Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Chicago Bears in Review

Nuggets from the Bears 2013 Season
  • The Bears were 5th in the NFL in Passing YPG, averaging 267.6 ypg (yards per game)
  • 8th in Offensive YPG, averaging 381.8 ypg
  • 16th in Rushing YPG, averaging 114.2 ypg
  • 30th in Defensive YPG, giving up an average of 394.6 ypg
  • 15th in Passing YPG Dead last in Rushing YPG, giving up a league high average of 161.4 rush ypg
Notable Players


The Bears had two QBs that completed better than 50% of their passes and eclipsed 1,800 yards passing and 10 passing TDs. Both Cutler and McCown each had a passer rating of 89.0% or better. McCown and Cutler were sacked a combined total of 30 times all season. Now, Bears fans will play the wait and see game, as Cutler and McCown are both fee agents.

Matt Forte amassed 1,339 yards rushing on just 289 carries, for a remarkable 4.6 yards per rush attempt. In my opinion, Forte, not Cutler, is the fulcrum of this offense. Forte's versatility makes him a threat in the backfield, catching passes, and in blitz pick-up.


Alshon Jeffrey emerged as a potential perennial Pro Bowler, pairing up with All Pro receiver Brandon Marshall. Each amassed in excess of 80 catches, 1,200 yards receiving, and at least 7 TDs. Add the 74 receptions from RB Matt Forte, and 65 catches from TE Martellus Bennett, and the Bears offense emerged as a potent air attack in the pass friendly NFL.


Robbie Gould put together another outstanding season, making good on 26 of 29 field goal attempts. Robbie was as good a gold from 29 yards and in, but showed a few blemishes from distance, missing exactly one kick from 30-39 yards, 40-49 yards, and 50+ yards. Gould's 2013 season will be unfairly boiled down to the field goal that he missed on 2nd down in overtime, a game that the homesteading Minnesota Vikings eventually won. Their coach, Leslie Frazier, eventually got fired anyway.


Bears linebacker James Anderson led the 2013 Bears in tackles, and was tied for 2nd on the team with 4.0 sacks. Of all the Bears defensive linemen, only Julius peppers had more than 4 sacks (7.5). Despite missing the majority of the season with a torn triceps muscle, Charles Tillman still managed to lead the Bears in forced fumbles (3). Fellow cornerback Tim Jennings led the Bears in interceptions (4) and interceptions returned for TD (2).

As a defensive unit, the Bears intercepted the ball from their opponents more often (19 to 13), for more yards (428 to 225), and for more points (5 TDs to 3). However, the Bears offense allowed just as many sacks as their opponents (31 to 30) and fumbled the ball more often (19 to 17).

Looking Towards 2014

After the 1st season of the Mark Trestman era ended with a record of 8-8, many members of Bears Nation were understandably disappointed. Former head coach Lovie Smith was relieved of his duties after a 10-6 season. The bar has definitely been raised in the city of big shoulders. However, most rational, objective Bears fans understand that, with a new head coach, coaching staff and players, the next few years will be rebuilding years in a sense.

The offensive side of the ball gave all Bears fans a glimpse into the future, but there is still more work to do before our heroes at Halas Hall can once again hoist Lombardi's trophy:


Top 3 Needs

1. Get Forte More Touches
2. Give Jay More of the Playbook
3. Develop young quarterback, linemen, and receivers

At this stage in the game, the offense looks to be light years ahead of the defense. For the seasoned Bears fan, this is a complete 180 degree turn from the days when the Monsters of the Midway were the main event, and the offense was simply a necessary evil. Moving forward, the Bears should continue to build depth on their offensive line. This could be via a late round draft choice or two or, more than likely, inexpensive free agent options.

The same could be said of the Bears receiving corps as well. Jeffrey and Marshall are bonafided All Pro receivers. With the Bennett brothers, Martellus and Earl, picking up the scraps, there isn't much room for a young receiver to crack that starting lineup. However, the immense depth that the Bears have at receiver shouldn't preclude them from developing a rich pool of developmental receivers. Rookie WR Marquess Wilson is already ahead of curve, he of 2 receptions during the 2013 campaign. The Bears also have a young receiver on their practice squad in Anderson, who has the same height, weight, speed abilities as Marshall and Jeffrey!

The Bears should also work towards having a little more balance on offense. Matt Forte is considered to be one of the most versatile backs in the NFL. The Bears should look to diversify their offense around Forte, giving Matt more rushing attempts as well as touches out of the backfield on swing passes, screen passes, and the like. Last, but certainly not least, the Bears should prioritize the signing of Jay Cutler to a long term contract. QBs with his combination of height, arm strength, and moxy don't grow on trees (or in mines for that matter). You have a better chance of winning the lottery than of finding an impact performer in the draft or free agency. When familiarity sets in, it's easy to over criticize but, if we allow Jay to get away, it may be another generation before we see a talent of his caliber touch down in the Windy City for quite sometime.

Locking up Jay will also allow the organization to draft (or sign in free agency) and develop a young quarterback that has the skills (mental and physical) that Trestman values in the QB position. This young QB can sit behind Cutler (and, hopefully McCown) and learn what and what not to do (like throw a pass into triple coverage) and what and what not to say. As we've seen with the Washington Redskins, even if your young QB isn't the main guy, he may be good enough to bring back future draft picks if another team likes him and needs him more than you do.


Top 3 Needs

1. Run Stoppers
2. Pass Rushers
3. Defensive Backs (corners and safeties)

This is where things get fun. For a team that put out a historically deplorable effort on the defensive side of the ball, there is not one part of the defense that doesn't need to be touched. First things first, firing Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker is not the be all and end all to the Bears defensive woes. Coaches game plan and scheme, but players have to execute the designs. Last time I looked, Mel Tucker didn't play a single snap in 2013.

Secondly, the Bears should consider changing schemes - moving from a 4-3 base to a 3-4 base. The 3-4 defense is the hot defensive trend in the NFL. If the Bears were to convert to a 3-4 base scheme, it would be more out of necessity than as a fashion trend. The Bears had an atrocious time getting pressure on the quarterback with just 4 down linemen. Converting to a 3-4 scheme would put players, such as Shea McClellin, in a more familiar "stand-up" rush position and move a talented linebacker like rookie John Bostic, who struggled at times at middle linebacker, to an outside linebacker position where he can focus his energies on running and tackling, not making sure the other members of the defensive unit know what's going on.

No matter what scheme the Bears choose to run (or not), the fact of the matter is that the defensive linemen need to get more pressure on the quarterback. The return of a healthy Henry Melton coupled with a steadily improving Corey Wootton should give the Bears two young foundation stones. However, the relative ineffectiveness of Shea McClellin along with the uncertain contractual situation of Julius Peppers will potentially leave 2 holes on the line to be filled. In the secondary, the Bears will be tasked with replacing as many as 5 players.

On the edges, Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman are both Pro Bowl caliber free agents that, due to their age, expected salaries, and injury history, will probably not be back with the Bears. The safety position, currently manned by Major Wright, Craig Steltz, and Chris Conte, has been the poster child for the glaring hole that composes the 2013 Bears defense. The combination of injuries along with inept play when healthy, makes an upgrade at both safety positions the priority of Phil Emery, Mark Trestman, and the rest of the brain trust in Lake Forest. Wright and Conte were certainly ball hawks. Both were in the top 5 in tackles, interceptions, forced fumbles, and returns for touchdowns on the Bears team. However, their mental errors, as evidenced by the last play in the infamous Bears vs. Packers game on December 29th, were a significant part of the reason that the Bears barely missed the playoffs in a weak NFC North.

Overall, the 2013 Bears were a team of veterans intermingled with youth that, given the team health and some key losses the off season before, overachieved during the 2013 campaign. Looking to the fall of 2014, I think that the Bears will return a team that will be formidable on offense and that will continue to make the transition from a defense that is veteran laden to one that is young, fast, and formidable. When the defense gets to 75% of where the offense is now, Bears fans will have more than lake effect snow to look forward to in Chicago in February's to come.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Meaning of Respect

It's the day before another work week, and I'm thinking about how much I hate my job.

I love the people that I work with (for the most part) and I realize the impact that my work has on the people that my job serves, even if it is in some seemingly insignificant administrative role. What I hate about my job, the thing that makes it almost impossible to show up with enthusiasm, is the leadership.

The leaders of my company are some of the most self absorbed, shallow collection of men and women that I have ever had the displeasure to be around. They are demeaning, disrespectful, inconsiderate and distrustful of others.

They ask you to perform a task and then proceed with sadistic pleasure to micro manage the project. They pick a part every idea that isn't theirs, often with insolence fueled by avarice. More often than not, your ideas show up in their final drafts, after being regifted by one of their sycophants who have some their souls at the altar of brown nosing.

The ONLY thing that keeps me from saying these things to their face is their job title and the control over my financial future that accompanies the position which they enjoy. It is not a true form of admiration, but a close cousin.

I liken it to the power that a robber has over the victim being fleeced at gun point. It's not that you want to share your credit cards and cash with the robber as much as you don't want to be killed over objects that are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Thinking of the second raters that I work for made me think of the meaning of respect. Not respect that is dictated by control or fear, by positions of authority or incredible feats, but TRUE respect.
The word respect comes from the Latin prefix re, which means back, and the suffix specere, which means to look. In essence, to respect someone or something, including one's self, is to be able to look back on that object with pride and admiration.

A respectable life is one that we can look back on without regret. A respectable leader is one that we gaze upon without fear or distrust. We follow them because they are competent and fair, strong but not rigid, kind because they are self confident, confident but not cocky. We respect them because they are humble in victory and gracious in defeat.

The person that truly deserves respect doesn't ask for it, or even demand it. They realize that respect is earned by actions, not deeds because deeds are acts performed with reciprocity in mind. The person that is truly worthy of respect does things for the doing, not for glory, fame, fortune or power.
At its core, respect is only that which we can look at.

Want to know if you can respect your wife? Look in her eyes. Want to know if you can respect your boss? See if they can look you in the eyes when they speak to you. Want to know if you respect yourself? Cover your house with mirrors.

How will you know when the world respects you? When such thoughts cease to cross your mind.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wherever You Go, There You Are

I had a meeting with a guy to finish the purchase of some memorabilia that I found online. I told him that I would be at the appointed meeting spot at 5:30pm. After waiting in the freezing cold for 25-minutes, I get a text saying that the meeting location had changed that he would be there in 20-minutes. Anyone that knows me remotely well knows that I don't like late people and I don't like surprises. Suddenly, the calm coolness of the "fuck it" attitude washed over me. Go with the flow D. Have a junior bacon cheeseburger (or 3).
After the meeting, I hopped on the bus at my usual route, satisfied that the transaction was finally settled. I sat deeply in my seat and enjoyed an article from McKinsey & Company about the global business landscape. All of a sudden, the bus stops, the engine whimpers, and the lights go out. Once the emergency lights took effect, the bus driver announced, "My check engine light keeps coming on. You'll have to grab the bus behind me". While everyone else scrambles to call their loved ones or others that may be expecting them, I sink a little deeper in my seat and concentrate on the article more intently. The old D that I know would've cross examined the bus driver (what did you know and when did you know it?), but this modern iteration apparently just goes with the flow.
When I got home that night, recognizing that I had witnessed a monumental change in my attitude and behavior, I tried to find the words to describe how I felt in the aforementioned situations. I perused Brainy Quotes for a few minutes, finding nothing that could adequately reflect my feelings. Suddenly, a quote from Confucius jumped off of the screen at me - a whispered response to the agonizing exclamation that I had uttered in the silence of my mind many times over:
"Wherever you go, there you are."
In this fast paced world, where the news of 30-seconds ago seems like the distant past, and where the destination has taken prominence over the journey, sometimes it takes moments that we have absolutely no control over to teach us to be present in the moment that we find ourselves in.

Oftentimes, we experience stress and discomfort from the irrational wish to be in a different place/situation/income bracket than we currently occupy rather than reveling in the fact that we are where we are, when we are. How many countless billions of people have been born of a woman and returned to the dust in old age. They must be looking down on us from the starry canopy of the universe with envy that we get to exist in the physical body and manifest our thoughts into actions.

Looking back on my life, from relationships to employment, I cannot but cringe at the numerous opportunities that have come and gone, never to be encountered again, but for the simple practice of being present in the moment.

Think about all the people, places, and things in your own life that would enrich your existence if you would only choose to be present with that person, in that place, or when handling that thing. Nikola Tesla, renowned for his invention of the alternating current, famously wrote that he discovered the "key" that allowed him to invent the microwave in the 4th Chapter of Revelations. How could Tesla, and Tesla alone, pull the key to such a monumental invention from the pages of a text that has been read by millions upon millions of people if he were not in the moment?

Life is a journey, on the continuum from infinity to infinity. In between, chaos ensues. The traveler's task is to find meaning from this seemingly nondescript jumble of randomness; to make order out of chaos. The secret, if there is one, is that you cannot seek to change anything, to organize the chaos, until you acknowledge that the chaos exists and that it is what it is. It has an origin, a nature, and an end. The chaos is here, and so are you.

Once we accept who were are, where we are and why were are, only then are we truly prepared to undertake the task of turning that which is into that which we will it to be.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Is it Boehner's boner?

Have Republicans been drinking too much of the Cruz booze?

Maybe the Republicans are the ones really in touch with the will and pleasure of the American people and they are just doing their civic duty by telling Obama to take his socialized health care back to his mama.

Whichever party is on the right side of history or the dark side of the moon, this week's latest Debt Ceiling crisis tells us a great deal about the current state of the American political system as well as provides ominous warnings for the future of our Republic if the citizens don't wisen up.

  1. Special Interest Groups Run Washington - In school, our first lessons on American governance usually come in the form of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, in which the Great Emancipator exhorts a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. In contemporary times, this notion of representative government has morphed into mythology. A very small, dedicated, well funded group of donors dictates the message in any given election cycle. Their foot soldiers then disperse the message amongst a rabid electoral base who, in tern, gerrymander districts and elect representatives to office that fit this myopic profile of what it means to govern. Need evidence? look at the mid-term elections of 2010, in which the upstart Tea Party faction of the Republican Party was pushed into power with the expansive mandate of getting the government out of the citizen's lives. 3-years later, we are reaping the molded, rotten crop that was sown.
  2. Citizens Are Bargaining Chips - Republicans would rather shut down the government than see President Obama's signature piece of legislation remain law. Democrats would rather shutdown the government rather than appear weak in the face of Republican demanded concessions. The Democratic blather machine has painted the Republicans as "hostage takers". The fact of the matter is that most politicians that end up in Washington are adept at the art of hostage taking and hostage negotiations. Just look at the tactics. When President Obama was pushing the Affordable Care Act forward, his administration conceded to spending cuts and tax hikes that affected the very base that elected him. Look at the Republican's current strategy. They are willing to cut food stamps for citizens in poverty, risk service member's paychecks, and take the chance that senior citizens won't be able to get their prescription, just to repeal or delay legislation that their base and donors don't like.
  3. Poll Numbers Drive Beliefs - There was a time, not so long ago, when citizens ran for elected office because they had deep-seeded convictions, and wanted to see those convictions come to fruition in the seat of government, for the benefits of all citizens. Maybe I'm just an idealist and this sort of politician never existed because they sure as hell don't exist now! Mitt Romney passes health care reform as governor of Massachusetts; magically against it when he runs for POTUS. Then Senator Obama votes against the war in Iraq; President Obama launches attacks in Pakistan and Libya, with a failed attempt at conflict in Syria. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas rides the Tea Party wave all the way to Washington on the promise that he would repeal Obamacare; Now, Senator Cruz is willing to accept a delay because he see's how hard this governing thing actually is. Why did all three of these men magnanimously flip-flop on previous positions that appeared to be heartfelt? Simple. The poll numbers told them to. Dance, puppets, dance!
  4. Crisis of Conscience - Nothing shows the ability (or lack thereof) of a leader more than their reaction in the face of crisis. Politicians have known this for literally a milenia. What happens when there's no crisis to pivot off of? You create one. Our leaders in Washington have become very adept over the past few generations of being master arsonist and firefighters. Thesis - Antithesis - Synthesis. Create the problem - Come up with the solution - Solve the problem. Here comes the fame, massive donations, committee chairmanships, and invitations from cable news. The citizens have become a means to an end, instead of the end itself. Politicians now use public service as a giant trampoline to book deals, speaking engagements, cable news shows, and lucrative contracts in private industry. With this blueprint and thousands upon thousands of citizens willing to follow the plan, can the citizens really trust that the people they send to govern have the best interests of their constituents in mind, or just their own.
These are just some of the revelations that the recent Debt Ceiling crisis has unveiled to the American people. The question now becomes, what can we do moving forward.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The 2013 Chicago Cubs by the Numbers

Mercifully, the 2013 Chicago Cubs season has come to an end, both for the team and the die hard fans that follow them win less year after win less year. Although the eye test tells us that the Cubs were a deplorable team, the numbers help us connect the dots across the entire team and explain why our Cubbies were as bad as they looked, and why there a flicker of hope for the future.

  1. Wins Above Replacement - Cubs catcher Wellington Castillo led the team with a WAR of 4.4. WAR is the measurement of how many wins a particular player adds to his team's total above what a replacement player could produce (think AAA or the metaphorical 4-A player). Conversely, Cubs budding superstar Starlin Castro was tied for last on the team, with a WAR of -0.6! Last year, Castro had a WAR of 3.6. In 2011, his WAR was 3.0.
  2. Runs Batting - Continuing the Cubs dominance at the catching position, 2013 acquisition Dioner Navarro led the club a Rbat of 10. Rbat is the measure of how many runs better or worse than average a player was as a hitter. On the tail end of things, Gold Glove 2nd baseman Darwin Barney pulled up the rear with a Rbat of -33. This is nothing new for Barney. In 2011, he had a Rbat of -8. In 2012, Barney's Rbat was -12. In his defense, Barney's extensive stints on the disabled list didn't help him much.
  3. Runs from Fielding - The unsung hero of the Chicago Cubs, Wellington Castillo, pops up again here at #3. Castillo led the 2013 Cubs with a Rfield of 19. Rfield is the number of runs better or worse than average a player was for all fielding. Anthony Rizzo came in a close 2nd, with a Rfield 0f 16. Gold Glover Darwin Barney was 3rd at 11. Starlin Castro pulled up the rear, being 8 runs worse than an average player at saving runs with his fielding. Anyone that watched 25% of the Cubs games this year didn't need a stat to know that.
  4. Runs Better Than Average - RAA is the measure of how many runs better than a league average player this player is. Once again, Wellington Castillo drove the bus for the 2013 Cubs. Castillo led the team with a RAA of 28 (Navarro was 2nd with 11). In their all too familiar positions, Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro occupied the caboose with RAAs of -18 and -22 respectively.
  5. On-Base + Slugging Percentages - OPS is the combination of a player's on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Dioner Navarro and mid-season pick-up Donnie Murphy led the team with .856 and .849 respectively. Any clue as to what dynamic duo came in last?
  6. Walks Hits to Innings Pitched - Jake Arrieta, who the Cubs acquired from the Orioles as a part of the Scott Feldman trade, led the Cubs with a 1.12 WHIP. Edwin Jackson, fresh off of a 5-year, $50 million contract with the northsiders, led the team with a 1.46 WHIP. With WHIP, the closer the number is to 1.00, the better.
  7. Home Runs to Innings Pitched - Conversely, Edwin Jackson gave up the fewest home runs of all eligible Cubs pitchers in 2013. Jackson had a HR/9 of 0.8. On the flip side, Arrieta had a HR/9 of 1.2. What does this mean? While Arrieta didn't walk as many batters as Jackson, he didn't miss many bats within the strike zone.
  8. Strikeout to Walk Ratio - Matt Garza, who was traded to the Texas Rangers at the deadline, led the Cubs with a SO/BB of 3.10. This means that Garza had 3 strikeouts for every walk that he issued. Jeff Samardzija and former Cub Scott Feldman were round out the top 3. On the other end, Cubs closer Kevin Gregg was close to last with a SO/BB of 1.75. With a nearly 2 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio, it's no wonder the Cubs had significant issues getting the final 3 outs.
  9. Defensive Runs Saved Above Average - Rdrs is the number of runs above or below average a player was worth based on the number of plays made. of the 4 players that each played over 1000 innings for the Cubs in 2013, Anthony Rizzo led the team with a Rdrs of 16. Darwin Barney was 2nd at a Rdrs of 11. Nate Schierholtz was a perfectly average player, with a Rdrs of 0. Starlin Castro takes his customary position of last, pulling in with a Rdrs of -8.
  10. Wins Above Average - Cubs All-Star representative Travis Wood led the 2013 Cubs in WAA with a 2.8. Wood was roughly 3-wins better than a minor league call-up. As a comparison, Edwin Jackson was roughly 3-wins worse than a minor league call-up (2.7 to be exact). Jackson and Wood typically pitched back-to-back in the Cubs rotation. Based on the WAA for both pitchers, it's safe to say that whatever positive effect Wood's performance had on the team was immediately extinguished by the performance of Jackson.

So, what did we learn about the 2013 Chicago Cubs from this orgy of statistics and baseball jargon? Well, we learned definitively (if our eyes had not already borne witness) that the Cubs just weren't a very good team. On a general level, the hitters at the top of the order didn't get on base, the big boppers in the middle didn't drive anyone in, fielding up the middle was spotty, and the pitching in both the starting rotation and the bullpen leaves a lot to be desired.

Specifically, there are several areas that Theo, Jed, and the rest of the Cubs brass have to address directly if they want 2014 to begin with more enthusiasm than 2013 ended:
  1. Who do you want Starlin Castro to be? Do you want a 200-hits per season line drive hitter or do you want a top of the order hitter that takes pitches, draws walks, and steals bases? The Cubs really need to have one vision and one voice on the type of player they want Castro to grow into. Right now, he has so much information in his head, that he's not doing anything well.
  2. After Samardjiza and Wood...? Who fills out the starting rotation after Jeff Samardjiza and Travis Wood? Jake Arrieta will be in the mix in 2014 due to his late year performance after being recalled from AAA Iowa. However, Arrieta has a history of walking too many batters and giving up some long home runs. Edwin Jackson has had a career marred with the inability to throw strikes at key points and keep his pitch count down. Jackson has a strong arm and typically pitches over 150 innings per year. However, his inconsistency and lack of a breaking ball make him no better than a 4th starter moving forward. Carlos Villanueva filled in admirably as both a starter and a reliever. Though serviceable, you would like to see the Cubs replace Villanueva with a young power arm, moving Carlos to the bullpen where he has thrived in the past.
  3. Up the Middle! The Cubs have to continue to develop up the middle of the field. Wellington Castillo all but earned the starting job going into 2014 with his standout play behind the plate and at-bat. However, Castillo has been oft injured, so a serviceable back-up would be nice. Castro and Barney are in mirror images of each other. Castro can hit, but can't field. Barney can field, but can't hit. For both players, their weaknesses need to turn into strengths very soon if the Cubs are to compete. Lastly, the Cubs have to solidify center field. There has been veritable revolving door in center since the Cubs traded Marlon Byrd to the Red Sox last year. Ryan Sweeney filled in admirably, posting a .266 average at the plate and a .993 fielding percentage. However, Sweeney's aggressive play make him a candidate for the 15-day disabled list at any time. Sweeney will get a look out of Spring Training, but the Cubs need a young option in the pipeline.
  4. Enter Sandman - The Cubs have to solidify the back end of their bullpen if they expect to compete for a World Series title. There were some promising signs in 2013. Lefty reliever James Russell led the team with 74 appearances. Pedro Strop, who the Cubs got from the Orioles in the Scott Feldman trade, had 42 strikeouts in 35 innings pitched. Blake Parker and Shawn Camp also get honorable mention recognition for their efforts. However, the Cubs have to make games essentially 6-inning affairs by having shutdown relief pitching in innings 7-9. No where is this need more glaring than in the closer role. Kevin Gregg had a respectable year, recording 33 saves for a last place team. However, Gregg also gave up 53 hits and issued 32 walks in just 62 innings of work. Compare this to Craig Kimbrel, the all world closer for the Atlanta Braves, who had 98 strikeouts and 20 walks in 67 innings.
  5. Youth Movement - The young players that Cubs organizations has continuously lauded will have to show up, and show up big! Anthony Alomora, Kris Bryant, and other top prospects will have to take their lumps in the big leagues rather than away from the lights and cameras of Wrigleyville. This will give the fans something to hope for while giving the kids the major league at-bats they need to be properly evaluated.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

7 Thoughts for the 7th Month

1. Dwight and Conquer
Quixotic NBA Center Dwight Howard plans to choose the final destination for his talents on Friday. My not so educated guess is that he will choose the Dallas Mavericks, where he can join owner Mark Cuban, another sports personality that's managed to alienate his peers.
2. I'm InPiuged
Los Angeles Dodgers rookie sensation Yasiel Puig is now being discussed as a possible addition to Major League Baseball's All-Star team. The possibility has drawn the ire of veteran baseball players, coaches, and commentators. I might actually watch the game after the opening introductions if the Cuban Comet plays.
3. It's a Sell Off
My Chicago Cubs have begun their semiannual yard sale by dealing pitcher Scott Feldman, catcher Steve Clevenger, and much maligned relief pitcher Carlos Marmol. Many expect Matt Garza to be the neck domino to fall. My guess is that it will actually be outfielder Nate Shierholz.
4. Arab Spring - Part Deux
Egyptians are celebrating the ouster of their democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood regime in a scene that mimicked U.S. 4th of July celebrations. Could you imagine if the Joint Chiefs of Staff walked into the Oval Office and told President Obama that his services were no longer needed? That's the beauty as well as the beast of our peaceful transition system here in America. Makes you wonder if our citizens secretly wish they could foment instantaneous regime change when they became dissatisfied with their government.
5. The Incredible Hulk
Baltimore Peoples slugging first Baseman Chris Davis has 32 homers before the All-Star break. He's on pace to break Roger Maris' single season homerun record of 61 in '61. Yes, I said Maris, not Bonds. When Davis was asked if he considered Maris' single season homerun record to be the standard bearer, Davis unequivocally said yes because Maris was the last one to accomplish the feat clean of performance enhancing drugs. For his sake and that of the efficacy of the game of baseball, I sincerely hope that Davis never tests positive for anything more that crab cakes.
6. Speaking of which...
The Texas Rangers signed 41year old DH Manny Ramirez to a minor league deal. Ramirez most recetly played in Taiwan, which is akin to playing in the Cape Cod league. Nothing says ridding baseball of its dark history of PED usage like signing a retread that was suspended not once, but twice for failing a drug test. You know why America is the greatest country in the world for cheaters? Talent always overcomes character flaws and our citizens have an uncanny knack for selective amnesia.
7. Independence Daze
Americans all over the contiguous 48, Alaska, Hawaii, and a myriad of U.S. territories will celebrate our nation's independence. Nevermind the fact that the Declaration of Independence was actually completed on July 2nd, our nation was built on a foundation of slave labor, and we currenly have a military presence in over 100 countries worldwide. Today, we celebrate the irrational belief of many Americans that our country is a beacon of freedom for emerging nations around the globe. BTW, more American flags are manufactured in China, a Communist country, than here in the U.S. If Americans celebrate anything, it should be our right to remain woefully ignorant of the rights that we do not have here at home and havoc that our military and clandestine services cause around the world to provide cheap gas for our paid 4-day vacations. Remember, nothing is free, most especially freedom. If something appears free, more than likely the costs have been paid by someone, somewhere.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Quotes That Inspire Me Daily

I have a poster over my desk at work, with hand written quotes from famous people and some anonymous sources. They serve as the compass that circumscribes my daily interactions with patients and co-workers, and inspire me to produce the highest quality work possible. My sincere hope is that you find some encouragement and valuable advice in these words as you pursue your life's journey.

"Quality is not an act, it is a habit" - Aristotle

The iPod, iPhone, and Mac Book aren't quality products by happenstance. They are quality products because Steve Jobs was a quality person who demanded the same from his employees and peers. If you want to deliver quality at work or in your personal life, start by making your bed every morning. Yeah, I know. Why make your bed when you're just going to jump back in it at the end of the day? If you get in the habit of doing small, seemingly trivial things well, you'll have no problem extending that habit to more important activities. Ladies, if you want to see what type of husband a man will be, look at how clean his house is, if his bills are paid on time, and if his clothes are wrinkled on the first date.

"A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others." - Ayn Rand

When your focus is on beating others, your marker for success becomes an external factor. When your desire is to achieve, success lies within you. When your desire is to achieve, even the act of losing becomes an opportunity to achieve great and better success. More importantly, you respect your opponent more for their achievements and embrace the factors that contributed to your failure. When your desire is to beat others, defeat becomes a debilitating afront to your ego. When Nicola Tesla invented the alternating electrical current, he was setting out to create a cheap, non-diminishing form of energy. His peer at the time, Thomas Edison, was an opportunistic businessman who just wanted to get rich at any costs. Common history remembers Thomas Edison as a pioneer and the inventor of electricity, but it was Tesla whose genius we remember. Edison died a very rich man with a multitude of enemies and Tesla died a pauper, but only one of these men died with their integrity intact.

"The will to succeed is important, but what's more important is the will to prepare." - Bobby Knight

No one likes to study. It's tedious and, often times, you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. But, have you ever tried to take a test without studying? The nervousness that ensues from not knowing what the hell you're doing will do you in faster than the exam itself. Confidence comes from knowing that you did all that you could do to prepare for a situation, even when you fail. The annals of history are filled with the stories of women and men who were successful. The part that is always left out is, what did they have to do when the lights and cameras weren't on to reach that success? We all remember Michael Jordan's many great performances and game winning shots. What we don't remember, because we were never witness to it, are the countless hours he spent in the gym preparing for those singular moments.

"Always render more and better service than is expected of you, no matter what your task may be." - Og Mandino

Don't ever "play down" to the competition. Whether you are a cashier at McDonalds or the CEO of Virgin Airlines, every opportunity you have to serve is practice for an opportunity that you may not see coming. Who knew that a community organizer on the southside of Chicago would be President of the United States? Barack Obama could've been a hot shot on Wall Street, but he wanted to serve where his service was most needed. He practiced in the trenches and was prepared to practice those same habits of service at the pinnacle of world politics. Don't get up in the morning to just meet expectations. Wake up with the mindset to exceed expectations. It may appear to be an inconvenience with no rewards right now, but life is cyclical. The service that you've given to others will come back to you in the most unexpected fashion, and when you least expect it.

"The service we render others is the rent we pay for our room on earth." - Wilfred Grenfell

None of us are in this alone. There are very few, if any, completely self-suficient people on earth. We all get what we have based on the work of others, and others get what they need based on our work. This is the inextricable law of humanity. Selfishness, in the sense that you believe in yourself, is not bad. Selfishness, in the sense that you don't need others, is abhorant. Even in Ayn Rand's magnum opus Atlas Shrugged, where she praises the self-made man and woman, these individuals depended on each other to to supply the skills that they, as individuals, lacked. There is not a teenager (and some adults) that embrace the tasks of washing dishes or taking out the grabage, but is this not a fair trade off for the roof over their heads and the heat that vivifies in the dead of winter?

"Excuses are the tools of the incompetent, that build bridges to no where, and those that use them are monuments to nothingness." - Anonymous

I learned this quote while I was pledging a fraternity in college. At first, I didn't understand what this meant. It seemed like another form of hazing. However, after I entered the professional world, one defined by tight budgets and even tighter deadlines, I learned that people don't want to know why something happened, only what the solution to the issue is. In professional coaching, we learn that there are three types of negative personalities - whiners, complainers, and blamers. There is one simple way to diffuse all of these types of people - simply ask them what their solution is to the problem that is bothing them? Often times, if you can not come up with a solution, you can look in the mirror to find the real source of the problem.

"Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be." - Marcus Aurelius

The fact that we quote Marcus Aurelius centuries after his death is proof enough that this quote is valid. Furthermore, Alexander Graham Bell could not have fathomed that the telegraph would eventually develop into the cell phone or the internet. Most people do not live long enough to see their hard work pay off, but they leave a blueprint for future generations to study, build upon, and expand to new areas. If you need further proof of this, look at your parent's accomplishments and then take a look at your own. My grandmother, who practically raised me, was functionally illiterate. Now, I have the ability to express myself in written form.

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." Eleanor Roosevelt

Don't get caught up in the rumor mill or gossip. That's peanuts for rats. If the reputations of Martin Luther King, Jr. as an adulterer or Mohatma Ghandi as a hypocrit had been of more importance than the philosophy of peaceful protest and civil rights, how many more millions of human beings would still be in servitude. As the late, great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once said, your character is who you really are and your reputation is what others think you are. If the fate of the American colonies had been predicated on the Founding Fathers' support for slavery, an industrial mechanism at the time, and not the overarching philosophy that all men are created equal in the eyes of God, we would be singing God Save the Queen instead of the National Anthem.

"Success is often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable." - Coco Chanel

Fear is the greatest road block to achievement. Thinking too much, and not reacting, inhibits performance. Just ask any world class athlete or performer. How do you know what you're capable of doing if you already have a thought formed in your mind of what you're not capable of doing. Prior to running the Chicago Marathon, I had never run more than 13 miles. I didn't know that I would make it to the finish line, only that the finish line existed.

"It is not daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential." - Bruce Lee

In Western society, we display our worth by the number of possessions that we have. Some workers define achievement by how many emails or phone calls they answer. Activity does not always equal achievement and having money and possessions doesn't make a person truly rich. America is the richest country on earth, yet our citizens are routinely amongst the unhappiest. I live in a small studio apartment in a neighborhood that is not trendy or posh. The fact that I don't have a lot of things to think about makes me happier than I've ever been. I can focus on the things that really matter and produce true happiness.

"Discipline yourself, and others won't need to."  - John Wooden

No one likes being told what to do. How do you correct that? Tell yourself what to do. When I was in high school, the teachers and staff were always telling the young men to pull their pants up. My peers didn't like that, but all they had to do was put a belt on. More importantly, discipline in small deeds breeds discipline in great deeds. If you can't wear your pants right, show up on time, or finish your class assignments when they are due, how can you expect to be a professional athlete or run a multinational company? This is why, on the first day of training camp, Coach Wooden first taught his players how to properly wear their socks. His thought process was, if these players can learn to be consistent in this simple task, they could be trusted to run the Princeton Offense properly.

"To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is unacceptable." - Anonymous

This is another maxim that I learned while pledging a college fraternity that I didn't fully understand until I entered corporate America. This philosophy doesn't apply to every facet of life. If you're born too early, you may have life altering birth defects. How many people lived through 9/11 because they missed a train or bus that fateful day? However, it is the general principle of being cognizant of other people's time and respectful of your own time that matters. Following this principle also gives you time to mentally and physically prepare for the task at hand. When possible, I routinely show up for meetings 5-minutes early. This gives me time to write down notes for the meeting and have some informal conversations with any co-workers in the room to break the ice before the real work begins. I'm not saying that you have to constantly run around like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. However, if you keep this philosophy in mind, you will set yourself apart from the great many masses of ordinary people who have little to no regard for the virtue of timeliness.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Testimony

<p>Verse 1<br>
Just give me 16 bars, and I'll have you drinking off this track,<br>
So many haters in the world, me thinks I need a fanny pack.<br>
Head of the class, my black ass is just like a chalk board<br>
Writing rhymes like Bart Simpson to the rhythms of these chords.<br>
I can see the top, an ascended god on my second apotheosis,<br>
Throwing lightning from Mt. Olympus, taking my wrath out on these roaches.<br>
I have two choices, flowing great or flowing even greater,<br>
You got two choices, taking one to the chest and another to the labrum.<br>
My style is nerd chic, hipster glasses and some Chuck Taylors,<br>
If your girlfriend ride with me, your Facebook status will be changing.<br>
This rap hustle is so amazing, I turn lyrical grapes into raisins,<br>
This is my hour in the sun, get a contact high off of me because my 7 chakras are all blazing!</p>
This is my life, written in tears.
The sum result of my triumphs and my fears.
Now I'm married to the game,
We in holy matrimony.
As I take the stand to give my testimony.
Verse 2<br>
Verse 2 is for my momma and my homey Eddie G,<br>
The entire Tau Phi nation and my masonic family.<br>
I'm finally using my gifts the way the gods intended it to be.<br>
The games been upended and I'm here to lay your girl and a brand new foundation.<br>
Life ain't been no crystal stair, and my pops was rolling stone,<br>
Now I'm sipping Crystal in the VIP and grace the covers of Rolling Stone.<br>
I turned this ho called rap into my wife, and made this track into a home.<br>
Far too original to be a clone, I may be young but I'm ready,<br>
Rap was supposed to be my mistress but now we going steady.

I Can (Remix)

I can do it better, in sunshine or stormy weather,
Whether its smoking, acting, rapping, fucking or simply getting cheddar.
Someone please get my many haters before their hate consumes me,
Cause young Filtro is a ”G”, just like the 7th letter.
Got my finger on her clit, and I'm about to make her cum,
Have y'all dancing like P. g, be a raisin in the sun.
My raison d'etre is the fame, can't you see my name in lights?
Do two shows b4 2, then we drinking all night.
When your girlfriend come to me, for that life that you can't get her,
I say I can do it, I can do it, I can do it better.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The 5 Life Lessons I Learned From Playing MLB 2K13

I don't like my job. It's not because I'm not good at it or that the day-to-day scenarios that I'm faced with aren't intellectually stimulating. In all honesty, it's not what I really want to be doing with my life. A lot of very successful people say that the key to true success and happiness is throwing yourself head first into what you enjoy.

As a sophomore in college, I stumbled across an opportunity to work for my favorite team in my favorite sport, when I became the bat boy for the Chicago Cubs (that's me in sitting in the background). I made a ton of money and met a lot of people who I had previously only experienced through the television or from the stands. At the tender age of 19, I thought that opportunities like this were a dime a dozen. A decade after quitting my dream job by leaving a voicemail for my boss, I'm still chasing the dream of working in professional baseball again.

Nowadays, I get my baseball fix by rushing home from my 9-5 to turn on my PlayStation 3 and pop in Major League Baseball 2K13. The game is so realistic that, on most nights, I will listen to the Cubs play on WGN radio while I do battle with pixelated opponents powered by artificial intelligence. I realized a long time ago, during my actual playing days in high school, that the game of baseball is a microcosm of the game that we call life. Playing 2K13 recently has made me think of what life lessons I can garner from what is typically just a reprieve from the duties of an average American worker.
  1. Be wary the first pitch. Often times, the first pitch is the one that the computer wants you to swing at to get the result that they want - a quick out with minimal effort. If you sit back and wait for a pitch that you can handle, you can usually do more damage. In life, we are tempted to take the first opportunity that appears to be right in our wheelhouse. It doesn't matter if it's a career, a used sofa on Craig's List, or a love interest. The fact of the matter is that life, like an at-bat in baseball, is a learning experience that takes place over time. First jobs and first loves rarely, if ever, work out. It's about studying patterns, making adjustments, and learning to accentuate your strengths while minimizing your weaknesses.
  2. A walk is just as good as a hit. Yeah, getting a hit is sexy (especially a home run), but the basic object of the game is to get on base. Once you're there, anything is possible. Being laid off from my first job out of college was one of the most difficult experiences I've ever had in my young life. I thought it was the end of the world as I knew it. Turns out, it allowed me to do some temp work at various companies, learn new skills, meet new people and, eventually, land a full-time gig where I could add exactly the value that company needed at that time. I learned the same lesson from many failed relationships. I wanted to hold on to them for as long as I could but, in the end, those failures prepared me for my next meaningful relationship.
  3. Sometimes, the best pitch to make is the one in the dirt. If you throw enough pitches in the strike zone, the computer will figure out your pattern and start launching your offerings like the Explorer space shuttle. The best strategy is to change speeds on pitches and move them around in the strike zone so that you change the batter's vantage point. The same is true in life. You want to constantly reinvent yourself. If people know what they're getting from you, one of two things will happen (if not both) - they'll ignore you because you're boring or they'll take advantage of you because you're predictable.I do and say some things that I'm sure make me look like a prime candidate for psychotropics, but this is by design. People like interesting people - people who they can't quite put a finger on. In terms of my career, the best job I ever had (other than working for the Cubs) was the summer I spent selling t-shirts outside of Wrigley Field. The money was crap, but I learned what it took to run a business (creativity, production, marketing, logistics) and, most importantly, I got to talk to a lot of people. Some people aspire to have a job in Corporate America because our society holds that concept up as the peak of middle class success, but I learned more about the worth of a dollar from that experience than from any company I've ever worked for.
  4. Catching a fly ball begins with a good jump. College is overrated and grad school is the biggest ponzi scheme in recorded history (no offense Tulip Mania). If you know what you enjoy doing and what you're good at, start doing it right away, no matter how young or old you are. Build your base of knowledge early and, then, get out there and start doing it. Gain some experience because, and his is for you recent college graduates, what you can do is more important than what you know. Make some mistakes. Don't get me wrong. If you want to be a nuclear physicist, you should definitely get as much schooling as possible but, for the rest of us office mopes, get off the hamster wheel as fast as possible and start experiencing. If you LOVE beer, quit your nice, comfortable desk job and go work at a brewery or Binny's. 10 years from now, you'll happily beat yourself over the head because, if you had grown a pair sooner, you could've had 20 years of experience instead of just 10.
  5. Know when to go to the bullpen. It's not a sign of weakness to admit that a situation is to big for you and that you need help. It's actually a sign of tremendous intelligence and strength. I know that Western society adores the individual - the self made woman or man that can stand on their own two feet but there is not one person made of flesh and blood that didn't get somewhere on the back or shoulders of someone else. I read an article this morning that talked about the importance of individuals having their own personal Board of Advisors - friends, family, colleagues, or just individuals that you trust who you can bounce ideas off of and get honest, direct feedback. Knowing your limits is an essential step in expanding your capabilities. I had a girlfriend that broke up with me last year after months of dealing with my quixotic personality. I was angry with her for a long time before I woke up one day and realized that it took a tremendous amount of maturity on her part to realize that, for the sake of both of our life's journeys, it was time to make a change. I don't how the change affected her, but it allowed me to watch the "game" from the bench for a while and, eventually, unlock an inner strength that would've otherwise remained dormant - the power of Knowing Thyself.
Video game playing is, in the grand scheme of things, an innane, time wasting, cornea corroding exercise in procrastination that is slowly transforming the youth of our world into walking, talking cases of diabetes waiting to overwhelm the healthcare system.

However, life is about gaining experience and insight into ourselves and, as a result, the world. We can find meaning in every experience that we have, every second of everyday. There is no event too big or too small that we can't extract insight from. Now, if I could only figure out how to beat the lowly Miami Marlins!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

New New Style

DeAngelo is my real name, D.Jones is my pimp name.
Damn, these Ho's is stalking me, man yo wife is insane.
Walk in the bar with empty hands, I don't need no Bandz to make her dance.
Molly got me tripped out, neon lights got me in a trance.
A couple ratchets flipped out, white girls with they hips out.
She give me dome while I'm on the microphone, cause she got a big mouth.
A day without my dick makes her sick,
Put my draws on, now she got an infirmament.
Flows dribble out like a point guard, 29 and in retirement.
Call my pants Sigmund Frueds, cause that's where I keep my ego.
That Desert Eagle got two infrareds, one for you, and one for your kin folks.
A college grad with the gift of gab, about to blow up like C4.
Put a blunt up in the air, coughing off that Cee-Lo.

This that new new style, haters ain't got shit on me,
With that Hermes model, no need to see I.d.
This that new new style, haters ain't got shit on me,
With that Hermes model, no need to see I.d.

Professors say I'm too smart to curse,
Bitch, shut up and hand me yo purse.
Give a fat broad merse, then drive her home in a herse.
I got that new new style, yo girl about to pop my child.
Cook my dinner like she Julia Child's,
cause the sex is so so wild.
Turn a MILF into a teenager, and a straight edge into a rager.
My whole crew is holding razors,
Named my .44 Jesus, cause that's my Lord and Saviour.
My rose gold chain, make 'em do 360's like Anderson Cooper,
After I get up in that pussy, I get up in that pooper.
Haters ain't got shit on me, so why you tryin to shit on me?
Sara Locke broke up with me, then I got bisexual with Becky and Bree.
This that new new style, haters ain't got shit on me,
With that Hermes model, no need to see I.d.
So drunk I need an I.v., pop a couple of I.b's,
This is death after life, that reverse B.I.G.

This that new new style, haters ain't got shit on me,
With that Hermes model, no need to see I.d.
This that new new style, haters ain't got shit on me,
With that Hermes model, no need to see I.d.

Monday, January 21, 2013

NAH 2nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Recognition Program

Below is the speech that I was fortunate to give at today's Norwegian American Hospital 2nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Recognition Program.

Good afternoon,

I would like to talk to you for a few minutes about the importance of loving our neighbors as ourselves.

In his analysis of the parable of the Good Samaritan, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. talks about a shift in thinking – from a “me” perspective to a “we” perspective. Dr. King states, “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But... the Good Samaritan reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

You see, the courage of Rosa Parks, vision of W.E.B. DuBois, the humanitarianism of Roberto Clemente, and the ultimate sacrifices made by John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy, Medger Evers, Emmitt Till and, ultimately, Dr. King himself all stem from the timeless concept that, when we love our neighbors as ourselves, we are no longer black or white, Jew or Gentile, Protestant or Catholic, we are simply children of the most high who share the same aspirations for peace, love, and prosperity, for ourselves and those inhabitants of this earth who have yet to be born.

Moreover, Dr. King recognized another truth that transcends the boundaries of time and space – That which we do for ourselves follows us to the grave, but that which we do for others’ lives long after we are gone. So, when you comfort the grieving patient, assist the lost visitor, or aid your fellow co-workers when they are burdened, you are not simply performing your job – you are contributing to the freedom that Dr. King alluded to in the famous “I Have a Dream” speech. You are etching your name in the heavens alongside the saints because you are extinguishing the darkness of hatred and intolerance with the light of love, cooperation, and truth.

Now, more than ever, the world requires us to set aside our superficial differences so that we can create the environment where God’s kingdom may be manifested here on earth. It is possible for us to see this kingdom when we can judge our fellow human beings, not by the color of their skin, how they choose to worship God, or who they choose to love, but by the content of their character. As Dr. King stated, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.

So, let us go forth with perfect love, for ourselves as well as our neighbors, and complete the work of lifting humanity to the level of divinity that is our birth right. Let us perform this work so well that, as Dr. King put it, “…the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” Let us perform the labor of uplifting humanity with dignity because all such labor should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

Most importantly, let us rise above the narrow confines of our individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. When you can look to your left and your right and have just as much, if not more concern for the person that you see because you see the reflection of our common parents in them, we are not far from the day when all of God’s children will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Thank you for listening with your hearts as well as your ears. May God continue to bless all of you.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

7 Strategies for Developing Successful New Year's Resolutions


...Happy New Year!

I know, I know. You're saying to yourself, Mr. Jones, you're roughly 24-hours behind everyone else in expressing your optimistic overtures to the masses for the impending calendar year. As the old saying goes, better (a day) late than never!

As I watched the runners prance by in their new cold weather gear or the young lady that took a cigarette out of the pack and then placed it back in before tossing its contents in a trash bin, it reminded me that this is the time of year that we resolve to make changes that we previously did not have the patience/will-power/money/time to do in the previous year.

You aren't alone in this endeavor. I've resolved to gain 10 lbs in muscle, run at least 1 marathon in 2013 ( I ran the Chicago Marathon last October), convert this blog into a video format, and to build an impenetrable wall of self-confidence and love around myself.

It's easy coming up with things that we need to change. We see them everyday in the mirror or hear about them frequently from our current and former romantic partners. The hard part is establishing a strategy that increases your chances of sticking to your New Year's resolutions so that you can check them by this time next year (or later this year if you procrastinate like me).

Instead of being self-righteous and giving you 7 strategies for making successful New Year's Resolutions, I'm going to use myself as the example in demonstrating these strategies. That way, you can hold me accountable just in case I fall off the wagon.

Why am I Doing This?

Everyone wants to lose a few pounds or update their wardrobe but in order for a New Year's resolution to stick, it has to be something that impacts something that is deeply valuable to you. For example, one of my goals is to gain 10 lbs in muscle. I want to do this so that I'm strong enough for my return to competitive baseball in a few months and, more importantly, so that I can power through the last 10-miles of the next marathon that I run. Both baseball and running are activities that I enjoy, not just for their physical benefits, but also for their emotional and spiritual benefits in my life.

What Exactly Do I Need to Do?

I know that I want to gain 10 lbs of muscle this year but just knowing what I want to do will not help me to accomplish it. I need to make a very detailed plan to help me accomplish this goal. For example, I should eat 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight each day. I should eat protein after every workout and add Casein, a slow digesting protein, to my pre-bed meals. The devil is in the details and maybe that's why debauchery reins in our society!

Write It Down!

A study conducted by Stanford University found that writing down your goals increased the probability of achieving them by 70%! I'm not sure this method works with winning the lottery or dating that supermodel though. Don't just write the goal down. Jot down some words that describe how you'll feel when you accomplish the goal. Sprinkle them throughout your home and office to remind you of those great affects you have to look forward to. For example. when I succeed in gaining 10 lbs of muscle, I will feel accomplished, confident, fit, healthy and sexy!

Create a Successful Environment

We all know from other experiences in our lives that where we do something is just as important, if not more important, than what we do. You want to design your environment(s) so that it's hard not to accomplish your goals. Some tools that you can use are calendars and charts to plot your progress, hire a trainer, start a blog, or enlist a group of family and friends to act as your cheerleader/coach.

One of my goals in 2013 is produce more video posts on this blog. I plan to do this by creating a detailed list of potential topics each week and narrowing the topics down to one or two that I will produce video on. I will also need to update my audio/visual equipment to make producing and sharing content easier. I will also elicit the opinions of my friends and family to see what topics they're interested in seeing discussed on this blog.

Multi-Tasking is for Future Failures

The theory that working on multiple tasks at one time makes you more productive has been dispelled by several recent research articles. Taking on more than one thing at a time can make you unfocused and severely sabotage your end goal. Instead of trying to increase the frequency of your workout regime while you also try to quit smoking and eliminate junk food from your diet, pick one of those goals and blitzkrieg it like Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf!

My primary goals for 2013 all revolve around fitness so I'm going to focus on those since I've already made considerable progress in the previous year. If I feel comfortable with my progress, then I will begin to expend more energy on my video blog. If my fitness goals begin to falter due to my commitment to video blogging, then it'll have to go on the back burner. Success at one goal is better than mediocrity at a ton of goals.

Focus on the Process, not the Desired Result

Everyone has the initial excitement when they begin a new endeavor, but the real test begins when things are harder than you anticipated or you don't achieve the success that you were expecting. You can beat these feelings by focusing on the journey and not the destination. If your goal is to lose weight, focus on doing a little more every time you go to the gym instead of looking at the scale with shock and disdain once a week.

For my goal of gaining 10 lbs of muscle, my criteria for success can't just be whether the sleeves on my t-shirt can hardly contain my massive biceps. I have to gauge the fluctuations in my weight, my diet, and any other environmental factors that may affect the end goal. I also have to remain cognizant of the fact that gaining 10 lbs in muscles is not something that will happen overnight. It's a marathon, not a sprint so my expectations should be cropped based on this premise.

No One's Perfect

Last time I heard, Jesus was dead and hasn't come back as of yet. We're all human, thus, we're all fallible so don't let failure negatively affect your end goals. So what if you didn't make it to the gym on time. How about 5-minutes of stretching? So what if you slipped up and had that cigarette? How about a stick of gum the next time that you need a fix?

Failure should be viewed as a positive, not a negative because it builds resilience. I may forget to have a protein shake after my morning workout but I can still make up for it with a couple of chicken breast at lunch. As the famous baseball player Babe Ruth once said, "Never let the fear of striking out get in your way."

Portions of this post were taken from Forbes.com