When Life Gets “In The Way” …

Michael and Friend - 2015Status Report:  As some of you may know, my grandson Michael suffered a brain aneurysm on Tuesday morning resulting in treatment in three hospitals, one 5-6 hour surgery on Tuesday night, and intensive medical care, which is ongoing as we speak.  For details, please see my Facebook stream, but the bottom line is that he is doing much better than originally expected, but faces a long recovery.

BTW, Michael is the one in the blue striped shirt in the picture:)

So this is why I have been less active (in some ways) online than usual this week.  As is my wont, now that I have a small bit of breathing room, I want to share some observations around the past few days.  Some of these are in the “Gee, Duh” category, but indulge me.


In a time of crisis, we need to move fast and focus.  Things that seemed important at the breakfast table vanish or shrink in an instant.

The closer we are to the crisis, the more we need to be able to focus on what is happening and devote our energy toward it.  We have a large family and an even larger circle of friends, coworkers, colleagues, and acquaintances, who all shifted gears to help us in ways both large and small to do this.

Everyone once in a while, I read something like Don’t ask what you can do to help.  Look around and do what needs to be done. Continue reading

Where Did We End Up Now …?



“NOT QUITE WHAT I EXPECTED”, as they say …

Emily Perl Kingsley is a writer for Sesame Street, but that’s not why I know of her.    Many years ago, she wrote a simple little essay about how we plan things for our unborn children and then cope with the realities of life after the birth.  This simple story has been used by many people since to help them cope with unwanted change.

You can read the whole story in little over one minute at:


I was reminded of Kingsley’s powerful story recently while reading another powerful story about coping and change:


Originally a guest post from John Tiller on Michael Hyatt‘s blog about how his family coped with an almost unbearable tragedy.

Both provide valuable insights into effective coping.

As you move through your workday, take careful note of how many people spend their energy and time on what is different from they expected.

“I didn’t get that promotion that I worked so hard to earn”

“Just as we get comfortable with the system, they change it on us.” 

“Why can’t things be like they used to be?” (or at least like we think they used to be:)

Now consider your own responses …

How can you help others appreciate Holland even though they were planning on Italy?

Happy just for the chance to be anywhere in the Heartland ….


This is STILL Not a Game …

St. Louis Teens Arrested

First , hats off to those in the St. Louis Police Department, whose quick action has resulted in the identification and arrest of at least some of those responsible for the attacks I talked about yesterday.

Did I mention in my earlier post that the mayor of St. Louis and his bodyguard happened on the latest incident right after it occurred?

Mayor Francis Slay actually experienced the direct and painful aftermath – he saw the blood and gazed into the bloody face of one of his constituents, whose “crime” was literally being in the wrong place at the wrong time … or, as we call it, “walking home from the grocery store on a public street.”

I do not know, but I’ll bet he made a few calls right afterward.

I would feel better about this swift justice thing if the Mayor had been nowhere around and the speedy arrests were the result solely of efficient police work.  In the real world, we too often see fast reactions and justice served only when and if those with power are personally involved and especially when they are the victims.

I would bet the earlier victims of this same type of crime would have preferred earlier action as well. Especially those who received less media coverage.

This is not right …

People’s protection should not depend on someone with authority noticing.

Justice should not only occur when those with power demand it.

Power should be our servant, not a selective tool used at the whim of those who own it

CLARITY:  I like Mayor Francis Slay and believe him a good man working with a complex and often cantankerous government system which fights progress and effectiveness.  I wish him well and do not want this interpreted as a personal attack on him.

I found his words in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch very appropriate:

“To say, ‘Oh we have nothing to do so we’re going to punch someone else out, ‘ or to blame it on society or the system … is absolutely ridiculous, ” Slay said.  “You can provide all the recreational programs and quality educational program every day, but ultimately each and every individual has a personal responsibility to respect each other and saying they’re bored is not an excuse, it’s a cop out and that’s a problem in and of itself.  The entire community ought to be angry about this.”

Well said, Mayor Slay.  Being angry is a start IF we channel that anger into constructive behavior and not punitive retaliation.

This is about how our system works, for whom it works for well, and for whom it does not.

I pledge to stop silently observing, privately criticizing, and accepting the current state of affairs as “the way things are.”  ,,,  Whatever that means in terms of fostering personal responsibility for all members of our community, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the powerless.

I cannot control anyone else, but I can do something about my quiet compliance.  I can stop it and start demanding that we do better.

We have to stop accepting things the way they are and make them the way they should be (as someone famous has undoubtedly already said at some point).

Feeling a tad rebellious and not as chipper as usual in the Heartland ….


Of Leaders and Others …

“I made a huge mistake,” he said. “We then proceeded to mismanage it in every possible way. All of the people concerned with it are no longer with the company.” Except for himself, of course.’

… from TechCrunch story on Rupert Murdoch and the ongoing woes of NewsCorp.  That’s Rupert with wife Wendy above.

What a morning …


First Seth Godin wades into that eternal dither about the difference between leaders and managers with the simple idea that leaders have responsibility and managers have authority.   I remember thinking as I read “Well, Ho Hum … who doesn’t know that by now.”

Leaders take responsibility and managers assume authority  … nothing new here.


Then I read about Murdoch taking on the NewsCorp board, shareholders, and the whole world with one of the most defiant apologies I’ve run across.  No crocodile tears or quivering lips here.

… Not to mention the bold-faced lie that ” All of the people concerned with it are no longer with the company.”   Aren’t we forgetting someone with the initials RM?

If others with less authority AND responsibility pay a negative price for their actions, how does the person in overall charge avoid experiencing those same consequences? Continue reading

Living In Exciting Times …

I’ve always wanted to live during stirring, exciting times.

My parents lived in exciting times.

They came of age during a great and global depression that makes our economic uncertainty look fairly mild by comparison.

They grew up with little in the way of material possessions or financial stability.  Forget that stuff about bread only costing 12 cents.  If you do not have 12 cents, you still cannot buy that bread.

Then they lived through a global war that resulted in the deaths of millions and the permanent realignment of the world they knew into something much different and less safe.   New powers arose, new problems loomed, and the future was very uncertain.

… and yet they lived on.

Robert Kennedy. In  a speech in Cape Town in June 1966, Kennedy said:

There is a Chinese curse which says ‘May he live in interesting times.’ Like it or not we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history.

Just as relevant today as forty-five years ago.

If we are open to the opportunities that come with all the risk, the instability, the danger, we can take advantage of those opportunities.

But we have to be open to new and different and ready to change …

Now that I have the opportunity to live in”interesting times, I notice that I spend more time whining about how unstable things are:).   Wonder what is getting in the way of me seeing the opportunities and not just the threats?

Why not embrace uncertainty?

Living into the uncertainty in the Heartland (and everywhere else) …


Side Note:  This saying was not originated by Confucius, as is often reported.  If you click on the phrase above, you will get a more scholarly assessment of where this phrase came from.