6 posts categorized "Television" Feed

Wring every ounce out of your talent and opportunity. Thoughts on the Last Dance Documentary

Recently, my dad and I have been having a phone conversation about the documentary on ESPN regarding Michael Jordan. If you haven't seen it, it's called the last dance. This was the name Phil Jackson gave his plan for the final season together. A little hug, the general manager of the team at the time.

My dad asked what did it matter that Michael Jordan was perhaps the greatest basketball player ever to play.  He wasn't trying to deny Michael's greatness; he was just asking what it meant in the light of the world around us. Winning Blog Post

I do have a warning if you decide to watch the documentary. There are two versions. A TV -14 version and a TV-MA version. As you might imagine, the TV-MA version has quite a bit more colorful language than the TV -14 version.

The show does an excellent job of showing just how hard Jordan worked and how hard he pushed his teammates. One of the questions raised in the show is was Jordan too hard on his teammates. Was he too mean? And then, my dad asked why I thought Jordan didn't see the same success as an owner that he saw as a player.

I'll leave that last question for another day. But, I do want to address the value that I think Jordan and athletes like him can bring to our lives.

I will admit that I am a Jordan fanboy. I remember watching him do things that just seemed impossible. My high school basketball coach and history teacher would come over to our house, and we would all sit in the living room and watch him play. Often, in the playoffs, this was painful for me as a Knicks fan, and yet, I loved to watch him play

I think one of the most amazing things that Jordan teaches us is the importance of wringing every ounce of possibility out of our talents and opportunities. One of the things that he seems to have done was to elevate himself and those around him to put everything into winning. To leave the entirety of their talents in the game. To risk loss by giving everything to win.

So often today, we seem to want the glory without the work. That is probably not a new affliction for humanity.

Jordan did something that we may never see again. Like most successful people, his detractors, and those who hate him. In the documentary, since I heard it. He states, "Winning has a price. Leadership has a price."  He always seemed willing to pay that price.

Jordan, the player, is an example of someone who took every opportunity to get better at his craft. He worked tirelessly to improve his game. One of the controversial things that he did was leave basketball to play baseball.  Because of media constraints, he ended up playing at a level higher than new players would normally begin playing. He started the season with a 15 game hitting streak. Then, he had a long hitless streak. Like many minor-league players, he couldn't hit the breaking ball.

So what did Jordan do? Well, he came to the stadium before anyone else and did batting practice. Then he did normal practice with his teammates. Then he stayed and did more personal batting practice off of a machine that only threw breaking balls. Then he would go to normal practice with his teammates for the game. Then he would do another 90 minutes of personal batting practice.  That was his work ethic.

If watching an athlete perform at the highest level inspires us to have a work ethic like that, then I believe sports are improving society. I think inspiration like that is worthy and noble of our attention.

And, like all heroes, Jordan can be a cautionary tale. His life directly contradicts our desire for all or nothing thinking. He's not all good or all bad. He's human. He has flaws. Some of his greatest strengths throughout his life have also caused some of his most significant heartaches. And that is probably true for many of us.

I, for one, am glad that I lived within the time he played. I loved to watch him play, and I've enjoyed this documentary. I may even re-watch some episodes. Like most older men, I believe that the era of my youth was purer and more enjoyable than today's era. But that is probably for another day.

I do want to ask you a question that I have been pondering regarding my own life since watching this documentary. How much of your talent are you using? How much of your opportunities are you engaging in? What are you doing to develop your mental toughness and your physical ability? Perhaps the greatest gift that Jordan gives us: he allows us to look in the mirror and measure ourselves. To realize that our actual competition is not the other people in our industry. Our actual competition is to be better today than we were yesterday.

Our greatest opportunities will often come with the greatest possibility of failure. May we engage those opportunities with courage. May we welcome all who come as competition and simultaneously want to beat them.

May we elevate ourselves and those around us to greatness. And may we define greatness as the ability to put everything we have into whatever endeavor it is that we're doing.

May we have the self-awareness to know the things that we are good at and the things that we are not good at doing.

May we have the awareness to recognize opportunity when it comes knocking, and in those times when Opportunity finds itself stuck behind a door that does not want to budge may we lower our shoulder and open that door.

May we have the integrity to know that success without hard work is fraudulent.

May we have the audacity to believe that we can always work harder even after we've given our best.

May you, my friend, find success this day.

May you find inspiration.

May you find the courage to do the dreams that scare you.

May you find peace.




The Biggest Loser and the Roman Coliseum

The internet world has been abuzz lately with the finale of the show The Biggest loser for this season. Apparently the girl who won, lost a significant amount of weight in a rather short amount of time.

Can I make a confession? I’ve never watched an episode of that show. I’ve never watched an episode of hoarders. I’ve only seen one episode of intervention.

Which, begs the question of why, why haven’t I watched any of these shows that have “inspired” millions and coincidently made millions, if not billions of dollars?

Quite simply, because I am afraid that we have made entertainment out of people’s maladies. We’ve turned people’s problems into entertainment for the masses.

I’ve heard most of the responses:

“I watch because I’m inspired!”

“ I watch because I like the stories of overcoming.”

“I think it’s amazing to watch the transformations…”

Honestly, in my opinion, who cares? That is the wrong criteria to be deciding what we should be supporting.

We need to consider if the means that we are receiving our inspiration is right or wrong. Is it wise to sit back and be entertained by someone with a mental illness (hoarders, intervention, etc).

I’m afraid these shows highlight out societies obsession with the wrong things. We use the TV to anesthetize our own existential issues. We can safely sit on our couch and watch Mary Jane Watson from Tacoma West Virginia and thank God that our house isn’t as messy as hers.  We can watch Gwen Jones from Bloomsburg, Minnesota struggle to go from “morbidly obese” to anorexic like skinniness all in the name of health...and let's be honest, some fame.

I’m not sure we’re all that different from the Romans and their coliseum.

The story being sold is that our society is becoming obsessed with weight loss because we want people to be healthy. But let’s be honest, we kind of like the fact that we can fat shame.

Shows like this, allow us to sit back and just thank whatever higher power we pray to that we aren’t like those people. They allow us to perpetuate the myth that fat people must be lazy or that hoarders can just choose to get rid of things.

We make profit (or help others make profit) off of their misery. We can indulge in our own worship of the body and whatever “sexy” currently and feel like we have the moral high ground because we’re taking part in a system that “helps a person improve their life.”

The ends justify the means, right?

Except that they don’t.

We have to demand more.

More of society. More of ourselves. More of those we choose to make millionaires and billionaires by giving them our money.

I realize that you may disagree with me. In fact, I fully suspect that many people will disagree with me. That’s one of the reasons, I’ve been putting off writing this post even though it’s been bouncing around in my head for a long time.

I just want more. I want to leave my kids a world that doesn’t teach them that it’s OK to judge someone or be entertained by someone just because the other person is heavier than they are or has a mental illness.  

I want a world that really sees other people as neighbors, not as sources of entertainment.


Why are we mad at Miley?

I didn’t watch the VMA’s. In fact, I didn’t know what they were when my Facebook feed started blowing up with what was going on in them. Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 10.03.46 AM

I went back to my life and read a book.
The next day, the world blew up and most of it was hating on Miley Cyrus.

I have one question.

Why are we mad at her?

Don’t misunderstand me, I think what she did was totally inappropriate. I only had to see a few pictures to form that opinion. I’m sure what she did was shocking. I saw Will Smith’s face.

But why are we mad at her?

Didn’t we, as a society do this?

I mean, how long have we been telling kids that there are little to no boundaries when it comes to how we feel?

How long have we been telling people that when it comes to sex, the only boundary is what we feel?

We sold out to worshipping people for being famous a long time ago.

We sold out to picking our heroes based on what they can do on a screen or on a field.

In a world that says there are no rules, we sure do get angry when someone breaks our unwritten ones.

In a world that is driven by selfishness, we surely seem to be angry about someone being…wait for it…selfish.

I keep hearing and reading people ask, “What’s wrong her?”

I want to ask, “What’s wrong with us?”

How have we come to the place where we have created an environment where an otherwise mentally capable young adult would think that doing those things would be good.
We can blame her parents…
We can blame her fame…
We can blame MTV…

but ultimately…

We had better blame ourselves.

We did this and…
only we can fix it.

We need to accept responsibility that we have worshipped at the alter of riches. We have reveled in our “poverty” falsely believing that if we had that money, we’d do this or that with it.

We need to stop letting the TV raise our kids.

We need to engage our culture honestly and maybe even stop buying what MTV is selling us.

We simply cannot have it both ways. Either there are consequences to our choices and those choices must be based off of something more than how we feel or what Ms. Cyrus did was perfectly fine as long as she was fine with it.

We don’t get to judge her and ignore our own propensity for it.

Life doesn’t work that way.

We can blame Miley and the culture she grew up in, but ultimately we need to look at the culture we’ve created.

We need to change ourselves.

What can we learn about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman?

I have been hesitant to enter the Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman fray.

In my opinion, it’s just too emotionally charged to get into it online.

Sunday morning, I woke up before anyone else in my family and as is my custom, I checked my email, and did a few other things.

Then I checked Facebook.

This was my newsfeed:

Person #1’s Status: You’re not paying attention if you believe Zimmerman was innocent.

Person #2’s Status: You’re not paying attention if you believe Zimmerman was guilty.

Person #3’s Status: You can’t really love Jesus if you believe Zimmerman was innocent.

Person #4’s Status: You can’t really love Jesus if you believe

That literally happened in almost straight succession.

Now, I’m not interested in debating the merits of the case with you or anyone else online. In truth, the list of people that I would discuss it with in real life is probably short.

Unless you want to talk about what we can learn about us from this death, trial, verdict and reaction.

Not about George Zimmerman.

Not about Trayvon Martin.

I’m not interested in discussing the judicial system, or anything else about the logistics of the case.

I want to talk about what we can learn about you and me.

I want to talk about our response to this event.

Both sides are drastically concerned with one thing. What they perceive to be justice.

People on both sides have used totally inaccurate arguments. They have both stated things as facts that they were proven to not be facts.

For many people, emotions have run extremely high.

People have made cries and accusations about everything.

This angers the people on the other side.


Because both sides believe they have justice on their side.

I think our desire, our passion to see justice happen is a good thing.

The problem, I think in this case is that it is blinding each side to seeing the view of the people on the other side.

We want justice so badly that we have failed to stop and hear the opinions of those who disagree with us. We’ve failed to stop and ask how someone in another reality from us might see this case.

We want justice so badly that we fail to make sure we act justly to people who have done nothing wrong, besides disagree with us.

I am afraid that until this changes there will alway be another Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman case. The names will be different. Perhaps, it will be different races.

But it will happen again, because I am afraid we have become a non-empathy society.

In a society where have nearly been enslaved to political correctness, which attempts to force empathy, we’ve lost our way. As long as we fail to embrace our alikeness, and differences while admitting our yearning for justice in a world full of injustice, we will never actually heal.

We will always be enslaved to our worst of emotions because it will be more about stopping the pain than true justice.

Stopping the pain is never about true justice. When we just want to stop the pain, we don’t really care if we have to stretch a few truths, or tell a few lies to get our point across. We believe we can bend a few of our own morals in order to achieve the greater good.

Of course, then we’re the ones perpetrating injustice.

May God have mercy on us all.

nature? nurture? my life. Law and Order SVU Can a personality change?

I used to love the show Law and Order. It was a show I'd watch with my mom when I was younger. I've even written CBS to see if they would be willing to do a show called "Law and Order: Grand Rapids." Ok, I made that part up. I probably will not get as much done today as I could have because when I ate my lunch, I turned on the T.V and there was Law and Order SVU.

The show was a real emotional bender. The antagonist (bad guy) was  rapist and a murderer. But his attorney's defense was that it wasn't actually his fault because he inherited a gene from his father who raped his mother and she conceived him that pre-disposed him to anger and violence. On top of that, he was raised to a crack addict mom in the most violent of horrible situations. It was a social workers dream situation—his genes (nature) and his environment (nurture) were both against him.

The show ended with Detective Benson, incidentally, I recently hear that she is the highest paid female actor (Political correctness will not allow me to say actress and save a word) on T.V., leans into the sympathetic psychologist and says, "Did he really have a choice? Did he ever have a chance? Do any of us?"

*Freeze frame for a moment and allow me to wonder. I will bring it back I promise*

I recently had a conversation with a friend about how she experiences anxiety in her life during certain events. For instance, if a boss says that they want to have a meeting with her she will automatically assume the worst, and worries that she is going to get fired or in trouble of some sort. In a 25 minute conversation she said at least six times that I counted, "That's just my personality." I asked her if she was brought up that way. She said no, "that has just always been my personality." I asked her if her mom or dad was that way. She said, "Nope, that is just my personality...well, my mom is like that!"

Ah-ha! Her nature and her nurture had transpired to make her life an anxiety driven mess whenever she is up for a review or has to interact with someone in her life who is an authority.

So I asked a question. I asked her if she thought she could change her personality. This was essentially Detective Benson's question. I'm curious, what is your answer?

Can a personality change? Are you destined to have the same personality your whole life or can you change parts of it? Can you change all of it?