Still Waiting (Part I) …


ConvairCar Model 118 by Source. Licensed under Fair use via WikipediaWhen I was a tender youth, I read voraciously … Life, Look, Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, Boy’s Life, Saturday Evening Post, Popular Science, Mad Magazine AND Cracked … you know, all the classics.

I had an insatiable appetite for information and the written word, whether a novel about man’s existence or a magazine article about the future.  This trait has persisted and stands me in good stead today, even if it does tend to clog my email account a bit.

I was promised flying cars …

Back in 1957 or so, I distinctly remember an image that caught my attention.  It was a picture of a typical suburban street, with cookie-cutter houses, pavement everywhere, and shining sun above.  For this isolated farmboy stuck at the edge of the world in rural MIssouri, this looked fantastic.  I could not wait to be in that world.

What really got my attention was the artist’s carefully rendered depiction of a car in the driveway.  Not just any car, mind you, but a car with wings!  

My life had no context regarding cars with wings, since at this point, airplanes were still pretty exotic items and usually glimpsed as they flew high and majestic over our farm, above me standing far below with mouth agape, in and out of my life in a few short, but exciting seconds.   At that time, the Air Force base outside Kirksville was still a going concern and the rare appearance of an actual military bomber flying lower than I dared hope to soar loudly and ominously over the barn was a time of near hysteria.  I became adept at playing out a mini-wargame whenever one of these mysterious crafts appeared.  On the days that I noticed or heard them coming, I was ecstatic, because this gave me precious extra moments to act out my boyish fantasies.

About that car with the wings …

This was the promise of the future, along with a bunch of other predictions about work-saving appliances, portable communications, and easy living, most of which meant nothing to me at the time.  However, a car with wings was something to be excited about.

This is what we do as young people.  We grow into the world and try to make sense of it.  As we grow and expand our base of knowledge, we let loose of some interesting but fanciful conceptions and incorporate a widening circle of experience and knowledge.  At least, that is how it is supposed to work.

Another concept I was exposed to early in life was the idea of work …

I was less excited about this concept, since work on a farm means physical labor that never really ends, but only shifts focus and location, as weather and seasons come and go.  Work on the farm consumed much of the day and much of the energy of my parents.   While I knew other people had different jobs, I did not think much in terms of those other jobs … partly because I had little direct knowledge of them and also because I did not understand that “town jobs” like teacher, storekeeper, policeman, gas station operator, or druggist were options for me.

I also learned that you worked for many years, until a magical time called “retirement” when you could stop working.   This was also unclear to me, since all the farmers I knew continued to work hard, regardless of their age.  Retirement was more attached to the afore-mentioned “town jobs” than to my reality.

I have to admit that this retirement sounded pretty good, although the whole idea of what you actually did do every day when retired was rather vague.  Fishing was mentioned and I eventually learned that retirement appeared to include drinking coffee at the restaurant during the work day, sitting on the town square observing commerce, and hanging out with other people of a certain age.  At least that is what the men did … I have no clue what retired women did, or even if such existed.  I guess I just assumed women kept doing what I saw them doing most of the time … cooking, laundry, and taking care of children.

I grew up in a different time … and I am still waiting for those flying cars.

More importantly, I also grew up, as did many others, with some clear expectations for how things would go.  Those expectations were based on what I saw, what I was told, and how things had gone in the past.

Life goes on and the boy ends up in a far different world than expected … stay tuned for Part 2, where I analyze some expectations and find them wanting.  Then in Part 3, I will share what I believe we are now learning about how life will go for us.

Feeling full of purpose and sort of excited about things in the Heartland ….

John 

Inspiration:  Life Reimagined (Leider and Webber, 2013)

Image:  “ConvairCar Model 118” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

Some “Thinking” About “Ing” …


Christopher Morley - PD - 12 31 1931 Library of Congress“There are three ingredients in the good life:  Learning, earning, and yearning.”

Christopher Morley

Morley also spent a fair amount of time during his life doing one other very good thing:  “Thinking”.

As leaders, we often spend a significant amount of time doing things.  Our “ …ings” can drive our behavior, our attitudes, and our relationships, while eating up the largest part of our energy and ability.  

We owe it to ourselves and those we lead to spend some time contemplating what we are “doing”. Continue reading

I’m OK … How About You?


OK - Morguefile.comThis is about you and I both being OK …

I am guest-posting today over on the Lead Change Group blog.  The LCG group is a strong collective of intrepid, articulate, and caring leadership and personal development experts.  

The contributors to the LCG blog series regularly offer thoughtful and engaging content around topics and issues about leadership and human behavior.

… Then every once in a while, they have to fill in with something from me:)  Here’s a link to my latest contribution if you want to check it out:  “Stuck In The MIddle With Me”

My post is about judging others more objectively, and not by “the imagined ‘I’” , our personal and somewhat mythical belief about who we are, our self-identity.  I make the point that we tend to look at other through a lens with a default “normal” setting being drawn from our unique self-view as the model and standard for all other’s behaviors and beliefs.  

Our personal and arbitrary standards are why some people see other people eating something prepared in a certain way and go “Ewwwww“, just because that food or that preparation was not part of their learning.  Think fried insects or squirrel meat as an entrée, Yankees …

It’s all about looking at others objectively and even accepting the differences, not have them become dividers and differentiators.

Candy - Morguefile.comAs someone has no doubt said, “It would be a very dull world if all candy were the same color.” :)     Yes, they would all taste the same, because they are all sugary inside, but  … hey, wait a minute.  That’s like people … different on the outside, but physically the same inside.

Please take a few minutes to read my post and those of others who are trying build momentum around the idea of Character-Based Leadership.  If you are really interested, read the book, which will introduce you more fully to many of the folks who regularly contribute to this nifty band of collaborators.

Experiencing a strange early morning craving for candy in the Heartland ….

John

Liar, Liar …


Pinocchio - Enrico Mazzanti {PD-1923}“The only lies for which we are truly punished are those we tell ourselves.”

V.S. Naipaul

For no reason I will share publicly, let’s think a bit today on the types of un-truths we may speak in the course of living our lives.  Here’s my shot at identifying a few major categories, some of which overlap at times.  Shoot, a good liar could probably hit three or four of these with one well-constructed and spiteful statement:

COMMISSION …

The good old-fashioned whopper, where we just do not tell the truth.  We deliberately say something that is not true about a person, an event, or a situation.  Perfected by small children wishing to escape punishment, as in “I didn’t do it.”  To truly lie by commission, you have to claim something that is not true about a person, an event, or a situation.   “The check is in the mail” and “I’m just finishing up that report and you will have it tomorrow morning” are adult examples. 

NOTE:  Complexity is often part of lying.  In the report example, you will note that two separate events are being referenced.  The reality of this situation may be:

1)  I have started the report, but not yet finished it.

2) I have not started the report, but will do so now.

3)  I have not started the report and have no serious intention of doing so anytime soon.

4)  I do not know what report to which you refer.

5)  I have finished the report, but forgot to deliver it to you.

6)  I have finished the report, but am not concerned with getting it to you quickly.

7)  I have finished the report and will tell another lie tomorrow about why you do not yet have it.

8) I finished the report and sent it, but to the wrong address/person and I am not going to admit that in a million years.

9)  I started the report and realized I was missing something important, so have started over at the last minute.

OMISSION …

Sometimes we lie when we leave something out, or as I like to say, “forget” to include some essential piece of information.  Sometimes it’s not what we say, but what we do not say.  I may tell my wife that I stopped at the grocery store and the cleaners on my way home, but “forget” to mention a stop-off at the book store, which might have been more expensive than the other two stops combined.

EXAGGERATION …

We lie when we make a thing seem more than it is … more important, more serious, more impacting.  For examples, see much of what is said when adolescents are talking to each other.  “It was like the most exciting thing ever!!!” is an exaggeration, unless the Sun has just gone dark or exploded … then it would be pretty accurate.  Applied to things we encounter on a daily basis, not so much.

Telling someone your product or service is “The Best In The World” fits well as an example here.

MINIMIZATION …

Self-Serving statements which reduce or eliminate concerns, impacts, and issues.  “No problem” is both an irritating modern phrase and an example of what someone says to calm you down when things have not gone as planned.   “We can fix this” is often viewed as a verbal symbol of Yankee ingenuity, but can also be viewed as a way to keep people calm while you figure out how to patch an iceberg sized hole in the side of your ocean liner.

Minimizing the risk or outcome of something is a time-honored practice in business and was probably started by someone in middle management who did not have the authority to solve a problem, but did not want to just admit that.

PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE …

When the goal of a non-truth is to hurt someone else.  Sometimes we just say things to be mean.  Anything identifiable as gossip can go into this category.  When what is coming out of your mouth does not match what is in your head or your heart, you are probably just being mean.

You are so brave to wear last year’s style” – extra points for passive-aggressive statements such as this.

DISPENSATION …

White lies, such as husbands and wives tell each other when asked about aging signs, clothing fit, and such, do not count.  You get a pass if your untruth is meant to safeguard someone’s feelings, especially when the issue at stake is relatively minor.

HOWEVER …

Lying to someone just to protect them from being uncomfortable or hurt is not a good option.  When the cost of lying is more than the cost of being truthful, choose the truth and deliver it in a respectful, kind, and direct fashion.

BTW, honest cynicism is not lying.  If I say “I don’t think that is true”, I am expressing disbelief, but not trying to misrepresent that thing.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER? …

Leaders try to avoid telling lies, even as the cost of telling the truth grows.  A leader cannot function without earning the trust of those we serves.  A leader cannot earn trust from others if they are not truthful and honest, sometimes to a fault.  

Leaders simply tell the truth … after all, when you lie to another, you are also lying to yourself. 

What have I missed or misstated in this consideration of lying and all that jazz?

Trying real hard not to tell a lie in the Heartland….  

John 

 

Image:  Pinocchio by Enrico Mazzanti {PD-23} – Wikipedia in the public domain

 

“Being The Best …”


FailureI enjoy online groups which regularly offer stimulus for my thinking about leadership and human behavior.   The Lead Change Group regularly provides intellectual stimulus and practical thinking about leadership and human behavior, mostly through their daily blog posts by a “motley crew” of folks who care about intelligent and positive leadership development.  When I have a fresh pot of hot coffee and am reading their daily blog post, I am one happy camper.  

Today’s bon mot was Sharon Reed’s excellent post on leadership confidence and fear of failure.  Sharon tells about an artist who invites criticism (in the useful sense) of his work to grow in his competence.  This really struck a chord with me, since I believe that being open to criticism is essential to both personal and professional growth.  This concept has been a part of my professional journey in more ways and at more times than I have the space to convey here.    Below are my amplified comments on failure and success, adapted from earlier comments made to Sharon’s post.

PLEASE DON’T CRITICIZE ME …

Continue reading