Stories

The Harvest is Plentiful

Overdrive

I’m furrowed. Because I want to feign seriousness. Solemnity. It’s the face of a comedian trying not to rush through to the zinger. I wear it well.

I’m with my family. Wife and son. We’re driving, on one of our road trips that define our marriage and my son’s childhood, save a brief six month hiatus caused by a trantruming toddler who equated the car seat with an electric chair. I couldn’t blame him. Thankfully, the phase passed and pavement could be traversed again together.

Back to my stare. I tell Colette, “Only use Sport Mode in an emergency,” looking her in the eye. “It’s far too powerful to use in everyday situations,” I deadpan.

Our family vehicle is an SUV. My son calls it the “owanj caw” due its foxtail burnt orange hue. It would have been badass to get it in manual, but since I can’t drive (stick), I got the all wheel drive with automatic. Automatic with “Sport Mode” that is. You see, you can “shift” into it, even with an automatic, with a subtle flick of the wrist. It even lights up “Sport” on the dash when engaged. It all seems rather silly, but I love it. Apparently, Sport Mode stays in gear longer, allowing for a more racy, spirited, ride. I never let a silly opportunity go unsillied.

I continue, “You and I should never, ever, use Sport Mode unless life and limb are at stake.” Colette looks at me like I’m a puppy trying to catch its tail. An almost adoring compassion at how dumb I’m being. It’s a look I know well.

We’re at a light now. The first car. Head of the pack. I’m coiled with potential energy. When the light glows emerald, I’m ready for it. With a casual yet, dare I say, flamboyant, flick of my right wrist, I engage the mode of sport and hit the gas a tad harder than necessary.

“I thought you said never to engage Sport Mode unless in emergencies,” Colette offers, humoring my ridiculousness.

“Oh you didn’t see?” I say, motioning my head up, left, and back. “Car full of gangbangers next to us at the light. I just saved our lives.”

She waits for me to finish.

Waits for the punchline. I deliver it.

“…Again.”

My eyes never veer from the road. I’m gazing maybe a bit too dramatically at the cinematic, maybe hypothetical, horizon, brow still furrowed, but now with a hint of satisfied smugness. I’m very pleased with myself.

I can feel Colette’s eyes on me, as she shakes her head and starts to talk to Asher, cooing and singing to him as a way to change the subject.

I see my boy in the rearview, intent in his book. Eyes familiarly furrowed but in deep focus, thirstily drinking in what used to be images and shapes which are now animals, letters and words.

I look around, making sure the coast is clear. Seeing all is well, and with gratitude, the deepest of it, I shift out of Sport Mode.

Colette giggles at the thunk of the shifter. Which makes Asher giggle. Which makes us all giggle.

“Appa is silly, Asher.” My wife explains.

“Appa silly!” He echoes in agreement.

We drive. My hand still on the shifter, Colette warmly covers it with her own. And suddenly my furrow is gone.

Replaced with a silly smile.

How I love our road trips.

Personal Magnetism

I believe in personal magnetism. In that “know it when you see it” quality of a person to magnetically charge another individual, group, or even an entire world. To light them up with electricity. To give them goosebumps. To make them shine.

I believe in that.

Because I’ve seen it.

We all have. Even if we don’t really believe in magic anymore.

Toys Are Us

Did you play with magnets as a kid? Me too.

How amazing it was to move things together, snapping them like they were legos without the bumps and grooves. Even more cool was the way they would repel objects. A force field you could use to push things away. They could never touch the magnet because of it’s field of energy.

We took it for granted. This invisible energy. Because we couldn’t touch it. We couldn’t see it.

We could only see what it could do.

It could attract.

It could repel.

Depending on the type of magnet it was.

How strong.

How big.

How rare.

The Power of Success

What is success?

I’ve got some ideas.

But really, what separates us all from mediocrity and that elusive greatness we seek is really a matter of childhood toys.

In believing we are absolutely able to manipulate the world around us, even if we can’t see how or why. We can only see what it can do.

What gives you goosebumps?

What electrifies you?

What makes you shine?

And most importantly:

Who electrifies you?

Who gives you goosebumps?

And who makes you shine?

 

Life By A Thousand Cuts

Why is it, when you swing with all your might, with everything you’ve got, with 100% strength, you end up hitting a little dribbler or missing the ball entirely?

It’s because, in my experience, when you’re swinging from your heels, you’re not using good technique. You’re trading skill for sizzle, humility for the highlight reel.

I get the temptation.

The truth is, though, you just have to take your cuts. Go for the aggregate. Swing over and over. A thousand times. And to do that, you can’t save it all for one mighty swing. For just the right moment. For just the right time. You have to space them out. Group them out. And focus on the long season. On the long game. You have to step up to the plate. Time and time again.

Recently, I’ve read several books which have lead me to comprise a hybrid theory I’m calling “The 1,000 Swings” project.

It’s in an effort to build my failure immunity. And to, all things being equal, test the inherent advantage in out-hustling others. The advantage of big numbers.

I’m going to step up 1,000 times.

Life is like baseball. Humbling. Realistic. Played in seasons. Except you don’t have to bat 1.000. You don’t even have to bat .200. You just have to get a lot of hits. And how do you do that if you’re a terrible hitter? You just have to keep stepping up to the plate. You just have to keep swinging.

A bad hitter who gets hits only 20% of the time gets the same results as a perfect hitter, if the bad hitter gets up five more times. If they try five more times. If they hustle five times harder.

This is a profound truth. All things being equal, you can get more hits than Ichiro, although it might take you A LOT more swings than a thousand. The good news is we’re not limited to four or five times up to bat per day. We get to step up as many times as we want to. You’re only limited by your willingness to play the game.

Expect to fail. You will strikeout. Build it into the experiment. Would you trade 800 strikeouts for 200 hits?

Instead of waiting to craft that perfect email, that perfect phone call, that perfect product or service. How about you just go and hack?

Trust me, you’ll be so busy figuring out who to reach out to next, and who to reply to, than ever worry about who hasn’t written back. You’ll get more done in the next 24 hours than you have in the past 24 days. I promise.

If I told you that success, whatever it is to you, was on the other side of 1,000 outs, would you try 1,001 times? Would you keep hacking? Yes? Well it’s well short of a thousand. It might be the 1st time you step up, you hit a home run. It could be the 888th. But once you feel that special physical resonance of bat connecting with ball, with the satisfaction of playing the long game, you’ll keep stepping up to the plate.

And you’ll realize that you’re only out when you stop playing.

Life by a thousand cuts.

Play ball!