In This Edition:
1. Fleet Center Follies
2. Taking Care of Everything
3. One Thing at a Time
4. Thoughts to Ponder, from Comedian Steven Wright
March is my second favorite month after October for many reasons! March Madness, the coming of Spring, the longer days!
Fleet Center Follies
Many moons ago, I visited my best friend Peter Hicks in Boston. He has season tickets to the Celtics. He lost interest after Larry Bird retired but, now and then, rather than selling them off to friends, he goes to a game or two himself. He took me to one game, and I was astonished. Not because of anything that happened during the game, but because of the environment in which I found myself. I had been to the old Boston Garden with its creaky floor and smell of beer, its cramped quarters, and its poor circulation.
The difference between the Fleet Center and the Boston Garden however, was that in the Boston Garden the game was the thing, to paraphrase Shakespeare. At the Fleet Center the game was anything but the thing. The seats were multi-colored, there were more bells, whistles and alarms than I can begin to describe. There was orchestrated applause. There was organ music. There were vendors offering all kinds of things unrelated to the game.
The Fleet Center literally had a carnival atmosphere. It was as if management was not willing to trust the fan to stay interested in the game for its duration. Or, as if they felt they had to compete with Barnum and Bailey’s Circus, or the more recent throng of theme parks that have spread all through America and the world.
A Sports Illustrated article entitled, “Bang the Fan Slowly”, talked about how this phenomenon is becoming pervasive. Every single moment for the fan throughout the game has been orchestrated.
The implied message here is that we have reached the point in our socio-cultural evolution where enough people believe the game itself can no longer be the focus of fan attention. This is sad for many reasons. What this tells us is that the ability to dominate the environment through sight, sound, smell and to both stimulate and direct fan behavior have not only become culturally acceptable but culturally desirable.
More disturbing is that for this to happen you have to have a population base of outer-directed individuals: essentially people who do not proceed in life based on internal cues, but respond and react largely to their external environment.
Taking Care of Everything
According to Greek legend, Prometheus had to do everything himself. Americans traditionally have had a streak of the Promethean urge within them, probably best exemplified by John Wayne, who took care of everything himself.
Some people believe that hard work always merits reward, and they’ll carry this notion with them to their graves. In the work-a-day world, you frequently see middle managers who decide to leap frog several positions in the company by taking on more projects, even though they’re already filled to the brim. Among entrepreneurs, you may see someone try to crack a new market that has long been unresponsive, even though the entrepreneur is already juggling several balls, and short-changing his health.
There’s nothing wrong with working hard, unless you make unrealistic goals when you lack the money, time, skill, or connections. As you begin to deplete your body’s resources, your immune system diminishes.
What are some of the danger signs of someone who believes they can do it all and do it all by themselves? You believe you’ll be able to overcome obstacles by working harder and appreciate the challenge. If other people think it can’t be accomplished, all the better. You may become overbearing or short with others but hey, you’re in pursuit of an important goal and that’s what counts. Besides, you’re the only one who can do the job right.
Organizations in our society tend to seek out people with that attitude. If you’re willing to stay overtime, work on weekends, and minimize your vacation time, you just may be your boss’s star performer. Working hard in itself is not a problem, unless you carry a set of unreasonable ambitions. Too many career achievers fall into an endless cycle. They feel their accomplishments are too few, and experience disappointment, frustration and health threatening stress. To relieve these feelings, they work harder so they’ll accomplish more and hope a golden rainbow appears.
Admit to yourself that you can’t do everything, and acknowledge that trying harder might not be worth it. If working hard is a way for you to gain the respect of others, or self-respect, it’s time to rethink your whole approach:
Rather than focus on your weaknesses, accentuate and develop your strengths. Give yourself realistic time frames for ambitious goals.
Divide and conquer. Take smaller steps when setting larger goals so that you don’t burst a spleen along the way. When progress is slow, try a different direction, different door, or different mindset. The notion that you and you alone must take care of the whole thing, in a word, is erroneous.
One Thing at a Time
At my health club, a woman with an iPod got on the stair climber next to me. She then opened a copy of a health and fitness magazine. To my amazement, she proceeded to step up and down, while listening to music through headphones, and reading about health and fitness. I almost asked her if she wanted some chewing gum.
I wonder how many car accidents are attributed to people attempting to do two things at once — put on makeup, shave, eat, smoke, or listen to 100 decibel level music.
Thoughts to Ponder, from Comedian Steven Wright