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Category Archives: Life

Simplify Your Life

I week from now I will be one year older and I’m not sure how much wiser.  Here is what I do know that I have learned over my 44 years of life…people are simple.  You can put everyone that you encounter, everyone that you know into one of two categories, “Can’t Do or Won’t Do.”

This is something that I picked up in my former corporate life as a leader of people.  What I found is that everyone I interviewed, everyone that I worked with or who worked for me would fit into one of these two categories.  One is good to have in your circle and unfortunately one is bad for you and your life pursuits.

I will tell you about the “Can’t Do” person first because this is the type of individual that you will want to have on your team, as a friend and ultimately as a mate.  Of course the family members who don’t fall into the “Can’t Do” category you just have to find a way to limit the access that you give them to your life…sorry.  The “Can’t Do” person is simply someone who may or may not be capable of doing what you ask them to do but is more than willing to learn.  That person just needs to be told or shown what it is you need and then they magically transform into someone who can and will do what is required.

When you are a leader in your chosen profession you will need to build your team and or department with “Can’t Do” types of people because the more of them that you find the easier your job of leading them will be.  Just imagine how simple life can be when all you have to do is show your team how it’s done and then let them out into the world to be productive.

The benefits of having these same types of people as friends or as a mate or spouse is obvious.  Just imagine you had a friend who invited you over to their home for dinner.  Because of health concerns, you need some adjustments made to the food that will be served that evening.  The type of friend that you need in this instance is one where making a change to your entrée begins as a “Can’t Do” but ends as a can do/will do.

The person that you need to identify as quickly as possible is the “Won’t Do” person.  This individual knows exactly what you want done, exactly what is required and just refuses to do it.  Just imagine you were forming a basketball team at the gym or the office.  And right before you were going to pick a person they said, “hey, I’m not going to dribble, I’m not going to pass and I’m not going to shoot the basketball.”  Is there any way in hell you still go ahead and pick this person?  The truth is we do it all the time and then we suffer for it and then we ask ourselves how did this happen.

Take a moment right now to make an inventory of the relationships in your life and ask yourself how many “Won’t Do” people do I have there.  When you think about it, these individuals have no positive existence in your life and if you cannot eliminate them totally from your life you should, at the very least, limit their access to your everyday world.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Business, Life, Relationships, Sports

 

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The Train

The story comes in many varieties but it always ends the same way…with a missed opportunity.  If you’re lucky, I mean really lucky, your chance may come around again but the odds are not in your favor.  My favorite story that I like to tell others about missed opportunities is “The Girl on the Train.”

If you are a guy reading this, you have probably been in this situation at least once in your life and missed out.  You are on the train and a beautiful girl catches your eye.  You stare at her intensely until she glances your way and then you look away and play like you were not aware of her.  Your initial hope is that she gets off at the same stop you are so that you can win some sort of dating lottery.

This “staring and then look away” game goes on stop after stop as your prayers are repeatedly answered as she doesn’t rise from her seat to get off the train before you.  The knot in your throat tightens as your own stop is drawing closer and closer.  You wonder if she is really going to get off at your stop because, of course, that is when you plan to make your move.

Suddenly, your stop is next and she is making no preparations to get off of the train.  Now your mind starts to race with questions.  The biggest one is why you didn’t make your move several stops ago.  Now there is no time for a rushed introduction because the train will soon stop and your  momentum, should you gain any, will be lost as you exit.  And remember, you are still not even sure that there is any interest from her side.  Oh, what to do?

You decide to not take the chance and just rise to exit the train for your stop.  After you pass through the double doors and find yourself on the platform, you can’t help but take one more look.  You look at her, she looks at you for what seems like hours, and then she knowingly smiles to let you know that had you shown the courage you would have been rewarded.  Of course that smile comes as the doors close and the train is pulling away with you powerless to stop it.

This is where the accounts can and usually differ.  When that happened to me many moons ago, my next move was to look at my watch and note the time.  If I could be on that very same train at the very same time tomorrow I would be able to have my chance encounter, right?  Wrong. The truth is I will probably never see her again and another agonizing truth is that I don’t deserve to.  She’s thinking, “he had his shot and he didn’t take it.  Too bad…maybe the next one will have the cojones needed to ask me my name and number.”

Two summers ago, LeBron James was on the same train and he did the courageous thing.  He asked her for her name and number.  She said her name was Miami and gave him a number that started with area code 305.  For seven years LeBron had been taking the same train in Cleveland and ending his season without the championship he coveted.  The only way to break that cycle in his mind, and in my opinion, was to start taking a new train that had a different destination with different passengers.

LeBron James has already made it to the top of the mountain in one sense.  He has become like the teams and the players that everyone tunes in to see whenever they are on television.  The Dallas Cowboys, the New York Yankees, and the Los Angeles Lakers are 3 of the teams that everyone tunes in to see.  Most want to see them win but many want to see them lose.  Either way the games are almost always highly anticipated and highly rated to boot.

Tiger Woods was, is and will probably always be the golfer that everyone tunes in to see win or lose.  First because of his greatness but more recently because of his human failings.  Kobe Bryant sort of fits that same mold as Tiger but he managed to get new sponsors, get more rings and gain even more popularity since his legal troubles of a decade ago.

LeBron James is disliked for exercising the freedoms that we would all like to have.  He honored his contract and then he took another train.  We, not me necessarily, just didn’t like the “way” in which he chose to make and then announce his decision to the world.  He’s gone on record as admitting he would change  some parts of the process if he had it to do over again but I liked his decision to join his friends and go for it all in Miami.

The major hangup was, and will probably always be, the arrogance surrounding the “Decision” and then the “Promise.”  At the end of the day, people always want you to do things the way they would have done them if given the chance.  Those people just need to get over it.  LeBron James did not leave the Cavs with nothing like it is always reported.  He allowed the Cavs to sign him and then trade him to Miami for future draft picks.  He did not have to do that.  He could have been a jerk like his former team owner was very upset over the news he was losing his superstar.

It is not always easy to know when you are on that fateful train in life but ask yourself if you will have the courage to ask her “for her name and number” or will you let the train pull out of the station.  You only get one life so I say live the one with the least regret and the one that says you left everything you had out on the playing field of life.

 
 

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BE (Be Exceptional)

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” ~ Anonymous

One of my favorite quotes is stated above.  I love that quote because it lays out a truth that I believe lies in all of us.  We are all, in some form or fashion, exceptional at something.  What I find that most exceptional people do is hide from their exception in order to fit in with their surroundings.

This past week my soon-to-be 10-year-old son and I were talking about the upcoming NBA draft.  My son tells me all the time how much he wants to be drafted into the NBA right out of high school like Kobe and LeBron.  I tell him that the current rules won’t allow for that to happen.  He believes they will make an exception for him.  I will use his desire to his advantage.

My son Tre is an exceptional young man.  He has a name that he shares with only two other human beings.  He is left-handed and is learning every day that he has a definite advantage over his peers on the field of play.  He is smart as a whip and he has a great sense of humor but most of all he is a fierce competitor.  In fact, he is an exceptional competitor.

We introduced Tre to sports at a very young age.  He started his flag football career at age 4.  He was not allowed to play on the team in actual games until age 5 but he worked out with the team regularly until the season began.  Once the season started though, he couldn’t stand not being able to play in the actual competition so I ended his torture.  The following season he played cornerback in a league that doesn’t really throw the football.  They are just 5 and 6 after all.

So he was bored out of his mind in the defensive backfield most plays and really had an uneventful flag football season.  After the last game, the coach approached me and told me something shocking.  He wanted Tre to be the quarterback next season.  I knew that he would be great at the quarterback position because he would be forced be engaged in the game throughout.  The quarterback touches the ball every play so you can’t take any plays off.

Tre led his team to the Super Bowl that season.  In order to get there though he had to bring his team back from 5 points down with just a few minutes left in the fourth quarter.  With time winding down from the continuous running clock, Tre took the snap and then promptly fumbled the ball onto the turf.  Without a moment’s hesitation he scooped up the football and galloped sixty yards for the winning touchdown. To this day, everyone who watches the video clip wants to know how I managed to film his run while everyone around me was losing their minds.  I don’t know I just kept the camera locked on him until he stopped in the end zone and then strutted…my boy.

The only thing that would have made his score more dramatic is if the clock had gone to zero.  It didn’t so all Tre did was go out on defense and make another game saving stop to preserve the win.  He was so cool at six and the game announcer fell in love with his name that evening.  The feeling of being his father that night was amazing.  Hearing other fans yelling your child’s name at a competitive event is indescribable.  You tingle from head to toe and tears well up in your eyes.  Other dads give you a pat on the shoulder for a job well done and you just kind of take credit in stride.

The following season Tre moved up to tackle football from the flag level.  The coach’s son was the QB so Tre was back on defense and football kind of lost its shine with him.  “No problem,” said Tre, “I will just play basketball.”  We signed him up for a league at the Y in our neighborhood and it wasn’t long before our son was dominating his teammates as well as his opponents.  The problem with the Y was the structure was loose, the baskets were lowered and stealing the basketball was not allowed.

After watching Tre run all over the court doing everything but dunk the ball, we were starting to get looks from the other parents instead of praise.  Then one game Tre made up his mind he was going to score 20 points and he was well on his way when the coach yanked him from the game in the 3rd quarter.  The coach was starting to feel the heat from the other parents. Tre pouted on the bench for the remainder and then did not shake hands with his opponents, as is customary, at the final buzzer.  That day his AAU basketball career was born.

AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball was where Tre would hone his skills.  The competition is top flight and almost every weekend there is a tournament somewhere that involves a shiny trophy.  Tre was challenged at every turn in AAU because as a 2nd grader he was playing against 3rd, 4th and sometimes 5th graders in these tournaments.  The coaches often schedule against older kids so they can toughen their own teams up.  It works.  If you get beat by 4th and 5th graders on a regular basis then when you play kids your own age you have a definite confidence edge.

Tre had a good first season with his team until his coach defected to another AAU club due to politics.  Tre’s team was disbanded and he landed on a 4th grade team.  He worked hard in practice and during his very limited game time minutes until one day, in a tournament championship, the coach decided to start Tre.  They won the trophy that day and my son had his first taste of AAU victory.  He was hooked.

Tre put us on notice soon after that baseball was out (to the dismay of the little league coaches that wanted to draft him 1st) and football was on life support.  He moved up to a new grade level and with that a new coach.  It is always a good sign when the “team mom” is the spouse of the coach.  That demonstrates stability and the likelihood of a season without a lot of parental drama.  Of course the coach’s son is on the team as well whether he’s the best or the worst.  I love that dynamic.

Tre had an even better season with The Warriors that culminated in a national tournament at a huge sports complex in a North Dallas suburb.  His little brother and I drove the four plus hours to the event and it was huge and intimidating.  Tre saw first hand the big business that was competitive basketball.  The clocks, the refs, the structure was all at the highest level we had ever seen and it was exciting.

The team easily won their first few games on the first day and everything was fine as the Warriors were rolling to getting a high seed in the single elimination phase of the tournament.  Then the team ran up against a tough group from out-of-state and Tre found himself waiting at the scorer’s table to be subbed into the game.  The coach was down on the scoreboard and decided to stay with his starters.  For the first time in his young career, Tre didn’t play one minute of the game.

The Warriors lost their first non-elimination game and my boy had tears coming down his little cheeks.  “Coach said he was going to put me in but he didn’t,” he said.  I told him that the coach was more concerned with winning the game than giving him playing time.  I told Tre that he had to stay engaged in the game and especially when he was on the bench.  If he looks your way and sees you are not paying attention he may just leave you on the bench.  Tre swore that day he would never be left at the scorer’s table again.

His next few games he played like a man on fire and then I heard some of the parents calling for Tre to get back in the game to get more steals and more blocks.  See Tre is a tall kid who is an inconsistent shooter but his defense is the best.  He is the guy you can put on the best player and Tre will shut him down.  I told him the basket can be fickle sometimes but your defense always has to be present.  You notice when he leaves the game  and I told him that’s the mark of an exceptional player.

It was now Saturday night and the Warriors found themselves one win away from the Final 4.  The tournament took the Final 4 honor so seriously that you could only buy a  Final 4 t-shirt if your team made it…wow.  The Warriors were up against this team from Arkansas that was loaded with talent.  They had blown away everyone they played by at least 20 points and they had that look in their eye that the Warriors were next.

Unfortunately for us, our starting point guard and our starting shooting guard got stage fright.  The point guard was scared to dribble after getting stripped a couple of times and the shooting guard was scared to shoot after getting blocked a couple of times.  At the half we were only down by two points and the boys from Arkansas found themselves unable to blow us out.  The two guards never fully recovered and we lost the game by just 4 points.  Tre played well and didn’t express too much disappointment towards his frightened teammates.

He loved the experience and left the north Dallas suburb of Frisco knowing he could compete at the highest level.  He thanked me for taking him on the best trip of his life, we hugged and I kissed him on his forehead.  Of course I caught that one tear that ran out of my eye.  We celebrated our accomplishments that night and made the long drive back home to Houston the next morning.

Tre Medearis (left) and his teammates celebrating another AAU tournament victory…one of many.

I remember growing up in school and having to cover my test scores and other grades so that I wouldn’t feel like some kind of freak.  I was weird and a nerd until 5th grade.  That’s when I was identified as being gifted and was entered into the best magnet school in our public school system.  My life was different because I was now surrounded with kids that were just like me…exceptionally smart.

But now I had to function in two worlds.  I had to get up before the sun, catch a bus and two trains to arrive at school on time.  Then when I would come home in the afternoon the sun would be on its way down.  I would go out and play with my friends and hear the ridicule from at least one person on a pretty regular basis.  Luckily for me I was one of the better athletes on the block so even though I was a nerd I was one of the first guys picked.

No one could hit a baseball farther than I could and nobody had better hands when it came to catching the football.  Wasn’t the best shooter on the court but I could block shots and rebound better that anybody.  My exception was not my ability to play sports but the grey matter lodged between my two ears.  I knew that because I was born with asthma and my single parent mother was not interested in seeing her only child laying on a football field gasping for air and losing his life.

It took me a long time to figure out that I was an exceptional person.  I knew I was different and because of that I tried to fit in with my peer groups.  Being exceptional is better than being different.  It is a recognition of your God-given talents and maximizing them to their highest level.

I have tried so hard to bring others over to my different world not realizing that they were often times missing that much-needed ingredient of “being exceptional.”  Why build a team with average players that you have to coach up when you can coach a team with great players and actually just enjoy coaching?

Ever wonder why only one out of every 100 people finds a way to earn $100,000/year or more?  Is it because they are better?  No, it is because they are exceptional.  They make it because they believe that they can.  Ask yourself what have you ever accomplished without belief in your ability.  I believe that everyone has at least one exceptional ability and if they embraced it instead of running from it they could have the life that they really want to live instead of the life that they are “stuck with.”

Later this month, the NBA will add 60 players to their ranks.  These 60 players will come from all over the world, not just these United States.  The odds of making it to the highest level of exceptional basketball play are difficult to calculate but it is obvious that the 60 that get picked this month will believe in their exceptional abilities.

As long as my son Tre continues to embrace his exceptional talents and realizes that his dream to play at the NBA level is within his belief system, I am confident that I will one day hear his name called as a member of that very elite group of 60 exceptional athletes.  I won’t bet against him…that’s for sure.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Business, Life, Relationships, Sports

 

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Bronze Medalist

It is indeed my hope that you will find the information that I am going to share with you funny, informative and best of all sharable with your fellow-man or woman.  I have told this story to many more women than men because they always want to know why married men cheat.  The answer is one that I have subscribed to as making the most sense from a logical male perspective but first let me set the record straight.  Contrary to public opinion, all married men don’t cheat.  In fact, the percentages of married men and women who cheat are not that far apart.  Married men stray about 1 in 3 (33%) and married women fool around on their hubby 1 in 4 (25%).  I have joked that if I wrote a book entitled “66% of Married Men Will Never Cheat” no one would ever buy it.

There are a million different reasons why someone makes the decision to be unfaithful to their spouse and I’m only going to dive deeply into one that I have found to be quite common.  I would be willing to bet that if this common reason could be somehow eliminated, the male cheating percentage might even be cut in half.  I have named this cause of infidelity the Bronze Medal Effect for reasons based solely on logical male thinking patterns.

The Bronze Medal Effect is based on the sexual activity levels of four different types of men.  The men are described as Single Man, Divorced Man, Married Man and Man Living with Girlfriend.  Everyone that I have asked to order these men in their level of sexual activity from most to least has failed.  I always have to give several guesses just to get 2 out of 4 correct.  Ladies, you are the determining factor for the activity levels but you rarely come close to getting the order right.  Rather than have you guess incorrectly for the rest of this post I will give you the answers in order from most to least sexual activity.

*Man Living with Girlfriend

*Divorced Man

*Married Man

*Single Man

Before you get upset because the order is not the one that you guessed, I will give you the logical rationale behind the order of these four types of men.  I will give the rationale in order from least to most just for suspense purposes.

Single Man has the least amount of sexual activity of these four types because he has to spend a lot of time meeting a lady, taking her out on a few dates and then eventually closing the deal.  This can take a few weeks and there is no guarantee of a successful connection, meaning they both enjoy the encounter.  Without mutual satisfaction in this first encounter, he will probably find himself having to begin the cycle all over again.  That means going out to a club, even club internet, identifying a potential young suitor and then going out on a few dates to get to know one another.  As you can see, this can take a lot of time for Single Man without yielding a lot of activity.  I know that there are exceptions to this guy that I am describing but for most Single Man types this is the unfortunate cycle that occurs.  Lots of time, lots of money but not necessarily lots of action with the opposite sex.

Married Man is the guess that I get the most from women who humor me with this exercise.  They have normally broached the subject and of course believe that 99.9% of married men are running around on their wives.  They can’t believe that Married Man is not getting the most action of the four types.  They are shocked to learn that he comes in third place.  Well guess what?  Married Man is shocked to be in third place as well.  He is also pissed with his 3rd place status.  Why, because he is the one that took the plunge into the world of matrimony and he believed that his leap of faith would at least yield the most sexual activity of his other counterparts.  His disappointment will probably manifest itself later into one of a variety of different destructive behaviors and one could be infidelity.

Divorced Man is in the number two spot because he was probably in a marriage that did not end overnight. It was bad for one or a few years and it was no secret to those who knew him…both male and female.  He may have fooled around or wanted to fool around and now all of those temptations are up for grabs with his new-found status.  Just think, Divorced Man is now able to pursue once forbidden fruit, the mistress and he also gets to take a bite out of Single Man’s playground for his pleasure.  Want to take a guess who else may have crept onto his sexual activity roster?  That’s right.  His ex-wife may be a real possibility especially soon after the divorce is finalized.  Some divorced women don’t want to lose that familiarity they had with their former husband.  She may not like him but if he was decent in the bedroom there’s a good chance she’s still in the picture from a sexual activity standpoint.

And last but not least, we have our good buddy Man Living with Girlfriend.  He is living a charmed life from an activity standpoint.  He is shacked up with his lady and has the option to walk away from that deal whenever he chooses.  Now this is where the fun begins.  The girlfriend doesn’t like this setup one bit but it is a means to an end.  Because she wants to be married to this man she is doing a lot of things to get her man to pop the question.  They do it when they go to bed at night and first thing in the morning.  They fight like cats and dogs and then enjoy the collateral damage called make-up sex.  Eventually the girlfriend will wear down Man Living with Girlfriend and he will pop the question.  At that moment, he has convinced himself that the sexual activity that he is experiencing now is what he will have forever after.  If it is he can consider himself a very lucky man but when it isn’t he will find himself now coming in 3rd place and earning the unwanted “bronze medal.”

How did this happen to him he wonders?  One day he was fighting to get away from his horny girlfriend and just get in the shower and the next day he finds himself praying for “sports talk radio sex” with his wife (that’s once during the week and once on the weekends for you non-sports talk call-in fans).  Once he feels that he’s been played for a fool, he really starts to get pissed and considers doing destructive things such as getting back to the life he once enjoyed.  You remember the one that involved a girlfriend.  We love girlfriends.  Girlfriends are always ready to please.  Girlfriends play by our rules because if they don’t we can always walk away.  Once you become Married Man walking away becomes a difficult undertaking and if there are kids involved just forget about it.

So what just happened here?  Hopefully you saw how a man went from being a gold medalist (#1) when he was Man Living with Girlfriend to a bronze medalist (#3) after he marries that same girlfriend.  Logically it doesn’t make sense that when you make the highest level of commitment for a lifetime that you end up coming in third place.  Men want to win and if getting married means you’re going to get less loving then why would you ever make that choice?  You make the commitment not knowing that you’re making the choice of less activity.

Speaking from a man’s point of view, when we commit, or propose, we do so believing that things will remain at least the same but we are really pulling for better ever after.  When things don’t quite work out that way we get down and try to figure out a way to fix our problem.  Contrary to what you may think, I am not condoning or giving unfaithful men a pass.  I am just shedding light on just one possible root cause for why he may have made a choice that will possibly end his marriage one day.

I know that every man doesn’t live with his future wife before they marry.  I know that every divorced man doesn’t sleep with his ex-wife.  I know that every married man doesn’t suffer with a reduction in sexual activity and I know that there will be some single men who will read this and say “last place…please.”  This piece was based on surveys conducted using thousands of men that fit one of those four descriptions.  The logic of where they place is really quite sound when you process it as a rule and not as an exception which I know some readers will.  That’s just human nature.

I decided to post this topic because I believe that it might help one woman from letting her activity with her hubby fall off from its premarital level as well as letting one man avoid the pain of going from first to third.  If we were playing baseball that would be great but in the marital olympics no man is trading his gold medal for a bronze one.  Hope this one man’s opinion/perspective was enjoyable as planned.

 
 

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Suicidal Confessions

Last week was a sad one for me when I learned that one of my favorite football players, Junior Seau (pronounced SAY OW), took his own life by shooting himself in the heart.  I have been a big fan of his since I saw him play as a senior linebacker at Oceanside High.  I was a recent high school grad that was pursuing a Navy ROTC scholarship in San Diego so it was just pure luck that we were in the same place at the same time.  When I saw him play he was still Junior Seau (pronounced SEW).

He was a great player and no one was surprised when he went on to play linebacker at the University of Southern California (USC).  USC was my favorite school for a couple of great reasons.  First of all, it was my grandfather’s favorite school and he was a California resident for decades.  USC was also the first place I ever had the pleasure of seeing a college football game, in 1977 at the age of nine.

Seau was a star at USC and then was drafted by his home town San Diego Chargers.  Living in San Diego for 14 months gave me an attachment to the home town Chargers as well so I followed Seau’s career with much delight.  He went on to become one of the Chargers’ all time best players and even played in a Super Bowl in 1994.  A few years ago Seau retired from football and told the world that he was ready to get on with life after football.  I believe that was code for “the Chargers don’t want me to play for them anymore so I am hanging up my cleats.”

In what seemed like no time later, the Miami Dolphins signed the aging linebacker.  Safe to say that Junior wanted to continue playing and Miami wanted him on their team.  He did well as one would expect and then moved on to play for the New England Patriots in pursuit of that ever elusive Super Bowl ring.  In 2007 his dream almost became a reality when the undefeated Patriots suffered their first loss in the Super Bowl against the surprising New York Giants.  Not long after that defeat, Junior retired for the final time.

I am not here to tell you what Junior was going through specifically because the only one who knows the whole story is no longer with us.  All I can do is add up the signs that can lead to depression and subsequently suicide.  He was divorced with three young children.  He was having issues in his current relationship that lead to charges of domestic violence, and what some have guessed, and a failed suicide attempt.  Money could have played a role in his demeanor as well but I am not sure about that.

Speaking from experience, I know that what a man needs most in his life when he is deep in the valley of despair.  The answer is hope.  What we receive all too many times is “false hope.”   The friend or relative that says that they understand or that they will be by to check on you or hang out.  Because you are a guy or girl who has come out on top in the past, people will take for granted that you will emerge from this depression like you always have…upbeat and okay.  Those are the people who are the most torn apart at the funeral.  The ones that “just talked to him.”

I ended up in that valley when my best friend since the sixth grade committed a financial crime (he stole $3.5 million from one of the largest banks in the world) and I was implicated, fired and then cleared of the charges of conspiracy, theft and money laundering.  Because I was innocent I approached the situation all wrong.  I thought everyone would believe my story that I had no knowledge of the crime.  The fact that most people did not believe me cut deeply and was very depressing.

I spiraled into a deep pit of despair.  Everyday I was thinking about my lost career, income of close to $800k, and my family’s quality of life.  I had gone from the ultimate provider to an unemployed pathetic life form.  I went to group therapy and talked about my desire to end it all.  No one in my group could even imagine how far I had fallen but of course the group leader had all of the answers and all of the options for a better life.  I met with the staff shrink and got prescribed some depression meds to help me cope with my current circumstances.

I never took the meds.  I just let them pile up for the day that I would take my own life.  I just found it too difficult to deal with waking up everyday to what I felt was a nightmare.  No one could find the words to make me change what I knew was the answer to soothe my never-ending pain.  One friend did ask me to consider the legacy that I would leave for my children.  That was impactful but it still didn’t keep the thoughts from entering my mind from time to time.  For me it was an inevitable conclusion that was no longer an “if” but a “when.”

Then one day, right before my wife and kids went back east to visit family, my spouse saw that look in my eye.  She never thought that I would really end it but she was afraid to leave knowing that I might just get up the nerve.  She had stumbled upon my drinking at late night hours with the pills in plain sight and taken the pills and flushed them.  What she wasn’t sure of was if I had more and I most certainly did.  Her nervousness about what she would “tell the children” forced her to call the one person that I never thought to talk to…my mother.

I bring this up because I saw how distraught Junior’s mother was over his passing.  She could not believe that her son made the choice take his own life.  In fact she sort of hinted at foul play.  She now knows truth but she still doesn’t really know why he ended his fantastic, Hall of Fame life.  Rich, handsome and beloved by all who knew him, how could he make such a choice?  I know that if she had one more conversation with him she would ask, “how would you feel if you had to bury one of your children?”

I think that may have given him pause to possibly end his quest.  Why, because that is what my mom asked me.  See she didn’t talk to me as mother-to-son like one would expect, instead she talked to me parent-to-parent and her question shook me like no other ever had.  I pictured having to bury one of my sons or my oldest who is my only daughter.  That image put me right in my mother’s shoes and it worked.  I never let suicide become a viable option for me again.  It was now off the table for good.

For those who can’t understand why a man makes this choice, I feel that it is because that is the way he makes every choice.  It is his life.  So why can’t he end it if he wants to?  Public opinion deems that the ultimate selfish act but aren’t most actions that we take as humans selfish ones?  We are hard-wired to put our mask on first and tend to others second.  It is my life.  Why can’t I take it if that’s what I want to do?  Instead of telling him he’s being selfish show him all that he will miss out on if he ends the story right now.  I believe that, along with the “mom conversation,” will turn most people back from the edge of the cliff.

I remember vividly hearing from someone who once attempted suicide by jumping from The Golden Gate Bridge.  He said that right after he jumped “all of his problems seemed like they could be solved but now it was too late.”  Of course he survived and now speaks on the topic in front of audiences large and small across the country.  He said he decided to jump because of hope…false hope.

We will never know why Junior made his choice.  We are left behind to ponder all of the different things going on his life they may have helped him pull the trigger.  My hope is that if someone is talking to you about ending it all you take them very seriously.  If you feel that you can’t help then you get them someone who can and wants to help.  If you don’t you will be very easy to spot at their funeral.  Think about it.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in Life, Sports

 

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Power Management

You can do amazing things with it but you probably won’t. If you are like most you will use it to benefit yourself and your agenda and not much more. And sooner or later, when you need it the most, it will not be there to save you. The “it” I speak of is power and I attribute it to the number one reason that promising men and women fall from grace on a regular basis these days.

Literally, everyday you can read about someone who once commanded great power and resources that is now on the brink of ruin. Be it their reputation or their fortune or perhaps both. Their lives will never be the same. The main and often redundant question is always “What were they thinking?” What they were thinking was that the power that they wielded so masterfully for all those years was going once again save the day.

Wouldn’t it be something if colleges and universities offered a course or maybe even a minor in Power Management 101? No one really teaches us as we grow up about money, parenting or power. And why would you bother with power since so few people will ever really achieve any of note in their lifetime?

I for one would like to one day teach a course or two in Power Management at a prestigious college or university. That is after I get a masters degree in the subject myself.

I want to explore just a couple of instances where power, and sometimes the anticipation of power, made a few people do very questionable things. Top of mind right now is the John Edwards case in the courtroom this month. The players and their roles in this circle of power are fascinating to say the least. I will get to that soap opera momentarily but first let me tackle one story that involves my favorite sport…football.

This story is about former University of Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino. Here’s a guy that was one of the hottest coaches in all of college football and with one selfish decision he lost everything that he had worked so hard to attain.

On April 1st of all days, the coach decided to take his girlfriend out for a spin on his motorcycle. There’s nothing wrong with that I guess except if you are married with children and are the highest paid public employee in the entire state. As luck would have it, the coach and his pretty young thing crashed that day while taking a curve on a state highway. Now the coach was in quite a fix. He knew that this accident had to be reported and that he had to be treated for his injuries.

It is often said that the cover up is always worse than the crime and I would agree. When you are caught living a lie, your natural instinct is to lie to cover your tracks. When you are in a position of power you find that it is easier to get out of these types of jams because people who benefit from your power want to believe and help you. What happens sometimes is that those who don’t benefit from your power get involved in investigating your lies and then it all begins to unravel.

We have all seen people in power positions get out of a jam and we have seen them go down in flames. What determines who makes it through and who doesn’t is power management. Those who make it through quickly identify who holds their fate in their hands and they come clean with that person or persons. If the relationship with that key person is good or even great then a cover up can be successfully completed. If not then your goose is cooked.

Well, in the head coach’s case, that key person was his athletic director. By now you know the coach chose not to come clean with his AD.  And after the details were shared through all major media outlets the coach’s fate rested squarely in his AD’s hands. The AD took a few days to gather all of the embarrassing details and then he had to make a decision. Given the ugliness of what the AD uncovered, the decision was made less complicated.

He fired the coach. He decided to make the University of Arkansas bigger, and more powerful, than the head football coach. It wasn’t easy because the school could be on the brink of a national title. Their two toughest games are in their building next year so firing your head coach could be costly in your pursuit of a national championship. I believe he fired the coach because he knew the coach would one day cost him his own job.

He found out the head coach didn’t care about his own job. If he did why would he risk losing a contract worth $3.5 million a year and all of the adulation that comes with running a Top 5 college football program? Also lost was an $18 million buyout of his contract because he was fired for cause. Oh, and the girlfriend worked at the university as well. Had a sweet gig too. She got it because the coach handed it to her, over more than 150 other candidates it was revealed during the AD’s investigation.

The girlfriend was engaged to another university employee and scheduled to marry in June of this year. How would you like to be that guy? So let’s tally up the damage shall we? Head coach is out of a job and millions of dollars and his reputation is shot. His girlfriend is forced to resign and given severance in exchange for her silence. Fiancée of girlfriend is out of a job as well and all because one man decided his needs were more important than the university, the fans, his wife, his kids etc. Oh, and did I mention his brother was a coach on the football staff? Stay tuned for his fate.

Next up is the story of John Edwards. Right now John is in court looking down the barrel of 30 years imprisonment for violating campaign financing laws. John was so disillusioned by his power that he made the decision to have an affair, hire his mistress as his videographer and then father a child with the mistress. He did all this while he was making a run for President of the United States and caring for his wife who was battling cancer.  Again, what was he thinking?

I believe he was thinking that he could get away with it because everyone that saw the affair evolve also benefited from his power. Why would they turn him in when they needed him to get the nation’s top job? When the walls started to close in he didn’t panic, he just got his top aide to take responsibility for his love child. The aide goes along with the charade because he wants to go to the white house. The aide’s wife goes along with it because she wants to go to the white house. John’s dying wife goes along with the affair and then the love child because she wants to be the FLOTUS.

See how power has corrupted all those around the two original conspirators? It gets worse. John now has powerful friends funding the charade to the tune of nearly $1 million. There are two big “donors” that we know of and one is now deceased. The other is a bank heiress who is 101 years old. Those funds allowed the aide and his wife to hide the pregnant mistress as they traveled around the US evading reporters and their opposition who are now starting to piece the story together.

Next week John’s defense team will attempt to convince a jury that he knew nothing about the raising of the funds which paid to hide his mistress’ whereabouts. He is facing 30 years in prison but John already knows he won’t be found guilty. He’s is a lawyer and he knows how this lawyer game is played. The team with the best lawyers wins, regardless of the crime or the stakes.

His team, who is also being assisted by his oldest daughter, will not call the mistress and they will not call John to testify. They will question the heck out of all of the co-conspirators and make them look like hapless liars and when the smoke clears he will walk away with a much damaged career and reputation but no jail time.

Just think that if John Edwards could have exercised better power management he could have possibly become our President. In the end he had too many people involved in his deception. Once too many people know or suspect wrongdoing the conspiracy becomes difficult if not impossible to control. That is what power is all about. Once you get the power you become consumed with the fear of losing what? Your power. I know how much I miss…

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Business, Life, Politics, Sports

 

Tim & I, Part II

By season’s end, Tim had accomplished what very few QB’s in the history of the NFL had ever done. He led a team that began the season 1-4 to the post season. That only gave him a shot to go up against the best defense in the 2012 playoffs, the Pittsburgh Steelers. This team would surely reveal Tim as the fraud that all of his haters knew he was from the day he was drafted right? Of course not. Tim led the Broncos to an incredible overtime win that was probably the most exciting game of the 2012 playoffs.

What was his reward for the greatest non Super Bowl winning season in the history of the franchise?  A promise was made from the GM for Tim to be the starter on opening day next season for the Broncos. By now we all know that the promise was not kept and Tim was traded to the Jets in order to make room for another future HOF quarterback named Peyton. Peyton is recovering from 4 neck surgeries so the jury is out on whether he will be able to compete and complete games for the Broncos next season. Tim’s fans think, I mean they know, he got a raw deal from the Broncos. But Tim, being the faithful good guy that he is, took the trade in stride and is now happy to be in NYC as a New York Jets’ backup QB.

Funny how the same experts who hated Tim Tebow as the starter in Denver expect him to become the starter in New York. They have gone on record as saying he will kill the Jets’ locker room and stab the current starter, Mark Sanchez, in the back and take his job. Nonsense. Tim Tebow will improve his game and be ready for when his name is called to go in the game and get a W for his team. All he has ever wanted to do from what I’ve seen is help his team win.

Okay, so why did I take you down this “current event” memory lane? Because the parallels between sports and life are sometimes just remarkable. I have seen scenarios like Tim’s play out on TV as well as in real life and usually without a happy ending. Who can forget the Seinfeld episode where Elaine decides to get rid of an unwanted employee by promoting him to an executive position with the firm? The results were predictable in that she pissed off current employees that were more deserving and she got stuck with an incapable employee in a critical position. Her plan was to promote the employee into a job he couldn’t do and hope that he would resign in his frustration. If he didn’t quit soon enough she could fire him for poor performance. Best laid plans seldom work out that way when your intent is a foul smelling outcome. Isn’t that what the Broncos were banking on?

That reminds me of a story about an executive that worked at financial services firm years ago. Of course he started out as just an associate right out of college and the management team didn’t believe he would be successful long term. After all, he was a minority from a working class section of the city and didn’t know many people with money. The firm he worked for on the other hand was quite successful luring affluent clients from all over the metropolitan area for two and a half decades. He was fortunate to at least have a manager who believed in him while the manager’s peers assured the manager that his newest recruit would be out in less than six months.

As time passed this associate began to build a sizable practice and was eventually asked to join the ranks of the management team. He was honored that the same team that had bet against him was now inviting him to join the club. And why not, he was told when he was being recruited that if he worked real hard he could earn six figures in five years time. Well, this particular associate decided to get to that milestone in four years instead which attracted the attention of the executive suite.

Most new management trainees are mentored by the manager who hired them. As luck would have it, this associate’s manager left the company for a competing firm after being passed over for a promotion for the final time. Most expected the new manager trainee to fade from the managerial track but he kept pressing even though he had the built in reason to quit. After all, his biggest fan and mentor was now working for a competing firm. He decided that he was going to fill the shoes of his departed manager so he doubled his efforts.

A short time later history was made when he became the first African American associate to reach the lofty rank of Executive Vice President. This history thing was becoming familiar territory as just one year prior he was the first of his kind to shatter the six figure ceiling at his office. Things were definitely looking grand for this young executive’s future with this international firm.

After only two and a half years into his managerial career, the executive was offered the opportunity to lead an entire office in a major metropolitan city. The normal tenure was five to seven years before an office in a major city was even a consideration for someone with his track record. Again, the young executive was honored to be offered such a prestigious position so soon into his managerial career. He had done well with growing his group but his results were by no means off the charts.

What he did know was that he was the top African American manager at his level in the company. With that ranking he was strongly advised that he needed to step up to that next level as the managers below him were all watching. His decline of the promotion could mean fewer opportunities for those like him around the country and that was made clear to him during his meeting at headquarters. An offer was made but not accepted for several days. The executive was now on the move but he had no clue as to what he had gotten himself into.

Less than a year into his new position, the executive made a startling discovery. The firm that he loved working for since he had graduated college had been sued for racial discrimination. Worst yet it was for discriminating against African Americans. His dream job had now become a nightmare in very short order. What would he do? He just moved his family into their new home and everyone was getting used to their new relocated lives. Who would he tell?

The executive soon got over the blow of the lawsuit and adjusted to the new procedures for bringing on African American associates according to the judge’s Consent Decree (a ruling that would hang over the company for nearly a decade).

As time went on the executive would relocate yet again for an even bigger and better opportunity with an office in the firm’s western division. Today the executive is no longer with the firm. He would later learn that his promotion was part of a plot to aide in the company’s discrimination lawsuit. No one expected him to excel in the role. They just wanted to show the judge that they offered an African American a great role in the company. He would fail as expected and the firm would look like the good guys. It just wasn’t their fault that minorities couldn’t cut it at the executive level of their firm. Sound familiar?

This executive’s firm would not be the first to employ a strategy that gives a promotion to someone that they believe isn’t ready for the role. In short order the hope is that the employee will resign or get poor performance evaluations and get fired. Every now and again the employee steps up and performs at a Tebowesque level but that sadly is the exception and not the rule. That makes this strategy a good one when an employer wants to remove an employee of a particular minority class.

Many current and former black QB’s were upset that Tim Tebow was given the opportunity to start for Denver so young in his career but what they missed was that Tim was not set up for success but instead set up to fail. Fortunately for Tim he saw the chess game unfolding in front of his eyes and made the most of his circumstance. How many people could see that they were being set up to fall and perform at a winning level? Tim was able to do it and so was that financial services executive but believe me they are the exception and not the rule.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2012 in Business, Life, Sports

 

Tim & I, Part I

One of the biggest events in the world of sports this past NFL season was the Tim Tebow phenomenon that played out in Denver.  I know that “revisionist historians” will change the way things went down so that they will match up with the results but let’s not get it twisted, the only person associated with the Broncos organization that wanted Tim Tebow to be successful was Tim Tebow.  He had a regime change in 2011 in a new coach and a new GM.  His new coach was hired after he was fired by the Carolina Panthers and his new GM was none other than legendary HOFer John Elway.  My point is that neither one of those men chose Tim as the leader of their football team but they had a very big problem…the fans of the mile high city all wanted their QB to be Tim Tebow.

They resisted the urge to start the season off with Tim as their starter hoping that the QB retread in the current position, Kyle Orton, could win games for them and keep the fans that were chanting for Tim off their backs.  After getting off to a putrid 1-4 start it looked like the Broncos were heading for a top choice in the 2012 NFL draft.  That would be okay because if Denver ended up in the worst spot they would have a shot to draft #1 college QB Andrew Luck out of Stanford.  That’s the same college where John Elway played football and then emerged as the #1 pick in the draft.  Hmmm.

Well, this is working out great for the Broncos’ front office but not for their fans.  They want to see their first round choice from the year before take the field and work his magic like he did as a two-time national champion and Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Florida.  So the coach and the GM cook up a plan to give the fans what they want.  They would make Tim Tebow the starter and let their fans see what they were already certain of, that Tim could not win at this level.  When Tim failed as the starter, the Broncos could show the fans that they gave him every chance to be successful.  They could get the first pick in the draft by losing every game in which Tim was the starter and run him out of town all in one fell swoop.  Perfect plan right?

Unfortunately for his detractors, Tim Tebow was more than up to the challenge.  He got off to a 7-1 record as the starter and became the stuff of legends all over the sports talk radio/TV world.  I watched as every Monday every show would bring in so-called experts to tell us that Tim Tebow wasn’t a real NFL quarterback.  He wasn’t real a QB because he didn’t throw the perfect spiral and stand around and surgically pick apart a defense as he marched his team down the field gaining yardage by completing long passes.  The last time I checked the quarterback’s job was to move his team down the field with the end result being points on the scoreboard.  Guess what?  Week in and week out Mr. Tebow found a way to do just that.  In doing so he racked up tons of fans as well as tons of haters.

The arguments against him in my opinion were just stupid.  It wasn’t Tim it was the “stellar Denver defense keeping them in games.”  Where was this vaunted group in weeks 1-5?  “He can’t throw the football.”  Okay, admittedly he is not the world’s greatest passer but the HOFer up in the owner’s box only completed 56.9% of his passes for his career.  No one ever wants to bring that fun fact up but I will.  John Elway completed 56% and 59% of his passes in 1997 and 1998, both of which were Super Bowl championships for the Broncos.  Ironic huh?

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2012 in Business, Life, Sports

 

In The Beginning…

I have finally decided to put my story down for all to see as I am sure one day very soon it will make any interesting testimony for some and that is my greatest hope for my readers.  You may be wondering why I have entitled this blog “Neva Played.”

There are several reasons that I have gone with this title.  The first is that if it is sport being played at a professional level, I have never played it but that won’t stop me from having an opinion about players.  Second, I have lived my life with the attitude that I won’t be played for a fool as a rule and not as an exception (but you guessed it…I have been played).  Lastly, the title gives my story a little street cred hood flavor.

What you will find about me is that I have lived a very different life than most.  Doesn’t make me better than anyone, just different.  I have been fortunate enough to fly high and I have fallen further than most would ever dream of and lived to tell the tale.

At 43, I have lived more than most will in several lifetimes and I will share more of that later.  I want to tell my story because I know that it will be helpful to others.  I know that we all learn differently.  Some of us learn by listening and others by living.  It is my hope that as this blog evolves it will be one where readers can learn by listening and avoid the painful experience of living the lesson.  I will communicate via this blog the way that I would talk if we were face-to-face.  I will jump around my life’s timeline and I will use tons of analogies to bring my point home in a humorous fashion.

The hardest part is now behind me as I have finished my introduction to my very first blog post.  In the interest of starting this new endeavor of with a bang, my next post will give an insight to my life’s parallel with none other than Tim Tebow.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Life