LifeRevelation

Life is a Revelation…be encouraged

Archive for the category “business life”

All the Same

While you, dear reader, may not be able to tell, I usually spend considerable time thinking, researching, and sharing my ideas with Susie, before I sit down to write. I’ve found, for the most part, this keeps me from running off on some half-wit tangent. Susie says this also makes it easier for her to converse with her friends, because she doesn’t have to spend hours defending my posts.

I think she means it as a compliment.

This post is somewhat different, because while I have given it a lot of thought, I haven’t done much research and I’ve kept my comments to Susie to a minimum. So I hope this post doesn’t cause much distress the next time her friends and her get together. This one comes more from the gut.

Let me start with a story.

Several years ago I was asked by a friend’s wife if I would be interested in mentoring at risk and behaviorally challenged children in the public school system. Although they were wanting to reach children of all ages, I would be working specifically with elementary students. After she answered several questions for me I thought the idea had merit and agreed to become a mentor to twins of a single mother. The twins had a slew of issues and while I am no trained child psychologist my biggest contribution would be as an in-room monitor who would work with each of them to keep them focused during the school day.

I enjoyed the work and kept meticulous notes as to what worked and what didn’t during various situations. I shared these notes with others who were involved in the program. The program became a company and the company started to grow. New mentors where hired. Programming directors, financial analysts, therapists, and others were added to the payroll. Strict rules were put into place. The roll with what is happening and go with the flow was eliminated. Structure and order became the only way. Owners and management began to dream about earning substantial money. They began to curry political and corporate favor. The ideas others and I had become part of a program that was touted as having an incredible success rate. Metrics were put in place. We were all coached on how to write our reports so Medicare would pay. Students graduated from the program reportedly cured of their issues.

Except there was only one problem.

The kids weren’t healed. They were better. They were making progress. They could function for longer periods of time without having a physical outburst, but they were a long way from being what anyone would call healed. It wasn’t that they were bad kids. Or even that they were mentally deficient. They simply had been born into horrible situations. Their only guidance in life had been through the TV they were set in front of from birth, because the changing patterns on the screen kept them from crying or they imitated what they saw when they left the living room for the streets. They yelled, screamed, cussed, and fought just like they saw the gangs do, except they were in the third grade.

But it didn’t matter. In order to keep the money flowing in they were diagnosed with a DSM Code by a staff child psychologist, then pronounced healed when they got near the end of time that federal funding would pay for their care.  One size fit all, except we weren’t talking about clothing, we were talking about children with feelings, emotions, and in need of real, true, honest love.

I bent and broke all the rules. I went home with the kids I worked with and talked to their parents, when I could find them, and whoever else I could find when the parents weren’t anywhere around. I prayed with my kids. I took them places like museums, libraries, art galleries, backstage at theaters, and anywhere else I could think of, to expose them to a bigger world. I paid for everything out of my own pocket.

Then I got caught. I was warned. I didn’t change I kept on doing everything. I got caught again. I was told to change. I said no. They said my services were no longer warranted. They sent two large men to escort me out of the school. They told the principal I was under investigation for wrong doing.

When we find something that works, people want to turn it into a program. They want to monetize it. They want to streamline it. They want one size to fit all. They want to make it all the same.

Well I don’t want to. My experiences with the children is only one example. In my life, and in yours, there are hundreds of examples. This is one of the reasons why I love the blog world. Each blog is different. The content is our own. We aren’t constrained in what we say and how we say it. I’m not given to using lots of provocative or foul language, but I’ll always defend your right to, even if I am hoping you won’t.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, it isn’t well researched, nor have the words been carefully chosen, they just rolled out of my heart, and hopefully into yours.

Be encouraged!

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Honor and Courage

http://philosophy.sean.tripod.com/id17.htm

“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor”

-Aristotle-

I was wondering how much different our world would be if we were to live our lives according to a few simple ideas. None of them would require advanced degrees or an internship, although there is nothing wrong with either. We wouldn’t have to get financing or alter our work schedules. It wouldn’t cut into our private time, nor alter our choices of hobbies.

But it would require some honor and courage.

Be encouraged!

Moving On Up!

funny-stairs-accomplishments-stick-man

As many of you know, I am writing a book about the lessons I learned while running 3160 miles across the United States. The tentative title is Running Across America & Down Other Roads. I would like to announce that I am the little guy at the top of the diagram above who is doing the Happy Dance. Actually I am not represented on the diagram. I am somewhere in between “I Will Do It” and “Yes, I Did It!” I think my position could best be described as “I Am Doing It.”

“I Am Doing It,” isn’t all that bad of a place to be. I have overcome the “I Won’t Do It” phase. It only took about sixteen years for me to finally be victorious. My basic reason for struggling so long at the base of the stairs was because I had this love/hate relationship with what I had accomplished. No doubt, running across this incredible country of ours is the greatest physical feat I have accomplished. However, for years when people discovered what I had done, I was met with one of two responses: 1) That is awesome, tell me about it. or 2) Hmmm, I wonder if dinner is ready.

Either folks wanted to know every detail starting with why and finishing with how or they didn’t want to hear another word about it. I loved explaining to people all the ins and outs of the run, but response number 2 left me bewildered, feeling awkward, and, in the interest of complete honesty, a little hurt. Overall it left me not wanting to talk about it, because I never knew what the reaction was going to be.

My wrestling with fear of success/failure kept me from moving for years. As I realized (I am a very slow learner) that people’s response should not be the governing factor on how I live my life, my writing began.

Once I got started the rest of the steps went by easily. I figured out how to organize my research, thoughts, ideas, various journals, notes, photos, and recollections. Susie-who is the world’s greatest organizer-pitched in and got me going on the right track. Publishers got interested and now I’m writing, editing, and immensely enjoying the process.

But I want to ask you, Where are you at on the steps? What are the reasons for where you are? What will it take to move up a step? What holds you back? Why not move today?

Let me know.

Be encouraged!

Virtue #11–Caution

http://onlyhdwallpapers.com/fun/monsters-humor-caution-desktop-wallpaper-414112/

The author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables, Victor Hugo once  stated“Caution is the eldest child of wisdom.” If we consider Caution to be a warning against danger or evil, then Hugo’s statement takes on considerable importance. Caution begins to shoulder something more than “street smarts” or “gut feeling.” It assumes the pretext of practical consideration. It casts off the charade of  impulse and whim, assuming increased weight and contemplation.

It seems in today’s fast paced, frenetic, time is money mode of operation that Caution would appear quaint, like the wearing of a pocket watch for men or a Victorian lace collared blouse for women. It might be practical, but it isn’t something cutting edge metropolitans would ever be caught dead doing. Business is all about moving forward. If you aren’t growing, you are dying. Speed is of the essence. Caution has been left in the dust.

Maybe when considering love Caution tends to be thought of as more relevant. Rarely do we hear the call for a relationship to move faster. It is here Caution is thought to be…well almost a virtue. “Go slow.” “Give this some time.”, we are encouraged. Suddenly Caution is our friend. It will protect us from rash and hasty actions, which we might learn to regret in the future.

Caution’s value skyrockets when we have children. Every child hears, “Slow down there.” and is asked “What is the big hurry?” When we kiss them good night, pull the covers up around their little faces, and creep toward the door, the prayer on every parents heart is, “Please God, let them grow up slowly.”  Caution is our watch word when we take them to the park, or to the mall, or to school, or on a date, or watch them play sports.

As I look around our world I wish we would exercise more caution. Caution: in how we operate our vehicles on the interstates, how we enter into romantic relationships, how we think, how we talk to our spouses, how we interact with our neighbors, how we conduct our business, how we choose our beliefs, how we rule our nation, how we decide to use our military, how we live our lives.

I understand too much caution and we become immobile. We can’t reach a decision. We become the proverbial deer in the headlights. We need to swing through the trees, holding on to the branches, and howling loudly, but let’s make sure we don’t turn loose of one branch until we have a firm grip on the next.

Be encouraged!

Time Is On My Side

http://www.bowdoindailysun.com

Time is on my side, yes it is.

Time is on my side, yes it is.

(Time Is On My Side by Jimmy Norman and made famous by The Rolling Stones)

Time is one of the seven fundamental physical quantities in the International System of Units. It traditionally has taken two different forms. The first being the calendar and the second form being represented by the clock. For the purpose of this post we will be focusing on the clock.

The clock has never been my favorite unit of measurement for time. Probably due to the fact that in the past I was late for everything. Years ago I learned a trick for defeating this deficit in my character make-up. I began to set my watch ten minutes ahead. Although in my mind I understood what I had done, the reality was if I looked at my watch and discovered it was time for me to be somewhere I would immediately begin to move heaven and earth to get there. Of course, I still had ten minutes, but my mind would overlook reality and simply begin issuing commands as if I were late. Later, I turned all the clocks in my home ten minutes fast and have eliminated my lateness. Susie is not particularly fond of this method of brainwashing, but after twenty years she has adapted. Only rarely now does she ask, “What time is it in the real world?” In the interest of full disclosure, one night while she was sleeping I got up, tipped toed around to her side of the bed, and set her watch ten minutes fast as well.

Back in 1977 two social psychologists, Dan Barton and John Darley from Princeton University, set about conducting an interesting experiment involving the interpretation of time. They approached Princeton seminary students who were preparing a speech on the parable of the Good Samaritan. Each student was told either: A) He is late, that he was actually expected in the lecture hall a few minutes ago, and that his instructors are waiting for him. or B) He has plenty of time, but might as well start to go over now.

As each student headed to the lecture hall he passes a person slumped over and coughing profusely, obviously in need of assistance. Of course, the person is an accomplice of the researchers. With no one else nearby the seminary students are confronted with a decision. While going to give a speech about the Good Samaritan, who stopped to deliver aid to a hurting individual when no one else would, do they stop to help or do they go on to their lecture. The only difference in the two groups is the time pressure. One group believes they are late, the other thinks they have plenty of time.

The majority of those who believed they had plenty of time stopped to render assistance. Of those who believed they were running late 90% failed to stop.  All students involved admitted they saw the individual slumped over and understood he needed help.

Allow yourself to slow down and look around. Are there people in your family, your work place, and/or your group of friends who might be “slumped over” and in need of help? Are we missing anything? Could someone we know be telegraphing pain, hurt, stress, worry, and/or fear and we are missing it? Reduce our speed, quiet our thoughts, and remove the blinders from our eyes and take a closer inspection of those we interact with on a daily basis.

Let me know what you find.

Be encouraged!

Time is one of the seven fundamental physical quantities in the International System of Units.

Politics

I am not one who enjoys proclaiming his political views. I know there are those who find it fascinating and God bless them, but I am not of their ilk. I have my opinions and for the most part I prefer to keep them to myself. Airing my thoughts in public I find to be counter-productive to what I hope to accomplish in bringing people together in peace. Politicians no longer (if they ever did) speak for me I don’t find comfort in either the right or the left. There are elements of both I like and a good deal more that I don’t.

But while I was playing catch up  after a weekend of interviewing acrobats, fire eaters, sword swallowers, glass eaters, contortionists, unicyclists, trapeze artists,  and a couple of other unique performers (trust me this is a whole series of posts in and of itself) I came across Terri’s blog at http://terri0729.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/mondays-military-honors/. The snapshot above was one of many about those who serve in the military for our country. My official disclaimer is I am somewhat biased in my opinion regarding the military. In my youth I was a hippie and not inclined to be supportive of those who served, but life often has ways of turning a person’s thinking around. Our youngest son is career Army and there is not a prouder parent in the United States than this old hippie.

Take a moment to think about this information. Perhaps there are some things that should drive us into the streets, waving our placards again.

Be encouraged!

Every Once In A While…

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE

WE DO IT RIGHT

Every once in a while, we as human beings get it right. These photos encouraged my to continue the crusade of human decency and kindness. I hope you will not only be uplifted by them, but also remember what little it takes to be encouraging to another on the journey. The following is copied from http://themetapicture.com.

Be encouraged!

funny-faith-in-humanity-restored

funny-faith-in-humanity-nice-people

cool-people-being-nice

people-doing-nice-things

You Don’t Always Get What You Want

http://edwardrecommends.com/people

What if getting everything we want…right now…isn’t a good thing? Is there a possibility that, at least for some things, waiting a while might be a good thing? Say for instance, being promoted. Could it be beneficial to stay in your current position for a while, get really good at it, study where you want to go, devise a plan as to what you will do when you get there, then get promoted?

Does waiting for something add value to us? Does it cultivate certain talents that are useful? Is there something in the process of waiting that is a positive life lesson?

At some point I will be writing a post regarding patience as a virtue. Does the delay in gratifying our wants help strengthen patience?

http://cheezburger.com/3057568512

There is a famous study done in 1972 by Dr. Michael Mischel at Stanford University involving marshmallows. The study used a group of kids from the age of four to six. They were given a marshmallow, but told if they did not eat it until the researcher returned (fifteen minutes later), then they would get another one. They could however, eat the one they were given at any time, but then that is all they would get. The idea being instant gratification with the one in hand or delayed gratification with two. Six hundred children participated and one-third were able to hold out for the entire fifteen minutes and received an additional marshmallow.

In 1988 a follow-up study learned that among those who had been able to delay gratification were described by their parents as being highly competent. In 1990 they discovered the delay gratifiers had significantly higher SAT  scores. I’ll write more about this study in a later post, but isn’t it interesting this simple test was able to predict with amazing clarity the life difference between the early gratifiers and the delayed gratifiers.

So might we best served to slow down or even delay, the gratification of our wants. I am sure there are a multitude of life analogies to be drawn. I’m going to start with holding off preparing myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…but not for long.

Be encouraged!

How I Ran Across the US

From http://thebettermanprojects.wordpress.com

People always have the same question when they discover I have run across the United States, “How did you do that?”

My answer has varied throughout the years. Not because I am being shifty. I want to answer as honestly as possible, but as I grow as an individual, I have discovered something quite remarkable about my past experiences. Although the events of the past are set in stone, the life lessons learned are not.  Those life lessons are active, moving, and working. Each passing year reveals more fruit.

Lately I have been giving considerable thought to how I learned my life lessons. There has been an extremely wide variety of methods. The one  constant however,  is I tend to learn by experience. This has not always been the best method. It has often been the source of intense hurt and suffering for those who love me.

Several years ago I began to think I was my own worse enemy. This thought took hold during an extremely difficult period that I had inflicted on myself. I labored to dig myself out of the hole I had so expertly dug, then dove into. This was no quick and easy fix. Lives were damaged, families hurt, feelings were rubbed raw and bloody, and this was the best side of it, and I was responsible for all of it.

After years of struggle I was able to see fruit from my effort. My life began to be about something else other than the tragedy. About the same time another idea began to germinate. I certainly wasn’t willing to embrace it. I didn’t believe I deserved it, but I certainly was willing to consider it. With the passage of time, I entertained the idea more often. I grew to like it. I kept it guarded at first. I didn’t tell any one. I wanted to make sure it was Truth before I shared it.

Finally, the time arrived that I was willing not only to share it, but more importantly, to believe it. I decided to defeat the little voice in my head that had always proudly proclaimed I was good for nothing. I realized after all those years of believing I was my own worse enemy, what I was doing was looking at the wrong end of the stick.

Instead of thinking of myself as the antagonist, I could be my best friend.

What a concept! I could set myself up to be successful instead of fail. Of course, failure is considerably easier to engineer, but success is far more exciting. I’ve never been shy of doing whatever is necessary to get the job done. Once committed to a goal, I could/would lower my head and move heaven and earth to get whatever was needed done. This was my game and I loved it. I could make my world better.

I haven’t completely defeated the little voice, but I have severely contained his ability to control how I view life. He no longer reigns supreme without any opposition.

So how did I run across the United States? By defeating the little voice inside of me that told me to quit.

Be encouraged!

Something I Found Interesting

The man in the photo (http://www.newfangled.com/interview_with_risd_president_john_maeda) is John Maeda. On June 2, 2008 he was selected as the President for the Rhode Island School of Design. Earlier  Esquire magazine had identified him as one of the 21 most important people for the 21st century. He grew up in Seattle, Washington as part of a family owned tofu business, which he refers to as familial child slave labor. His degrees include BS and MS degrees from MIT, and a PhD in design from Tsukuba University Institute of Art and Design in Japan. At the MIT Media Lab he was a graphic designer, visual artist, and computer scientist, as well as, one of the founders of “simplicity” in the digital age.

That last paragraph was written to convince you John Maeda is nobody’s fool. This is an intelligent man who knows what he wants and knows how to go about getting  it in life. Which is why I found a recent article about him fascinating. The article was located on page 20 of the May 2012 (Issue 165) of Fast Company. It is written by Linda Tiscler, who according to her bio on Fast Company’s web site, writes about the intersection of design and business.

The bulk of the article conveys how Dr. Maeda stumbled by alienating his co-associates at RISD when he instilled some of his MIT Media Lab’s cyberstyle leadership skills. I am not exactly sure what the details were, but the end results was Dr. Maeda  failed, and this is a guy who is not accustomed to failing. In fact, his failure was so acute his board-endorsed strategic plan for the school was met with a “no confidence” vote from the faculty.

In the face of failure he embraced a piece of advice he had received from a close friend, John Jay, Wieden+Kennedy’s executive creative director. Although these are his 10 tips for young designers I believe they will resonate deeply within you, they did me:

  1. Be authentic.
  2. Work harder than anyone else and you will always benefit from your effort.
  3. Life is visceral. Get off the computer and connect with real people and culture.
  4. Constantly improve your craft.
  5. Travel as much as you can.
  6. Being original is still the king.
  7. Try not to work for stupid people or you will rapidly become one of them.
  8. Instinct and intuition are all-powerful. Learn to trust them.
  9. The Golden Rule actually works.
  10. If all else fails, #2 is the greatest competitive edge of any career.

These are copied from http://designtaxi.com/news/34110/10-Lessons-for-Young-Designers-from-John-C-Jay/.

His revised plan was passed with a 80% faculty approval. This is what it means to not see our failures as the end of the line. It is not indication we are not good enough or in some way flawed. Our failures are only obstacles to be overcome or built upon to achieve success. Dr. Maeda clearly demonstrates this in his willingness to embrace outside assistance and re-formulate his strategic planning goals.

Granted few of us operate in the rarefied air of the nation’s top design schools, nor may we have the credentials of Dr. Maeda, but I believe his approach can apply to all of us when faced with our own less than perfect outcomes. Accepting the advice of others isn’t a sign of weakness. It is an indication of our willingness to grow and expand.

After each post is published I am always looking forward to the comments I receive. They never cease to make me think about what I’ve written. In many cases they have been the impetus for new posts. So let’s go forward, growing, reaching, striving, and doing all we can to support and strengthen as many as we kind, while always being willing to receive.

Be encouraged!

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