Sun. Aug 19th, 2018

Enjoy the Ride

Damian Lillard can show you how to be happier in life. The Portland Trail Blazers point guard has been the subject of trade rumors lately. Joining LeBron James in Laker Land has been speculated about over the past week. The Blazers haven’t done anything big during free agency because of limited salary-cap space. Could the three-time All-Star be so frustrated with Portland remaining stagnant that he’d rather leave and join a team with more talent?

Lillard is either incredibly savvy with the media, or he’s a guy who simply gets it. “Dame” spoke to reporters on Sunday after attending a Blazers’ Summer League game in Las Vegas. “I’m not unhappy. I love where I live. I love the organization. I love our coaching staff. I love where I am,” Lillard said. That doesn’t exactly sound like a guy who despises his situation.

Lillard added, “It’s the Western Conference. It’s always going to be tough. Now you’ve got LeBron coming over here, you’ve got Denver getting a little bit better, Utah getting a little bit better. And it’s just going to get tougher and tougher. It is what it’s always been, but just a little tougher.”

This is basically Lillard’s way of saying that he doesn’t have an ideal situation, but it doesn’t do any good to whine about it while dwelling on everything that isn’t perfect. A lot of people in many different occupations could benefit from a similar mindset. Sports radio is an industry that’s ripe with plenty of unsatisfied employees who fit this exact description.

Every now and then I’ll hear people that work in sports radio say, “It beats digging ditches.” It isn’t said with a toddler’s excitement on Christmas morning. It’s more of a gloomy outlook like, “Well, at least it’s better than another job that’s even more horrid.” Reality can set in quickly though. I’ll never forget one of my buddies in sports radio telling me between on-air gigs, “Man, the real world sucks.” It’s sometimes much easier to see how cool sports radio is when you’re not actually working in sports radio. It’s crazy how that works. How can this be?

Like any business there can be drawbacks with pay, pressure to perform, or the day-to-day grind. Also, becoming laser-focused on getting a promotion can be blinding. I know this has been the case with me at FOX Sports Radio occasionally. It became more about the shifts I wasn’t doing instead of fully enjoying the shifts I had. “I didn’t get the promotion. I was bypassed for that fill-in shift. I really need to send the talented Jonas Knox that anthrax letter.” 

Totally kidding about the letter, but it’s very easy to get so caught up in not advancing quickly, that you simply forget to enjoy the role you currently have.

I’m from South Bend, Indiana. Whenever I knew I’d be leaving home for a gig in California, New York, or wherever, my family and I would live it up the week before I left. We ate meals together, played games, and just enjoyed being around each other even more than normal. Think how differently you’d behave if you applied this concept to your current job. If you knew this week would be the final time you ever worked in the sports radio industry, I’d be shocked if your approach didn’t differ greatly.

Your outlook would shift from everything that wasn’t ideal, to all of the things you’d miss about your job. It would be easier to savor the good things instead of complaining. Why wait until your final week when you can just take that approach now? They always say the three most important things in real estate are location, location, location. Well, the three most important things in having a happy life are mindset, mindset, mindset. Switch the setting in your mind to positive mode and watch your smile grow.

My wife, the lovely Christina, used to hate Mondays. About three years ago she changed her mindset and decided she was going to love every Monday. Instead of being overburdened by the workload, she focused on how quickly the day flew by because of it. She decided to challenge herself instead of joining the crowd with negative memes and t-shirts about Monday. 

It’s now her favorite day of the week. Your attitude and approach can make the ultimate difference in life. If you just decide to focus on positive things instead of the bad, you won’t be walking around like Captain Crabby Pants all the time.

I can remember going to football practice as a little kid. Before I jumped out of my dad’s truck he’d say three things to me — “Throw good. Hit hard. Have fun.” He was basically saying to do my best and compete, but don’t forget to enjoy yourself along the way. Whether it’s the football field or a sports radio studio, this thought can be applied to everything that we strive for and do in life.

There is a biography of the life and career of Steve Jobs entitled, The Journey is the Reward. Phil Jackson, the 11-time NBA champion head coach, used to subscribe to this idea as well. It’s basically a positive way of looking at things that aren’t ideal. We all face speed bumps and ditches along the way. It’s how you react to them. Do you embrace the bad and get stronger, or do you let it consume you?

The rapper 50 Cent once said, “Sunny days wouldn’t be special, if it wasn’t for rain. Joy wouldn’t feel so good, if it wasn’t for pain.” Your occupation works the same way. Setbacks can be worse if you handle them poorly, or they can be lessened while knowing they make the good times even better. I heard a preacher say that a setback is a actually a setup for your comeback. Being positive about difficulties will provide a much better chance to rebound and have success.

The unknown can really screw with us. When will it finally happen? This is a question that applies to many things in life — getting a job, finding a relationship, enjoying success. It feels like it takes forever for things to fall into place, but once they do, you will often see that it didn’t take nearly as long as it felt. It’s because the power of the unknown can take over. Just trust that if you’re working hard and doing everything possible to make it happen, that it eventually will.

I jot down ideas for upcoming shows on my phone constantly. The talking points can range from wanting to try a new Twix Blizzard (that sounds delicious) to calling out UFC purists who flipped out over Brock Lesnar resorting to “pro wrestling tactics” on Saturday night. It’s silly to say the organization is “above” such antics when you consider UFC superstar Conor McGregor built most of his brand straight from the pro-wrestling handbook. The only thing missing from McGregor’s routine is saying “brother” at the end of each trash-talking sentence like Hulk Hogan.

At the top of these notes on my phone it says, “Enjoy the ride.” It reminds me to not get so caught up with chasing ratings or getting a promotion that I simply forget to enjoy what I’m doing. Sometimes the simplest concepts to understand are the easiest ones to lose sight of. It’s a crime to not enjoy your sports radio gig fully. If it all ended today, it might be the biggest regret you have. Don’t let that happen.

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