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Winning?

Relax, this isn’t an article about Charlie Sheen but his claim of “bi-winning” did probably influence me in taking a hard look at what it means to win. 

So what does it mean to win?  According to the dictionary, winning means “gaining, resulting in, or relating to victory in a contest or competition”.   For anyone who has ever won a game, a contest, or a competition of any sort, the feeling of winning is unforgettable, capable of generating some of the most intense emotional experiences we ever feel in our lives.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to win, but sometimes I think our personal definitions of what it means to win can get confused.  Over the next few paragraphs, I am going to attempt to share some stories that suggest we don’t always win when we think we win and that we don’t always lose when we think we lose.   

You may want to make sure that you are sitting down for this first analogy because I am going to attempt something that I don’t think has ever done before – use the movie White Men Can’t Jump to make a philosophical point.  The female lead, Gloria Clemente played by Rosie Perez, makes the following statement about winning.   “Sometimes when you win, you really lose. And sometimes when you lose, you really win. And sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic globule, from which one extracts what one needs.” 

I hate to start with this example as I believe I’ve already lost any credibility I might have had with you by referencing this movie, but I think this quote is actually dead on.  These lines would have been so much better being said by The Dude character in The Big Lebowski but we are stuck with them being spoken by Gloria Clemente.  Nevertheless, the truth of this movie dialog rings so true.  Sometimes when we win, we really lose, sometimes when we lose, we really win, sometimes winning or losing actually results in a tie, and sometimes when we tie, we really win or lose. 

However, the part I like the most about his quote is the last part in which she says we all extract what we need from winning or losing.  While I do not think that most of us actually do this, I think we would all be better served by attempting to take what we need from any win, loss, or tie.  Good coaches will tell you that they often learn more about their team in a loss than a win.  Sometimes you will even hear coaches privately tell you that their team needs a loss. 

I think the same is true of individuals as well.  I think we learn more about who we are and what type of people others are when they are faced with a loss.  It is easy to be part of a winning team, it is a much harder thing to be part of a team that piles up the loses.  (I originally thought I would reference Carson Palmer here to illustrate this point, but I think the Bengals had a 4-12 record with him playing last year so the only point I can really make in reference to Palmer is that your team is likely to lose with Palmer as your QB).

The other thing of beauty about extracting what you need from winning or losing is that it is actually quite sound psychologically speaking.  Research shows that people who handle stress and adversity well have the adaptive ability to see positives in whatever situation they face and to learn from trying situations.    

 

I was struck by the recent reaction of Dirk Nowitizki in the 2011 NBA Playoffs after he and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat for the NBA Championship.  He walked off the court as the last few seconds clicked off of the game clock.  He headed straight to the locker room giving a couple of handshakes and high fives as he left the court.  He looked to be on the verge of tears and did not join his teammates in celebrating on the court as time expired.  It was reported that he had to be coaxed to come back out for the Playoff MVP and championship trophy presentations.

Part of what struck me is that here is a man that some have said is one of the top ten basketball players of all time, walking off the court very humbly.  This is in stark contrast to many of his peers who openly tell you how great they are and what they did to contribute to the team’s victory.  The backstory here is that Nowitizki had been to the playoffs once before with the Mavericks in 2006.  In 2006, the Mavs were up 2 games to 0 over the Miami Heat and leading by 13 points in the fourth quarter of Game 3.  They ended up losing Game 3 and the next three to lose the title when they were 13 minutes from going up 3-0.  

Nowitizki was reportedly so distraught over this that he went on a three week drinking binge.  However, once he dried out he committed himself to working harder than ever to get another chance at winning the NBA Finals.  He got there and he and his Mavericks dismantled a team that virtually everyone had already crowned as the champions.  Nowitizki took the painful loss of the 2006 finals and used it to turn himself into a winner.  Sometimes our greatest losses turn into our greatest victories.

Now for those of you who cannot relate to sports, I will share a country music analogy (for those of you who cannot relate to either sports or country music analogies, Google has failed you and you have come to the wrong blog.  I apologize for wasting your time).  Kenny Chesney has a song called “You Win, I Win, We Lose”.

Nothing left, no regrets                                                              You take yours, I’ll take mine
No hard feelings wish you all the best                                     We’ll leave nothing but the memories behind
No blame, no shame                                                                   Of a love, and a dream
Just time to say it’s over I guess                                                That just somehow faded with time
We both agree it’s the right thing                                             You say you’re goin’ your way
The only thing left to do                                                             I’m goin’ somewhere too
You win, I win, we lose                                                               You win, I win, we lose

This song is obviously about a couple who has decided to breakup and end their relationship.  Based on the song, by each of them winning and getting their respective ways, the narrator sees the individual wins by each partner resulting in a collective loss.  I fear that this is exactly the thing many of us do in the families, the relationships, and the organizations in which we happen to find ourselves.  While it may be true that there is no “I” in team, it seems like most teams have at least one individual who seems to be shooting for individual wins rather than team wins.

How many families, relationships, and organizations would be better functioning and better run if we truly took a collectivistic team approach rather than an individualistic approach which says, “I’m going to do what is best for me and if it happens to help out the larger family unit/my partner/my company that is just icing on the cake.”  There are many reasons why families, marriages, and organizations fail, but individual members trying to win individually (or not lose) certainly seems to be a prime contributor.        

Another sports analogy. 

 

With two runners on base and a strike against her, Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University uncorked her best swing and did something she had never done before, in high school or college.  Her first homerun cleared the center field fence.  But it appeared to be the shortest of dreams come true when she missed first base, started back to tag it, and collapsed with a knee injury.  She crawled back to first but could go no farther.  Her first base coach told her that she would be called out if her teammates tried to help her.  Unable to continue on her own, the umpire ruled that a pinch runner could be called in for her, but that the homer would only count as a single. 

 

It was at this point that the originally apparent win that turned into a loss turned back into a win for Western Oregon.  Members of the Central Washington University softball teamed stunned spectators by carrying Tucholsky around the bases so the three-run homer would count – an act that contributed to their own elimination from the playoffs. 

 

Central Washington first baseman Mallory Holtman asked the umpire if she and her teammates could help Tucholsky.  The umpire said there was no rule against it.  So Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace put their arms under Tuchoslky’s legs as she put her arms over their shoulders.  The three headed around the base paths, stopping to let Tucholsky touch each base with her remaining good leg. 

 

As the trio reached home plate the entire Western Oregon team was in tears.  “In the end, it is not about winning and losing so much,” Holtman said.  “It was about this girl.  She hit it over the fence and was in pain, and she deserved a home run.”

 

Then there is also Garth Brooks.  I know, he annoys me also but he had a song some years back that really reinforces the point I am trying to make – some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.

Just the other night a hometown football game
My wife and I ran into my old high school flame
And as I introduced them the past came back to me
And I couldn’t help but think of the way things used to be

She was the one that I’d wanted for all times
And each night I’d spend prayin’ that God would make her mine
And if he’d only grant me this wish I wished back then
I’d never ask for anything again

She wasn’t quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams
And I could tell that time had changed me
In her eyes too it seemed
We tried to talk about the old days
There wasn’t much we could recall
I guess the Lord knows what he’s doin’ after all

And as she walked away and I looked at my wife
And then and there I thanked the good Lord
For the gifts in my life

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he may not answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered

 

Now I know some of you are thinking, didn’t Garth leave his wife (the woman he is so thankful to God for in this song) for Trisha Yearwood?  Yes, he did, but I’m asking you to suspend your knowledge of this inconvenient fact for a moment. 

 

Sometimes when we think we didn’t get what we wanted, we actually got what we needed.  Sometimes when we think we lost, we actually won.  Sometimes when we think we won, we actually lost.  It is all one organic globule from which we extract what we need.      


 

09.12.11 0
Zoom Comparisons of camouflage effectivenes.

Comparisons of camouflage effectivenes.

09.06.11 392
Zoom 

Art Project of the Day: From Swiss artist and comedian Ursus Wehrli’s upcoming book The Art of Clean Up, which features OCD-esque rearrangements of common, everyday things such as food, foliage, and friends.


Art Project of the Day: From Swiss artist and comedian Ursus Wehrli’s upcoming book The Art of Clean Up, which features OCD-esque rearrangements of common, everyday things such as food, foliage, and friends.

08.29.11 4352
Pew Observations - Part 1

In some form or another, I have had a view from a pew for much of my entire life.  My biological and spiritual family trees are filled with a seemingly disproportionate number of ministers.  I grew up as one of those kids who if the church doors were open for a service or gathering, we were probably going to be there.  I have attended small churches and large churches; country churches, urban churches, and suburban churches; churches that were grand cathedrals and churches that were little more than shacks; I even once went to a church were they handle snakes.  Regardless of the church, my view has largely been from the pew.  These are my observations.      

What do churches and golf courses have in common?  Together they account for over 90% of the small pencil market. 

Recently some friends of our children attended church with us.  As the communion tray was passed around, the youngest (a six year old) asked if he had to eat the bread and the juice.  When told that he did not, he replied, “Good, because the bread looks stale and I only drink Juicy Juice”.

When I was a child, I remember our church having a yearly revival in which there would be six to seven nights of preaching.  Now it seems like we can make do with two to three nights of services.  In fact, some churches don’t even have revivals anymore.  I guess we just don’t need as much revivaling now days.

I also remember that it used to be a big deal to sign up to host the revivalist at your house for dinner.  Looking back on this practice, it seems somewhat cruel to feed the revivalist a big meal and then expect him to deliver a message without burping or slipping off to sleep.  That is what my dad and grandfather usually did during the message. 

As a young child, when we would host the revivalist for dinner before the service, I always wondered if we would get a sneak preview of the message.  The neurotic me also worried about what would happen if he didn’t like dinner.  I love my mom, but I could usually count on two nights per week of not liking dinner.      

The person with one of the hardest jobs at a church service now days is the poor soul who has to advance the PowerPoint slides as the congregation sings worship songs.  Few places have I seen more looks that could kill than those looks that are directed to the sound booth when the right words are not on the screen. 

If I were a pianist or organist at a church, I would insist on facing the congregation as I played.  I would be paranoid that everyone was staring at me trying to figure out if I have a bald spot.

I’m pretty sure the last time I attended the church I grew up at, they had moved the pianist completely to another building.  I never did see her.  Cathie (my wife) and I kept asking each other where she was.     

I am also not a fan of the glass, see-through pulpit.  What if your fly is undone? 

Have you ever priced a pulpit or a communion table?  Talk about Jesus needing to clear the temple.  Somebody is making a killing. 

I know I should let it go, but I still have a great deal of guilt about hiding in the church baptistery once during a robust game of hide and seek.

I attended a conference once where people who made decisions were baptized in the backyard pool of a neighboring house.  If I owned that house, I’m not sure I could ever swim in that pool again.  I would have thoughts like: “I just farted in the baptistery”, “I just did a belly flop in the baptistery”, “Let’s invite the cute girl who just moved in next door over to swim in the baptistery”, and “Does the water look blue to you?  Get out! I think someone peed in the baptistery”.

I think it is funny that restaurants and churches both use pager systems.  At least at the Olive Garden I know it is my turn to eat.  At church, it means one of my sons has done something that is not covered in the church nursery manual. 

I attended a church for two years before I realized that they used a similar system.  Yours child’s number would light up on a monitor above the preacher’s head.  For two years, I thought this was some sort of attendance or approval rating board that gave real-time updates. 

Wouldn’t it be funny/horrible/ironic if the pager number they gave your child was 666?        

08.28.11 0
Novak Djokovic's Secret: Sitting in a Pressurized Egg.
08.28.11 0
Tripoli psychiatric hospital overwhelmed by war fallout.
08.28.11 0
Theater of the Absurd - Part 2

Apple now has more cash on hand than the US government!

07.30.11 0
Theater of the Absurd - Part 1

Senator Harry Reid and fellow Democrats filibuster their own bill.

07.30.11 0
Zoom The US Debt Visualized.  Click picture to get a great visual representation of the US Debt.

The US Debt Visualized.  Click picture to get a great visual representation of the US Debt.

07.24.11 0
Link to 1,500 Page Manifesto of Norway Terrorist

It is not entirely clear but this appears to be a manifesto of the Norwegian Terrorist Anders Behring Breivik.  It is a rambling piece but amazingly has a diary of his activities leading up the day of his attack(s).  Please be advised that there is much in this that is disturbing.  If this is legitimate, there will be no arguing that his actions weren’t premeditated.  However, I suspect some will take this manifesto to argue that he was living in a fantasy world and argue that he is criminally insane.  The document is quite large and will probably take a few minutes to load.  It is a pdf file.        

07.24.11 0
Timely Treatment for Depression Hard to Get, Even for the Insured
Massachusetts requires health insurance for all, is second in the nation in the number of doctors per capita, and mandates equal coverage for mental and physical illnesses.  Yet when researchers there posed as well-insured patients seeking treatment for depression, only 6% of calls to mental health facilities resulted in an appointment within two weeks, according to a new study.

This was true even though the prospective “patients” claimed that they’d been told by an emergency room doctor to seek psychiatric care within that time period —  so those who took the calls should have been alert to the possibility that the patients were suicidal or otherwise needed urgent care.

“What this study says is that even with what is basically the best private insurance available in this state and [probably] in many others as well, help is very difficult to find and may be impossible to find for many,” says Steffie Woolhandler, visiting professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an author of the study.

The research, which was published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, found that nearly a quarter of the calls made were never returned — even after the “patient” called again to follow up.  Another 23% of providers turned people away if they were not already patients of a primary care physician associated with their institution. Only 12% of the facilities actually offered appointments to the patients.

This article caught my eye as I oversee centralized intake for a community mental health center.  We have a policy in place that anyone requesting to be seen the same day can be seen the same day.  Our goal for routine appointments is an appointment within three days.  We receive calls from several hours away at times.  When we ask how come they are coming so far for behavioral healthcare, we receive answers like “you all were the only ones who would take our call” or “I couldn’t get in for months at the other places I called”.

07.23.11 4
Carmageddon It - AKA My NASCAR Weekend Experience

Carmageddon It - AKA My NASCAR Weekend Experience

July 7th, 8th, and 9th I took in three straight days of NASCAR races:  the UNOH 225 (Camping World Series), the Feed the Children 300 (Nationwide Series) and the Quaker State 400 (Sprint Cup Series) at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta Kentucky.  We had seven sets of tickets, which eight different individuals got to enjoy.  My father treated all of us to a weekend that none of us will soon forget.  I have attempted to chronicle here the highlights (and lowlights) as well as some of my observations.  Some names and the details of some stories have been changed to protect the innocent (or guilty). 

·         Sparta is literally a town that you could miss if you had a mild sneezing fit.  Someone once told me that Sparta was pretty much just a clearing of land with a store, a bar, a gas station, and a strip club.  Other than the fact that they know have a Speedway and a Ramada Inn, it seems largely unchanged. 

·         Sparta City hall looks surprisingly like the do it yourself outback building they sell at Lowe’s.  I could put a sign that says “City Hall” on the building behind my neighbor’s house and it would be a dead ringer for Sparta City Hall. 

·         During rain delays, you can learn a lot from vendors.  Did you know that beer vendors carry approximately 70 pounds of beer and ice?  Apparently, the key is to get just the right amount of ice to keep the beers cold but not so much that you keep sloshing it all on you.  Surprisingly for a man who carries 70 pounds up and down stairs all day, this vendor was rather rotund. 

·         Tip for you aspiring NASCAR fans.  Tony Stewart does not hear you every time you run to the front rail and yell “Go Tony” with both hands in victory salute position as he goes by.  We hear you; I’m pretty sure Tony doesn’t even know you exist.

·          If you are a grown woman and are coming to a NASCAR race, please learn how to put in your own earplugs. Watching a grown man knead each plug ever so carefully, pull back your hair, and insert them into each ear canal is too much for those around you to take.  It was disgusting to watch but none of us could avert our eyes from the sight.

·         This same poor woman also apparently had some rare condition, which did not allow her to place her butt on a metal bench as she sat in a man’s lap for two nights of racing straight.   

·         Apparently, if you are standing in line next to the Lt. Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, it is not funny to say, “this line is kind of like a parking lot”.  Sadly, I think I was the only one who recognized him.  How bad a job must the Lt. Governorship of Kentucky be if you have to wait in line for your own slice of pizza? 

·         If you saw any coverage of the Quaker State 400 race, you know that many race fans had to endure waits of up to 6 hours or more stuck in traffic.  Traffic was reportedly backed up on the interstates up to 15 miles or more.   We left Lawrenceburg, KY at 12 noon on Saturday for the race.  The same trip that we had made the two previous days in 60-75 minutes took us 6 ½ hours.  For five of those hours we literally averaged 1 mile per hour.  I have unaffectionately taken to calling our experience “CARMAGEDDON”.   

·         During Carmageddon, I am proud to report that my father and I won the “Iron Bladder Award”.  All the other passengers in the car, at some point during the 6 ½-hour ordeal, took leave of the car to relieve themselves.  The younger passengers slinked down a hillside and peed in the bushes.  The older weak-bladdered trekked up a hillside to stand in line for strategically placed porta potties.

·         I have a new theory that the choice of where and how one chooses to relive themselves while stuck in a 6 ½ hour traffic jam can tell you a lot about that person.  Some people take great care to travel a great distance from the vehicle and to be out of sight before peeing.  Others, apparently freed of convention by such an ordeal, simply open the door and pee by their car.  The ordeal was an equal opportunity offender, as I saw several women trek into the woods for relief.  I am still convinced that one woman never came back. I think she decided to walk home.

·         Who says the American entrepreneurial spirit is dead?  One ingenious businessman had two extremely attractive blonde girls walk up and down the traffic jam hawking big glasses of sweet tea, corn on the cob, cold water, and ice cream.  Unfortunately, his experiment of having a shirtless, bearded man sell earplugs for a dollar did not appear to work.  Not everything that looks good on paper, works out in reality.     

·         I have to give Senator David Williams his due.  He was stuck in Carmageddon and never even made it to the race.  What did he do first thing on Monday morning?  Called for a special hearing on the traffic and parking problems at Kentucky Speedway.  Point to Williams.

·         Ms. Sprint Cup is very cute but she is a horrible singer. 

·         In reality, there are actually two Ms. Sprint Cups.  Was there a tie?  Is the job so demanding that it requires two women to do it?   

·         You couldn’t get within five feet or touch Pappa John’s restored 1983 Camaro but you could climb on and take all the pictures you want of the Army’s Blackhawk helicopter. 

·         After enduring Carmageddon and brutal heat, the only complaint that my good friend Matt Sawyer had was that they ran out of Coca Cola.  He actually said the following, “There isn’t much they can do to control the traffic but they should never run out of Coke.  They should have trucks of Coke waiting to supply the race”.  Problem is the trucks of Coke were stuck somewhere on Interstate 71 in the traffic.    

·         There is no sound so deafening as the silence that follows the moment after someone drops their i-phone and picks it up to see what damage, if any, was done only to discover that the whole screen is cracked. 

·         In phone related matters, apparently Sprint sets up signal blocking towers to block the phone signal of any carrier that does not have Sprint in its name.  What does ATT have to do for their customers to get a signal, sponsor a car?

·         Speaking of sponsors, I was not aware that the Poultry Producers of Southern Ontario and Crazy Larry’s Swap Meet and Dairy Bar had advertising budgets that would allow them to sponsor a car. 

·         These drivers speed around the track going upwards to 200 mph but need a stepladder to get into the back of a truck after driver introductions?

·         Seeing and hearing the governor of Kentucky utter the phrase “Boogitty, Boogitty, Boogitty” does little to inspire confidence.  I suspect this will come back to haunt him in a campaign ad in the fall. 

·         Naomi Judd had more bondo on her face that Jimmy Johnson’s car. 

·         In closing, I’d like to think the Lenovo ThinkPad and Logitech mouse that helped me type this chronicle of my NASCAR experience.  The Value City Kitchen Table also gave us invaluable support tonight.  The guys in the pit were also invaluable in refueling me with juice and getting me back out there with a quick change of underwear.     

·         For those of you without a sense of humor and/or knowledge of rock history, Def Leppard had a song in 1988 called “Armageddon It”.  The title of this is “Carmageddon It”.   Get it?    

·         All kidding aside, the true highlight of the weekend was getting to spend it with my father, my sons, and good friends.  We will have memories and stories to tell that will last a lifetime.  There is much bonding that occurs when you navigate 70 miles in 6 ½ hours.

07.17.11 0
How Would You Like a $278,000 Job? Sign Me Up.

Who knows if their analysis is correct, but if it is even close, this is frustrating.

07.04.11 0
Zoom Finally, what I’ve always thought put more eloquently than I could have put it!

Finally, what I’ve always thought put more eloquently than I could have put it!

03.27.11 26
Irony, Thy Name is Sharyn Wolf

Sharyn Wolf, LCSW is a marriage counselor and psychotherapist practicing in New York City. She is the author of the memoir, Love Shrinks: A Memoir of a Marriage Counselor’s Divorce which is being published on May 3rd by Soho Press. She has appeared on hundreds of television and radio shows including eight appearances on Oprah.

What Oprah, the audience, or anyone in her life didn’t know then was that she had a secret. While launching a career as a “relationship expert,” she was going home every night to a failed marriage of her own.

Click title for the story in her own words.


03.18.11 0