A Bit About Dragons …



Dragons are mythical beasts, so they say …

I happen to disagree, because I have seen and fought dragons in my own life, and seen the evidence of their fiery breath and sharp talons in other’s.

Of course, the dragons I talk about here are metaphorical ones, but that does not mean they are one bit less fearsome or dangerous than the mythical ones we celebrate in story and image.

Two things to consider this morning:

“More than true …”

I read this phrase and immediately thought about those things which teach us something.  Whether they are literally true or completely made up appears to be irrelevant or at least not very important.

What does matter is what we learn that helps us do better next time.

“Dragons can be beaten …”

This is a powerful concept:  We imagine things which scare us … but we can also imagine defeating that which frightens us.

Dragons will always exist, in our dreams if nowhere else.  The key here appears to be to accept and use the idea that what we can imagine, we can overcome.

So …

What dragons are scaring the bejeebers out of you this morning?

What you gonna do about that?

Remembering the dragons already slain, which gives me strength for those to come in the Heartland ….


Image:  Eastern dragon illustration by Kattekrab via Wikipedia – in the Public Domain


Blab, Blab, Blab …

Language - Presenter Media

I have no trouble doing this …

Those who know me best know that I will seldom be accused of being too brief or not using enough words, unless I am coaching or counseling, where the 80/20 rule means my mouth is open no more than 20% of the time.

That said, I believe Caitlin has a very powerful point .   We tend to live our lives, especially in the business arena, by holding to the following:

Cut to the chase …

Just give me the bottom line …

Don’t worry about the details …

Our society tends to suffer from a non-medical version of Short Attention Span Syndrome, where quicker, shorter, and less is the norm and often accepted as better by most of us without any real thought.

Of course, we are probably not talking about just using more words, which values quantity.  I would imagine that the real point here is to enhance our communication by

Using more descriptive words …

Using a broader array of words …

Using words more correctly … 

The river was up” is a phrase used in the farmlands to indicate that rain has raised the level of the river, prompting a fear of flooding.  Taciturn farmers can utter this phrase and communicate quite a lot, but most of us are not taciturn farmers.

“The river was swollen with rain, overflowing it’s banks and covering the lowlands with an expanse of muddy, destructive, and uncontrolled liquid, which swept vegetation, buildings, and people from its chaotic path” is much more evocative, at least in my opinion.

… Or if you prefer a more useful example:

“Our new hire is not working out”  is clear, direct, and often heard in the workplace.  However, you are not getting much information to help avoid a similar situation in the future.

Our new hire is not working out.  They have the technical skills that the position requires, so our hiring process worked well to assure that fit.  However, the new hire exhibited relationships behaviors which conflicted with our corporate culture, such as insisting on operating from a “lone wolf” perspective, rather than the team approach we value.  Another example concerned their focus on increasing their personal earnings, which often led to issues with other employees and a “cut-throat” reputation, which further hindered their integration into the organization.  How can we assess the cultural part of fit better with future potential employees?”

Yes, it’s more wordy … but you have a much clearer picture of what went right and what did not, along with a nudge toward adjusting for a more positive future outcome.

Several summary points:

Shorter is not always better and concise is not always helpful.

Performance improvement depends on expanding the discussion, rather than shortening it.

This is not really about using more words per se, but about making your word more useful.

Feeling very thankful that shorter is not always the best choice in the Heartland  …


Image:  Presenter Media

The $600 Blizzard …

Broken Computer

It’s been an unusual few weeks …

Maybe you’ve noticed the lack of recent posting here.   Let me share a bit about my life of late:  

Two trips to  auto dealership to repair paint scratches and replace a cracked windshield, repair a damaged basement ceiling, helping my wife launch her new job, moving and cmplete reorganization of two home offices (still in progress due to ceiling repairs), annual congregational meeting, completion of several learning projects, and initiation of another learning project involving multiple webinars over a four-week period, plus a commitment to provide programming around World Refugee Day.

In addition, there was the usual work going on:  appointments, presentations, coaching sessions, social media content provision, connections, and curating.   Oh yeah, I started going back to the gym regularly, too. 

All the repairs and moving means that most of our records and possessions are not in their normal places, sometimes underneath or behind other heavy objects.  Simple or easy requests are not common right now.  Everything is a “deal” …

This weekend we experienced a memorial service for the son of a dear friend, that previously mentioned congregational meeting, and several long discussions about a possible change of work for me, which will upend my current world.  

So you can forgive me for wanting to indulge in one of my favorite treats on Sunday evening.  I believe that a Dairy Queen Banana Split Blizzard is among the highest of culinary treats and I was loving this one, as I prepared to do some light composition and catching up with emails and so on …

Until I spilled half of my delicious Blizzard in the center of my laptop keyboard …

Continue reading

Change Changes You …

Rebellion - Presenter Media

Change was in the air …

As a young man on a college campus during the late 1960’s, I often caught a whiff of the scent of revolution in the air.  Change seemed to be happening wherever I looked, as old and established ways of thinking and doing gave way to new, exciting and different attitudes, values, and beliefs.

It seemed anything was possible and we believed that we could change institutions, rules, and social reality, if only we believed and acted on our beliefs.  So we went about trying to foster deep societal change on a number of fronts, and in some cases we were somewhat successful, while in other ways, we failed miserably and painfully to make a dent.

Of course, I learned a few things, especially reflecting back from my current vantage point:

… Passion does not always equal success.

Continue reading

Fast Food Express Lane Blues …

Running - Presenter Media


Let me clarify …  


Sometimes in life, fast is good, helpful, or even essential.  Here are some instances of that, from the trivial to the vital:

When the food is supposed to be served hot.

When the work is due and others depend on your contribution.

When damage will occur to property if you do not act.

When a person needs immediate mental or psychological help.


We often apply this “Fast is sometimes good” concept incorrectly.   

First, we leave out the “sometimes”, assuming faster is always good.

Second, we apply the concept to everything in our lives.

I impatiently tap my foot while waiting the 45 seconds it takes to order, pay for, and receive my Biggie Burger from my favorite QuickNGreasy (trademark pending) drive-thru restaurant.

Waiting in line to be safe while flying on an airplane was so onerous that a “fast lane” option had to be created, so people were not “inconvenienced”.  This must have come from our grocery stores, which almost always have “fast checkout” lanes or even “self-check out“, both of which exist simply to get you out of the store even faster.

Many of us grow faint at the thought of actually reading an entire article, let alone a complete book, from the very first word to the very last … we demand an “Executive Summary”, which in my opinion is another way to say “I don’t have the attention span to concentrate on one thing for any significant amount of time.”

We have created this “Fast Food, Express Lane, Faster is Better, Executive Summary” perspective in many parts of our society and culture.   Now this might just be my misconceptions, while your experience with speed in our modern culture is different.  Take no more than 5 seconds to consider this possibility.

The problem is that we have created the need for all these incredibly quick ways to get through our days and nights for two reasons, at least in my experience:

We have too much to do and must find short-cuts in order to keep going.

We lack the ability to maintain a more focused and long-term approach to our work and our life. 

I  was thinking about all this recently, as I violently pounded my computer mouse on the desk, while impatiently waiting for a large amount of information to download.  Apparently I think a computer mouse works like elevator buttons … you know, press more often and harder to make the elevator come faster.

I was enraged at the idea of not having near instantaneous access to a 40-some page research article.

As I considered this, I remembered that I was originally miffed not to find a good synopsis of that multi-page article, to avoid reading the whole article completely so I would know what was in it.  That would take a lot of time.

Finally I zoomed out for a more objective view and realized that the reason I was searching for this information in the first place was to create a quick response to post on a social media site I frequent.   I was feeling the pressure of time before I ever saw the article and all of this was for a dubious purpose … why did my response need to be so quick?

Three learnings here for me, and possibly for you if you ever find yourself speeding along and wondering how you came to such a fast pace:


I like technology and love the rare occasions when I can claim the title of Early Adopter.  However, my pride exists as another example of “faster is better”.

Technology these days almost always is available before it works.  Think about those sporadic updates that begin whenever you acquire the latest and greatest technology.  

This is another way of saying “We need to fix that thing we sold you”, which would be unacceptable in many aspects of our consumer life, but which we meekly acquiesce with when it comes to our computers, our tablets, and our smartphones.

When our technology allows us to do things more quickly, we become used to doing things more quickly.   We do not always question whether doing something more quickly is doing something more effectively, enjoyably, or correctly.   Why is download speed so darned important, anyway?

We buy the latest and greatest (interpret as faster) gadgets just because they are supposedly faster than our current gadget.


I mentioned some reasons why speed might be important at the beginning of all this.  Those and other good examples of real reasons to move quickly aside, many of us have adopted a “Speed Is Good” mentality, which we often apply without question or distinction to every part of our lives.

When we accept that mentality, we tend to expect things to be faster, whether an objective reason for increased speed exists or not.  We now become very irritated and start pounding on inanimate objects simply because they do not deliver results as quickly as we expect them to do.

We are an impatient species these days.


Aside from situations that involve life or death, injury or harm, or involve me getting a hot cup of coffee in the morning, most of our daily activities could be accomplished at a slower pace than we tend to assume.

Our organizations are often leaderless in this respect, allowing cultures of speedy response and fast action to grow, rather than to instill a more thoughtful and calmer pace.  We blame competition for this emphasis on speed, even though the economic landscape is littered with the bones of organizations and people who “got there first”.  Technology is even less our friend in this respect than I mentioned above.

On a personal level, things are even less complicated.  You choose how you live … if you feel stressed because things are moving too fast, choose differently.


Of course, maybe I’m just feeling cranky this morning, because the pace of  my life seems to be negatively impacting the quality of my life.

If you can honestly say that more speed in your life IMPROVES the quality of your life, please ignore my ranting.

Seriously considering slowing down significantly in the very cloudy and soggy Heartland …


Image:  Presenter Media