Losers make excuses

“Losers make excuses. Winners make commitments.”

That was the sign, handwritten in permanent marker on butcher’s paper, hanging in the weight room of the Portland Expo, where the Portland High School phs bulldogs football team, the Bulldogs, built the foundation of brawn to carry them through each season. The sign set a tone of one-day-at-a-time, eyes-on-the-prize rigor and motivated young student-athletes in Maine’s largest city.

I first saw that sign a quarter-century ago, my work then as a teacher’s assistant having given me and a colleague after-school access to the room housing the football team’s Universal Gym and free weights when they weren’t otherwise pressed into service.

“Losers make excuses. Winners make commitments.” That legend was rendered by an inner-city high-school coach to steel teenage boys against the cross-town, more affluent Deering Rams and for the annual “Battle of the Bridge” against the vaunted Red Riots of South Portland. But, like the picturesque and lifesaving lighthouses that dot Maine’s coastline, its message has penetrated the fog of 25 years of false starts, missed opportunities and alcohol-assisted wasted time.

Over the last fortnight I’ve missed a few days of my own 15-minute Commitment. I could try to explain it but, at a minimum, that would be antithetical to my new year’s resolution and, anyway, I’m back on track.

Besides, any explanation would simply be an excuse and, well …

In praise of the generalist

There’s quite a lot to like about this interview on Salon.com. More accurately, I suppose, I happen to agree with its basic thrust.¬†face_question_mark

I’ve always been a generalist or — less charitably put — a jack of all trades, master of none. More accurately still, I’m a jack of merely a few trades (hardly all). A dilettante, perhaps. A dabbler. A knower of only a smattering of information about a lot of subjects.

A generalist. That’s me all over. This personality trait, and the subsequent path taken because of it, hasn’t been the ticket (yet) to fame and fortune. But, like the interview subject in the piece suggests, my variety-seeking is central to my personal satisfaction. I’m discontent but happy, if that makes sense.

If I can find the way to get rich and famous being the way I am, I promise I’ll let you know how I did it. But don’t hold your breath. Besides, maybe it’s better to be rich and obscure.

Anyway, I hope you’ll find the piece edifying, or at least interesting.