at work. 

But wait that breaks the definition also by adding happiness to the definition. If it is simply reaching a set forth goal, then success is seen just by you (unless you tweet or create a TikTok video) by the goal you set. It is also not something that ever ends, as your goals in life may change, or add more as you reach one. I do know that just getting this written won’t change opinion, just like the Princeton Study and the Harvard Study, as the shift started in the 1850’s towards a capitalistic society is still running its course. For me, I find watching Bruce Lee’s Game of Death and realizing that the lessons I learn guide me yet towards another lesson and thus another goal. 

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.  AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information. Images without notes are created using and AI tool that allows me to reuse them. 

Incentives gone possibly wrong?

Incentives are a wonderful thing. As a parent I did a few things I thought were smart. When they were young, I would give them one dollar if they drank water versus soda at a restaurant. For grades, would bribe them to get A’s. When you are young, you are not thinking about getting into the “best” school, and not really sure what grades mean. A parent knows that going to the right school has lots of advantages so in lower grades a bribe like that works.  

But why do parents and later students know that getting good grades is important? Colleges say they use grades to decide whether someone gets accepted. So, in turn the goals of schools, parents etc. become getting the ‘grades’ or scores needed. In fact, businesses have been built based on the fact of getting SAT/ACT scores as well as tutoring for students.  

Nothing withstanding the fact that in top schools 43% are alumni, athletes, parents or teachers or kids of ‘donators’ the race for now 57% of those open slots (AADT) . The current supreme court ruling also opened other cans of worms, but I am not going to head in that direction. The direction I am thinking is more, the fact that the goal is grades and scores, so we educate based those goals.  

Grades are a recent creation, and around 1830s they more resemble a bell curve. The average grade was a 50. The distribution was set to be more of a ranking. At some point they skewed the grades higher, cause well no one wants to be ‘average.’ Now the history of grades is not the cause of the problem, but with the the reliance on them. 

Elementary and High schools then have the current grade model resulting in parents wanting kids to have a 4.0, schools wanting kids with high grades (money, bragging rights, wall of ‘acceptances’ etc.) and kids stressing out trying to reach the grades. In this model the question I want to ask, are the kids learning anything? 

Classes that require regurgitation information (date of a war, formulas, the plot / symbolism of a book etc.) is much different than problem solving, thinking, creating, Ignoring who ‘wrote the book’ and knowing the root cause of a war to pick the right choice on a test does not teach someone how not to prevent it if they are someday president. Learning how to solve differential equations does not teach you how to question math to come up with the next theory. Removing Arts from schools ends creativity for choreographers, composers, painters and writers. So, what are we teaching our kids and why? 

The Three R’s go back to around 400 AD, and are still the core of schooling, though they got named that in the 1800s. But is this the right things students need to excel at? Are interpersonal relationships, strong core values, working with others more important? Of course, you need to learn language to communicate, math to know what you are buying but what percentage of people have ever used calculus or geometry in their day to day jobs? There are others that argue that things like financial wellness, basic nutrition and other topics should be included in the core. My question is why don’t parents or students have the option? If the answer is that colleges want some way to differentiate non AADT students maybe, we should take a stance against it. 

Harvard who uses grades (sort of) to decide who gets into its school, but questions if grades are the right way to determine intelligence. So why are we doing all this to get in? Are the incentives of grades making better people? No, I do not have the answer, but the conversation must be started, or we just continue the status quo which just seems crazy. 

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   Images without notes are created using and AI tool that allows me to reuse them. 

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