RUSH HOUR

car-speeding-to-the-city-15013Yesterday a car cut me off. Living in New Jersey this isn’t a rare occurrence, but it wasn’t the evasive driving that bothered me. No my friends what bothered me happened about three second later when that same car slowly pulled into a shopping center.

No pregnant wife, no person on fire, no large sum of stolen bank money in the front seat while being pursued by ten cop cars. Just some dude that had to get to the mall. The mall to some people is a great place but it can’t be worth dying for.

Go to any major city and one of the first things you’ll hear are horns. Frustrated drivers in a rush to go absolutely nowhere. I get it we don’t have a lot of time. The 168 hours we’re allotted each week doesn’t quite seem like enough. So we end up running around like the world is going to end. There is no time to stop and smell the roses. How can we live in the moment when we don’t appreciate it?

Imagine being on a highway. On both sides of it are the most beautiful landscapes in the world. I forgot to add that you’re in a Ferrari, and you’re going around two hundred miles per hour. What did you see? I would imagine that everything was a blur. Well think about last week. What do you remember about it? Go ahead I’ll wait.

What did you come up with? How much time did you spend in the moment? Do you have anything in your life that blocks the outside world from consuming your thoughts? Something that just for a little while causes time to go a little slower. If you don’t search for what it is that does it for you.

Life is short but our moments are even shorter. Take the time to enjoy each one.

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DIVIDED WE FALL

3839675913_Broken_US_flag_xlargeJohn Dickinson wrote the blueprint for our country in 1768. During the American Revolution he penned the “Liberty Song”. In the fourth verse he wrote the now famous words, “United we stand and divided we fall”.

That slogan has been used throughout American history as a rallying cry; the only problem is no one’s listening.

You hear the phrase, “Divide and conquer” during old war movies. The thinking behind this is if you divide the enemy forces, it takes away their strength. It also makes it harder for them to communicate. This same strategy is being used today, but the soldiers in this war have no idea they’re in the middle of one.

Our eyes sometimes only see what they’re conditioned to see. Unfortunately they’ve been conditioned to see a false reality. We see what THEY allow us to see. We have no idea that we’re being split into different groups. THEY divide us by race, religion, politics, social status, gender, neighborhoods, and anything else you could possibly think of. A divided nation is a lot easier to manage.

Are you not convinced? During the next presidential election take a look at the red and blue states. Our country is divided in half based on whichever political party we’re backing. Somehow the election encompasses every way that we’re divided bundled up into one event. Insert social media wars and ignorant post everywhere.

Are you curious if racism still exist? The world just witnessed another riot. The third biggest one (damage wise) behind the Watts riots of the 60’s and the L.A riots in the 90’s. There was a charity for the victim who was murdered, (who was black) and surprisingly a more profitable one for the white cop that shot him. I saw ignorance and hate on both sides stream through peoples timelines. It got to the point where I stopped reading peoples updates because it was getting me that upset.

How many religions are there in the world? The number is somewhere around 4,000. Most religions believe that there is a higher power. Call it God, Jehovah, Buddha, Allah, or what have you. In these scriptures one fundamental law that most religions have in common is love thy neighbor. So why is there so much hate between churches? Why are their religious wars that have been going on for thousands of years? If you can’t figure it out join the club because I can’t either.

I recently wrote a blog called “The Hate Box”, which talks about how the media uses the most negative images possible to sway our thinking. What we have to understand is it’s on us to decipher what’s right and wrong for ourselves. Not from what we see on television or hear from some biased news anchor.

If we are going to ever win this invisible war we have to first realize we’re in it. Then we have to actually stand up and do something about it, together.

 

 

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COLD TURKEY

imageWhen I was in my early twenties I used to work at a pharmacy. My job (besides reading books) consisted of me selling cigarettes and lottery tickets. All day long I would hand out peoples vice’s in the form of pick 5 tickets and camel lights. My coworkers would call my little area the “sin counter”. The cool thing about the sin counter was all my customers for the most part were awesome. They were addicted to their vice and I provided it so they were always happy to see me. Because I tend to talk to everybody I got to know some of them really well.

One customer I’ll call Pete came in twice a week and always ordered a carton of cigarettes. It was like clockwork every Monday and Friday. I would have his cigarettes waiting for him before he even arrived. We would talk about sports, life, and anything else we could think of before another patron showed up. We went through this routine for about two years, until one day Pete disappeared.

That Monday he didn’t do his regular pick up and Friday came and went with no sign of Pete. I figured he was away on vacation, but the next week he was still missing in action. I started to worry that something happened to him and even asked the guy who worked the morning shift if he saw Pete in the store. The answer was no. About a month later I was reading behind the counter when Pete walked in.

I jumped up and went to reach for his cigarettes when he said, “No cigarettes today my friend”. He told me that he quit a month ago. I said congrats and asked him what nicotine patch he was wearing. He smiled lifted up his sleeve and informed me that he wasn’t wearing any. I knew Pete’s story well, he was in his mid forties and had been smoking since he was fourteen years old. I’m not great at math but I know that’s somewhere around thirty years of smoking. Throw in the fact that cigarettes contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive substance that actually affects the brain, and you could understand my disbelief.

Pete must have read my face because the next sentence he said has stayed with me ever since. Pete said, “I woke up one morning and said enough is enough, so I quit”. It was one of my first examples of how powerful our minds are. It made me realize that we all possess this weapon that we can use for or against us. A focused mind could accomplish miracles. Being addicted to something for that long and just stopping in my opinion was a miracle.

We don’t realize that we can stop or start anything we want at anytime. The same way our brain gets us hooked it can unhook us. The solution is in the problem, and the problem for the most part in those types of situations is how we think. When you develop a habit good or bad it becomes routine. The routine can be broken just as easily as it was started. Pete showed me that the mind is limitless; we can do what ever we believe we can do.

 

 

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GET UP!!!

get upGet up!! That simple phrase is what moved me to action every day. I would wake up in the morning and try to hit my alarm clock before the first beep. The phrase “Get Up” meant more to me than just pulling myself out of bed.

Those words meant, “Cornell how are you going to get better if you lay in bed”? It was a challenge that I posed to myself. Over the years I used the same phrase numerous times after a workout, or a run that took everything out of me.

I don’t allow myself to lay down right after. It was my way of showing the workout that it couldn’t break me that I knew the pain was temporary, and I was going to recover and be back again tomorrow. That phrase has never left my life and never will.

Today I use the phrase in all aspects of my life. Adversity has knocked me down plenty of times, but it can’t keep me down. I wont allow it. The two words that I use when I’m tired, or sick, or lethargic still apply when life hits me with a haymaker. I absorb the hit, learn from it, and get off the canvas.

Some of us are hit a lot harder than others. Life throws punches in bunches and we feel that no matter how many times we get up we keep getting knocked back down. The problem lies in how you look at it. If you look at how many times you’ve been knocked down it becomes a negative thing in your mind. Instead look at how many times you’ve gotten up.

I’ve mentioned the movie “Rocky” a lot in my blogs because no matter how hard he was hit he always got back up. It doesn’t mean he didn’t lose fights. Getting up might not happen right away. It might take days, months, even years, but sometimes its not when you get up it’s if you get up at all. Cancer patients don’t beat the disease in the first day of chemo. They fight, get knocked down, get back up, get knocked down, and hopefully they get up and then stay up.

Fighters know that when they step into the ring there is a good chance they’re going to get hit, but they take that walk anyways. It’s the same thing with life my friends. You’re going to get hit. Life is going to knock you down. Those are two things you can count on. Just remember no matter what get up and keep fighting.

 

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INTELLIGENT CONVERSATION..

istock_000010106679xsmallThe other day I was at the park training some of my players when and old friend stopped by. I haven’t physically seen him in years but thanks to Facebook we’ve been in touch from time to time.

What happened afterwards might surprise some of you. We had an intelligent conversation. If you need to re-read that last sentence take the time to do so. There was no talk about what happened on desperate housewives, or who got traded where; we talked about the world and what’s happening in it.

Be honest with me right now, and answer these three questions. When was the last time you left a conversation feeling uplifted? When was the last time you left a conversation with more knowledge than you had before it started? When was the last time someone you talked to really made you think? I can tell you that I’ve had all three of those questions answered in that one conversation. The funny thing is two hours later I talked with a mentor of mine and the same thing happened. He made me think about where I was and where I wanted to go. We talked about changing the world for the better, and about living a balanced life.

With so much going on in the rat race we’re all running we’ve lost the ability to communicate with one another. The problem with this is that when we do have the time to communicate its dumbed down. We only talk about issues that fit into our “hectic” schedules. The weather, work, Snookies new hairdo, and anything else that takes less than a minute to discuss.

We don’t challenge each other to think anymore. We rely on our texting to do our talking. Back in the days you had to actually call someone to make plans. These days you can abbreviate a couple of words, and send four emoygis and you’re good to go.

I want to start a new movement. Lets start talking to one another more. Discuss not just what’s going on in your life, but also the world around you. This week have a meaningful conversation with someone, you have no idea how much you’ll learn!

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PRICELESS

Girl-Before-A-Mirror-By-Pablo-PicassoNever let anyone depreciate your value. That was a quote I wrote about two years ago. Like most of my morning quotes I’m not quite sure where that one came from but I instantly received a lot of positive feedback from it.

There are millions of people all over the world that don’t recognize their own self worth. It’s like going to a pawnshop with a Picasso painting and accepting the 50 bucks the guy behind the counter offers you. If you don’t know you’re own value how will you know when someone else isn’t treating you the way you should be treated? The short answer is you won’t.

People stay in relationships that are physically and mentally abusive because they don’t believe there’s something better out there for them. Their reality is that no one could possibly love them and that’s because they don’t love themselves. The same situation happens in the workplace. People have poured half their lives into jobs that don’t appreciate what they do. How many times have you heard, “My boss treats me like crap”? I’ve heard that line about a thousand times but the next day that same person walks right into work ready for another full day of abuse. Why? Well they most likely feel they don’t have the skills, intelligence, or god knows what to get a better job. So they settle. They sell their Picasso every day for peanuts.

I will tell you this right now. YOU ARE PRICELESS!! Make sure you read those last three words nice and slow. There is no value for you because you can’t put a price on who you are. If someone offered me a billion dollars for my life right now I’m pretty sure it would only take half a second to decline the offer. There is no amount that can compensate for who I am. I refuse to accept anything less than that, and you should as well. I believe we all have greatness inside of us. With that being said maybe .5 percent of the population actually believes it. Every day we’re given messages that suggest what great is supposed to look like, and like suckers we believe them.

We’re told what color greatness is, what size dress, what location its from, and we start checking ourselves off the list. What we don’t realize is that greatness is a state of mind. When you’re lucky enough to be around someone great they have a different vibe. They carry themselves in a way where you can sense there’s something different about them. It’s like going into that fancy restaurant where there’s no prices next to the entrées. Don’t look at yourself like the dollar menu at a fast food joint.

Knowing the value of you will make others know too. You’re priceless my friends never settle for anything less than what you’re worth.

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Thank You Sun and Thank You Rain

imageI watched a great video yesterday made by two friends of mine. They were on stage talking-to a group of people about gratitude. One of them was telling an emotional but inspiring story about his nephew Jared.

Jared was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer at the age of sixteen. Two years later he passed away. Jared’s mom showed his uncle a letter he wrote after he passed on.

Jared wrote in the letter that he was grateful for god giving him cancer and not any other members of his family. When I first heard that story I was blown away. I couldn’t believe the strength this young man had while facing death.

When I met up with his uncle he was wearing a J.J. Strong band in Jared’s memory. I asked if I could have one and haven’t taken it off since. On the back of it is the word GRATITUDE. It’s a reminder that every day you have to appreciate everything life throws you no matter how hard it is.

Gratitude reminds me of the weather. No matter what the weather does it can never win. In the winter people in my part of the world curse the heavens for the snow to go away, and in the summer they curse the same heavens for it to be cooler. It’s a lose lose situation for Mother Nature. That’s why I think in New Jersey she screws with us on purpose. We have to start appreciating the day not the weather. Yeah it’s snowing and that might stink but you’re around to enjoy it. Feel better? I sure do.

The definition of gratitude is sometimes lost in translation. It’s not just appreciating all the good things in your life. Most of us would have gratitude if we won the lottery, or got a new car. Would we have it if we lost our job? Could we have gratitude then? If you think about it the right way I believe we could. It’s all about our mindset. If we look at losing our job as an opportunity to find a better one then we could be grateful for not having it anymore.

I wasn’t grateful for the injury that ended my basketball career at the time it happened. It took a little while for me to see why I should be. Today I thank the heavens every day for it. Without the injury I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now. Remember that sometimes the rain brings a rainbow be grateful for the opportunity to see it.

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BE THERE BEFORE YOU GET THERE

shutterstock_111719189_20799You have to see it. You have to see the corner office with the great view. You have to see the championship belt being wrapped around your waist.

You have to see the house with the picket fence and 2.5 kids. You have to be there before you get there. If you can’t see it how can you believe it?

I see myself speaking in packed stadiums. I see myself changing the lives of millions of people. I can see it clearly. Whenever I accomplish something that’s on my “to do” list it eerily seems familiar. It’s like shooting a last second shot in basketball. Any kid growing up playing hoops has imagined hitting the game winning shot thousands of times. They’ve seen the ball go in as the clock counts down from 3, 2, 1, and then the crowd goes wild.

Positive visualization is such a powerful tool. It’s like you trick the mind into believing the event already happened, so when it does the mind is at ease. The opposite effect can happen as well if we allow it. If we feed our mind negative scenarios, doubt and fear rear their ugly heads. There is no crowd lifting us in the air after the game, the corner office was given to that jerk Bob from accounting, and the speech we gave ended abruptly after we vomited on the first row. Looks a little different right?

Most successful people have two things in common, one they’ve gone through some kind of hardship to get where they are, and two they visualized success even during the roughest of times. It’s a lot easier to feed your mind positive messages when you’re a billionaire. It’s when you’re scrapping just to put food on the table that really tests your mental fortitude.

Understand that every journey starts with a single step, and once you take it you’re already on your way to being successful. Positive messages produce positive results my friends, see it and you’ll eventually be it.

 

 

 

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HATE BOX

For the last four years or so I go through a morning ritual that most of you are probably aware of. The second I wake up I write a motivational quote for the day. After I come up with the quote I’ll post it on the three or four social media outlets I have accounts for. On Saturdays I post a blog and go through the same routine.

hate news Most Americans go through a different routine. They wake up, grab their coffee and turn on a box that either sits on a stand or is nicely perched on a wall. The channel is most likely set to something called the news. The actual word news has a couple of different definitions, but this particular one stood out to me. News is defined as, “Newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events”.

This news is supposed to be informative, and some might even say educational. Outside of the weather what is it actually educating us about? If you are one of the billions of people that watch the news each day what did you learn today? You learned that their are wars in other countries, widespread racism throughout our country and the rest of the world, hate crimes, ignorance, murder, child abductions, and anything else depressing you could think of. At the very end of one of these uplifting stories was probably a five-minute segment about a little girl who found her missing cat. The editor must have felt that one heart-warming story could balance out the others.

The same editor is in charge of what stories we see every day. Now no one quite knows who’s in charge of the actual media but whoever it is probably doesn’t subscribe to my daily quotes. Think about everything that comes out of the box that so many are addicted to watching, how much of it is positive? We have a reality show for every major city with a bunch of crazy housewives waiting their turn to drop the rate of tourism with one politically correct sentence after the other, but how many programs on that same box are on their for the sole purpose of uplifting others. Before you name Reading Rainbow, or Sesame Street take the kids and church programs out of the equation. Now name one. Exactly.

We live in a society where most of us believe what we see. If it’s on the news then it must be right. So what happens when you hear a negative story about someone from another race, nationality, religion, or gender? What if you hear this story every morning you wake up? Does it sway your opinion of them a little bit? Be honest with yourself. For those of you who remember the L.A. riots think about how much media coverage it got.

From sun up to sun down you saw some of the most vivid images you could imagine. Reginald Denny an innocent white man being dragged from his truck and almost beaten to death by a group of black men. Ironically the exact same scenario started the riots to begin with, but it was a black man being beaten by white cops. Did it divide the country, of course it did. So did the O.J trial, the Tawana Brawley case, the murder of James Byrd, every war we’ve ever fought, immigration, gay marriage, terrorism, and the list goes on. It’s amazing that a country that has had the blueprint to our survival since 1768 still can’t figure it out. It was John Dickinson’s “Liberty Song” that said “By uniting we stand, and by dividing we fall”.

The division is in the form of red and blue states, ghettos and suburbs, pastors and scientist, legal’s and illegal’s, gays and straights and the list go on.

I’m not saying throw the box out that you love so much. I’m telling you to be aware of the messages that you only allow yourself to see. Understand that not everything is what it seems. There is more to the ocean then just the surface. It’s on us to explore and get the truth. In the words of the great Zig Ziglar be a “good finder”, because the world has more to offer then just the negative.

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I DARE YOU

tongue-frozen-to-poleI dare you to not be a product of your past. I dare you to break the mold that society so badly wants to put you in. I dare you to block out all the white noise in your life that makes you doubt your self worth. I dare you to start believing in you.

I dare you two stand on your own two feet. I dare you to stop worrying about who’s behind you or who’s in front of you. I dare you to be great even on the days you feel anything but. I dare you to change the world.

This isn’t a blog it’s a challenge. Great people are harder to find than big-foot these days and I think I know why. When we’re younger we challenge each other all the time. One of our goofy friends would tell us we couldn’t do something and next thing you know we would try to prove them wrong. Now this didn’t always turn out in our favor, but it was the challenge that drove us. If our tongue ended up sticking to the frozen pole in front of the school so be it.

These days we don’t challenge ourselves enough. We stay in the middle of the pack unwilling to run ahead. Leaving the pack behind would take extra work. It would involve getting out of our comfort zone. That’s what separates the good from the great. The ability to deal with that discomfort and push forward despite it. So what are you going to do?

Are you going to wake up today and strive to be average? Are your goals so low that you’ll never have to stretch to reach them? Or are you going to challenge yourself to be more. The choice is yours.

I had a conversation with one of my younger coaches yesterday about goal setting. I told him to write down goals so big that they scare him. When your goals make you nervous you know you’re on the right track. If no one else will dare you to be great I’ll take the challenge right now. Because the greater we are as individuals the greater we’ll be as a planet.

 

 

 

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