Derek in Denver: At Least We Have Trevor

Rocky Mountain High: Trevor Story
Through the first three series of the Colorado Rockies’ season, there’s been nothing but good feelings surrounding Trevor Story—everything from his seven home runs to his nickname for the new outfield wall at Coors Field. He called it the “Bridich Barrier” after hitting the wall twice in Wednesday’s game, costing him two home runs. If Story can be decent the rest of the way, it gives fans a reason to watch his at-bats around those of Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez and DJ LeMahieu (who I love to watch at the plate).

The one downside to Story is the puns. The media, expecting ten years of Brock puns, now has to rely on Story puns. I’ve been guilty, and my friend Jen sent me Ryan Spilbourgh’s tweet about charitable donations for puns about Story. However, his twitter handle is @TStory2, which conjures up images of Woody and Buzz.


Lodo Low: Just One Season

April just isn’t the same with both winter sports teams sitting out of the playoffs for the second year in a row.

The Colorado Avalanche not finding a way to get to 90 points was just a travesty. Being .500 at the beginning of the season or the end of the season would have landed them in the playoffs, but it might be better that they missed. This team is a long way from a Cup and a band-aid playoff appearance might have kept management from addressing big issues. Now, they have to look at themselves in the mirror while everyone else in the division competes for a Stanley Cup (except the Jets).

The Nuggets seem to have a lot of pieces, but they are still young and growing. It will be interesting to see how the young core develops and if they can find consistent chemistry. I’d take an exciting basketball team too—there are only a handful of those in the NBA right now. The great 2013 team seems a long way from where we are now, but the people I trust around the Nuggets have high regard for Tim Connelly and Michael Malone.


Feeling better about…

Colorado Buffaloes Football: They seem to be getting a few recruits. That giant new practice field is paying dividends. If these recruits don’t work out, I’m nicknaming that thing the “Star Killer Base,” which means that Chip the Buffalo would be a cooler bad guy than Kylo Ren.

The Nuggets: Three picks in the first round? If this was football they’d be set for years. Unfortunately, it’s basketball. I do trust their ability to scout and make trades. It’s funny that Houston lost this pick after they had to get rid of Lawson.


Feeling the Same about…

The Broncos: It was cool to see the Super Bowl banner go up in the practice facility. I’m really just trying to enjoy this offseason and avoid all the hype around a Kaepernick trade. He doesn’t make the Broncos that much better right now. A question since I’m in Chicago, do I go to the draft to accept all the GM’s congratulations to the Denver Broncos ?

The Rockies: I was feeling worse about the Rockies, but they’re hanging around .500. The bullpen has been bad very early this year, with a handful of blowout losses in the first week. This usually happens when the arms are tired, so what’s the excuse this year? They’re not warmed up? This team should be fun to watch with their collection of hitters, but blowouts are never fun.


Feeling Worse About…

The Avalanche. I don’t want to talk about them anymore.


So Long…

DU Pioneers: A Frozen Four! They almost pulled that game out on Thursday.

Kobe Bryant: I’ve come to accept that he exists in the world. His decline mirrored that of the Nuggets, which kind of killed any hatred I had for him. However, these farewell tours are ridiculous. I respect the athletes who either announce their retirement a week before their last home game or after the season… Tim Duncan…


The One Thing You Should Read This Week: I really enjoyed this analysis by Nick Groke on the way Trevor Story is hitting home runs: How sustainable is Trevor Story’s home run barrage? So far it’s coming from all angles

The One Story I Never Want to Read Again: Could the Warriors Beat the 1996 Chicago Bulls? If the Warriors don’t win the championship no one will care about the record.

Question for the Crowd: 

The Week Ahead: If the Rockies remain at .500 when they return home, does that mean they can survive to May 1st in contention? I’m seeing them play the Cubs on Sunday and a win against the GREATEST TEAM TO EVER PLAY IN CHICAGO (coverage around this year’s Cubs, not my opinion) would be fantastic.

The Error in Justifying Your Work

Harvey began telling me what I should be doing with my life. I had known the guy less than five minutes and now he lectured me about how my mistaken approach. My attendance at this mixer was to support a friend, but seemed like another place where I needed to justify myself.

Harvey (not his real name) boasted about his own success. He told me about his nonprofit, how helpful he was to others, and how well his life was going. I listened as he shared his philosophy on life in great detail before he asked about me.

“I’m a writer and journalist. I’m at an alternative school called Experience Institute looking at different ways to tell stories.”

This was my two-sentence answer refined over 1,000 tellings. I iterated away from terms like “creative storyteller” and “alternative storytelling” to simply “writer and journalist.” Next, I explained to Harvey about designing my own education around apprenticeships.

“So what have your apprenticeships been? How are you going to do this in the real world?”

My apprenticeships, of course, have been a bit messy. For those just tuning in, I began at a startup in New York City that fell through. Then, I wrote a novel, but I am nowignoring the book because I don’t like the story. I’m currently working for Ei, helping them with the Leap Kit (another term I have to define for Harvey).

Once we get through this introduction, conversations of this type follow a general pattern. Harvey asked how I could do this in real life. Without letting me answer, he told me that I should think about marketing or copywriting. He was oblivious to the idea that I might have given my year some thought.

Harvey explained how I’m mistaken on the term storytelling and he had figured out my life for me. He repeated the mantra I’ve heard so often about how “everything is storytelling.” I bit my lip and nodded along politely.

Finally, I extricated myself from the conversation. I just told the next person who asked that I’m a journalist and work freelance—a fallback with short follow-up answers. I find myself in the same conversations over and over at these events:

What do you? What are you trying to do? How have I done something similar?

I worry about overexposure to other people’s feedback and opinions. Learning and making connections through discussion is important. However, the Harvey-type interactions are not about me, but about validating someone else. People eager to share ideas without considering me only adds to my burden of proof, rather than eases it.

This influences how I approach conversations. I try first to understand where the person is coming from and create a sense of empathy early. It turns out that not everyone needs my help. Giving unsolicited advice is a lot less valuable than trying to learn what the other person knows.

If I have helpful suggestions I add those later without challenging the person’s philosophy. Who am I to say what works in an always-evolving world?

I want to get to a place where my work speaks for itself. I’m not there yet, but I know I can’t get there by chasing the approval and ideas of everyone. I’ll work on my craft, continue my personal projects and learn where I can. My justification can come later.

The Act of Killing the Artist

The second Dark Age descended with a flash. This time, no empire fell or dictator reigned. In fact, all of the information anyone wanted spread through the Internet. People just didn’t know where to look. They had a teacher to explain the wonders of Pablo Picasso, JK Rowling and Alfred Hitchcock.

These people could not experience the emotion and empathy of the world through art, writing and dance. Such ideas were not passed down and, therefore, forgotten by the culture.

You must be taught the value of music, art and stories. We fail our communities when we do not give individuals the tools and education to find value in creative endeavors beyond profit streams. For those of us who feel through artistic expression, we experience the world with richness. By not spreading our message, we’re denying others this joy.

Do you believe that money means more in this world than artistic expression?

Would you trade all the music, movies, books and shows for a few dollars?

If not, please enlist in our cause.


Some people are natural lovers of an art—these enthusiasts are rare and wonderful. Some people have a certain art form destroyed for them by an overindulgent teacher or a pretentious acquaintance. Some of us are told we’ll never find work in an art form and we need to grow up and get a real job. However, Art forms are a necessity.

In moments of grief and desperation, we want the words of poets and the grace of music. In those moments, very few of us pull out a 20-dollar bill and stare at it. We want to move closer to something heavenly. We want to evolve through the great gift of artistic expression. Art forms allows us to see more than what is and embrace more than we can describe.

Through good fortune and privilege, I was surrounded by forms of art my entire life. From a young age, my parents made sure I was well versed in everything from Elvis and Mozart to Chevy Chase and Scooby Doo (my Mom’s suggestion when editing).

In seven years at Denver School of the Arts, I never had to explain art’s intrinsic value to talented peers. Most artists are educated in closed-off systems away from the rest of the world, which means the general population is absent inx these interactions.

I have conversations with people from the other side of that fence. People  who are surrounded by a lot of thoughts of profit margins and customers. Some people rarely talk about art. Without prior knowledge, it’s hard to explain the value of expression or creating something for its own sake. That’s what marketing is about, right?

There is not a business proposal for artistic expression. Art has feelings beyond profit margins. Its value is inherent. Every organization is better with art in its culture, not just in a department.

People who are surrounded by art see the world with greater depth. They can draw inspiration from many places and can find empathy in symbols and stories. Art adds richness to life and can also add creativity to business environments.

We are a better culture when we embrace our artists. Not all art will resonate with us, but we need to be surrounded by symbols that make us think.

We need warriors willing to go out and expose people today to the humanities of the world. Not everyone can find art alone. If we stop teaching these disciplines, we’ll start to lose them as a culture, but we must begin to educate in this way.

For More: The Power of Books

I’m Sure You Know Great Storytelling

You know what great storytelling is? It’s getting to the end of The Great Gatsby and somehow feeling remorse for Jay Gatsby. This guy is a con artist, a liar, an egomaniac and a delusional manipulator. If I were to meet his equivalent on the street, there’s no way that we would get along. Yet in those moments when the world is falling apart and he knows he won’t end up with Daisy, you’re still rooting for Jay to find love.

That’s great storytelling. When the storyteller makes you hold a view opposite to how you perceive the real world.

Great storytelling is the release of tension. It’s the elation that comes at the end of a movie when the hero is going to prevail. It’s the amount of anticipation that’s built until Han Solo returns in Star Wars, it’s watching the hot air balloon fly away in the Wizard of Oz, it’s Willie Wonka’s clocks ticking away the seconds until Charlie gets the Chocolate Factory.

Great storytelling is a craft. It’s the tiny details that make up the beautiful language in a Shakespearean play or the level of symbolism in of The Sword in the Stone.

Great storytelling is familiarity. It’s returning to the world of Harry Potter and feeling as if you’re among friends. It’s the castle at the beginning of a Disney movie or the nostalgia of hearing a Beatles’ song on the radio.

Great storytelling is a willingness to begin. It’s a belief that themes fade way to a resolution. Whether that resolution is positive, like the end of the Mighty Ducks or heartbreaking, like To Kill a Mockingbird or The Diary of Anne Frank, it leaves something with us.

A great story surprises us. It interrupts the way we operate in the world and changes it. There’s no one great story—which means we have more worlds to explore and more adventures in which to partake.

Attention Derek Club Members

Dear Derek Club Members (of all spellings: Derrick, Derik, Derric, Derrik, Derreck et al.),

Listen, I know we said that Derek Jeter would only get two more years as president of the Derek’s after retiring, but come on, has anyone read the Player’s Tribune? He’s been able to bring a lot of interesting athlete’s stories to light through the site. Plus, he’s competing with all the big sports journalism companies for best stories. Bravo Jeter, you have my vote for president again.

No one is more disappointed than I am that Derrick Rose hasn’t stepped up to take the mantle. We thought he would lead us to some notoriety, but that Chicago Bulls didn’t even make the playoffs. We deserve better than that Derrick.

Also, we’re still pretty sports heavy with the likes of MMA fighter Derrick Lewis and Chiefs player Derrick Johnson. Not one of us could have run for President? (Derrick Fischer doesn’t even deserve an honorable mention).

Remember, we don’t always have an easy name to begin with. We’re technically named after that oil derrick thing. Ricky Gervais made that show called Derek, which was touching and sweet. However, raise your hand with me if you still feel like you’re living under the shadow of Life with Derek Thanks Disney Channel.

Look, I talked to Derek Sivers and he has no interest, so I think Jeter should win without ballot. The only question I have, will he be putting his support behind his friend Trump? He dodged that question in Cuba. I’m not sure that will be good for our collective image.

Anyway, I’ll see you guys at the Derek convention. Derik, Turkey is about to have a party on its hands!

Until then,

Member 2219

Carolina in Her Mind

I call her Carolina because I think of her whenever I hear the James Taylor song, Carolina in My Mind. The song always takes me back to that night when she wanted to believe that I was a moment worth having. I think about that moment often, and wonder if she ever thinks about me.

I went to see her in a play. She disappeared for months prior, despite my semi-frequent attempts to talk to her. However, out of the blue she let me know she was performing. Her abilities as an actress exhibited great talent for subtle moments. She understood how to elongate a pause between lines to build tension and keep the audience uncomfortable. Around her, I always wanted to know what happened next.

When she walked onstage, her eyes instantly connected with mine—the way they always did. Just thinking about the looks she gave me make my breath catch. We always seemed to lock eyes the instant we were in the same room for a fleeting unacknowledged moment, no matter how much distance separated us.

I think a lot about a single moment of the play. Carolina waited on stage for her love interest to show up and she started singing on syllables. “DaDo Da Da Da Da,” but I heard the melody “Going to Carolina in my mind.”

The audience held its breath, as Carolina stood alone on the stage, humming the melody to that song. The way she looked off I could tell she was far away, maybe thinking back to a time in our hometown—maybe of a future on Broadway. I just knew I wanted to go there with her.

I’ve looked up the play’s script and there’s no mention of any song in the stage direction at that moment. It was all her.

After the show, I waited for her in the lobby. She walked up, smiled and grabbed my arm, slightly holding me back of me as if to see me better.

“Let’s get a drink,” she said and she led me out through the mingling audience even as others were waited for her.

“The play was great,” I said as we hit the street and began to walk. “You transported me.”

Carolina said nothing, but burrowed into me. She grasped my arm tightly as we walked in the cold night air toward a restaurant she liked. Rain from earlier in the night lit up the pavement with reflections of streetlights.

“I always have this feeling when you come around,” she said finally. “Like this is a defining moment, but only a moment, always…”

“I tried last time…”

“I just never answered your messages,” she said. “I’ll be better, I promise, just don’t stay away so long.”

We continued to walk and I felt her focus slip away again. Whatever she felt for me floated off like a few words hummed on the stage. She was off to Carolina and I wasn’t bringing her back anytime soon.

The 30 Post Review

I started this project for three reasons:

  1. The school I’m a part of, Experience Institute, developed a 90-day learning challenge tool called the Leap Kit. I used the kit to map out a project, and decided that writing a daily blog is something I’ve always thought about doing. This seemed like a good time to see if I could.
  2. My first of three terms was about writing and creating works that build confidence. I worked on a novel and other writing in New York City. I wanted my second term to be about sharing my work and this seemed like a good way to do that.
  3. I wanted to get over lingering fears of sharing my authentic self with people. In the past few years, I became hyperaware of people’s opinions of me in the world and on social media. It made me stop taking risks, and I didn’t enjoy the process of sharing my ideas as much.

So after 30 posts over 6 weeks, I thought it would be a good time to check-in and setup for the next stretch.

To start off, I hate the term “blog.” That’s why I tried calling this “The Chronicle,” but it’s entered into my vocabulary and mind frame. “Blog” should be an innocuous term to mean any place where writing is stored online. It’s not though. We all know too many people who kept a blog on the mundane moments of life and shared it with the enthusiasm one might share a new Beyoncé song.

The term “blog” has become synonymous with amateur. The quality is held up to no standard, and blogs are never as prestigious as a print publication and they aren’t carried with such reverence. About halfway through this process, I gave up on trying to call it “The Chronicle” and began to call it a “blog”. Because the day-to-day aspect of it definitely made me feel like it was less important.

Seth Godin’s daily blog was a place where I derived inspiration for the chronicle blog. He thinks everyone should be willing to share a thought everyday. He’s good at writing posts that are only 50 words if that’s all that’s needed—he really just shares thoughts some days rather than full articles. I am not good at just presenting pieces of thoughts. I have approached this blog wanting complete pieces.

This is not how I do my best work. In an ideal world, I would have three days to work on a story—one day to write, one rewrite and one day to edit. While my procrastination habits aren’t as bad as they were in college, I can’t seem to work three days ahead.

The other problem with working everyday is I’m not regularly creating things I really care about. My article about sexism in sports is the only post I think is great, along with the actual blog for Experience Institute. I can’t hit home runs every time in this environment, but I am still proud of a lot of pieces worthy of singles and doubles. I’ve also allowed myself to share some fictional pieces, which I never did before.

Why does getting behind my work matter? I hate having to share my work. I understand that it’s a necessary evil, but I feel bad pushing my work on people. Plus, Facebook’s algorithm has not been my friend this month for views. That frustrates me because it seems I put the work out there for no reason sometimes. I think that my hesitations about blogging may have had more to do with the process of sharing than what I share. I am going to work harder going forward.

A few goals the rest of the way:

  1. More research, planning and trying out stories. I can think on my feet with the best of them, but like wine, my best work takes time to mature.
  2. More stories: I don’t want to use this place to preach—I want to create things. I should be showing these things, rather than telling readers about them.
  3. Get excited and find places of vulnerability.
  4. Think about things I like to come across online and deploy some of those techniques for my own personal marketing. I’ve done it before, but it wasn’t the original plan on The Chronicle.
  5. My friend says my logo sucks. So this week, I made a logo that is just the heart ripped out of my logo in protest. I like my logo, it’s been a part of me forever, but I could clean it up and spend more time on details like that.
  6. Take bigger risks!

After the Dawn of Justice

This is a follow-up conversation after Patrick and I saw Batman Vs. Superman Dawn of Justice. Part 1 of this conversation was: Is it Better to be a Savior or a Vigilante?

Patrick can be found on Twitter: @Man of Tomorrow.  Patrick is my superhero vendor. He introduced me to Justice League 8 and convinced me to watch Arrow. I’m a novice in the comic book world. Patrick brings a deep knowledge about the battle between Superman and Batman.

Derek: All right Patrick, let’s do a follow up to the original conversation about Vigilante vs. Savior. I’d love to hear your initial reaction to Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. What were your initial thoughts when this movie ended?

Patrick: I actually loved the movie. My best friend and I wound up seeing it 5 times opening weekend, and I’ve been a total of six times.

I understand people’s dislike for it, but for me, I see film adaptations of comic book characters as different interpretations, and I’m just fine with how things are going. But I get that it’s tough for people to let go of the ideal visions in their minds (i.e. Christopher Reeve).

But for me, the movie was cool, looked awesome, and I thought Affleck’s Batman was the most interesting Batman/Bruce Wayne they’ve ever put on film. The movie raises a lot of questions, and I think it just suffers from Zack Snyder not being a very good director. I don’t hate him like most do, but he’s definitely not Christopher Nolan, et al.

It got me super excited for Wonder Woman, Justice League, and everything else they’re doing. I just uh, wouldn’t be upset if Justice League: Part One was Snyder’s last round with the DC films.

Derek: I’m with you. I enjoyed the experience immensely! I just didn’t feel like I was at a movie. It was sort of like a bunch of small storylines put together. I felt like my mind had to make great leaps sometimes to understand why people were so upset: the committee hearing, Batman, Superman and Lex Luhtor (Jr). The stuff in between was great though. What are your big questions heading into the rest of the franchise?

Patrick: Yeah, unfortunately it was kind of all over the place, and character motives weren’t very clear. In those cases, such as, why did Lex hate Superman so much? I just subconsciously filled in those gaps with what I already know about Lex’s character in general, and it usually doesn’t make me like the movie any less.

Well, first, I am kind of shocked by the ending. Superman will obviously return, but they can’t logically bring Clark Kent back from the dead. That will make me sad, as I love Clark Kent as much as Superman.

Lots of questions though about the larger DCEU. There were plenty of nods to Darkseid, the quintessential DC villain (and Marvel’s Thanos is a blatant rip-off of his character).

Was the Flash really speaking to Bruce through the Speed Force from the future, or from an alternate Earth, or alternate future? I wouldn’t have minded if that scene had been cut, but it seemed to lay some mysterious groundwork for the next films.

I could go on…

Derek: How interesting would it be if Superman wasn’t in the first half of the Justice League. Imagine the Justice league having to fill in for a world without Superman. This is one of the more interesting plot angles I feel like?

Also, any insight on this Flash? Are we still dealing with Barry Allen (CW TV SHOW Fame, but I know it’s a different actor) or is this someone else entirely.

Patrick: Yeah, while I knew Doomsday was in this film, for some reason it never crossed my mind that they would adapt Death of Superman. I assumed just being two movies into the universe; it’d be pretty crazy to “kill” Superman, especially since the very next film with him in it would be Justice League! Seemed like a very risky move.

I honestly can’t remember when it happened or what comic, but Batman and Superman were arguing about something, and Batman pointed out the only time Superman really inspired people, was when he was dead. And many people stepped up to fill in for him during the Reign of the Supermen story.

It would be great to see more of Batman’s tactical side, and Wonder Woman’s ability to be the battle-hardened leader she apparently is, with no Superman. Usually, leadership falls on those three, and Superman is often deferred to, or seen as the “de facto leader”. I’m also unsure how they would play Justice League Part 1 and 2. Will a lead-up villain be in Part 1, leaving Darkseid for Part 2? All due respect to everyone else, but Superman has always kind of been the only one who can handle Darkseid, without some gimmick or plot device.

And yes, this Flash is Barry Allen, but he obviously does not fit the old appearance of Barry (neither does Grant Gustin). That was one of my issues with that scene; he didn’t really look like Flash. He was wearing armor? It was just strange. But the Flash is generally the only time-traveler around, and Barry has been the one that generally does it, with drastic side effects.

Derek: So, I’ve only seen the movie once, but I must say that watching Batman and Superman fight on the big screen was just a tiny bit painful. It would be like Kermit the Frog and Elmo going after each other with scissors, but worse because Batman and Superman are such good friends. What was your initial reaction to that scene? What perceptions changed for you after watching the movie a few (a half dozen) times?

Patrick: I’ve seen Batman and Superman get into skirmishes before in the comics and the animated series, so it wasn’t a total shock, and it’s kind of a hallmark of their first meetings in any form. But, I enjoyed the fight! The whole “who would win” debate is kind of silly in my opinion. The only way Batman ever wins is via Kryptonite, and the only way he gets to use it is by taking advantage of the fact that Superman does not want to kill him. If Superman really wanted to, Batman would die before he could even get his Kryptonite ammo loaded.

One of my complaints is that I wish Superman had pleaded with Bruce more in those moments. He started to explain, but then quickly abandoned that route. I would have liked to see him stay defensive and refuse to fight, trying to explain the situation to Bruce. But once he gets hit with Kryptonite, I can understand him entering fight-or-flight mode, especially when his mother’s life is at stake.

I really enjoyed the moment Superman gets through to Bruce. I do wish they had spent more time on it, because it does seem abrupt that they’re suddenly friends. But, to me, Bruce finally saw Clark as human, realizing he had a mother and seeing him as a man, just like Bruce. That was a good moment for me; maybe cheesy, but whatever.

Derek: I’ve been thinking a bit about villains. I remember getting really excited hearing that Eddie Murphy was going to be Riddler a decade ago and it never happened. As a Batman fan, I just love all of the villains. Are there any villains you hope make an appearance in the rest of the jumbo franchise?

Patrick: Now and forever: Darkseid.

He’s my all-time favorite villain, to the point where he’s maybe my favorite comic book character after Superman, LOL. I didn’t get introduced to him until the Superman Animated Series, but have sine gone back and read Jack Kirby’s New Gods, and pretty much anything else that has Darkseid in it.

To me, he’s just super cool, and absolute evil. His goal is to remove the free will from all life in the universe, to where only his survives, leaving him to rule everything. The “Anti-Life Equation” is what he’s always seeking to accomplish this goal. Plus, his history with the New Gods is interesting; I’d love to see the New Gods, Apokolips and New Genesis on screen.

Other than Darkseid, really Metallo is one of my favorite Superman villains, and I caught in Batman Vs. Superman, a scientist credited as “Emmett Vale,” who was the creator of the Kryptonite-hearted cyborg. I loved him in the animated series.

But, also, Black Adam (Teth-Adam) is one of my favorite comic book characters, and goes back and forth between anti-hero and villain. He’s a villain mainly for Shazam! but has fought against the Justice League and others, too, given his power level. The Rock is already signed on to play him in Shazam! a few years from now, which has me totally stoked, because I love The Rock, haha.

Derek: Well, I think that about wraps this up. Any final thoughts on what we should take out of this movie? What’s next on the excitement list? Captain America: Civil War? Suicide Squad? Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? Finding Dory?

Patrick: For me, it accomplished its goal in getting me extremely excited for Wonder Woman, she was so awesome in the Batman vs. Superman, and Justice League. To be honest, the thing I’m enjoying most out of Man of Steel & Batman vs. Superman is how DC is saying “here is your real world, and we’re dropping superheroes in it.” That may not be people’s cup of tea, or the escape some are looking for, but it’s incredibly interesting and appealing to me.

I’m definitely excited for Suicide Squad, and Civil War. But honestly, after Batman Vs. Superman, those will just hold me over until Wonder Woman in June 2017. That’s the one I’m most looking forward to!

Derek: Yeah, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) rocked in the movie! Thanks for your insight!

Pockets of Happiness

I keep so many pockets of happiness that I decided to sew them into a jacket. Each pocket found its proper place, but happiness is such a touchy issue that my joy is dispersed and sometimes lost.

The jacket has one breast pocket facing outward over my heart. It’s my own personal nametag—the happiness I always show to the world. This pocket is where I keep my standard answers to the question, how are you? The phrases I’m pretty good and I’m alright hang out in this pocket. When people are masking deeper issues with happiness, this is the pocket they usually store their antics in.

The other outward pocket is the one on my sleeve. It’s where I keep the happiness to show people close to me and where I keep the good moments of my life. I often come across this pocket by accident like when the Colorado Rockies hit a home run or I run into my friend on a train. This is where I keep memories of laughs and love.

My day-to-day happiness goes in the two regular old pockets on the bottom of the jacket. Unfortunately, these pockets seem to have holes in them. Whatever thread I use to sew up these holes doesn’t seem to work. It sometimes feels like this happiness is elusive. Without the right ingredients for my life—job and meaning—the holes will never be filled.

I must admit that the pocket on the right has a secret compartment. I’ve found myself storing happiness in this compartment and not showing it to the world. It seems to me that when people think you’re happy, they suddenly think you’re not struggling.

With my life in turmoil at times, I don’t go into this secret pocket much. I am afraid if I do, I will lose the support system around me to deal with my problems. If I cannot secure my long-term happiness, then I don’t know that I can have short-term happiness.

The final pocket is inside the jacket. It’s hard to get to. You have to unzip the jacket and unbutton the pocket, but in rare moments I seek it out. This is where my moments of bliss lie. This is where I keep the valuable experiences that I wish were abundant enough to fill the other pockets.

Warning: Do Not Replicate

The fastest way to irrelevancy is to try and copy other people’s ideas, processes or results. This is true in art, business and innovation.

Our brains are trained to ignore things that fit into a narrative we already understand. It’s one of the reasons trends in marketing don’t make a lot of sense. It’s why people don’t take risks on social media. It’s why people want me to post on Medium and be part of the crowd. People think you need to adopt the habits and technology of past successes.

Our great innovators built something new. Can you imagine if Charles Dickens just rewrote Shakespeare word for word? What about if Google just said, “We’re going to do what Microsoft did?” It wouldn’t work. It’s also a reason companies fall apart. Formerly great companies crumble because they have an inability to invent new things.

When this happens, things die. It’s what killed the American Western genre. It’s a reason the established television news and newspapers lost their footing. Stagnation doesn’t impress audiences. This becomes evident when artists put out the same record three times in a row.

I worry about this problem when I see all of these articles about following the habits of successful people. There’s a huge industry for this sort of thing, and for the most part, we should not concern ourselves with copying people. It’s about evolving past them.

I’m listening to Jim Collin’s Good to Great, a book about companies that outperformed their competitors. Based on the book’s research, there’s not a set formula that performance is tied to: motivation style, monetary incentives, lifestyle structure, personal publicity or technology. Great performers operate outside such frameworks, but so many people think that the key to success is hidden somewhere in articles and books on these processes.

The first step in the building process should be to explore things that work for you. Then for step two you should be consider creating something the world wants. Not for personal gain, but as a way of elevating whatever you’re working on. Create your own path. Take things from others that work for you, but then start creating. You’re wasting your time trying to replicate the success of others. We won’t notice.