Making Resolutions into Reality – Part Three

January 9, 2010

White Knuckle Necessity

My Idea of Heaven

Once our goals are properly set and we work to put them in manageable pieces so that we “don’t choke” thereby allowing success to breed success, we have to hold on.

­­I will never forget the first time that I learned to water ski. I jumped in the water from the boat and was thrown the skis.  With my life jacket keeping me afloat, I clumsily slid the skis on with an excitement I could almost taste.  With the skis finally on, I was thrown the rope and given my instructions.

With my buddy’s dad, at the helm of the boat, I received the two pieces of advice that were “guaranteed” to get anyone up on their first time.  From his seat behind the steering wheel, he barked out that to get up, I had to keep the rope in between the skis.  Then, he gave me the most important thing to concentrate on.

I was to hold on—no matter what, he told me that if I wanted to water ski, it was imperative that I hold on.  He said that if I would, I’d eventually get pulled up out of the water.  Once I was up, he was sure it would get easy and I’d figure it out from there.

The engine started up and the boat began to slowly move away.  The rope became taught, and as it did, I didn’t let that rope out from in between my skis for one second.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am most comfortable keeping the rules.  I’d been given two here and I was going to give all I had to keep them.

With the first part taken care of, I began to concentrate on the other piece of advice I’d been given, and over and over simply kept thinking, “Hold on. Just hold on.”

With everything in place I took a big breath, looked at my buddies sitting in the group and called out, “Hit it!”

The boat’s motor roared, and as the rope became taught, I looked down at my knuckles.  They were white.  I was holding on with such resolve—so tightly that the blood could no longer get through my fingers.

Holding on with all my might, the rope snapped tight and with a force I was totally and completely unprepared for, and yanked me forward.

I’d done everything I was told to the tee.  However, with the rope in between my skis and my legs unprepared for the strength it was going to take to keep them straight, I flew head first through my skis and, like a submarine, I was pulled underwater for what seemed like the entire length of the reservoir.

I couldn’t believe the water I was taking in, but I was true to the second rule and kept telling myself, “Hold on. Just hold on and you’ll get up.”

Of course, in the boat, they were having a good ol’ time talking and laughing, forgetting to watch the skier (me), and when they finally did look back and saw me skimming just below the surface of the water, they screamed at the top of their lungs for me to let go.  But I would have none of it.  I was going to get up and knew that the only way I was ever going to get that done was to hold on.  I have to admit it seemed an odd way to get up on skis, but I was going to keep true to the instructions I’d been given.

Finally, it was too much for my arms to bear; I let go, and floated to the top with a belly full of “Lucky Peak Reservoir” for my efforts.

Dedicated to get up, I got further instruction, and after a few tries, finally put all the pieces together and found myself upright on a pair of water skis.  Up on those skis, behind that boat I looked around and realized I’d also found one of the real loves of my life.

In the end, however, I understood that his advice was right—If you hold on, just hold on, eventually you’ll end up with success.

Success doesn’t come every time; we all know that—especially on the first try.  But, it does come, and most often to those who hold on to what they want with the same “White Knuckles” I used to hold on to that ski rope.

We have to decide what we really want and then hold on to those things with a “White Knuckled Necessity” if we want success.

If you want more money in 2010—a better job, less weight, more spirituality, better family relationships, or the like, you have to decide to use goals and resolutions to get there.  However, that is more that just wishing for things to be different.  Like anything worthwhile, it takes effort.

You have to make/set proper goals that are specific, have accountability and are measurable.  You have to break the things you chase into manageable pieces, so you “don’t choke” on your first try.  Then you have to hold on.  Through good times and bad, when you feel the goal is doable and when you don’t you have a chance, you have to use the same mantra I used to learn to ski, “Hold on. Just Hold on!”

When you do, you find some of the real loves of your lives.  I promise.

Here’s to a fantastic 2010 filled with resolutions accomplished and goals achieved.

Go get ‘em


Making Resolutions Into Reality – Part Two

January 4, 2010

Don’t Choke

Joey Chestnut With The Famed "Mustard Belt"

Once we change our dreams into goals by being specific, becoming accountable, and making them measurable (for how to do that, click here) we then have to give ourselves a chance to succeed, and then allow that success to continue moving toward more success.

In order to do this, we can follow the example of one Joseph “Jaws” Chestnut.

In the world of eating competitions, “Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest” is king.

For those of you unfamiliar with the contest here’s a little background from Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog’s own website

The Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest Each Fourth of July a group of 20 steely-eyed individuals line up behind a 30-foot table at Nathan’s flagship restaurant on Surf Avenue in Coney Island to begin the world hot dog eating championship. At 12 Noon, crushed by fans and media, the competitors begin the historic 12-minute contest.

According to archives, the Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest was first held in 1916, the year Nathan’s opened on Surf Avenue. The contest has been held each year since then, except in 1941, when it was canceled as a protest to the war in Europe, and in 1971, when it was canceled as a protest to civil unrest and the reign of free love.

In the entire history of the contest, when those 20 “steely-eyed” individuals line up against each other in this test of gluttony, there has been one name feared above all the others—Kobayashi.

In his rookie appearance in 2001, Takeru “The Tsunami” Kobayashi doubled the previous record by downing 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes (buns and all).  This number was so unexpected, that as Kobayashi’s numbers got higher and higher, the organizers ran out of signs indicating how many dogs Kobayashi had eaten and had to resort to handwritten signs.

From the day he stepped on the stage of competitive eating, Kobayaski’s name was synonyms with dominance. He won the famous “Mustard Belt” every year from 2001-2007, breaking his own amazing record every year he competed, save one.  Everyone believed him unbeatable, and the greatest competitor in the history of the game.

Everyone but Joey Chestnut.  In 2007 Chestnut lined up against “The Tsunami” for the third time.  His previous attempts were valiant—a third place finish in ’05 and a second place finish in ’06, where he lost by 1¾ HDB (Hot Dog & Bun),

2007 was different for Chestnut, as he finally beat the feared Kobayaski and set a new world record by eating 66 HDB in twelve minutes.

The question is how did he do it.  How does a man eat 66 HDB in 12 minutes?  Certainly not all at once.  He has to do it one HDB at a time.

As we work to tackle our properly set Resolutions and goals, we would do well to follow Chestnut’s example.

He would never have reached his lofty objective by trying to eat all 66 HDB at once.  He had to take them at his pace, a little at a time.  Even though it’s amazing that he didn’t choke eating 66 HDB in 12 minutes; he would have definitely choked on 66 HDB all at once.

We have to look at our goals the same way.

If we set a goal and try to accomplish it all in one chunk, then we will choke on our failure.  However, if we take our goals a bite at a time then, like Joey, we will amaze ourselves, an others, by the feats we “eat up.”

Look at your goals in small increments—break them down into pieces.  Then, reward yourself for every piece accomplished.  There is nothing that will spur us on than a good ‘ol reward—Problem is, if we have to wait until then end of the year to reward ourselves, all we get is a whole lot of discouragement and end up ready to quit before we begin.

If you have a resolution for the year, break it up into more manageable sections, and then reward yourself for achieving each section.  Achievement yields achievement, just like success breeds success.  Most of the time the biggest challenge in reaching our goals is our inability to allow ourselves to feel like we are achieving and succeeding along the way.

I often hear that people should have one-year, three-year, and five-year goals—and I think that’s fantastic.  But, if you ever want to accomplish your one, three and five year goals, you’d better have one, three and five week goals to get you there.

Break it up, and enjoy the journey.  Give your chance to feel great about what your doing right now.  Give yourself the chance to feel like you’re accomplishing your resolution, and before you know it, you’ll not only set New Years Resolutions at the beginning of the year, but you’ll achieve those New Year’s Resolutions at the end of the year as well.


Check out part 3 of 3 in my next post

And, if you think you have the “stomach” for it, here is a video of Joey Chestnut’s triumphant win over Kobayashi.

FYI: Joey’s still the Champ. In 2008 when they changed the time limit from 12 minutes to 10 minutes Chestnut tied Takeru Kobayashi after eating 59 HDB in 10 minutes. The tie resulted in a 5-hotdog eat-off, which Chestnut won by consuming all 5 hot dogs before Kobayashi. In 2009 Chestnut topped his previous record of 66 HDB in 12 minutes by eating 68 HDB in 10 minutes.

Anyone want a Hot Dog?

The Corn Pop Principle

January 10, 2009

Corn Pops

When I broke my neck in the summer of 1986 I learned that paralysis means much more to your body than just the inability to walk. At first, the shock to your body is so great that essentially everything shuts down. In my case my lungs, my bladder, my bowels, my stomach and everything in between stopped working–kind of like a massive work stoppage. It was as if the union representing my legs went on strike and every other union in my body locked out in a show of brotherhood.

This forced the doctors to get involved and help my body do the work it was designed to do. Because my stomach wouldn’t work properly my first days in the ICU necessitated an IV. The IV however is not a long-term solution. Knowing that this was going to be a long-term problem the doctors inserted a feeding tube in my nose down my throat and into my stomach. Throughout the day the nurses would bring in bags of Ensure that they would hang on the IV pole and connect to my feeding tube for me to digest. Ensure is a liquid that’s has its proteins broken down making it substantially easier to digest.

I lived weeks on the feeding tube. Finally, to my utter excitement the doctors felt like my stomach was back to work, the tube could be pulled and I could eat real food again. Unfortunately, although my stomach had resolved its differences with management, the muscles in my arms still had some grievances and had not yet come back in off the picket line.

This meant that the nurses and aides had to feed me every meal. It’s amazing how unpleasant they could make a meal. Regardless of the variety of the food on the plate, the foods that I ate had absolutely no variety at all. For example, if for breakfast I ordered eggs, hash browns, French toast and bacon, the nurse or aide would choose one to begin with and not move on until it was completely gone.

If we started with eggs I didn’t eat anything else until I ate all my eggs. Then, and only then, they would move to the bacon and I didn’t get anything else until I ate all my bacon. I remember watching a movie once where the star talked about eating “the perfect bite.” This was a bite that had a little bit of everything on the plate at once. The nurses and aides that fed me had obviously never heard of “the perfect bite.” They hadn’t even heard of “the mediocre bite,” “the average bite,” or even “the it’s kind of okay but not really bite.”

You can imagine then the excitement I felt when the doctor said I was finally ready to feed myself. My first “all by myself” meal was breakfast. I was so enthused I could hardly see straight. I was going to start with whatever I wanted and move through the plate with “perfect bite” after “perfect bite.” My fork and I were going to make some beautiful music.

In order to create this culinary symphony, I ordered up all the instruments. My breakfast plate had ham, bacon, sausage, eggs, toast, pancakes, fruit, yogurt, and best of all, Corn Pops.

As the plate sat before me, with my spoon in hand, I had to decide which player I would choose to open my masterpiece. Not wanting things to get soggy, I chose Corn Pops. The nurse arranged my plate accordingly and ask if there is anything else she could do to help. Thinking that she had done quite enough already, I invited her to leave. Now, it was just me and my breakfast.

As giddy as Christmas morning I placed my spoon in my bowl of Corn Pops. Wanting this first bite to be “perfect” I made sure to get the right amount of Corn Pops accompanied by just enough milk. Then, as I went to lift the spoon to my mouth I realized that the morning was not going to go down exactly the way I thought.

Working to get that first bite I found out that just because the doctor said I had the strength in my arms to feed myself didn’t mean it was so. As I tried to bring my utensil to my lips the strain was so great I felt like I was in an Olympic weightlifting competition.  It was as if my spoon weighed 1000 pounds. I pushed myself to get that first bite. The spoon rose as Corn Pop after Corn Pop and drop of milk after drop of milk fell onto my hospital gown until finally the only thing that reached my mouth was a cold, empty, spoon.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again,” I thought as I dipped my spoon into the bowl again. The bite looked just as good as its predecessors, and the results were just as bad. Again and again I worked to get my first taste of success.

Finally with every muscle giving every effort I got a bite–one bite.  A bite that consisted of one small Corn Pop with a splash of milk.

Breakfast was over. The nurse came in to remove my tray and said it looked as though everything I ordered was either still on my tray or now on my gown. Completely worn out and as tired as I had been in a long time I told her that although for the most part she was correct, something was missing.

I explained that during the course of working to get my breakfast from my plate to my mouth I had successfully moved one Corn Pop and the little milk from the bowl to my belly. She asked if I would like her to help me eat the rest of my breakfast. I told her I was fine and that she could take my tray.

I was full–not because of what was in my stomach, but because of the feeling in my heart. I had set out that morning to feed myself breakfast and although it wasn’t the biggest breakfast I had ever eaten, I had eaten. It was the feeling of accomplishment that filled me that day. Never before and never since has a Corn Pop tasted so good or meant so much.

That day I learned “The Corn Pop Principle.”–There is no way to better improve our self worth than to finish a job; one spoonful at a time.  Achieve to finish–not to see how that finish stacks up against the rest.

As we work daily to achieve success is important that we remember “The Corn Pop Principle” It’s important that we value accomplishment. So often accomplishment only becomes important to us if that accomplishment ranks higher than the accomplishment of others. “The Corn Pop Principle” teaches us that what’s important is that we work hard to complete the tasks we take on. Although it’s nice to have that task’s completion recognized by others it’s not what matters most. Finding our “Champion Inside” requires us to place significant value and high personal praise on our accomplishments regardless of where they fall in reference to others.

I have had breakfasts where I have eaten more food and I have had breakfasts where I have eaten better food. But, I have never had a breakfast that tasted better. It was only one Corn Pop and little milk, but I earned it on my own. If we let it, accomplishment can be the savor of our lives as it helps each day taste a little better.