Archive for March, 2010

Homestead

This weekend, I helped my parents move out of a house they’ve lived in for the last two decades.  It was crazy, packing up twenty years of their lives into brown boxes and a U-Haul truck.  My younger brother, my sister, and brother-in-law were also there to lend a hand.  The mood was energetic and hectic and frustrating all at once.  They kept some furniture, sold a lot, and donated the rest to charity.  Until they finally vacate the house in a few days, all that’s left in the family home are an inflatable mattress, a TV, and a computer. 

My parents had had their house on the market for a couple of years, and everyone was elated when they finally sold it.  On one hand, I’m happy for them as they get ready to transition to a new city, a new state.  On the other hand, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of loss.  By extension, it was certainly somewhere to which I knew I could always “come home.”  I had a room there, which, in spite of the many iterations it had undergone since I actually last lived there, they’d always referred to it as “Jon’s room.” 

It was weird to watch as strangers walked out of the house with my parents’ furniture.  I felt a sense of melancholy as I placed on the curb items they were giving away for free.  Sure those knick knacks would never be of use to them any longer, but those things were always in the house, in the background, instant memories in the form of fixtures and wall art and handmade ceramic bowls.

I suppose the reason I feel such loss is because that house belonged to the family the longest.  We moved a lot while we were younger, staying at the same place for three years or less.  Therefore, those other houses were not as memorable as this last one.  My younger brother went through elementary school and high school while living in that house.  I can only imagine how he feels.

I know in the end it’s just brick and mortar and wood and shingles.  And that “home is where the heart is.”  But I can’t help it.  I will miss that house.

Ways To Be A Better Loser

I read a magazine article written by Tim Sanders (www.twitter.com/sanderssays) that talks about the time when he was working at Yahoo! and, despite a strong effort, he lost a major advertising account to AOL.  When it happen, he and his team were obviously devastated, with a few choice opinions about the AOL team.  Sanders later detailed how he saw the AOL team at a gathering soon after, and he decided to go up to them to offer his congratulations.  It wasn’t long before he was chatting them up about marketing strategies and other industry talk.  His team chided him for sucking up and cavorting with the enemy.  He offered that he knew there was a learning experience from the encounter, and that it is through those learnings that improvement can happen.

He offered the following tips on being a ‘better loser’ (excerpted from the magazine article):

Show respect to the winner.  You can’t hate them enough to improve your future performance; that’s unsustainable motivation.  If you always claim that they won unfairly or because you “can’t win for losing,” you’ll never see a way to win.  Winning is more contagious than it is exclusive.  Once you’ve drained the negative energy out of the equation, study the victor.  Itemize what those victors got right and how it influenced the final result.  Find something to admire about them, and then deconstruct that attribute competitively.

Learn from your defeat.   Blame and denial may feel good, but they never help you learn.  Unless your competitor cheated to win, you were beat either on price, technical ability or fundamentals.  Identify the fundamental rules-of-the-road that you might have broken during the competition.  Isolate the technical reasons that you were “outscored” in the eyes of the customer/judge/scoreboard.  Imagine a rematch, with your revised approach based on your newfound intelligence, where you catch up or pass your rival.

Let it go.  We hold on to our defeats too long, allowing them to magnify and take on mythical status.  If you don’t let go of it, you’ll start playing not to lose instead of to win.  If you don’t let it go, you’ll get beat down and drain energy out of everyone else.  Freaking out is contagious.  So long as you recognize your rival’s strengths and reviewed your approach and execution, it is OK to let the loss go and start thinking about how you’ll do next time.

I bet those in competitive sports follow these tips.  I also believe coaches for team sports subscribe to these approaches.  It’s easy to be a sore loser.  But it’s more productive to be a better loser.  As Tim Sanders summarized, “I’m not suggesting you get comfortable with losing, just be effective in your response to it.”

Well said.

[Excerpts of the article printed without permission. If author contacts me to have excerpts removed, I will do so.] 

 

 

Vote for Lee DeWyze!

So, I’m watching American Idol again.

I know.  Lame. 

But here’s the thing: I love the journey these contestants are taking to further their musical endeavors.  They’re hoping for a career in the music industry and American Idol has proven to open doors and pave the way for many previous contestants. 

Sure a number of those that have ended up on the current Top Ten got there due to their personality or looks over any semblance of true talent.  I’m not going to talk about them.  Who I am going to talk about are those who have been hitting the street corners and subway platforms; gigging at clubs and fairs; impressing people at karaoke; hoping and wishing for that big break.  Those who have been impressing us from the get-go.

One such person is Lee DeWyze.

 

Hailing from Mt. Prospect, Illinois, DeWyze auditioned in Chicago, was put through to Hollywood, selected into the Top 24, and had recently secured a spot within the Top Ten.  And he did these not by relying on having a big personality or industry-defined aesthetics.  He did this by simply singing very well.

To date, through amazing turns with songs like Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel” and a reimagined version of Rolling Stones’s “Beast of Burden”– and impressive reinterpretations of Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars,” Owl City’s “Fireflies,” and The Box Tops’s “The Letter”– DeWyze has, in my opinion, exhibited a very current, marketable voice as well as true artistry.

Prior to joining the 9th season of Idol, DeWyze independently released two records: 2007’s “So I’m Told” and 2010’s “Slumberland.”  Both discs showcase the beautiful tone of his voice– at once gruff and tender– and a songwriting skill that could only be bourne from years of honing.

He is not the most savvy “entertainer” and has struggled with shedding the singer/songwriter vibe.  However, therein lies his appeal.  (And, that he’s landed on the Top Ten, it’s clear that he’s appealed to many.)  He’s not the flashiest one on stage; in fact, he seems terrified of it.  But one thing remains:  the voice that comes out of that still terrified frame is one that needs to be celebrated.

DeWyze performs again on American Idol on Tuesday, 03/30/10, when Usher mentors them through “R&B Week.”  If you would like to have a hand in helping this musician with incredible talent and potential, please vote for him, and keep him in the competition.  I feel he can go real far with the opportunity that Idol is providing.  Let’s make a difference in this young musician’s life.  I have a good feeling that we’ll be the ones reaping the most rewards.