Two Things About Whistling In The Wind …

Whistling - Hand Flute“Opportunity has to knock, but it is enough for temptation to stand outside and whistle.”

Unknown, but found in many places online


Human nature allows us to more easily respond to those things which appear as inviting distractions than that which often appears “disguised as hard work”, as both Thomas A. Edision and Ann Landers have famously observed.

Don’t misunderstand me this bright Monday morning … I see value in regular “distractions” throughout our lives, whether a carefully-nurtured passion for something which none of your friends or family really “gets” or an occasional game or sport just to reduce stress and refresh us in body and spirit.  Personally I like to listen to music or read something that is humorous … that’s all, just humorous … no deep messages or inspiration, no secret to success or ultimate skill builder … just funny and enjoyable.

The issue here is obvious … you have to develop the ability to do two things in regard to knocking and whistling.  Both are critical and your careful creation of skill in doing these two things will make a significant amount of difference in your life.

1)  Develop your ability to tell the difference between a knock and a whistle:

Knocking represents something that will benefit you in the long run.  “You” may mean you personally, a group, a society, or the world.

Knocking is usually about helping yourself and others.  I am tempted to say it ought always be about this, but I am a realist about some things.

Knocking does not overpromise success or enjoyment.  Knocking tells you upfront that work, pain, and struggle are required.


Whistling glazes over the details.   Do not look behind the curtain or under the table.

Whistling promises happiness and ease.  Questions are brushed aside and optimism reigns unchallenged.

Whistling relies on your emotional need to feel good or hopeful.  It does not seek or encourage even reasonable doubts.

2)  Know when you need to respond to the knock and when you need to give in to the whistle:

Choose opportunity when you feel a gap in your life in some area.  The opportunity may or may not fit the gap, but it will fill you up just the same.

Choose opportunity when you cannot sleep at night because an idea consumes your energy.  Look for solutions, especially in unlikely places.

Choose opportunity when the number of people who will benefit from your doing so is more than one.

Choose whistling when you feel that your soul is drained and you need to recharge.  We all experience this, some more often and more deeply than others.

Choose whistling if you can honestly say (just to yourself) that you need a short break.  Sometimes a quick detour can reap huge rewards in renewed effort.

Choose whistling if you know beyond any doubt that whatever you are doing has no claim on you.  Better to enjoy life’s moments than trudge onward doing what you have absolutely no interest in doing.

Life can be very complicated sometimes.  Those who tell you different are ignoring some important realities about options, choices, and daily living. Sometimes we need the knock and sometimes we need the whistle. 

When you respond today, are you hearing the knock or the whistle?

Keeping my options open by listening for both sounds in the Heartland ….




IMAGE:  Photo showing the final position when whistling through the hands.  Taken on 8 April 2010 by Jomegat

Seeing Again …

Eye“One sees things for the first time only once.”

Some anonymous person


You know what they say about couples in a long-time stable relationship, right?

“I still get a thrill when I see her, just like the first time we met.”   Yeah, right …

Time and familiarity has a way of playing with our perceptions and our emotions.  You might feel an overwhelming and positive emotion when you see someone you care deeply about, but it’s not the same experience as when you first met.  You have added years of shared experiences and growth to your perceptions.


Same thing applies in business … maybe more so.

We get used to people, procedures, and activities.  If we see something as a creative and innovative process, we might be tempted to continue to view that process as creative, even as it is eclipsed by more current or evolved thinking.   We see our protégé or favorite co-worker and sometimes still see the young and energetic sparkplug, rather than the quiet and tired colleague of today.


So what to do about the possibility that you are not seeing reality, but rather nostalgic perception clouded by memory?


Try this … do not rely on your own perceptions.

Seek the counsel of others and listen to their views on what is before you.  This will be especially useful if the person whose counsel you seek is not familiar with what they are looking at.  You are not after technical analysis … you just want fresh eyes looking at what is there to be seen.

This requires some trust and some bravery, but the results might be truly “eye-opening” …


Trying to see what is there to see, rather than what I want to see, in the Heartland ….


Am I Missing Something? …

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished;  that will be the beginning.”

Louis L’Amour


imageYes, I get my inspiration where I find it, even from popular fiction authors.

L’Amour was talking about the act and art of writing, but I think we can draw some wider learning from his words.  We first have to let go of the idea that we always know when we are finished.

We have all experienced the satisfaction of completing a project and being able to sit back and regard our work with a nice big smucky grin … and then noticing something. 

Maybe you have experienced one or more of these little epiphanies, while gazing proudly at your work.  I know I have encountered every blessed one at one time or another:

… something was left out?

… something does not work quite right?

… what you have done inspires you toward another project?

… we realize that we have created the wrong solution for the problem at hand?

… we realize that the problem we solved has morphed into something completely different?

You can almost imagine a lanky, sun-burnished old ranch hand leaning against a fence post and saying with a deep drawl, “Well, looks like you ain’t quite done yet, sonny

So what have YOU finished … that really isn’t?

Considering all my “finished” projects which need a little more tweaking or a whole new face in the Heartland ….



“How Things Come to Be” via BK Business Fables

MonkeyA great deal of the pain in modern organizations comes from accepted practices which seem part of the culture.  Rewards and punishment conform our behavior, sometimes for no apparent or valid reason.  

Upon reflection, we are often left wondering how these perceptions and standards came about and why they seem so accepted by all hands.

The little tale at the end of the link below describes how this happens as clearly as anything I have read … Read this modern business tale here:  

BK Business Fables:  How Things Come To Be

This comes to us via the folks at Berrett-Koehler, one very nice group of publishers with a dynamite line-up of thought-provoking and value-adding book titles.

The bottom line?   Someone needs to insist on asking the question “Why are we doing this?” a lot more often and a lot more forcefully.

Wondering why we do not stop to ask “Why?” more often in the Heartland ….



Old Soldiers Never Retire … Nor Do Many Others

Sheworeayellowribbonpost.jpgAbby Allshard: [Capt. Brittles is retiring after tonight] Where will you go, Nathan?

Captain Nathan Brittles: Oh, West, I guess, Abby… California… new settlements.

Captain Nathan Brittles: [to Olivia] “Old soldiers…”, Miss Dandridge… hah! Someday you’ll learn how they hate to give up. Captain of the troop one day: every man’s face turned towards you; lieutenants jump when I growl! Now, tomorrow, I’ll be glad if a blacksmith asks me to shoe a horse.

[he leaves]

~ Dialogue via IMDB for She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949)

I am not a fan of John Wayne’s politics nor a particular admirer of his acting, with a few exceptions.  The above cited film, part of Howard Hawk’s Cavalry Trilogy, is the strongest of those exceptions.

In the scene, Wayne plays a retiring cavalry officer on his last day of duty, who shares his feelings about coming to the end of a time which defined him.   He articulately expresses the emotions many others experience as they come to the end of their working careers.

Two important issues arise in this short, but impacting scene.

1)  A distinct and often abrupt change occurs when you move from a position of authority to a position where you no longer exercise this authority.

I wonder if this is why so many throw themselves into volunteer work, where they are met with open arms and long lists of “things to do to be helpful”.  If one has been used to being in charge of something, one might seek to continue to be responsible in other ways.

This also might explain a little about why so many retired executives are a pain to work with in volunteer positions.  It is hard sometimes to remember that volunteer activities and relationships are different from work relations in some important ways.  Volunteering is often touted as the solution for those in retirement who wish to remain active, but it is not a comprehensive solution for all.

Being responsible and in charge is not something we can just “turn off”, especially if you have been successful in effectively leading others …

2)  The challenge of remaining engaged and vibrant when a significant source of engagement is removed from your life.

I find this scene particularly moving, since Wayne expresses a vague plan to explore the still developing West of this young country.   Much like Wayne’s character, many of us find ourselves still relatively active and able to continue to engage and provide value. 

The question we often face is “Where?” … the option to go west to California does not hold the possibilities or promise it once did.   As our economic landscape continues to change, we are constantly challenged to stay ahead of the curve, as they say … but that curve is not just one crest, but multiple ripples of change at ever-increasing rates in many ways, all at the same time.

We seek to contribute, to build, and to collaborate … whether we are being paid money or simply receiving the satisfaction of being part of something …

This is going to take some dedicated planning for many of us …

Some have already resolved these issues and many struggle with them now.  If you are already retired, facing that possibility down the road, or (like many of us), in that vague and misty place of “sort of retired, but not really”, which has emerged from our economic conditions of recent years, you might just be wondering about how things are going to go into the future as well.

Change can be exhilarating, but it can also produce confusion and fear.  Spend some time with a trusted friend or someone who has credibility in helping people explore options, resolving issues, and making effective decisions. 

As you ponder, I recommend you spend a few hours with Captain Brittles, Miss Dandrige, Lieutenants Cohill and Pennell, Colonel and Abby Allshard, Top Sergeant Quincannon, Sergeant Tyree, and a host of other finely drawn and well-acted folks with whom I would have been proud to have shared a posting.  They may not answer your questions, but I don’t think you will regret the time spent.

Wondering if anyone has a horse that needs shoeing in the Heartland ….