Debunking Some Old Saws …

Spanking - Germany 1935 WikipediaFeeling a little like playing the “Devil’s Advocate” today with some old wisdom learned at my parent’s feet … or on occasion, across their lap.

Never Bite Off More Than You Can Chew …

The positive message here is that we need be careful about what we commit to and not over-extend ourselves.  Wise counsel in this modern age.

However, this advice is also predicated on the assumption that if you take on more than you have been able to do in the past or think you can handle, you will fail.   This seems to conflict with the idea of stretch goals, where we do exactly that by taking on tasks or responsibilities beyond our current capabilities.

The saying runs contrary to at least some of my life experiences and I suspect others will agree … we truly do not know what we are capable of doing until we try.

Don’t Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth …

I am not looking ANY horse in the mouth … been there, done that, almost lost a finger or two:).

That said, the message from this horse’s mouth is that when you receive something without having to pay for it, that gratitude is the proper response, rather than criticism of any less-than-perfect aspects of that gift.

This applies beautifully to all those who continue to post their personal declarations of privacy on social media sites like Facebook, which includes some of my oldest and dearest friends.  When one is using a public website without charge, one cannot arrange the rules to suit themselves.  I prefer the meme:  “If it should not be public, do not share it.”

But let me pose this question:  Do we abandon all responsibility when something is a gift?  

While I can assume that the cake my sainted mother lovingly baked for my birthday is not poisonous, I would be remiss if I ignored or discounted any obvious signs to the contrary.   When you give your children a new bicycle, you would be upset if they did not let know you immediately of an unsafe condition connected to that new bike, such as faulty brakes or loose handlebars.

Hmmm …

Measure Twice, Cut Once …

I bet this inclusion surprises some of you, since it seems so useful.  I have often experienced the negative outcomes of rework, lost time, wasted materials, and so on, when ignoring this piece of advice.   Maybe you have too.

At first glance, making sure you are doing something right to the right length, in the right measure would seem a wisdom slam-dunk … and it often is.

However, I wonder two things:

First, How well does this apply to our modern and fast-paced world?

Things change so quickly and so often that we assume some lack of accuracy with first reports and early launches.  

Think software, where for decades, we have happily accepted Beta versions of programs that run our lives, expecting bugs and defects to show up and be fixed with a continual stream of updates. 

Second, consider the idea of “Good Enough“, which is meant to spur action, as opposed to a long series of actions to create the perfect scenario, product, service, or statement.  

For us perfectionists, this is not comfortable, but from a competitive business viewpoint, it makes good sense.

If you have ever been burned by someone beating you to the punch, while you perfect your own … well, think about it.

Thanks for letting me share these observations.  Now you know where my mid-week head is at.  

What are your reactions to my observations?  

Would you share your own “debunking” of old wisdom?

Hoping to experience some real fine rants in the Heartland ….


“But This Is Better” …

Gas PumpI stopped to get gas on my way to the doctor’s office this week …

The other day, I made an appointment for a routine medical procedure over the telephone.   On my way to the appointment, I stopped to get gas.

About fifteen minutes after making the appointment, an email arrived with a link to a website which confirmed the reason, time, and location of my appointment, along with detailed preparation guidelines and driving instructions. 

As I drove to the appointment, I stopped to get gas and allowed the gas pump to guide me through what to do when, gave me options from which to choose at various points, and accepted my plastic money, with a cheery but electronic “thanks”.

“Here, Let Me Google That …” 

... apparently the final argument-ending phrase of our times, although the tendency of some folks to ignore what is known to continue to believe what they want to believe does weaken it.  However, that is a topic for another time. 

When we want to know something, we look it up online.  We are now at a point where we are irritated or disappointed when we cannot find an answer to our question online, no matter how esoteric or exotic may be that question.

We live in a world increasingly focused around human to computer interactions, rather than human to human.  We now expect to receive electronic help.  When I go online to visit some website and a question arises or I want to know something, I check out the drop-down menus, click on helpful icons, and seek the Help symbol when all else fails.

BACK THEN:  “Directory Information.  How may I help you?” …

Continue reading

A Peril of Time Travel …

MemoriesAt least now I can say I have a time machine …

Interesting that neither memories nor dreams are real, isn’t it?

Memories reconstruct what has been in the past and dreams give birth to our visions of what might be in the future.  

Both exist ONLY in our minds…

The following thoughts come from comments originally made in response to a post on the Lead Change Group blog by Alan Utley, who thoughtfully and articulately discussed the use of stories to motivate and influence.  You should go read his post.

I often used to tell a story about how a youthful shop-lifting event shaped my values. In the story, I owned up to my misdeed (after some angst) and received a reward  for doing so. I once told that story in front of my mother … who then categorically dismantled that version of my own memory. Continue reading

“Give Peace A Chance” …

International Day of Peace logo OLDOver at The Lead Change Group, people from all over our shared planet are banging the drums for peace … in the world, in our organizations, and within ourselves.  A worthy focus for all of us, with much of value being shared.

You will not find much pie-in-the-sky optimism, but you will experience reality-based thinking and solid recommendations for action to create transformative change.  

Here are three distinct things you can do now to connect with all this.

First, check out the clear-eyed observations of Chery Gegelman at Peace – A Leadership Strategy, Not Pixie Dust.  Chery’s series on peace provides a wealth of information, highlights varying perspectives, and helps us understand the depth and importance of past, current, and future work to create peace

Then join Chery and Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach and creator of the Google+ People Skills community group, as they co-host a #PeopleSkills TweetChat this Sunday, September 20th, at 10 AM EST.  Share your thoughts, experiences, and hopes with others who are exploring positive and real-world action to work for peace.

I call on all warring parties to lay down their weapons and observe a global ceasefire. To them I say: stop the killings and the destruction, and create space for lasting peace.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Finally, join the world as the United Nations celebrates the International Day of Peace on Monday, September 21, 2015 to learn more about how we can and must work together to reduce and end conflict.  This years theme is “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All” focusing on how all segments of society can work together to create peace.

This is not a movement to sit out … at stake is nothing less than the well-being of everyone in our shared world.

As I softly sing “All we are saying is ‘Give Peace a Chance’” in the Heartland ….


Intelligent Disobedience: Doing Right When What You’re Told To Do Is Wrong

John Smith:

Excellent review by a trusted source of an important new book that should be a welcome addition to our reading lists, discussion groups, and our personal and professional development:


Originally posted on Take It Personel-ly:

Intelligent Disobedience: Doing Right When What You're Told To Do Is Wrong, Take It Personel-ly

You don’t usually have to look very hard to find scandals or tragic stories in the media of things that others have done that could have been avoided if the person/people involved had said ‘No’ to the ill-advised or illegitimate requests made of them.

Did you know that September is Self-Improvement month? As a life-long learner I am always looking to expand my knowledge, grow and improve where I can.  I recently read Intelligent Disobedience: Doing Right When What You’re Told To Do Is Wrong by Ira Chaleff, which fits in perfectly with the theme of self-improvement but on a company wide scale.

Chaleff uses both deeply disturbing and uplifting examples in his book, as well as critical but largely forgotten research to show how to create a culture where, rather than ‘just following orders,’ people hold themselves accountable to do the right thing, always.

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