There are days in our lives that we will never forget unless we are stricken with Alzheimer’s. I will never forget May 11, 2001. So on the ten year anniversary of that day, I’ve decided to look back and reflect.
It was a day filled with friends, family, and the combination of a dream come true.
Ten years ago today, I graduated from USC. Now, if you told me that I would be graduating from USC three years prior, I would have called you crazy, because up until September of ‘98, I always thought that I could never go to college. It hurt so much. But…I decided to throw logic out the window, caution to the wind, and just do it. I had no idea what to expect. My dad thought I would call him two weeks into my first semester and say, I can’t do this. Both he and I are so happy I didn’t make that call.
I could write pages about that day, but some of you have to get back to work and I respect that. Here are some of the highlights.
- My parents taking me out...
A couple of months ago, my friend from college Sami and I went to Utah and Lake Tahoe. I went to Utah to see my mentor and colleague Frank Miles speaks and to hang out with him. We then went to Tahoe to see my best friend Patrick and to ask him if he wanted to move back down to California to help me out in my new house.
It was one of those trips where nothing went right. First, I could not get a handicapped cab for a couple of hours from Utah airport to my hotel. The next morning, I had arranged a cab from the hotel to the venue that Frank was speaking at and the driver never showed up. Luckily, the venue was in walking distance from my hotel. There were more problems when we got to Reno, which I’m not going to get into. By the time we got to the Tahoe hotel, I was physically and emotionally drained.
My life and my disability present many physical and emotional challenges. I don’t know what’s worse the emotional or the physical. I remember telling a friend of mine...
I like to read books about success.
Last year I read a book, and reread it recently, called The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. The book describes how a simple checklist can dramatically improve productivity.
It seems at times we are so focused on the “big picture” that the details of life get somehow lost. For example, if you are going to the grocery store, you will probably remember the main ingredient in the dish that you are cooking, but a pedestrian item on your list such as milk might get forgotten. This is because you assume of course you have to get milk. A simple list will allow you to not be forced to remember all the little things.
Although forgetting milk is no big deal, there are often parts of our daily lives that we forget to do. We push aside what we think are non-significant tasks and we don’t perform them as much as we should.
Gawande takes the reader into the ER, where he implemented a checklist before he did surgery. They would check...
Andrew waited the obligatory 48 hours to call her back. Even though he scrolled down to her name ten times in two days, he felt pathetic. In their short time together, he found out that Karen worked at a PR firm; the conversation was interesting with a sexy undertone.
Up until this point, Andrew had half a dozen girlfriends and a couple of casual female friends. He was ready to stop dating for the sake of dating, he was ready to find a wife. His last two relationships were going nowhere so he called them off.
Lesson: Andrew spent the last few years defining and picturing what he wanted in life.
After a hard day at work dealing with a client who didn’t understand anything about anything, his mind started to wander. He asked himself, what would my day be like if I had someone like Karen to go home to? Would that make everything better? He tried to shake the feeling off but for some reason he couldn’t.
Lesson: Andrew let his emotions take a hold...
Andrew was a lawyer in his early 30s. He just went partner in his law firm and had spent his 20s in law school and working his way up in his firm. He came from a big Italian family and was ready to settle down. It seemed that he was at a friend’s wedding or a bachelor party almost every other weekend. It was time for him to settle down.
Lesson: Andrew identified exactly what he wanted.
One Friday night in the middle of summer, his friend called him up and said a group of guys were going to a bar downtown. Having a hard week, he waffled about it and wondered if he should go out. After a few texts back and forth, he decided to go. Even though he loves his friends, a primary reason that he went was to meet and flirt with women even though he particularly did not like meeting them at a bar.
Lesson: Andrew knew that in order to fulfill his goals he had to get out there.
He met up with friends around nine for a late dinner. Most of his friends he knew for over 10 years. Some of them...
Two nights ago after having dinner with my family and Pat, I called a good friend of mine Artin from college then slid into bed, where I turned on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I love comedy and satire. He had on Miguel Nicolelis, a professor from Duke University. They developed a suit that disabled people can put on and simply by thinking–through their brainwaves–a disabled person can walk and move without assistance.
For the last couple of months I have been thinking about movement. I found myself looking at people and seeing how they move. At times it’s hard for me to have body calmness that other people have. At restaurants I see people putting their hands in their laps. What’s ironic is the fact that I sit in my chair that is over $30,000, has cushions and support, and here they are sitting in their chair that costs no more than fifty bucks and they are more comfortable than I am. I also watch people run up stairs, people in crowds navigating their...
Andy Grove famously said only the paranoid survive.
For the last couple of weeks, I have been writing about my own need to find some kind of balance in my life. This week I am going to argue against taking it easy.
I always look at the traits of successful people and one thing I notice in most of them is that they do not rest on their laurels. Sure, they take time off, they go have fun, they party. At some point or another, successful people get neurotic, want more, and nothing is enough.
There is no doubt that I get neurotic about my goals and sometimes I go too far. I get that. The fact is that I want to see so much in my lifetime and I accept that it is harder for me than most people. I don’t like it, but I accept it. With that being said, in order for me to succeed, I have to be neurotic. There are some things that are easier for me to do than most people, like writing this blog. I can have a blog post done in half an hour. Okay, enough bragging. On the other hand, there...
Last week I put up a blog post called Taking it Easy. First, let me report that right after I put up the post, I sent Kristi home early, turned on the USC game, shut off my computer, and went to lunch with my mom. Admittedly, maybe watching the Lakers game was not the best way to relax, because I become more neurotic during intense games. If they actually won the game instead of losing it, I would be more relaxed.
I received a comment on my post criticizing me for missing the mark:
Guess what… you are missing something right now! Not sure what it is but you are indeed missing it; that is how life works. I thought you were a marketing major? You should understand that human desires and emotions can be shaped and formed based upon perception versus reality. How many folks buy a new car thinking it will make them happier, sexier, etc? I read your book “Love Your Life…” and the one thing that struck me about you is your craving need and active search for what...
From the beginning of the year until now, I have been tough on myself to say the least. My best friend for 25 years, Patrick, says that I work too hard. I like working. I never think I am working hard enough. I think I put more pressure on myself than anybody does on me. I had to learn patience, and to tell you the truth, I am not a patient person. That’s not a good thing for someone who’s disabled. I always want to figure out a problem right away. To sum up, I am neurotic at times but I guess all successful people are neurotic.
I often get mad at myself for not tweeting enough, Facebook-ing enough, not reading enough articles, not having enough fun, not looking for a girlfriend, not connecting with enough people, and I am just exhausted dictating this sentence. I need to relax!
In the last two months, I have completed a manuscript of my autobiography, moved out of my parents’ house and into my own, gone to Vegas with Patrick, and except for winter break, have not...
Most days when Kristi comes in, we talk about my next steps as a writer, a speaker, and business owner. She is a writer herself and has a marketing background. When we got back into the thick of things early in January, I said that I wanted to be more methodical. I shared with her an idea I was playing with in the back of my mind and immediately she said, You’re writing it.
At the time, I did not know if it would be a book or an article, or just a blog post. But as it turns out, I started writing the second version of my autobiography and this Monday I finished it. I am emotionally exhausted and over the last 10 years I have really grown as a writer. This version is very mature compared to my earlier one, which was just anecdotal; this version is more reflective. I reflect on my disability, love, life, and how I see the world.
It’s also very raw and that’s why I’m exhausted. I am also very invigorated because I saw how far I’ve come in my 33 years. I am...