Quick Splits: February 14, 2017

By Mario Fraioli

— File this podcast under “Places I didn’t think I’d find insight and inspiration this weekend.” Host Michael Gervais and his guest Jewel—yes, the musician—spend an hour talking about her path from homeless teenager to best-selling artist artist, how to face and embrace fear, letting go of perfectionism, how internal and external motivation influence performance, and a lot more. I found Jewel to be honest and articulate, her insights applicable to a number of different arenas. It’s worth an hour of your time. “I needed to do something that I loved that made me feel like I was making a difference in the world…” Jewel says. “…I want my life to be my best work of art. I don’t want my art to be my best work of art. If I look back and say, ‘Hey, I was a great song writer but a bad person, I failed. And again, it’s just saying, ‘What’s my definition of success and what am I doing every day to ensure that I have success in those categories?”

— Continuing with the aforementioned theme of letting go of perfectionism, Lauren Fleshman returned from a self-imposed social media sabbatical last week with this thoughtful post. Fleshman writes about the quest to reconnect with herself after battling distraction, exhaustion and burnout. “I let go of my past relationship with drive and achievement so I can navigate a new one,” Fleshman writes. “I began to see a new story, one of transition, of growing up, of a relationship with effort and drive, of freeing my hands to make beautiful things from the now rather than hanging onto a rope anchored to youth.”

Ed Caesar, subject of my first “Going Long” interview a few weeks back, recently returned home from Kenya, where he spent some time at training camp with Eliud Kipchoge and friends. What did he learn from some of the world’s greatest runners? In short: Slow the f*ck down! “A good day of training was worth little on its own, but a good month was worth plenty,” Caesar writes in his latest dispatch. “Slowly by slowly, the athlete’s shape came.” To complement Caesar’s observations, check out this piece I wrote a while back, where the now defunct Team USA Monterey Bay squad taught me a similar lesson.

— I’ve long been a fan of Tim Layden’s writing but this piece, posted just yesterday, caught me by surprise and quickly became one of my favorites. Layden writes about Curtis Tong, the coach who cut him from the basketball team at Williams College, and the guy who shaped the career of legendary coach Gregg Popovich (while also imparting valuable lessons upon Layden himself). Tong recently passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s disease and Layden’s piece is a testament to the lasting impact a coach can have on his athletes’ lives—even the ones he cuts from the team. “But details never tell the full story of a coach’s life, because a coach—a teacher, by any measure—is more than the sum of his life’s accomplishments,” Layden writes. “A coach is his own life, and every life he has ever touched, his words and his lessons melting down through generations, outliving him by decades. Coaches expire every day, but they never die. They live forever.”

— The leader of the free world wants you to believe that The New York Times is failing as a media outlet and pushing FAKE NEWS but the reality of the situation is that quality journalism is alive and well (On The Media’s Brooke Gladstone recently said on the Longform podcast that we’re entering a “golden era” for the press) and the NYT, in particular, is currently thriving in part because readers are realizing the value in paying for it. “I think the public anxiety to actually have professional, consistent, properly funded newsrooms holding politicians to account is probably bigger than all of the other factors put together,” Times chief executive Mark Thompson said in response to a recent surge in print and digital subscriptions. [The graphic in the aforelinked piece showing the revenue shift at the NYT from 2000-2015 is fascinating. “It just so happens that your friend here [print] is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.”]

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