Hello, Goodbye

September was very good to me. Life handed me a stein full of cold beer, and let me tell you, the eighth swig was just as good as the first: refreshing, crisp, and ever so satisfying. And I lapped it up. Believe me, did I ever. I felt like Steph Curry in Game 4 against the Denver Nuggets back in 2013. It was amazing. Straight fire.  

Then October started. And some annoying work stuff happened. And I started pitying myself, which led to me counting the hours until I could get out of the office and wallow in that pity.  

But then, something unexpected happen. A friend gave me a life update. This person’s life had taken a turn, and they had to go another direction—which meant leaving my life story for the time being. 

The news stunned me. I sat at my desk shaking for several moments. How could this happen? Why? This was so unfair! My emotions ran the gamut several times over and left my head spinning. Only when I got into my car to go home could I begin gathering my thoughts. Here is the main thought I arrived at.

People leave our lives all the time—sometimes expectedly, sometimes not. Either way, you are then forced to say goodbye. A common reaction tends to be, “Why didn’t I spend more time with this person? Why didn’t I grab lunch when they asked? Why didn’t I respond to their message more promptly? Why wasn’t I a better friend?” Now, feeling guilty is natural, but it isn't terribly productive either. You don’t get to rewind and do it differently. Give thanks for that person’s presence, and if you wish, resolve to make time next time.

But there is something you can do, right here, right now. And it’s much easier than you might think.

Think about the people you care about and are with you in your story right now. Then go one step further: Tell them you care about them and that they matter. Do it directly: text message, phone call, email, video chat, whatever. Don’t be afraid of being honest. Tell me, what is the worst thing that can happen when you open up your heart to someone who matters to you and you know feels the same way? You aren’t talking to your middle-school crush. You’re talking to a parent, a sibling, a cousin, a neighborhood friend, a high school teammate, a college roommate. This is someone you already adore, no strings attached. Why not remind them of that adoration? Speak it into existence. The whole world doesn’t need to know. Just that person. 

Here, if you need a little template for inspiration: “Hey (INSERT NAME HERE). Was just thinking of you. Remember (INSERT FUN MEMORY HERE)? Good times. Appreciate you.”

Even if you make that person smile just for a moment, isn’t that worth it? To bring light to someone you care about?

Because let me tell you something. Time is our most precious resource in the world, and we really don’t know how much any of us truly have with each other. Lives are dynamic, not static. That doesn’t mean you should live afraid. Rather, it means there is little time to be afraid. Why hoard positivity? It isn’t a finite commodity. Plus, what happens if that person’s (or your, for that matter) story changes, and their chapter in your story ends? All those positive vibes you thought about but never shared do you little good. So please, open your heart with those that matter to you. I am certain you’ll brighten their spirits. We all could use a little more light in this world. 

Tom Brady: GOAT or Snake (Oil Salesman)?

Disclosure: I’m not a Tom Brady fan or hater. As a football fan, I appreciate his skill. He’s super successful and has a legitimate case as the most accomplished quarterback in NFL history. He’s also controversial, which is great for narrative purposes. I think the game is better because of his presence in the league.

However, there is one Tom Brady narrative that I take issue with:

The notion he was ever a real underdog in his life.

Some background: Tom Brady is probably the most famous late round pick in modern sports history. We hear about his humble origins in the league every year: Six other quarterbacks were drafted before (arguably) the greatest QB of all time. How stupid the rest of the league was! Everyone overlooked this guy! This snub apparently drives him to prove everyone wrong and fuels his brilliance. Yada, yada, yada.

I have no problem with people telling themselves a certain version of the truth for motivational purposes. I do it too! It’s effective, even if what we tell ourselves is not actually true. Like, if a girl rejected my awkward attempts to woo her, I am the type of person who would take that personally and find a way to improve myself to “show her.” It’s petty, but pettiness is a heck of a motivator. So if Tom Brady actually uses his draft standing to light a fire under his butt, all the more power to him. He’s wildly successful, so it clearly works!

Here’s my problem: When successful people believe their own hype and use their stories to sell falsehoods to other people.

I’m talking about Tom Brady’s “TB12 Method.”

The TB12 Method “isn’t just a training regimen -- I see it as a holistic lifestyle.” That is according to the TB12 website. You can read more about it at the site, but there are apparently 12 principles Tom Brady subscribes to that makes him a superior human being. Why 12 principles? Because that’s Tom Brady’s jersey number, as far as I can tell. I don’t know if he practiced the TB12 Method before or after he was issued his number as a rookie, but I have a feeling “12” makes for better marketing rather than for any scientific reason.

While I’ve heard about Tom Brady’s alternative training methods before, I had no idea it was something he (or his camp) is selling. Again, I must reiterate: I have no problem with Tom Brady practicing alternative training methods personally. It’s his body, and if it works for him, bully for him. My main problem is him selling his method to people as if it will make them awesome like Tom Brady. Because Tom Brady is successful because he’s Tom Brady, not because he follows 12 rules he made up to sell services and merchandise.

If you want a comprehensive look at the problems with the TB12 Method, check out this piece on FiveThirtyEight, “Tom Brady Is Drowning in His Own Psuedoscience.” It points out some severe problems with the Method. (And as an aside, my reading of that article motivated me to write this blog post.) For example:

The book illustrates a series of exercises and self-massages that Brady promises will make muscles less tight, dense, stiff and injury-prone. Do the muscle pliability exercises in his book do what they advertise? It’s hard to say, because the only evidence provided is Brady’s testimonials, and there’s no actual scientific research on this stuff.

I don’t want to completely rehash the FiveThirtyEight article here. Rather, I want to offer some more likely reasons for why Tom Brady is successful based solely on my understanding of humanity.

  • Like genes. Tom Brady has three sisters who were all tremendous athletes. Two played softball in college, the other played soccer. So genetically, he won the lottery.
  • But not only did he have some good clay to work with, he was born under favorable circumstances, too. From all accounts, he has a healthy, loving family. That helps cultivate an upstanding person. His family was also well off enough to send him to Serra High School, a private high school in the Bay Area that has other illustrious athlete alumni, including Lynn Swann and Barry Bonds.From there, he turned his high school performance into a college scholarship at the University of Michigan, a prestigious university with a prominent football program.
  • He had a great college career, which led to him getting drafted by an NFL team. Like I said earlier, most of his draft story focuses on him “falling” to the sixth round (out of seven rounds total), but let’s put those numbers in context. According to the NCAA, about 1.5% of all NCAA college football players make it to the pros. That success rate is lower than Harvard’s undergrad acceptance rate (5.2%). So the very fact he was drafted at all is rare in and of itself.
  • And let’s not forget the role luck has played in Tom Brady’s career, from stepping in for an injured starter Drew Bledsoe (and never giving the starting job back) to circumstances (aka, the "Tuck Rule" game that propelled the Patriots dynasty).

None of these statements are meant to denigrate what Tom Brady has done as a NFL quarterback. Ultimately, he took a great situation and took full advantage of it with his own personal hard work and sacrifice. He is a wonderful example of cashing in on the cards life dealt him. I applaud maximizing potential.

This is why I find the TB12 Method so cringeworthy. Peddling pseudoscience as the reason for success so you could make a buck? And the fact that many people will buy in because fad diets and exercise trends always catch eyeballs? No. As Tom Brady’s friend at the White House might say, that’s a whole bunch of fake news.