Life can be a matter of balance. There’s the balance of Good and Bad. There’s the balance of Brave and Afraid. Funny and Serious. What about the balance of Talent and Asshole? Former Pro Quarterback Ryan Leaf’s realization of his younger self was: “Don’t be a dick, man.” The older I get the more closely I need to balance Talent and Asshole.
Talent can be what gives value, what makes you valuable and contributing. It could be being smart, having amazing physical abilities and gifts. Often talent is our go to, our strong suit.
Well, asshole is pretty self-explanatory. Asshole is in the realm of arrogance, self-importance, looking at others as lesser than. Asshole is all about me or you. It’s void of compassion and kindness for others.
Consider that we all have our Talent-to-Asshole Ratio (TAR). Intrinsically, it’s the metric others use to evaluate us, even tolerate us. When my Talent and Asshole-ness are equal, my TAR = 1, or in engineering terms, 0 dB. That occurs as my Asshole Threshold or my “Come to Jesus moment”. When this ratio tilts below 0 dB, others will say, “We’ve had enough. Aloha. Don’t come back. ”
As we get older our strong suits, physical and mental talents diminish. That’s inevitable. That’s what Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning discovered. That’s what I’ve discovered particularly in my Aikido training. Perhaps, we invent other talents or evolve the old talents. In Aikido, for me, that’s teaching others.
Older is our lesson in grace and humility. Older is learning to have compassion, and kindness for others and particularly for you. Learn to throttle back on your Asshole-ness. That’s also being kind to others. Really.
Almost 30 years of Aikido has given me life, and a lot of aches and pains. I talked with Sensei Bobby. Bobby reinvents the way we train Aikido. We practice taking the right falls, not resisting or testing another’s technique. We practice making everyone greater.
Bobby recalled back in our younger days training with Sensei Dan, “We were killing each other!” We threw each other as hard as we could. We held back against the technique, instead of going with it.
Basically, we beat the hell out of each other and bowed to each other for the privilege. We were assholes. We were young, strong, and immortal at the time. With our egos, we never imagined we would one day be as old as we are with our injuries.
Wisely, Bobby and I evolved. We discovered compassion and kindness along the way. Be strong. Be wiser. Talent seduces in our youth. We think we are immortal, yet time goes on. Mortality comes to all of us. Our epiphany: Don’t be a dick. Don’t be an asshole. Be kind to others. Still, some will never appreciate this lesson. You witness this in world-class athletics and celebrity.
Pro quarterback Peyton Manning was perhaps the greatest passer ever, and the consummate field strategist. His Talent-to-Asshole Ratio remained high even with his severely diminished talents in his years with the Denver Broncos. A congenital neck condition made it difficult to pass in his final year. Yet, Peyton won his second Super Bowl in his final season. He relied on his teammates, his leadership, his humility, not so much upon his passing arm. His Talent diminished. Yet, Peyton was never the asshole. His Talent-to-Asshole Ratio sustained high. We cheered for Peyton in his “last rodeo” winning his final Super Bowl.
Conversely, look at retired pro baseball player Barry Bonds. Barry holds the home run record, although tarnished by his alleged use of steroids and HGH. Well, we kind of know what really went down. Even without the enhancement, Barry was the physical phenom. Yet, he is a totally arrogant asshole.
He wasn’t nice to anyone while he played. He wonders why he’ll never get into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Do the math, Barry. Calculate your Talent-to-Asshole Ratio. The same goes for former baseball great Pete Rose. His Talent-to-Asshole Ratio is much less than 0 dB.
ABC and Disney canceled Roseanne Barr’s “Roseanne” after Roseanne Tweeted several racist rants. “Roseanne” was ABC’s highest-rated TV series at the time. Roseanne is the very talented comedienne and producer. Disney CEO Bob Iger had zero tolerance for her racist rhetoric. Roseanne’s Talent-to-Asshole Ration is way less than 0 dB.
Getting older, I have to be kind to others and be kinder to me. The Talent-to-Asshole Ratio is the whimsical reminder of our mortality and to be good to people. Dear friend Cheryl said, “Kindness begets kindness.” It certainly does.
As we get older, we can be mindful of our diminishing talents and have compassion for others. Like Ryan Leaf said, “Don’t be a dick, man.” We can all continue to contribute and make a difference when we remember to just be kind.
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