The Ball Will Find You

There’s this weird and strange thing in sports. I’ve witnessed it as a player, a coach, and as a fan. I saw it quite often while coaching baseball and football, especially at the JV level. You put a player into the game at a critical junction for any number of good reasons like an injury substitution, playing time, or just a hunch. Inevitably, the ball will be hit in their direction, they’ll get targeted as a defensive back against the opponent’s best receiver, or the ball will find it’s way into their hands for the last second do-or-die shot. This scenario seems to play out with great frequency. The ball will find you.

From the highest office in the land to the lowest levels of sports, it’s important to put the people in place to get the job done. If you don’t, errors occur, mistakes are made, and systems devolve into chaos. But why? 

Because the ball will always find you. 

The negative results we often see are an effect caused by incompetence in addressing each and every situation. In short, like the third-string, sophomore right fielder seeing his first varsity action in the late innings of a state playoff game, people get put into situations that are over their heads. They neither have the tools or the experience to react with competence. 

Personally and professionally, I’m a firm believer in the old adage, “You are only as strong as your weakest link”. Weak links are holes in the ship and the holes are always most vulnerable, especially in a crisis. Holes sink ships. Weak links sink organizations, teams, and systems.

This is why when it’s time for you to make a decision, cast a vote, or trust someone with a job, you need to consider if that person is up for the job. Who’s going to get the job done and who’s going to be the weak link in a system? Who’s going to be the one who, as President Theodore Roosevelt most aptly said, will “Speak softly and carry a big stick” and who’s going to be as we said back in the day, “All blow and no show.”

The choice is up to you. 

But always remember that whomever you support, honestly evaluate whether they are capable of performing the required duties in a responsible manner. 

Because they will be tested. They need to be ready to up their game and be prepared to take on the tasks at hand. 

The ball always finds them. 

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A Grind

There’s been so much talk about getting back to “normal”. I understand. These are strange times indeed. Home, school, work, play, even going shopping, have all been knocked topsy-turvy in 2020. 

The problem with expending so much energy and emotion trying to get back to “normal” is that, in reality, there is no normal. Things are what they are. Things have always been what they are. And, if we need reminding, these things aren’t always what we want them to be. Never have been, never will be. 

Yet, we in modern America have made a huge mistake. We’ve convinced ourselves we are in charge. We’ve done such a great job of controlling aspects of our life and society that we’ve fallen into the trap of thinking we can control everything.

We can’t.

Never have.

Never will.

Life changes. Shit happens, man.

What matters is how we deal with it.

What matters is what we choose to do every day with the situation we’ve been given. Do we rise to the challenge? Or do we whine and throw a hissy fit? The choice is ours.

Time is linear. It never stops moving forward and there is not a dang thing we can do about it. We can, however, live that next moment in the moment. We can take the bull by the horns and give that next moment in time our very best. That’s what Americans do. That’s what Kansans do. We don’t whine. We don’t point fingers. Okay, okay! I know we all whine and we all point fingers at times. Recently, though, we’ve forgotten there’s always the next step. The step where we take the cards we’ve been dealt and make the best happen after the whining is done.

Life’s a grind. It’s one day after the other. Linear time.

Our job is to wake up each day and grind it out the best we can. 

Our job is to take advantage of the possibilities that come with each sunrise.

Our job is to make the world a better place.

We’ll get through these tough times by working together. 

One day at a time. One play at a time. One swing at a time.

Every man, every play.

Be safe. Be kind. Grind it out.

By Peter van der Sluijs – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26141131

 

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The bell rang!

When you point a finger, remember there are three fingers pointing right back at you. 

That’s a little nugget of wisdom I picked up from Coach Dail Smith back in the day. It’s solid advice and packed with truth. I wanted to write a post about our collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States but just couldn’t find the right approach or the right words until I turned to one of my favorite scenes from A Christmas Story.

Sure, there’s been a lack of top-down leadership across the nation with an inconsistent and often confusing response but only pointing fingers doesn’t do anybody any good. In the end, it all goes back to the Coach Smith-ism and remembering there are three fingers pointing back at each of us. We haven’t responded well at all to the coronavirus. We’ve overreacted, underreacted, and just plain ignored the fact each of us as citizens needed to take some responsibility in the coronavirus response.

 

Our general response as Americans has been the “Ralphie Response”. An uncomfortable situation stares us in the face and yet when the bell rings, we chose to ignore everything in front of us because “The bell rang!” We rushed to resume the routine instead of just dealing with the problem and then resuming our regular routines.

Hopefully, we learn from our mistakes now that we understand a pandemic is indeed possible in the United States. Hopefully, we react better the next time our great nation faces a threat.

Stay safe!

Look out for each other.

Try not to point fingers.

Or stick your tongue to a frozen pole.

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My Dad, Part Two

For two summers when I was in college, I worked as a materials inspector for the Kansas Department of Transportation. It was one of the few summer jobs around at that time and a place where I could do some science. I got to be honest, my dad got me the job. He was the Field Engineer Administrator for the Kansas City KDOT office. Basically, he was the big cheese.

What I’d did as a materials inspector was going to concrete plants and test the sand and gravel they were using that day for state highway jobs. I’d also have to sit in the concrete plant as long as the contractor was pouring concrete that day and check the calculations of materials the batchman used for each load of concrete. If the numbers looked good, a signed ticket was filled out and given to the driver to take to the job site.

Whenever I went to a new concrete plant, I was treated as an outcast. The inspector. Nobody really likes having an inspector hanging about their business. On top of that, I was a college student, a double whammy in the construction world. College boy. This was the greeting I walked into on a regular basis. I’d enter a plant being the enemy until they saw my last name. Hays.

“Are you Joe Hays’ boy?” always followed a few thoughtful seconds after giving my name. In the first post, I talked about how different my dad and I were physically. These workers in the plants had no clue who I was until I answered that I was, indeed, Joe Hays’s boy. 

Everything changed with that piece of information was revealed about me. I went from being the inspector to having serious credibility. All because I was Joe Hays’ boy. That’s the kind of man my dad was.

You can’t talk about my dad without talking about him as a civil engineer. He went to tiny Findlay Engineering College in Kansas City, Mo. My dad is a testament to the philosophy that it’s not where you get a degree, it’s what you do after you get your degree. He was a bridge-builder in more ways than one. He was meticulous. He knew his stuff. He was a good co-worker and a great supervisor. He distrusted computers because he saw young engineers use them as a crutch instead of as a tool. He was respected throughout his profession. Even though I’m a molecular microbiologist, I’ve tried to emulate his example in everything I do. Often, I’ll look back and try to figure out how dad did it. I think I’m starting to figure it out.

When I first started at K-State, dad would come to Manhattan every year for a civil engineering conference. Before he moved to Texas, my oldest brother, Pat, also a civil engineer, would come to the conference. I’d find an hour or so during the workday to walk across campus for a quick visit. I was always amazed to see the admiration, the camaraderie, and the way the throng of civil engineers would treat dad. He was respected. It was almost like he was ten-foot-tall when I’d seek him out in the crowded Union during a break. As we’d walk together, people would stop and say hello or ask him questions. It was pretty damn cool being his son.

What did I figure out about dad’s secret? I’m still working on that one but I think it has to do with being trustworthy and being consistent. More important, that trust and that consistency have to be built on a foundation of ethics. A moral compass and rock-solid ethics. This is what dad stood for. 

  • Do the right thing at the right time and do it every, single day.

  • Be the rock everyone can rely on.

Early in my microbiology career, I was struggling trying to find a foothold to stay in my career of choice in my place of choice with a young family at home. Dad was never a man of many words, especially with us kids, but he gave me something I still hang in a plastic cover in my lab today. It was a simple photocopied cartoon of a stork swallowing a frog while the frog reaches out from the beak with a stranglehold around the stork’s neck. “Never Give Up” is the caption.

A silly, somewhat stupid cartoon that was poorly photocopied made a difference. It was my dad’s way of telling me to quit whining and get back to work. Things would be okay. Things would work out. Do the right thing at the right time and do it every day. Never give up.

Growing up, I guess I never realized or even thought about Dad as a professional. He was just my dad. It wasn’t until I got to see from a first-hand viewpoint just how great he was at what he did. In life and in death, his legacy endures. He touched so many lives in a positive way. Many of these people came from near and far to tell us this fact at his funeral. Dad was a rock to many people through good times and bad times. We were lucky kids.

(NOTE: I’m writing a few memorial pieces about my Dad to celebrate his life. Part One is here. With each piece, I’ll try to post a picture that helps tell the story of who he was. Most of the time, the actual monetary value of these things is nothing. The memory value, however, is priceless.) 

The T-square. Years ago, Dad gave me his old t-square and his drafting board. These, along with his drafting tools in a purple-velvet-lined-case, are marvels from his early engineer days. He kept these things at the house, stored in his closet. Every once in awhile, he’d get them out for us to see. They were magnificent tools. We kids felt like giants whenever we got to use them.

I don’t really know why or how it came to be me who is in possession of the drafting board and the T-square but I am. He might have thought they’d come in handy for my drawing work. I just know one day, they were with a box of my memorabilia stuff he sent back west with us when we left KC. Dad never was a big arts kind of guy. He used to draw some cartoon stuff with us and was able to hermetically seal a Christ The King School textbook in a brown paper sack cover that they are probably still trying to unseal forty years later, but that was about it.

He was all about the function. Drawing for the sake of drawing was not in his DNA. It was in mine, though, and he helped me in my youth to get started creating. He was always there to help with school projects and the like. From using coffee cans as a circle template to draw planets to using the T-square and drafting board to lay out a grid to plan a drawing, he’d always get me started down the right path. Creative work is creative work and not often thought about from an engineer’s perspective. Dad taught me a lesson early on for both writing and drawing. He taught me to look at the project not only from an artist perspective from also as an engineer. Design the framework and build a creative idea around it. Simple but beautiful. 

Here’s the T-square. It hangs over my work desk. I still use it to frame up drawings and templates. It comes in handy more than one would think. Plus, it still looks pretty magnificent—even in its old age. Thanks, Dad!

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My Dad, Part One

If you didn’t know our family and saw my dad and I standing in close proximity, you never would never have guessed he and I were related, let alone father and son. We were different people in many ways. He was tall, light-skinned, and thin. I’m a bubba, Husky-sized, dark, and strong. He was 100% engineer. I was 100% life sciences.

(True story to illustrate our differences. Once, my sister’s dog died after being hit by a car, he put my sister’s dog into a Joe Hays sealed plastic trash bag. Me, the biologist, tried to explain decomposition and why this was a bad idea. The engineer wouldn’t listen. Later in the day, when the trash bag started to…well, you can probably guess what happened, I silently enjoyed one of the few true “victories” I’d ever enjoy over my father. Biologist over Engineer for once.

For all these outward differences, we are the same in the core. Honest. True. Headstrong. Resolute. Good friend/Terrible enemy. Faithful. Family. Problem-solving. Economic (and not just with money). Humorous. Plus many other things. 

In late July of 2015, he was in the hospital for a last-ditch surgery to fix his stomach. It was my turn to go to KC and help my mom and siblings. Looking back, the times I got to spend with him one on one over that summer when he was hospitalized were a gift. You don’t get much one on one time in a big family, one of the very few drawbacks of a big family, so it was special.

When I arrived at the hospital, it was transfer day. A medical transport service was scheduled to pick Dad up and take him two blocks away to the rehabilitation clinic where he’d been for most of the summer. I have to admit, Dad looked rough. He was already weak from not being able to eat for a while and the surgery to implant a feeding tube took a deep toll on him. 

During the move out of the hospital, I did the best I could to help the driver. We got Dad moved and set up in his room at the rehab center. The driver left and I thank him. He tells me he’ll leave the wheelchair there and the hospital will pick it up later. Dad settled in and I sat down. We talked for a few minutes before he fell asleep. One of the wonderful rehab center nurses came into the room, checked Dad’s charts, and then noticed me sitting in the corner. She took a quick look at the wheelchair, looked back at me, and said, “We got him from here. It’s okay to leave now.”

I stared back at her in complete confusion. I looked at the wheelchair. I looked back at the nurse. Then just about the time she is ready to call security, it dawned on me. 

She thinks I’m the guy from the medical transport company.

She thinks I’m hanging around for a tip or something. I immediately break out in a huge smile. “I’m one of Joe’s sons.” I get up and shake her hand. “I’m Mike. The fourth kid.”

Her 100% badass, this-is-my-patient-and-you-better-not-mess-with-him facade broke into shock and embarrassment. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. I thought you were the—” She pointed at the wheelchair. Long story short, she apologized and I told her it was no big deal because it happened all the time. 

I had forgotten about it over the next few days of sitting with Dad in the room.

Dad died five-years-ago today. August 1, 2015. It was a Saturday. As sad as we are, our family was lucky. We got bonus time on Earth with him. Dad almost died of esophageal and stomach cancer in 1986. He had a large portion of his stomach and several inches of esophagus removed in a sort of crude surgical solution to a desperate situation. He made the most of these almost thirty bonus years. We were lucky to have this extra time. My only regret is he didn’t get to meet my grandson. Dad was an awesome grandpa. He and my grandson would have hit it off royally. 

My Uncle Ed was a priest and presided over the funeral. He called the Sunday after Dad died and asked if I’d talk at the funeral. I immediately envisioned how mad my Dad would be to have someone stand up and deliver a eulogy for him. Besides, I told my uncle, nobody wants to see a 250-lb man become a blubbering pile of emotional goo on the altar of his dad’s funeral. Anyway, Uncle Ed’s homily, where he worked in the Judgement of Osiris, was the most spectacular way anyone could have remembered my dad. It was the perfect match for the event where people came from all over to honor Joseph Hays. 

One of the best parts of the funeral for me was when that nurse from the rehab center came through the family receiving line at the front of the church. First of all, how awesome it was for these busy nurses to take time from their schedule to pay their respects to dad? When she came through, she apologized again and we told everyone the story about how she confused me with the transport worker. The assembled in the church pews must have thought we were all crazy as we laughed about the mistake. This laughter and the shared stories from the people Dad touched in his life was the perfect eulogy. Nothing any one of us kids could have said would have wielded the power of memory and tribute like the people who gathered, either in person or in spirit, at Christ The King church that August morning. Mom, his two brothers, us six kids, our spouses, his beloved grandchildren and great-grandchildren, friends, coworkers, friends of us kids, and caregivers were the true eulogy to Dad.

That is perhaps the finest lesson I learned from my father. The final lesson he left us. 

The power in a well-lived life is not what you take with you; it’s what you leave behind. 

(NOTE: Now that I might be past the 250-lb blubbering son stage, I’m writing a few memorial pieces about my Dad to celebrate his life. With each piece, I’ll try to post a picture that helps tell the story of who he was. Most of the time, the actual monetary value of these things is nothing. The memory value, however, is priceless.) 

This picture is of a wooden goalpost Dad made for us when we were kids. We loved playing paper football on the living room table. We fought a lot while playing. The recurring argument that usually resolved into a full-out brawl across the living room carpet, was cheating (mostly by Tim Hays) making a goal post for the opponent with your fingers. One could slightly adjust the width of your goal and/or slightly move it before, during, or after someone “kicked” a field goal or extra point.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention so Dad invented. With six kids within a dozen years of each other, we can say that he invented often. A piece of plank board, some dowel rod, felt on the bottom to avoid scratching Mom’s coffee table, and a few hours work yielded virtual fight-free hours of paper football joy for the Hays Boys.

That’s who my dad was.

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Impossible Beings

There are times our world seems to be spinning out of control. We drift farther away from each other at the very moment we need each other the most. At times like these, it’s good to step back, take a deep breath, and remember the gift of having our place in the world.  

There are estimates that calculate our speed in the universe at 492,126 miles per hour. When you think about it, our very existence seems against all odds. Under such conditions and as our tiny planet races through the heavens, we are impossible beings. Nevertheless, we exist. We are occupying our tiny niche on our tiny planet revolving around a tiny star inside a tiny galaxy.

We are impossible beings, yet here we are.

Despite all these mind-blowing realities, we humans often believe we are in complete control of our world, both individually and collectively. We take for granted the improbable side of our existence. We get mired in the quicksand of our perceived reality because we forget actual reality. We make mistakes trying to establish control. We are improbable beings moving at 492, 126 miles per hour. We are not in control.

A big shortcoming of being modern, first-world humans in 2020 is we’ve grown to confuse free will with control. We are given free will through our faith, our culture, and, in America, through our Constitutional rights. We are not given control. Free will and control are not the same things.

I am blessed to live in this period of time, in this country, in this state, and in my incredible community. I have free will. I make choices daily. Big choices, little choices, choices that affect me, choices that affect others around me. Nevertheless, I am not in control. Rather, the way I used my free will each and every day is how I believe I’ll be judged in the end. 

Take a look around America in 2020. We have so much to be thankful for. We have so many things to give us happiness. Yet, we are as miserable and angry and as frustrated as we’ve ever been. 

Why the abundance of misery? 

We’ve confused free will with control. Instead of appreciating our free will as the gift it is, we expect everything to be exactly the way we want it to be. Then we compound that thinking by thinking we have the power to control change.

Change is hard. Change happens whether we like it or not. It’s up to us to recognize change and use our free will to adapt. When you step back, take a deep breath, and appreciate the fact change is inevitable when you’re traveling at 492,186 MPH, relinquishing control in favor of free will is not that big of a deal. We grow by moving forward. However, we can’t take steps forward when we refuse to move either foot.

Trying to control your existence leads to frustration and anger. Next time you feel the anxiety of the world spinning out of control. Breath deep and remember that the world is actually spinning. And it’s spinning while moving at an incredible rate of speed through the universe. Sure the earth is moving out of control, so don’t let that get you out of sorts. Ride it out. Instead of feeling frustrated, appreciate and accept that you are not in control. Appreciate you are blessed with free will and use your free will to make your world a better place.

Teamwork makes the dream work!

We are indeed impossible beings. 

But here we are. 

Make the best of it and enjoy the ride! Even if it’s at 492,186 miles per hour.

[Bryant, Henry] [from old catalog]

 

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Information Dumped 2020

Happy Fourth of July! By just about anyone’s standards, 2020 has been, in the Coach Hays Dictionary of Colorful Terminology, a shit storm. Coronavirus, politics, racial tensions, police brutality, immigration, cancel culture, etc. The list just keeps growing. You in the mood for a fight? Mention any of the above topics in certain crowds and watch the verbal tirades begin. Better yet, post on social media about the topics and let the feed explode.

We, as Americans, have never been more at odds, more unhappy, angrier, and/or more anxious than we are in 2020. Why?

I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know all the reasons and details. I only know that each and every one of those things that cause America 2020 to turn on itself and attempt to destroy itself from the inside out can be solved. Our problems are not, in any way, shape, or form, beyond the capabilities of our American Spirit. What we need is a way to focus and come together to solve problems instead of creating problems.

We need a crash course in team building. We need leadership. We need to build a better Team America 2020. We also need the most vital thing for the nation’s health; the necessity to get a handle on our data.

I hear you out there either saying or thinking “WTF, Hays? Data is our problem? Really?” A few of you might even be throwing your electronic device at the 8” x 10” glossy printout of my Coach Hays Gameface avatar displayed on your office or living room wall.

Data. 

We’re drowning in it.

The Information Age is everywhere. In our digital world, we are confronted with information and data 24/7. We are analog people trying to make sense of a digital world. We of a certain age were educated and raised in an analog system. Through our media and trusted news sources who were trained to analyze the available data and break it down into a concise report that was easily digestible by the public. The media in the digital world is focused more on commentary than reporting. Talking heads have replaced reporters for the most part. Instead of vetting and analyzing the data, they are reacting and commenting. 

With this data and information pouring in from all sides each and every minute of every day, it becomes overwhelming. We’ve convinced ourselves we don’t have time to sit and read in our modern life. We’ve quit trying to make sense of the information and, in defeat, only listen to the easiest (and usually the LOUDEST) voice. 

Imagine going to the kitchen tap to pour yourself a nice cold glass of water. You fill the glass, take a drink, and then set the glass down on the counter. That’s analog. Now imagine going to the sink, turning the tap on, and the water gushes out from a giant firehose that doesn’t stop. Soon you are treading water in your own kitchen and will be until you figure out how to get that rush of water under control.

This is the onslaught of information we face as the current generations of people raised on analog trying to make sense in a digital world. We are treading water and as we do we are getting frustrated and impatient. Our analog brains are searching for a world that makes sense. Instead of learning to think and act and function within the digital framework, we fight against a tide we cannot resist. 

Wonder why schools are trying to change the way they teach young minds? It’s because, in the digital age, today’s kids must learn to navigate information in order to thrive. For the analog generations, school and training were all about learning and knowing the sets of data that were vetted, deemed important, and taught to us. We learned to trust in the story that we were told, whether it was the complete story or not.

In the digital age, the mountains of information are out there and wide open. Take a minute and think of all the data you carry around in your pocket every day inside your phone. You have more information on your smartphone than mankind had in total a short one thousand years ago. The digital generation must learn how to analyze the data, draw conclusions, and make decisions. We need to develop young minds with the skills to analyze all the stories and decide what the complete story is. We need these young minds to lead us out of the potential shit storms so we can better handle and adapt to a changing world. 

We need Team America to up its game. Stay focused and avoid targeted distraction. Stay calm when frustration strikes. Make better decisions instead of snap decisions. We need to teach ourselves to work together despite our differences. Different is just different. 

Information can be our friend if we don’t allow it to flood our lives.

I firmly believe the best days of The United States of America are out there waiting for us.

We just need Team America to figure out a way everyone gets there.

Happy Fourth of July!

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Shut Up & Dribble?

‘Shut up and dribble.’

Damn, I hate this so much. When I hear a politician, a businessman, an administrator, or a franchise owner use this phrase, they immediately get kicked off my team. I will never vote for, or support, someone who believes that the athlete’s worth is only measured on a single layer without consideration of who they are as human beings.

Shut up and dribble?

Stop, just stop.

Whenever this term or a similar one is used, it shows the speaker’s true self. It shows that they define others, especially those they consider below them, as mere material goods rather than complete human beings. ‘Shut up and dribble’ means they think the athlete voicing their opinion is nothing more than a servant who doesn’t deserve a voice—an individual whose only place and worth in society are to provide their singular performance as entertainment. 

An athlete is so much more than their performance or their athletic ability. They are human beings, with intellect and ideas and consciousness. In fact, the athlete may even have a more broad intellectual experience to draw upon than many of our political, business, or administrative leaders. Think about that next time you hear one of these fools tell athletes to stay in their space.

Shut up and dribble.

The term attempts to dehumanize those with different viewpoints and philosophies. Instead of attacking or debating on an intellectual level, the user of this term dismisses the opposing ideas by attempting to degrade the individual. Everything contrary to my beliefs is not necessarily wrong. It’s not ‘FAKE NEWS!’, it’s just different.

Different is not all that bad. In fact, different makes life more interesting. 

One of the joys of coaching was getting to know athletes beyond the field of play. I learned as much about life from simply talking to the athletes about school, family, work, books, movies, etc. than they ever learned from me about football or baseball. That’s why it chaps my ass whenever I hear athletes being tagged with ‘Shut up and dribble’. It’s an attempt to define us as dumb jocks and that is as far from the truth as you can get. We may not be upper-level intellectuals but we are all much more than the athletic abilities we possess.

People are different. People are much more than the single-layer you notice.

Athletes are different. Athletes are much more than the single-layer you notice.

Think about how many of the problems we have created in modern America are grounded in the ‘Shut up and dribble’ philosophy of trying to blanket stereotype and generalize human beings. It’s time for ‘Shut up and dribble’ people to shut up themselves.

Nobody cares what you think IF you don’t care what we think.

 

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Graduation Tattoo 2020

It’s been a rough 2020 so far. In particular, I feel for those in the graduation class of 2020. You’ve had the rug pulled out from underneath you. Your life the past several months has been a mishmashed, bizarro world. I said some words at our local high school graduation a few years ago about bouncing back and using failure as a tool to improve which might help at this time. Here’s a link to the transcript of that 2018 graduation speech if you are interested.

In the chaos of 2020, I know one thing for sure: you will survive these times and be better for it. While the fail cycle can help, there’s something else that can help carry you through the tough times.

Confidence.

Confidence in yourself and your abilities.

Confidence often gets a bad rap. We’ve come to equate confidence with bravado. They are not the same. Not even close. Bravado is “a show of boldness intended to impress or intimidate” according to the dictionary. 

To understand confidence and how we can make full advantage of it in our life, we should look more closely at the word itself. Confidence is derived from the Latin confidentia which is a combination of the Latin word “con” with the word “fidelis”.

Con = With

Fidelis = Faith

Confidence at it’s most basic derivation means, “with faith”. When you have faith in yourself, you have confidence. When you have true confidence, the world is your oyster.

How do we build that kind of confidence?

I like to think of confidence as a combination of three things. Preparation. Practice. Performance. In order to build confidence, you need to train the physical, the mental, the emotional, the spiritual, and the intellectual pieces of yourself. You need to practice the task time and again until the execution of the task is flawless. You need to go out and make it happen in a controlled and in a real-world environment.

Preparation, practice, and performance build confidence. True confidence gets results while bravado rings hollow.

In the end, it’s all about doing things con fidelis (with faith). 

To the class of 2020 and beyond, good luck in your chosen endeavors.

Believe in yourself. The most important person who will ever believe in you is you.

Believe in your plan. Dreams and goals are priceless. They provide direction and a beacon of hope in the tough times.

Believe in your preparation. Do the work and then do it again. Repeat. 

Hard work is the magic.

Hard work builds confidence.

Try hard things and leap with confidence. Confidence leads to not only potential success but success with joy and accomplishment.

My tattoo design suggestion for all graduates in the Year of Our Lord 2020, and for all who are struggling through these hard and difficult times, is inscribed with two simple, indelible words:

Con Fidelis

With faith, all is possible.

 

 

 

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Sports Talk Radio Wisdom for Troubled Times

I heard two things of infinite wisdom over the past month on sports talk radio. I know many people think sports are trivial and just a side gig to life. I’m not one of those people although I do now try to keep sports in perspective. In other words, sports have always been an integral part of my life but not my life. 

The first piece of wisdom came from Sports Radio 810 host Soren Petro in a discussion about when Major League Baseball would be able to start and how upset people are becoming over the possibility of the 2020 season not happening at all. He said something that has stuck in my head and is about as truthful a description of America 2020 as I’ve heard. To paraphrase, he said,

“Americans believe that what’s inside their own head is the way things have to be.”

The second nugget of wisdom was heard on 1350 KMAN’s afternoon sports talk show, The Game. It came during a discussion of basketball recruiting at Kansas State University. The hosts, John Kurtz, former Clay Center Tiger noseguard Mitch Fortner, and Mason Voth were discussing the recruiting rumor mill. John Kurtz pointed out the distinction that has to be made between what’s fact and what’s BS. His nugget of wisdom is a great piece of wisdom for our times,

“Don’t place stock in Uncle Bob’s Facebook posts.”

There you have it, a couple shots of sports wisdom to get you through the COVID-19 crisis.

First, pay attention to reality whether you like it or right. Reality is not looking for your personal seal of approval. Reality doesn’t give a rat’s ass what on individual thinks. Reality is reality. It’s right there, see it and react accordingly.

Second, hone your BS meter. Take a few minutes to let the information you find on television, radio, and social media sink in and be processed through your brian’s logic filter. Then dig a little deeper before you file the information as reality or pass it along. Uncle Bob on Facebook is rarely a credible source of information (unless he’s posting about how awesome my Traeger skills are).

Stay safe. Be kind. Learn something new.

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