Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Baseball Can Teach Us About Life

I am not a huge baseball fan, but this is a great article because it sums up some of the best lessons in life.  After reading this piece by Mike Robbins, I think I have changed my mind about the game of baseball.

Go Giants!


With all the excitement of the playoffs and the World Series (which, thanks to the success of the San Francisco Giants, we get to experience directly here in the Bay Area), I’ve been thinking about, watching, and appreciating the great game baseball a lot these past few weeks.  As someone who spent eighteen years of my life (from the age of seven until the age of twenty five) playing organized baseball and who has been a huge fan all my life, the game has taught me a great deal.

Whether you’ve played (or still play) baseball yourself, watch it as a fan, or even if you don’t particularly like it, understand it, care about it, or think it’s boring (which I know some people do), the game of baseball can teach us so many important things about life.

The fact that there are seemingly endless metaphors and universal life lessons that can be gleaned from baseball is one of the many things that make the game so interesting, exciting, and magical in my opinion.

Here are some key lessons from baseball I’ve been reminded of these past few weeks as I’ve been following the Giants with passion and enjoying the excitement of the post-season:

1)  Appreciate the moment. It’s so easy in life to take things for granted, focus too much on the outcome, and worry about our own agenda or performance - all things I did for much of my own baseball career.  Doing this, as we’ve all learned the hard way, causes us to miss the magic of the moment.  As I’ve continued to remind the folks within the San Francisco Giants organization whom I’ve had the honor of working with as a client this year, the most important thing to do in the midst of the excitement, intensity, and pressure of competition - whether it’s in baseball or in life - is to enjoy and be grateful for the experience right now.  As baseball teaches us, if we hold our breath and wait for it “all to work out,” if often doesn’t and we lose opportunity to appreciate what’s happening, while it’s happening, which is the only way we can authentically enjoy anything in life.

2)  Take it one step at a time. As most baseball coaches preach to their players - “Take things one pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time, one inning at a time, and one game at a time.”  While these may be some of the oldest baseball cliches in the book, they’re cliches for a reason - they’re true, and not just for baseball.  The better you are at letting go of what just happened, not worrying about what’s coming up, and staying in each moment of your experience as it happens - the more likely you are to enjoy yourself and perform at your best.  You never know how things are going to unfold and you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself.  According to all of the “experts,” the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies were supposed to be playing in the World Series, not the Giants and the Texas Rangers.

3)  Focus on what you can control. In baseball, work, and life, there are so many things we can’t control (i.e. what other people do, external factors, and ultimately the results), but we always have control over our attitude and our effort.  Remembering what you can and can’t control, and putting your attention on your attitude and effort are key elements in staying focused and positive, and in reducing stress and negativity.  In baseball, if you waste your time getting upset about the calls by the umpire, the play of the other guys on your team, the decisions your manager makes, the weather conditions, what the fans and media have to say, and more, you’ll make yourself crazy and render yourself ineffective in the game.  The same is true in life - we spend and waste so much energy on stuff we have no control over.  When we shift our focus to what we can control (our attitude and effort), we’re empowered.

4)  Failure is part of the game. There is so much failure in baseball, even when you’re a really good player or team.  Cody Ross, an outfielder for the Giants, won the Most Valuable Player award of the National League Championship Series against the Phillies last week.  He had a great series and hit .350, which is a fantastic batting average.  However, this means he got out (i.e. failed) 65% of the time.  Even when you’re considered the “best,” which he was for that series, you still have to deal with a lot of failure in baseball.  The two teams in the World Series this year, the Giants and the Rangers, each lost 70 and 72 games respectively during the regular season.  That’s a lot of failure…and, they’re really good!  This is also true in life.  The question isn’t whether or not we’ll fail; it’s how we’ll deal with it when it happens that’s most important.  Remembering that failure is an essential part of the game of life can help us let go of unnecessary fear, worry, and self judgment.

5)  Swing hard, just in case you hit it. Our fear of failure and embarrassment often holds us back from really going for it.  There were many times in my baseball career that I played tentatively, so as not to fail or lose. However, the best way to approach the game, as well as life itself, is with passion. Juan Uribe, the Giants third baseman, hit the game winning home run in Game 6 of last week’s National League Championship Series (sending the Giants to the World Series).  He’s a guy who swings about as hard as anyone in baseball.  Sometimes he misses and can look bad at the plate.  However, when he hits it, as he did last weekend, he has the ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark and win the game in heroic fashion.  Swinging hard in life, just in case we hit it, is a great way to approach many of the important things we do.  Imagine what your life and career would look like it you weren’t afraid to fail or embarrass yourself?

6)  Don’t be a front-runner. During the post-season, there are lots of “front-runners,” (i.e. fans, media, and others jumping on the “band wagon” when a team starts winning games and doing well). We live in a culture that loves winners and makes fun of losers. While this makes sense in baseball and sports, it can be quite damaging in business, relationships, and life. Sadly, we’re often “front-runners” with ourselves - thinking that we’re only as good as our performance or liking ourselves better based on external factors (money, accomplishments, weight, status, etc.). The most successful baseball players I’ve ever seen or known and the most fulfilled people I’ve ever been around, don’t get too caught up in their own “hype” when they’re doing well and don’t get too stuck in their own “black hole” when they’re in a slump. Keeping it real with yourself and others and not being a front-runner is critically important to creating authentic success and fulfillment in life.

7)  It ain’t over ’til it’s over. As the great and somewhat quirky hall-of-fame catcher from the New York Yankees Yogi Berra famously said, “It’s ain’t over ’til it’s over.” This is, of course, true in baseball and in life. So often individuals and teams get counted out - which was true for both of the teams playing in this year’s World Series, as well as many of the individual players on both squads, especially the Giants. However, baseball is a game of many second chances and opportunities for redemption - just ask Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers. His story of recover from addiction is inspiring and a great example of perseverance. We are confronted on a daily basis in life with opportunities to give up, give in, and quit. Remembering that “it ain’t over ’til it’s over” is important for us in those low moments when we feel like throwing in the towel. Don’t give up - you never know what’s going to happen; as we’re continually reminded about through the great game of baseball and the great experience of life.

Whether you love baseball like I do, get into it from time to time (especially at this time of year), or think it’s a ridiculous and boring game - I hope you’re able to watch the World Series over this next week and not only appreciate it for the exciting sporting event that it is, but also look more deeply into the beautiful way it can teach us so much about ourselves and how to live life to its fullest.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Inspiration vs. Motivation

As you probably know by now if you have been reading my blog over the last year, I love words and the way they can have an impact on our perception of things.  Two words can be similar yet just slightly different and they completely change our behavior if we look closely.

This piece is from a great blog called "Illuminated Mind".

I think the author has done an excellent job of deciphering the nuances between "inspiration" and "motivation".


It may seem like a subtle distinction, but the worlds of motivation and inspiration are millions of miles apart.

A lot of people use the words “motivated” and “inspired” interchangeably. But I’ve found something different to be the case.
When I try to motivate myself, nine times out of ten I’m pushing myself to do something I don’t really care about.
Motivation is about psyching yourself up. Chest-pounding. Fire-walking. Heavy-metal riffs. You get the point.
Inspiration comes from a completely different place. The word inspiration means to be in spirit. When you’re tuned into your spirit, you are naturally drawn to do whatever feels best. You may do things that aren’t outwardly productive. Or you may write a book in 30 days. Either way, it’s all good because fulfillment is the end result.
Motivation, on the other hand, usually has a lot to do with fake growth. You think you should be doing something (without thinking about why) and it often leads in the direction of something that doesn’t really matter. It’s what you’re “supposed” to be doing. It’s just a good idea, not a passionate, burning desire that emanates from the core of your being.
So, motivation is about things that you think you should do or that you’re supposed to do. Inspiration is about being called to act because you’re in direct alignment with the magnetic, luminous marrow of potential that is you.
When you’re inspired you know because…
  • Life feels effortless.
  • You have to hold yourself back from starting right now.
  • Your passion burns steady, it doesn’t flatline.
  • It occupies magnitudes of mental space, there’s no vacancy.
  • You feel called to do this; the feeling comes from your core.
  • You feel it in your bones.
Continual inspiration is about continual realignment
You might be thinking… “How do I get inspired?” Well, you can’t. Inspiration isn’t something you get, it comes from within, it comes from your core.
So being inspired isn’t about doing something external to bring something in. That’s motivation, remember?
Being inspired is about a constant process of realignment. Whenever you’re feeling like you have to push, it’s time to realign. Whenever you’re feeling like you’re not enjoying life, it’s time to realign. Whenever you feel like you’re trying to fulfill a quota or expectation, it’s time to realign.
Realignment isn’t anything complicated. It’s very simple, actually. All it involves is drawing inward and exploring what you really want. Your home cosmography, as Thoreau put it.
So, what do you really want? Not what should you want, not what you think might be a good idea for you to want. What lights you up? Once you’ve got a grasp on that, stay with it for a little while. Bathe in it, savor it. Taste it on your tongue. Feel it tingling down your spine.
It feels good, doesn’t it?
If it doesn’t feel good, you’re still not there. Keep going.
Once you’ve come to that state of anticipation, you’re inspired. You’re In Spirit. And you’d rather have that than trying to motivate yourself, right?

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I am always fascinated by this concept and I found a passage in "Simple Abundance" by Sarah Ban Breathnach that I loved (thank you to an Oxygen member for telling me about this book).  It's concise and gets us to think about the most important questions to ask ourselves.

Tolerable compromises are those we enter into fully - with complete knowledge in advance of exactly what we are surrendering.  The other kind of compromises - the ones many of us make day in and day out - are the strong, silent type.  They're strong because we're stuck with them and silent because they're unconscious or unspoken.  
Compromises are the art of the bottom line. We can bend only so far and then we break.  Knowing how far you can bend is the first step in making sane agreements, but this isn't as easy as it sounds.
The more complicated life becomes, the simpler your bottom line must be.  How about this.  What "must" you have from this situation?  What do you absolutely "need"?  If you need it, you must have it.  It's non-negotiable.  If you didn't "need" it to survive, it - whatever "it" is - wouldn't be a need.  Then it would be a want.  Unfortunately, "wants" are the currency of compromise.  I want, you want, we all want, which is why we bargain.  Keep in mind your want might be another's legitimate need.  The best compromises, like a workable lifestyle, cover all your needs while satisfying a few of your wants.
If you dread it, don't agree to it.  If you do end up doing it despite your dread, you'll despise the whole deal, including the woman who agreed to it: you.
Be affable.  Try to see the other person's point of view.  Be flexible.  Be as generous as you can without gagging.  Ask that the highest good for all parties be achieved.  Trust your instincts.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What to Do if You Can't Find Your Passion

Sometimes the question, "what are you passionate about?" is daunting.  Elizabeth Gilbert has done an interesting job of changing the semantics on that question and she asks, "what are you curious about?".  I think the gist of this question and the concept is just as important for our children to think about as they grow up and decide what they want to do as it is for us as adults.


What to Do if You Can't Find Your Passion
By Elizabeth Gilbert

from   October 11, 2010

When Elizabeth Gilbert's passion went AWOL, she was shocked, bereft...and stumped—until she got a piece of advice that led her back to the thing she was meant to do.
I've always considered myself lucky that I do not have many passions. There's only one pursuit that I have ever truly loved, and that pursuit is writing. This means, conveniently enough, that I never had to search for my destiny; I only had to obey it. What am I here for? No problem! I'm here to be a writer, and only a writer, from my first cigarette to my last dying day! No doubt about it! 

Except that two years ago, I completely lost my life's one true passion, and all my certainties collapsed with it. 

Here's what happened: After the unexpected success of Eat, Pray, Love, I diligently sat down to work on my next project—another memoir. I worked hard, as always, conducting years of research and interviews. And when I was finished, I had produced a first draft that was...awful. 

I'm not being falsely modest here. Truly, the book was crap. Worse, I couldn't figure out why it was crap. Moreover, it was due at the publisher. 

Demoralized, I wrote a letter to my editor, admitting that I had utterly failed. He was nice about it, considering. He said, "Don't worry. You'll figure it out." But I did worry, because for the first time in my life, I had absolutely no passion for writing. I was charred and dry. This was terrifyingly disorienting. I couldn't begin to know who I was without that old, familiar fire. I felt like a cardboard cutout of myself. 

My old friend Sarah, seeing me so troubled, came to the rescue with this sage advice: "Take a break! Don't worry about following your passion for a while. Just follow your curiosity instead." 

She was not suggesting that I ditch my passion forever, of course, but rather that I temporarily ease off the pressure by exploring something new, some completely unrelated creative endeavor—something that I could find interesting, but with much lower emotional stakes. When passion feels so out of reach, Sarah explained, curiosity can be a calming diversion. If passion is a tower of flame, then curiosity is a modest spark—and we can almost always summon up a modest spark of interest about something. 

So what was my modest spark? Gardening, as it turned out. Following my friend's advice, I stepped away from my writing desk and spent six months absentmindedly digging in the dirt. I had some successes (fabulous tomatoes!); I had some failures (collapsed bean poles!). None of it really mattered, though, because gardening, after all, was just my curiosity—something to keep me modestly engaged through a difficult period. (At such moments, believe me, even modest engagement can feel like a victory.) 

Then the miracle happened. Autumn came. I was pulling up the spent tomato vines when—quite suddenly, out of nowhere—I realized exactly how to fix my book. I washed my hands, returned to my desk, and within three months I'd completed the final version of Committed—a book that I now love. 

Gardening, in other words, had turned me back into a writer. 

So here's my weird bit of advice: If you've lost your life's true passion (or if you're struggling desperately to find passion in the first place), don't sweat it. Back off for a while. But don't go idle, either. Just try something different, something you don't care about so much. Why not try following mere curiosity, with its humble, roundabout magic? At the very least, it will keep you pleasantly distracted while life sorts itself out. At the very most, your curiosity may surprise you. Before you even realize what's happening, it may have led you safely all the way home. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

You're Only as Happy as Your Saddest Child

I have always thought that is such a depressing quote, but ever since I gave birth to my first child, I can say that it holds true.  I was trying to think the other day if before I had children, I was able to feel the pain of another human being the way I feel the pain of my children.  I can’t remember ever having the feeling.
It is actually a true testament to parental love that you could care so much for your child that you actually ache when they feel emotional or physical pain.  The problem is it doesn’t help them.  As Wendy Mogel wrote in her book, “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee”, what benefits them is just knowing you are there and finding a way to help them grow into self-reliant adults.  
The dilemma in many situations is helping them look at multiple sides of a problem and, at the same time, making sure the decision they make is theirs.  Even though it feels like you help them if you make the decision for them, it doesn’t help anyone.  They need to learn how to make the decision on their own and live with the consequences of what they decide.  It’s crucial that when they look back, they know it was their decision, not yours.
But, playing the role of supporter from afar of whatever decision they make is not easy when you are feeling their pain.  It is especially hard not to inject your opinions so strongly that they can’t hear their own hearts.  
I remember wanting to quit law school and hearing the advice of each of my parents.  In the end, I made my own choice and it was the right choice because it was mine, not because it was “right”.
So, when I think of my happiness based on my saddest child, I also try to remember that it’s not all about happiness and sadness and right and wrong, but learning lessons that are life long and helping our children grow into adults who trust themselves and the decisions they make.


Friday, October 08, 2010

The Race to Nowhere

An Oxygen member sent this to me and I wanted to pass it on.  It's a film about what we are doing to our teenagers with stress over academics and the concept of "success".  The film is called "Race to Nowhere".

There is a trailer on the site about the film as well as places where the film will be screened.

It's an amazing documentary and one to give us all food for thought.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Are You Annoyed by Excessively Cheery People? Or Extremely Gloomy People?

I like this article because many times I find myself pushing my viewpoint on others.  I try not to and I am improving, but as my son says to me, “Mom, you always assume people live their life the way you do and believe what you do”.  He is right.  I need to be more open to how others live and be respectful.  It doesn’t prevent me from living the life I want and believing in my own values.  To each his own, as they say.

This is a piece from “The Happiness Project” blog by Gretchen Rubin.


It’s hard to have a real, new insight. But I think I may have had one. I’m still thinking through and testing this hypothesis, and I’d appreciate hearing if this rings true to you. 

Here it is:

Happiness has a surprisingly mixed reputation. Some people believe — wrongly — that happiness correlates with stupidity or self-absorption. Some people believe — wrongly — that others are generally attracted to unhappiness in others.

When I talk to people about these assumptions about happiness, I sometimes get a response that puzzles me. People say, “True, it’s no fun to be around someone who’s in the dumps all the time. But it’s also annoying to be around someone who’s unfailingly cheerful and chirpy, a Pollyanna who refuses ever to acknowledge that the glass is half-empty or to be realistic about things.”

What’s puzzling to me: I never seem to encounter people like this. Tiggers, to me, don’t seem to be nearly as common as Eeyores. (And lest you imagine that I myself am a Tigger — I’m not. I’m a hurried, distracted, reserved kind of person. Not overly sunshiny. One of the reasons I started a happiness project was to be more positive; as they say, research is me-search.)

What was less puzzling: the people who complained about the Tigger/Pollyanna types seemed to be on the downbeat side — Eeyores — themselves.
Still, I wondered, where were all these Tiggers, and why did others find them annoying?

Then, it dawned on me — and here’s what may be a big insight — perhaps the Tigger emerges in response to the Eeyore, and vice versa. To offset the Eeyore’s complaining, downbeat, and pessimistic attitude, the Tigger becomes ever more bouncy and insistently cheery. And of course, in a frustrating cycle, the Eeyore feels the need to interject some realism and bite into the situation. Which drives the Tigger to take an ever more upbeat attitude.

I’m reminded of some scenes from the movie Happy-Go-Lucky, when the cheery main character Poppy takes driving lessons from a sour instructor. As the two interact, they drive each other further into their positions, and they enrage each other: she becomes more stubbornly positive, he becomes increasingly negative. Neither of them shows the slightest empathy for the other’s point of view, and as each tries to convert the other, they destroy their bond.

This dynamics demonstrates the importance of the resolution to Acknowledge the reality of other people’s feelings. If Tiggers insist, “Hey, it’s not that bad,” or “There’s no point in worrying about it,” or “Look on the bright side!” Eeyores feel all the more emphatic on insisting on the correctness of their attitude. The more Eeyores say, “Life isn’t fair,” “It’s best to be prepared for the worst,” and “You’re not facing reality,” the more frantically Tiggers act as cheerleaders. Tigger and Eeyore feel increasingly frustrated by the one-sided attitude of the other — and increasingly determined to offset it. If Eeyore and Tigger could acknowledge the truth of each other’s feelings, they might slacken the tension.

If you’re annoyed at home or at work by the presence of an unfailingly chirpy, cheery person, ask yourself: Is someone causing a negativity imbalance that’s demanding a positivity counter-balance from this person? A spouse who suffers from depression, a boss who is a constant nay-sayer? In fact, if you’re particularly annoyed by the Tigger in your midst, could you be the source of this imbalance?

The lesson for Tiggers may be this: you can’t “make” someone happy, and don't exhaust yourself trying; in fact, it may be counter-productive to try. The more you point out the reasons to see the glass as half-full, the more you may cause a person to dwell on the reasons to see the glass as half-empty, as a counter-balance to your well-intended cheer.

The lesson for Eeyores may be this: don’t try to force other people to adopt your point of view, even if you think it’s more realistic or more philosophically worthy. You can’t “make” someone see things your way, and you may actually make them shut their eyes tighter to what you’re trying to show.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Follow-up Comments on Vacation Rental Sites

Well, thanks to a few EntreNous blog readers who sent me the following additions to our vacation rental site list.  Also, I have added a link to an article about limits that have been put on short term rentals in a few cities.


1) Wanted to let you know about another great rental website - focussing on vacation homes in Massachusetts (Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket)  and in Florida.  It's
Very easy to use site - very informative and contains a great house search device which renters can use to specify the criteria most important to them.  I have our family's Cape homes listed on it - and I always get the nicest renters!  

2) I rented a house for my family at Donner Lake this summer through (also a sister site of and it was a good experience!

3) Link to article from Budget Travel, "Are Vacation Rentals Still Legit?":