Not Getting It …


Stroke of Luck

Even when we do not realize it at the time …

I still remember the bitter taste in my life when I was not chosen to continue to serve in the U. S. Army.   I received my commission during a time when the needs of the military were changing and the overproduction of young officers was catching up with them.   I was at a point in my life when I desperately desired structure and I believed that continued military service would fill that need.

Of course, the Army did not consider my personal desires one way or the other as the decision was made.    They just flat out did not need another junior Armor officer right then.   Thanks for the time served and on your way back to civilian life and an extended reserve commitment.

Reality Break …

Well, had I remained in the Army back then, I would not have had the life or the family I can now cherish with pleasure and fondness.   I desired to stay in because I wanted stability more than from any particular skill or enjoyment of serving as a military officer.  

Looking back, I was not a good fit and probably would have been miserable with an extended active duty tour.  Forget the dreams of John Wayne-like heroism … the reality would have been far less entertaining.

A Quick Clarification …

Let me be clear … I am not making a case for destiny or any other form of pre-ordained living, where you are exactly where you should been each and every step of the way.  

I would add that the reverse of this thinking is also true.  Sometimes we get what we have always wanted … and wonder why we still feel empty inside or continue to lack the sense of calmness that comes from being truly happy.

I am talking about reflecting on what is and what was realistically, rather than with regret and through glossy nostalgic eyes.

So … what disappointment do you face today?

How can you reframe it into a positive?

Wondering why we always have to be reminded of this simple truth in the Heartland ….


“What you thinking about? As little as possible. You? …”

Night Sky

David Kanigan (one of my Daily Must Reads) considered this question recently … apparently while not being able to sleep – read about it here:  “Hello, Rumination, Hello Insomnia

Of course, his thoughts are not about not being able to see, but about being alone with our thoughts … as we are sometimes when we cannot attain the restorative oblivion of sleep.

David discusses a fascinating recent article by Kate Murphy in the New York Times entitled No Time To Think. Apparently some evidence exists that we are not comfortable with our own thoughts and so seek distractions and time-fillers.  We even prefer pain to thinking, as the article indicates by reporting a experiment where people voluntarily shocked themselves when asked to reflect. 

I am generalizing about the results, of course, but they still appear to indicate that many of us just do not feel comfortable being alone with our thoughts.

As an aside, the numbers cited indicate this is much more of a “Guy Thing”, with 64% of men versus 15% of women giving themselves a jolt …

TextingThis idea of being uncomfortable with our own thoughts might neatly explain the ubiquitous presence within our populace of individuals focused intently on small glowing screens in almost every situation imaginable.

Our smartphones and tablets can provide a literal universe of information, stimulation, and distraction … neatly filling in our time and attention, while allowing us the ability to opt out of any real engagement with what is on the screen or in  our heads.

As a counselor and now as a coach, I have been consistently and powerfully reminded of the “power of presence”.   When you pay attention and give another the gift of your undivided and focused attention, you have easily set yourself aside from the pack.

When you look at and listen to another, you gain a strategic advantage … it’s good business, good manners, and a solid reinforcement that you are present in the moment with them.  

You are also more likely to receive the same focused attention in return … a win-win for all.

So try it out …

1)  Consciously put down the devices when you are in the presence of another.

2)  Look at the person (which is one of the most powerful human actions we can take).

3)  Listen to what they say.

4)  Reflect on their words and the meaning behind them.

5)  Respond honestly.

6)  Repeat

Keep in mind that you are both changing habits which have been hard-wired into our modern brains, so engage in another somewhat out-of-date activity called “being patient”.  This process may take a while, since you are getting used to having what the ancients called “a conversation” … but it’s worth it. 

Feeling a little snippy, but enjoying the moment in the Heartland ….




Losing and Winning …

Game OverWell, as “they” say about sports, competition, and everything else in life, “You win some, you lose some, and some get rained out … “

The trick is to know how to react to  each type of results.


In winning …

Remember that life is full of wins, losses, and draws.  Today is not the only day you will live.  Develop the ability to handle winning without the need to destroy another.  After all, today’s opposition may be tomorrow’s champions of your cause.

The fatal mistake is to confuse the temporary state of winning with the permanent state of being human.  A winner is a winner and that is to be celebrated … but it is not a state of being, just a temporary status. 

    Above all, be gracious, generous, and humble.

In losing …

Losing hurts, sometimes deeply and painfully.

Negative feelings are understandable, especially those related to disappointment and regret.  However, the tenure of those emotions should be short.  After all, the rest of your life is waiting without predestined outcomes.  

Why tie yourself down with negatives when you could be moving forward toward the positive?

    Above all, be gracious, generous, and humble.

When the rain falls and the “game is called” …

Sometimes we don’t win or lose … we just move on and await another day.  Do not act as though you could have prevailed … until a contest is settled, nobody knows the outcome.

When you do not have to compete, look to yourself and try to decide:  Are you disappointed or relieved?  Both sensations are valid and both contain a message about what you did not have to attempt to do.  Ponder that message.

    Above all, be gracious, generous, and humble.


I may have rankled some positive thinkers and motivational speakers with the notion that we are not always winners, but the reality is that we are not.  Trying to operate in a perpetual state that relies on winning will not suffice.   Life does not work that way.  We don’t always win, winning is not everything, and even winners sometimes quit.

However, we can be consistent in our approach.  That, above all, is doable.

Trying to remember how to win and lose in the Heartland ….


NOTE:  Fast Company posted a nifty little blurb today about quitting, which seems to sort of fit with this … maybe.   You decide … read more at “Be A Quitter“.


Three Thoughts About Ordinary Days …

Writing It Down“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”

Thomas Moore

On Saturday morning, I like to consider thoughts I have run across during the week.  Several deceptively simple messages occur to me on reading the above:

1) We are what we do … and what we do need not be complex or lofty.

2) Practice is essential … even when doing ordinary things that we do every day.

3) What we do in the privacy of our homes is important, maybe more so than what we do in public.

I have heard threads of the above in many places … the idea that simple things done well makes up a life well spent is not new.  However, I have not spent much time thinking about the implications up to now.   Too busy doing to be busy thinking, I suppose.

After some consideration, here is what I determined, with no claims about the quality involved, just the presence of these things in my daily life: 

I write, sometimes in depth and sometimes in passing, about whatever catches my attention, but I do this in some fashion every day. 

…. I like to express myself with words.

I think about connections, causes, and anomalies in business and in human relationships.  I consider perspectives and analyze behaviors. 

… I like to understand beyond the obvious or apparent.

I connect people, ideas, and tools through sharing what I run across, either online or in person. 

… I like to help others learn and understand.

I combine images and words to convey meaning and perspective about leadership behavior and human relationships.

… I like to create and communicate my ideas and perceptions. 

On reflection, this list of what I do every blessed day tells me some useful things about myself.  It was a good exercise.

So the weekend reflection questions for you are:

What do YOU do ordinarily … every day at home?

What do these things tell YOU about yourself?

Wondering why I never thought about doing this before in the Heartland ….