Thursday, November 22, 2012

Hard Work

I've never really been the smartest person in the world.  I got good grades in high school and did pretty well in college, but I never really understood what I was doing, I was just good at playing the game of school.  Looking back on my life I've realized more and more that hard work is what has saved me time and again.

There are a few experiences that I can think of that taught me that hard work is both something that is useful and needed.

Example 1:  When I was in both junior high and high school, I wrestled.  When I was in junior high, I wrestled with both the junior high in the spring as well as with the high school during the winter.  The harder I worked, the more I loved it (I won't say that I got a lot better, because I really was never that great - no state championships here).  But because I invested myself in it, I appreciated it and love it more with every practice. 

Example 2:  As an LDS missionary, I found myself at some points not working as hard as I could have, and I will always regret that, but not the lessons I learned about hard work.  My mission taught me 2 things about hard work.  First, it taught me that hard work equals happiness, a lesson I had learned as a wrestler, but was strengthened while a missionary.  Second, it taught me that if I didn't work hard, then I would always regret it.  I have never in my life regretted working hard.

Example 3:  Since I have been married I have never just worked.  I have always been either a student and a worker, a student and a teacher, a teacher and a wrestling coach, a wrestling coach and a student, etc.  My family will be a constant, but I always seem to have something outside of the norm of home and work.  Do I regret this, no.  Is it hard, yes.  There have been days, weeks, and even months where I don't see a light at the end of the tunnel, but it always comes and I am always happy when it does, and it is always worth it.

Hard work is what is needed to be successful.  I think this country has lost a little bit of its elbow grease over the years.  It's time to roll up those sleeves and go to work.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Coaching Lessons

I'm going on my 5th year as the head wrestling coach at my high school.  I've had my doubts over the last couple of years as to whether or not I should continue, but I've hit a second wind recently.  I just wanted to share a few thoughts about what it is like to be a coach.

Last year there was one week I spent over 100 hours between teaching and coaching for my school.  I run regular practice as well as 2 morning practices each week.  Meets get me home between 9 and 10 at night.  Tournaments take up my whole Friday and Saturday.  My wife affectionatly refers to herself as a "wrestling widow".  Ironically, it is her that keeps nudging me to coach.

Lessons I've learned over the years...

Lesson #1: Surround yourself with good help.  I've had the priviledge of coaching with one of the finest people a head coach could ask for.  He has been around the program for over 15 years.  He knows how to get things done.  The kids love him (and fear him).  I have never heard a negative word come from this man.  I think I coach more to not let this man down than anything else somedays.  If you surround yourself with success, you will be successful.  Success doesn't equate to wealth, but it does equate with happiness.  Let those that are there to help, help you.  I've had to face a few deamons the las few years, and putting trust in others is one of them, bt he has not let me down.  I've also picked up a few others along the way that are constantly proding and looking for ways to improve.  I initially took the job because, well, lets be honest, I wouldn't have got my teaching job without it, but now it is part of me, and these coaches are also a part of it.

Lesson #2: Never miss an oppurtunity to teach.  I did a short reasearch paper with a friend of mine who I am attending UVU with to get a Masters Degree.  The topic was, "Why coaches make the best teachers!".  Sounds quite oxymoronic, but believe it or not, we do (or at least have the potential to).  The problem with teaching is that we often don't create an authentic environment in which to test and guide our students.  As a coach, it doesn't get more authentic.  You teach a skill, and then that wrestler uses that skill, then he comes back, you work on it again, then he uses it again, then you work on it again and add to it, then he uses it again.  Coaches know how to teach.  I work with 40-50 young men and women every year and I am constantly talking to them.  Asking them how their schoolwork is going, what their plans after high school are, whats going on at home, what their interests are, etc.  There are so many oppurtunities to listen, encourage, guide, and motivate.  Never miss that oppurtunity whether a parent, a mentor, a peer, a coach, or a friend.

Lesson #3: Follow Through!!!  If you say you are going to do something, do it, regardless of how long it takes or how far outside of your comfort zone it takes you.  You can earn or lose the respect of your fellow coaches and your athletes the moment they know you're not a Go-To guy.  I've tried my hardest to not make promises I can't keep as a coach, but the few times I have have backed me in a corner.  Walk the Talk.

and finally...

Lesson #4: Have fun.  There are a lot of good kids in this world who need to see that being an adult isn't scary, but rather it can be enjoyable.  I hear adults a lot trying to scare kids into being adults.  Sorry, but not a good tactic.  Regardless of what we think or do or say, they will grow up, but how they approach it is up to us.  As a coach, I've had days when I'm worn out or frustrated.  They respond to that.  Laugh, make a joke, be human for a few minutes.  Its okay to get down or frustrated, but kids see how we respond to that, and if they look up to you, will often try to navigate through their lives and problems the way they see us do it.  So if they see that you can still enjoy responsibility, perhaps they won't shy away from it so much.

These are just a few lessons I have learned over my short tenure of going on 5 years.  There are more I have learned and many more I hope to learn.  Whatever it is you're involved in, I hope these lessons apply to you.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Yes, I love Technology... (thank you Kip Dynamite)

Technology... it is both a blessing and a curse.  Most people have a love/hate relationship with it.  I wanted to explore some of the goods and the bads that come along with it.

Goods:  Life sure is easier and more entertaining.  If it was not for our societies advanced technology we would not have many of the luxuries that we have.  Medical technology is advanced(ing).  We are becoming smarter all the time because of technology.  We are able to communicate with anyone, anywhere (including while on the toilet, you know who you are), and at any time.  Conferences can be broadcast all over the world getting messages out instantly.  With it comes new advancements that create more higher paying jobs.  It entertains the masses, movies and television are better.  Games galore exist that can both educate while be entertaining at the same time (or just entertaining).  It is a beautiful time to be alive.

Bads:  Boy oh boy is it distracting though.  Texting while driving (or even worse, while standing in the line in front of me, move it already).  Ever seen that family with 3 kids in tow and every single one has an ear bud in or is playing a game or otherwise distracted.  How many of these kids are going to be living in mom and dad's basement for umpteen years, not while they finish college, but while they finish their quarter-pounder with cheese.  Jobs that used to require people to be in the United States are now being outsourced at an incredible rate.  I'm afraid someday my job is going to be taken by someone in another country and broadcast back to classrooms full of American students.  If our books, clothes, and equipment are all made somewhere else, why not send the rest over there.  The ability to get anything anytime and anywhere has killed our patience.  Can't get it now, then why even go for it, has become a prevalent attitude.

Good and bad exist because of our advanced technology.  Am I just an old person ranting for a return of the good ole' days?  Absolutely not, I don't have patience to rewind anymore.  But balance is required.  I doubt any of us will ever regret not watching enough T.V. or reading crappy blogs (not this one, others) about pointless dribble, but there is of course a time and place for it.  Take your kids on a walk, learn how to change your own brakes (a skill I acquired over the weekend), read a book, draw a picture, visit Antelope Island for 8 hours with your kids and hike, chase lizards and rabbits, and count the buffalo (another skill I acquired over the weekend).  But also, take a few minutes and check the football scores, watch an inspirational video and cry (try this one on for size or laugh (see or learn how the electoral college works (  Happy living.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thoughts on Democracy

As the presidential election looms, my mind drifts towards the purpose of democracy.  Here is what I've got...

Democracy Pros:  In ancient times, most people were uneducated and relatively poor.  Only a select few had education and the power or authority to make decisions such as, who to go to war with, who to tax and how much, what are people's rights and who should receive them, etc.  As education has become not only a privilege, but a right in this country, the common man and woman now has the ability to be a participant in the political process.  That is the beauty of democracy.  It leaves no one out (except convicted criminals, sorry bro, you do the crime, you do the time).  We have come a long way in this country when it comes to democracy.  We used to place restrictions on people who could vote such as; owning land, the ability to read the English language, being over 21, and being a man.  Historically we have been afraid of giving too much power to the masses, but we have it, and it is a huge responsibility.  Vote, get involved, make a difference.  As the old saying goes, those who do not vote, have not right to be upset at the decisions that are made by those they didn't vote for one way or another.

Democracy Cons:  In my opinion, the biggest problem with democracy is that democracy does not always put the best man or woman for the job in office, only those who are willing.  Is there a better candidate than Obama or Romney, most likely, but the political process requires a lot of sacrifices and a lot of money (over $500 million spent by both presidential candidates thus far).  That narrows the field down to a few.  The second biggest problem is also the greatest strength.  It puts the power to choose into the hands of average people.  In the last presidential election only about 1/2 of registered voters cast their vote.  Also, as we figured out in 2000, one vote truly can make a difference.  Not enough people are taking this responsibility very seriously.  If we become a nation of people who don't care, then we deserve what we get.  Average people tend to vote not according to their well researched opinions, but based on how their favorite movie star or sports athlete tells them to.  It takes time, that is true, but better to take a little time and do it right the first time and get it right than take no time and do it wrong and suffer through 4 years.

Do I believe in democracy, absoloutly.  We've tried almost everything else and this is what we've come up with.  We have learned from history and installed  a system that is the most fair and equitable.  Get out and vote in November not only for president, but for everything that requires a vote.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Capitalism & Socialism Thoughts

A few thoughts have crossed my mind recently and I thought it would be good to get them down on paper (so to speak).

As a history teacher I teach the youth about the emergence of the economic systems of capitalism and socialism.  I have become fascinated over the past few years with these subjects and have done extensive research on both.  Especially now that these topics are on the tips of political tongues in this country, I feel it is more important than ever to understand these issues.

Capitalism Pros:  Capitalism promotes competition which promotes ingenuity which promotes progress.  One upping the other guy is how society went from a bunch of hunter-gatherers to the sophisticated civilization that we live in today.  Capitalism is simply an extension of that belief.  It is the common man taking it upon himself to further his idea.  It promotes hard(er) work and personal accountability.  Power lies with the people which means a democracy is the preferred form of government, which I also agree is the best (that we have so far). 

Capitalism Cons:  Capitalism leads to unbelievable wealth for some.  In today's society it generally gives that wealth to those who produce the wants of society rather than the needs.  Does Mark Zuckerburg really deserve billions of dollars for creating Facebook?  Does Kobe Bryant need to make $20 million a year for playing basketball?  Capitalism rewards those who give the public what they want.  I don't want to go on some kick that teachers need to make more, but certainly there are those who give their whole lives for mediocre pay.  Capitalism allows us to choose what we put value on, and often I feel we put value on a lot of the wrong things. 

Socialism Pros:  The wealth that capitalism brings to the wealthy can often be unfair.  Socialism helps create a more equal playing field.  Socialism is meant to help those who work hard, but because they chose a profession that capitalism does not reward as heavily, they struggle.  A social worker goes to college from 4-6 years while a professional basketball player is 1 and Done.  The former makes $35,000 a year while the latter starts at several $100 thousand to several million a year.  Do we need social workers?  Do we need people to guide those who need help?  HEdoublehockeystick yeah we do.  But because capitalism doesn't reward these people, socialism picks up the slack for the capitalist system.

Socialism Cons:  Socialism creates collective laziness (at least too much socialism does).  Those who get without working have no motivation to work harder.  Those who work hard, or harder, and see little return for their hard work have no motivation to work any harder.  The Catch 22 of socialism is that it works best in a society of hard workers to support the few, but it works the least in a society of lazy workers to support the many.  As America gets lazier we are turning more and more to socialism, which creates even more collective laziness.  It is a vicious cycle that is difficult to ween off of.

Agree, disagree, it is up to you to decide.  Find out which representative (more than just the president, local representatives as well) aligns with what you believe and vote!!!