The Age of Self Promotion

When a person’s image and/or reputation is inflated, sometimes people lament, “Big hat, no cattle.” A lot of people today, like the President of the United States, excel at promoting themselves more than anything else. Thanks to the public’s allegiance to valueless media, we’re making a mockery of merit.

A case study. My July morning routine entails working out, eating breakfast, making a green tea latte, and then settling in to the day’s Tour de France stage which I spend about thirty minutes fast forwarding through.

This year there are three cyclists from the U.S. in le Tour, meaning about 1.5% of the total peloton. One of the U.S. riders is barely surviving the mountain climbs, just making the maximum time cuts. But because we’re living in the Age of Self Promotion, that same rider is starring on the U.S. television coverage, dropping daily broh-heavy “behind the scenes” video segments that add nothing to the event. He seems likable enough because of a goofy personality. And maybe the fact that both of his parents were professional cyclists and he’s bounced back from a horrific accident a few years ago contribute to some of his faux-fame as well.

But even accounting for those extenuating circumstances, the fact that he’s in damn near last place would only matter if we were in an Age of Meritocracy, but we’re not. Increasingly, we’re surrounded by people with really, really big hats. Which makes it tough to see the front of the race.

Friday Assorted Links

1. I had no clue that different types of tea are best prepared with slightly different water temperatures until reading this. Now life feels a lot more complicated.

2. Everything you wanted to know about ESPN’s finances¬†but were afraid to ask.

3. Why some young adults leave home and others don’t.

4. Everyone’s wondering.¬†Can Canadians get high on their own marijuana supply?

“You can’t force the plants to grow faster.”

5. Speaking of Canada, a few bees were found at an Ontario home.

“Everyone¬†got stung at one point. They were not very happy. They followed us out to our trucks, and I guess they kind of waited.”

6. Reports of globalization’s demise are greatly exaggerated as evidenced by the All NBA Rookie Team.

7. Appears as if the Cle Elum, Washington school district reads the humble blog.

‚ÄúThe kids you see here flourish with hands-on learning.‚ÄĚ

Which kids don’t?

8. I can’t even muster up the energy to register for our local sprint triathlon; meanwhile an older acquaintance of mine is competing in this new, kinda tough triathlon¬†on July 15th.

 

Dream Job

Thanks to the Pressing Pauser who sent this job announcement:

GOLF COACH NEEDED:
Pacifica Christian High, located in Newport Beach, is looking for a head coach for its varsity girls golf team as it goes into its inaugural season in the fall of 2017. Individuals with a strong background in coaching golf, working within a high school setting, and are strong in their faith are encouraged to apply. Please submit a resume and direct all application questions to. . .
Here’s how the receipt of my application would prob go down:
Athletic Director to anyone within earshot in the athletic office, “Get a load of this one. Dude lives in Washington State. Perv alert!”

Wise Advice For Young Female Runners

Or so says LetsRun.com. I’d revise that to read “Wise Advice for Anyone Trying to Find Their Way in Life”.

Beautiful, powerful essay by Lauren Fleshman, a recently retired professional runner to her high school self. The gist of it, short-term success is a trap, form healthful habits, and decide for yourself what’s most important in life.

 

Weekend Reading

There will be a quiz on Monday.

  1. The chaos of urban school reform.
  2. Life-long learners versus life-long test takers.
  3. Grade anxiety and felony burglary at the University of Kentucky. What do you propose as punishment?
  4. Can science help marathoners break the 2-hour limit? Truly excellent breakdown. Fav sentence, “Basically, in the marathon, there are a lot more pipes that can burst than, say, in a mile or a 5K.” The attempt is in Italy Saturday morning at 5:45a, tonight at¬†8:45p PDT, 11:45p, EDT. I do not expect to see a sub two hour marathon in my lifetime; however, I do hope to break two hours in my first stand-alone 10k in ages tomorrow morn.
  5. The real reason Clinton lost. Prediction: Alison will disagree. Vehemently.

L’eggo My Ego!

That pun will be lost on the youth.

Recently, while training indoors for next summer’s Tour de France, the¬†DVR offered slim pickings, so I ended up watching an ESPN documentary about the mid-90s Orlando Magic. As the story goes, one year the¬†Magic got to the NBA finals thanks to the play of two young superstars, Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. Then they got swept by the Houston Rockets in the Finals. The next year they got swept by the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Then Shaq left for Los Angeles¬†largely because¬†he couldn’t stand sharing the spotlight with his increasingly popular running mate. Twenty years older Shaq admits¬†“it was ego” that got in the way of him staying, and realizing, the Magic’s obvious potential for championships.

Then after a couple of championships in LA, he left largely¬†because he couldn’t stand sharing the spotlight with his equally, if not more popular, superstar teammate. Recently, he’s expressed regret that his “ego” got in the way then too. At¬†the end¬†of the film he says if he could¬†do it all over again, he never would’ve left Orlando. He’s also expressed regret for leaving the Lakers when a few more rings were clearly within reach.

In the end, Shaq won half as many championships as he could’ve because he chose to¬†be¬†“the undisputed man” on lesser teams.

Daily it seems, I see¬†examples of the downside of ego, both the more common male version, and the less familiar, female. Granted, more subtle and nuanced examples than the¬†Big Aristotle’s, but still consequential. The challenge is for leaders to combine self confidence with a¬†Buddhist-like selflessness. Whether star athletes, coaches, teachers, principals, pastors, politicians, or businesspeople. Leaders¬†who¬†don’t need credit for what their team’s¬†accomplish. Leaders who let their legacies take care of itself.

Why did Shaq Daddy so desperately need the brightest spotlight? Why couldn’t he share the credit for his team’s success?

Why do we? Why can’t we?

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Postscript. This just in. Adrian Wojnarowski on George Karl’s new book, Furious George. “Truth be told, Karl was everything he said he disdained about all his players, he was all about the next contract, all about the attention, and always about himself over the team.”