Cheers to the man that taught me this is the best container to make chocolate milk in. Happy Father’s Day, dad.
Most people who know me wouldn’t describe me as emotional. My sisters though will tell you it was very easy to make me cry when I was a kid. I have a extremely low confidence level, sometimes I can fake it well, but even then I lack the confidence to believe that I am really confident.
When I was a kid, I want to say 4th grade, I was on an undefeated soccer team, and I was 1 of 2 goalies. My dad was my soccer coach at the time, which meant I had double to pressure to not screw up. If the coach’s kid is a goalie and he doesn’t do well it doesn’t take long for the rumbling to be he’s only there cause his dad is the coach.
I had, unarguably the most successful season of goalieing I ever had in my life. The stories I am told are that I was never scored on in the entire fall season, I can’t remember it with much certainty, but we can go with that. I usually played the first half and the other goalie played the second.
At the end of regulation it was a tie game. I had been out of the cage for half the game and expected to not have the pressure of a shoot out against me. That is when good old dad decided I’d take the shootout(other goalie was a much better shooter than I was).
I walked over to my dad and what I thought was going to be an intelligent defense turned into water works. I was scared. The teams undefeated season rested on this shoot out. These were my friends and everyone knows it is the goalie’s fault when you lose.
Mi padre pulled me aside,(as I have taught every goalie I have trained in my life you cannot show emotion to your opponents) and looked me in the eye and said its okay to be scared. Whenever you do something for the first time you’re going to be afraid. I’m not putting you in because you are my son, but because it’s the best chance of winning.
Still to this day I get scared shitless before I embark on something new. On my way to my first day of college I threw up. I spent two hours in my car wondering what I was doing when I went back for my masters. Most recently when I moved out of my comfort zone to take a job below the poverty line to move forward with a career. Scared-shitless.
But I know that if I push through the first initial fear of the unknown great things await.
It was the eve of my first ‘meet me at the flag pole’ fight, which never came to pass. The flag pole was a local park, and the night before my dad was giving me a few pieces of advice. There are a number of gems in that advice that will likely find their way into other.
The piece I will discuss today was to not use the urinal if I needed to take a leak. I was roughly 12-13 at this point and time and had never given any thought to how vulnerable you are at a urinal. Pants down, hand occupied, back to the world. You’re just asking for a very embarrassing sucker punch.
Though the fight never happened, the lesson remained.
Whether it be a figurative or literal urinal I do my best in life to never expose my back to a threat. You can’t avoid every fight that comes your way, but it goes a lot better when you can see the hit coming.
Today’s lessons from my father contains two of them.
I’ve just got in from watching my former high school compete in a championship swim meet and like it usually does it has me thinking back.
I came out for the team my sophmore year after having quit swimming a few years earlier. I wasn’t good when I quit, and I wasn’t good when I came back. I was lucky to have a coach that admired my work ethic, also gave me the super awesome nickname of Kassabi, and was willing to keep me on the team.
The way swimming works is there are three post season meets. Each one increases the area of competitors and the top times go head to head. This was my first season back and the most impressive thing I had accomplished was not quitting.
I entered the water for what I believed would be my last event of the season and in a little over a minute I would be done with my first season. By some miracle I dropped more time than I had any right to, not just dropping my time, but putting myself ahead of other teammates to give me a chance to go to districts.
So, what does my father have to do with any of this? There are two weeks between Mid-Penns and Districts. You don’t find out until after the first week if you’ve made districts or not. My time was right on the cusp. I would either just make it to districts or not.
My teammates were encouraging assuring me that they thought I would get in. My coach, though pumped for me, kept his expectations realistic. Most years my time wouldn’t have got me into districts. And here is the part where my father comes in.
The first day after Mid-Penns I came home from practice destroyed. I was now swimming with kids who had way more endurance than me. I relayed to my father how positive the team felt about my time, but how I felt I had no right to be there. I was way out of my league.
He told me that I had to stay in the fight and I couldn’t beat myself before the results were in, but I also had to keep in mind that you can’t drive through a red light just because it could turn green. With that in mind I returned to practice, giving everything I had to give as the fast kids lapped the crap out of me, fully embracing the fact that I wouldn’t be there the following week.
The second results were sent to the coaches on a Sunday. When I left practice on Saturday my coach said he would call me one way or the other. I got my phone call and expected coach to tell me that he was sorry, I should be proud of my season, and he’d see me at the banquet. Instead I was told I made the 24th spot of 24 swimmers.
No fairy tale ending here. I swam at districts, dropped more time, didn’t score points, but all in all had a pretty good first season for what I expected to do.
Here is the second part. After meets and games there is always a gaggle of parents raining praise on their kids. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Parents being positive is great. I just had a more honest dialogue with my father. Strengths and weaknesses, that type of stuff, so our conversations happened at home.
I always knew where to find my father in the stands. Ever since I was a kid he would always go top row to the left side of the complex. He was coming in from a business trip that day and wasn’t sure he would be able to make it to the meet in time to see me swim. I hadn’t found him before the race, but after the race I looked up to the area I expected him to be and he was there. He gave me a thumbs up, I returned a nod.
I’m sure we talked about my season as a whole and how I felt I did and things I should work on before the next season. I’m sure we talked about a lot of things. But the two things I will remember is he made it to my race, and the thumbs up. A dozen years later I don’t remember my time or what place I finished in, but I remember the thumbs up. Actions will stick with a person forever.
P.S. Congrats to all swimmers who had awesome races this weekend at Mid-Penns.
Hold Your Line
My dad has competed in a number of marathons, triathlons, and one Iron Man. When I was a kid I would ride my bike with him while he went for his runs. At the time we lived in Bloomsburg, PA which is smack dab between nothing and empty. The photo above shows what a well lined road in Bloomsburg would look like.
For those of you who don’t know you are supposed to run toward traffic and ride a bike with traffic. What this meant was my dad and I should have been traveling in opposite directions, but instead we traveled with traffic. (This might have been so I didn’t get spooked when a car came at me, but I am not sure)
Dad would always post himself in a position so that a car would have to hit him first. If the road was wide he’d beside me, about a stride behind so I could just see him if I didn’t turn my head. On more narrow roads he would set up directly behind me.
On the narrow roads it was crucial that I held my line. I couldn’t waiver or I’d end up in the berm, or worse, traffic. Neither of these were safe for a six-year-old on his hand me down girls bike that had been spray painted blue. It didn’t matter what was coming toward me, or what I saw in the woods, or whatever I was day dreaming about, I had to hold my line.
The cars that would be coming at me were a full lane away. That didn’t stop me from watching them until they passed, which would cause me to drift off my line. When this happened my directional velocity would be corrected by an equal and opposite force, which got me back on my line. Through classical conditioning I learned that no matter what happens you always hold your line.
As another round of unsuccessful job hunting comes to a close, I have to remind myself that I already have my career. I am a writer, that is my line, and I have to hold that no matter what.
My dad has an undergrad degree in Criminal Justice.
He started out as a security guard at a power plant. From there he ended up working for Pennsylvania Power and Light. I’m not exactly sure how he ended up in sales, but he did. The next change took him to a AMP. After AMP he made the change from selling electricity to selling technology. (As he has always told me it doesn’t matter what you are selling, sales are sales)
His start with tech was at IBM(At this point he also acquired an M.B.A). From he went to Oracle, Oracle to Primavera, then the most impressive leap. In his 50’s he was hired at Google. When I would make the trek to visit him and hang out with his coworkers I was the same age as his sales team. I am pretty sure my dad might have been the oldest man in the building. He has since returned to IBM for a slower pace of life.
My dad has always amazed me by how hard he works. To be hired by Google. A company that you are an old man in if you are over the age of 25 my dad was able to get hired by, and then continued to succeed. He’s able to do this because he is a competitor. He will never be outdone. If someone else works for eight hours he’ll go nine. He never slows down and never lets up.
It is never enough to want something, or to work for something. You have to be willing to outwork and outlast everyone. Put in more hours. More effort. Give yourself fully to your cause.
You must work harder and longer if you want to go farther.
For those of you who have checked out the Goalie Love section of my site know that I have always been a goalie. I haven’t always been the best goalie. Not like Hope Solo shown below. (To make this clear I wasn’t good enough to make my high school team let alone the Olympics) But goalie was my passion none the less.
There has always been one person who has been my coach whether officially or not. That person still to this day is my dad. During middle school when he was coaching my soccer team it was one of the few seasons he had another goalie besides me on the team. I think at the time he was trying to show me how much I needed to improve if I wanted to make the high school team since I wasn’t even the best in Rec League. However that is a lesson I missed at the time.
This was one of the few games I out played my counterpart in, but the game came down to a shoot out. When a shoot out happens you have to use the players that are on the field. I was between the posts and he had been playing defense at the end of the game.
Therefore my dad could pick either of us to be goalie.
Just to make this clear before I continue, my dad understood how little my age group soccer actually meant in real life. He never took it more seriously than a good way for me to stay active and make friends. I don’t want to give the impression he was a Nazi trying to groom me for the Olympics.
Back to the point. Either of us could be used for the shoot out.
I was smaller. Slower. Weaker. He was better. But I was my dad’s son. That had to count for something.
It counted for sitting on the bench watching my team go through the shootout without me.
We won. My counterpart blocked better than 50% of the shots. It was a hell of a performance.
I wasn’t the most pleased thirteen-year-old on the ride home. But my dad, as he has always been decent about explained his decision. (He wasn’t one for sugar coating)
He told me I hadn’t been training like I used to and he had 15 sons that also wanted to win the game. If I wanted that role going forward I would have to work for it, because it would be a lot easier for him if his heart and head could align on the decision.
I understand the game itself had no bearing on my existence, but the lesson I learned that day has stuck with me since. When you have to make a decision that will impact other people you have to lead with your brain over your heart. What is best for you, isn’t always what is best for everyone. And sometimes you have to endure a choice you don’t want to make so others can prevail.
This is my first post in Lessons from my Father. Much of the reason I have revamped my website away from just being about the Primal Age is so that I can share more of my existence with the audience without always having to be so apocalyptic in nature.
I know it is a pretty common saying that smooth waters don’t make a strong sailor, but hearing this from my dad as a kid I thought he was the one who coined it. I feel bad for people currently becoming parents since their kids will have access to the internet to debunk what they say.
Besides, my dad’s had a unique twist to it. He always said “you’ll never learn how strong you are spending your time in smooth water”. I’m not sure if he meant that to mean I should exist in a state of chaos or not, but what he did mean was I should never be afraid to throw caution to the wind and challenge myself. Time and time again I have picked waters that totally change the course of my trip.
And I have to give the guy a lot of credit. He always told me that if I chose to jump off a cliff he wouldn’t put a safety net out so I better learn to fly. I can’t say I am all that great of a sailor. I spend much of my time in rough waters, but I usually fight to stay afloat. When I get caught in a particularly rough squall that I am not sure I will ever make it out of, he’ll pull his ship along side and offer me advice, but he isn’t the Coast Guard coming to save me.
There were times when I was a kid that I cursed him for this. As we all curse our parents, but he knew I needed to find my own way out. And I have learned that by having to fight through the rough times I have come to define the type of person I am.
So, here’s me tipping back a shot of rum(we both prefer bourbon but since this is nautical themed I’ll stick with rum) saying thanks to my dad, and getting back to those rough waters.