Last night I had my first experience taking in a show at one of the most iconic and brilliant music venues in the world… Red Rocks Amphitheater. The night was majestic. The weather was perfect. And the bands fucking rocked. From start to finish @jamestownrevival @therecordcompany and @tromboneshorty gave performances energetic and inspiring enough to match the surrounding environment. Perhaps a place like Red Rocks brings out the best. Through out the night all bands eventually paid homage to the venue and were appreciative of the opportunity to be there. See, Red Rocks serves as an archetype in many ways. For the musicians it’s a large enough venue that symbolizes that you have shown at least, and likely more than, mid-level of success. It’s also a mecca that represents some of the best live musical performances ever. As such, sharing the stage with those artists that have come before resonates quite deeply with the bands. Finally, for both musicians and fans of music alike, attending or performing at Red Rocks is a bucket list item. One that is to be appreciated for it’s sole representation that, “I’ve/We’ve made it.” We all have a “Red Rocks.” A venue or metric that is meaningful to us. That holds some historical purpose. That brings out our best. That signifies that we’ve made it. Have you gotten there? If not, what do you need to do to make it? If you did get there or are there, are you appreciative? Soaking it up? Embracing the night? Listening close? Dancing wildly? Staring in wonder? Thank you Red Rocks for reminding me to hold on the present show. Appreciate the past performances. And to keep the tour going. Red rocks…rocks.
I was in the bathroom at the coffee shop I frequently attend and this painting was hanging. Not only does it speak to some of the political situations occurring around the world today, but it also is good insight for teams. As a sport psychologist I have the opportunity to work with a lot of teams and one of the major driving forces behind success is team cohesion. Cohesion meaning how well the team gets along, works with one another, and understands the culture. Not surprisingly accomplishing such cohesion can be difficult. This is especially true at higher, more elite levels, because athlete ego and competitive spirit serve as obstacles. The desire for a starting position, a disagreement with a teammate, an irritation with a coach can all derail the close-knit culture necessary for success in an athletic endeavor. A remedy for this can be found right on the bathroom wall at Caffe Apropo. “We all belong here. We will defend each other. ” Regardless of your role. Starter or non-starter. Regardless of your background. Playing history. If teammates turn toward one another, regardless of the situation, then cohesion will be formed. Imagine what could be if the foundational assumption once you’re on a team is that everyone belongs there and that we will defend each other no matter what? Connecting instead of conquering. Promoting instead of punishing. Contributing instead of cowering. Giving instead of gossiping. Supporting instead of slandering. Belonging instead of bitching. Initiating instead of ignoring. Competing instead of complaining.. Loving instead of lashing. Embracing instead of escaping. Holding instead of hitting. Defending instead of degrading. If you’ve decided to join a team the above are now the expectations. Whether a small group or a large world. The responsibility lies on us to remember and remind ourselves… We all belong here. We will defend each other. Now that’s a team motto.
Do you have it? That strong urge to a particular way of life or career? That urge is referred to as a calling. I don’t believe that EVERYONE always feels called to do something, such pursue psychology, live in a van, or start a business based on their innermost passion, but a lot people do. Others might just feel a slight tug directing them towards a profession or partner or pursuit. In these former cases, it becomes very clear that there is an phone that starts out quiet and eventually rings so loud that one can no longer turn a deaf ear to it. You are then faced with the decision to either answer the call or let it continue to ring louder and louder. When I went part time at Ohio State to develop Mindurance, I felt, and still feel, that there was a calling that I couldn’t deny. Not in the traditional religious sense in that it was a sign from above, coming from the sky. Instead it came from within. In my belly, traveled through my heart, became thought out in my mind, and acted upon through my behaviors. Though it hasn’t been easy, it’s always been right. Are you feeling the tug? Hearing the ring? Are you picking up the phone and answering? Or are you just letting it ring…forever? Is it time to answer the call?
I went to @rockmillbrewery yesterday with some friends out in Lancaster, Ohio. As I went to close out my tab after a couple hours of laughing, eating great BBQ, competing in football tossing, and drinking craft beers, I noticed this beautiful ball of cuteness relaxing in the middle of a table. Despite loud voices, broadcasted music, and a flurry of other activity surrounding it, there in the middle, was the relaxed cat. I was amazed. The cat’s ability to remain relaxed, calm, and steadfast in its napping despite the low-key chaos that was occurring in the very same environment was remarkable. Doesn’t that sound nice? How was he/she able to achieve this? It just didn’t concern itself with the activities that it needed not be concerned. It didn’t need to get wrapped up in the voices, or the music, or the other activity. It just focused on napping. Aren’t we all a bit too reactive to the low-key chaos that surrounds us? That external noise, that if we really dissect it, doesn’t have much (or any) literal influence or impact on us, but we often allow it to. News, gossip, comparing/contrasting, shiny objects, people’s bullshit, the list goes on. Might we instead channel our inner cat, plop up on the table, and just relax?
I’ll admit, my name is Steve and I have a guilty pleasure for Chinese Buffets. The more salt, the more MSG, the better! I love it! I love them. They’re cheap. They’re efficient. They’re disgustingly delicious. They also give you fortune cookies. Now, I know better than to give much credence to the general Barnum Statement found within, but nevertheless they are fun to read and adding the “…in bed” at the end provides a little adolescent chuckle too. The fortune that emerged from my cookie yesterday was this: “All things come to him who goes after them.” Though it works perfectly for the little “…in bed” game, this fortune is not really true. We’d like to think that hard work always pays off. But the Rolling Stones were right in that “you can’t always get what you want.” Not every team wins a Super Bowl, not every MBA becomes a CEO, and I’ll never look like Ryan Gosling. The real fortune should read “Some things come to him who goes after them with relentless pursuit and occasionally with a little luck.” Now you might be thinking, “Come on, Steve! Aren’t you Mr. Motivation and encourage hard work and all that?” Well yes, but the reality is that we can work our ass off for something and it still might not happen…and that’s OK. Not everything has to happen. Not everything has to go our way. Not everything has to be achieved. Not every outcome has to be realized. Why? Because it is the process that matters. The steps that we take. The work that we put in. By enjoying that journey, then it really doesn’t matter if the “things” that we’re hoping will come show up or not. It’s the process that’s engaging and keeps us connected to our passions, interests, and life. All things will not come to him/her who goes after them. But it’s the going after them that is the important part…in bed.
Guinness. Frankly, it doesn’t get much better than having one, two, three, or more of these while listening to some of the best Irish Sing-A-Longs Dublin has to offer. Though the beer itself is quite tasty (and surprisingly low in calories) the process by which it is served is even more remarkable. From the get-go, one can already tell ordering a Guinness at an Irish pub is just a different experience. For starters, even though there are a variety of beers on tap, simply stating “I’ll have a pint, please” instructs the bartender to pour one and only one kind of beer….yep, Guinness. I didn’t specify it by name or give it a point. Nope, if you order a pint at an Irish bar, you’re getting a Guinness. Is our personal or professional branding at that level??Do people know exactly what they are getting with you, even without specifying or asking?
The other phenomenon pertaining to the serving of Guinness is the pour. A proper Guinness pour consists of filling the glass 3/4th of the way to the top and then letting it sit for a few moments to allow the head (foam) to settle. Many bartenders will even walk away causing some newcomers (myself include) to wonder, “Hmm, did they forget about me?” Quite contrary. Not only did they not forget about you, but they are providing you with the perfect pour of Guinness. They return to complete the pour, filling the final 1/4th of the pint glass, and delivering the delicious beverage to you properly. What I love about this is the lesson in patience that it teaches. A Guinness pour isn’t sloppy, it is patient and deliberate. The bartenders don’t rush the pour. They give it the time that it deserves, and requires, for the best result. So often we try to rush things. Moving through every day with a since of urgency. As such, we can get sloppy. Complete sloppy work. Do sloppy things. Make sloppy decisions. Instead, might we learn a lesson from a Guinness pour and slow down. Make some progress. Let things settle. Then finish it off. Life can taste pretty delicious when you slow down the pour.
There is a concept known as Impostor Syndrome, which describes high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” This is a very real phenomenon in many professions and is certainly the case in my own development as a psychologist. However, this week, after a year-long vetting process, I received news that I was officially a Board Certified Counseling Psychologist – one of ten in the State of Ohio. The process of becoming board certified and actually achieving its distinction served as another validation feather in the “I know my shit” cap. In order to achieve this, however, I had to lean in to the discomfort associated with professional scrutiny, examination, and potential exposure. “What if I come across as a fraud? An incompetent professional that somehow slipped through the graduate school and licensure cracks?” Facing this irrational and unlikely potential, I was able to come out on the other end a more confident, competent, and certified psychologist. We all have our own perceived short comings. Whether professional or personal in nature, there are aspects about ourselves that we fear of being scrutinized, examined, or exposed. However, even though we fear it, it doesn’t mean its true. The proof is there in the photo. Though times in my life I have looked over my shoulder, awaiting the fraud police, as we can clearly see…the fraud police isn’t there. Not once have they shown up. Why? Because they don’t exist. They only exist in our minds. Our own self-restrictions and reservations of our own abilities. Our own self-sabotaging voice that likes to challenge us, contain us, or consume us. Want to silence it? Offer yourself up to scrutiny. To examination. To exposure. Then when you come out on the other side, you can look over your shoulder, and for the final time realize, there is nothing there. No one is coming for you. There is no fraud police.
Above are two pictures of incredible meals. One: fried chicken from Cracker Barrel (a staple for any long distance road trip). Two: a perfectly prepared steak meal provided by my mom and dad. Now if you follow my personal Instagram you will eventually notice that I love to go out to eat, essentially outsourcing my dietary and taste-bud needs to organizations beyond that of my own kitchen. However, whenever I am home, back at my parents, I eat internal and make the most of the talent that is right next to me, under the same roof. Beyond that of love, caring and support, my dad grills a great steak and my mom offers up it’s seasoning and its tasty side kicks. Which, when combined, revivals some of the best “outsourced” steaks this growing boy has ever consumed. So what? Often times talent is right next to us. Under the same roof. We don’t always have to outsource or go searching for that which meets our needs. Whether in business, relationships, or athletics, the talent, skill set, support, or even meal might be right next to us waiting for the opportunity to “feed.” I think about New England Patriot’s Coach Bill Belichick and his ability to use the talent he has available to him, even when injuries plague his would-be starter. I think about employees that were given an opportunity to do something that the boss didn’t know they had in them and excelled as a result. Certainly there are times when we need to seek solutions outside of our organization, team, or even family, however often times the solution resides within. Look close.
I was driving to Washington, D.C. the other day and to pass the time I listed to @timferris podcast with Performance Psychologist @MichaelGervais. In the podcast, Dr. Gervais was talking about the importance of “being big.” To not shy away from challenge, danger, excitement, or one’s self. This concept really resonated with me. The picture I took of myself on the kid’s ride was meant to exemplify this concept because I obviously appear big. I am filling the space. My presence on the ride is known. What about in life? Are we being big enough? Are we filling the space with ourselves? Or are we making ourselves little? Not only physically, but in our actions, personality, beliefs, or feelings? What are our strengths? How do we make them bigger? To fill our mind space? Our relationship space? Our life space? Is our presence on the ride of life felt? To do bigger. Feel bigger. Learn bigger. Laugh bigger. Listen bigger. Compliment bigger. Help bigger. Share bigger. Fail bigger. Try bigger. Trust bigger. Smile bigger. Empathize bigger. Forgive bigger. Connect bigger. Think bigger. Love bigger. Live bigger. Though I agree that bigger isn’t always better, we should at least give it a try. Be big.
The other day I saw Hall of Fame Wide Received Cris Carter talk about his struggle with addiction at CommQuest Addiction and Recovery services. Throughout his talk he also kept referencing that as a young kid he made the decision that he wanted to be great. Why? Because “great” is right next door to “good.” And if you can be “good” then with just a little bit more pursuit, you could be “great.” I certainly agree and I also think that great is a relative term, in that we all have our different definitions of “great.” For instance, I stopped at a greasy spoon today in Hancock, Maryland on my way to Washington, D.C. Now, Weavers Bakery and Restaurant is not some 5-star place. They don’t have the latest culinary geniuses in the kitchen. They don’t have a 15-course tasting menu. They are not Zagat rated. But are they, and other greasy spoons like them, great? You bet your calorie-filled ass they are! Why? Because they have a story. Because they have character. Because they’re part of a community. Because they do what they do well. Because they know what their customers want. Because they realize that less can be more. Because they are efficient. Because they are charming. Because they are a little dirty. Because they are a little greasy. Because they aren’t trying to be the Zagat rated, sexy new restaurant in New York City. Nope, they’re just focused on being greasy and for them being greasy is what makes them great. What is your definition of great? You don’t need to be Zagat rated to be great. You don’t need to be a Hall of Famer to be great. You might not need to be the starter, the highest salaried, or the most talented. Great is a pursuit, great is on-going, and on the days when you’re not feeling great, then embrace the opportunity to be greasy, because greasy is always pretty damn good.