Are we going to live on forever because of the internet?

May 12, 2011          Comments (3)

LivingForever

I’ve become fascinated with websites of the deceased, who are generous enough to share their final thoughts with the world.

Never before has there been such an easy way for people to express themselves. And of course, once something is posted on the internet, it will live on forever.

Derek Miller, who passed away on May 3rd, had a prepared message for his blog – where he had been documenting the progression of his cancer.

You can read his amazingly powerful last post by clicking here.

Then there’s the suicide note from Bill Zeller, a talented computer programmer who left an explanation of why he took his own life. It’s a 4000 line note that’s heartbreaking as well.

And we all know Randy Pausch – who became famous for sharing his wisdom at his last lecture.

These people all had the unfortunate (or fortunate?) knowledge of their impending death. They were able to plan for it.

But most people aren’t able to plan for their death…

Which leads me to the question, should we?

Pausch was able to share as much of him self as he possibly could with his children. He made videos for them, wrote letters for them in the future, and even wrote a book.

As all premature death is absolutely heartbreaking and tragic, I’d hate for my nephew, Landon, to be left without any of my thoughts.

Not because I think I’m so brilliant but because I’ve lived for a lot longer than he has, and with that comes some insight and experience and wisdom.

Ernest Becker’s classic, The Denial of Death reminds us that when it comes to our mortality, there is no uncertainty principle. We will die, he reminded us. We cannot not die.

Yet, it is what we do in a doomed attempt to refute the irrefutable first principle that defines us and gives our lives meaning.

Becker believed that each of us makes sense of our existence through an “immortality project” – a personal mission that allows us to cheat death. Whether it is by turning out babies or books or blog posts or students, creating companies or helping to build them, or collecting model trains or Facebook friends – whatever they might be – we all have our immortality project(s).

Here’s a question: If you knew you were going to be dying soon, and had the choice for your kids or nieces/nephews to have videos of you talking to them would you? Would you write letters for them?

What’s on the internet will live forever, and that’s a crazy thought. Things that are said about me today will always be available. That brings into the discussion of legacy. When you die, how do you want people to remember you?

(What also astonishes me about this is how many people on the internet are willing to tarnish their reputation for a quick buck. Reputation is truly priceless. For example, I offer a 100% money back guarantee for MBT. I’m very proud of that the fact no one has ever asked for a refund because my program actually works – but if they did – I’d be a complete idiot not to honor that – wouldn’t I?! Yet…)

Not only would my prospective clients be able to see those complaints online but my nephew would see that one day too.

I’m amazed that more people don’t consider what they do online to be a part of their legacy.

What if you God forbid passed away tomorrow?

While we’re on the topic, if you’ve ever wondered what the regrets of the actual dying are you must read this post by Bonny Ware – who worked in palliative care for many years. When her patients were questioned about any regrets they had or anything they’d do differently 5 common themes came up again and again.



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The art of being self-made and how to find out what you’re really passionate about

April 21, 2010          Comments (2)

tony-hsieh1

I’m always in search of litmus tests for varying aspects of life. For example, if you want to know what someone really cares about read this. Well, here’s my latest…

If you want to know what someone is really passionate about, ask them who they’d have lunch with if it could be anyone in the world besides their family or friends.

Growing up I dreamed of playing in the NBA. I honestly believed I was going to make it…until, I was in 8th grade or so.

I dedicated my life to it. I attended basketball camp all summer long from 8am to 4pm. I’d get home; quickly grab a snack and then train intensely on my own all afternoon into the evening. Ever hear of Jump Soles? Well, you’d find me running on the street, and in my driveway doing drills with them on.

By summers end (of my last devoted summer), my goal was to be able to dunk. Unfortunately for me: White Man Can’t Jump. (Although, I was easily able to touch the rim which was a huge accomplishment for me!)

(I still played JV/Varsity basketball but it was never the same once I realized I wasn’t good enough to make the NBA) I also remember watching sports all the time. Who could ever forget the good old Sundays of the NBA on NBC back when Jordan was playing?

Or, if I was watching college basketball 60 minutes would come on once the games were over. Ugh, 60 minutes? I’d turn it off and go finish (actually start) my homework that was due on Monday.

About 4 years ago, I realized 60 minutes was one of my favorite shows. It’s absolutely fascinating. Every story is interesting. No, this isn’t a promotion for 60 minutes but it’s certainly proof that our tastes evolve.

So back to my litmus test: When I was growing up, if you asked me who I’d have lunch with I would’ve said Michael Jordan in less than a heart beat. Sadly, I had many dreams of playing basketball with him in my driveway. The best dreams of him, though, were when he’d be in my kitchen having lunch and I’d have time to call my friends and invite them over. Those were some disappointing mornings, let me tell you.

Anyway, if you asked me who I’d have lunch with now it would absolutely be a self-made entrepreneur. There are not many more impressive things to me than someone who starts out with a little and ends with a lot. (A lot doesn’t have to be money, by the way. It could be power although often linked to money but influence, access, free time and impact to name a few.)

While my goal isn’t to become a billionaire like Mark Cuban, I’m still fascinated by him and many others.

There’s something to be said about creating your own way in this world. There’s something to be said about those who are completely self-made from scratch. People who work for what they have, instead of having things handed to them, are just so much more interesting. You can’t buy that perspective and depth it gives you. You can’t fake it nor can you successfully mask it.

While entrepreneurship makes me tick, it probably doesn’t make you tick. I’ve argued before against being an entrepreneur unless you’re practically possessed by your idea because you believe in it so much.

And I’d argue that if you’re dying to find out what your passion is or what you’re truly interested in – ask yourself, “Who would I have lunch with if it could be anyone in the world besides my family or friends?”

I think it’s a very telling question.

###

If you think you have too many passions, you might enjoy this post.

[Check out the comments over at BrazenCareerist.com]



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Hurt Locker – It hurts so much to love so much

March 25, 2010          Comments (2)

hurtlocker

In the movie Hurt Locker, which just won 6 Academy Awards, the main character Staff Sergeant William James says to his little son, who is playing with a Jack-in-a-box:

You love playing with that. You love playing with all your stuffed animals. You love your Mommy, your Daddy. You love your pajamas. You love everything, don’t ya? Yea. But you know what, buddy? As you get older… some of the things you love might not seem so special anymore. Like your Jack-in-a-Box. Maybe you’ll realize it’s just a piece of tin and a stuffed animal. And then you forget the few things you really love. And by the time you get to my age, maybe it’s only one or two things. With me, I think it’s one.

I loved the movie but I loved that quote even more.

What do you really love?

It’s a scary thought, especially, when you take away all of the people in your life that you love.

Sergeant William James is an adrenaline junkie who is the leader of a U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal. He will do anything for the thrill of defusing a bomb that could vaporize him instantly. So much so that he left his family to do the one and only thing he really loves over and over again.

I wonder if this is the key to achieving remarkable success. To love what you do so much that you’re willing to forgo everything else in your life.

If you look at almost every insanely successful person, they’ve put their hours in. Malcolm Gladwell says it’s 10,000 hours. He argues that whether you’re Bill Gates or the Beatles you’ve put in 10,000 hours of practice to become extraordinary successful.

But if you have a life, that’s very hard to do. However, if your entire life is what you love, you have a huge advantage.

So the question then becomes what do you love? Because no matter how much you try to convince yourself that you enjoy the process of mastery, it’s going to be very hard to put in those hours, unless you love the subject you’re trying to master.

“How much do you love what you’re doing?” is a great question to gauge potential success. In fact, that’s how Warren Buffet chooses who he’s going to invest in. “I have to look them in the eye and decide whether they love the business or they love the money. It’s fine if they love the money, but they have to love the business more.” he says.

Whenever I meet a fellow entrepreneur, I’m always curious to know what drives them. What ultimately gets them out of bed every morning? What keeps them up at night? I always follow up with, “Would you sit on a beach for $1,000,000 per year from nine to five?” And I’ll keep raising it if they don’t budge, until they eventually do, because everyone has a price.

Jim Collins who wrote one of the bestselling business books of all time, Good to Great, has a great way to look at it. In the introduction he writes:

As I was finishing this manuscript, I went for a run and an odd question popped into my mind: How much would someone have to pay me not to publish Good to Great?

It was an interesting thought experiment, given that I’d just spent the previous five years working on the research project and writing this book. Not there isn’t some number that might entice me to bury it, but by the time I crossed the hundred-million-dollar threshold, it was time to head back down the trail. Even that much couldn’t convince me to abandon the project.

Don’t get me wrong. 1 million bucks per year is a ridiculous amount of money. You could do a lot of things with that. But if your number isn’t all that high, and you’d consider a cool million per year, I don’t think you’re in love with your business all that much (job, career) and there’s nothing wrong with that!

And if you don’t love what you do, you can at least love the life your work provides. I just think it’s very hard to achieve remarkable success.

Here’s what I love: Making a positive impact on people.

What do you love?

[Check out the comments over at Brazen Careerist.com!]



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What if you were supposed to be a heart surgeon?

March 10, 2010          Comments (3)

Heart Surgeon

Do you think your current job best suits you? I doubt it.

I think we sort of fall into our careers. I don’t know many people who deliberately set out to do what they do. At least those doing out of the ordinary things.

Imagine if you were born knowing you had the natural ability to be the world’s best heart surgeon, or lawyer, or mechanic.

On the flip side, maybe you thought you had more talent in some field than you do, and wasted a lot of time preparing for the wrong career.

How does a law or medical student even know if they would actually like being a lawyer or doctor?

Here’s the problem we all face: We delude ourselves every day. We’re also heavily influenced by our own passion, optimism and pessimism.

And we’re influenced by other people’s opinions of our abilities. If you were showing an aptitude for math early on people might have encouraged you to pursue finance or accounting. If you were excelling in biology then you might have been pushed to go to medical school.

Like to argue? “You should be a lawyer!” everyone says.

The problem is other people are just as clueless as you.

So, if you can’t trust your own opinions and the opinions of those around you, whose can you trust?

You need to focus on getting feedback from the right people. People who’ve been in the game you’re trying to play in long enough to recognize talent.

For example, the right people for MBT for me to really listen to are those that have tried everything under the sun. Many clients have told me that MBT is the most effective program they’ve ever come across.

This sounds like lip service. But I wouldn’t have invested (and continue to do so) as much time, effort and money as I did into MBT if I wasn’t getting feedback like this.

I have a client that’s written a NY Times Bestselling Diet book. She was even on Oprah. (One day I hope to introduce you to her.) Another client runs a world-renown weight loss clinic. (I hope to introduce you to her as well.)

And many clients have been on and off diets for years trying anything and everything.

Sure, I listen to the delighted client who lost 20 pounds.

However, it’s the clients that have been in the game for years that I really listen to because if they didn’t like my program, or believe in it, it would be time to close up shop.

Who are you listening to?



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How To: Ski (or, mostly do anything for that matter)

January 28, 2010          Comments (0)

LearningHowToSki

I have the ski bug.

I tried skiing for the first time at the end of last season. Before that, I had never put skis on.

In the morning, I took a group lesson with 15 other people who were very much beginners. First, we learned that if you want to go faster you need to put your skis in the shape of French fries (straight).  And if you want to stop you need to put your skis in the shape of a pizza (wedge). Apparently this is the way kids are taught. Hey, I’m all for simplicity!

Before we learned how to ski we had to learn how to put the boot into the ski though. Then we learned how to walk/slide with only one ski on. Next, we learned how to put the other boot into the other ski. Now I had two skis on!

Very quickly, I realized that skis go with gravity! Even though I was on a tiny hill, I started moving! “Quick! Make that pizza!” the instructor said. Whew. That was close.

The 3-hour lesson flew by. Oddly, we didn’t really learn how to ski at all.

It seemed as though the only way to learn how to ski is by actually skiing. And there in lies the challenge!

Let’s say you want to learn how to swim. You decide it’s finally time to overcome your fear of water.

So, you find a local gym or pool club. Maybe there’s even a public pool that you weren’t aware of.

Then you look online (or in the Yellow pages) to find a swim instructor. After plenty of wrong numbers, you find someone who’s really passionate and experienced.

Next, you need to get the gear! You look online and find a bathing suit. Ohh, there’s one you like. Eh, you don’t really like it, after all. You go to another website.

You find the bathing suit! Ugh, it’s not in stock! After spending 3 hours searching you finally find the one.

What about goggles? Can’t swim without goggles!

Finally, the big day comes. It’s the day of your first lesson.

But you realize that you don’t have any shoes to wear by the pool! Whoops! You can’t swim without any shoes to wear around the pool!

So you cancel and reschedule.

You’ve done everything you could possibly do BUT swim. Sometimes, no matter what, we just gotta jump in the pool!

Back to pizza and French fries.

Because the only way to learn how to ski is by actually skiing, it makes it very scary. You have to push yourself. You have to be willing to fall. At first, I was very timid. However, by the end of the afternoon, I was trying to fall. Because I knew if I wasn’t falling I wasn’t pushing myself.

This past New Year’s I was in Vermont. It was my second time skiing. By noon the first day, I felt very confident going down the mountain. (Ya know, the bunny slope.)

Then my friends encouraged me to get a full lift ticket for the afternoon and the following day (actually they made me). In the Gondola we went, up the enormous mountain. It felt like the longest 20+ minutes of my life. We were so high up, we were in the clouds.

Finally, we got out and it was a full on blizzard. The conditions were nothing like it was down below!

My confidence quickly faded as I began falling over and over again. My friends joked that I was break dancing down the mountain. Each time, I tried to figure out what I was doing wrong. I’d start to go very fast and lose control. But the only way to get control was to experience what it felt like to be out of control. Aha, I wasn’t turning enough!

By the end of second and final day skiing, I felt very confident. Of course, until next time, when I’ll be forced to go down double black diamonds.

If you want to learn how to ski you can’t be afraid of falling. Actually, you need to embrace falling!

It’s so hard to overcome that resistance. According to my instructor, many first time skiers don’t really ever ski because of that.

But whenever I was in doubt (which was most of the time), I’d look for a 3 year old whizzing by.

If they could do it (without any poles), I could do it!

They’re lucky. They’re AFF!



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Revealed VS Stated Preferences

January 7, 2010          Comments (6)

yinyang

Why do we do certain things even though they are against our desires? Even though they are against what we said we’d do? Ah the human condition. How it never ceases to fascinate me.

Why do we continue to believe money is the key to happiness yet research proves relationships are?

(According to Harvard psychologist, Daniel Gilbert, it’s $40,000.Yet, most of us will continue to strive for more and more. We’d be better off working on teaching ourselves how to look at our money with a different eye.)

The “hedonic treadmill” describes our amazing ability to adapt quickly to changed circumstances.

The reason why the treadmill never ends is because our amazing ability to adapt also makes novelty wear off very quickly. If our circumstances improve, we soon become accustomed to those new comforts.

Let’s say you treat yourself to the plasma TV you’ve wanted for so long. Sure, it’ll be really cool once you get it, but not long after you do, it’ll be old news.

As Aldous Huxley said, “Habit converts luxurious enjoyments into dull and daily necessities.”

How about the “arrival fallacy”? The arrival fallacy is a fallacy because, though you may anticipate great happiness in arrival, arriving rarely makes you as happy as you anticipate.

By the time you’ve arrived at your goal (whatever it may be), you’re expecting to reach it, so it has already been incorporated into your happiness.

The trick is to learn to enjoy the process of reaching that destination. (Something I really work hard on with my clients. Because when the journey is the reward in itself, it’s a lot easier to stick with it.)

We’re incredibly good at rationalizing behaviors. We can justify any behavior we engage in; even if we feel bad afterward.

That’s why it’s so important to look at what people do. And not what they say. Or read. Or watch.

That’s why it’s so interesting to look at people’s revealed preferences versus their stated preferences.

I’m constantly asking my clients what they want.

However, many clients have said they wanted a feature and didn’t wind up using it during testing. Others have said they wouldn’t use a feature and wound up loving it.

Who do you listen to?

Here’s a perfect example of stated versus revealed preferences stated and revealed by a McDonald’s executive.

“Our customers want mediocre food cheap. Every time we release a higher priced but higher quality product, the people who said they would pay for it never do.

You say you want more fruits, salads, organic, all natural, etc. Well then start buying that stuff and stop buying double cheeseburgers. Our best selling stuff is always whatever we can make taste good, at rock bottom prices.

We’ve actually learned not to listen to our customers when it comes to a lot of things. Health nuts won’t come into McDonald’s to eat even when we give them what they want.”

The funny thing is I’ve always wondered why McDonald’s didn’t offer super nutritious foods at higher prices. “I’d go there! I’d pay for it” I used to think. But I don’t. And when I rarely do, it’s not for health food.

It always comes back to watching what people do.

Not what they say.

###

This goes hand in hand with my “How to tell what someone really cares about” post.



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The Interior Decorator Problem

October 29, 2009          Comments (0)

toomanychoices

9 months ago, I wrote a post about which passion you should pursue; if you’re lucky and have more than one.

But what if you don’t know what your passion is? Actually, forget that. What if you don’t know what you really want out of your life?

How will you ever get it? You won’t because you have no idea what you’re even pursuing.

I call this the “Interior Decorator Problem”. If you know your style and your likes and dislikes why pay someone to decorate your own home? People pay interior decorators when they have no idea what they want or like. (Or, they just don’t want to be bothered with decorating their house.)

I think many of us have the “Interior Decorator Problem” and are running around like organic chickens with our heads cut off.

Let me explain: When I’m working with my clients I try to find out their core motivation. I want to know why they really want to get in shape.

How about an aspiring entrepreneur? Whenever I get requests for advice (which I love) I’m curious to know why they really want to start the business in the first place.

If it’s not to solve a problem they have or because they feel they must start this business my advice usually is to not bother starting it at all. Because if it’s based on money, not only will they get bored, but there’s an even deeper reason why they want the money, that could be obtained without starting a business, which I’ve said before is only something you should do if you’re nuts.

However, once you know what you want, it’s so much easier to work backwards, and actually make it happen.

Many people believe that feeling guilty after eating something that’s unhealthy is ridiculous. If you want it – just eat it, they say. But can you really control guilt?

I think guilt comes from knowing that your actions (say, eating crap) aren’t in alignment with what you really want (say, weight loss, a flat stomach, more energy, looking good in jeans, etc.). In fact, when there is a disconnect between our actions and desires unhappiness will ensue.

I believe we all know exactly what we want when it comes to our health and fitness goals. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t want to be healthy and fit nor someone who doesn’t have a dream vision of themselves.

It’s just that fear, excuses, rationalizations and justifications by our short term self convince our long term self we don’t want it when it comes to our health and fitness.

(That’s why self-aware people are the most successful. They don’t delude themselves into believing they’re taking action when they’re really not. Or, that they need don’t help when they clearly do.)

But health and fitness is one thing. Figuring out what to do with your life (one of the 3 questions we all have to try to answer) is another.

So working backwards again, maybe if you feel guilty or sick to your stomach, you know for sure that’s not what you want do with your life.

And knowing what you don’t want is certainly a key to finding out what you do want.

It takes a lot of focus to achieve anything worth achieving. But it’s so easy to lose focus if you’re not 100% certain that’s what you want.

Chances are if you’re not putting forth the effort, you don’t want what you thought you wanted. (I believe what we all want out of life, if you don’t have it already, is a lot closer than most people realize.)

But like all human beings we waver. We teeter. We jog in place.

All while reaching for more.



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What Makes Us Happy? What Are the Keys to Living a Good Life? (I’ll tell you!)

October 7, 2009          Comments (3)

what-makes-us-happy1

Some might argue, the ultimate question, we’re all trying to figure out is what will make us happy? After all, everything we do is in the pursuit of happiness, right?

You could even argue that someone who acts altruistically is making them self happy too. But even so, what if there was a formula for living a good life. Would you follow it?

Well, George Vaillant has been trying to figure out this very answer as the longtime director of one of the most extensive projects in history. Known as the Grant Study researchers tracked the lives of 268 men who entered Harvard College in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age for 72 years!

And for the first time he’s granted access to what he thinks are the “keys to Fort Knox”. Most undertakings like the Grant Study falter because the funders expect results too quickly. W.T. Grant was no exception. After holding on for about a decade he gave in too.

Lucky for us, as a young man, George Vaillant fell in love with the longitudinal method of research, which tracks relatively small samples over long periods of time – so when he came across the Grant Study he wanted in. “To be able to study lives in such depth, over so many decades,” he said, “it was like looking through the Mount Palomar telescope,” then the most powerful in the world.

The findings of the project have made their way into a 17 page fascinating article in the June issue of The Atlantic which has been getting a lot of much deserved attention. The article offers profound insight into the human condition which I’ve become fascinated by.

I’ll share what I found to be the most interesting nuggets:

Vaillant’s central question is not how much or how little trouble these men met, but rather precisely how – and to what effect – they responded to that trouble. His main interpretive lens has been the psychoanalytic metaphor of “adaptations” or “defense mechanisms”.

We have unconscious thoughts and behaviors that can either shape or distort our reality – depending on whether we approve or disapprove of it.

By age 50, almost a third of the men in the study had at one time or another met Vaillant’s criteria for mental illness. Underneath the tweed jackets of these Harvard elites beat troubled hearts.

What is mental illness anyway? Vaillant believes much of what is described as mental illness is the use of unwise deployment of defense mechanisms. If we use defenses well, we are deemed mentally healthy, conscientious, funny, creative and altruistic. Yet, if we use them inappropriately we’re deemed misfits by society and mentally ill.

Essentially, everything we do in life is trying to adapt to what happens and that’s what determines our ability to live a good life.

Defenses are a basic biological process.  They can either save or ruin us. When we cut ourselves, for example, our blood clots – which is an involuntary response that maintains our homeostasis. Similarly, when we encounter a challenge large or small such as a parent’s death or a broken shoelace – our defenses float us through the emotional swamp.

4 Categories of defenses, starting with the most unhealthy:

“Psychotic adaptations” – like paranoia, hallucination or megalomania can make reality tolerable for the person – but seem crazy to everyone else.

“Immature adaptations” – which include acting out, passive aggression, hypochondria, projection and fantasy. These aren’t as isolating as psychotic adaptations but they impede intimacy.

“Neurotic defenses” – are common in “normal” people.  These include intellectualization (mutating the primal stuff of life into objects of formal thought), dissociation (intense, often brief, removal from one’s feelings), and repression – which can involve naiveté, and memory lapse.

The healthiest are “mature adaptations” – which include altruism, humor, anticipation, suppression (a conscious decision to postpone attention to an impulse or conflict, to be addressed at a later time) and sublimation (finding outlets for feelings, like putting aggression into sport, or lust in courtship).

Many of the “psychotic” adaptations are common in toddlers and the “immature” adaptations are essential in later childhood, and they often fade with maturity (hopefully).

Humans when confronted with irritants engage in unconscious but often creative behavior although sometimes the creative behavior can be destructive.

7 major factors that predict healthy aging, both physically and psychologically:

(more…)



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My Story of Greek God at Binghamton University (Part 1)

September 9, 2009          Comments (1)

greek-god-soph-year2

It was a gorgeous October day of my junior year of high school. I got home from school and decided it was time to start looking through the two books I had on colleges. I knew of Binghamton and how it was a great public school but didn’t really know much else. I flipped through one of the books until I got to the few pages on Binghamton.

I saw under special events that every October there was an annual sorority/fraternity bodybuilding event sponsored by the sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi. Destiny? I was intrigued! It was called Greek God.

A few paragraphs down I saw that the tuition per year was a little less than $10k. They also had a great business school. The choice became so clear right then and there.

Spend in 1 year what my entire Binghamton education would cost elsewhere or go to Binghamton. In my mind, I was going to Binghamton.

My senior year, I applied to the business school early admission…

Binghamton it was.

Fast forward 1 year to the beginning of my first semester freshman year of college. I remember going into one of the two huge gyms and seeing the entire place packed out on that Saturday evening. The music was bumping. The bleachers from floor to ceiling were all pulled out. What looked like at least 8 basketball courts in between all the bleachers, were covered with paper to protect the floor from the hundreds of folding seats on top of it. There was a huge stage with balloons all around it. The fraternities were going nuts and the sorority girls were screaming.

And for some reason, I was nervous. Even though I wasn’t in a fraternity (pledging didn’t start until the second semester) I knew I was going to do this one day. Posing in front of 3000+ fraternity/sorority members in my underwear seemed very intimidating.

I had time though. People only do it once in their college career. I figured I’d do it either my junior or senior year.

Fast forward 11 months and 1 week. I pledged the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) and my pledge brothers and I were all so excited to reap the benefits of actually being in the fraternity, not servicing it as a pledge! In Binghamton, most students live on campus for 2 years and off for 2. My friends and I had worked it out so we were near each other. It was going to be awesome.

An older frat brother was set to do it for us. He had been training hard all summer long and was looking real good. In what could’ve been a made for TV movie, he broke his arm.

Not only are shirtless line ups uncomfortable while you pledge but for someone who is as obsessed with their health and fitness as I am – torture ensued.  Being forced to eat mayo and drink oil were common punishments. Of course, it was all in good fun though. Most of it was brought on by me anyway because I can be a wise ass.

So, I got the call. “Gilbert, you’re doing Greek God. You don’t have a choice.”

Great!  I had 3 weeks to prepare for what every other contestant had been preparing months and months for. And unfortunately, the Greek God competition is only 1/3 body building. There is a toga skit where the contestant must be brought out on a chariot (that was to be built by the fraternity – to demonstrate our team work – ha!) and then a formal wear skit. In essence, it was a talent competition with only 1/3 of it being a 60 second pose down.

Three problems: My fraternity didn’t really care about Greek God, in terms of helping me build the sets and the chariot. And I didn’t really care all that much about the other parts of the competition.

And I lived in the dorms which meant I didn’t have access to a kitchen. I had to rely on dining hall food which was barely edible. For 3 full weeks, my entire hall had to endure my (illegal) usage of the good ol’ faithful George Foreman grill while I stunk up the floor.

As health and fitness has been my passion since I was in 4th grade, I was lucky in that I was in good shape. But I had to take my body to the next level in 3 weeks. Thankfully, I was born for this. (Although later I realized I enjoyed the training way more than I did the actual competition.)

Other fraternities took Greek God extremely (and way too) seriously. My favorite part of doing Greek God my sophomore year was probably waking up early on the Saturday of Greek God to build my chariot (that’s what you’re looking at above. It’s a boxing ring. And I was Rocky!) with one or two other helpful brothers. Of course, other fraternities had theirs built for months.

Don’t get me wrong. They were there to support me like crazy during the competition. While other fraternities screamed their representative’s name is Greek God, it was awesome to hear my friends scream mine.

Hearing  “Gil is Greek God” being yelled with all of their hearts as I was getting ready for my pose down back stage was a feeling and an experience I’ll never forget…



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“You’re so mature for your age!” What is maturity?

July 21, 2009          Comments (3)

maturity

The other day after I got off the phone with a friend/adviser who told me how mature I am for my age I started to think about what he really meant. He’s been telling me this since I first met him my junior year of college when my then business (Ultimate Discount Card) was starting to take off.

He always used to say, “Dude, you have to relax a little. You’re very mature for your age. You’re going to be a rock star. Relax.”

He wasn’t the first person to tell me that I needed to relax. He also wasn’t the first person to tell me how mature I was/am for my age.

People have been telling me how mature I am since I was a little kid. I’m sure you got the same thing.

Let’s explore what that even means and why someone would say that.

Well, there are several different types of maturity (emotional, intellectual, physical) and what I think most people are referring to is ones emotional maturity.

You know: You’re ability to deal with the bad and the good, your perspective on life, knowing what’s really important (the standard will this matter in 5 years from now is always a recommended question to ask yourself although I think that’s a little hokey) and what’s really not, knowing when to be serious and when it’s okay to let loose, how you deal with rejection, etc.

Certainly, it would be a little condescending to tell a grown man how mature he is. You’re only going to tell someone younger than you or a peer how mature they are.

Do you find yourself telling younger siblings, friends, advise seekers how mature they are for their age?

To me it seems as though telling someone how mature they are is your approval of the way they think. You feel that because of the way they think – they’ll be just fine. After all, you turned out just fine, right?

You also might recognize yourself in that person. Similar thought processes with similar perspectives and conclusions. It takes one to know one.

For example, every person who has told me how ‘mature’ I am at some point in my life seemed to have their life together.

This happened a lot especially when I was a little boy growing up with divorced parents. In elementary school, I was the only kid in my grade with divorced parents. (Sadly, as I grew up it seemed as though having divorced parents wasn’t so uncommon.)

Growing up with divorced parents (since I was 4 years old) forced me to deal with a lot of things most kids didn’t have to deal with. But I am exactly who I am today because of everything that has happened in my life for the good, the bad and the ugly and I am very grateful for that.

However, one can only wonder does shit have to happen to you to gain emotional intelligence? To appreciate good does one have to endure bad? To know what’s really important doesn’t one have to know what’s not in the grand scheme of life?

To be able to effectively deal with reality doesn’t one have to be forced to deal with the cards they were dealt and make the best of it?

What about those that weren’t forced to deal with unpleasant situations? You can’t hold that against them, of course. Unless, they are a poodle. But are they at a disadvantage to face the real world where there reality isn’t always made as perfectly as their bed was?



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