May 17, 2010
It’s been super busy for me and I’ve neglected my blog….
It’s the usual cause for inattention, too much to do, unexpected loss of time (a mild bout with food poisoning!), amongst other causes. However, on Friday, my schedule was flipped upside down to accommodate another’s schedule, giving me an opportunity to regain a little perspective.
I usually swim in the early morning or late afternoon (a few days a week), but am rarely at the pool in the early afternoon. What I learned on Friday afternoon is that the some of the early afternoon swimmers differ from they typical crowd. In the locker room, I noticed one woman in my peripheral vision mostly because of the sound of her walk – I thought that she was wearing flippers in the locker room! When I turned to verify, I found that she did not have flippers, but had a challenging gait that caused the odd sound when she walked. Nevertheless, she managed very well. Not two minutes later, another woman walked past, muttering “Sarah, Sarah, Sarah, not Palin, Sarah, Sarah, Sarah.” When I turned to see her, her one-piece swimsuit was inside out and she clearly had challenges of her own.
I was most impressed that both of these women were at the pool getting some exercise given their personal challenges. Their courage made the inconveniences and slights in my own life seem so very small and insignificant. How lucky I am to have full faculties and physical abilities! My long view learning:
- Be grateful for healthy vigor and intellectual breadth.
- Maintain perspective because others’ challenges are often far more significant.
Friday’s mixed up schedule actually allowed me to regain some balance.
Are you maintaining perspective?
March 5, 2010
In early Feburary, I requested a cab for a 4:00 a.m. pickup from my home to get to the airport. The fare is usually between $36 – $40 (I take the route frequently). I admit that on that morning, I did not notice whether the meter was zeroed before we departed that early morning.
At arrival at the airport, the meter read $52. I unsuccessfully disputed the fare with the cab driver (Chris). When I told him that I wasn’t prepared with appropriate change (I usually paid $40), and that I would need $8 in return (from $60), he told me he only had $3 to provide change. At this point, the driver held my bag (hostage) while I needed to catch a plane, so I accepted the $3 for a total fare of $57 just to be on my way. I explained to Chris that I would be complaining when I returned and I requested that he prepare a detailed receipt including cab #, driver name, and total fare.
I called the cab company several days later (when I had returned), explained what happened and requested a refund. The dispatcher assured me that the manager (Frank) would call me back that day. Days passed, and I called again and explained that I wanted a refund. The dispatcher assured me that the manager (Frank) would call me that day. More and more days passed.
I called my local cab licensing/enforcement agency (an arm of the local police) and explained what happened and how I had tried to resolve the problem. The first thing I was told is that the cab company did not have a driver named Chris, because he was not on their approved (background-checked, finger-printed, allowed to pick up fares) list. I assured her that indeed his name was Chris and that I had paid him $57 for my local trip to the airport.
When the police called the cab company, they successfully achieved a $22 refund and an apology on my behalf. However, it came at a cost — the police opened an investigation because the cab company had allowed an unapproved driver to pick up fares! So even though the cab company had already fired Chris, all of a sudden they are now in the center of a certification investigation. They could have made so many different choices along the way….Karma!
What I don’t understand is why anyone (or any business) freely chooses to be dishonest, deceitful, or exploitative, because it creates only a short-term gain — it is not sustainable over the long-term. Even though it might be “easy” to get away with deceit occasionally in a culture of complacency, it’s a game of Russian roulette. Eventually a strong emotional response to dishonesty (coupled with the energy to pursue remediation) will emerge.
For me, it was initially about my loyalty to a long-term taxi service to let them know about their problem and offer them a chance to remedy my experience. Later, it was about warning others.
People have long memories for both exploitation and generosity. In our crowdsourced world, with services like Yelp! amplifying both, misdeeds/deeds are more durable. Why risk enduring unflattering amplification? My Long View Advice:
- Be honorable; do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.
- Skip the shortcut, especially if safety or credibility is involved.
- Make your choices as if they will be your destiny, they will.
- Eschew complacency and participate in feedback, create opportunity to correct honest mistakes, amplify generosity when deserved, and warn others if necessary.
I have been a long believer that everyone makes his or her own karma. If you live honestly, with integrity, and are generous, you will be reap value and amplify positivity over the long view. Conversely, if you live dishonestly, deceitfully, are exploitative, it will catch up with you.
What kind of karma are you creating and amplifying?
P.S. The destiny poster (at right) is courtesy of my son’s middle school, it hangs on the wall.
P.P.S. I received my $22 check today.
February 21, 2010
I connected more than usual to Seth’s post from yesterday, Moving the line (the power of a zealot). He taps into the conundrum of the community that I exist within, where there is angry division over standards of behavior. Seth correctly observes, “It’s not the principle, in fact, it’s just the degree of compromise we’re comfortable with and content to argue over.” He’s absolutely right!
One of the real challenges is that communities have changed over time and do not respond to the same stimulus and admonitions they used to. We now live in the world of the long tail (many niches), having shifted more and more toward autonomy. As such, individuals expect more fidelity and tolerance for their personal needs/desires than ever before. This requires that communities be more articulate and transparent about what they represent.
I addressed the shift from community to autonomy in my post One Book, Two Months, discussing Putnam’s seminal book, Bowling Alone, and noted that our ability to choose our affiliations is very positive and welcome — we are no longer forced/trapped by ‘tradition’ and/or whatever you were raised. This has meant that community organizations must create compelling reasons for affiliation. And with greater choices, people change affiliations based on whether their needs (autonomy) are being met.
It is no longer sufficient to be an organization that met the needs of past customers to be successful in the future. Every organization must become customer-centric to the currently affiliated (and those they desire to attract). Customer-centric means that when people talk about their experiences they RAVE about how well they were treated, how much they liked the staff and community, and how easy it was to accomplish the ‘why’ of their affiliation.
Organizations must therefore solicit feedback, measure performance, and adapt accordingly (compromise, coexist, and tolerate diversity for mutual benefit). Per Putnam, this must be part of building mechanisms with the tools of our technological age. To survive, organizations need to rise above where they have been, creating accessible guidance and embracing scalable personalization.
Lastly, the shift toward autonomy has intensified long view imperatives for zealots (and the leadership managing the zealots) within diverse communities:
- Zealots need to understand that they are successful when they “move the goalposts” (and not expect to hold out for their ideal if they are a minority).
- Zealots must legitimate the needs of the non-zealots enabling a customer-centric environment (tolerate diversity) to create (more and more) reciprocity, trust, and mutual aid (if they desire to participate within a given community).
Without acknowledging and adjusting to the realities of the shift toward autonomy, some communities are likely to sustain more and more disaffiliation leading to extinction.
Is your community harnessing the tools of the technological age to create coexistence, accessible guidance, and scalable personalization?
February 10, 2010
I learned a new Hebrew phrase this week, “Shev VeAl Taaseh,” which means “Sit and Do Not Act.” It is a rabbinic (leadership) tactic that is the moral equivalent of “If I cannot have my way, I’m going to take my basketball and go home.” Although it doesn’t surprise me that such a tactic exists (or has a name), it does surprise me that anyone would consider it an appropriate leadership tactic in a modern community.
Our world is fluid and complex; full of choices, opportunities, and negotiations. As individuals, we find and align ourselves with communities that meet our needs recognizing that aggregations large enough to share costs of community transactions (services) may not be perfectly aligned with each of our personal worldviews. We tolerate and accept those differences for mutual benefit.
Thus, in aggegrated diverse communities leaders must be positive, proactive, and effectively connecting to ALL members by:
- Being sensitive to the needs/desires of every community member,
- Striving to create tolerance, coexistence, and compromise for mutual benefit, and
- Seeking novel solutions for challenges not yet resolved.
“Shev VeAl Tasseh,” a primal command and control tactic that might have been useful in ancient society, has been outgrown by modernity and should be relegated to the dustbin of history along with animal sacrifice. Channeling the proverb: If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem, leaders must lead in times of difficulty — it is never acceptable for leaders to opt out.
- Exert effort on OTHERS first,
- Determine the needs of each constituency beyond your own (What’s in it for them?),
- Gracefully concede that others have legitimate needs,
- Engage, participate, and create innovative solutions to enable diversity,
We are fortunate to live in a society that tolerates a richness of many communities, each with different leaders, norms, and conduct. Yet in order for any specific community to flourish, leaders must participate inclusively and exercise good judgement lest their community pick up and leave due to no confidence.
Are you EDGE-ing?
December 17, 2009
While there we visited Dad’s nearest neighbor Todd, who lives in a woodstove heated mobile home down the road. The conversation was largely about the weather, how many water lines had frozen, how to use heat tracing to keep them from freezing in the future, and how to ensure that the livestock get adequate feed, water, and shelter during the extreme cold. Todd and his family have spent many years in that area and he summarized the conversation, “Heat is Life.”
Because I live in a temperate climate, staying warm for me is mostly inconsequential. I just don’t think about the importance of heat for daily life or survival; I never face bitter-biting cold or frozen pipes. As I listened to Todd talk, his perspective put my own into stark contrast. I was reminded that Scarcity and Abundance differ for each person, each organization, each community, and changes with time (heat, food, shelter, money, time, privilege, opportunity…). Different operating assumptions exist based upon what is Scarce and what is Abundant at any given time. For example, when summer comes and heat becomes abundant, there will be little discussion of frozen pipes and heat tracing among cowboys; something else will have become scarce. Yet, the installation of heat tracing is best done in the summer as part of a plan to prepare for the cold when winter arrives…
This observation became a clear and present long-view reminder:
- Consider the ebb and flow of abundance and scarcity – what matters and when?
- Mitigate the intensity of scarcity by planning for the expected and unexpected – what can be done to limit the impact?
Have you considered the ebb and flow of abundance and scarcity in your world and created plans to mitigate scarcity?
November 23, 2009
At what point is stuff on the net (public domain) none of our business? When should we avert our eyes and not read a little more? What is the threshold from curious to stalking?
Recently, I met an interesting fellow at an alumni-networking event. After an engaging conversation of shared interests, we exchanged email addresses. Later, I wanted to suggest an appropriate meeting place but could not recall where he had said that he lived, so I turned to the Internet to do a quick address search.
Intrigued by my new friend’s wife’s blog, I read on. It turns out, the stories (blog posts) were every bit as interesting and engaging as his conversation had been. However, immediately following this confirmation, I felt unsettled. Just how would I let on what I knew and how I knew it? Had I usurped his privilege of introducing me to his wife’s blog? Had I devalued the connection by barging in myself? Is this part and parcel of 21st century networking that I am not yet used to?
My experience was confirmed in Wired Magazine’s headline article this month, Vanish: “…ordinary people – really can gather an incredible dossier of facts about you.” It is because of the combination of powerful search engines and extensive amounts of publicly available information. It behooves us be aware of what information is defining us and to be thoughtful about what is defining others.
In old cultures where privacy was hard to come by, people learned to avert their eyes to allow for privacy and were admonished to mind their own business. In addition, we were encouraged to live an honorable life because of public scrutiny. Those old (long view) rules are evolving to deal with the connectivity and information richness of our lives today, yet still apply:
- Live your life impeccably. Doing so, will mean never having to be ashamed, embarrassed, or held accountable for wrongdoing.
- Out of respect and kindness, engage the positive and disregard the negative.
Embracing the new:
- Take what you learn on the Internet with a grain of salt.
- Be judicious in how you apply Internet “knowledge.”
- Follow your instincts, yet pay attention to the evolution – norms are changing.
Bloggers expect that others will be informed, transformed, and educated through connection to our blogs. Participating constructively is welcome and my new friend was fine with it. 🙂
Are you living life impeccably and engaging the positive?
October 28, 2009
The latest cover of Wired (17.11) magazine shouts FEAR in bold letters (cover article is about vaccination fear) and a popular writer (Rabbi Kushner) just published his latest book, Conquering Fear, and even my favorite blogger (Seth Godin) is blogging about fear. Seth reminds us that news inherently amplifies the emotional, flaming fear. Seth also reminds us that we live in a choice rich world causing us to fear our own decision-making. Purveyors of fear then are all around us, yet we must master our fears to live healthy satisfying lives.
When I was out running the morning that the news reported that the body of Somer Thompson had been found in a nearby garbage dump (7-year-old Florida girl that was abducted and murdered), my mind wandered to those tidbits. During that moment, I was suddenly seized with fear from an old, yet vivid memory of a stranger asking me if I wanted a ride in his car when I was about 10-years-old.
I remember being very frightened at the time, yet knowing that I needed to show calm. That stranger had tricked me into talking to him by playing to my insecurity of being a tomboy – he asked, “are you a boy or a girl?” I was indignant to the question and immediately asserted that I was a girl, quickly realizing that it was an unsafe conversation. When he asked if I wanted to ride in his car, I told him that my mother was waiting for me because we were making cookies (yet it was only myself making cookies since my mother was at work). Following my attempt at a polite excuse, I leapt onto my bike, clutching the small bag containing the vanilla extract that I had purchased, and escaped as fast as I could the back route to home.
I’ll never know if the situation was actually benign, but I was afraid then, and the memory drove a surge of adrenaline as I ran for exercise last week. My pace and breathing quickening and the fear I felt was as real as if I had been ten again. The fear passed quickly and I was again relieved that I was safe. Mostly, I was surprised at the intensity at which it momentarily enveloped me. As Rabbi Kushner notes in his book, “there is nothing that reaches us more deeply into our souls than the experience of facing danger and being spared.” Yet we must be outraged deeply in our souls too by the unfairness and tragedy of those like Somer and her family, who were not spared.
When Robin Roberts of Good Morning America was interviewing the mother of Somer Thompson, who, like my mother was at work at the time of the incident, said to her, “You cannot blame yourself,” I deeply concurred. She must not blame herself rather she must blame the perpetrator. With the randomness of terror like this, Somer and her family are simply tragic victims who deserve our compassion; it could have been any of us. My long view advice:
- We must stay calm in the face of adversity.
- We must not isolate ourselves and/or change our behavior because of intimidation.
- We should be alert but not frightened, vigilant but not paranoid (Kushner, p.39)
- We must act decisively when faced with daunting complexity based upon the information that we have.
- We must accept the knowledge that we must make choices and not second-guess our decisions based upon the information that we had in the moment.
Being the anxious perfectionist that I am, taking this advice is hard even for me, but I desire to live in a world where I am not afraid. Do you?
September 15, 2009
It has been one month since my mother’s unexpected death left my father alone, full-circle, back to his humble beginning.
My father was born late in the life of his parents. His siblings had graduated or neared graduation from high school at the time of his birth, so he spent much of his youth alone with his horse and rifle. He kept busy with a mare purchased for him as a yearling and a rifle his father had given him to hunt. Always ambitious, at a tender age he began bounty-hunting magpies for the local fish and game department, which kept him in ammunition and taught him the skills of the earth. As he matured, he worked as a ranch-hand and then set off to college to study engineering. He met my mother when he was attending undergraduate school. Although their pairing was unusual, she was refined and he was cowboy-rough, they worked. He matched her brilliance with intensity and passion and she guided him where he was unfamiliar. They both excelled professionally building a life together that included the best of both of their respective worlds. They retired to a ranch in the mountains of my father’s youth with several horses and a collection of rifles appropriate for land he inhabits. With her death, he returns to where he started, alone with his horse(s) and rifle(s) in his native rural home.
Today, I share this blog post with my Dad giving him an opportunity to share the Eulogy that he gave memorializing my mother on what would have been her 68th birthday. Although the sorrow and grief are still fresh, with this post, I wish to put the wind back under his wings with some long view advice:
- Find joy – rekindle the joy of your youth when you found happiness alone with your horse and rifle.
- Stay engaged – constantly move forward and approach life with the passion, energy, and vigor that have always been your trademark.
- Reduce entropy in the world – continue to commit to leaving things better than you found them just as you have always done and taught me to do. Repair the fences, clean the corrals,….
- View the cup as half-full – stay positive and eschew negativity.
- Learn new things – rock your new satellite internet connection and iMac! Perhaps learn to blog?….
- Nurture your friends and community – remember that your four-legged friends count on you and your two-legged friends care.
In memory of Evelyn
“We are gathered here today to pay our last respects to Janet Evelyn and commit her remains to the earth in her wonderful native home. From my simple perspective, Evelyn was relatively young and her passing was totally unanticipated; however, Evelyn and I believe that it is the Lord who decides the time for us to leave this earth and we believed his will shall be done.
Evelyn and I chose to be life’s partners over 50 years ago. Our love for one another was boundless and unending and our primary desire was to be alone together. Our life’s journey together generally involved good times with a few not so good times that we shared equally; however, it was her gentle and steady hand that guided our loving partnership through all of the years and all of life’s issues. Those that knew us recognized that our lives were totally entwined and one should anticipate encountering the two of us, not one or the other. Our uncompromising desire to be together and holding hands on a walk or attending business or social gatherings was, unfortunately, a point of contention for some but as such gave us strength and knowledge that our commitment to one another was many levels above all of our critics and reinforced our desire to be alone where we felt most comfortable. I would argue that our Life’s Journey together was outstanding even if, in my opinion, it was far, far too short.
I feel compelled to briefly tell you that this poor old country boy was born in the living quarters of a rural northwest railroad depot and was a struggling university student at the time that I met Evelyn. I immediately became totally infatuated with this young, intelligent, and accomplished city girl (city girl are my words). She, unlike this country boy, had never ridden horses, never fished mountain streams for trout, never hiked the mountain back country, never hunted deer and elk, or any of the acknowledged rural northwestern traits that boys and, yes, girls from this region were generally familiar. However, this bright, accomplished, and well-read city girl was willing to accept this poor old country boy and all of his failings. I would like to think perhaps to some extent because of my commitment and adoration for her. But, for whatever reason she willingly took my hand and I felt that she joined me just as it is stated in the old Testament Book of Ruth – your people will be my people and thy God my God. She readily accompanied me in all of these foreign endeavors previously unknown to her and she walked by my side and advised me in every aspect, every phase and every issue of our life. I recall the absolute amazement and initial disbelief as well as perhaps horror of her parents when she shot her first deer.
I cannot begin to tell you what this beautiful incredible woman meant to me both as my life’s partner and special confidant.
Allow me to offer a closing prayer before I place her remains into the earth. ‘Dear God Thank You for the gift of her life, for her sweet companionship, and for the cherished memories that endure. God please comfort us as we mourn and grant us strength to see beyond our sorrow and sustain us in our grief. Amen.'”
Dad, remember that the vows, “until death do us part” remind us of the fidelity needed for two lives lived together, but also remind us to move forward when death separates. So, rebuild, rekindle the joy of your youth when you were alone with your horse and rifle, and move forward into new frontiers creating a future that honors not only your own life, but hers. She will not be forgotten.
August 9, 2009
This past week, I was involved in a youth sports competition that fielded both domestic and international teams: soccer, swimming, tennis, table tennis, dance, and much more. Although my family lives in an outlying area to the main venue, we were eligible to host five (5) teenage boys for the week long games.
I drove our SUV 840 miles and averaged 100 miles/gallon/person (50 gallons of gas with 6 of us in the car) for my two soccer players and three tennis players. Altogether, we collected one injury (already healing), one gold medal, and many, many smiles! It was a total blast!
It was an amazing and inspiring experience because the long view tenets: build reciprocity assets (goodwill) and create consistent positivity were incorporated everywhere. The games emphasized sportsmanship, camaraderie, and kindness – everyone was encouraged to do more than what was expected.
There were so many examples….
- Every day driving the SUV in the “big city” was an adventure – wrong turns, missed turns, and intersection errors. The boys cut me a great deal of slack and were always kind. (We were never late or in danger. ☺)
- Daily breakfasts were greatly appreciated, as were cookies and milk each evening. One of the things that struck me was that there was not a single complaint. No whining, no negativity, just expressed gratefulness for all that I was doing. There was a constant refrain of “thank you.”
- The injured boy played only five (5) minutes of his first soccer match against Mexico and did not net any goals during the tournament due to his injury, yet his teammates rallied around him. They carried his things, waited for him as he made his way on crutches with his knee immobilized, and ensured that he stayed integrated at the parties/festivities. Reciprocally, even though he could not play he stayed involved and cheered heartily for his team.
Can it get any better than that? Amazingly, yes!
- At the gold medal match in tennis, my guest’s opponent arrived unprepared – he had not eaten lunch. After the match had started, at one of the breaks, the opponent shared that he was hungry. My guest immediately asked his own coach if any of their team’s turkey sandwiches were left. Finding none available, he dug around his tennis bag for a nutrition bar that the opponent accepted. The linesman went to the clubhouse for some fruit and everyone waited for the boy to ingest some calories before the game restarted. In my book, that was extreme sportsmanship. My other guest tennis players informed me that although they knew their friend wanted to win, he wanted more to play a good match.
Can you encourage extreme positivity in your environment?
July 29, 2009
A few years ago, I found Purple Cow by Seth Godin when I was browsing the local bookstore. Purple Cow started me on a journey of reading other Seth books and then becoming a daily reader of Seth’s blog, I was immediately addicted to Seth’s daily pithy, yet succinct observations, advice, insights, and admonitions. His blog posts start my day.
In July of 2008, Seth invited his blog readers (me) to buy Tribes (a terrific leadership book by Seth) and to join an online tribe called Triiibes. I joined! Today is the anniversary of Triiibes and we are celebrating it with an interconnected blog ring.
The community of similar-minded professionals that emerged in Triiibes, with whom I converse, learn, and occasionally teach, is amazing. What I love most is that Triiibes is interactive and asynchronous – I can participate day or night and spend as little or as much time as I have available. Simply perfect! I have made many enriching friendships.
Most importantly, over this past year as I participated in Triiibes, I achieved a new perspective, gained confidence, and realized that I was in a cul-de-sac. Although I had achieved significant professional success over many years, I finally realized that I had already achieved my personal goals where I was and that my efforts were no longer leading to important gains – it was time to do something different and/or set out on a new adventure. So…
I initiated a rebuild of my personal long view:
- I resigned from my full-time professional position and am now achieving proficiency (mastery?) in the non-technical art of nurture.
- I am nurturing myself, my family, and my community through care-taking, volunteering, and just helping where I can. By doing this, I have met many interesting and amazing people that I would not have had time for previously.
- I created this blog to share – here I coalesce my long view insights and publish them.
- I am defining my next adventure. I have steadfast confidence that an opportunity to nurture technical innovation will emerge from this investment in nurturing. ☺
Happy Anniversary Triiibes! Thanks for everything, I look forward to many more insightful years!
Next on the Anniversary Blog Ring: Being Tribal