American Athletes Insist That God’s Got to Be on Their Side

Dave Hannigan of the Irish Times observes that praising the Lord is as fundamental to American sport as pom-pom girls:

Moments after unfurling a touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse that punched the Seattle Seahawks’ ticket to the Super Bowl, quarterback Russell Wilson joined a bunch of his team-mates as they knelt in a prayer circle in the middle of CenturyLink field. As the camera lingered on this impromptu congregation, tears mingled with the sweat on Wilson’s ecstatic face. Once the worshippers had finished giving thanks and praise, he was corralled by a television crew to whom, through sobs, he offered a very spiritual take on leading the Seattle Seahawks to a famous comeback victory over the Green Bay Packers. “God is for good, man, all the time, every time,” said Wilson. “I just believe God is preparing me for these situations, God is preparing our team too as well.” The touchdown celebrated by pointing skyward in acknowledgment of a higher power, the victory that isn’t really complete until franked by a breathless, on-camera explanation of the unseen part played by Jesus in the triumph.

Predicting Isn’t Enough

Morgan Housel of the Collaborative Fund draws attention to how information and metrics are always changing:

Investment facts are always changing. But prediction is doubly hard because the facts investors care about and pay attention to—which is what makes facts relevant—change all the time. Not just by industry, but for the market as a whole.

Rarely can you say, “When this happens, that occurs,” because that occurring relies on other people thinking this matters, when their attention may have drifted off to something else.

The Tennis Legacy of Vic Braden

If you haben’t heard about Vic Braden, he is one of the most influential people in the history of tennis and one of sport’s great innovators. Tom Perrotta explains in Grantland,

Vic Braden did more than anyone to make tennis big in America. He taught countless players, from world No1s like Tracy Austin to hopeless hackers to Hollywood stars. He trained armies of teaching pros who went on to inspire others. He applied science to the sport and taught the world what actually happens when a racket meets a ball. He helped Jack Kramer, the American tennis star and entrepreneur, promote the fledgling professional tour, which eventually forced the Grand Slam tournaments to open their draws to both amateurs and pros. Once upon a time, Braden’s name had such cachet that he even started a ski school in Aspen.

Today Says Nothing About the Future

Ben Carlson on why is it so difficult to predict what transpires in the financial markets:

Peter Bernstein in Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk lays out three reasons regression to the mean can be such a frustrating guide to the investment decision-making process:

  1. Sometimes it happens at such a slow pace that any shock to the system can disrupt the process.
  2. Sometimes the regression happens so swiftly it overshoots to the upside or downside.
  3. Sometimes the mean itself is unstable, meaning yesterday’s normal can be replaced by a new normal if something has changed within the system.

History in the Service of Victimhood

Dr. Thomas Sowell of Stanford’s Hoover Institution’s collection of essays, (2005,) discusses how history is being used to claim victimhood, rather than as a tool to move on:

Race and rhetoric have gone together for so long that it is easy to forget that facts also matter—and these facts often contradict many widely held beliefs. Fantasies and fallacies about racial and ethnic issues have had a particularly painful and deadly history, so exposing some of them is more than an academic exercise. The history of intergroup strife has been written in blood in many countries around the world and across centuries of human history.

The Ideal of Female Grace

Travel writer Rick Steves on how Venus de Milo’s well-proportioned body personified the balance and orderliness of the Greek universe:

Split Venus down the middle from nose to toes and see how the two halves balance each other. Venus rests on her right foot (that contrapposto pose so popular with classical sculptors.) She then lifts her left leg, setting her whole body in motion. It’s all perfectly realistic: As the left leg rises, her right shoulder droops down. And as her knee points one way, her head turns the other. Despite all this motion, the impression is one of stillness, as Venus orbits slowly around a vertical axis. The twisting pose gives a balanced S-curve to her body. The balance between fleeting motion and timeless stability made beauty.

Other opposites balance as well, like the smooth skin of the upper half of her body that sets off the rough-cut texture of her dress. She’s actually made from two different pieces of stone plugged together at the hips (you can see the seam.) The face, while realistic and anatomically accurate, is also idealized—like a goddess, she’s too generic and too perfect. This isn’t any particular woman, but Everywoman—all the idealized features that appealed to the Greeks.

Leadership in Four Short Sentences

Pascal Finette quotes an important leadership lesson from VISA’s Dee Hock:

Get Your PhD in Leadership in 30 Seconds

Dee Hock, architect of payment juggernaut VISA, inventor of chaordic organizations and visionary-extraordinaire once summarized his most important leadership advice as:

Make a careful list of all things done to you that you abhorred. Don’t do them to others, ever. Make another list of things done for you that you loved. Do them for others, always.

It truly summarizes a PhD in leadership in four short sentences.

The next time you find yourself with a tough decision to make—take a deep breath and think about what you would like to happen if it were you on the other end.

Retailers Abusing Workers

Karin Klein in Los Angeles Times says that Thanksgiving shouldn’t be the only time to care about poorly paid and abused retail workers:

I’m no fan of the Thanksgiving shopping trend, but the outrage over holiday work hours seems like one of those easy hits, full of the symbolism that gets people posting on Facebook, talking boycott or calling for new work laws. Yes, the creep into this family and national tradition is a sad sign of greed, but it’s a smaller one than the really damaging effects of greed on low-wage retail workers all year long. Let’s not allow the easy outrage to distract us from the bigger picture.

How Leaders Overcome Adversity

Executive coach Ed Batista summarizes Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas’s Crucibles of Leadership:

A crucible is a vessel used in chemistry and metallurgy in which substances are transformed through the application of extreme heat and pressure. We can think of the current global crisis as a ‘crucible experience’—a chapter in our lives that will undoubtedly transform us, for better or for worse. In ‘Crucibles of Leadership’ Warren Bennis and his co-author Robert Thomas employ this metaphor as they explore the lives of leaders who went through such an experience, ‘a trial and a test, a point of deep self-reflection that forced them to question who they were and what mattered to them.’

Studying a number of leaders who overcame adversity in such circumstances allowed Bennis and Thomas to identify the four (five, really) characteristics identified above that these leaders shared.

Put Nature First

Sereno Sky writes in Lonely Traveller (2014,)

The beautiful and natural usually isn’t far away. Even if you happen to live in an ugly industrial or commercial city, it usually doesn’t take much to get out of town and show admiration to beautiful nature. Or you can plant cacti, all kinds of flowers, herbs and weeds right on your balcony. Put nature first, and your spiritual benefits will follow, and the universe will respond with gratitude.