success

059 -The Tenacious Ones

I’m a huge hockey fan. It’s by far my favorite sport, and I do my best not only to take in as many games as I can, but to take as many friends to games as I can in order to share the sport I love with the people I love.

Oftentimes, I get asked what position I played when I was younger or I play hockey now. The answer to both of those questions is “no”, and the question that typically follows is “why?”. Aside from the fact that I never really learned how to ice skate (typically a requirement for hockey players*), I’ll frequently follow up with the fact that I’m just not big enough to be a hockey player. Standing at 5’10.5″ in a a physical sport where the average professional player is 6’1″ and 200lbs is a pretty sure indication that you’re at a disadvantage. But as I think about this, I feel like it’s important to note that it’s not like everyone in the NHL is 6’1″ or above. There are a lot of little guys making it in the big leagues, and they teach us an important lesson.

For the sake of science, I started to look at the players currently in the league, and I found that more than two dozen of them are actually shorter than me! That’s enough for a full team roster (including Jhonas Enroth, our lone goalie under 5’11”). Ouch. I guess maybe my excuse of not being big enough to play hockey doesn’t hold much water.

But are these guys just role players and lineup-fillers? “Plugs” who are just good enough to be on the ice while the good players get some rest on the bench? Let’s take a look at who some of these guys are.

Up first is forward Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers, lumbering into the room at a towering 5’7″. Mats, nicknamed “The Hobbit”, has scored 10 goals and 11 assists so far this season, is signed in 84% of Yahoo Fantasy Leagues, and is statistically ranked the 61st best fantasy hockey player to this point in the season while playing over 17 minutes per night. Not too bad for a little guy, eh?

Left wing Johnny Gaudreau, aka “Johnny Hockey”, of the Calgary Flames, is a 5’8″ former winner of the Hobey Baker Award for the best hockey player in the NCAA. But obviously he didn’t stop there. He was drafted in the 4th round in 2011, went on to become a finalist for the NHL’s top rookie award in his first year in 2015 (after being selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game), and has currently scored 5 goals and 16 assists so far this season, is signed in 94% of Yahoo Fantasy Leagues, and is statistically ranked the 90th best fantasy player to this point in the season while playing over 20 minutes a night.

What about a defenseman? The big bruisers signed for their ability to keep the other team away from the net and block shots before they make it to the goalie? Let’s look at Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins. A former MSU Spartan who stands at 5’9″, Torey has scored once and added 13 assists so far this season, is signed in 90% of Yahoo Fantasy Leagues, and is statistically ranked the 68th best fantasy player to this point in the season while playing 22 minutes per night. He may be a full foot shorter than his teammate Zdeno Chara, but his utility to the team and impact on the ice is significant.

The fact that these players not only exist, but are playing hockey at a high level, is important both for young hockey players who may be vertically challenged, and for the rest of us, too. The lesson their careers gives us is applicable to every single person who is determined to do anything.

Here’s my takeaway:

No matter who you are, there are going to be things you’re good at, and things you aren’t. There will be areas of your life where you are above average, where you’re average, and where you’re below average. Sure, it helps to play to your strengths (Mats Zuccarello is fast and agile…Torey Krug has an incredible accurate shot), but you don’t have to let your shortcomings (unintended pun) hold you back. You can still succeed at something in which you are irreversibly disadvantaged. But you’re going to have to be tenacious.

Hockey is a physical sport. When a guy who’s 5’8″ gets hit by a guy who’s 6’5″, he feels it a bit more than he would with another 4″ and 20lb of muscle on him. He gets beaten to the puck by a guy with a longer reach more often. He gets swallowed up in a scrum more often than his teammates who can see right over his head. This stuff happens. And it’s okay. These guys come back and push harder and do what they need to do to succeed. They are, necessarily, tenacious. It’s their only option if they want to win. Sure, they could quit hockey and go into another career. Maybe Mats Zuccarello would be a really good burglar (see aforementioned “Hobbit” nickname). Maybe Torey Krug would be really great at literally anything, since he’s a Spartan and Spartans Will. But they picked hockey, so we’re talking about them playing hockey.

The question for us is, what is it in our chosen field that we’re not that good at? Maybe you were never great at math growing up but you always wanted to go into personal finance because you like helping people with things that are difficult for them. Maybe you went into sales with social anxiety. Maybe your disadvantage is just a particularly difficult coworker.

Either way, you have the same choice to make that we all do. You either quit to do something easier, or you buckle down with tenacity and get better, do better, and win. Tenacity is the product we get when we mix the character, courage, and competence necessary to succeed in any endeavor. So if tenacity is the difference between you getting better or staying the same, what are you waiting for? Let’s go.

I’ll end with the quote that I currently have pinned at the top of my twitter feed, one of my favorites:

“I don’t believe that greatness happens by chance. I don’t believe it happens by happenstance. I don’t believe it happens to those who are lucky.”

-Jeff Blashill, Head Coach of the Detroit Red Wings

I believe it happens to those who are tenacious.

Categories: Growth, personal development, success, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

058 – The Other Side of the Table

As human beings, we live most of our lives around other human beings. We’re neighbors, fellow bus or subway passengers, colleagues, mutual victims of rush hour, friends, and family to hundreds if not thousands of other people. And yet, very rarely do we spend much time considering these people through any lens that doesn’t also go through us. Are they looking at me? What does he think of me? Does this person see me as competent? Do they think I’m confident? Is everyone laughing at me or with me? And because we spend so much time thinking about ourselves, how wonderfully refreshing and uplifting it is when other people think about us, too! It’s like they really get us!

This simple reality is the key to one of the most underutilized-yet-powerful win-win scenarios we could ever put ourselves in. In our dealings with other people, if we can just stop thinking of ourselves briefly- momentarily- just for a second- and consider the person on the other side of the table from us, we effectively get up, walk over, and get on their side of the table. And all of a sudden we can begin to understand each other and can actually work together toward a common goal or interest.

The beautiful thing about this strategy is that you don’t even have to be subtle or sneaky about it! I’ve frequently expressed to other people, verbatim, “I want to do my best to get on your side of the table and understand where you’re coming from and where you’re trying to go.” This has got to be the most noble sort of manipulation there is; you’re tricking people into allowing you to help them get what they want quicker, better, faster, easier than they could have on their own.

“But Jared,” someone who isn’t as wise as you might whine, “how is that win-win if it’s all about the other person getting what they want?”

That’s the other not-so-secret secret about this whole concept. For it to really, truly work, you’ve got to flat out, no exceptions, unconditionally care about the other person. If you’re thinking about how you can help them so that they’ll help you, or trying to maneuver around or through them for your own end goal, you’re thinking about it all wrong. However, when you really care about that person and what they want and need, then getting on their side of the table and understanding their motivations and their thought processes so that you can help them follows as the next logical step in the process. And when you really care about helping them get what they want, then it becomes something that you want, too. All of a sudden, you’re working together, you’re moving in the same direction, and when you reach that goal, it’s a win-win for both of you.

So, here’s to the table-hoppers who are constantly jumping from booth to booth, sitting down next to other people, and coming alongside them in the spirit of camaraderie and helpfulness. Let’s never forget that for every time we wish the person across from us would think more about what we want, there’s another person looking at us and thinking the same thing.

Categories: community, personal development, success | Tags: , | 1 Comment

053 – The State of the Dream Address 2013

As we head into a new year here, it’s only fair that you are provided with an update on how this venture is going. After all, you are the people out there in the world interacting with me, supporting me, investing in me and expecting of me- some of you for most or all of these 23 years. And so you deserve a status update.

You see, a year has passed and it’s easy to look at the accomplishments of the past and pretend that we’ve done a lot. I do not intend to fall prey to that comfort. It’s easy to look at the small victories that we’ve achieved and pretend that they were the goal all along, and that we’re happy with where we’re at. I do not intend to fall prey to that comfort. I do not intend to be happy with where we’re at. I am, as I have been, very happy with, and very excited about, where we’re going. You see, beneath the daily happenings on the outside- the 8 to 5s, the after-hours, the weekend get-togethers- we’ve been working on something bigger. Not necessarily marching the artillery forward, but aiming, tweaking, and setting up the cannon. Because those of you who have taken the time to think through this have realized that we only get one shot- just one- at a meaningful life. But thankfully, it only takes one shot- just one opportunity to really get things right and for everything to line up- and the rest is history.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is the goal. And that is the intention. That is the expected result of this run. What you see today is not what you’ll see for long after that. Because we don’t intend to stay in one place and sit back on the comforts that we’ve been blessed with. You see, our blessings are not for our pleasure but for our purpose, and it is a great and mighty purpose that we have. It has to be. Too much time and effort has been put into making you the person you are today for you to just ease off the throttle and kick back at the earliest opportunity.

You see, there are people out there who need us (and by us I mean to include you) to step up and do more than the average person. The need someone to be the example for what they can achieve. If you intend to be happy, why don’t you just decide to set the bar for what it looks like to be happy? If you intend to have some measured amount of success, why don’t you just decide to set the bar for what it looks like to succeed with grace and humility? If you intend to make an impact, why don’t you make such an impact as to be worth the investment that so many others have paid into you so far?

Or to put this in other terms, why should you? I’m going to spoil the surprise here for you. If you’re going to set the pace for being happy in all circumstances, for succeeding with grace and humility, and making an impact worthy of the investment placed in you, it’s going to require a few things. The first is a massive, audacious dream. Anyone who says that it’s dumb to dream big or discourages you from getting your hopes up is someone that is dangerous to your health: RUN. The second requirement for that sort of life is people. We are created as relational creatures, and while you can be happy, successful, and impactful to a certain degree sort of kind of on your own, when you partner up with a pack of rascals with whom you can operate interdependently, the size of those things is exponentially greater. The final thing that hitting those goals will require is your absolute very best. And that’s really simple to justify because to become all that you were created to become, it darn well better take all you’ve got.

All of this is available to you. There is no better time than right now to sit down with yourself and figure out where the path you’re on is leading and if it’s really the path you want to be on.

Ladies and gentlemen, the dream is alive and well. And it’s waiting for you to get out there and make it come true. If I don’t see you for twenty years, I want to be able to run into you again and find out that you went out and did everything you ever dreamed you could in a lifetime, and that you’re still finding out there’s so much more to do with the time you have left. That is available to you, and don’t underestimate the significance of that. Take advantage of that opportunity, because not everyone will. Those who don’t may not even realize what they’ve missed out on. But those who do- those who run with their dream and really give it all they’ve got for just long enough- will enjoy a reality that they probably doubted from time to time even truly existed. We’ll look forward to seeing you there.

God Bless,

Jared Schulman

Categories: dream, Growth, LIFE, success, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

051 – The Calling

“I was taught that everything is attainable if you’re prepared to give up, to sacrifice, to get it. Whatever you want to do, you can do it, if you want to do it badly enough…and I do believe that. I believe that if I wanted to run a mile in four minutes I could do it. I would have to give up everything else in life, but I could run a mile in four minutes. I believe that if a man wanted to walk on water and was prepared to give up everything else in life, he could do that.”

– Stirling Moss, excerpted from The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino

I first read the book I just quoted above over a year and a half ago. Feeling compelled a couple of weeks ago, I pulled it back off my shelf and have been idly flipping through my highlights intermittently since. That quote above hit me just as hard today as it did in February of 2011.

See, I do believe in many ways that under the right circumstances, we fickle, soft, flawed creatures (humans) are actually capable of doing just about anything we set our hearts on. Or that our hearts are set on, depending on your interpretation. Why do I believe this? Simply because any cursory examination of history will show that human beings have frequently achieved not only the pinnacle of what was thought to be possible, but have also achieved far beyond what has been thought to be possible at various times throughout our brief history. With that knowledge, even limited as it is, who am I to say that anyone is incapable of doing anything their heart is set on- anything that they dream possible?

Laurie Woodward has said before that, “Behind us, or perhaps above us, lies infinite power. And in front of us lies infinite possibility.” That statement alone summarizes this entire text far better than I can in far more words. (So if you want, you can re-read that quote, think on it for a minute, and then not read any more of this. Or keep reading. Your choice.)

I’ve yet to come across a human being in my lifetime whom I did not believe was capable of greatness. I would, in fact, go so far as to say that we are likely all meant for greatness. Each one of us is part of an ever-changing world. We each play a part in shaping our collective future. If a person goes into the desert and moves one grain of sand but an inch, haven’t they changed the world? What about the person who takes a struggling friend in and invests their time in helping that friend through their struggles? Certainly that person hasn’t cured a deadly disease or negotiated peace between world superpowers; but they have helped cure a person’s heart and negotiate peace inside that person’s mind. That alone is a feat of incredible accomplishment.

It used to be that fighting valiantly for a noble cause was considered great in and of itself. These days we find ourselves so concerned with our own greatness, or at least the image of it, that we refuse to strive greatly for anything, scared to fail lest we be revealed as the imperfect humans we are.

I submit to you this:

Make the choice to be great. Once you make the choice to be great- and I mean truly make that choice- it’s done. There’s no going back. But! You still have to decide on a daily basis what you’re going to do to advance yourself toward that goal. That’s why once you truly decide, it’s over. It can’t be a try. Yes, you can mentally insert a Yoda quote here.

However, I would also submit to you this:

It won’t be easy. But wait. If we’re meant to be great, why isn’t it easy? That doesn’t seem fair!
Well, I don’t know about you, but I was never raised being taught that life was fair. In fact, I seem to recall some lessons to the contrary. But when we think about it, doesn’t that just about make sense? If we’re meant to be all that we’re created to be, shouldn’t it take all that we’ve got to get there?

Only too often, we’re our own worst enemies. We hold ourselves back from greatness because of a mixture of fear and pride. We limit ourselves. We build cages around our potential.

I submit to you this:

“You were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” – Galatians 5:13

“Go therefore and do that which is within you to do. Take no heed of gestures which would beckon you aside, and ask of no man permission to perform.” – Frederick Dey

Categories: dream, freedom, Growth, success | Leave a comment

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