Words of Wisdom for My Son: On Dreams

Follow your dreams. They will take you far.

They are the stuff that fuels your destiny.

They are the wind in your wings.

They are the passion that fires your soul.

But first you must dream.

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Words of wisdom for my son – On desire

Nature's Helping Hand

 

Learn to appreciate what you have, not to lust for that which you do not.

Hope is a wonderful thing, but don’t let it blind you to the value that lies forgotten at your feet.

Do not be quick to discard what once you loved in favor of newer, shiny things. They are not necessarily better.

Keep your eyes open for the unexpected. Small, fleeting opportunities may offer far more rewards than epic quests.

The Seven Steps to the Perfect Story

Any author worth her or his salt has probably laid eyes on Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth and is familiar with the concepts relating to the The Hero’s Journey, which one should incidentally avoid using as an excuse for writing a poor story, or risk the wrath of Autotelic.

The CMA (http://www.the-cma.com/images/openmagazine/201210/seven-steps.png) has distilled the work into a brilliant infographic and tossed a few more tidbits in to optimize helfulness:

The Seven Steps to the Perfect Story

I love it! I just wish my printer could cleanly pump this graphic out so I could pin it up on my wall.

Words of wisdom from my Grandfather

The Chief

Today, my Grandfather would have turned 100. He didn’t quite make it this far, having passed away this past Spring.  We say we each have heroes. For some, it is a sports icon. For others, it is a movie star. Occasionally, it is a scientist or teacher. One of my greatest heroes is my grandfather.

He was a kind and gentle man, wise beyond compare, and patient with the loving antics his extended family could foist upon him. He loved my grandmother, Bernadine, to the end of the world. They had never spent a day apart in their lives. That is a rare distinction.

Before he passed, my cousin had the opportunity to sit down with him to soak up some of his experience. I will share a short excerpt here, as they seem particularly pertinent today:

“Get along with other people, try to see their point of view”

“Be a gentleman; be honest; be kind to people; help people if you can, especially kids; don’t take the easy way every time; and play it fair. If you do that, it works out pretty well…”

Wise words.

Moonfall

Is that the Moon falling?

Yesterday evening, I took my son for a stroll to the local park. It’s still covered in thick layer of snow and ice, but that doesn’t stop the little one from loving taking the short walk down the hill to vent some energy there. Thanks to the lengthening days, the moon shone brightly in the still-bright sky.

One of his favorite things to do is to push the stroller along. He still isn’t very tall, but  seems to pack some serious strength in his little arms and legs, so he can really get it rolling quickly. He stopped suddenly and looked over his shoulder towards the sky.
“Moon! Tombé (fall!)” He shouted out in a bilingual mix of fevered excitement and mild concern.

With this, he turned his attention back to the stroller and took off at a brisk clip.

Thus began a prolonged stretch of running, stopping, looking at the sky and shouting “Moon! Tombé”  Surprise tinged his voice each time. I imagine he pictured himself running away from the falling Moon as Indiana Jones did from his giant boulder.

Being the great father that I am, I did not disabuse him from this notion. I want to see where his active imagination will take him. Eventually, we made it to the park where he had a grand old time playing in the snow-encrusted slides and tossing (well, carrying them over to my feet) snowballs at his old man. Some time later, it started getting dark and it was time to go home. As we were packing up to leave the park, he looked up to the sky once more and pointed. “Moon, Papa!” He smiled,  laughed, and hopped into his stroller.

I guess he knew the sky wasn’t falling after all.

On teamwork – Give me plumbers that work together rather than individualistic rock stars

A tight knit team.

A tightly-knit team can accomplish amazing things.

Over the last two days, we held a workplace hockey tournament. It is a longstanding tradition, and typically leads to cutthroat competitiveness on the ice. Bosses have the feeling that their careers can be made or broken with a puck’s resonant ping against the goalpost. The pressure downwards on the worker bees that make up the bulk of the team can be tremendous.

Many moons ago, our team was composed of valiant skaters, many of which had played at very respectable levels of amateur and university hockey. They showered our organization in glory. This year was not the case. Our best players would probably have been benched on the teams of yore. We even run the risk of making plumber leagues look like Gods of Ice. Overall, our prospects going into the tournament were pretty grim. Not nearly as skilled as the other teams going in, and without the numerous spares and extra shifts the other teams could bring to the rink, it was widely expected that we would be unable to win a single game.

Our traditional method of training for the event usually involved waking up ridiculously early, showing up to the ice, tossing a few pucks onto the ice and taking some potshots at the goalie as a warmup for ten minutes before immediately launching into a vigorous hour-long scrimmage. The new guys would try to survive learning to skate while the old pros would skate circles around them, scoring countless end-to-end goals, basking in the joy of believing they had something of the Great One coursing through their veins. Most of us eventually became pretty good at shooting a puck really hard from a relatively static position, but ran into problems when trying to combine skating with puck control and any sort of shooting. Skating backwards for defense? For most, it was a black art.

Then, some time earlier this year, one of our senior players decided to try something new. He flipped the paradigm on its head. We spent forty five minutes practicing, working on basic skills and drills. Then, we spent the last fifteen to twenty minutes scrimmaging, specifically trying to put into application what we had learned. New players were taken aside and taught to skate. It was all about fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals.

This approach certainly was not as fun as going all out against each other for an hour. In fact, it even got a little repetitive for the more experienced players.

But you know what? We won every single game in that tournament. We even won the finals. We won them even if the other teams had even taken the time to phone up top notch players that had moved on to other jobs, and therefore technically weren’t supposed to be playing. We won them even after the other side started playing dirty. Why did we win? Because all of our plumbers were working together, as a team. The one or two rock star players on the opposing teams just didn’t jive with their compatriots. It just didn’t click. It also didn’t matter if the top players could do all kinds of fancy tricks with the puck, because the others just weren’t able to support them to finish the plays.

This serves to confirm a few invaluable lessons which have been voiced previously by far greater sports minds than mine:

1. Average Joes working as a team will almost always beat stars playing as individuals. That’s why teamwork is so important. A team full of star players that work together will be unstoppable.

2. If you don’t master the fundamentals, it doesn’t matter how much fancy stuff you know. If a strong foundation is not in place to support your fancy tricks, got back to the fundamentals. Otherwise, everything comes crashing down, and you’re not going to perform.

3. Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.

4. Even if you have the basics mastered, and you’re a pro of the fancy stuff, if your fundamentals start suffering, drop the high level training. Get back to the foundation, and work at it until you’ve got it squared away. Then you can worry about being fancy again.

5. Even your weakest player can turn into an unexpected play maker or game winner. Don’t exclude anyone from contributing. They may win the game for you.

6. A good coach can make all the difference in the world.

7. Despite your unbelievable victory, stay polite and display unwavering sportsmanship. This will ensure that you truly reap all the rewards.