Category Archives: Everything I Know I Learned From Television

Getting From Here To There Like American Ninja Warriors

Warped WallI had a secret fantasy when I started this blog. I would put things out on the interwebs and people would flock to read it. Then publishers would call and I’d have to quit my job to go on book tours and talk shows. Kinda like when you buy a lottery ticket and fantasize about all the things you’ll do when you’re suddenly filthy rich.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants this. To get to that magical place right now, without having to put in all the time, work, and struggle. Getting There. I’m sure everyone does this to an extent, but Manic Impressives do this a lot. We are impatient when it comes to results. We don’t want to hear about discipline or paying dues or the Happiness of Pursuit.

Screw all that. We want it now.

Truth is, wherever we are now is a place called Here. And we’re Here because of all the little choices we’ve made over time.

Like a lot of you dreamers, I also want to be propelled quite suddenly to There, miles ahead of where I am now. We Manic Impressives can’t help it. We want to get There, now. Because we know it’s possible. We see lots of people on our TVs make that huge leap, get discovered, and bam, they’re There.

Like the guy from the walk-on line at American Ninja Warrior, who suddenly finds himself at the top of the Warped Wall, hitting the buzzer, and getting through to the next round. Fans cheering, commentators gushing, instant fame and success. It happens.

So when this comment landed on my site, I was ready to embrace my new audience and celebrate my success:

“Hello there! This blog post could not be written any better!
Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
He continually kept preaching about this. I will send this information to him. Pretty sure he will have a great read. Thanks for sharing!”

Sure, it was from a person I didn’t know, with a username of Interesting Hen Recipes, but he clearly got my message and was already spreading the Gospel of ME. I was on my way. Continue reading Getting From Here To There Like American Ninja Warriors

ExhaustDead

ExhaustDead You ever watch “1000 Ways to Die” on Spike TV? It’s about all the crazy, stupid and disgusting ways people get themselves killed. Sort of the Darwin Awards for television.

In Way to Die #108, an abusive guy plans a nasty surprise for his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend. He’s outside a restaurant in his car, lying in wait for them with his paintball gun, ready for revenge.

But like most of the geniuses on this show, dude has done something stupid. He’s parked his car up against a pile of trash with his motor running. His car’s exhaust pipe gets clogged, exhaust backs up into his car, he starts feeling sleepy, badda boom badda bing, he’s starring in an episode of “1000 Ways to Die”.

Cosmic Justice.

The show has a dark sense of humor. At the end of each vignette they come up with a snarky title and slap a Way To Die # on it. The titles are usually sarcastic, bad puns, read in a mocking voice over. This one, Way To Die #108, is called,  “ExhaustDead”.

I saw this over the weekend and had a good laugh. But today, just a few days into the work week, I find myself feeling “ExhaustDead”. On the phone with my friend Ed, I describe myself as “bone weary”,  and “spent”. I can’t even sit upright to enjoy the Warriors bludgeon the hapless Rockets. I must watch this thrashing from my bed. Continue reading ExhaustDead

Performance Anxiety

lifeinpieces

Sometimes good sense comes to us from the unlikeliest places. Like this new sitcom, Life In Pieces. In episode 17, the mom is freaking out because her daughter Sofia is not practicing for her piano recital. Mom is reliving all the bad memories from her own childhood recital, so she talks with her daughter to spare her the humiliation she endured as a child.

Mom: “Your dad and I are concerned that you’re not practicing. I used to play piano when I was your age but I don’t anymore because nobody made me practice and I wish that they had.”

Sofia: “Well, no one’s stopping you now, go ahead.”

Mom: “I had a recital when I was your age, it did not go well. And I regret that.”

Sofia: “Mom, don’t worry so much. It’ll be fine, I promise.”

So the family assembles in the audience, prepared for humiliation and tears. Sofia delivers a cringe worthy performance, but the moment passes when the boy after her wets his pants and leaves the stage in shame.

LIP Audience

The family gathers backstage to console their daughter, who, strangely, does not seem fazed by having just bombed her recital. Continue reading Performance Anxiety

Self-Doubt

MazeThis is Maze, the devil’s protector, from the new TV show Lucifer. She’s a demon in the form of a very hot, dangerous woman. She’s stuck in Los Angeles watching Lucifer’s back while he’s on vacation from Hell sorting out some personal issues. At one point Maze takes Lucifer’s brother to a coffee shop called Beelzebeans, and explains why she loves it.

“This is my favorite place in the city. Look at them on their laptops, writing the next great screenplay, torturing themselves with the dreams, they know, deep down, they will never achieve. Reminds me of home.”

Home for Maze is Hell, a place souls go to be tortured. At least here on Earth, tortured souls have a chance at redemption and the ability to achieve their dreams. No, it’s not easy, and there is plenty of struggle in store for those of us who listen to the Muse and pursue our dreams of writing, performing, and being more than we are.

But in Hell there is no Muse. Only Maze, the demon who loves to see the suffering that comes from self-doubt. As long as we mortals listen to the Muse and chase our dreams, we are safe. But in the quiet moments when we are not striving, we are vulnerable. That’s when self-doubt can creep in and whittle away at us. Continue reading Self-Doubt

4 Simple Strategies for Staying On Target

StayOnTargetOver the years I’ve learned a few things about myself and how to get things done. This has been a slow, evolutionary process. Oddly enough, what got me going on this was something I learned from Star Wars. Remember the final battle sequence in the first Star Wars movie? Luke Skywalker had to drop a shot down an intake valve on his final desperate approach over the Death Star to win the battle and save the Rebellion.  His wing commander was shouting through his headset these powerful words:

Stay on target, stay on target!”  

This has become my mantra, and it’s helped me develop these               4 simple strategies for getting things done: Continue reading 4 Simple Strategies for Staying On Target

Weird Design

Predator 2

Remember this guy? This is Predator, star of the 1987 movie named, aptly enough, Predator. It was a bit of a cult hit, and spawned two sequels, two spinoffs,  and another film currently in the works.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers and Jesse “The Body” Ventura head up a team of mercenary badasses hired by the CIA to head into a steamy jungle to snuff out some bad guys. They hunt and kill the bad guys, only to find they are being hunted themselves. By this weird Predator thing that can turn itself invisible and likes to hunt and kill humans for sport.

There’s only one Predator against six heavily armed, Special Forces-trained killers. But soon the commandos are hunkered down, scared out of their wits, and getting picked off one-by-one to their gruesome, gory deaths. Finally it all comes down to Arnold and Predator, and well, you can’t have a movie franchise if you kill off the star, so Arnold finds a way to kill Predator and save himself.

Predator Commandos Continue reading Weird Design

Jon Voyage

Jon Stewart

Tonight it ended. 16 years of the finest, most objective American journalism disguised as a comedy show. The greatest political and social satire of our generation. Jon Stewart signed off after his 2599th episode of The Daily Show, the most trusted source of news for Millenials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers alike. Though the show will continue, it will never be the same, and neither will we.

There has been a vast disturbance in the Force…

A stand up comedian from New Jersey, Jon worked the comedy club circuit for years as he tried to climb the show biz ladder. Appearances on MTV led to a short stint hosting his own show in the mid 90’s. But after 16 episodes it was back to guest appearances and one forgettable role as an “enhancement smoker” in the stoner feature film, Half Baked.

Then in 1999 the role of a lifetime showed up. Jon took over as host of a little watched show on a crappy cable channel hosted by Craig Kilborn (remember this guy? No?).  He turned The Daily Show into a category all it’s own, put Comedy Central on the map, and collected a Grammy, two Peabody Awards, and 17 Emmys along the way.

Jon, as Stephen Colbert aptly described him, was, “infuriatingly good at his job”. He became a force in American politics and shaped  the national discussion on a range of issues. He called out business leaders for corruption, politicians for hypocrisy, and Fox News for lying.  He became so influential that President Obama called him to the White House twice to consult on media.

He also discovered and launched the careers of some of the smartest, funniest performers you never heard of before the Daily Show, such as: Continue reading Jon Voyage

Mr. Robot Explains Locus of Contol

Mr Robot2
Mr. Robot Recruits Elliot…

Mr. Robot is a great new show on USA channel. If you’re not watching yet, you need to start. Christian Slater plays Mr. Robot, the leader of a clandestine group of hackers named fSociety (think Anonymous) trying to take down a corporate giant named E Corp. While trying to recruit Elliot (Rami Malek), a brilliant young software engineer, Mr. Robot uses a metaphor designed to reach even the most reluctant programmer.

Mr. Robot: “Tell me one thing Elliot: are you a one, or a zero? That’s the question you have to ask yourself, are you a yes or a no? You gonna act, or not?”

Elliot: “You’ve been staring at a computer screen too long homie. Life’s not that binary.”

Mr. Robot: “Isn’t it? Sure, there are grays, when you come right down to it, at its core, beneath every choice there’s either a one or a zero. You either do something or you don’t.“

So Elliot has to decide if he’s a man of action or not. But this isn’t just the ramblings of an anarchistic megalomaniac. There is a whole body of behavioral science around the people who are the ‘ones’ and who are the ‘zeros’.

It’s called the Locus of Control.  Everyone has one, and yours is either internal or external. People with an internal locus believe that their actions control the outcomes in their lives. What happens to them in life, good or bad, is a consequence of their behavior. This puts them in control of their results, by taking ownership of what they can control, and letting go of what they can’t.

Conversely, people with an external Locus of Control believe that life happens to them. Their results are controlled by outside forces, so they really aren’t in control of their outcomes. They often place blame for where they are on the economy, the government, or those who control things because of the power they have acquired. People with an external locus of control do not attack their obstacles, they  surrender to them.

So where are you on this scale. Are you an internal or an external? Are you a One or a Zero?

More importantly, what will Elliot do? Will he take action, join fSociety and help start the revolution that will change the world for the better? Or will he walk away and not be our hero? I can’t wait to find out. I’ll be tuning in to the third episode. If you know what’s good for you, you will too…

What the Golden State Warriors Can Teach Us About Leadership

GSW ChampagneAll hail the Golden State Warriors, Champions of the NBA. The Dubs closed out the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 of  the highest rated NBA Finals since Michael Jordan retired 17 years ago.

Despite a league best 67 wins and the third most wins of any  team in NBA history, many NBA analysts did not pick the Warriors to win the title. They said no  “jump shooting” team had ever won, and the smaller Warriors would be worn down and beaten by bigger, more traditional “low post”, “in the paint” style teams.

Not only did the Warriors prove them wrong, they did something no one is even talking about – they actually won two NBA championships this year.

That’s right, the main club won the NBA title last week, and their development team, the Santa Cruz Warriors, won the NBA “D” League back in April. They too had the best record in their league.

How could a team that hadn’t gone to the Finals in 40 years manage to win two NBA Championships in one season? A team with a rookie head coach, that had 22 losing seasons in a row, and only one All Star player in 17 years? Continue reading What the Golden State Warriors Can Teach Us About Leadership

Productive Anxiety

You ever Sheldonwatch The Big Bang Theory? Hilarious sitcom about four nerdy scientists from Cal Tech.

In “The Anxiety Optimization” (Season 8 Episode 13), Dr. Sheldon Cooper has an epiphany after struggling to make a breakthrough in his newly chosen field of Dark Matter.

Sheldon: “The reason I may not be progressing in my research is I’ve created too pleasant an environment for myself. According to a classic psychological study by Yerkes and Dobson, in order to maximize performance, one must create a state of productive anxiety. So, I like to ask you all to do something for me. Keep me on my toes. Throw me off my game. And essentially, go out of your way to make my life miserable.”

Gang: “What’s in it for us? (slight pause) Okay we’ll do it!” Hilarity ensues as his friends torment him for sport.

(Hebbian version of the Yerkes-Dodson law) OriginalYerkesDodson.svg Continue reading Productive Anxiety