James Harrison on Earning It

JH Trophies
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison with the participation trophies he gave back

“I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy,” Harrison said in a post on Instagram. “I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best.”

Where were you James Harrison, linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, back in 1972? Yes, your principled stand of returning participation trophies your sons  didn’t earn is newsworthy today. But I sure could have used your help at our Boy Scout Camporee.

The annual competition  of scouting and camp craft skills drew every troop in the area. It was a chance to measure ourselves against other scouts in a healthy, structured way. Individual patrols would compete in first aid, fire building, orienteering, knot tying and fitness events,  and be scored by judges for their campsites, cooking and adherence to the Boy Scout Manual. It was a challenging competition and we loved it.

Low scoring patrols were awarded a yellow participation ribbon, patrols in the 80th percentile won a red ribbon, blue ribbons were given for 90th percentile, and all our ribbons were proudly displayed on our troop’s flagpole. We had lots of yellows and reds, and quite a few blues on our pole. They were a source of pride for us because we earned them. The yellow ribbons were proof that it wasn’t easy to win a red or blue ribbon, and it made them worth celebrating.

But the one thing we didn’t have was a Presidential Award ribbon. Continue reading James Harrison on Earning It

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

Some Comfort Here

Heart rate, blood pressure, temper, all spiking. My chest,  filling with pressure, about to blow. I was on the verge of fight or flight, when the most beautiful sound reached me from the backseat.

In a sweet, clear, boyish soprano, my son began to sing, “In the arms of the angel, fly away from here…” I joined in at the chorus, faking  the lyrics. But as I sang, everything lifted up and out of me through the moonroof. All the tension, the frustration, the rage.  Gone.

Flown away.

Once again, at just the right time and in just the right way, my son taught me everything I needed to know in that moment. What a wise, little, old soul he is.

Now, let’s all sing together…“Angel” by Sarah McLachlan

Happy Father’s Day Everyone!



Life’s Backhand…


Nothing like a trip to the Emergency Room to deliver some perspective to my frontal lobe.  Crisis mode brings with it a tunnel vision and clarity of purpose that helps me know exactly which things need to be done and in what order. No wasted effort, no hesitation, just get ‘er done, stat.

Like Tyler Durden of Fight Club said, the “ability to let that which does not matter truly slide” was my guiding force, and everything that really needed doing got done, and nothing else. Perhaps  I should behave this way everyday…

The vital signs are stable, the patient is in good hands, the childcare has been arranged. The adrenaline has subsided and the fatigue of past 26 hours of stress and worry is washing over me in waves.  We’re out of danger, thankfully, though the next few weeks will be tough and all my carefully crafted summer plans are on hold.

Life just delivered a resounding backhand and I survived the blow. Time to shut it down and rest.


Pick The Right Arena

Chad Rowan was going to be a basketball star. He was an All Star  high school center on his way to college on a full-ride basketball scholarship. No doubt, Chad and everyone around him had high expectations for his basketball career.

But fortunately for him it did not turn out that way. He rode the bench his freshman year, then quit the team and dropped out of college. Though he was 6’8” and very strong, he was competing in the wrong sport.

Five years later, Chad Rowan was crowned the first non-Japanese champion of the sport of Sumo. Under his wrestling name, Akebono, he achieved Yokozuno status, the highest level in the sport, within a few short years of his professional debut. From there, Akebono dominated his competition for eight years.AKEBONO1 Continue reading Pick The Right Arena

Dreamers Need to Stick Together


Have you seen Tomorrowland? No spoiler alert needed, I won’t be giving it away. But I did want to share this quote from the film:

“Dreamers need to stick together…”

I love the idea behind this. Dreams, desires and visions are fragile things. They need to be nurtured and supported so that people can act on them. Too often they are squelched by negativity before they can sprout and take life. And that is a very sad thing

Have you ever done this? Had a great idea pop into your head, then chased it right out with “oh, that will never work”, or “yeah, who am I kidding”, or “right, that will be the day!” Most of us fall victim to this so often we probably don’t realize what we’re doing to ourselves.

That’s why we need to band together with our support groups, our communities, our Masterminds, to feed these thoughts before they get stomped on. Sure, not every idea can be a winner, but the process of brainstorming is only successful if we allow all the ideas the light of day, the wilder the better. Continue reading Dreamers Need to Stick Together

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