Negotiate on YOUR terms!

Like in sports, don’t let Life dictate to you. Live your life on YOUR terms!

“RIP 30s”. In other words, “Rest in Peace, 30s!” That’s what the sign read, the one that was on my door when I strolled into the office on my birthday—oops, 40th birthday– a few weeks ago. It was a loving gesture, to be sure, mostly from a group of coworkers whom I put through a battery of exercises twice a week in what they’ve come to call “Bobby Bootcamp.” Led by the ring leader, whose name has been omitted to protect the, umm, guilty, they also put together a gift basket of the most thoughtful items. Protein drinks. Nuts and other healthy snacks. Even some blue sports tape, the exact kind I put on my bad wrists when we train. Clearly, the group gave this gift a whole lot of thought. And I’ll never forget it.

And it may have been the best thing that’s happened to me in a while, even though it didn’t start out that way.

Let me explain.

I thought I was okay with it. Turning the big 4-0, that is. I even walked around bragging that I was the finest 40 year old in California, or at least in the top 10. I call it “play cocky”, only meant to make people laugh and smile as they wonder if anyone can really love himself that much. No, not really. I’d even given my brother a hard time weeks earlier when he turned 50. He felt similarly when he turned 40. I didn’t understand what the big deal was, this aging thing. I didn’t feel it when I turned 30, like many men and women do, and I was certain I would blow threw the 40-year mark just as easily. To be honest, I’d been saying I was 40 since I was about 39 years and one month old. That’s because, if anything, getting older strengthened the foundation on which my bragging rights are built when I playfully tease younger guys (and girls) who can’t hang with me and my often crazy workouts. “You can’t hang with a 40 year old?!?” has a certain ring to it. Read more of this post

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As we get older…

I (left) had a tough time in the mud, but finished MudFactors’s 3.2 Mile Obstacle course. More importantly, with the help of my buddy and wonderful wife, I remembered what life should be about and had a blast!

As we get older, we lose a sense of what life is all about.  We’re born embracing all of the curiosity and fun that living brings.  But slowly over time, that innocent, untainted enthusiasm is chiseled away, often leaving no more inside of us than bitterness and skepticism.

Remember when you would come home from school or church and go straight outside?  I can still remember my mom yelling at me to change out of my “good clothes!”  Remember how excited you were when the boy down the street knocked on the door and asked if you could come out and play.  When we didn’t immediately weigh the request against all of the other obligations and responsibilities we had?  Remember when all that mattered is that you were outside in the sun and dirt, running around?  Remember when you weren’t worried about the report you had to finish for school the next day or the meeting you had at work on Monday morning or what you were going to make for dinner or the clothes that you still needed to wash, dry, and fold?

True, some of this is a product of just being young, naive perhaps.  And as you get older and have people dependent upon you instead of the other way around, you must naturally change your approach to life.

But a lot of us take it too far.  Most of us forget how much fun life should be, taking instead a much more serious, calculated, “responsible” approach.  Those who know me might argue I’m the poster boy for that way of thinking.  “Addicted to Improvement”, my self created tagline and brand, has often meant I take life–and myself–way, way too seriously. Read more of this post

Hunger and Fear- the Greatest Motivators

Whether you are a lion or a gazelle, you better wake up every morning RUNNING!
(image courtesy of PhotographersDirect.com)

There is a famous quote, captured so beautifully in wall-mounted, framed photos in offices across America. The Successories brand of motivational and inspirational products has made a fortune over it and similar products and while many people think they are corny and stupid, I find these phrases captured in artistic photography have a way of capturing the strength and promise within all of us and the methods, sometimes reasons, which bring out that potential. I have not purchased any of these products, but often find myself remembering the ones that I have seen and which have resonated with me. There is one phrase in particular that came to mind this week.

I am in the eye of what appears to be one those few storms that happen in all of our lives. You know, those moments that we feel deep in our stomachs may change the course of our lives and the lives of our loved ones. The proverbial forks in the road that keep us up at night, unable to eat, and overly irritable. These several words–and the images they conjure–are one of many sources of inspiration I will need to weather this storm. Far from the sole, or even main, source of confidence; they nonetheless help me understand an essential part of the human condition. Read more of this post

The Bluford Principle

The windshield keeps you focused on where you are going, but the rear view mirror reminds you where you came from.

We spend Christmas Eve every year at my in-laws in Modesto, CA, a little over an hour drive from my hometown of San Jose. We always have a great time there during the Holidays. My children get to see and spend time with their cousins, whom they don’t see very often. My wife gets to hang out with her siblings, whom because of life’s commitments- kids and work just to name a couple- she also sees a lot less than she probably should. And I get a mini-vacation, a few days that, because there are more adult eyes to look after ours and the other children, I get to relax and unwind a little.

As the stoplight turned green and we proceeded through the last busy intersection on the final stretch of road before my in-laws’ home, I noticed a man standing in a used car lot, which because it was nearly nine pm on Christmas Eve, had been closed for several hours. He was bundled up next to a streetlight, smoking what I’d hoped was a cigarette. “Look at that man,” my daughter said. “He must be cold,” my son added. Upon hearing my children, my eyes immediately glanced at the temperature gauge in my car. It read 36 degrees. Those readers who reside in the Northeast, or even the Midwest or South for that matter, might not see a man standing in 36 degree weather as particularly alarming. For a California boy, though, witnessing this man standing alone, on a street corner, in almost freezing weather, on Christmas Eve no less; was a perfect opportunity to empty my bucket (referring to the great book, How Full Is Your Bucket? If you have children and haven’t shared with them the kid version of this wonderful book, you definitely need to pick it up) and also teach my kids a valuable lesson.

It sounds so simple. “Appreciate what you have.” We make it poetic at times. “Be sure to smell the roses.” And sometimes it’s beaten over our heads by our moms. “Boy, there are people in Africa that wish they had half of what you have!” (That last one is courtesy of my mom, bless her soul.) But the truth is we all- or at least most of us- suffer from this affliction. The problem, I’ve determined, is not that we are all ingrates, as my wife hilariously proclaims at times. The issue is that it’s hard to feel that way–grateful and thankful– while working from a model or view of the world built on ill-advised and unproductive reference and comparison. I’ve gone so far as to name it. I call it the Bluford Principle. Why the Bluford Principle? Well, mostly because I haven’t heard anyone else refer to this dilemma, on which I’ll elaborate in a moment, in quite this way. And maybe a little because I just like the way it sounds. Read more of this post

9/12/2011: Practice Forgiveness for Better Health

As I wrapped Halloween goodie bags for the elderly at a National Charity League meeting on 9/11 with my 13-year-old daughter, she asked if we’d have time to attend mass that evening. We are hardly model churchgoers and—as I’ve mentioned (See Recipe for Change- Less Everyday) —I consider myself at best a “Recovering Catholic” open to the tenets of several faiths. Our children are the product of this open-minded spirituality regardless of their more formal exposure to Catholic teachings their first nine years. For me it is a gift to see them reach for their own spiritual lifeline when it comes to navigating their way through difficult times.

Over the past week we have discussed the 9/11 of ten years ago, when my son and daughter were just two and three; and, as I answered questions and cried tears as I recounted the day—the moment—that we all personally own, I realized that they too need to personally mourn this piece of history that defines their generation. Read more of this post

Winners know how to (and that they must) push boulders!

Keep pushing life's "boulders" and it'll pay off!

Bill Parcells, the soon-to-be Hall of Fame football coach had a saying for almost every occasion and circumstance.  He was as knowledgeable about life as football and never missed an opportunity to share his wisdom and charisma.  One of his favorite expressions was used to explain the emotional fragility of young players.  “Confidence is born from demonstrated ability,” he’d say.  Of course, the thought is not original.  You may, in fact, have heard other variations of it.  “Once you’ve done it once, you can do it again.”  Or “You don’t know you can do it until you do it.”  However stated, no matter who says it or in what context, it’s as true and real as the world is round.

Confidence comes from evidence.  That’s obvious.  Or is it?  Doesn’t it take some confidence to produce the evidence in the first place?  Sure it does.  So what is it?  Does evidence lead to confidence or is it the other way around?  Indeed, like the chicken and egg quandary, the relationship between confidence and evidence is a confusing one. Read more of this post

They’re Always Recruiting!

Mike Eskridge. That was his name. The guy who almost ruined the Summer of 1991 for me. I remember it like it was yesterday, a hot and muggy day in Davis, CA (about 20 miles outside of Sacramento). Shawn and I had just finished running, part of an intense offseason training program that, in all, totaled about six hours of work every day. Shawn was my roommate for most of my college career. Like me, he played defensive back and together, we were as disciplined and intense as you could be, dedicated to an offseason program we mostly designed ourselves that included running, lifting weights, stretching, countless football drills, and hours of film study. And in one conversation, all of it seemed futile.

We were chatting with our Defensive Coordinator. We’d already showered after our workout and were in the team’s film library, affectionately known as “the Cave” because it was on the top floor of our training center, in a dark corner office with no windows or natural light. It was the tail end of recruiting season and he was finishing up some paperwork and making a few final phone calls. The look on his face revealed that he was pleased, in an unusually pleasant mood. He, like many a defensive coach, tended to be surly. But not on this day. So I asked him, “What you so happy ’bout, Coach?” “Just had a good signing period,” he said. “That’s all.” I naturally had to ask him what kind of additions to our team we could expect. And the first name out of his mouth was Mike Eskridge, a cornerback from Monterey Peninsula College, a junior college located about fifteen minutes from where I’d attended high school. I’d worked out with Mike a few times during the summers while in high school and knew he was good. In fact, he was one of the smoothest and most natural defensive backs I’d ever seen. To say I was upset would be an understatement. I’d go so far as to say I was devastated. Read more of this post