[WWCL] Saved By The Bell

Saved By The Bell is classic.  Epic.  Rad?

Each episode contained a valuable lesson for school-aged kids in the early 90s.

But what about today?  After 20 years, can we still extract some learning from this show?  I say yes.

Saved By The Bell - Fashion

Fashions die, but character persists

These guys and gals were on the leading edge of fashion at the time.  Well, except for Screech.  Regardless, dressing like any of these characters today would land you quickly in the “Screech” bucket of popularity.  But one thing is still true – we remember who they were as who they are.  Zack still is the cool guy, and AC the athlete / jock.  Jessie’s outfit may scream 80-year old librarian, but you can’t help but associate her with high intelligence.

Saved By The Bell - Time Out

When you’re overwhelmed, call a “time out”

If we only had the power.  How nice would it be to stop everything mid-air, just like Zack Morris?  Well we do – sort of.

It’s tempting to overreact to situations, to respond charged with emotion.  But that can easily lead to a downward spiral.  Instead, extract yourself from the situation to gather yourself, refocus on your desired outcome, and make a plan to get there.

Don’t forget to call a “time in”.  Once you have your plan, set it in motion.  Permanently calling time out will leave you disconnected, and that won’t help at all.

Saved By The Bell - Emulate

Find someone who already does what you want to do, and emulate them

In one episode (Season 3, Episode 6), Screech wanted to go on a date with a pretty girl, who was likely out of his league.  But he knew that Zack dated girls like her all the time.  So he copied Zack’s style and attitude (and hair) to get the girl.

If you want to get in better shape, then emulate someone in better shape.  If you want to be better off financially, then find someone who lives like you want to live, and emulate them.

The obvious caveat is to keep your core self intact.  No two athletes have the same habits.  So find the one that matches closely to your own values.  It’s no good to find wealth if you lose your values and passion in the process.


It’s all right, ’cause I’m saved by the bell.

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[WWCL] TLC’s Waterfalls

Released in 1995, TLC’s hit song Waterfalls spent some significant time at #1 on the Billboard charts.  More recently, VH1 ranked it as #8 in the Top 100 Songs of the 90s.

Its huge success is no doubt due to the catchy tune and solid rhythms. But what about the valuable lessons that lie underneath it all?  Let’s check it out.

Don’t go chasin’ waterfalls

What are waterfalls?  In the song, TLC uses waterfalls as an illustration for something exciting, but dangerous.  I’d like to add anything that pulls you away from your true goal, or from a higher happiness.

The beginning of the video shows a mother asking her son to not get into dealing drugs as a way to earn money.  It’s a quick fix, he’s chasing the glamour of a lot of money.  Status symbols, respect, etc.  Those are his waterfalls.

For someone else, it might be an impressive car, or a large house.  Possessions are almost always waterfalls.

Awesome Waterfall

Yes.  Waterfalls can be awesome.  Nobody disputes that.  It’s not that waterfalls aren’t awesome and worthy of chasing.  It’s more about what you do in order to chase.  Keep hold to your dreams, your waterfalls.  But don’t sacrifice your other values (or life) to try to catch them.

Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to

It’s much harder to focus on your already proven skills and talents than it is to always try the new thing.  It seems like the more familiar something is to us, the less we want to focus on it.  The unknown is so much more interesting and exciting.

Things We Chase


But exciting doesn’t get results.  Warren Buffett is one of the least exciting investors ever.  He has accumulated quite a return from his boring strategy, though.  Training to be an athlete isn’t exciting.

None of us would watch football if we needed to also watch them train and practice every day during the week.  No, we want instant gratification.  That makes for a great couch potato, but not great results.

I know that you’re gonna have it your way or nothing at all, but I think you’re moving too fast

At the end of the day, most of us won’t change.  You can’t flip a switch and suddenly be a person who focuses on efforts (boring) and ignores results (exciting).

But if you change slowly – motivate yourself around the efforts, and trust that the results will follow – eventually, you will become the waterfall.  With a line of followers chasing you, and paying to watch your incredible results.

People at Waterfall

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[WWCL] Super Mario

Today’s What We Can Learn [WWCL] is the first of this series, in which I’m going to try to extract useful lessons from unexpected sources.

So here’s the question (and possible tagline): What Can We Learn from Super Mario?



Don’t fear the unknown

Mario is constantly given the opportunity to jump-smash his head into a brick block that has a question mark on it.  What’s in the block?  There’s only one way to find out, and that is not by speculating, debating, or wondering.  No, the way to find out is to jump straight at it, with no apprehension.  Only then can you decide what you will do with whatever appears.



Keep moving forward

In the NES version of the game, Mario can keep moving to the right, until he completes the level.  He can’t change his mind and go back, no matter how scared he might be of the Goombas that are bearing down on him.  Be like Mario, and just keep moving forward.  Worry about if you’re jumping high enough later.  Just move forward.



When you’re invincible, RUN

Sometimes life deals us certain advantages.  It might be a promotion, a window of opportunity, or a string of what feels like good luck.  When that happens, run with it!  Nobody benefits if you sit around and ponder how you don’t deserve it, or if you feel guilty for accepting it.  It was your turn, so express your gratitude, and get on with it.



Don’t focus on the little things, but don’t ignore them either

When you collect 100 coins in Super Mario Bros, you are rewarded with an extra life.  If you make it your mission to collect coins, however, you’ll go insane trying to get every last one.  While it is important to collect the little things along the way (like memories), don’t lose sight of your long-term goal.  And never replace your long-term goal with the goal of collecting coins (or cars, big houses, and other possessions).  Because the long-term goal is worth so much more than just coins.


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What We Can Learn

Lessons LearnedIf you take everything a person learns over the course of their lifetime – how much was learned in a classroom?

My first estimate was somewhere around 50%.

Then I realized how profound the ability to walk and talk are, and that they are both mastered well before I stepped foot in a school.

I’m pretty good at building spreadsheets, and I only took one course in college that helped me with that.  Actually, let me clarify that.  It was too remedial for me to learn anything.

All the sports I learned were outside school, except for a few camps I attended.

I never took a class on how to get along with people, debate a point, or cheer someone up.

How about eating?  Imagine sitting in a room where they tell you how to chew and swallow.

I revised my estimate after a bit of thought to be somewhere between 5% and 10%.

So what?  We learn a lot outside school.  The point is this: Today I’m introducing a new topic to Bobservation, called What We Can Learn [WWCL].

In each WWCL, I’ll introduce a topic that has no educational value.  I’ll unpack it right in front of your eyes, and expose it for the meaty lessons it actually carries.

Soon it will be obvious WWCL from Super Mario, Saved By The Bell, and TLC’s song Waterfalls.  Hope you enjoy.

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Win Your Own Super Bowl

Super Bowl

Today is the Super Bowl.  The championship game for the NFL.  The two best teams, decided by process of head-to-head elimination, will host a final game to determine who is the single, undisputed best team in the US (which is also likely the best team in the world).

It’s so inspiring to watch these guys perform.  They are in peak physical shape, performing superhuman acts of strength, agility, and precision.

This is a good time to define your personal Super Bowl.  First – identify your sport.

Many of us want to be professional athletes.  It’s sexy.  Fun.  And the money…

But while our sport isn’t football, we can apply the same concept to our industry.  Banking (like me).  Healthcare.  Personal Growth.  Law.  Entertainment.

And once we identify our “sport” (industry), we then can decide which position we play.  For me, this would be Finance.  It also can be things like nurse, life coach, attorney, or comedian.

Finally, figure out your best athletic abilities.  Quarterbacks throw far and accurately.  Receivers are fast and can jump high.  Linemen are large and strong.

My athletic ability is building spreadsheets.  A nurse could have great bedside manner, a life coach should be encouraging and visionary.  Attorneys need to know the legal system, and comedians should be… funny.

Now that you know your sport, position, and ability, you can create your personal Super Bowl.

Practice your ability so that you’re the best.  Football players practice upward of ten thousand hours before they enter the NFL.  And it may be several years (if ever) before they see a Super Bowl.

Play your position.  It doesn’t help for a football player to be kinda good at throwing and catching.  Once they know their position, they only play that one position.  And they learn how to use the other players on their team to compensate for their weaknesses.

Learn your sport.  Know the rules, inside and out.  Not only will you avoid embarrassment, you will be able to see opportunities that others will miss and create value where there was none.

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Groundhog Day

Happy Groundhog Day!


Do you remember the movie Groundhog Day, with Bill Murray as the guy who was doomed to re-live the same day, over and over again?  Each morning, he woke up and saw that the date was still February 2nd.  Each day everything happened exactly the same, unless he changed his actions.

There are two questions you should ask yourself, related to this movie.

In the movie, Bill Murray’s character played a jerk.  Negativity seeped from him, and as a result, the people and things in his life responded just as negatively.  He complained and complained about how people treated him, and how bad thing happened only to him.  But once he changed his outlook, so too did his situations change.  Things went in his favor.  People were better to him.  And he was happier.

So the first question to ask yourself – what are you doing over and over that is preventing your surroundings from being the way you’d like them to be?

Are you stuck in a set of destructive habits, only to wonder where your good fortune is?  When your achievements will come?

The next question is less about the movie, and more philosophical.  If you were forced to live today, February 2nd, over and over again, what does it look like?

I’m not asking what you would do differently.  I’m asking what is on your calendar.  Is it full of things you enjoy doing, things you’re good at, and things that help others?

Or is your schedule packed with “necessary evils”.  Things you think you’re supposed to do, but do not bring you joy, help others, or leverage your unique skills?

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One Word

What one word best describes your personal 2012?
What one word would you like to describe 2013?

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Valid and Invalid Excuses

We all have reasons why don’t do what we know we should.

Some reasons are invalid, and some are valid.

Here’s a list for both:

Invalid Excuses

  1. I’m too tired
  2. I didn’t prepare enough
  3. I’ll feel stupid
  4. I’m not a ________ (runner, jock, writer, CEO, hard worker, etc.)
  5. Most people don’t do this
  6. I might get rejected
  7. It’s too risky
  8. My feet / arms / back / eye / hair hurts
  9. It takes too much time
  10. I won’t make enough money

Valid Excuses

  1. I’m dead.

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Tim Ferriss Interview (by NerdFitness)

Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness recently interviewed Tim Ferriss.

Great overview on Tim’s books, habit change, learning anything, applying gamification to your life, overcoming fear, and traveling the world.

From the video…

The hero and the coward feel the same thing.  It’s what they do that makes them different.

~Cus D’Amato

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Predict Your Future

“Our words reveal our thoughts; manners mirror our self-esteem; actions reflect our character; our habits predict our future.”

~William Arthur Ward

If you want to know who you will be next year, look at your habits today.

If you want to change who you are, change your habits today.


  • if you want to know what someone is thinking, listen to their words
  • rude people are generally not evil, but they may be low on self-esteem; instead of anger, try encouragement
  • and if you wonder about someone’s character, take a look at their actions

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