extra step to greatness

mic, you took an extra step to greatness at the Lax-in-Nati Lacrosse Tournament. You came to the rescue of someone when they needed a helping hand. Good on ya! It was the right thing to do. You were approachable and while a little unsure because it was a new situation, you suited back up and went to help another team that was a player down due to an injury. sometimes, when you go the extra mile you are rewarded. you got moved up to that higher level team

Passing on your right: stupid or ignorant

you are on a 2-lane highway. the speed limit is 65 mph. there’s a driver poking along in the left lane, the high speed lane, the passing lane. we roll up behind them as we are going our normal 9 mph over the speed limit. the program is to pass the slower cars and then signal and move back over into the right lane. this driver is just poking along between 60-65 mph. we end up having to pass on the right. as we pull alongside and look left at the cat behind the wheel, i’m always wondering do you know better but just want to piss people off? or are you just clueless. either way, this is probably the #1 thing in life that consistently gets under my skin.

Bad news doesnt get better with time (aka, tell the truth asap)

you guys have all learned to tell us the truth the first time. through consequences, you discovered the consequences are far more severe than simply telling the truth the first time when asked. Or better yet, getting out in front of it before the question is asked. heck, i loved it the other day when michael found me and said,

"dad, can i tell you something without you getting upset?"


"I was practicing my shot and it hit pipe and the ball broke the barn window."

I appreciated the honesty, taking responsibility and telling me before I found out myself. We all know how I would have reacted to the "surprise" seeing a broken anything and no one stepping up to task the "R" (responsibility).

Next step is you calling the window repair guys (Coop has the number..ha ha) to schedule them to come out, repair it and you paying for it out of your savings, not investment, piggy bank.

At UNH, I engaged in some under-age drinking (stupid), over served myself (ignorant of BAC) and ended up vandalizing a fraternity's alumni tent (I ran and tried to swing around the pole that held up tent and broke it in two). I was seen running down the street with 20 pissed Phi Delts chasing me. They gang tackled me and one guy cocked his arm back with a clenched fist to clock me. Why another brother said "No, don't hit him" I'll never know. Why the guy decided to listen who knows.This cornered freshman rat sobered up fast and took responsibility. I apologized and promised I would fix it just as soon as I went back to my dorm and got my roommates tools. End of story? I fixed the tent and they asked me to pledge their fraternity! Man up, tell the truth, make no excuses and fix your mistake fast. The truth will set you free.

Coops code of conduct violation and meeting with coach brink.

Radiohead: under promise and over deliver

last night at blossom, radiohead further endeared themselves to their hardcore audience. most bands come back for one or two encores. after a vigorous performance, they came back for four encores. go the extra mile. under promise, over deliver, wow people and earn fans for life! thom yorke and his bandmates added an extra touch by consistently acknowledging and thanking the crowd for coming out to see them.

its not an accident. all of this is part of the plan and built into the system. just ask Zappos. these smart people are the technicians and artists of the exceptional customer service experience. yet, its not an “act”. sincerity can’t be faked for that long. Radiohead, Zappos, Patagonia, Skyline Chili, Coach Paul at University of Michigan and the guys at Midwest Lacrosse….they all care, go out of their way to show it and their efforts are exponentially rewarded.

Student-Athlete. TOSU vs. UM

Hill School (Ont.) postgrad defenseman Cooper Charlton grew up in an Ohio State-dominated area in the Northeast portion of Ohio, but he picked the Wolverines over the Buckeyes:

“It came down to OSU and Michigan,” Charlton said. “I liked Michigan because it’s a program that’s just starting. But my biggest focus was academics. I like Michigan’s academic program better.”

Power of friends, power of habit. Before and after with the power of habit

A big shout out to Susan Terkel. In a chance meeting she shared her story and a couple key books that helped put me on a new path at the same time as she guided my hand in writing this book.

More on that later.

When I started writing this book, I hated most parts of me, not my charmed life. My marriage and my relationship with my wife was rock solid and fulfilling. I am in awe of her ability to gracefully juggle the family calendar for 3 boys, herself and myself while tending to,her relaionships with her mom and dad, my parents, her sister and brother, her sister-in-law and all of her childhood and college friends, not to metion all the women ins her EO spousal forum. My relationships with my 3 sons were all healthy and joyful. Personally, I was pretty dark on myself. I had aches. Pains. low energy. Not tipping the scales like a worlds biggest loser contestant but for me 30 pounds over weight was just another big symptom of a life coming off the rails. Low sex drive (which for my busy, harried wife and mother of 3 boys wasn’t a source of too much spousal angst!) Tingles in my right arm. Spikes of pain in my chest. Headaches. Adult onset allergies. Mild Depression. Blood work ups show elevated cholesterol, blood sugars and….no exercise. Back surgery that didnt correct the problem. Siatic nerve issues. Numb toes. High blood pressure. Hypertension. No exercise. No walking, no spinning, no fruits, no vegetables, no water.

Daily habits: Wake. Put a pinch between my cheek and gums. McDonalds #2 with medium coke every morning. A large coke with oatmeal raisin cookie, bag of chips and 6 inch tuna fish at lunch. Snacks when I get home. Double servings of whatever Susan cooks for dinner. Bowl of Graeters ice creame. Chew. Sleep. Repeat.

Yet since I was 19 and mowing lawns for the City of Hudson, on and off (mostly on) I have chewed tabacco. All day long. First thing when I wake. Last thing before I fall asleep.

I laugh when Coopers friends who chew say they’re not addicted. “It’s just a hobby”.

I ran into one dad and on a dare at age 14, he tried it. 30 years later he’s still chewing even though he doesn’t want to.

Another dad has elevated his relationship with chew this way: “This is the only thing in my life as a husband, dad and owner of a company that’s all mine. I don’t have to share it with anyone.”

I go through 2 cans of snuff or chew a day. I’ve tried to kick many times. Why so difficult? I quit cold turkey drinking years ago after a good 25 year run. No relapse. One and done. Yet chew comtinues ro get my butt and I do t ant to chew anymore.

First time at 27 on my honeymoon. Figured they wouldn’t have an Kodiak on St. Barts. I was right. I was also screwed going cold turkey and spent most morning curld up with cramps and sweats and headaches that incapacitated me to the point that for most of the honey moon I couldn’t get out of bed for hours as Susan walked the beach and waited for me to come out of it. 72 hours of withdrawals.

Cleveland Clinic and Doc E. this is 19 years shabits he first of many attempts and island fever. He asks what I’m addicted to. When I say chew he gets a sad look. He explains he and I would have had a much easier time if I was addicted to just about anything other than chewing tabacco. Coke. Weed. Smack. Pain pills. Alcohol. He tries to cheer me up by saying it’ll be easier than meth and bath salts.

Professionally and profitably I’m not setting the world on fire either. 2 lawsuits, weak sales, losing money, bigger, better funded competitors, a leveraged buyout crafted in the more heady days of 2005 that now with a company half it’s size in a sketchy economy that has us underwater most month with no working capital to bridge the gaps between cash in and cash out. Chapter 11?

While Susan and my boys say I’m much more patient, fun and approachable at home, inside it’s everything I can do to hold it together and not snap.

The Docs and the shrink say if I don’t make some healthy changes, I’ll closeout my midlife crisis fat, sick and dead.

Back to Susan Terkle. Power of Habit, Larry Terkles “Meditation” and chewing gum. 8 weeks to optimum health. That’s the plan I’ll work as I write this book for my 3 sons.

I wanted all the aches and pains to go away. I wanted to clean up my diet. I wanted to be healthy and greatly lessen the risk of stroke and heart attack and cancer. I wanted to run a profitable business.

Cooper told his mom and me when we hugged goodbye in Toronto for his PG year, “you guys did a great job, I’ll take it from here.” I want to make sure we remember exactly what we need to keep, start and stop doing so Michael and Max can be in a position to say the same things when they leave the nest and head for their PG year or college.

While I write this book for my boys, it will keep me ever mindful of the joy they bring to my life and will help me dedicate myself to diagnose the cue, the routine and the reward of my chew addiction so I can gain power over it.

I’m going to work on changing just one thing. One habit. I will stop chewing tobacco. I will focus on changing this one “keystone habit”. By focusing on this one pattern, like Charles Durhigg in his book “The Power of Habit” I hope to gain power over it and set in motion a cascade effect that will empower me to reprogram the other unheathly routines in my life.


remember when you all annoyed each other so much? day in and night out there was an endless loop of fights, tears, name calling and timeouts. for some reason this just drove me up the wall. especially the older brother rising to the occasion to prevent it.

habits: be wise my son

conscious decision to say this versus “be good”. kids like to do the opposite what their parents say. opposite of wise is stupid.

are you stupid or ignorant? do you know better but do it anyways or do you just not know any better?

why create a habit loop by calling your kid “shy” when they cling to your leg and hide from one of your friends. “oh, she’s just shy”. how many times does that child hears that and acts that when out in public before it gets mapped in the form of neurological patterns (aka, habits). the kid at some point is gonna have to “erase” those tapes and record over them with new, more positive habits (aka, neurological patterns)


story: getting bullied

strategy: use humor. came up with stories and one liners at home. we didn’t helicopter or make calls to their parents.

tool: when they called you names like whale for your huskerdoo frame, or farlton, you said is that the best you got? ive heard that for years. why not be more original? or focus on your own issues. your mom says you still wear diapers and wet the bed.

lessons learned: own the insult, be self deprecating and then zing the bully back with something humorous to poke at something real or conjured thats embarrassing for him. you guys were encouraged, forced, enabled to take responsibility for yourselves. act like a victim and you’ll be treated like a victim. nowhere did you hear us encouraging you to use your fists, unless you were physically threatened.

your take

my take: kids are mean. the shame that binds them makes them want to pick on the others seemingly less OK or weaker. humor sill set you free.

name dropping

  1. mat wilson
  2. brodie merrill
  3. peter merrill
  4. patrick merrill
  5. tory merrill
  6. skip flanagan
  7. britt flanagan
  8. david osborne
  9. sarah osborne
  10. steve carlson
  11. bill welsh
  12. craig waters
  13. coach john paul
  14. aj auld
  15. brian wilch
  16. doc
  17. tim mueller
  18. sue bunn
  19. susan and andy young
  20. john tobin
  21. tom tobin
  22. katie coulton
  23. katie, natalie and ? krum
  24. andrew meldrum
  25. mrs van
  26. mrs sams
  27. HHS teachers
  28. coulton
  29. parrish
  30. kj
  31. athena diamantis
  32. john elffers
  33. coach david blue
  34. coach brink
  35. officer brouchard
  36. steve ator and bacon peanut butter samich
  37. quint kesnick
  38. connor
for lots of reason it beats the alternative: helicopter parents
its usually a question of timing
its often not a question of limiting yourself to the “either-or”. its usually the power of the “and”
the ohio state university vs university of michigan

Thanks for asking

there’s a guy at work who doesnt eat lunch, ever. but he sure does appreciate being asked if he wants anything when the rest of us order takeout (like some of those delicious subs from Primo’s Deli – Akron’s Best). we always ask. he always takes a pass. he always thanks us for asking. and he always has a smile on his face afterwards.

even if you know someone can’t attend your party, play in a pick up fiddlestick game or already has a ride to the DMB concert at Blossom, its always a nice thing to ask anyways. they will usually say “thanks for asking” and you’ve just put a smile on their face for thinking of them.