Coach George Raveling is an 80-year-old gent with impeccable manners and the most wonderful appetite for life. His recent appearance on the Tim Ferriss podcast has brought joy to my week. George Raveling has a novel, beautiful way to greet the day ahead of you, and the life ahead of you:
“The way I govern my day is, I get up in the morning and I put my two feet beside the bed and I say to myself ‘OK, George, you only have two choices today. These are the only two choices you have, and you gotta make one. And the two choices are to be happy or to be very happy. And there’s no other choice.'”
Mr Raveling is a gent with a lot of life behind him. Martin Luther King himself gave him an early draft of what came to be known as the “I have a dream” speech. Raveling had a spectacularly successful career as a basketball coach and works now as global basketball sports marketing director at Nike.
At 80 years old, he feels that his greatest era of learning, change and growth began when he was 60. “What I’m trying to do at 80 years old, is to figure out where my outer limits are, and keep reaching for them,” he says.
People screaming at one another
The world feels like it is pushing at the outer limits right now. These are testing times for so many people. Environmental crisis, political upheaval, resurgent intolerance. In an August 2018 interview, writer and podcaster Bret Easton Ellis describes this as the age of people screaming at one another.
Bret Easton Ellis offers some minor comfort. He says that his mother believes that 1969 – an era overshadowed by war, assassinations (including that of Dr King, in 1968) and a pronounced feeling of abject chaos at large in the world – was a significantly more frightening time through which to live than 2018.
Closer to home, life is becoming ever more intense, ever more real for a lot of people I hold dear. I’ve never known a time like this. So many people I know are facing immediate and pressing challenge and change (family responsibilities, health issues, major upheavals in long-established patterns of living).
I want more than anything for things to help those I hold dear through these times.
Be comfortable with being uncomfortable
Coach Raveling has lived through so much upheaval, such testing times. I love his words on how to make it through:
“We’re in a society where it behooves all of us to be comfortable with change, and to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Meet it head on. Assume and relish responsibility. Know that your friends are right there for you.
You can make it through this part. We can make it through this part, together. It can all still change if you want it to. You always have a choice. It is up to you to decide if you are comfortable with the consequences of that choice.
Coach Raveling has a great appetite for the life ahead of him:
“When you’re 80 years old, you’d better damn sure be excited that you wake up the next morning, and you have a growth opportunity.”
Why wait until you’re 80 for this feeling (if it should happen to be the case, gentle reader, that you have yet to reach that age, of course)? You have two choices today, tomorrow, and every day henceforth: To be happy, or to be very happy.
ONE: It can all still change if you want it to. A spot of #Sketchulence I drew this week.
TWO: George Raveling image from his excellent Medium.com post entitled 31 Critical Questions Servant Leaders Ask. I make no claim to the copyright for this image, and will remove it from this post immediately if required.
THREE: From the beautiful subway scene in Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire.