Posts Tagged ‘ Success ’

Gwyneth Paltrow: An Open Letter To The Open Letter Lady

Obviously, there are memes everywhere.  Facebook is a bastion of memes for those who aren’t even sure what memes are yet, and if they are any indication, the world will end soon, President Obama is actually the Antichrist (even though GWBush used to be), and Gwyneth Paltrow is a snotty, stuck-up biatch.  It’s this last one that I have a problem with — but only recently, and not because I care about actors or the entertainment industry.  envy

I have no Earthly vested interest in Ms Paltrow’s life, story, success, or impressions upon people.  I don’t even care for Coldplay, and probably would’ve been offended by Shallow Hal if I was as overweight as her character portrayed.  But for the last five (at least) years, she has needlessly been the go-to hated-upon target for those who are not wealthy and want to be.  Who aren’t fit and want to be.  Who aren’t eating well and want to be.  People complain about her acting, her cookbooks, her lack of empathy for “us,” her whatever…what I’m telling you, if you are a hater, is that the envy is ugly on you.

Take this last one, for example:  “A working Mom’s Letter To Gwyneth Paltrow.” (Click the link for the story.)  What better way to tell everyone that they should care about you than to take a woman who works in an industry completely unrelated to yours, and compare it to your own.  The gist of the beef is that this lady who wrote the article (Mackenzie) is complaining about not having millions per year as she commutes on the train to work every day and has to find babysitters for her kids, in defiance of Ms Paltrow’s supposedly “easy” schedule and assumptions of “what it’s really like”.  Like Ms Paltrow never had to work a day in her life, and has absolutely no idea what reality is.  Here’s the quote this lady is butthurt about:

“I think it’s different when you have an office job, because it’s routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening,” you said. “When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, ‘We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,’ and then you work 14 hours a day, and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set.” — Gwyneth Paltrow

No really, I mean this honestly:  Is there nothing more productive that you can complain about?  Gwyneth Paltrow is probably not completely accurate with this one-off quote that she probably told to some guy who reports for some magazine, but what the hell would you know about shooting a movie?  Have you ever worked in her industry?  Do you have any idea what it means to relate to her life?  Clearly, the answer is no.  She may not have any idea what it’s like to walk a mile in your shoes.  But obviously you have no idea what it’s like to walk a mile in hers.  So where do you get off throwing bombs at her?

I don’t normally do posts like this (because I couldn’t care less what kinds of problems Hollywood-types bring upon themselves), but I have a real problem with people who rag on others openly just because they have had more success.  If you want that success, go out and find it yourself.  Don’t bitch about it behind the safe, shielded face of your computer screen.

Drawing the ire of the public to someone on grounds no more complicated than simple envy is ugly on you, and speaks volumes to your character.  Knock it off, Mackenzie.


Fans And Causes

I was talking recently with one of my best friends about the power of sports — how they draw people together, how great the inequities are that athletes are paid so much to do accomplish something of (in the grand scheme of things) so little meaning…Image

One thing that I mentioned while pontificating on what my Dad used to call “The opiate of the masses” was that I, too, get riled up when my team(s) win something great.  It’s silly and I know it, because whatever just happened on TV (or live, if I’m feeling flush with cash I don’t want) isn’t going to bring us peace, or fix the economy, or cure cancer.  I also realize that everyone needs a cause, because humanity is nothing without hope.  

There is a cause for everything with an -ism: feminism, racism, ageism…hell the word itself — activism — is an -ism.  There are fans for everything, too — sports fans, political fans, music fans, book fans, woodworking fans, car fans, plane fans, gardening fans, exercise fans…for every single thing that more than one person could do together (and many that they can’t), there are fans.  

Imagine for a second…what would the world be like if people would take other people and be fans of them?  You know — root for them, contribute time and money to them, push them to perform better and make better decisions?  Hold them accountable?  Think about what would happen if you were the biggest fan of every member in your family.  If their success was your cause.  If you knew more stats about them than about any sports game.  If you fought as hard in discussions and with your money for them as you do for any sports team or politician.

Can you imagine what a world like that would be like?

Somebody Has Probably Defeated Your Demon

Today I want to talk about demons.  Personal ones.  The worst/most embarrassing/most limiting/most difficult-to-overcome kind.  To make it easier for you to confront yours, I thought it would help if I told you about one of mine.  


Every Demon Has An Angel To Defeat It.

How many of you out there feel like a fraud for no apparent reason?  I’m not talking about how you “embellished” on your resume to get your foot in the door to that completely-unrelated-to-your-skillset job back in 2010.   If you gave her blank stares when she asked you about diodes, any HR person worth their salt can tell that your version of “complex electrical systems troubleshooting” probably consisted of trying to figure out why the lamp over the pool table quit working during the game.  They probably gave you the job because you wore a tie, and could hold a conversation while smiling.  But I don’t mean that.

I mean that no matter who I am surrounded by, it occurs to me that I am an expert on very few things, and, theoretically, should have no reason to position myself on those things that I haven’t done for as long.  And yet, I do.

I am an expert in the field of aviation, a relative expert in the fields of real estate and music, and an armchair expert on politics and world happenings (same as everyone else *wink*).  I am also a self-proclaimed expert at communication–the way I communicate with people is not by accident, and the way you communicate with somebody shouldn’t be, either.  I work very hard to serve those I have chosen to at a very high level, but even still–something bothers me a couple of times a week, at least.

I have overcome personal demons in the past; for example, I finally quit smoking for good about eight years ago (on the ninth time I tried), and I’ve cut back my liquor consumption pretty dramatically over the last few months (I’m working to make that stick).  I can confidently say to someone, “Well, if you want to quit smoking, then do this, this, and this.  Just do it.  What are you waiting for?”  What I can’t say yet is, “Well, if you want to become wealthy, do this and that and this, then repeat,”–and the reason is because I haven’t done it yet, and have no credibility to dispense the advice.  I’m learning on it.  I’m planning on it.  I’m working on it.  But I’m not there yet, and it annoys me.  It’s a demon of mine because I feel like anyone I talk to can see right through my goals to the reality of my life right now, and it undercuts my ability to be confident.  It’s like when you “dress for the job you want, not the one you have”…well, if I showed up to work in a hangar wearing a suit (completely opposite of the uniform we’d normally wear to work on planes), my colleagues would be asking me, “What are you doing?  You work down here, with the rest of us.”  They know what my life is like on a daily basis, which is part of the reason it’s so hard to break away and change to begin with.   

Just because I struggle with this particular demon (among others) doesn’t mean I’m doubting that I’ll achieve my goals, or that I’m so worried that people don’t take me seriously that I cower in bed and cry myself to sleep each night.  I function during the day like each of you do–responding to stimuli, working to be better at something, struggling to fight against the pull of whatever your demon is.  As a best friend of mine once said, “Some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the bug.”  


Yep, This Is What You Look Like Inside.

Still, there are times which will be overwhelming.  Whether it’s alcohol or drugs, wasting too much time on Facebook (guilty), maybe it’s the fear of failure, fighting to stay monogamous, feeling worthless, being stuck in a rut, hating yourself for procrastinating (guilty), feeling guilty for having a second doughnut or cup of coffee, or skipping a workout…it doesn’t matter what it is.  You can make small corrections, or you can dump your plate and start completely over from rock bottom.  (This guy is really great at helping with this.  Take notes, and take what he says to heart.)  Just don’t give up.  Every one of us has a demon to fight, and an entire history with that demon that has led to today.  The key is to not give up and let it run you over.  Stand back up and fight it off.  Get pi$$ed enough to do something about it.  You’re a raging bull!

Of course, you’re not alone no matter how hopeless you might feel.  There’s support everywhere, if you’ll only reach for help when you need it.  In fact, if you’re feeling brave, you can vent or unload in this forum without fear of judgment or retribution, and we will do our best to collectively guide you toward the purpose you seek.  

Tell me about your demons.  What do you have to do to fend them off on a regular basis?



“You’re Trying To Run Before You Can Walk.”

I’ve addressed this in a past post, and I was just thinking about it some more.  When someone says this adage to you, what is your first reaction?  I’ll tell you mine:

“So what?”

Am I a complete idiot for already having accepted that I’ll trip up and fail a few times?  Any time I do something new for the first time, I fail at it in some form or another.  If there’s a certainty in my life other than death and taxes, that is it.  When I picked up a straight razor for the first time, I nicked myself more than a couple of times.  When I snowboarded for the first time, (after literally falling off the lift chair at the top) it took me two and a half hours to get down the hill.  I hadn’t taken a class, just jumped right in.  When I was learning to fly, I managed to almost injure myself and the school’s airplanes several times.  The first time I tried to replace the E string on my guitar, I tightened it so much that it snapped on me.  (I maintain now that it was a faulty string, but I didn’t know any better at the time, so for all I knew, I did it wrong.)  The first time I ever drove a stick shift was when I was in college, when I was the only sober one to drive home.  I knew the mechanics of it, but it was a long and uncomfortable ride for the others in the car as I figured it out.

Shall I continue on with all of the mistakes I’ve made along the way?  “Run before I can walk?”  Give me a break.

The second time down that mountain on the snowboard, it took me just fifteen minutes, and I was far more controlled about it.  Things like driving a manual transmission and restringing my guitar are second nature for me now.  Shaving has actually become a soothing time for me, now that I know what I’m doing with my razor.  And if you think the mistakes I made as a flight student make me a terrible pilot, you’re dead wrong.  In fact, you want someone who made some mistakes and seen some things–those are the people who know what they are getting into ahead of time.  I’m not current right now, but at the time I was flying regularly, I could do crosswind landings in my sleep.

What have you failed at?  How miserably have you failed, and then crawled back from the dead to succeed?

Why do we demonize risk and failures, and then remain unable to figure out why things don’t change?  How else am I supposed to grow?

To be clear, I realize now that there is in fact a smart way to approach new things, one that mitigates some of the inherent risk:  Education.  Education is the best way to get a leg-up on the task at hand.  I know that when I have prepared for the task at hand, trying something new becomes an exercise in honing the craft instead of merely surviving it.  I will still fail, just in fewer of the more painful places to.  I will still trip, but I’ll have already put on kneepads and gloves.  At that point, all that’s left to do is stand back up and begin moving forward again.  Some days, simply standing back up will be considered successful, but it doesn’t matter.

At least I had the courage to show up.

“All Ya Gotta Do Is…”

“All you gotta do is…”  How many of you have had this one laid out on you?

I found this term in my industry at first–airplanes–when listening to the turnover from one shift to the next during heavy inspections.  The current-shift lead would say, “The stab actuator is most of the way in–all ya gotta do is cotter pin the mount bolts, connect the cannon plug, and ops check it, and you’re good.”  The lead who took the turnover would find out later on that the mount bolts are rediculously difficult to get to (thus severely limiting access to see where to put the cotter pin in), and the ops check procedure is eighteen pages long, and requires an engine run.  Yeah, “All ya gotta do is…”  Easy as pie.

I think it’s the most annoying because it’s as if success were just the simplest form of existence when someone says that.  You could ask Donald Trump how to get to the point where he’s at, and he’d say, “Well, all you’ve got to do is go to a good business school like Wharton (where he went–at $70K/year), then buy a couple of properties that no one wants, and turn them into the most quintessential big-city phallic properties anyone has ever seen.  Oh, and be enterpreneurial, relentless, and think big and kick ass.”

Well hell, there you have it.  The last 25 years of Trump’s career combined into one sentence.  What the hell are you waiting for?  Jump on it!

“How could I be a successful pilot?”  “Oh, well first you’ll have to get your certifications.  Then you’ll have to spend a few years doing what we call “getting experience and building hours,” and then you’ll have to find a flying gig where the hours and money are both good.  If you find the right gig, you can easily knock down $90-150K a year.”  

Easily, huh?  God–why didn’t I think of that?

I can tell you why.  The reason is simple–it’s because everything is more complicated than it seems.

My Dad always used to say, “If it was easy, everyone would do it.”  (Add that to the ever-growing list of crap that Dad was right about.)  The fact is that when I show up to work and someone tells me, “All you gotta do is,” I immediately assume whatever work is left over will be hard to accomplish.  Otherwise, the job would be done already, and I wouldn’t have to hear about it.  The fact is, it takes far, far more than simple persistence, drive, entrepreneurial spirit, or a dream to get big things done.  If you want to get big things done, of course you need some of these other characteristics, but there is no way anything you want to see happen will get done without the support of many, many other people.

One of my favorite quotes is by Niccolo Machiavelli, who said, “Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.”  I love this quote because it really explains to you that, in most cases, success is a process, not something that simply happens.  This applies everywhere.  If you really put the effort into college, you’re more likely to have the ability to harness opportunity when it knocks on your door; if you don’t, you’ll end up like me–headed back to school at the dawn of my 30s, while most others have finally finished and gotten settled.  I would be completely guilty of saying it, too–I’ll probably tell my kids, “All you’ve got to do is go to school, do well, and you can move into whatever field you want to.”  But the truth is, the power of the world lies in networking.  Trump is a self-proclaimed bully in the business, but he’s got people under lock-and-key doing what he needs them to do (because they need paychecks too) to advance his agenda.  He didn’t do it alone, and no one else does it, either.  People like Tony Horton, Tony Robbins, Sir Richard Branson…every single one of these people has a legion of people dedicated to their cause, and they are able to accomplish things because they have convinced people of their message, and are actively working toward whatever their goals are.  It’s the reason, I believe, that Trump did not do well during the announcement of his 2012 Presidential run–he did not come off like a uniter of people; rather, he did interview after interview where he bloviated about his own specific accomplishments.  (For the record, this is consistent with the messages in his books.  Smart guy, but in social settings, sounds like a douchebag.)

The truth is, even the Village Idiot is a success, if only through the actions and support (however misguided) of the rest of the Village…and I’m sure they would like credit where credit is due for their part in it.

So, how have you been boned by “All you gotta do is…”?  There’s five bucks to Starbucks for whoever comes up with the best reply.  I want to know your stories, your reasons….tell me whatever you want, and I’ll reply to it.  Hope you’re having a good week!

Is Physical Fitness An Indicator Of Success?

I’ve always thought that everyone should live how they want to live.  Who am I to judge them?  And further, who are they to judge me?

But just recently, as I was strrrretching myself back into working out on a regular basis, it occurred to me that I need a big, hairy, audacious goal to shoot for.  I began thinking about the studies I’ve read that say that in many cases, the lifestyle your close friends live is likely to be the one that you live.  I’ve been counting my blessings that I’m a social person, and thanks to Facebook, I’ve been drawing inspiration from people I never thought I would have:  Turns out that many of my old high school classmates are runner- or-triathlon-types, and I’ve been reading their struggles and triumphs through their Facebook updates.  And one day, it hit me:  They have achieved great things, but they’re not really much different than I am.  If they can do it, so can I!

There are many, many things to consider when going after your own personal fitness from nearly a dead stop (anyone have one of these?  I do…)…

But of all the benefits one could expect from working toward being at or near your peak fitness level, one of the greatest has been well-documented.  Increased alertness, more energy during the day, etc etc etc.  This link explains a few of the more commonsense ways that proper exercise and diet affect your workday. But what about the intangible effects?

It has been shown that the authority you wield as a fit person extends far past conversations about diets or workouts.  As a fit person, your opinion seems to carry a little more weight (ha!) than the flabby, unproductive guy’s opinion does, in some cases–simply by virtue of the fact that your lifestyle has taught you to divide large projects into bite-sized chunks, achieve a series of small goals while keeping your eye on the big picture, and above all (especially in business), produce results. These people have the ability to exert a subtle control over the group activities and discussions that they participate in–without either them or the group realizing it, most of the time, and it’s in the obviously different way that people tend to respond to extremely accomplished people.  This makes even your own coworkers respond to you as an instantly respectable person.  (Of course, we’ve all known people who were, “Perfect until he/she spoke,” so for now we’ll assume these people are all mutes.)

I know a few of these people, and am close friends with some of them–they’re into triathlons, marathons, martial arts, yoga–whatever it is, they have clearly defined muscles, and generally very clearly defined and concise parameters for how to achieve whatever success they strive toward.  These are people who you would look at and think, even if they lost their job, and all of their money, they’d still have their health and good looks.  (Come on, everyone has a little vanity to deal with…)

Does fitness indicate success?  Maybe not causally in a linear relationship, but it sure seems that once you’re fit, more opportunities come your way.  Here’s to taking on the Elephant, one bite at a time.

(No celebrity endorsement of Matthew McConaughey or kelly Ripa implied.)

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