If The Yankees Wore Red Hats

red hat

red hat

“You get what you get and you don’t get upset” Chase (my oldest son) screamed as he ripped a toy out of Jax’s (my youngest son) hands.  This is a popular refrain learned in nursery school.  It is usually said when toys are given out.  While there may be enough toy cars for all the children, there may only be a few blue cars to go around.  If a blue car is what little Timmy has his heart on but instead he is presented with a red car, a tantrum might ensue.  “I want that one”, “why does she get that one” may be heard.  You get what you get and don’t get upset is a basic rule of engagement.  It helps to maintain order.  I would venture to say it may even be the beginning steps of learning gratitude and appreciation.  Having a toy ripped from your hand because your older brother wants it does not necessarily fall under this description ‑ but I digress.

Unfortunately, for many of us, nursery school was a long time ago.  We have forgotten  the proverb and have become a bunch of whiners and complainers (not my readers I’m sure).  When we do not get things our way we hem and haw.

Fresh out of high school I ran a recording studio with my brother.  I handled all the day to day operations while my brother invested into the business.  This gave him veto power.  During a heated disagreement about the plans for the future of the studio he invoked his veto power.  He gave me an analogy that I have since internalized.  He said, if George Steinbrenner made the Yankees wear red hats, they would have to wear red hats.  Steinbrenner was the owner of the Yankees at the time, and the Yankees are well,  the Yankees.  They are one of the most successful franchises in professional sports history and have one of the most recognizable uniforms in the world.  Changing their uniforms would have been be an outrage.What my brother was alluding to was,  if the Yankee players wanted to remain Yankee players and keep their big paychecks they would have to go along with what Steinbrenner wanted.  They would ditch the pinstripes and don red hats.

Now,  we are often challenged with a fork in our proverbial road of life.  We are then faced with an option, right or left.  Sometimes the choice does not seem much of a choice.  For example, your boss calls you in on your day off.  You may go in to work believing that if you do not go you will lose your job.  So you go in to work in order to keep your job.  You complain for weeks, months, or even years about how inconsiderate your boss was.  In actuality you had a choice.  You decided to wear a red hat.

This has helped me every day.  Before I start to complain or find myself complaining I visualize a red hat.  This helps me to curb my angst and put things in perspective.  Now I aim not saying stop complaining, that’s not realistic, after all, we are not robots. However I do find that we complain as a coping mechanism, a crutch we lean on to bear the brunt of something we do not want to do, perhaps something we feel is out of our control.  This is a fallacy.  If you can imagine a red hat like I do it may help you make better decisions. You do have a choice.  Complaining is not a third choice.  You are either going to do it or you are not, you either agree or disagree.

There is a saying there are no bad contracts only bad signers.  It means that a signer bears the responsibility for what they are agreeing to.  Not fully understanding the contract or being ignorant of what the ramifications will be still leans on the signer.  The contract may not be your cup of tea but may be awesome for someone else.  So the contract is not the issue.  If you do not like a given situation realize that at one point in time you signed up for it.  For whatever reason you are not happy with the current terms of the nonverbal agreement it is on you to try to fix it.  If all you do is complain in a passive aggressive way all you are really doing is agreeing to the contract.  You agree to wear the red hat.

In life sometimes we have to wear red hats.  We have to put up with something until we are at the place we want to be.  Sometimes wearing a red hat can help us get there.  Be warned though that wearing a red hat can also lead us straight to the perpetual state of suck.  Therefore, if we minimize our complaining it can help us see the decisions we are making through a clearer lens and this helps us make more informed decisions.  Complaining can act as an unnecessary distraction.  Focus on what you have control over.

One suggestion before knowingly or unknowingly wearing a red hat is deciding if doing so will get you closer to becoming the best version of yourself or not.

Quit your belly aching!

Jay Will

 

How Will Smith Surpassed Martin Lawrence

badboys

badboys

“Bad Boys” has to be one of my all-time favorite movies.  It had action, adventure and comedy; everything a thirteen year old boy could want in a summer blockbuster.  When it first came out, I think I saw it three times in the movie theater. It starred two of my favorite actors at the time, Martin Lawrence and Will Smith.  Not only was it an awesome movie it served as an example of a valuable lesson.  Not so much the movie but the actors themselves.

When the movie came out Martin Lawrence and Will Smith were both at the height of their respective careers. Both had prior success in different fields; Martin in stand-up comedy and Will in music.  Will was the first rapper to win a Grammy while Martin was the host of “Def Comedy Jam” and the most popular comedian at the time.  Both had hit TV shows; Martin in the so named “Martin” and Will in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”  Business aside, they were both going through divorces in their personal lives.  They may have been on the same movie set but they were literally at the same place at the same time.  As a kid, I thought the director of the movie Michael Bay was a genius to put these two forces together.

The movie was a huge hit and further elevated the two stars careers.  Just as I noticed the similarities of Martin and Will during the making of “Bad Boys,” I also noticed the differences after.  Will went on to have a huge career. He was nicknamed Mr. Fourth of July because he had a string of summer blockbusters that came out around the July fourth holiday.  He later remarried to actress Jada Pinckett and had two more children who would later go on to become famous stars in their own right.  Will went on to become one of the highest paid and most respected actors in the business. He was even nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali in the movie “Ali.”

Martin on the other hand seemed to implode.  He had tension on his show with his co-star, he was banned from NBC after making lewd remarks during his opening monologue while hosting Saturday Night Live.  He even had a public meltdown, waving a gun in the air on a busy highway in Los Angeles.

As a teenager the similarities and differences of Martin Lawrence and Will Smith always intrigued me.  I wondered how two people with similar trajectories can go on to live totally different lives?  How did Will Smith surpass Martin Lawrence?

A few years later I saw an interview by Will Smith that would answer my question.  In the interview Will explained how he decided he wanted to be the biggest movie star in the world.  He sat down with his manager and researched all the highest grossing movies of all time and looked for a pattern.  Will discovered that at that time the highest grossing movies were all sci-fi movies which had aliens in its plot – think “Star Wars” and ”E.T.”  Armed with this information, he purposely accepted movie roles which were in the sci-fi genre and had built aliens into its plot – “Men in Black,” “Independence Day anyone?

Astonishing I thought.  He had a goal, he had a plan, and he executed.  That is why he had a different outcome.

My observation of the two actors reminded me of a lesson I learned a few years earlier at my elementary school graduation.  As I sat in the audience, I saw my friend Maria give her speech as class valedictorian.  As I listened to my friend, I secretly wished it was me giving the speech. My mom who was sitting next to me, probably sensed my growing envy and leaned over to me and said in a loving way “that could have been you.”  What my mom was saying was Maria was not better or smarter than me.  After all, we both started school the same day, had the same exact classes, teachers, and work load.  Maria had simply outworked me.  She deserved to win.

We all have the same twenty four hours in a day.  What we do with that time will dictate the lives in which we have.  If you want your life to be exceptional you have to work exceptionally hard to get it.

You get out what you put in.

Jay Will

 

This post is not in any way meant to demean Martin Lawrence.  I do appreciate and acknowledge his contribution to comedy and he still remains one of my favorite comedians of all time.  

The Devil is a Liar

Serpent and Apple

Serpent and AppleI was at dinner with my friend Elliot the other day.  He was complaining about his life and his current situation, as he often does.  Elliot happens to be on the current list to be a fireman for the FDNY.  Without disclosing too much about Elliot’s life I will say that his life has not been an easy one.  From a very early age there always seemed to be a dark cloud that followed him around.  So here we were at dinner and Elliot was asking, part rhetorically, part really wanting some kind of answer, as to why his life has been so hard.  I took a breath and asked Elliot, “can I say something to you without you getting offended?”  Elliot looked at me and said in straight deadpan “you’re always offensive, so go right ahead!”

With the okay I proceeded, “the reason your life has been so rough is because you are supposed to fail.”  Elliot nodded slowly contemplating what I had just said.  I continued “every part of your life has been designed in a way for you to give up.”  As Elliot contemplated slicing his wrist with the butter knife on the table I said “but there is a caveat to what I am telling you” Elliot looking hopeful said “what is that?”  I smiled at Elliot and responded “it is all a lie!”

Elliot’s life, in fact, has not been the best but it has set him up for his destiny.  It has been imperfectly perfect.  Having endured all the hardships and thus, providing him with the opportunity to build resilience. The fires he faced in his life gave him the courage to fight fires in other people’s life.  I hold firemen in high regard.  They are indeed some of the bravest people in the world.  It takes a certain character to go in a burning building and try to help save someone.

While at the dinner I asked the waitress for a pencil and on a napkin I began scribbling some math that gave a number which would change his outlook on life.  The number was 10,400. The breakdown I gave Elliot when he becomes a fireman is if he helps save one person every week for a year over a twenty-year career is 1,040 people.  If those 1,040 people Elliot helped go on to help 5 people in their lifetime that results in 5,200 people.  If those 5,200 people go on to help 2 people that number would be 10,400.  I told Elliot throughout his life he will be directly and indirectly responsible for helping 10,400 lives.  Elliot jaw almost hit the floor.

1 Person

x  52 weeks a year

52 people

x  20 year career

1040 people

x  they go on to help 5 people

5200 people

x  they go on to help 2 people

= 10,400 lives affected by Elliot

I know many of us have felt like Elliot, insignificant, thinking the world was against us, feeling like a loser.  I will tell you first hand this is a lie.  I once saw a movie and it said “the greatest lie the devil ever told was that he does not exist.”  In reality the greatest lie the devil ever told was that you do not matter.  Your life is not an accident.  The trials and tribulations you have faced or will face are designed to prepare you for what you are supposed to do in this world.  It helps to write your next chapter.

In retrospect, Elliot’s life is more like a movie.  He is the underdog that we root for too win.  His life is like Rocky or Rudy or The Mighty Ducks.  We cheer these characters on while we eat popcorn and hi-five each other.  Elliot’s life just needs that happy ending to mirror those movies we love.  To put this in context, life is not a movie.  We do not all get happy endings.  You may not go on to be a fireman like Elliot.  You may never knock out Apollo Creed or go on to affect 10,000 lives, but I want you to know your life, your existence is important.  You may not yet know what your life is meant for and that is okay.  For starters stop believing the lie and this will eventually lead to discovering the life you were meant to live.

Don’t believe the lie!

Jay Will

Greatest Job in the World

© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporation

© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporation

When I, was working as a teller at a Long Island Bank, I had a regular customer named Nora.  She was usually my first customer on most Tuesday and Friday mornings.  She would let other customers go ahead of her and waited to be served by me, as she said I was her favorite.  She was my favorite also as I enjoyed our small talk.  Every time I saw her she wore the same look on her face; one of depression.  I secretly viewed Nora’s life as a sad one.

One day my curiosity got the best of me and I asked her what she did for a living.  Almost immediately I regretted asking her, thinking I would hear her expound on how much she hated her job, a la Grumpy George.  What happened next was a complete surprise.  Her face lit up as a big smile came across it.  She said “I have the greatest job in the world.”  I was floored!  As sad as it sounds, up until that point, I never knew someone who was genuinely happy with their job.  She continued, “I have the greatest job in the world.  I get to help bring babies into the world.”  Turns out, Nora was a nurse who worked in the delivery unit at the hospital not far from the bank.  She worked the grave yard shift, so when she was getting off from work the bank was just opening.  The look which I perceived as depression was really a look of exhaustion from a long shift.  She explained that after she left the bank she went home and went straight to bed.

It has been more than ten years since I last saw Nurse Nora but I often think back on that day.  I still see how her eyes twinkled when she talked about her career.  Sadly, I have not met too many Noras in my life.  I have not run across too many people who are overcome with happiness by simply talking about the things in their life.  Whether it is their job or their health or their relationship or for that matter anything in their life they lack the joy in their life that Nora had that day in the bank.  That is what is missing in many of our lives.  If there is no joy in your life, that is a major problem.

Think of a balloon.  The air that gets blown in and out of it is that joy .  If you deflate it completely what are you left with?  The answer is nothing.  That balloon is your life.

Fill your life up with joy.

Jay Will

A Lesson the Cosby Show Taught Me

cosby

cosby

For many years The Cosby Show has been a resource for generations, providing gut busting laughs and life lessons.  As a kid I watched episodes every day after school.  I still catch reruns from time to time, and the show is still a source of entertainment and wisdom for me.  One of the greatest lessons which I learned in life was from the episode in which Vanessa got engaged.

In the episode Heathcliff and Clair Huxtable learned that their daughter Vanessa, while away at college, got engaged to a guy named Dabnis Brickey.  Vanessa arrived with Dabnis in tow, to break the news of their engagement.  The Huxtables were livid; Clair was practically foaming at the mouth.

Dabnis was not only engaged to the much younger Vanessa but he was the janitor of the university she attended; two facts which did not sit well with Vanessa’s parents.  Heathcliff, a doctor and Clair, a lawyer, thought that Vanessa was making a huge mistake.

As the episode progressed Dabnis begins to tell Dr. Huxtable that he was not just a janitor but he managed the janitorial staff at the university.  A slight smile graced Dr. Huxtable’s face.  Dabnis then revealed he makes a good salary.  Dr. Huxtable’s smile started to grow.  Dabnis confessed he was absolutely in love with Vanessa.  Dr. Huxtable started to grin a little wider.  The icing on the cake came when Dabnis says he had no intention of moving in to the Huxtable home and stated that he had his own home.  Dr. Huxtable was gleaming.  A long running-joke on The Cosby Show was the fact that Dr. Huxtable could not wait for his kids to move out of the house, but they kept coming back.  So the fact that Dabnis had his own home was absolutely impressive in Dr. Huxtable’s mind.

Dr. Huxtable admitted to Dabnis that at first he didn’t like him.  However, after learning more about Dabnis he had a new appreciation for Dabnis.  After hearing this acknowledgement, Dabnis nods and smiles.  Dr. Huxtable killed the quick bonding moment by pointing out the unresolved underlying problem that remained the elephant in the room.  Dr. Huxtable painted a picture for Dabnis by asking him to close his eyes and picture his favorite food.  Dabnis dreamed of a porterhouse steak. Dr. Huxtable has him picture the steak seared just right with onions and mushrooms.  Dabnis started to lick his lips at the thought.  He tells Dabnis to imagine a baked potato with sour cream and all the fixings.  Dabnis at this point, was practically salivating at the image as it was making him hungry.  “Can you taste it son?” Dr. Huxtable shouted.  “Yes sir!” Dabnis excitedly shouted back.  Ready to take a bite at the image that danced around Dabnis’s head Dr. Huxtable finished off the illustration by saying “I am going to take your steak and your baked potato and I am going to serve it to you.  Dabnis, eyes still closed, started rubbing his hands in anticipation.  Dr. Huxtable continued “I am going to take your steak and your potato and I am going to go outside to the garbage, take off the lid of the garbage can, turn it over, and put your steak and potatoes on it and serve it to you.”  Dabnis made a face of disgust as he opened his eyes in shock.  Dr. Huxtable asked “what is wrong you don’t want it anymore?”  Dabnis exclaimed “I do not want that.”  When Dr. Huxtable probed him as to why, Dabnis stated “because it is on a garbage can lid.”  Dr. Huxtable smiled at Dabnis and said “that is how you were presented today to Mrs. Huxtable and I, on a garbage can lid.”

I retell this story for the simple lesson it teaches.  Many of us live our lives on the top of a garbage can lid and yet scratch our heads as to why we do not get the appreciation, recognition, or respect we feel we deserve.  In order to get what we want out of this world we have to present ourselves and our ideas in the best possible light.  We need to bring out the fine China!

Bon Appétit

Jay Will

Facing Fear

© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporation

© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporation

This is part three of the Perpetual State of Suck series.  Part one talked about the internal factors, while part two focused on the external.  This essay focuses on fear.  I encourage you to read the proceeding articles if you have not done so (Part 1, Part 2).

If fear was not a factor what would your life look like?  What would you be doing?  Who would you be?  In order to become beast we need to win in the face of fear.

One night I went out with my friend Sarah.  Sarah did not drive so I picked her up.  She had begun taking driving lessons but was still intimidated when it came to being behind the wheel.   At the end of the night I offered to let her drive home and she flat out refused.  I could sense there was something deeper and asked again.  Again she said no.  I told her that she needed to get over her fear but my plea fell on deaf ears.  After I got tired of the back and forth, I pulled over to the side of the road, got out the car, went around to the passenger side, opened the door and told Sarah, “slide over cause you are driving home!”  Sarah would not budge.   I would not budge.  We were at a standoff.  It was a battle of will.  Sarah just kept saying she can’t while I kept saying she can.  A decision needed to be made.   After a few minutes of this stalemate Sarah started to cry.  “What the hell is wrong with me?” she uttered to herself.  For a moment she paused as if she was waiting for an answer as she wiped away her tears.  Fear was face to face with her.  This was her moment to show how strong I knew she was.  Alas, fear was the victor that night.  Paralyzed to move fear had crippled her.  I drove home.  Sarah cried.  A quiet street on a quiet night Sarah had been defeated.

How many of us have felt like Sarah succumbing to our fears?  I know I have.  We all have.

Fear begins to become a habit.  We automatically get used to not doing the things that makes us afraid.  It starts to affect other areas of our lives.  We become a slave to it, and it becomes our master.

This is not the first or last time fear would be the victor in Sarah’s life.  Fear had raised its hand in triumph on many occasions until Sarah would not let fear dictate her life.  She would be in the driver seat.

For many years Sarah wanted to be a doctor.  She envisioned herself in the E.R. dressed in a lab coat saving someone’s life.  She wanted her life to have meaning.  She would tell me all the time about her dream.  However her actions went in the completely opposite direction.  She found herself stuck working for a horrible boss in a dead end position.  How was she going to save lives while stuck in a cubicle?  Fear was controlling her life.  She saw it as just a dream.   Sarah thought she was not good enough, smart enough, or young enough to pursue a medical degree.  Fear was whispering in her ear.

But one day something changed.  Sarah was sick and tired of her boss, sick and tired of her life and, sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Sarah had enough.  She registered for the MCATs and applied to medical school.  Currently she is finishing her medical degree.  Not only is Sarah in medical school but she is also at the head of her class.  She does not let fear hold her back anymore.  Sarah is in the process of living out her dream.  In fact, Sarah has become one of the most courageous people I have ever met.  Someone who once was the embodiment of fear has become the personification of courage.  Being fed up is a good thing.  Being fed up can conquer fear.

The ability to act in spite of fear requires a bigger why.  Meaning the reason we act is because the why is more important than that thing we are afraid of.  In retrospect, if I had stopped in the middle of a busy highway as opposed to a quiet street I am pretty sure Sarah would have jumped in the driver’s seat with no hesitations.  Fear was able to access the situation and strike its ugly head.  In the alternatives fear does not have a chance.  Fear is still present in those situations but we just make it less important.

I do not know about you, but I am fed up with being afraid of the boogie man.  There are no monsters under our bed.  The scratching at our window is just a tree branch.  The fear is not real.  It may feel real but it is not.  The fear may have beaten us into submission on many occasions but today is a new day.  Today, we will not let fear dictate our lives.  We will not sit in the passenger seat of our lives and let fear drive us home.  We are in control.   You do not have to be afraid anymore.

Act in spite of fear.

Jay Will

Permission for Greatness

Bouncer unhooking velvet rope

Bouncer unhooking velvet rope

Two years ago, at Christmas time, I was given a book from my friends Rik and Eloise.  The book was “How to Get Out of Our Own Way” by singer/actor Tyrese Gibson, many of us know him from his role in Transformers, and Fast and Furious.  I had been following Tyrese’s career for many years and was interested to read his book.  The book talked about his life and was influenced by the wisdom he gathered during his career.  It was a pretty good read and left me with a few nuggets of wisdom.  One nugget in particular was the concept of permission.

In one section Tyrese talked about how he was a bad kid, or more importantly, made to believe he was a bad kid.  He was in a bad school, getting into trouble and had poor grades.  Luckily, he was able to attend a “better” school and got the opportunity to meet some great mentors.  Not only did his grades and behavior improve but his mentors helped him develop his “gifts” and helped launch his career.  At one point he says that his mentors gave him permission to be great.

Permission, I said aloud.  I reread that section ten times.  Up until that point, I never heard that word used to describe people helping you.  As I reread the sentence, it shook my soul.  It made perfect sense!

What if the opportunity for us to be great relied on someone giving us permission to do so?  For example, just imagine a high school student with a hidden talent that only he and his friends knew about.  They all know he can sing but he does not believe in himself.  His friends convince him to try out for the school chorus.  The chorus teacher immediately recognizes his talent and puts him in the winter concert. Not only that, but the teacher gives him a solo at the show.  The night of the show he sings his heart out and receives a standing ovation.  You can finish the story of the boy’s future in your head.  In this illustration the boy’s friends, his chorus teacher, even the audience who gave him the ovation all gave the boy permission to be great.  Remember, at the beginning, he did not believe in himself.

The people who give us permission in our lives nurture our potential.  They believe in us when we do not believe in ourselves.

If you take two of the same exact plants and put one in a dark room one and one on a window sill, which one do you think will flourish?  The plant on the window will grow substantially more because it was given the best opportunity to grow to its full potential.  “No one puts baby in the corner!”  This is the same way our lives work.  We need to be in environments which encourage growth.

What if you do not have people in your life to give you the “permission” to reach your potential?  I would suggest finding someone that does.  I know that is easier said than done, but it is essential.  The people in our lives greatly affect our output.

The alternative is to give the permission to yourself.  This requires a great deal of self-realization.  A lot of us are not strong enough to do this.  I know I have insecurities in areas of my life which I still need outside permission for.  Conversely, I know people who grew up in broken homes, or have crummy jobs or have complete buttheads for significant others, who have gone on to become beasts in their lives.  They had no choice.  They could not wait!  They had to tell themselves, I am good enough, I am smart enough, I am deserving!  They had to give themselves permission.

So my encouragement to you is to seek people who will give you the permission you require.  If for whatever reason you cannot find anyone, I encourage you to dig down deep inside and give yourself permission.  Deep down you will find that kid at the winter concert waiting for the world to hear your song.  God made you different not for you to be mediocre but for you to be great.

Be great.

Jay Will

Removing the Cancers in Your Life

Portrait of female patient sitting in chair

Portrait of female patient sitting in chair 

This is part two in the series on the perpetual state of suck.  I encourage you to read part one if you have not already done so.  Part one focused on internal factors and part two will focus on the external.  I call these external factors “NoGos” and “Cancers”.

A NoGo stands for no good and is simply anyone, place, or thing that is stunting your growth in relation to reaching your full potential.

For example, you have a major test in the morning and a lot is riding on you passing this test in order for you to advance.  Your buddy, Jim calls you up and says he wants to go out tonight for drinks, his treat!  Do you:

A-     Get some last minute studying in;

B-       Go to bed early so you are fresh for the exam; or

C-       Go out for drinks with Jim.

Given this scenario, most people would probably choose A or B.  Some might choose choice C and find a way to justify it by saying you studied enough, or the test is going to be easy, or I am already passing the class so it does not matter what grade I get.  Some might even make a choice for D and say I will study for an hour and go out with Jim for two hours, this way I do not feel bad for going out.  Now, understand it is small choices like these which affect our future.  They affect our ability to reach our full potential; I have been really good on my diet so I can cheat and have dessert, I have not missed a workout in a month so I can sleep in today, I am trying to save money for my vacation but I can buy this shirt because it is on sale.

Am I asking you to be super disciplined and never live a little?  Of course not!  What I am doing is asking you to look at your choices differently.  In order for us to reach our full potential, we have to evaluate our decisions and ask: is this bringing me closer or further away from the best version of myself.  If the person, place, or thing is taking us further away they are NoGos.

Let’s look at the example from earlier.  Keeping everything the same, the only difference is that Jim is a long lost friend you have not seen in twenty years and he is only in town for the night.  Ahhh man damn!  You have to go out with Jim right?  It has been twenty years since you last saw him and you may not see him again for another twenty and your test is stupid in comparison.  Like I said, everything is still the same.  The “stupid” test is still going to enhance your life if you do well on it.  Decisions, decisions.  Even once in a life time opportunities are not worth risking you becoming beast.  On any other night Jim is your dude but in both scenarios hanging out with Jim the night before your big test Jim is a NoGo.

So now that we able to spot the NoGos in our lives, those people, places, or things that keep us from our full potential, let’s dig a little deeper.  Sometimes life is not so cut and dry.  There are people, places, or things in our lives that are not that easy to get rid of, avoid or say no to. In fact turning down such a NoGo is downright impossible.  I refer to these areas of our lives as cancers.  Cancer?  Yes cancer!  I do not use that word lightly.

Let’s take a look at cancer.  A cancer is something that grows, spreads, and can eventually kill us.  Now, a cancer in your life acts in the same way; it grows, spreads, and winds us killing us from reaching our full potential.  Remember Grumpy George from part one?  George was in a perpetual state of suck because George had a cancer in his life.  Was the cancer his job?  Maybe.  Other people may have worked at the job just as long as George and had no complaints while George was miserable.  It is possible that George, deep down, knew he deserved more out of life.  So why was George there putting himself through turmoil for twenty years, you ask?  Maybe George was afraid of venturing out into the unknown.  That fear is George’s cancer.  George made a subconscious decision to live with his cancer rather than face his fear.

Cancer is a real thing.  People die from breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer every day.  When people are diagnosed with cancer it is a horrible day to say the least.  Depending on the stage some can have surgery or chemo, or drugs.  None of these choices are easy, they are all horrible.

I have had the privilege of meeting some strong women who have survived breast cancer.  A few have gotten a double mastectomy.  For those unfamiliar with that term, it means that they had their breasts removed.  This surgery helps rid the body of the cancer and diminishes the chances of it coming back.  Some women like Angelina Jolie decide to have this surgery even before they are diagnosed with cancer, if breast cancer runs in their family, as a preventive measure.  This is a difficult decision for many women because their breasts are part of who they are, it is part of their identity as a woman.  It helps to define them.  So you can only imagine the severity of having to part with something that helps make up who you are.  When asked how and why, women who have elected to have this surgery have said, they wanted to see their children or grandchildren grow up, they wanted to see their kids get married, they were not yet finished living, they choose life!

That last reason is so powerful, they choose life.  The decision for them was to either potentially die or potentially live, and they choose life. Wow!

I am no guru, and I cannot tell you how to live your life, so I will not pretend to have all the answers. What I can poise to you is a question.  We all have cancers in our lives, things that are harming or potentially harming us, things that are robbing us of our peace, robbing us of reaching our full potential. When we take a deep, long look at ourselves and realize these are not only NoGos but they are cancerous.  What choice do we make?  Are we choosing life?

Are you choosing life?

Jay Will

Perpetual State of Suck

Mature Man Sitting on Bed in Prison Cell

Mature Man Sitting on Bed in Prison Cell

It is hard to reach your full potential, almost impossible, when you are stuck in what I call the perpetual state of suck.  This is the worst place to find yourself. Unfortunately, most of us are caught in this state in some aspect of our lives.

Over the next 2 posts I will talk about three causes for this perpetual state of suck and some preventive steps we can take to avoid it. Today will focus on the internal aspects of our lives.  The next post will focus on external factors.

It is very easy to point fingers about the areas of our lives that we are not happy with, but the reality is that most of our pain points are caused by ourselves.  This is the starting point, it starts with us identifying and then owning the responsibility of being in this state.

A few years ago, I started a new job at a bank.  It was the first time I was actually making some real money, so I was excited for the opportunity.  On my first day I was introduced to an older chap that I will refer to as Grumpy George.  His name gives away his disposition.  He was the type of man who would shake their fist at you because you were smiling too much. He was in his mid-forties and wore an old tweed sweater vest.  Within thirty seconds of shaking my hand and exchanging names, George proceeded to expound on how much he hated working there.  The wages were low, the benefits were horrible, management treated employees like children, Grumpy George did not have a weekend off in months, you name it he covered it.  I was taken aback because I heard so many great things about working there.  I asked George how long he worked there.  He replied “twenty years.”  I then asked him how long it sucked.  He replied “twenty years!”  At that point I took a deep long look into George’s eyes and what I saw was scary.  I saw that he was dead inside.  He was a soulless man.  That was the last time I had a conversation with Grumpy George.  I just said “hello” and “goodbye” going forward.  I figured out fast he was a lame and I did not want his lameness rubbing off on me!

The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results.  Grumpy George does not fall under this context.  He knew his job sucked and he knew it was not going to get better.  There was no glimmer of hope.  George was stuck in a perpetual state of suck.

There are three options we can use when we find ourselves in this state.  The first is by changing our perspective.  Stop and ask yourself is what I am experiencing really that bad or am I making it far worse in my mind?  If we are able to have a paradigm shift we may start seeing the pluses in our situations and not the minuses.

After we have done a real analysis of the situation and completed a shift in our perspective, the second alternative is to change the situation.  In Grumpy George’s case this would be a change in departments or branches or a new job all together.

The third choice is to suck it up.  This is done by desensitizing or numbing ourselves to those areas of our lives that cause us the most discomfort. To stay at the job we hate, or stay with that person we should have dumped a long time ago or stay over weight.  We just suck it up. We learn to deal with it.  We learn to cope.  The problem is when we make this choice we are buying a one way ticket straight to the perpetual state of suck.

Can you reach your full potential in this state?  Absolutely!  This will build in you resolve or like I say no pressure, no diamonds.  Sometimes it is absolutely necessary to go through a temporary period of discomfort in order to reach our end goal.  Is it easy to reach your potential avoiding this state?  Once again, absolutely!   It all comes down to whatever you decide is best for your life whether you are in a perpetual state of suck or not the key is to make a conscious effort to be the best version of yourself.  Doing this will break you out of this perpetual state of suck.  It comes down to our standards.

Case in point, when I ran an indie label I used the song One More Chance by Biggie, as my muse.  This was my standard of musical excellence.  In my opinion, it encompasses everything that makes for a great song; melody, beat, swag, and a catchy chorus.  It had bravado for the guys while being smooth enough for the ladies.  Every song that we worked on had to match up to that benchmark.

In every part of our lives we need to set standards.  Grumpy George had not set standards for his life and allowed himself to be stuck in that job.  What is your standard for your life?  Do you even know?  Do you even have one?  If you don’t have standards, you end up like George, assuming you are not George already.  How do you want to look?  How do you want people to treat you?  What kind of life do you want for you and your family?  Really think about it.  This is not to be taken lightly.  If you already have standards in your life but you want more out of life, you need to swap those old standards for new ones.  We need these standards in order to reach our full potential.  It is not a wish list.  It is a need list.

Setting these standards will get us closer to becoming beasts.  Just by looking at Grumpy George I can tell his job is not the only area of his life that sucks.  Before we know it sucking it up starts to affect all areas of our lives.  It starts to become a habit.  Without even knowing it we start to lose that fire and just walk through life soullessly.  A quick tip is that anytime you find yourself doing something you don’t want to do, consistently and over time, you can be on the path to the perpetual state of suck.

After we have set the standards in our life, we need to get good habits that exemplify these standards.  Our habits show us who we really are.  They shape our lives.  Habits reinforce our standards.  Anytime I find myself acting or doing things counter to my standards I have set for myself I know it is time to reevaluate my habits.  You reap what you sow.

In order to win in life it starts with you.

Jay Will

The Three Year Old, the TV and the Tantrum

temper tantrum

Hispanic mother trying to feed crying baby boy

I had my friend over the other day, (for purposes of anonymity I will call him Elliot). Elliot came over to hangout while I was on daddy duty. He was having a hard time after recently getting dumped by his girlfriend. He was distraught to say the least. I was telling him he just needed to change his perspective. I am a firm believer that if you change your perspective, you will change your life. I tried to assure him that it was not that bad and even shared some stories of my past heartbreaks I experienced and how good things worked out for me. Nothing worked. He was determined to have his pity party on my sofa. The nerve of some people! It would take my three year old to get through to him.

As the afternoon progressed I went to the kitchen to prepare lunch while Elliot and the boys played and watched TV. Usually the TV is off when we eat but because we had a guest I decided to leave it on. Chase, my oldest, was not in the least bit interested in his lunch and instead of eating, he would turn around and watch TV. After a few times of asking nicely, for him to turn around and eat, I finally turned the TV off and told Chase I wouldn’t turn the TV on until he ate his lunch. Now any parents reading this can probably guess what followed. Chase had an Oscar worthy tantrum; crying hysterically, screaming, throwing himself on the floor, the works! Now being used to a three year olds meltdown, I took it in stride. Elliot, who does not have kids, was in complete shock.

After Chase calmed down, I used the opportunity to make a point to Elliot. I said to him “do you see what just happened”. Elliot, still wearing his deer in the headlights expression, shook his head yes. Elliot witnessed what happened but did not fully grasp it.

Chase couldn’t watch TV and in his mind his world was coming to an end. If he did not want to eat that was fine, he just could not watch TV. I never said he was on time out nor did I say he could not play with his toys. He simply could not watch TV and that was enough to ruin his life at that moment.

It is not Chase’s fault. He is after all three years old. His awareness at this point of his life, of the TV being turned off, is equivalent to the shattering of his existence. The tantrum is genuine, his response is warranted, but Chase lacks perspective. I explained to Elliot, how something as small as a TV being turned off could ruin Chase’s day, the same way Elliot’s ex-girlfriend ruined his day by dumping him.

I tell you this story because I find that we often look at life through the eyes of a three year old. If we get dumped, or we don’t get that promotion, or our start-up fails, or we do not lose enough weight, we have a tantrum. It may not be Oscar worthy, like Chase’s was, but it is still a tantrum. If things do not go our way we get depressed, our world comes crashing down. How we see things, how we perceive them, will affect how we handle things.

The awesome part is, we are not three years old. We know, or at least should know, that whatever the setback happens to be is not the end of our world. Once Elliot understood this, he immediately started to feel better about himself. He internalized the point that life goes on. It comes down to perspective.

Whenever I feel like Chase or Elliot felt that afternoon I have a little trick to help me get me back on track. It is really hokey but it works in most situations. I touch my hand to my heart and take some deep breaths. Say what now? Yes, I literally take my hand and put it over my heart. I do this to check for a heartbeat. Reason being is that it shows I am still alive! Then I take some deep breaths. On a practical sense things can’t be that bad if I am still alive, right?! For me, this is a conscious reminder to myself that things are not that bad. Like I said it is hokey, but it is scientifically proven that a physical change causes a mental change. If we physically change our state it helps change our mind. The hand to my heart is a physical change. The deep breaths help me to focus on something other than the thing that is causing me grief, and in this case it is something as simple as my breathing.

My method may not work for you. Perhaps for you it will be going for a run, or cleaning the house or dancing. Find what works for you. Start by acknowledging the setback is just that, a setback. Life goes on!

If you change your perspective, you change your life.

Jay Will