Oregon Ducks

Water the Bamboo

So, forgive me, but every human being who lives in Oregon is caught up in Duck fever at the moment.  In case you've been on retreat in a snow cave, that's because we're playing Auburn in the BCS National Championship game tomorrow night.  Go, Ducks.

This morning, I read yet another story about the Ducks magical 12-0 season, this one featuring the meteoric rise of head coach Chip Kelly.  Read about how he bounds into the practice arena at the crack of dawn every day and cranks up the music.  How he lives and breathes football.  How he hasn't been afraid to execute his unorthodox ideas about offense. I've written about Kelly's philosophy before.  I love reading about Kelly's coaching ideas, because he draws them from a wide range of sources, including the business world.  His dedication is legendary and inspiring.  His most well-known saying, and the one you'll see featured prominently all over Oregon, is win the day.  Its that simple: win the day. 

In other words, concentrate on the task before you.  Take it one day at a time.  Be present and be where you are, period.  Bamboo-grove-japan-34281-o

But in an article about the Ducks that ran this Friday, I learned one of Kelly's other aphorisms: water the bamboo.  Apparently, after bamboo is planted, you have to water it regularly and faithfully for three or four years.  Years in which nothing happens.  Until finally, after long and religious watering, a shoot appears above ground.  And then that shoot grows like crazy, often reaching ridiculously heights in just a few weeks.  But the catch is, to achieve that crazy growth, you have to keep at the watering, even when you don't see results, even when you're sick of it, even when you're not sure anything at all is happening.

And that really resonates with me.  Because over the last year, I've been watering and watering and watering the bamboo, waiting for the shoots.   I have faith they'll break through soon.  And stories like this remind me to be patient.  (News flash: there's a website, book, and program on this very topic, called, amazingly enough, water the bamboo.  Check it out here.)

And so, besides the fact that I'm an alum, I'm excited about this Duck team because of the philosophies that lie beneath everything they do.  It's something we can all learn from and emulate.

To read fan notes from the other side, visit my buddy J.D. Frost's blog.  He's a long-time reader and he's the best.  It is so great to be friends with some one from the opposing team.  Because this way if Auburn wins, which I know they won't, I'll at least be happy for someone.

48815_1394384511_5138768_n One final note: I'm pleased to read that there will be a moment of silence for the Tucson victims tomorrow night at the BCS game.  I've been glued to CNN and Twitter all weekend, watching the horrible tragedy unfold.  I only hope it starts to put an end to the endless vitriol we've all come to assume is politics as usual.

What about you?  What philosophies or aphorisms inspire you?  Who are you rooting for in the BCS? No, don't tell me. Unless you're rooting for the Ducks.  Kidding.  What kinds of roots have you been watering?


Bamboo image from henryy, on Everystockphoto.  Tucson tears from the Social Citizen blog.

Inspiration Friday: Oregon Ducks

Even though I got my undergrad at the University of Oregon and I'm a proud alumni, we don't have season tickets to football.  Luckily, I know people who do, and since this week's game fell on a Thursday and most people aren't self-employed like me, many of those people who have tickets couldn't make the game.  So, thanks to my son-in-law, I got to go.

Just in case you haven't heard, the Ducks are doing rather well this season.  Last night when the announcer introduced the team, he said, "These are the words I've been waiting to say for 43 years: ladies and gentlemen, the #1 team in the nation, the University of Oregon Ducks!"

I haven't been waiting quite that long, but almost.

We've had a lot of false starts on the way to becoming a top-ranked team, and some heartbreaks along the way.  Like a couple years ago, when we were doing great until Dennis Dixon got injured and there went the season.  Or last year, when we made it all the way to the Rose Bowl, only to lose to Ohio State (whose #1 position we took over last week when they finally lost a game).

But the point is, the team just kept on going.  Paid no attention to the naysayers and focused on the game, meanwhile getting better and better as they went. 

And that, my friends, is inspiring.

What inspired you this week?

WTD: Win The Day

After a very long and torturous journey involving a four-hour drive and then an endless plane ride (but at least I didn't get stuck overnight in Houston) I made it home at 11 PM Friday night, which was 2 AM in the time zone I left that morning.


Fortunately, this was just in time to watch the Ducks football game on Saturday night at my sister's home theater set-up.  They won, going to a 4-0 record befitting their #5 national ranking, despite the fact that my Lucky Duck shirt was in a box on its way home from Gatlinburg.  The Lucky Duck shirt is an old faded shirt my daughter gave me to wear to a game last year and ever since the Ducks won that game it is a requirement that I wear it.  If they are behind and I put it on, they start winning.  It is quite glorious to have so much power over a football team and some day I know I will earn the thanks I deserve.  However, even I will admit that I made a grievous error in sending the Duck shirt home in the box that won't arrive until this Wednesday.  I made up for it by buying a brand new shirt and that seemed to do the trick.

Something I learned about the Ducks coach, Chip Kelly, resonated with me, and of course, writing.  Chip's slogan is WTD, or Win the Day.  His philosophy is to focus only on the game ahead of him, nothing else.  Not the game coming up next week, or winning the Pac-10 conference, or going to the Rose Bowl.  Just the current game. WTD.  Worry about the game in front of you and winning it.

It is good to apply that kind of focus to your writing, too.  Think about what you've decided to work on that moment, think about putting words on the page, nothing more.  Don't think about how it compares to what you wrote yesterday, or how you should really be doing laundry.  Refuse to ponder the odds of getting published.  And whatever you do, don't traipse over to Facebook, Twitter, or your email inboxes to see what is up.  WTWD.  Win the Writing Day.  Which you do by focusing on putting one word after another.


Image of the Oregon Duck by d70focus, from Everystockphoto.

Trust Versus Foolishness


Two experiences with the GPS system in my rental car:

1. I'm driving to Nashville on Friday night to pick up a friend at her condo and go to dinner.  Gertie, which is what I've named my GPS, tells me to take a freeway route that does not look at all familiar to me.  But, I figure, it is important to trust Gertie.  After all, she has the satellite hook-up, not me, right?  And it is good to trust in general. So I take a deep breath, follow her instructions and arrive at my friend's front door easily and quickly.  Gertie success.

2. The next night, I'm going to a different friend's condo, also in Nashville.  I give Gertie the address, and off we go.  Again she tells me to take an odd exit.  But, based on my experience of the previous evening, I decide to follow it.  After about 10 minutes, it occurs to me that I am lost.  Well, not lost exactly, but way far away from where I was supposed to be.  And so late for drinks with my friend that we had to cancel.  All was not lost, however, as I drove straight to the bar at J. Alexander's to watch the mighty Oregon Ducks stomp University of Tennessee, even though I actually had to resort to texted updates from my son, seeing as how LSU fans had taken over the bar to watch the LSU-Vanderbilt game.  Why, when the game itself was being played in a stadium not 100 feet away, was beyond me.  Despite all this, we must rack this up as a Gertie fail.

So, the question is, to trust or rely on one's own experience?  In the past, I've hated using GPS systems because I have felt better about relying on my own knowledge.  (And, one might say, because I have a control-freak streak.)  But this time I'm going to so many different places on my own I've decided to indulge in a bit of trust.  With decidedly mixed results, no? When does blindly relying on the GPS system become foolishness?

When do you trust and when does knowledge override that trust?  I don't have the answer.  I'm not even sure how it relates to writing to be honest.  But I can't wait to see what you guys think.

Photo by dirkjan72 from Flickr, via Everystockphoto.