“There is a wonderful, almost mystical, law of nature that says three of the things we want most—happiness, freedom, and peace of mind—are always attained when we give them to others. Give it away to get it back.”
John Wooden, legendary UCLA basketball coach
I got this pearl of wisdom from this week’s “3-2-1 Thursday” newsletter from author James Clear. Each week, he offers up 3 ideas, 2 quotes from others, and 1 question to ponder. If you’re not already on the email list, you can sign up here.
Yesterday I attended a happy hour with my old (both in age and tenure) buddies from Xavier. These gatherings actually are billed as “Hoppy Hour” because we meet at a different local brewery each month… and the person who picks the pub (we take turns) also picks up the tab.
A decade ago, we couldn’t have pulled off these monthly gatherings. But we’re off Little League duty now. Our kids can fend for themselves, so there’s a bit more free time in the ol’ schedule. Heck, we’ve got a few empty nesters in the gang already… and even a few grandparents!
Attendance has been great. Some of that’s due to our newfound leisure time, but I think part of it also has to do with Father Time. That ever-ticking clock reminds us we’re all going to shuffle off this mortal coil, and while we may be shufflin’, we’re still picking up speed on the downward slope. As the Buffalo Tom song says:
“Now my time behind is greater than my time ahead.”
Back in college, we were thought we were invincible. Now we know better. We’ve all come face to face with mortality. Knees and hips and sometimes hearts are wearing out. Parents, in-laws, even peers from our college days have passed on. It’s sobering… and a “Hoppy Hour” won’t bring our dearly departed back, but spending time with friends is a soothing salve for the soul, and the laughs are an over-the-counter heart remedy.
Yes, we still talk about sports and bring up ill-advised-yet-somehow-we-survived stories of the beer-and-testosterone-fueled antics of our youth. That’s what guys do. But the gift of time has helped us realize that basketball games aren’t life and death. That empathy trumps ego. Caring matters more than career. We’ve all taken different paths over the past 35 years, but now it’s nice to reconnect with our fellow travelers.
If we have our health and a few close friends, we are truly blessed. If we can meet them for a beer or two every once in a while, our cup overflows. (Sorry about that… hand us a bar towel and we’ll clean it up.)
The mental health crisis is the silent pandemic. What can we do when we’re still in lockdown? We can’t hang out with a bunch of strangers in a bar (unless you’re in Sturgis for the Harley Rally – anything goes!) But we can at least reach out to a few of our casual acquaintances. Whip out that smart phone, scroll through your contacts to find four folks with whom you haven’t connected in a while, and shoot each of them a quick text. Just to say howdy.
A really smart guy, three weeks ago
OK, now let’s fast-forward to yesterday (seems oxymoronic, but just stay with me here). Ryan Estis is one of the many “achieve your dreams” gurus making fat bank off corporate speaking and consulting gigs. (His website sayeth: RyanEstis is a sales and leadership expert preparing companies and individual contributors to embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance.) And guess what he talked about in his weekly “Prepare for Impact” email newsletter yesterday? Pretty much the same damn things I covered three weeks ago:
How the pandemic was creating a loneliness epidemic.
Encouraging his readers to reach out to three people via text.
Son of a biscuit-eater… Ryan Estis stole my idea!
I’m not upset. I’m flattered… and now I realize I’m just a sport coat, a checkered shirt and a wireless mic away from being a “leadership expert.”
(I actually do like Ryan Estis’ stuff. Obvi – I subscribe to his newsletter. His most famous presentation is at the bottom of this post. )
Hey Ryan, hit me up in the comments, and I’ll let you know my home address so you can start sending royalties my way.
My wife’s grandfather had this model train car in his collection:
A bright yellow car with “Plastics” plastered on it. It couldn’t be louder or prouder unless it had a few exclamation points.
Now, plastics are threatening our future…
But there’s still hope. Boylan Slat, a Dutch inventor, was just 18 when he started Ocean Cleanup back in 2013. He’s trying to tackle the complex challenge of cleaning up the ocean garbage. These days, he’s also working to remove it from the 10 rivers that contribute the most garbage to the patch.
We can do our part, a bit further upstream… by reducing our use. Weaning ourselves from bottled water is a great place to start.
Bailing out on plastic bags will help too. A lot of cities have banned single-use plastic bags, or are charging a fee if you use them.
These relatively simple daily changes may seem like a drop in the ocean. But maybe that’s the point.
Peter Guber is a movie producer. He’s produced many memorable flicks such as Rain Man, Batman, The Color Purple, Midnight Express, Gorillas in the Mist, and Flashdance. He’s also produced some clunkers, but he’s got a nice batting average. All told, the films he’s produced have grossed over $3 billion worldwide and received 50 Academy Award nominations.
Oh, he also co-owns the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Football Club of the MLS.
By the way, he’s also a bestselling author. His most recent book is titled Tell to Win.
Peter was a guest recently on Rob Lowe’s podcast, Literally! and had a lot to say about the power of storytelling. Check out this excerpt.
I love that term, emotional transportation. (Clearly this blog is like a Yugo Taxi that’s running low on fuel, but still…)
“Resonant, memorable, actionable.” Yeah, that’s the ticket!
The full podcast episode is here. And Peter Guber’s article for the Harvard Business Review, The Four Truths of the Storyteller, is here.