Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why So Serious?

Life is funny, I mean really funny. If we take the time to step back and look at the things that stress or frustrate us, we can see the humor. You know, as if it was happening to someone else. Getting fired on your day off, running out of gas just as your trying to flirt with the person in the car beside you, to getting rear ended by an ice cream truck; all things that could make for a horrible situation, but still funny. It’s all about perception.

We’re all familiar with the Batman movie where the demented Joker laughs and utters the phrase, “why so serious?” Granted it was followed by some psychotic behavior and a homicide, it was still valid. “Why?” Why do we allow situations to have total control over our mind, body, spirit, and being? The reality is, regardless of how we feel about the situation, it is what it is. So instead of magnifying the problem with negative thinking, which usually leads to worse decision making, let’s change our mindset, our perspective.

I was given the best advice on how to see life situations; if you had to walk from Los Angeles to San Francisco, no one was coming to pick you up or save you, what would you do? You can yell, scream, curse at all the air conditioned cars driving by, you can even fall to the ground and cry, but in the end you have to start walking. How you feel about it has nothing to do with putting one foot in front of the other, so if you can’t change the situation, change the perception. You can talk to yourself, sing a loud, even count the steps. Really, you can whistle the theme to “Rocky” as you jog and air punch. It’s all about your mindset and attitude.

I can remember having to walk several miles home one night. It was late and cold. I could have easily filled myself with anger, frustration, and a host of other non-productive emotions. However, I decided to not let this consume me, because I knew I had to walk anyway. So I just started talking to myself. I must have performed 3 stand-up routines and the entire James Brown anthology on this adventure. By the time I got home, not only was I not tired, I was laughing as I walked in.

I’m not saying that every situation is as simple as walking home, but the same practice can be applied. When we approach the smaller things this way, it makes it easier to deal with the big stuff. Unemployment, illness, and injuries are all significant issues, but our attitude is what will dictate our ability to cope, bounce back and recover. I personally prefer to laugh at life, and it hasn’t always been easy. I’ve lost jobs, money, cars, and more relationships than I can count. But it’s been my ability to find a bright-side, the humor in the situation, that has kept me going and allowed me to laugh and learn.

It’s easy to lose focus and perspective. Sometimes we have to look at the whole situation, the big picture to find that reason to smile, it is there. Fired on our day off just means we didn’t have to waste the gas of driving down there to be laid off. Running out of gas might just be the ice breaker we needed while flirting, and I don’t know about you, but getting ice cream truck rear ended, sounds like a “push-up pop” opportunity to me. It’s all about attitude. “Why so serious?” Even when faced with impending doom at the hands of the demented Joker we have to remember…it’s a clown.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Cold Cup Of Coffee: Haters

This is a special edition of A Moment With Morris. This is part of an ongoing series I affectionately titled "A Cold Cup of Coffee". Bringing you real life without the sweeteners, a cold and sometimes bitter, but always necessary sip of reality. This time we're looking at, "Haters".

As children, we were all told that we could be whatever we wanted to be. We were encouraged to be police officers, fire fighters, astronauts or even president. As we get older we begin to see that life isn’t always as optimistic. Many of us try school (college/vocational) usually not with success, we work jobs we can’t stand, and end up with someone that isn’t our first choice…we settle.

We fall into this mediocre state of existence. How did we get here? Is this it? There is a reason why drugs and alcohol are at an all time high in this country, most people are unhappy. So many feel like they got a raw deal in this life, were born under a bad sign or just never had a chance. Those pictures of families running in the park, pushing kids in swings, couples in love or career power players…why them? Why not you?

If you’ve ever thought this, if you’ve ever looked in the mirror and dropped your head at the sight of the person you’ve become. If you stare at your significant other the same way you see the job you wish would blow up over the weekend, if you have ever found yourself getting angry at the sight of successful, happy people…you are a hater.

Yes, it’s true. I know it’s a shock, you didn’t see it coming, and why would you? No one plans on being a hater, it creeps up on you. A series of unsuccessful life decisions and outcomes slowly puts you on the pathway to hating.

Don’t get me wrong, being a hater isn’t about anger. It’s about perception, attitude, and outlook. It’s about the thoughts that cross your mind; when you and your significant other are out, that feeling you get, when you pass a couple looking and doing better than you. It’s when you pull up at the light and glance over your shoulder at the people in the nicer car passionately singing to their favorite song. Even as simple as that sensation you feel when you pass a group of well behaved children, meanwhile yours just knocked something off the shelf in the grocery store. All these things are stepping stones, building blocks.

You know you have hate in your heart, when seeing romantic public displays of affection piss you off. When you believe that all fit people just had to have “something done”. Even down to, if asked, you say that your current career status is the result of “politics”. Hater, thy name is, YOU!

Now that we’ve established that you are indeed a hater, it’s time to slowly sip this cold cup of truth. Darwinism is real. Much like in the animal kingdom, natural selection carries over into the human race. Everyone can’t be king of the jungle or queen of the colony. We need some role players. We need some drones. Sorry to break it to you…you’re a drone.

That’s a hard pill to swallow. Take a minute, I’ll wait…look I know parents don’t prepare us for that. How could they? Why would they? No parent looks down at their baby and thinks, 2nd string. It’s true. Some of us are born with will, drive, determination and talent. Some of us have all the tools we just lack motivation. Some of us have persistence and drive and overcome by sheer hustle. But for some, it’s a lose-lose. Like the wounded gazelle, fate has not dealt them a winning hand.

I am a firm believer in personal responsibility. In no way am I saying it’s alright to concede failure. I’m merely pointing out the possibility that your string of losses and misgivings may boil down to nothing more than you were already predisposed to meager results. That being said, that doesn’t mean you have to hate. Hating is a choice. Take control of your individual situation. How green your neighbor’s grass is, has nothing to do with your yard. Maximize your own potential and stay in your lane.

Life is about knowing your role and playing your position. In this movie, you are not the star, not even a supporting actor…really, you’re just an extra…but make the most out of being “man/woman in diner”. Don't worry about how many lines their getting, just remember yours. Like I said, it’s about perception, attitude, and outlook.

You may not be a corporate CEO, but a job at McDonald’s comes with all the fries you can eat. You may not have a new car, but riding the bus gives you the opportunity to meet new people every day. Your mate may not be Will Smith or Jennifer Lopez, but they love you. Hating is never acceptable. Be not only content, but proud of the life and blessings you have been given. So as you step on to the bus and find yourself cutting a hard look to the couple driving by in the convertible, remember…there’s someone walking, giving that same look to you.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Daddy Dearest

This one is dedicated to the fathers out there…

This installment is inspired by recent events, my last trip to the mall. Not a place I frequent often and each time I go I remember why. The crowded walkways, aromas of miscellaneous fast foods, and destitute teenagers have put me off a bit to the whole “mall” experience. However, I do get the enjoyment of one of my favorite past times…people watching…and the mall never disappoints.

The people, the outfits, the behavior, that’s entertainment. Gazing upon this sea of inconsistency one particular trend caught my eye. The young ladies…I don’t mean young like 21, I mean young like 14. These girls were dressed as if the Bishop Don Magic Juan himself selected their outfits. Now I understand allowing your teenagers a certain degree of freedom, exposing them to life and the social consequences for their decisions. I get that. But at what point do we not step in? We were in Macy’s not Magic City.

Ladies, I know it’s hard out there, and where I’m from there is a high single parent percentage. Keeping track of your son or daughter is a full time job, that’s why it takes two. The fact is, mother’s do so much by way of nurturing and supporting so the child can have a solid base. But then it's the father's turn to take the baton.

If it’s a boy, it is the father’s responsibility to teach him how to be a man. To not only teach, but show him how to be respectful, strong, and a provider. If it’s a girl, it’s once again dad’s job to teach her about men. It’s his place to instill the importance of self respect, and what to look for in a man when she’s older. Showing her by example how a man is supposed to treat a woman.

Now I’ve addressed parenting before (See “Real Parents”) but this one is about a specific issue. I saw a lot of young girls in “advertising outfits”. They were on the hunt and interviewing for “daddies”. We all know “daddy”. The man that will enter her life and say all the things that her father didn’t. Without proper guidance and self esteem, “daddy” will have this girl’s head spinning. Having her do all sorts of nonsense trying to please him and fill this void of male love.

These little girls; 13, 14, 15 years old shopping to fill their “whoredrobe”. Gentlemen, a lot of you have dropped the ball. I understand that it’s easy for me to say from the sidelines not having children, but c’mon! Get involved in these girls lives. Here’s a little something to help clarify for those that need it:

Is it your job to raise her from BIRTH to 18? YES
Is it your job to show her the proper way women are to be treated? YES
If you can’t stand her mother, do you still have to be there for her? YES
If you never wanted children but she somehow slipped into the world, is she your responsibility? YES
If she grows up and dates a string of losers, has no feeling of self worth and wants to do porn, is that your fault? YES

Gentlemen let’s get this one under control. This is an easy fix, just be there. Talk to her, and prepare her for what this world is going to challenge her with. Get in her life at birth; because if she grows up with a father, she won’t go out looking for a “daddy”.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Let's Do It...Again

The Godfather Part II, Return of the Jedi, even Bad Boys II, all showed us that sequels can be great. The idea of returning back to something that was or wasn’t good, can be successful. This happens in movies, what also happens in movies is this idea of revisiting and reviving past relationships.

That’s right…we’re all familiar with, “The second time around”. The practice of trying a relationship again, usually ending with the same results. We start thinking about a past love, often after a newly failed relationship, and start wondering…

Wondering about, what could have been? If we only knew then what we know now? Only we do. So we convince ourselves that we’ve figured out where we went wrong the first time. We’ve cracked the code. The other person’s mistakes and our own past issues fade into the background as we start this comeback campaign.

We become so enveloped with the idea of a relationship resurrection that we even manage to convince the other person to give it a try. Now let me first say; I completely understand, the comfort, security, and familiarity that comes with a previous relationship. This is someone we know. Their faults, tendencies, even what makes them smile…we know them. That’s a very safe place to be.

With all of our previous knowledge, we can maneuver through this new/old thing with confidence. Heading off potential arguments at the pass, avoiding the trouble zones, meanwhile keeping with newly inspired passion, we find ourselves wondering why we ever broke up in the first place. This is perfect. Break up? What were we thinking?

Oh, that’s right. Let me say that people can change with time. Some life altering events can happen giving them a new understanding and outlook on life. It is possible…that being said…

It’s really just a matter of time before WE come back. Yes WE. The real them, the real us, it was a matter of time. (See “The Frog and the Scorpion”) When we start hearing familiar phrases, having familiar arguments, having familiar feelings, we start remembering. As much as we would like to, we don’t forget. Therefore we never truly get or give a fresh start. All of the old feelings begin to resurface. You know; the anger, frustration, and the ever popular… lack of trust.

We also have eliminated the fear factor. In relationships, we to a degree, have a fear of them leaving us or it not working out. When you revisit a relationship you’ve proven that there can be another chance. It creates a kind of behavioral safety net. Which leads to a degree of “gray area” in decision making.

Let me say that in no way do I have issue with any two people that want to try again. Coming from divorced parents I truly can understand that wanting to make something work. In the same breath I also know that divorcing was the best thing my parents could have done for their own happiness. It’s real easy to forget why we break up, especially if our current situation isn’t the best. I even understand the whole “bad timing” thing, right person, wrong time. We just need to be honest about, why? Is this more about them or us? Are we out of fresh prospects and are just “recycling” or is it truly about a lost love?

It’s perfectly alright to see the same person again, as long as you don’t expect a different result. (The definition of insanity) Sequels can be good, but never better than the original. If it didn’t work the first time, it’s pretty safe to say that will be the outcome again. We are who we are, and do what we do…and an ex, is an ex for a reason.

So before we think about dialing that old number, sending that text or Facebook finding, all trying to re-create that magic…we should just sit back…close our eyes, and remember…”Crank 2”.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Player Player

Often we men use sports analogies to explain things…here’s another one. If you follow my blogs, you’ll see that I usually refer to relationships as a team. I use names and terms like “coach”, “player”, and “position”. This one is a breakdown and clear understanding of “The Team”.

I’m old-fashioned in the sense that I still believe in gender roles. I believe that the man is the coach, the play-maker. It is his responsibility to formulate the playbook and secure the needs of the team. Just like in sports, if the team is failing, blame begins with the coach and his ability to lead, teach and facilitate. The coach also has the GM role when it comes to acquiring and developing talent.

When it comes to the acquisition of talent (players), there several different approaches. Most often it is simply a walk-on acquisition. No prior thought was put into it, simply a same place, same time opportunity. Nothing against this process, in fact it has proven to be very successful, but with no prior scouting, problems can, and often do arise. Pre-existing “injuries”, as well as bad reports from numerous teams, can lead to a short term signing or even release from the organization.

Another way to pick up talent is via,“Free Agency”. This is the pulling from a pool of “experienced veterans”. The upside to free agency is often the players come with a full scouting report. Everything from previous teams, to issues, tendencies or special skills that might set them apart from the herd, are all accessible. Issues with free agency often stem from too many previous playbooks or an inability to adapt to a new system. This is also used in the acquiring of "role" players. In most cases, free agency is used as a quick fix as opposed to a permanent solution, so contracts are usually on a short term basis.

Make no mistake, free agency can be the path to some truly exceptional talent. Unpolished gems, undeveloped players, often go un-noticed in a sea of potential. So with a keen eye and an attention to detail, some star players can be formed. Just because a player didn't work out on one team, doesn't mean their not a find. Sometimes it boils down to strictly conflicting styles. It's a partnership, there has to be chemistry. So one team's failure can be another team's future.

A current and often practiced route is, “Drafting”. It offers the most high risk/high reward scenario. Drafting of a rookie is acquiring a young, raw player with no real previous experience. “Rookies” need more attention, direction, and coaching, but if a coach is willing to put in the time, energy, and effort they can end up with a true “Franchise Player”. That’s the player you sign for the duration of their career and they become the face of the organization. Like I said, rookies require a lot more time and one-on-one sessions but the benefits are infinite.

Not all situations work, and not always at the fault of the coach. Some drafted rookies are a “bust”. They seemed better on paper (see “what’s your number?") and that never quite translated to performance. Some blame does fall to the coach, he did draft her. (personal responsibility)

Whichever way a coach goes in the realm of talent acquisition, it will ultimately comedown to the commitment of both he and the player. A relationship that can excel on all levels; with good communication, a clear understanding of the team’s philosophy, and a sheer willingness to succeed, for years to come. Ladies, please see past the sports lingo and really take in what I’m expressing. They may not use these terms, but many men have adapted these practices. So do your homework, scout out what potential franchises you want to be a part of, and apply to your relationship the philosophy of the great Vince Lombardi:

“Winning isn’t everything…it’s the only thing.”

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Sigh's The Limit

Recently i've had the great and wonderful opportunity to meet some exciting new people. Focused, goal-orientated, determined, "dreamers". It's been such a breath of fresh air to engage in conversation with optimism, hope and belief.

So the question is, why? Why has this become such unfamiliar territory? Where did our dreams go?

Granted, some of these new found friends are younger than myself, but so what? I find myself questioning, when was the last time someone was excited to tell me good news? Not to talk about problems, worries or drama, just some good news.

Is this what we've become? Just a group of self-loathing, depressed and bitter people? Remember having just that one negative friend? Now the positive ones are the minorities. Who told us not to dream, and when did we decide to listen?

Life can be hard, unyielding and disappointing...but that's what makes it interesting...exciting. The challenges, the obstacles, the not knowing... Has my generation already become the angry old men and women of tomorrow?

I like to think that my time on this planet is full of infinite opportunities for me to do and be whatever I want. I try anything and everything that seems like it could be interesting. Now i've had more failures than successes, but each setback better prepared me for my next ambition.

These young go-getters inspire me. I truly hope they are not alone in their quests for happiness and success. May they lead the charge of determination for those that wake up and sigh, or hang their heads in doubt of what "could be".

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