Superman vs. The Lemmings

November 10, 2010

As a kid, I read comics whenever I could get my hands on them, but I didn’t start collecting comics until after my car accident.  I had been in the hospital for going on 6 months and I was growing tired of Judge Judy.  Unfortunately, TV was my only real companion.  My arms were simply too weak to hold a book.

Then, one day sitting in a 7-Eleven, I saw a copy of Batman.  It was small and light and I thought it might be a nice distraction to Mrs. Sheindlin.  I took it back to my hospital, and read it.  It was easy to hold and provided me the entertainment I sought.  The only problem was the book wasn’t one contained story–it was part of a serial.  In order to find out what had happened and what was going to happen, I had to buy other comics.

I was hooked.  My room slowly filled with issues of The Dark Knight, Superman, Captain America and the rest.  The more I collected the more I learned about the culture. There were issues that had variant (special) covers, issues that had been so popular they had done multiple printings–which made first printings all the more valuable.

Like everything else, the more rare a comic was, the more valuable it became.  This pursuit lasted years and more money that I care to admit.  But as I made my trips from the hospital to the comic book shop (which sometime took everything I had–to see what I’m talking about, read here) I noticed that the comics available in stacks were passed by, while the unique ones were clamored over.

Watching this, I realized that people are a lot like comics.  It’s the unique ones with variant covers that people want in their lives.  They’re the ones people are seeking out, the stories people want to know. At the same time, it’s the ordinary ones, the ones just trying to be like the rest that are a dime a dozen, and the ones that sit in stacks.

The difference is that everyone is unique and special—you just have to choose to put that on your cover.  You just have to show others the real “one of a kind” you.  And, for some reason, it seems like people today have a hard time doing this.  Some of it’s fear, some of it is insecurity, but it’s rampant and everywhere.  People trying to look or act like someone on TV.  It’s like we’re back in Jr. High and trying to be the cool kid.

There’s too many lemmings today—people willing to follow at any cost.

Being rare is harder than it sounds.  It takes courage.  There are lots of people who just don’t believe that they have all that much uniqueness to give.  But, there’s only one you—only one person that sees things the way you do.  Only one person with the gifts and talents you have.  Have confidence in yourself.  Find ways to let your own spirit shine.

There are only a few copies of the first Superman comic left and they are worth Millions.  But, that’s nothing compared to the worth of the one and only you!


A Little Laughter – Don’t Buy Stuff

April 19, 2010

At a meeting I recently attended, they showed a video clip from Saturday Night Live that involved Steve Martin and the book pictured above.  I laughed and laughed. The clip was both funny and timely.

I couldn’t get the video to post in my blog, but follow the link by clicking HERE, and you’ll be on your way to a big ol’ belly laugh.  I promise it’ll be worth 2 minutes and 28 seconds of your life.



PS The sad part is I actually know a lot of people who REALLY need this little book.

Best is Best

December 20, 2008
That's me...back row, far right.

That's me...the player in the back row, far right.

Growing up I played about every sport imaginable. I played football, basketball, baseball. I swam and ran track. When I wasn’t on the field of play I was still competing. Working to become class president or top of my class. As a young boy most of what I worked on was in the pursuit of winning. Luckily, early on I got a lesson on what winning really is.

I’ll never forget one summer afternoon riding home with my dad after a Little League baseball game in utter disgust. For all of our efforts my team had ended up on the losing side of the day. I grabbed the obligatory soda that someone’s mother had been assigned to bring and stomped in frustration as I followed my dad to his car.

He unlocked the doors and asked me to take the front seat. As soon as I sat down I removed my mitt, threw it on the ground and exclaimed, “We’re losers. We’re a bunch of losers.”

My dad let me sit and simmer a little in my tantrum until finally he asked me if I had done my best. I told him that I had, but that it didn’t seem to matter much. He followed up by asking me if I felt my team had done the same. I again responded and told him that I felt like myself my team had given their all, but that the scoreboard just didn’t reflect it.

He proceeded to teach me a lesson that influenced the rest of my life. He explained to me that as long as I did my very best I could never lose. He taught me the best is best and that in my life if I gave my all I would never have anything to be ashamed about regardless of whether scoreboard agreed.

I worked hard to apply this lesson in my young life, but it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I really learned its value. In the middle of my 15th year I became a quadriplegic. In a split second my life changed. After that day there are many areas of my life where my best would never measure up on a scoreboard.

I was no longer as strong or as fast as my peers. I could no longer physically match up to those around me. I had to find a new way to measure my efforts. I had to come to terms with the fact that my best was the best no matter how others “scored” that best.

So it is with each of us. We spend so much time concentrating on how our work stacks up against those around us we forget to measure whether our work is our best. We compare our houses, our kids, our lives with others, wondering if we are number one. No matter what task we’ll choose to tackle our goal right from the start must be to give our very best and then be comfortable with the results. It’s easy to say but quite another thing to do. It requires self-assuredness and the positive sense of self. It requires us to judge ourselves against our own abilities and not against the abilities of others.

In the end all we are required to do is maximize the abilities we’ve been given. Part of mastering this idea is to not only to be willing to accept our own best efforts, but to be willing to accept the best efforts of those we interact with also. If we are ever to learn to be content with our best we must also be willing to do the same with the best that others can give. This requires us to give up our desire to judge ourselves or others against any standard other then that question my father posed to me that day in the car–”Did you do your best?”

No matter what goal or dream we might pursue, when we give our best we can never lose.


Sudoku: The Puzzle With All The Answers

October 25, 2008
A finished Sudoku puzzle

A finished Sudoku puzzle

About a year ago I became a part of the Sudoku craze. I was getting ready to go on a big trip, and that meant loading up my iPod with new music and maybe a movie or two. It was around that time Apple allowed you to load games onto your iPod as well. Looking around for a game that would give me something to do on the plane, I decided on Sudoku.

I had never really played the game before, but I’d heard that it was fun and one that could effectively eat up some time. The game had good ratings on iTunes and so I decided to spend the $7.99 and take a chance.

Later, on the plane, the flight attendants let us know that we were cleared to use our electronic devices. I pulled out my iPod, opened up the game, and within about 15 minutes I was addicted. I played the game on the entire flight, throughout the entire weekend, during the flight home, and every night for the next two months. It got to a point where I would play it deep into the night, and then, when I finally tried to go to sleep I would see the empty boxes in my dreams.

It was in the midst of this compulsion that I realized that lying in front of me on my iPod was actually an excellent type for life.

The only way you can win at the game of Sudoku is to make sure that every line and every square is perfectly completed with the numbers one through nine. Each number however, can only be used once. That way, every line and every square uses each number carefully and uniquely.

Like the numbers in Sudoku’s squares, we are all each of us unique. There is only one  “1”, only one ”2”, and so on. Also, just like the puzzle, we work hard to find the place where we belong. If we try to hard to be just like the other numbers in our line or square things begin to fall apart.

In the end, the game is only successfully completed when all the spots are filled with their unique values. Like the puzzle, our experience in this lifetime fails if it is simply filled with a different version of the same person. Conversely, our lives are complete when they are filled with people from all walks of life, with all sorts of experiences and any “number” of ideas.

So, let’s use Sudoku every day by being comfortable with who we are, not worrying about copying others. Let’s keep our “value” by being true to who we are. And, let’s fill the lines and squares of our lives with people that are different, always learning from their unique experiences. Following these instructions, our lives will become more rich, successful, and complete.

Sudoku really is the puzzle with all the answers.