Speaking of Motivation . . .

Where Do You Stand On the Kneeling Drama? (see what I did there?)

by Jeff Joiner - Tuesday, September 26, 2017


The nonsense going on right now on NFL sidelines has caused me to engage in some deep thought (which I usually try to avoid). Personally, I would never kneel during our national anthem and I, frankly and simply, have little respect for any American who does. But, what I have been thinking about is, why should I even care? Why should I care what some people I’ve never met do or don’t do while that song is playing? It’s got nothing to do with me. The obvious answer is: I shouldn’t care. The fact that I’ve let this “controversy” affect my emotions, occupy my thoughts, and distract me from the things I’m trying to accomplish in my own life is foolish.

But, that’s not the part that’s got me thinking deeply. It’s the logical extension of that simple realization. If I shouldn’t care about what these athletes do before the game, it stands to reason that I shouldn’t care about what they do during the game either. Those activities have nothing to do with me or my life either! Why am I wasting my money, and something even more valuable, my time, watching, cheering, following, agonizing and analyzing how well other people play games? These sports and their players add no real value or richness to my life. In fact, they are clearly a distraction from accomplishing my financial, spiritual, and relational goals.

That’s my realization:  It doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter who wins and loses. It doesn’t matter who’s in first place or last place. It doesn’t matter who stands or sits. It simply Does. Not. Matter.

It’s all just entertainment. It’s just another “reality show,” with manufactured drama designed to give viewers a little temporary thrill. It’s a simulated battle, eating up the minutes and hours of my life when I should be fighting the battles that DO matter for me and my family.

These self-important “protesters” have triggered a kind of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” epiphany in me, where I’ve realized that watching sports religiously, wearing other people’s jerseys, getting upset when “my” team doesn’t win . . . is stupid.

And, worse than being stupid, it’s dangerous, as the arbitrary, imaginary affiliation I feel for “my” teams (the Lions, the Wolverines, the Tigers, etc.) distracts from the fact that, in reality, I really do have MY teams (my family, my business partners, my clients, my neighbors, and my faith community).

So, I’ve decided to take a break from watching sports. All of it. I’m out. I’m not protesting or boycotting, maybe just growing up a little. I’m going to take those wasted hours and invest them in reading, writing, coaching, laughing, working, serving others, exploring, growing personally, building my businesses, and loving my family. I really think I’d rather be the star of my story than a cheerleader in the lives of strangers on a football field. I’d rather win my own battles than pretend I’m a winner when my favorite teams win.  

I’m sure this is not the reaction the NFL players and owners were looking for. And, if enough other people wake up the way I have, they are in big trouble.

I’m not writing this to be preachy or judge how you spend (or waste, or invest) your time. I don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish with your life, or how it’s going. In my case, I have HUGE goals and a long way to go!

Feel free to share this and/or to join me in thinking through what really matters to you and evaluating how well your time and energy align with those goals. If you have a big goal you’re working on in your life, please let me know.  I will support you and cheer for you in any way I can.  Cheering for YOU makes more sense to me than cheering for athletes on TV.


Just Keep Moving

by Jeff Joiner - Thursday, May 01, 2014

After 45 fairly sedimentary years on planet earth, I have decided to start running.  My wife has been running for a few months, and is feeling (and looking) better than ever.  She ran in a 5K race last weekend and had a great time.  All of this has inspired me, and like a fool, I decided to enter a 5K race with her that is one month away.  So, for the last 5 days, I have left my house and ran.  Guess what I have discovered?

Forrest Gump I am not.  I hate it.  Really hate it.  It combines some very unpleasant things like physical pain and a discouraging lack of proficiency.  I have been running a path around a pond in my neighborhood and back home - probably a third of a mile.  The first day, I had to stop running and walk to catch my breath 8 times.  The next day I had to stop 7 times.  Today - 4 times.  So, I'm making progress, but it still sucks.  I burst through the door each time huffing, puffing, wheezing, and groaning so loud that it literally frightens my children.  

But you know what I am liking?  The metaphor.  My staggering, stumbling attempt to be a runner is just like some of the other challenges I am facing in my life.  Challenges that sometimes seem insurmountable.  Situations and relationships that cause substantial pain.  And, I'm not talking about temporary discomfort like burning lungs or a hamstring cramp.  I'm talking about real pain.  "I'm not sure I can get through this" pain.  Deep, emotional, heart-wrenching pain.  Do you know what I'm talking about?  I bet you do.  

Here's what the pain in your life has to do with running.  You really only have two choices:  Quit or Push Through.  It would be a lot easier to stop running and get back on the couch.  But the psychological and spiritual toll that quitting extracts is far worse than any physical pain I'm going to endure.  So here are a few things I've learned in my first week running:

  • Just keep moving.  Running is better than walking,  but walking is better than stopping.  Keep some level of momentum, because objects at rest tend to stay at rest.
  • Measure your progress.  I've been timing my "runs."  The first 5 trips around the neighborhood pond took me 10:56, 10:32, 10:08, 9:50, 9:26.  I'm getting faster every day.  Seems like only a little bit, but I'm 12% better than I was on Sunday.  (What are you 12% better at than you were last week?)  Progress creates hope.
  • A few of these mornings have been really cold.  I only notice the temperature, though, when I slow down and walk.  The faster you're moving and more you're focused on completing the task at hand, the less circumstances bother you.
  • My wife is cheering me on all the way.  Any difficult endeavor is infinitely easier when you have someone encouraging you.  Seek out those people.
  • I still don't feel like a "runner."  I feel like a clumsy, out-of-breath doofus.  But you know what?  You don't have to be a runner to run.  Just like you don't have to be a fighter to fight.  You don't have to be persistent to persist.  Act like that thing you want to be and see if you don't become something different over time.
In what areas of life are you working hard to push through?  Keep pushing.  Just keep moving.  I know it hurts, but quitting isn't the answer.  There are few things more painful than regret.  Like Andy Dufresne said, "Get busy living or get busy dying."

Hang in there and keep me posted on your progress with your relationships, your goals, and your life.  You can do it!  If I can help you in any way, send me an email.

Jeff Joiner


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