Patience

Yoda: Luke! You must complete the training.

Luke Skywalker: I can’t keep the vision out of my head. They’re my friends. I’ve gotta help them.

Yoda: You must not go!

Obi-Wan: Patience!

Luke: And sacrifice Han and Leia?

Yoda: If you honor what they fight for, yes!

Obi-Wan: If you choose to face Vader, you will do it alone. I cannot interfere.

Luke: I understand. R2, fire up the converters.

Obi-Wan: Luke. Don’t give in to hate. That leads to the Dark Side.

Yoda: Strong is Vader. Mind what you have learned. Save you it can.

Luke: I will and I’ll return. I promise. [flies off with X-Wing]

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Do you remember this scene from the second Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back? (1980) The young Luke Skywalker finds himself at a crossroads, faced with the hero’s eternal dilemma: stay and complete his training, or rush off (before his education is complete) to try and save his friends. As you can see above, Luke chooses to leave Master Yoda’s tutelage well before fully mastering his Jedi skills, hurrying off to battle with Darth Vader before he’s actually up to the challenge. As a result, let’s just say that Luke has his lunch (and his hand) handed to him on a platter.

Although we have no Death Stars to destroy back here on planet Earth, no black-clad, heavy-breathing villains to vanquish, we nevertheless find ourselves continually in predicaments similar to that of Luke’s.

Running One’s Stories

My girlfriend and I are running through the park yesterday on a warm, sunny, California afternoon when my partner — observing my relatively-slow jogging rate — suggests, “Ready to step up the pace?”

Nonplussed, I respond: “Give me a break! Can’t you see I’m struggling to keep up?”

Silence ensues, followed by a hurt: “I was just trying to help!”

What in the world has just happened here? One second we’re jogging along together in nature, the next we’re at each others’ throats.

7 Attitudes Towards Competition

“I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam: I looked into the soul of another boy.” –Woody Allen

It’s funny how the things we learn in elementary school stick in our heads and take on an element of “truth” as we get older. As far back as I can remember, for example, my teachers told me that I should *never* talk to other students while taking a test, for that would be *cheating*.

Choosing Your Lessons

I’ve always played sports — never particularly well, mind you — but I’ve always played something. In elementary school and junior high, I was all about football — that is, until the game graduated from flags to tackle, I stopped growing and everyone else started to loom over me. In high school, I took up tennis, made the school team, and lost *every* match I played against the country club set. (Okay, I lost to everyone else, too) As an adult, I got into ultimate frisbee, then biking, and most recently, volleyball. Like I said, I’ve never been an “A” level athlete, but I’ve always enjoyed the feeling of progressing from graceless beginner to competent, not-stumbling-too-badly intermediate. And that’s fine. I’ve never felt compelled to devote the 10,000 hours required to become really brilliant at a particular sport. I fancy myself more of a jack of all sports kind of guy.

But still there are times…times when I think, “I could really be good at this…”

Running on Empty

Trudging up the modest incline yesterday towards Spring Lake – huffing and puffing, chest tight, legs heavy as stones — I feel a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that this run is going to be a momentous struggle. To my utter dismay, this 50-year-old body of mine just isn’t responding the way it had on our last run, when my girlfriend and I had sped around the 6-mile course in Santa Rosa (CA)’s Howarth Park in record time, barely breaking a sweat. On this brisk, fall afternoon, however – red leaves lining our path and picking up the last golden light of the day – I am laboring significantly, my feet unable to lift much higher than a walnut. “This isn’t fair,” I say to myself. “Each of our previous runs over the last two months has been slightly better and measurably stronger than the one preceding it. And our last outing was the best yet. Effortless. So what’s the story today? What gives?”

James Bond, 007: Licensed to Improvise

Last Friday, I had a chance to watch the new James Bond film, “Skyfall”, with Daniel Craig reprising his role as the world’s smoothest super-spy. Don’t worry, 007 fans — I won’t give away the story! What I do want to share with you is my observations regarding the personality contrast between Bond and his nemesis in the movie: the evil Silva (Javier Bardem).

The 2012 Giants: World Champion Team- Building

Two days after my local baseball team, the San Francisco Giants, won the World Series (in a 4-game sweep over the Detroit Tigers), I’m still sitting at my desk, asking myself: How did they do it?

I mean, we’re not talking about the 1927 New York Yankees here. As a team competing for a championship, this year’s Giants team came into the playoffs with some serious flaws, namely:

Going, Going… Lagaan

When thinking about fun ways to spend an evening, I’m guessing very few people say to themselves, “You know, tonight I’d sure like to watch a 4-hour historical epic about cricket—with lots of Bollywood dancing.” And yet, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting, especially if we’re talking about Aamir Khan’s lavish 2001 spectacle, Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India. Never heard of it before? That’s not surprising. Outside of the Indian community, Bollywood films rarely receive the respect they deserve – particularly when a movie aspires to be more than a gushy, song-and-dance entertainment. Lagaan is much, much more than that: a big, open-hearted, adventure tale that is one of the best teambuilding stories you’re ever going to encounter.

“I’ve Got Your Back”

I watch a lot of action and sci-fi movies, and inevitably there’s a scene where the hero, preparing to rush into a gun fight, turns to his right-hand man (or woman, or Droid) and says, “You cover me”.

On the silver screen, this is a great “trust moment” for the protagonist — yes, they’re the one playing the hero and rushing selflessly into the line of fire, BUT they also realize that they can’t do it all alone; they acknowledge that, to succeed, they’ll needed a trusted teammate to “have their back”.

Does Motivation Through Penalty Really Work?

As you think over your life, which has motivated you the most: the promise of a reward or the threat of a penalty? This is a question I’ve been pondering a lot of late. Let’s say, for example, I set a goal for myself of exercising at least five times a week. I have two choices for motivating myself: I can 1) “incentivize” the process by giving myself a nice treat (let’s say a chocolate bar–yum!) upon each successful work out or 2) administer a stern, self-imposed penalty (perhaps liver and brussel sprouts for dinner–yuck!) for each failed exercise session. Which do you think is the least and the most effective?