Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Glory Of Losing

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 Times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot…and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” –Michael Jordan

Failure is a funny thing. It is often associated with defeat, shame, and pain. It is viewed as one of the worst feelings in the world; from losing a job, a game, or even relationship it has this unbearable stigma. Frankly none of us like to lose. It leaves us with that sour, rotten taste in the pit of our stomach. It’s a raw pain…it hurts…and we need to feel every bit of it.

That’s right that pain, that embarrassment, that shame is all necessary in helping us to be better. It’s a lesson…but one we have to be ready to learn. I can remember being a child and racing my older brother. He’s just a little bit older, but was a whole lot faster. Race after race it seemed as if I was losing by bigger and bigger margins. It didn’t matter what we did; basketball, football, anything, he had me beat. Now I had a competitive spirit at a young age, but my rational mind developed much younger. I had reached a point where I conceded failure.

No matter what I did or how hard I tried I couldn’t beat him. That feeling ate away at me to the point that I no longer even wanted to try. He would challenge me to a game of HORSE and I would just shrug and walk off. I wasn’t trying to hear him yell “Isaiah Thomas!” as he rains 3 pointers on me. I hated that feeling of losing and didn’t want to subject myself to it any longer. This isn’t a tale of perseverance or overcoming…for all accounts I quit. I was on the verge of taking the path of Bitchassness, but where I was rational, I was equally sick of the idea of always losing. I assessed that he was bigger, stronger and faster, and without a miracle I was doomed to always run in his shadow. Losing to my brother taught me two very important lessons that I pride myself on having learned to this day; to know my own strengths and developing a plan B.

I took that frustration and was bent on conquering this mountain in some way or form. My brother excelled in all things athletic, but after we received our report cards I found the chink in his armor. For all of his physical greatness, he wasn’t the best student. This was my opportunity! I realized at that moment where I could “win”…school.

Learning became my obsession, mentally training like Rocky did for Drago, I was in the 2nd grade studying like I was preparing for the SAT. Being a year behind him, I had the same teachers he did, so I was driven to beat in him grade for grade, subject for subject, quarter after quarter. I strengthened my vocabulary, comprehension, and ability to grasp concepts…not to be a better a student or to make my parents proud…but to win!

Month after month, year after year I’d place my honor roll ribbon next to his first place ribbon. My “student of the month” plaque next to his trophy and that was enough for me. In all my extra time studying, I learned more and more about myself; I developed hobbies and interests and started to form my own identity. As time went on he no longer was my rival. I accepted that he was a better athlete, because I knew my own strengths and values. Even as I got better we weren't competing. It was no longer about “him”.

Had I not taken all of those losses, had I even won just once, I’m not sure who I would have grown to be. As a result of all of that extra work, I'm able to better understand myself and know the areas that I excel in. In my life my greatest victories were motivated not by the glory of winning but by knowing the pain of losing.

We’re all going to fail at something sometime, that’s life. None of us are immune to that pain of defeat. It’s what we do with that feeling, that pain, that really counts…and as for my brother…

Tell “Isaiah” to bring it…I’ve got a little “Kobe” for him.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011


From Judy to Joe Brown, Mathis to Wapner judges, have now become as popular as movie stars. We have this infatuation with watching the judicial process at work, as long as we’re not involved. Shows like “The Practice” and “Boston Legal” hooked us on the idea that we could all be lawyers, throw in a few hours of “Court T.V.” and we’re good to go.

The obvious flaw with this is, no we’re not. The legal system is much more complex than the run down on behavior and manhood that ol’ Joe Brown delivers in 15 minutes, and we want it to be. Recently all over the news has been the trial of Casey Anthony. A woman accused of killing her own 2 year old daughter. With everyone expecting her to fry, she was found not guilty and received a slap on the wrist for lying to police officers.

The nation went crazy screaming for justice, sorry but justice was served. I’m not a hater, and I give credit where it is due. Casey Anthony orchestrated a well thought out intricate plan of lies and false information leading the trail to a question mark. She built up such a creative web of deceit that no one could honestly say beyond a reasonable doubt that she indeed did murder her child in the way she was being accused. End of discussion.

Now she’s receiving death threats from irate Americans who want their pound of flesh, in the name of her daughter. A similar cry for justice came after the BART officer who shot a handcuffed and detained Oscar Grant in the back was let off with a slap on the wrist as well. Even though the city accepted fault and paid Grant’s family for his wrongful death, his accuser is a free man. The people of Oakland responded with a riot, with the chants of “No justice for Oscar” ringing through the streets.

Here’s my issue, our legal system isn’t perfect, but if we want “justice” then we as a people need to be consistent. Don’t send death threats to an acquitted Casey Anthony and send champagne to an also acquitted OJ. We want the book thrown at the school teacher who allegedly touches under aged girls yet we ran out to get the new R Kelly album while he was facing charges for the same thing. It’s our screams of hypocrisy that drown out our cries for justice.

Truth be told, we don’t want a fair and just system. We don’t want our celebrities going to jail because we don’t want our favorite shows cancelled, or our team to miss the playoffs. We make excuses and exceptions all of the time. Justice is blind…blinded by Grammy’s, platinum plaques, and blockbuster sales receipts. We have historically looked the other way; domestic violence, drugs, molestation, rape, and murder can all be “explained”. If the star is big enough, we don’t need justice…only justification.

When high profile people get off, it’s supposed to always be about money, sometimes it’s true but sometimes it’s just one of those opportunities to see where we need to make changes in our legal system. We have a lot of people in our law enforcement and judicial offices that are just plain incompetent. Most acquittals aren’t because of a phenomenal defense team, it’s usually because of a mistake made by the prosecution. Lack of following up, misplaced or tampered with evidence and lack luster investigations are why most defendants are sleeping in their own beds at night. In the words of Judge Judy, “…they don’t keep me here because I’m pretty, they keep me here because I’m smart.” Some folks need to do their homework.

I am in no way saying that justice was served in either the Casey Anthony or Oscar Grant case, nor do I feel like it was served with Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton, R Kelly, Mel Gibson, Robert Downey Jr, etc… With such a flimsy and somewhat band wagon riding approach to the law, how can we as a people get mad at any verdict?

I think a little “Judge Joe Brown Justice” is needed; holding people accountable regardless of their profession or last name. There will always be those cases that slip through the cracks, but we can definitely reduce that number. Eliminating this made up class system and treating people as equals in life is the only way it will ever be corrected in the court room…if justice is what we really want.

Our judicial system is truly the “People’s Court”, sadly it is just as wavering as we are as a people. These verdicts are simply benchmarks of the things we need to overcome. As long as we promote crime without punishment for some, we can’t get mad when it happens for others…ironically because that’s fair…that’s justice.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

In The Case Of Love

Throughout history we as a people have had a fascination with mysteries. From Sherlock Holmes to Scooby- Doo, “Murder She Wrote” to Nancy Drew the sheer idea of figuring out the case has captivated us for years. There’s just something about putting all the pieces together that gives us a rush. To the point where there was even an influx of forensic science students after the second season of CSI. Yes we love a mystery. Maybe too much…

Sometimes we take that need to play detective a little too far in our lives, specifically in our relationships. The slightest inconsistency can spin us out of control in search of clues and suspects. Thursday night dinner can quickly become an episode of “Perry Mason” if those answers aren’t crisp and quick enough.

First of all don’t get me wrong; far too often we have all the facts and evidence of foul play staring us in the face and we do nothing. We let our emotions get the best of us and cloud our good judgement and common sense. That’s not what this is about. This moment is about learning the difference between following up on a lead versus a cold case investigation.

There are many approaches to crime fighting but in relationships I like to refer to it as the “detective” or the “D.A.”

The detective can take the slightest clue and make a case. Something as simple as a finger print or strand of hair can be the jump off to a full blown investigation; witnesses called in, phone records checked…no stone left unturned in this pursuit of the truth. If you’re a detective in your home…then it’s safe to say there are some issues. Obviously you’re dealing with a suspect, and sometimes the suspect is you. That’s right, sometimes that need to get to the bottom of something is really about you playing out your own insecurities. You need for there to be a crime committed and you’re not going to let a little thing like proof stop you. For those of you dealing with a “true” suspect…it’s a 24 hour investigation.

The other way to go about it is what I like to call the D.A. approach. D.A. as in district attorney. They need a certain degree of evidence and information before they decide to investigate. Often there just isn’t enough there to indict, it’s all circumstantial. Maybe there really was traffic or they honestly did lose track of time. You wait for there to be something a little more concrete, but once enough evidence is obtained everyone is questioned and search warrants are executed. Now the D.A. approach is really for the patient. You’ve got to have a poker face. It requires holding your tongue and allowing a potential criminal to run free. Even though you question some of their behavior, you don’t make a move until you know you can get the conviction.

As in most crime stories the guilty party usually exposes themselves; unable to maintain the lies, double-crossing accomplices or so-called friends pulling a “First 48” getting their snitch on, can and often does lead to their downfall. Scooby and Shaggy never figured it out, old man McGregor always ended up confessing.

This may seem a little extreme and it should. Open communication can eliminate a lot of that need to prosecute. In a relationship you should never be excited over the idea of “sweating out” your significant other. There shouldn’t be joy in the sentence, “you know you done f’d up now don’t you?” Relationships are about building a bond…not a case.

The only conviction you need, should be measured by their love for you…

… and if you consistently have to play Sherlock Holmes, maybe you need a new Watson.

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

What Goes Around...

Karma is a word often associated with “getting what you deserve”. Good or bad, it’s the return on what you put out. In most cases people use it as a guide for social behavior, and as a comfort to themselves when wrong is done to them. It also inspires them to do good things in hopes that good will come back to them. We need to put all of those feelings a side. Karma is simply the “full circle” of cause and effect.

As humans we have this natural need for balance and justice. It’s what keeps us civil and sane. We can live with our good deeds going un-noticed but our pain must be vindicated. “Karma” then gets substituted for vengeance. Some of us go out to retrieve our pound of flesh but most of us can sleep with the belief that “they’ll get theirs”.

Here’s the “funny” part…in most cases they already did. People who come from bad beginnings (abuse, neglect) often grow up to be the ones doing bad or hurtful things to others. Their feelings of anger, resentment, and sadness drive them to lash out and it desensitizes them to the world that they create around them. Most bullies were bullied themselves, just as most thieves have been stolen from. The pattern is created and then duplicated until the cycle is broken. What goes around comes around, and usually stays until addressed.

Karma isn’t about “an eye for an eye”, it’s not about emotions, and really do we want it to be? Pain for pain doesn’t necessarily equate to understanding. When someone wrongs us, the ideal “payback” would be something happening in that person’s life to bring them to a place where they are humbled and “get it”. I don’t need for you to hurt because you hurt me that will only balance us out. I want you to understand so that you don’t go on to hurt ANYONE else. That’s what also leads to people finding peace within themselves. That’s coming full circle.

We need to remember as well, the lives we live bring these people into our worlds. They ARE the effect of the decisions that we have been making. If you find yourself in the same situation repeatedly, what are YOU causing? If your job history, friendship interactions or relationships seem like a scene from the movie “Groundhog’s Day” maybe you’re the one that needs to “get it”. We do so many things that effect so many people, and most of the time we don’t even know we’re doing it. We get caught up in our own world and don’t see how our floor is someone’s ceiling. Sometimes we need that slap in the face from life to snap us out of it, to see what’s going on.

Life is a 24/7 opportunity to learn and appreciate. Take it all in; from the good to the bad, the fair and the foul. We need it all, that’s balance, that’s justice…that’s karma.

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