6 Unusual Things I Learned From Hula Hooping

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I was living
on my own after ten years of marriage and my kids were visiting
me every two weeks I didn’t know what to do with them. I didn’t
have a door on my bathroom. I had girl problems. I had money problems.
And now I had two tiny people who I needed to entertain.

If you think
about it superficially, what does a 40 year old man have in common
with a 12 year old girl and a 9 year old girl. What? Are we friends
or something?

But they were
my kids and I loved them and I wanted them to love me back. I also
didn’t want their lives to be in too much shock over the separation
of their parents. Time magazine does its annual cover story
on “Divorce Ruins the Lives of Kids” and now my kids were
going to be divorced kids. “I don’t want to be one of
those”, one of them was crying when we first told them.

Kids don’t
deserve the burden that’s thrust on them. They have no control
over their lives at all. They have no control over where they will
live. They don’t know how to take care of themselves so they
often get sick in the germ factories at the schools. Most kids hate
school and are bored out of their minds sitting down from nine to
three listening to boring teachers talk boring topics. Kids should
run around and sweat and climb trees.

Plus kids are
often cruel to each other. My oldest daughter was having a problem
at the time with being ostracized at the school she was attending.
It was very hard for her and broke my heart. Having been cruel at
points in my life, I saw very clearly what they were doing to her.
On top of it their parents were getting divorced. I was so sad for
the both of them.

So I did the
only thing I knew to do with them. I overbooked them. They would
arrive and we would eat out dinner at a nice place, then play ping
pong, then go to a movie, then next day: bowling, ping pong, basketball,
swimming, ice skating, magic show, Holocaust museum (they HATED
that), and hula hoop lessons. They were out of breath, out of mind,
by the time they left to go to their home. My old home.

I found a woman
who performed with a circus. I hired her for almost no money to
come over and teach my kids all sorts of hula hoop tricks. “Why
don’t you join in?” she said to me.

“I can’t
do that,” I said. Maybe something homophobic in me. Don’t
only girls hula hoop? Plus, every time I tried it it seemed scientifically
impossible. I would move my whole body in a circle to keep up with
the hula hoop, I would to spin as fast as possible, and it would
immediately fall down. Whatever. Hula hooping is for girls.

“Sure
you can,” she said, and she had a hula hoop for me. So I took
lessons. And by the end of the first lesson I was hula hooping and
my kids were doing all sorts of tricks.

But I did
learn 6 Valuable Things From Hula Hooping

A) What
seems hard is sometimes very easy.
Sometimes you just need to
know the right trick and something that you previously thought was
not just hard but IMPOSSIBLE becomes easy. But everyone else still
thinks it’s hard. So it’s like you’re doing a miracle
whenever you show people. One time CNBC asked me to say something
for one of their promos. I said, “Can I do it while hula hooping.”
They said, “sure.” So I did it. Afterwards they were like,
“Oh my god, how the hell did you do that?” Sadly they
didn’t air it. I was in a tie, hula hooping, saying something
about how capitalism was going to rule the free world and maybe
it didn’t quite all fit together.

A lot of people
say “I can’t do it” through their whole lives. I
bet 95% of the things that “can’t” is applied to
is actually very easy. In fact, I know this statistic to be true.
I see “can’t” from people every day. When you say
“can’t” look at the deeper fears why you might not
want to do something. Or why you think you aren’t good enough.
Or why you think you don’t deserve the magic.

B) You need
a teacher.
For everything I want to get better at, I get a teacher
or mentor. Without a teacher I never would’ve learned the tricks
to hula hoop. Without a teacher, I never would’ve gotten better
at chess or poker. I had a good
teacher on trading
. I wish I had had someone show me the ropes
on entrepreneurship. Instead I had to learn these rules the hard
way. Through bitter tears and a
lot of failure
.

But you can
get virtual teachers as well. The Internet is a blessing. It removes
even more reasons for “can’t”. Where soon going to
collectively run out of excuses for everything.

Read
the rest of the article

September
15, 2011

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Best of James Altucher

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