Let Up and Lose

For Christmas in 1975, our grandparents gave all three of us kids a ping pong table.  I was 9, my brother, Jeff, was 16.  And our sister, Wendy, didn’t care. 

Jeff and I did.  We played ping pong all the time, and we got pretty good at it.  We constantly swapped victories and sharpened each other along the way. I also had some friends who were pretty good players, but not quite at my brother’s level.   In fact, while attending college, Jeff won the school ping pong tournament. 

Jeff is a nice, compassionate and caring person. But not in the midst of ping pong play, especially with me. Let me share what differentiated most of our games.  When Jeff won, it was either because he was just better in that match, or…I let up and lost.  He never let up, particularly when he was winning. Something I had to learn. 

Picture the scene: I’m winning pretty big, maybe 16-8 in a game to 21. I have to admit my competitive beast mode usually let up around this time because I started feeling sorry for him.  Big mistake. Jeff never let up and smelled blood when I did.  He often won those matches.  

And when Jeff was destroying me, did he let up on me? Nope. Didn’t he care? Where was the compassion for his brother’s miserable performance? Not there.  

I’m older now, and I don’t let up. Never. He taught me that. 

There are many ways to apply this thought process. Maybe sales: great results usually lead to less prospecting because we let up. That leads to poor results. And so goes the cycle. Don’t’ let up. As my friend and mentor used to say, “You are either growing or dying; there is no coasting in life.” 

If I can take anything away from those matches with Jeff 35 years ago, it’s this: 

When you’re winning, press harder. 

Let up and you lose.

What We Permit We Promote

Our neighbors from way back when had an interesting parenting technique. It failed. A lot.

I want to be careful here as this is a very common technique.  It may be that others have found a way to make it work. Just not us. And definitely not our neighbor.

You might have guessed it.  It’s the 1, 2, 3 technique. You remember, “That’s one. That’s two. And that’s 3.”  Only 3 never came for her. Our kids knew it, and so did hers. And so do most.

She’d count them out when they were in trouble, and they’d just wait it out.  She’d count off 1 and 2, then hesitate, sometimes going for 2 and a half (I’m not kidding!), then in more desperation, she’d go for “I mean it,” continuing with various other threats. This rarely stopped the behavior and never accomplished the real goal. Teaching.

Always remember:  What we permit we promote.

She counted – temporarily permitting the bad behavior until the dreaded “3” count, which often didn’t occur – and by default promoted the bad behavior by permitting it.

I know parenting is far more complex than this. Yet maybe it’s not, at least in this context. It’s pretty clear: what we permit we promote.

And it’s not just parenting. It's life.

If we permit interruptions we promote interruptions.

If we permit quitting we promote quitting.

If we permit negativity we promote negativity.

If we permit cruelty we promote cruelty.

In other words – at home, at work, in life, with ourselves, as well as others – only permit behaviors that we want more of: those we want to promote!

You Know But You Don't

(Contributed by Mitch Greene)

Have you ever had a day when you literally had nothing you had to do? I mean like truly no responsibilities at all? 

It’s probably been a while, but I bet I know what you chose to do with at least one of those days. 

Nothing. 

Everybody loves a lazy day… at the beginning. By the time you finish binge-watching Game of Thrones… excuse me, sorry, I’m a millennial. Maybe, This Is Us. You feel like you’ve been asleep for the winter. You feel like crap and super unproductive. You walk up your steps and you’re winded. The funniest thing about all this is that most of us, including me, are wondering why we feel like crap! Let’s just be honest. 

Sometimes, we suck a little bit. 

Let’s circle back on that original question from above.  Have you ever had a day when you literally had nothing you had to do? I mean like truly no responsibilities at all? 

Yet, you chose to be super productive and read that book you’ve been putting off, get in an awesome workout and go for a hike? It’s probably been a while, but I bet I know just how you felt after all that. You felt awesome! You probably felt like you could take on the world! If you ran a marathon, you’d ask for more! 

My point is that no matter how good a lazy day sounds, in the end, a lazy- less day will feel so much better.

Pathologically Repetitive Mistakes (Who I Am)

Sometimes I’m an idiot.  And the frequency seems to be increasing…

I’m no stranger to lower back problems. I’ve had sciatica that led to surgery, repeated sciatica again, thankfully clearing up through physical therapy.  And I continue to deal with lower back pain to this day. Much like some of you.

And yet…

About 2 years ago I was using the pull-up bar in the doorway to our utility closet.  This closet happens to have the water line that feeds the pressure tank directly from the well.  It’s the first point of entry into our home. And that’s important.

For whatever reason, while doing a few pull-ups, I decided to pull up hard and switch my hands. Again, what an idiot! Do you know what happens when you have a pull-up bar in the doorway and you release the pressure? Yep, that’s right, no pressure, and no stability.  I was sailing in the air immediately – in a fast downward and highly awkward motion. I hit the pressure gauge on the pressure tank – hard against my back ribs – and instantly, the flood erupted.  Not a drizzle or simple water leak. This was a full out, high pressure and constant explosion of water. I was soaked, and by the time I figured out to turn the well pump off at the fuse (another story there) and the tank was finally emptied, the utility closet had several inches of water in it. 

Remarkably, with my wife and son’s quick action, they managed to build a pretty good levy around the closet entrance, keeping much of the water at bay.   Despite having to run fans for a week, the carpet survived, as well as the closet and even my back. Though I’m pretty sure I broke or bruised a few ribs.

I could look for and develop a variety of lessons from this.  But as I reflected on the situation, I realize or just choose to believe, that this is who I am.  I can work to be more prepared, more cautious and maybe a little more proactive – knowing what to do right away when I break my fall with pipes!  And I do strive to do all that.  I really do – trying to minimize my own weakness.

But in reality, this is who I am, and I just lean into it. Somehow there is a strength in here – one that probably was the catalyst to help me step into entrepreneurship over that last ten years.

By the way, I managed to repeat the situation a few months later.  Somehow, I managed to release the pressure on the bar and down I went.  But this time I had a folded yoga mat that sort of broke my fall, and a board in place that protected the pressure gauge and piping.

You’ve heard the phrase, “Ready, aim, fire!”  For me, it’s almost always just “Fire!”

The Lifestyle of a Broken Clock

(Contributed by Mitch Greene)

I have come to think about the way I live my life as a clock. As soon as one thing is out of place, the clock doesn’t work. Sounds pessimistic, but it makes sense.

When I started college, I didn’t think like I do now. I had to wake up at 5:30 in the morning so that I could have time to watch my morning show before going to school. Because of this, I didn’t give myself the time to pack food. At college, I had a two-and-a-half-hour break where I would go sit outside and relax while listening to some music. I would finish my classes and be home around 4:00 and, at this point, I would be very hungry, so I would eat — a lot. Afterward, I would feel very sluggish from overindulgence, so I would skip the workout and do all the homework I didn’t get done earlier. After this, I would hang out with my girlfriend until maybe 2:00 in the morning. Every day I would keep this same routine, and I felt like absolute crap.

I knew there was something wrong, so one by one I changed things. First, I stopped watching my morning show and started packing lunch instead. This helped a little but didn’t solve the problem. I went back to my old ways, but this time tried to fit in my workout. Once again, no dice. Took out the workout and got more sleep. Good but not good enough. Went back to very little sleep and did homework over my break so I had more time at night to relax. Still not enough. It wasn’t until I completely revamped my entire schedule so that I would get proper sleep, nutrition, exercise, mental stimulation and leisure time. After all of that, I felt amazing!

See, I believe that my lifestyle was one of a broken clock because, although I would fix one of my broken cogs, there would still be ten more that needed repair. I expected to see the time with an almost functioning clock. The clock would never work properly until every last aspect of my most basic needs was met. Fixing one cog was simply not enough.

If you want a change in your life, then start by asking yourself how many of your cogs are broken. Think about a time when life just worked for you.  Your clock was running smoothly, all the cogs in place.  It’s time to bring that back.  And if you never had it, you can still get there—one cog at a time.